There's a special kind of gut-wrenching regret that comes up when you find a toy in a vintage shop, with a high price tag, that you used to own. Even worse is when it wasn't your mom tossing it, but it was you who made the conscious decision to add it to the donation box a few years ago.
Valuable toys are a dime a dozen if you know what you're looking for, and with decades' worth of fun-loving, questionably safe toys to rifle through, you're bound to find one you've managed to hang onto.
Whacky Valuable Toys From the 1970s
Toys from the 1970s are colorful, animated, and often come with questionable electrical work. While the 1950s and 1960s broke open the children's' toy market, the 70s continued that tradition. These are just a few of the super-valuable toys that were made in the 1970s.
If there ever was a toy that encapsulated older generations' trust (or lack of oversight, some would say) in young kids to not burn their hands off, it was the Easy-Bake Oven. Released in the 1960s, vintage Easy-Bake Ovens do well on the resell market. In particular, boxed ovens with all their accessories are worth the most. For example, this 1973 Easy-Bake Oven with unopened mixes and accessories sold for $89.88 on eBay. Typically, vintage Easy-Bake Ovens can sell for about $50-$100.
Kenner Xenomorph Action Figures
Coming in at the tail-end of the 1970s are the tie-in Alien merchandise toys manufactured by Kenner. These Xenomorph action figures may not instill the same stomach-bursting fear that the film's extraterrestrials did, but their connection to the cult classic makes them collectible today. There are a lot of factors that go into adding to and detracting from their value, but they can sell for upwards of a few hundred dollars. One 18" Xenomorph from 1979 sold for $195 on eBay.
Valuable Toys Courtesy of the 80s Me Generation
With all that disposable income and no parents to be asking about your whereabouts, it's only fitting that toys from the 1980s were just as bold and in-your-face as the Me Generation that grew up on them. These are a few of 1980s toys that are still worth money.
Strawberry Shortcake Dolls
Characters in the 1980s were stylistically in two camps; realistic humanoid figures or cutesy small characters. Strawberry Shortcake obviously falls into the latter. As with so many popular American toys, Kenner Products took the greeting card kid and transformed her into a marketable doll. This shortcake universe expanded over the 80s, and the original dolls are worth serious money today. For example, a Banana Twirl doll sold for $573.46, and a sealed Mint Tulip doll sold for $600 online. When boxed and in pristine condition, these dolls will easily sell for $400-$600.
Thundercats Action Figures
With action figures, no decade can compare with the 1980s. From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Transformers, these malleable toys are highly sought after today. Among the Saturday morning cartoon lineup are Thundercats action figures. If you can find the main characters still in the original packaging, you've got thousands of dollars in your hands. For example, one sealed and carded Lion-O from 1985 sold on eBay for $5,649.
Valuable Toys Every 90 Kid Fondly Remembers
If there's one thing 90s kids love to do, it's talk about all things 90s kids. Nostalgia is strong for this early internet bunch, and they've hiked up the prices on these 90s toys.
If you were a kid in the 1990s, then you spent many a summer afternoon cooling off your neighborhood friends in a Super Soaker battle. First released in 1990, these super-powered water guns were a massive hit, and they inspired all the pump action, high-powered water guns we see today. Super Soakers made in the 90s can be worth about $100-$200 in full working order. Three zeros for a water gun you haphazardly tossed into the garage every day? Astounding. Yet this 1997 Super Soaker CPS 2500 just proved it can happen when it sold for $96 in 2023.
If you didn't have a Sky Dancer, then you've probably seen the videos of people's knock-offs getting caught in trees, burned in open fireplaces, and so on. Rapidly yank on the doll's string, and you can send her flying through the air. Unboxed Sky Dancers are worth the most, at about $100-$250, but unboxed ones do alright at around $50 a pop. For example, this unboxed 1994 Sky Dancers doll sold for $46.99 online.
Break Into the Millennium With These Valuable 2000s Toys
Kids in the millennium got that last taste of old-school toy marketing and R&D. Before wi-fi and smart phones, kids were running up and down toy store aisles, picking out the newest releases with their allowance money. These are a couple of 2000s toys that are surprisingly valuable today.
Mary Kate & Ashley Dolls
Step aside Barbie and Polly Pocket, Mary Kate & Ashely are in the building. Before there was an array of fashion and character dolls that lined store shelves, kids had a small handful. But none of them were quite like the Mary Kate & Ashley dolls that broke onto the scene in the 2000s.
Mary Kate & Ashley Olsen, now known for their luxe fashion brand, The Row, had a huge series of hit films which spanned their adolescence and young adult years. By their later films, the tie-in dolls started coming out, and they're worth about $50-$100 today.
For instance, this unopened Mary Kate & Ashley doll set from the 2004 New York Minute movie recently sold for $78.
If you grew up in the 2000s, you won't be able to get the sound of kids slamming tiny skateboards onto their desktops scrubbed from your brain. Tech Decks were fingerboards that were fully customizable. We're talking new trucks, decks, and wheels. Of course, X Games, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater video games, and a general rise in extreme sports happening in the 2000s made it the perfect time for a toy like this to hit big.
With so many Tech Decks available, the real value comes from either quantity or unopened special boards. If you've got a huge collection, you can sell them for a few hundred dollars, and the rare sealed board can sell for the same. Take this sealed 2001 PIG skateboard, for instance. It sold on eBay for almost $200.
Think Twice Before Tossing Your Childhood Toys Out
If there's anything you can learn from these valuable toys of yesteryear, it's that you should definitely think twice before tossing out your old childhood playthings. Whether you've got a pile that stretches back to include your great-grandparent's favorite toys or it's the small collection you've held onto for sentimental reasons, it's worth doing a little internet sleuthing to see if they're selling for anything today.