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'Star Wars' Turns Lyndhurst Coach Into Collector

Joe Maffei buys and sells vintage toys and comics
Joe Maffei buys and sells vintage toys and comics Photo Credit: Anthony Locicero
Some of Maffei's collectibles in his Hasbrouck Heights storage room.
Some of Maffei's collectibles in his Hasbrouck Heights storage room. Photo Credit: Anthony Locicero
Maffei said he doesn't want to know how many items he has stored away.
Maffei said he doesn't want to know how many items he has stored away. Photo Credit: Anthony Locicero
Maffei gets his items from estate sales, flea markets and garage sales.
Maffei gets his items from estate sales, flea markets and garage sales. Photo Credit: Anthony Locicero

LYNDHURST, N.J.– Joe Maffei of Lyndhurst has created that of a time machine.

Really, it's a storage room in Hasbrouck Heights. But the hundreds of vintage toys, comics and collectibles Maffei, 38, has acquired over the years will take you back by the decade.

"I had an appreciation early on for old items," said Maffei, formerly the varsity boys soccer coach at Lyndhurst High School. "Being a kid in the '80s was great.

"Plus I got my brothers hand me down toys from the '70s," he said. "We had some awesome stuff: Star Wars, G.I. Joe, and Garbage Pail Kid cards."

Maffei opened a storefront on Ridge Road in Lyndhurst, but admits it became too much work for one person.

Instead, he sells his items on eBay and in person.

You can find Maffei at the Wayne Toy Show on Parish Drive on the first Sunday of every month.

The "Star Wars" trilogy is what got him hooked.

"I loved it so much that I wanted to find everything I could," said Maffei, formerly a history teacher in Kearny. "There was just something special about it."

The school Maffei taught at closed, leaving Maffei with hundreds of unanswered job applications. It seemed to be the perfect time to turn his hobby into a full-time venture.

"There is just something about digging through a dusty attic or basement that hasn't been touched in decades," he said. "Obviously finding something cool or a stash of action figures helps make it worth while."

Being a good vendor is no easy feat.

"I spend hours waiting outside of estate sales," Maffei said. "Then there are hours of research, be it looking for estate sales, or just researching what I purchased.

"And finally, listing the items and shipping them out," he said. "You can have great months, but you can have terrible months."

Maffei sets his sights on vintage toys but collects anything that catches his eye.

His favorite is his Vintage Mister Rogers Land of Make Believe finger puppets.

And his most expensive item: "A comic book that I keep at an undisclosed location," he said with a laugh.

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