Childhood Toys That Are Worth a Pretty Penny
If you grew up in the last century, you know that playtime was defined by simple pleasures like playing outside with friends or with toys that were basic in their creation, but offered hours of endless enjoyment nonetheless.
Most of those toys were loved to the point of breaking and were eventually discarded as we grew. But those that do exist now command high dollars at auctions and online because they are so rarely in their original condition.
Check out some of these valuable, retro toys that may be hiding in your attic or basement.
Beanie Babies were popular with collectors because they were marketed as collectibles from the beginning by creator Ty Warner who would "retire" or limit the number of a specific Baby to create demand and drive prices up. By 2000, the Beanie bubble had burst, and most of the plush toys can now be found sitting on thrift-store shelves, but there are a few that are still highly collectible.
Those in question are from the first three generations of Babies produced, with one of the most expensive being the Princess Diana Bear, which can earn in the thousands depending on condition, version and if the original tag is still attached.
Mattel has sold more than a billion Barbies in 150 countries since the doll was first introduced in 1959, making it one of the most popular toys of all time. Not every doll is particularly valuable, but those that are can fetch in the tens of thousands of dollars.
A first-generation Barbie was sold at auction for nearly $28,000, and even special editions from as recently as the early 2000s can command a few hundred dollars.
Hasbro's Lite Brite first appeared on store shelves back in 1967 and is still in the toy game. The idea was (and is) simple — a black sheet of paper stuck with translucent, colored pegs in the pattern of an object to a grid that's backlit by a light bulb.
The original came with 400 plastic pegs in eight different colors. A Lite Brite with its original pieces and packaging in mint condition can fetch up to $300 on eBay.
PEZ began its life in Austria as a breath mint for adults and an alternative to smoking before it came Stateside and was re-marketed to kids with fruity flavors and fun dispensers in 1955. Today, people worldwide collect PEZ dispensers and merchandise.
Most aren't worth that much, but if you have a rare piece, you may be able to earn from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars for it. An extremely rare 1982 World’s Fair PEZ dispenser was sold for $32,205 on eBay in 2006.
Star Wars Toys
When “Star Wars: A New Hope” came out it in 1977, it changed the game for both moviemakers and toymakers. Virtually anything having to do with the original trilogy is still avidly collected, and prices continue to rise. As with any vintage toy, packaging and condition weigh heavily on value.
Some Star Wars toys that command a hefty price are models of the Millennium Falcon ($2,800 to $3,200), the Radio Controlled Jawa Sandcruiser ($3,000 to $3,200) and the Sonic Controlled Land Speeder ($1,000 to $1,200).
Monopoly was bought and loved by millions, so much so that even vintage boards aren’t worth much. However, in rare instances, some can sell them for a few hundred dollars. Condition is everything, as is a complete game with all the pieces.
The original 1935 Monopoly sets that includes the year "1933" on the board or the words "patent pending" on the box are scarce. They can fetch $300 to $900. Special edition games can also be quite valuable — the Franklin Mint's edition can earn $300 on eBay.
In 1998, the world was introduced to the Furby, an at-home robot that would talk to you the more you interacted with it. The toy was in high demand from the very beginning and is still being made today.
First-generation Furbies in mint condition with packaging can ear between $100 and $150. Those with grammatical errors on the packaging or special edition Furbies can raise the value of a unit as high as $500.
The Easy-Bake Oven
The Easy-Bake Oven launched just before Christmas 1963 and was an instant hit. It's been in production ever since, with more than 30 million units and 150 million mix refills sold.
The original came in the kitchen colors of the period — teal or a light yellow — and has considerable value today. A complete set in mint condition can go for $300 or more.
In the early ’80s, Pound Puppies came in cardboard “crates,” with adoption papers and were the next big toy fad — more than 2.5 million puppies were sold in 1985 alone. Then came oversaturation (and even a TV show!) before the Puppies' star started to dim. In the end, more than $300 million Puppies were sold.
Today, most aren't valuable, but if you have a Puppy in perfect condition with clean papers and packaging, it can likely earn a few hundred dollars.
American Girl Dolls
American Girl dolls hit store shelves in 1986 and, not unlike Beanie Babies, were snapped up in hopes of future riches, but that drove prices down. However, the dolls, which come with backstories of their lives at different points in U.S. history, are still somewhat collectible if they are in perfect condition and made by the Pleasant Company before it was sold to Mattel in 1998.
American Girl dolls from this early period can fetch anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000.
Lord of the Rings Knickerbocker Figure Set
These Lord of the Rings action figures were released in 1979 — well before the Peter Jackson trilogy — in conjunction with an animated movie, which was nowhere near as well received.
Subsequently, the figures were relegated to discount bins. If you have a full set (eight figures with packaging intact), you're in luck — they command about $17,000 on eBay.
A complete number of pieces and clean packaging are key to the value of Lego sets (the bricks themselves are pretty durable). Rare sets — including the Star Wars Millennium Falcon, the Star Wars Death Star, a Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer, the Taj Mahal and the Statue of Liberty — are valued well into the thousands.
A Mr. Gold Lego, which is a stand-alone mini figure, is also extremely rare. Only 5,000 of them were ever made, and the piece is valued at about $1,500.
Hot Wheels were popular as soon as they hit store shelves in 1968. It's believed that more than 40 million kids have owned or played with the toys, but in recent years, it's adult collectors who have been carrying the torch. The toy varies in price, depending on condition, packaging and model, but some are valued in the tens of thousands.
One such piece, the "Beach Bomb" VW Microbus (with surfboards), is considered the "holy grail" of Hot Wheels toys and has been valued between $100,000 and $150,000.
The big-eyed dolls that resemble 3D Keane paintings made their debut in the early 1970s and are still made today. Kenner made original Blythes, but they never caught on with kids, who found them too scary.
Subsequently, they didn't last long on store shelves. If you have one in mint condition today with the original packaging intact, you could be looking at earning a few thousand dollars.
Trolls, created in 1959 by woodcutter Thomas Dam, became immensely popular in the ’60s and have been in and out of production ever since. Most trolls aren't worth more than a few dollars, but those that were made in the first few years of production do have a higher value.
Dam Things animal trolls from that time period can command anywhere from $25 to $200 if they are in mint condition with tags still attached. And a vintage Nyform troll produced in Norway from the same period can bring in more than $500.
Did you have an electronic pocket pet in the ’90s? The Tamagotchi was attached to a key chain and was "raised" by its owner (who offered it food and care when it bleeped) from infancy into adulthood.
Most Tamagotchis lived a full life and went to digital heaven, but those that remain can now fetch a pretty penny, from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars — that is if they are special edition pieces, in mint condition and have their packaging intact.