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Old Stuart, the storyteller toy restorer

Toys wear out, maybe the more we love them, the more they do—but at the same time, beautiful memories deserve care. Even though Ervin Ruszuly of Transylvanian descent never studied toy restoration, he fulfilled a dream he had cherised since he was a child when he set up his own business. But how does Old Stuart relate to all this and what is the mission behind it? Ervin told us about it.

Ervin Ruszuly grew up in Sâncrăieni, then spent ten years in Târgu Mureş. In recent years, he has been interested in many things, trying to find out who he is and seized every opportunity for development: he eventually studied dance choreography in Târgu Mureş, which has been his passion ever since. He currently teaches dance in his hometown, and is also building his projects, including the toy restoration business, called Old Stuart. He dreamed up the idea of Old Stuart ten years ago, but at the time he didn’t know what its name would be, nor how he would start it. “Toys have always been a pretty defining part of my life, because I’m a collector to this day: I collect beautiful toys and small cars. I thought a lot about how to do it, and then, with the help of one of my friends, my dream, cherished for many, many years, seemed to be outlined, and today a great thing seems to be developing,” Ervin remarked.

In naming the brand, Ervin strived for quality and to convey emotion. “I wanted to pass on a story that permeates and fills the whole thing. Inspired by a fictional story, I created Old Stuart, who, returning home after World War I, made and renovated toys for his children and then his grandchildren—and not just them. I am trying to transpose this idea, so to speak, the spirit of this noble cause into today’s world,” he explained.

Toy collecting has been present in Ervin’s life since he was a teenager; he said he started acquiring small cars when he was in eighth grade, in addition to collecting many other things—now, within the Old Stuart business, individual toys from the collection from his childhood are being sold.

But what is Ervin’s purpose in saving the toys? In addition to avoiding many beautiful toys ending up in the trash, or perhaps in the attic, or simply being forgotten, the spirit of Old Stuart has added value.

“I believe that quality toys, their smell and touch play an important role in children’s lives. It contributes greatly to the development of taste and the need for quality,” he emphasized.

In addition to renovating his own old toys, he often goes to the flea market and watches the ads. The vast majority of the repertoire is currently made up of Hot Wheels cars—most of them have a personal attachment to Ervin, so he is often reluctant to sell them. When he starts a restoration, he finds it exciting to replace the missing items with different parts—such as replacing a baby’s arm with a new foot with completely different color and shape, or making it even more unique with an unusual paint or other wheel for small cars.

Since they are used toys, they mostly no longer have packaging—avoiding this problem, Old Stuart toys are given environmentally friendly and natural, new packaging, for the design and image of which Róbert Muszka is responsible. Buyers meet the packaging first, so Ervin and Róbert wanted to create it with detailed attention: they chose a shape and material that convey the spirit of the brand well. “It was an important aspect to convey the feeling that Old Stuart suggests: quality and value,” Ervin stressed.

The initiative addresses not only children but also adults. “I think most toy manufacturers today no longer strive for quality but for quantity and so the value of toys has greatly reduced, even though they are still oversold. In the past, when a toy was made, it included the quality of the material, but today everything is made cheaply and quickly. There is a great demand for old, well-kept toys, especially among collectors. And if even the packaging is original, they can be sold for a high price. Many times I stand there in front of a shelf and consider whether it’s worth it or not, but quite often it’s definitely a yes,” he added.

The various renovated toys are currently available on the Facebook and Instagram pages of Old Stuart. The business is still in the introductory phase, Ervin doesn’t want to plan too much in advance—he’s more confident in the present and slow construction. Nevertheless, he plans to create a small studio in the near future where parents and children alike can choose from individual pieces to their liking. “It’s going to be a place you don’t have to leave quickly, you’ll be able to sit down, talk and have fun,” he revealed. Ervin also plans to organize a Transylvanian small car fair, which can be exciting for collectors as well, and would like people to get to know Old Stuart in other countries beyond the borders.

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