Angie's LIST Guide to
Toy repair

The purpose of toy repair is to return a toy to its original form. Toys are fun objects to play with for children and for some adults. Repair the toy yourself or hire a professional to fix the item.


Toy repair pros can restore an item, whether to the pristine condition preferred by a collector or to something more like the Vevleteen Rabbit. (Photo by Ellen Miller)
Toy repair pros can restore an item, whether to the pristine condition preferred by a collector or to something more like the Vevleteen Rabbit. (Photo by Ellen Miller)

Kinds of toys

Common types of toys to repair are train sets, vintage toy guns, vintage dolls, toy-grade radio controlled vehicles and arcade games. Arcade games include video games, pinball machines, and Skee-Ball machines. Dolls range from porcelain figures to plastic talking dolls. There are also robots and space toys.

While some toys are wind-up, other toys are battery operated. Some items, such as toy trains, have choices of wind-up or electrical. Repairs fix moving and missing parts. Power-operated toys lose power; plastic items may break and parts for rolling toys go missing.

Repair or replacement

Toys worth repairing often have sentimental value, monetary value, or both. Heirlooms are often worthy of repair. You may cherish a toy that has passed through generations of your family as you consider it an heirloom. You repair the item to keep it from disintegrating and to pass it on to future generations.

Another reason to fix a toy is if the work will enhance the value of the toy beyond the cost of the work. As the toy's owner, you then have financial gain. It's also a good idea to repair the item if doing so is cheaper than buying a new replacement toy.

On the other hand, replacement is preferable when the toy has damage beyond repair. As well, you may not always be able to find parts that are necessary to fix the toy from the manufacturer or from aftermarket suppliers. This problem exists for many toys that are no longer in production.

Replacement is also favorable over repair when you are able to buy a new toy for substantially less than the cost to fix the item.

Pros and cons of DIY

There are pros and cons of starting a do-it-yourself (DIY) project instead of hiring a professional to do the repairs. The DIY work may save you money. You likely have to pay an hourly fee or labor costs to someone you hire; the cost is not part of DIY.

DIY is likely a better choice than hiring a professional if the work is small. You can check for faulty batteries yourself and replace them in the toy or easily apply adhesive to a plastic doll to repair it. When you do the work yourself, you also have full control over the process and you keep the toy in your possession.

When the work is more intricate, hiring someone is likely a better choice. You risk damaging the toy further if you work on it yourself. A specialist has experience replacing a broken axle or repairing a leaky valve. The toy specialist likely already has an inventory of spare parts, which you may not have access to otherwise.

Repair professionals often give useful warranties too. The project cost may include a guarantee and coverage for any future work on the toy. A DIY project does not have these benefits.

Hire a professional

There are repair specialists licensed for the toy trade who have extensive knowledge about toys. Another option is to hire a handyman who has related repair experience. Some handyman service companies include repairs of toys within the list of services. Research companies on Angie's List to read real user reviews.

If the toy has a defect, contact the manufacturer to ask if the company will repair or replace the toy for you. Some companies will repair the item free of charge as part of the return policy.

For damaged dolls, you can enlist the services of a doll hospital. A doll hospital is a professional repair and restoration facility. The dolls are patients at the hospital and the repair professionals are doctors. When you take a doll to the facility the toy recovers from injuries such as broken limbs and physical disfigurement.

Cost and time frame

Repairs of dolls and other toys generally begins with an appraisal. Some companies charge for appraisals while other businesses offer the service free of charge. During the appraisal, specialists check what work is necessary based on flaws and current condition of the toy.

Repair costs cover the parts to replace plus labor costs. Some doll companies have a minimum fee per doll, with prices rising for repairs such as green ear removal and vinyl repairs. The cost for a toy specialty company to repair the wheel rotation of a model train is about $100. The time for repairs is about two days for this type of task.

The time frame of a specialist is longer if company needs to order parts, which can take days or even weeks to arrive in the shop. If you need work completed in less than a few days, ask the specialist before hiring to see if the time frame is possible. Costs increase at some companies for the special request.

  • The global toys and games industry is forecast to rise to $100 billion by 2015, according to research from Global Industry Analysts, Reportlinker.


do you know anyone that can repair a thistle (metal) doll carriage?

Cant get it to spring back

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