Naperville fam launches Moonshot nostalgic online toy store
For parents looking to introduce their kids to the toys they loved to play with growing up, one of the few options is to battle big-spending collectors on eBay for now-rare pop-culture favorites. Frustrated with this, Naperville couple Mark and Bea Manzo wanted to make retro-style toys accessible, so last month they launched Moonshot Toys, an online shop specializing in affordable remakes of cool collectibles from the '50s through the '80s.
Mark says the couple’s passion for collecting old-school toys dates back a decade. "It's Bea's fault," Mark jokes. "She started me off with a tin zeppelin and a flying saucer as Christmas presents when we first got married—I've been hooked ever since!" he recalls. "But I realized very quickly that originals from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s could cost upward of hundreds to thousands of dollars." The Manzos, however, soon realized they could get quality reissues and reproductions of the very same toys, with identical packaging, at much better prices—usually between $20–$75 a piece.
So Moonshot.com was born, allowing pop-culture vultures with retro interests to browse reissued classics such as Flash Gordon and Star Trek action figures, or Brady Brunch and Married with Children dolls. Dozens of Bobbleheads, model kits and old-school robots are also on offer.
Originally, the couple wanted to open a brick-and-mortar shop in downtown Naperville, which would help them foster a community of other old-school toy fans. But Mark felt an online shop would reach a wider audience. "What we’re not getting in person, we are getting through Twitter, Facebook and toy collector forums,” he says of networking with other fans. Moonshot will also have a presence at the upcoming Mighty Con (a smaller, local version of Comic-Con), which takes place December 15 at the DuPage County Fairgrounds.
While parents might wonder if kids could enjoy these old-fashioned collectibles without having the context of the TV shows and films they reference, the Manzos' son, 7, and daughter, 11, have embraced much of Moonshot’s inventory. "They love current toys, they really do,” he says. "But we took out a Fonzie and a Richie action figure [from the Happy Days sit-com], and while they’d never seen them before, they had a blast putting them in funky poses and setting up little scenarios," he recalls. "They never saw the show but they had more fun than with Barbies or super heroes.” The kids also got a kick out of the shop's tin robots, according to their dad.
For the Manzos, Moonshot is a true family enterprise. The couple's daughter helped out by offering input for the shop logo, while their son volunteered to help out at the upcoming Mighty Con toy, game and comic convention. "My dream is that this would be a family business down the line," Mark says.