Take A Tour Of Toys R' Us Circa 1991

by Jay Cochran
December 06, 2021
As we told you last week, Toys R' Us is planning on opening a brand new Mega-Store later this month in New Jersey which would be the first large TRU store to open here in the United States since closing all it's stores back in 2018. While it remains to be seen how impressive this new store will actually be or how well stocked it will be, I doubt it will compare with the golden years of the company which many would argue is in the 80's and early 90s.

For those who don't remember what it was like to walk into a toy store and actually find product on the shelves, we recommend you check out this video online which is a walk-through tour of a Toys R' Us store in NYC circa November 27, 1991.



While I would argue 1991 was on the tail end of the Golden Age of action figures, you can see the pegs are full with the likes of TMNT and WWE figures. You will also note at one point in the video we see a huge big pile of Technodrome playests with Hasbro's G.I. Joe Brawler vehicles on top. Of course this was at the beginning of the Holiday shopping season when places like TRU would always make sure to have the most product on hand, but its a far cry from anything you will see today from TRU or any other major retail toy section.
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Comments...

Last 10 comments - ( Read All Posts )
Spack - 2021-12-31 @ 2:49 pm

Jay C, your editorial is spot on and I could not agree more. As an adult collector, i would check the TRU shelves about once a month only to find the same old selections collecting dust.

The last best find I ever got out of my local TRU was an early wave of the 6 inch black series that contained the first Stormtrooper. I went in to specifically look for this wave a several times in a 2 week span. On the third visit still nothing new on the pegs and as I was walking out I saw a worker's push cart sitting in an unused check out lane between two registers at the end of the row where employees would just throw returns that were to go back on the shelves. I caught a glimpse of a black series box sitting in the bottom section of it and moved in to see what figure it was. It was the stormtrooper.

No doubt there was a TRU employee who collected or knew someone who collected. This also explained why it was rare to find anything I was looking for at this store.

But this time he got careless. I figured he put it aside for himself or someone else and even though it was not on the peg, it was still fair game as it was still in the store. Time to turn the tables. I picked it up off the cart and went straight to an open register, made the purchase and never looked back.

I always wished I could have seen his face when he search his cart or wonder if he ever went as far to check their security footage to see who got it.

Anyway that was a long time ago and I have adjusted to paying a little more for the things I collect by getting them thru internet store like the ones that support this platform instead of fruitless local searches when gas is at 3 bucks a gallon.

ghostbogey - 2021-12-31 @ 10:37 am

I got off the TRU train...."before" they blew up....

One of reason IMHO was how the treated the customer.

Especially when they were the only game in town (rip KB toy)....

Maybe they Learned........Trying the "Walmart" model for Toys...

Goldbug - 2021-12-31 @ 7:25 am
On 12/20/2021 at 3:32 AM, JayC said:

The reality is this store is mostly for show. It's cool to see and certainly hits the ol' nostalgia spot but my guess is there is nothing in that store you wouldn't find in any Walmart or Target. In fact Walmart's and Target's are likely to have more.

TRU has no buying power anymore with the toy manufactures and it's hard to see how they would ever get that back and ever be able to really compete with the likes of Target, Amazon and Walmart. In TRU's hay day they had over 700 large stores in this country which allowed them to leverage exclusives and if TRU carried a toyline, especially around the Holidays it could actually make or break a toyline. That is no longer the case. Towards the end, even with 700 stores TRU found it very difficult to compete with Walmart and Target which had long ago surpassed TRU's buying power for toys. Walmart currently has 4,743 stores in the US and Target has 1,926.

The only thing TRU has going for it is name recognition and nostalgia, which may if they are lucky allow them to eek buy with one store and a small presence at places like Macy's (which in of itself is a struggling dying breed or retail store). But anyone expecting TRU to return in any real way I think is dreaming.

Oh not true Jay, I have never seen quite a selection of Playmobil, Schleich, or Bruder toys anywhere else! It is interesting to see many German brand toys there.It would really be in toy companies best interests if they bought stock in or were part partners with Toys R Us just to dilute the power Walmart has over them.

Outsiders - 2021-12-30 @ 10:00 pm

I've given up on brick and mortar store because it's just not worth it anymore. Between stores that mainly take forever to get new product on the shelves and certain employees cracking cases in the back so they can fill their collection or pocket when they are scalping the goods on eBay. Let's also throw in the price of gas in today's economy. I'm paying $3.11 a gallon right now and I'll be wasting at least a few gallons of gas, plus wear and tear on my car, plus dealing with moron drives and idiot shoppers. You can keep it and I'll stick with online sites and have the product sent directly to my home and pay either a few bucks for shipping or even get it free shipping.

ChrisMOTUFAN - 2021-12-30 @ 7:25 pm

100% with everything you have said in your article Jay. Personally, I feel like trus needs to really learn from past mistakes or it's all quite pointless. I want to see tons of trus stores again so it frustrates me that they still don't get it.

JayC - 2021-12-20 @ 9:32 am

The reality is this store is mostly for show. It's cool to see and certainly hits the ol' nostalgia spot but my guess is there is nothing in that store you wouldn't find in any Walmart or Target. In fact Walmart's and Target's are likely to have more.

TRU has no buying power anymore with the toy manufactures and it's hard to see how they would ever get that back and ever be able to really compete with the likes of Target, Amazon and Walmart. In TRU's hay day they had over 700 large stores in this country which allowed them to leverage exclusives and if TRU carried a toyline, especially around the Holidays it could actually make or break a toyline. That is no longer the case. Towards the end, even with 700 stores TRU found it very difficult to compete with Walmart and Target which had long ago surpassed TRU's buying power for toys. Walmart currently has 4,743 stores in the US and Target has 1,926.

The only thing TRU has going for it is name recognition and nostalgia, which may if they are lucky allow them to eek buy with one store and a small presence at places like Macy's (which in of itself is a struggling dying breed or retail store). But anyone expecting TRU to return in any real way I think is dreaming.

Goldbug - 2021-12-20 @ 2:42 am
6 hours ago, AvengerK2 said:

Finally. The industry needs Toys r us back and target is too unreliable to fill thegap. .

Target???It was Walmart that claimed they would fill the gap but they failed completely on that promise.

AvengerK2 - 2021-12-19 @ 7:55 pm

Finally. The industry needs Toys r us back and target is too unreliable to fill thegap. .

JayC - 2021-12-19 @ 6:34 pm

Earlier this month we told you how Toys R' Us was planning on opening a new 20,000 square feet flagship store inside American Dream, the entertainment/retail center in Bergen County, New Jersey. Well this weekend they opened their doors for that store and are planning a big grand-opening for this coming Tuesday, 12/21/22.

Gold1983 - 2021-12-06 @ 8:28 pm

Bring back Lionel Play world

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