The life and times of KB Toys

Originally published at: The life and times of KB Toys | Boing Boing


Those private equity vultures really had a penchant for taking over and busting out toy stores, didn’t they?


I remember there being two phases to KB’s existence:

A permanent toy and hobby store that often sold close-outs. The one in the Roosevelt Field mall on Long Island had, for a few years, a section of close-out RPG and boardgames. They had Traveller adventures and SPI games (I picked up a copy of their DALLAS story-telling game for $2) which were not typically a thing you’d see in a mall toy shop.

Much later: Kaybee pop-up stores. I remember visiting one in Beaverton, OR on the way home from work in the mid-Oughts. I bought a bunch of Easy Bake Oven mixes for my niece for Christmas.



I fear we may not be as young as you think, Devin. Here is where I “downloaded” all my Christmas wishes from:


Yeah, yet another way to pin down how old someone is without actually asking their age. And yeah, I will always have fond memories of the old Christmas catalogues.


Thirding the catalogue memories! We would spend endless hours going through them, it was such a part of the season!

Agree with the posts description of KB and Toys R Us, though. KB definitely felt familiar and like being with relatives. Having the hobby section tended to make it more enticing to me than just toys, since I was interested in things like RC airplanes, model rockets, and science kits (of which I only ever managed to get the latter item, the other two not being something my parents could afford or thought I should have).


I have memories of looking over a Sears catalog which had a fabulous Lost in Space play set. The saucer spaceship looked OK, but none of the plastic figures looked remotely like anything in the TV show. But still, intriguing for a (4? 5?) year old.

Maybe fifty years later, I read that that play set was made well before Lost in Space premiered or produced sufficient sketches/photos to design toys with. So they just slapped something together.

Also recall seeing the Johnny Astro set, and being utterly intrigued. I felt a little better about not getting it when a friend did, and it turned out to be a bunch of printed balloons and fan on a swivel.


Raiders я Us?


Man KB always had the older runs of action figures for cheap in a big wire bin up front. X-men series 2 came out? $2.99 close out on all of the series ones. Have a box full of NIB comic related action figures because of K.B. Should probably start selling them when each respective franchise has a big hit again.


Man the Sears Wish Book, that was our goto for toys and learning about new toys.

Toys R Us was around and Kay Bee didn’t show up until my toy days were over.

My Godfather was high up in some sort of toy distributor that supplied toy stores. I would always get some cool toys from him, sometimes before they hit the market.

Still have the American Flyer train set he got me when I was 2.

When our daughter was born, even though Toys R Us and Kay Bee were huge, we got most toys from places like Target but they weren’t on every corner. Even Walmart wasn’t close by. Kmart and Montgomery Wards were big for us.

It was fun shopping for toys in brick and mortar stores.


My guess was “Private Equity”
and I watched until you got to Bane Capital,
then I stopped, because I have better things to do than to vomit up my lunch over one more story about how dude-bros destroyed everything.


I just remember the KB Toys in the Sun Valley (Concord, Calif.) mall always being a complete fucking disaster area. There were always toys just off the shelf and spilled in the aisles. No one seemed to clean up anything and you had to wade over the mess like the piles of newspaper that would collect in our garage before – after a few months – we’d haul them down to the recycling.


We had a minuscule but jam-packed Kay Bee in our local mall. Eastland, in a suburban town on Detroit’s lower east side, became the first enclosed mall in 1975 when I was 8 or 9. A Toys R Us wasn’t far from there, so we’d often hit both the same day.

Kay Bee was way cheaper, except for their Breyer horses, which weren’t and still aren’t cheap anywhere.

Like yours, our Kay Bee was often a mess, and now that I’m much older, I figure this indicated a manager was on their way out or in. Our next visit usually found a much tidier establishment, with a more established manager. Everyone who worked there was always very kind, and went above and beyond to make us happy.

We could rarely find employees at Toys R Us. It was very much a giant place where you were on your own. When we’d finally find an employee, they were very nice. My first Etch-A–Sketch came from that Toys R Us :smiley:

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we were clearly not kids at the same time


I don’t even want to contemplate the number of hours of my life I spent going through that book page by page.


Here you go, spend some more time and relive those days.


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