If you enjoy collectibles and love toys, you're in for a holiday treat because just a short drive from Carbon County in Sciota is Eddie's Toy Museum & Store which, according to owner Ed Stanat houses the "world's largest private collection of toys on display." But don't wait too long, on Christmas Eve the museum closes for the season.
As the name implies, Eddie's consists of a toy museum on the second floor and a toy store at the entrance level. The museum houses 21,000 toys, with no duplicates, and none of the items are for sale. Duplicates are housed in the store where thousands of hard-to-get toys are available.
The 21,000 toys at Eddie's Toy Museum are displayed in 42 themed settings, which include Coca Cola World with 1,800 pieces of Coca Cola toys and collectibles, and Kid's World which features Walt Disney characters from Mickey Mouse to Toy Story, plus models from the Blues Brothers to the Pillsbury Dough Boy.
Doll World has 400 Cabbage Patch dolls on display several wearing Mets uniforms, plus a collection of heritage dolls, including one donated by Marie Osmond.
"I called her and asked for a date," said Stanat. "She sent me her doll instead."
As Stanat walks through the displays, it's hard not to notice – with his long white beard – how much this toy enthusiast looks like Kris Kringle. Stanat is in the construction business and spends much of his time working outdoors. When he was younger, his face blistered from the cold weather. When he grew a beard, the problem went away. He's had the beard for more than 40 years.
Stanat continued through sceneries too numerous to mention: Christmas World with Lionel trains, Binney & Smith coloring packages and fleets of trucks from Texaco, Hess and Budweiser; and Fire World a display of model fire trucks and related toys was a recent donation.
"Three years ago, a New York City Fire Company was here," Stanat noted. "They donated a '343' hat the number of firefighters killed in 9/11."
In the New York, New York setting, there are statutes of Dean Martin, Laurel and Hardy, and a sculpture capturing Marilyn Monroe with her dress blown upward as in the movie, "The Seven Year Itch."
Other displays are: PEZ World with 900 PEZ displays; Harley Davidson World, with hard-to-find HD miniatures; Circus World with posters, carnival models, and marionettes; and Wild Kingdom, with a collection of taxidermy animals.
Stanat's premier display, with more than 10,000 models, is dedicated to NASCAR and legendary drivers Dale Earnhardt, Sr., Jr., and Bill Elliott.
Stanat grew up as the only child of a poor Northampton farm couple.
"If I did all my chores during the week, I got an ice cream," Stanat said. "We never got toys."
Never, with one exception. Usually, under the Christmas tree, Stanat would find a present and when he opened it, it would invariably be something practical like socks, a shirt, an apple or an orange.
Stanat opened the glass door to a toy display case and took out a tractor trailer logging truck.
"My father bought this for me when I was 12," he said. "It's a Hubley zinc die-cast logging truck-made in Lancaster, Pa.
"When I opened it up, I was very happy," he said. "I played on the dirt, on the floor, all over for hours and hours. I loved it. I was surprised I never had a toy before that, and it was the only toy I ever got."
After marrying his wife, Marlene, and starting in the construction business, Stanat found himself working at a job across the street from a tractor dealer. As he had grown up on a farm, he wandered across to the showroom and chanced upon a model of the Ford tractor.
It seemed to speak to him. Nearly every day, he returned to visit it, until a month later, he saved up the eight or nine dollars and bought it.
"I took it home and put it on the shelf in my shop," said Stanat.
Just like in the dealer's shop, the tractor seemed to almost have a personality.
"This thing is lonely," Stanat said. "So I bought something else and the rest was history."
"It started with one toy tractor," Marlene Stanat said. "So he bought another one for it. It kept adding up to more and more and more and more. It got a little bit out of hand."
Stanat's collection had overflowed his shop and the basement.
"The empty bedrooms were stacked from floor to ceiling with things," she said.
One day a buddy said to him, "It's a shame that you have all this stuff and it's just sitting in boxes. Why don't you get a building, open a museum and show it?"
He thought about it, and the more he thought about it, the more he liked the idea. So he went around looking, and bought an old blouse mill in 1999. After four years of construction, the museum opened in March 2004.
Since opening, visitors have come to the museum from 39 states and 22 countries. It has received donations of unique toys such as a gold-plated Goodyear blimp and a large model of the Circus speedboat from Las Vegas.
Eddie's Toy Museum & Store, formerly called the Toy and NASCAR Museum, is located at 1 Fenner Ave. in Sciota.
For more information, visit eddiestoymuseum.com; or phone (570) 402-0243. It's open every day but Mondays and major holidays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., from the first day of spring until Christmas Eve.