How Much Are Those Vintage Toys in the Attic Worth?
Jacquie Denny, co-founder of the online estate sale and secondhand goods marketplace Everything But The House, says iconic toys are the hidden gems in today's marketplace for secondhand and collectible toys. "Star Wars," G.I. Joes, Legos and Pokemon are all in high demand as adults who played with those toys as kids try to turn their own children on to the toys.
"The kids who grew up on these are now at the age that they are raising their own families and want to share those memories by enjoying them with their own kids," Denny said.
So when’s the last time you looked in the attic of your parents’ house to see if a semester of college tuition for your own kid may be hiding in a toy box? Here’s a list of what you should be looking for if you want to cash in on those childhood memories.
Power Rangers Action Figures
While a lot of collectors insist on mint condition figures still in the box, Power Rangers seem immune to that criteria.
The Carrier Zord figure released in 1993 in good condition can get as much as $270. Other out-of-the-box Power Rangers average around $200.
Vintage 1959 Barbie
There have been a lot of Barbie dolls released in the past 60 years, but this is the original. No mint-condition 1959 Barbie’s have sold in recent years, but even in good condition they are worth a lot. One sold earlier this year for $23,000.
A Pikachu Illustrator card recently sold at an auction house for more than $50,000. Pikachu was the main Pokémon character that appealed to both boys and girls, and there was low production on the first generation while they were testing the market.
Early misprints – like the one that sold for more than $50,000 – bring in more money than the more common corrected versions of the card.
Classic Video Games From the 1980s
Mario Bros. is "making a huge comeback" Dennis said, but any big-name game going as far back as the original Pong is finding love on the collectible toy market. The original Game Boy Color and a Sega Genesis console have been selling for as much as $2,000 on some video game collecting sites, while copies of Mario Kart 64 can fetch as much as $1,000.
"There is a group of tech fans who are now wanting to enjoy the classics," Dennis said. "The ones who I have talked with love the simplicity of these games and, again, it is reminiscent of their youth with their besties – most of them are still playing these with the same guys."
Optimus Prime and Megatron Action Figures
Not all of those old-school Transformers action figures are worth a fortune, but Optimus Prime and Megatron can be worth megabucks: anywhere from $800 to $900 each, if the figures are in pristine condition.
Unopened Lego Sets
The key to selling Lego toys as collectibles is having still-sealed sets in the original packaging. Those fetch between $200 and $1,000 depending on the set and how old it is.
Out of the box, don’t bother: once you open a box of Lego, the value drops dramatically.
The Super Soaker Monster XL still bills itself as the largest water gun ever sold. In mint condition, it routinely sells for $500 on eBay and other collectible sites.
But even used, Super Soakers are worth something. A used Super Soaker CPS, known as the most powerful water gun ever sold, can get as much as $360 if your days of ambushing the neighbor kid are behind you.
Anything Polly Pocket
These inch-tall toys and the line of accessories sold separately were the craze for kids in the 1990s. Now they’re the craze among toy collectors.
A Peter Pan Polly Pocket set was recently listed on eBay for $300. Other toys in less-than-mint condition can still get as much as $200.
Rare Beanie Babies
Not just any Beanie Baby – you can still find those for $5 or $6 in your neighborhood drug store. Most of the original Beanie Babies that sold for $5 during the first craze over these stuffed animals fetch an average of $21 on the secondhand market.
But first edition Princess Diana bear has sold on the collectibles market for $500,000. Other Beanie Babies – including Peanut the Royal Blue Elephant and Quackers the Duck – can fetch prices ranging from $400 to $1,800, depending on their condition.
Rare PEZ Dispensers
Like Beanie Babies, most PEZ dispensers haven’t appreciated much. But some of them are highly sought after by collectors. PEZ, after all, is one of the few toys that has its own professional collectors society.
Astronaut B, a PEZ dispenser that was created for the 1982 World’s Fair, sold for $32,000 on eBay, marking the highest resale price for a PEZ dispenser Work + Money could find in our research.
Early Monopoly Sets
Sotheby’s routinely puts original Monopoly sets produced in the 1930s up for auction, and they usually sell for between $4,000 and $6,000.
But if you happen to find one of the original sets – the one with the hand-painted board that was fashioned in 1933 by creator Charles Darrow – you're looking at $146,500, if we use the last sale price from Sotheby’s.
This is really nothing more than a tape recorder – a tape recorder that played a key plot point in "Home Alone 2." That cameo set off a run on the toy, and the value has only increased since. Today, prices for Talkboys in decent condition average at price points north of $200.
G.I. Joe Mobile Command Center
Or, really, anything G.I. Joe. Even a used Starduster – a figure Hasbro only sold through mail order – can get as much as $300.
Vintage Easy-Bake Oven
This toy launched just in time for Christmas 1963 and almost every girl needed to have one, launching one of the first nationwide rushes on toy stores for a particular item.
If you managed to hold onto the one you got on Christmas morning in 1963, you can now probably buy a top-line oven. Originally sold in teal or yellow, matching the kitchen appliance style of the time period, these toys now sell for as much as $4,000.
While Furbies were in production until 2012, they never lived up to the mania of the originals released in the late 1990s. Furbies from that time period sell on the secondhand market for $500.
The only problem is when the Furby craze hit in 1998, a lot of people paid more than that to get them under the Christmas tree.
Original Boba Fett and Other "Star Wars" Action Figures
There’s an obvious question to be asked when collectors are willing to pay as much as $5,000 for a Boba Fett action figure: Why Boba Fett and not one of the better-known characters from the original Star Wars franchise?
Kenner originally planned to sell it via mail-order with a rocket that actually launched from Boba’s jetpack. But the hazardous nature of the toy was noticed before it was shipped, causing delays and pent-up demand. As a result, Boba Fett is the king of the collectible toy market even if he meets an untimely end in “Return of the Jedi.”
And that $5,000 is for the U.S. version. A Canadian version recently sold for $6,250, and a Hungarian version sold for $15,000.
Don’t feel too bad for Luke Skywalker, though. There are only 20 of his 1978 original action figure known to be in existence. If you find one and it’s still in the box, it will make Boba Fett look like chump change. Sotheby’s sold one at auction in 2015 for $25,000.
Babe Ruth McFarlane Action Figure
Specifically, you need to find the Babe Ruth figure wearing a blue hat. Only five of them were made, making it one of the most expensive collectible toys to make our list. They rarely come up for sale, but one sold on eBay in 2015 for $14,000.
Beach Bomb Hot Wheels Car
An individual Hot Wheels car won’t get much – unless it’s the Beach Bomb Hot Wheels Car. The purplish-pink van has a surfboard hanging out the back. One of them sold in 2014 for $72,000.
If you aren’t lucky enough to find that one tucked in the basement, collectors like complete collections; one with several hundred cars sold last year $20,000. A complete, still-in-the-box Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt Cars set sold for $1,550 in 2014.