Remember your favourite toy from when you were a kid? It may be worth a lot of money today. The online market for the sale of toys is currently booming driven largely by nostalgia and a desire by people to recapture their youth. Websites from eBay and Amazon to Craig’s List and Kijiji are full of vintage toys that are being sold for hundreds and even thousands of dollars. What’s interesting is that even toys that are relatively recent (from the past 10 years) are selling for sizable sums of money. And there are bargains out there to be found if you know where to look and which toys are the most valuable. Here’s a list of 12 popular toys that are worth a lot of money today.
12. Tamagotchi – $300
Do you have an old Tamagotchi sitting around your parent’s house? Tamagotchi was one of the biggest selling toys of the 1990s. More than 75 million of the devices have been sold worldwide. Invented in Japan, Tamagotchi was a virtual pet housed on a handheld device that kids would feed, play with and nurture. There were more than 44 different versions of Tamagotchi issued by Japanese toy maker WiZ, and some versions are rarer and more prized than others. The popularity of Tamagotchi extended to video games and even a movie in 2007. Today, first issue Tamagotchi devices from 1996-1998 that are in great condition sell online for as much as $300. That’s a hefty mark-up from the toy’s original price of $18. Most sought after among the Tamagotchi is the ultra rare “Devilgotchi,” which only saw a few hundred issued before it was discontinued for being too scary for children. A Devilgotchi has sold for $400 on eBay.
11. Furbies – $500
Furbies are a comparatively recent toy and remain popular today. The first Furby debuted in 1998 and was made by Tiger Electronics. Designed to be a cross between an owl and a hamster, Furby was billed as the first “domestic robot” and was programmed to learn different languages (as many as 24 different dialects). They were the must have toy from 1998 to 2000. Globally, more than 40 million of the toys were sold in a little less than three years. Tiger Electronics couldn’t keep up with demand for the toys and stopped making them in late 2000. Toy giant Hasbro bought the rights to Furby in 2005 and attempted revivals of the toy in 2007 and again in 2012 with mixed results. However, if you have an original Furby made between 1998 and 2000 it could be worth $500 or more today depending on the condition. Originally selling for about $50, original Furbies (known among collectors as “Classic Furbies”) made by Tiger Electronics are hot commodities among toy collectors and their value seems likely to increase with time.
10. Super Soaker – $600
Super Soaker water guns are still around today and being made by toy giant Nerf. And it seems that Super Soakers get more elaborate and complex each summer. Today’s super soaker water guns look like high-tech weapons that are capable of holding gallons of water. However, it is the simpler, original super soaker water guns from the late 1980s and early 1990s that toy collectors love and are willing to shell out a lot of money to acquire. The first Super Soakers went on sale in the summer of 1989. And, by today’s standards, they are pretty tame. Most hold comparatively small quantities of water. But fans of these water guns, driven by healthy doses of nostalgia, have paid as much as $600 for a vintage Super Soaker. Especially valuable are the water guns made between 1989 and 1991, when they were labeled “Power Drenchers.” The toy was rebranded as “Super Soaker” after 1991, and has since gone on to generate more than $1 billion in sales.
9. Mario Kart 64 – $1,500 to $2,500
Mario is a beloved video game character. Originally appearing in Atari video game Donkey Kong, Mario has gone on to star in many different video games for the Nintendo system, and none is more popular than the original Mario Kart racing game that was developed for the Nintendo 64 game console in 1996. While Super Mario Kart released in 1992 was the very first go-kart style racing game to feature Mario, Mario Kart 64 is the version of the game most prized by collectors for several reasons. First, it introduced gamers to four player racing for the first time. Second, it was the first video game to feature 3D graphics. Third, the game introduced Wario as a playable character. And fourth, Mario Kart 64 introduced the blue shell into the game. Add all these up and you have a very sought after classic video game. Mint condition original copies of Mario Kart 64 have sold on eBay for as much as $2,500. Used copies of the game have sold for $1,500.
8. Beanie Babies – $5,000
Beanie Babies were another toy craze from the 1990s. The cute stuffed animals made by Ty Warner Inc. became a global hit with collectors, who loved to get their hands on every one of the cuddly critters. Production of the Beanie Babies lasted from 1993-1999 and the toy has been revived several times since 2000 – never with the success seen in the 1990s. Today, some special edition and rare Beanie Babies are worth major cash. The Humphrey the Camel Beanie Baby has sold for $2,000. A special edition Princess Diana Beanie Baby has sold for $3,000. But the most valuable Beanie Baby is the Peanut Royal Blue Elephant, which has been bought for $5,000. Owing to a manufacturing error, 2,000 of the royal blue colored elephants named “Peanut” were manufactured in a color that is darker than other versions of the same stuffed animal. This makes the royal blue colored elephant super valuable.
7. Pokémon Cards – $10,000
Think baseball cards are worth a lot of money? Try Pokémon cards. One of the biggest toy crazes in history, Pokémon cards were huge when they hit the scene in late 1996. Originally issued in Japan to help promote the Pokémon video game, the trading cards quickly took on a life of their own as kids went to great lengths to collect and trade the cards and secure rare special edition cards. By 2000, major tournaments involving the trading cards began springing up around the world. By 2003, demand for the trading cards was so great that Nintendo took over publishing them alongside the video games. While the intensity surrounding Pokémon cards has cooled in recent years, older cards from the first sets issued in the 1990s, and ultra rare cards, sell today for big bucks. A rare “Raichu” card sold on eBay for $10,000.
