Collection transforms hobby into career for Temple Terrace toy store owner

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Since he was a kid, Red from Big Redhead Vintage Toys has been collecting toys.

"I actually bought out a lot my friends' collections when I was younger," Red said.

His collection has grown into his own vintage toy store in Temple Terrace. The part of the collection he's most proud of are the Transformers.

"Transformers were like the grail I couldn't get as a kid," Red said.

The robots in disguise had a high price point for parents in the 1980s.

There was no way to know at the time, but many Transformers from Red's collection would have been a sound investment. Some can fetch hundreds of dollars today.

The condition of the toy makes a difference on the price.

Red showed off a rare, in-box, never-been-played-with Optimus Prime.

The irony for Red, "never been played with" is not part of what he remembers from his youth.

"Childhood memory as a kid with Transformers go, I really enjoyed just tearing open those boxes, just playing with it," Red said. "Never read the instructions. Instructions were for parents to read more than anything else."

He thinks the simple charm of a 2-in-1 toy is what keeps the toy line popular with kids and adults today.

He hopes his Transformers collection transports customers back to their own childhoods. He says his store has one of the biggest Transformers collections on display in the country, estimating more than a thousand scattered around the store.

"A lot of people come in here and say 'wow it's like I took a time machine back in time about 20-30 years,'" Red said.