Toy Tune Ups
Randy’s Toy Shop Celebrates More Than 30 Years of Toy Restoration & Repairs
Writer / Benjamin Lashar
If you visit Randy’s Toy Shop for the first time, you’ll find yourself staring up at an eight-foot-tall statue of the Incredible Hulk. And that’s just the beginning.
As you venture deeper, you will come across a mix between an art gallery and Santa’s Workshop. There are miniature metal race cars, painted wooden figures and classic windup toys. All the toys are immaculately restored and look great. Everything there, from the smallest gear in a windup toy to the giant statues, all come together to make Randy’s Toy Shop, a toy seller and restorer specializing in pre-1950’s toys.
Randy’s Toy Shop was born out of an obsession. Just like lots of kids, Randy Ibey grew up loving toys. He had a passion for everything battery powered, wind up or otherwise fun. Ibey kept that love with him as an adult. The problem was, as a diesel engineer, he couldn’t afford the toys he grew up with, at least not whole. Ibey realized he could just buy cheaper, broken toys and repair them. Combining research with mechanic know-how, he became skilled at toy repair. Eventually, friends and fellow collectors would request Ibey to restore their toys. Requests became so common that he began doing it full time.
Then, 30 years ago, Ibey repurposed an old chicken coop to become Randy’s Toy Shop. It wasn’t long before the operation outgrew the cramp coop, and Ibey upgraded to a full farmhouse in Carmel. After operating there for 10 years, he set up shop in historic Noblesville in 1998. Heather Ibey, Randy’s daughter and accounts manager, notes how Noblesville is the perfect home the store. She says that, not unlike the toys at the shop, Noblesville is “known for its historic feel.”
“I have customers from all over the United States that travel here just specifically for its history and the old buildings,” Heather says.
Today, business has ballooned for Randy’s. They continually get restoration requests from across the United States and other countries like Australia, New Zeeland and Russia. Through all the work, Randy is still present to this day.
His presence is very much needed,” Heather says. “He obviously will always be the name and face of this company.”
Even when Randy is not in the store, he travels around to different toy shows across the country, sharing his expertise.
As for the restoration process, the Randy’s Toy Store team was tight-lipped. Everyone says Randy has developed his own methods and tools for restoring toys over the years. He even trains every employee himself. The staff did mention, however, that they preferred giving toys a respectable aged look opposed to a “straight off the conveyer belt” look.
“All the little dings and dents tell a story of each toy,” says Aaron Ibey, Randy’s son, photographer and right-hand man.
Yet despite Randy’s Toy Shop’s wide reach and innovative techniques, the store is still a family business through and through. Of the six full-time employees at Randy’s, three are family members.
Heather and Aaron have thoroughly adopted their dad’s obsession. Growing up, they never threw away the boxes their toys came in, let alone the toys themselves. Now they implement that collector’s mentality every day working at the toy store. Randy’s Toy Shop’s status as a family business is also vital to their success.
“We’re honest people,” Aaron says. “People trust us with their toys they grew up with from the 20s that they don’t want anybody else to touch, but they’ll send it to us to work on.”
The Randy’s Toy Shop family also is not limited to blood ties. Each employee has been around for more than 15 years, creating a solid community.
“The atmosphere of the shop is more of a family than a workplace,” says Ben Teller, one employee at the store. “Randy created that, and I enjoy that the most working for him.”
This year, Randy’s Toy Shop celebrates 31 years of restoring toys and “restoring memories.” It’s a fitting metaphor. Each toy at Randy’s brings people back to a certain time, be it when that toy was made or the observer’s own childhood. The shop itself also constantly creates and upholds memories. Randy’s Toy Shop also stands as a reminder for a passionate family who loves toys.
Randy’s Toy Shop is located at 165 N. 9th St. in Noblesville. You can give them a call at 317-776-2220 or visit them online at randystoyshop.com.