6. Lego Sets – $12,000
Lego is more popular today than ever before. And, as any parent knows, Lego isn’t cheap. A half decent Lego set can easily set you back $100 or more. But vintage and discontinued Lego sets go for a hell of a lot more money than that. Developed in the country of Denmark in 1949, Lego is what’s known as a “multi-generational toy.” You, your kids, and your parents all probably remember playing with the toy as a youngster. And it is that longevity and popularity that has made Lego the world’s most popular brand. We’re not exaggerating. In 2015, the asset valuation consulting firm Brand Finance named Lego “The World’s Most Powerful Brand,” replacing the car company Ferrari in the top spot. Since 1949, 600 billion Lego parts have been produced. And today there are six Legoland amusement parks around the world. To say the Lego subculture is powerful is an understatement. And hard to find and discontinued Lego sets send collectors into a frenzy. Rare Space Lego sets from the early 1980s have sold online for $5,000. A discontinued pirate ship from the 1970s sold for $10,000. And a Star Wars Millennium Falcon set, mint condition, went for $12,000 on eBay.
5. Star Wars Action Figures – $25,000
Remember the Star Wars action figures produced by toy company Kenner in the late 1970s? They came with the three-inch figure in a clear plastic case. Well, mint versions of those Star Wars action figures now fetch major bucks online and at auctions around the world. A Luke Skywalker action figure from 1977 in its original case sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $25,000. The first action figure of bounty hunter Boba Fett, in its original packaging, sold for $15,000. They key is that the action figures need to have not been touched or opened. However, even well used classic Star Wars toys from the 1970s sell for hundreds of dollars online. A plastic Millennium Falcon toy that had pieces missing from it sold on eBay for $350. This goes to show that the market for all things vintage Star Wars remains strong.
4. Pez Dispensers – $32,000
People who collect plastic Pez dispensers are serious about their hobby. To collectors, Pez are not just candy dispensers. They are works of art that need to be appreciated and carefully preserved. First appearing in Vienna, Austria in 1927, Pez today remains a global phenomenon, with new character-driven dispensers issued all the time. To date, more than 550 unique dispenser heads have been produced by the Pez Inc. candy company, and they have included everyone from historical figures such as Daniel Boone and Paul Revere, to Darth Vader and Batman. And rabid collectors who are keen to have a complete set of Pez dispensers have paid a ton of money to get their hands on rare ones. In 2006, for example, a super rare Pez dispenser known as “Astronaut B” that was created for the 1982 World’s Fair sold for $32,000. The most coveted Pez dispenser remains the 1955 Santa Claus head, which is speculated to be worth as much as $50,000.
3. Atari Cartridges – $108,000
You might think of the old Atari 2600 console and the video games it supported as a bit of a joke. The original Atari company formed in 1972 and pioneered the modern video game industry. However, the games it produced – from Pong to Pac-Man – look prehistoric compared to modern video games. The original company was forced into bankruptcy protection in 1984 when the then oversaturated video game market crashed. Yet today, nostalgia for the Atari 2600 and its games runs high. Many sophisticated gamers enjoy returning to the console and games they loved in their youth. A mint condition Atari 2600 and complete set of all the games published for the console (565 in total) has sold online for $108,000. That’s impressive when you consider that Atari Inc. sold to Tramel Technology back in 1984 for $50 in cash.
2. First Edition Monopoly Game — $146,500
Monopoly is largely synonymous with the term “board game,” and it remains wildly popular today. And, believe it or not, not much has changed with Monopoly since the original game appeared in 1933 at the height of the Great Depression. The game looks and functions much the same today as it always had. Guess it’s hard to improve on such a great game. And people appreciate the greatness and history behind Monopoly. So much so, that an original hand drawn oil cloth version of Monopoly made in 1933 by the game’s inventor, Charles Darrow, sold at Sotheby’s auction house for $146,500 in 2011. Vintage versions of the game from the 1930s have sold online for as much as $5,000. And special editions of the game regularly trade hands on the internet for hundreds of dollars. This makes sense since the game is all about money.
1. G.I. Joe – $200,000
Toy maker Hasbro has been making G.I. Joe since 1964. And the universal soldier has had many incarnations over the years. Today, G.I. Joe retains a large and loyal fan base as evidenced by the G.I. Joe conventions held around the world each year. The vintage toys sell for a lot of money to collectors who have a bottomless appetite for all things related to G.I. Joe and his enemy Cobra. A Cobra Missile Command Center toy set from the 1980s sold at auction for $17,500. And individual Joe characters, such as a first edition Snake Eyes, have sold for as much as $10,000. However, it is first edition G.I. Joes from the 1960s that fetch the most coin. A prototype G.I. Joe from 1964 named “Toy Soldier” sold on eBay for a whopping $200,000 back in 2003. The market for these classic army men seems to only be growing and vintage G.I. Joes are likely to be worth even more money in the future.