Back when writing gossip on the bathroom stalls at school was considered a standard of the teen experience, the famous trading card company Topps released the now infamous Garbage Pail Kids trading cards. Eighties kids couldn't get enough of these sticker cards, which were notorious for their edgy, insulting, and downright rotten nature. The cards just go to show that kids have always been interested in things that upset their parents. But, what 80s kids will be surprised to hear is that people actually collect them today and are willing to pay a nice chunk of change to get them.
Most Valuable Garbage Pail Kids Cards to Hide From Your Parents
|11 Most Valuable Garbage Pail Kids Cards||Recent Sales Price|
|Adam Bomb With Checklist||$25,100|
|Soft Boiled Sam||$875|
|Bad Breath Seth||$339|
Topps introduced the first Garbage Pail Kids trading card series in 1985, created as a hilariously inverted take on the popular Cabbage Patch Kids. These punny, sometimes mean-spirited, and all around totally 80s cards were a huge hit. Garbage Pail Kids cards were to the 80s what Pokemon was to the 90s and 00s. Featuring illustrations that would be right at home in MAD Magazine, these cards spawned related merch and even a feature film, but what people come back to all these years later are the cards that started it all. From characters like Nasty Nick to Corroded Carl, check your childhood books and binders for any of these vintage Garbage Pail Kids cards.
A pun on the atom bomb, Adam Bomb - a little boy with an exploding mushroom cloud tearing through his skull - became the poster child for the first series. One of these cards in a pristine gem mint 10 condition is considered quite a valuable collectible, with a recent one selling for $7,643 on eBay. Even more shockingly, one glossy version with the rare checklist on the back sold for $25,100. However, Adam Bomb cards in an average condition aren't usually worth more than about $150.
Nasty Nick is the GPK version of Dracula, with his Barbie doll-like victim in tow. Collectors gravitate towards this bloodsucking little twerp because he was technically the first card ever released. To the right buyer, a gem mint 10 card in pristine condition can be worth more than $10,000. Take this one, for instance, that sold in a PWCC auction for $17,900 in 2021.
A later '80s Garbage Pail Kid, Semi Colin's Two-Face-esque visage will make you want to give yourself an extra scrub in the shower. But it's not his grotesque artwork that makes him special, it's his printing error. Any collector knows that a printing error can mean striking gold, and on Semi Colin's card, Topps accidentally left off the card number. Copies of this card sell for significantly less than some, but still for far more than its face value. Averaging values in the $50-$100 range, gem mint 10s can bring in a lot more than that. In 2022, one gem mint 10 sold for $610 on eBay.
Soft Boiled Sam
Humpty Dumpty would've empathised with Soft Boiled Sam's cracked predicament. No doubt dealing with a splitting headache after being cracked open by a baby chicken, these cards from the second series released in 1985 are one of the harder cards to find, making them a big value to collectors. Though gem mint 10s of this card tend to sell for around $200, you can occasionally find the perfect buyer who's willing to spend more. Take this gem mint 10 that sold in 2020, for example. One collector wanted it badly enough that they dropped $875 on it.
There's northing nerdy about this chain-smoking caffeine addicted baby called Nerdy Norm. While vintage Nerdy Norm cards might not give you second-hand smoke from smelling them, they can pad your wallet. The most valuable cards in a gem mint 10 condition can sell for upwards of $2,000 each. For instance, one gem mint 10 Nerdy Norm sold for $2,002 on eBay in 2021.
Now, Brutal Brad is one of these GPK cards that'll make any woman's blood boil. A stereotypical caveman character drags presumably 'his' woman by a long stretch of hair across the front of this card. Unfortunately for us, some things from the '80s should've stayed in the '80s. Nevertheless, this card can bring in as much as $600 on the regular, particularly when it's in excellent condition. Most recently, one gem mint 10 sold for $689 on eBay.
Bad Breath Seth
If you think your morning breath is noxious, take a whiff of Bad Breath Seth's. A baby in cute green coveralls and a clothespin on his nose spouts black smoke from the charred hole that is his mouth. Even the precious daisy underneath him wasn't spared from his death breath. Funny in a less-insulting way than many of the GPK cards and, ironically, less valuable because of it, he'll still bring in a few Ben Franklins. In the best condition, Bad Breath Seth cards range between $100-$300; like this gem mint 10 that sold on eBay for $339.
Anyone who's had a baby is well-versed in dodging unexpected spit-up, but the Garbage Pail Kids' Heavin' Steven is spewing out alphabet blocks, toy cars, and more in his retching session. Admittedly, one of the most harmless illustrations in the GPK bunch, Heavin' Steven, in good condition, usually sells for around $100, but occasionally, you can find the perfect buyer who's willing to pay just a little more. It doesn't hurt when the card is a gem mint 10 and the glossy version, like this one was, which someone bought for $1,694.69 in 2021.
Although we're loathe to add this pretty offensive card to the list, its sales make it an undeniably high-ranking GPK card in terms of value. An imprisoned kid jolts from the electricity driven by the electric chair he's strapped into. Despite the shocking image, it serves as a reminder of just how much GPK pushed the boundaries of what was and wasn't appropriate. While both glossy and unglossy versions of this card are highly valuable, the gem mint 10 glossy ones can bring in close to $5,000 at auction. For example, one sold in 2022 for $4,311 on eBay.
An early second series card from 1985, Matt Ratt depicts a boy-rat hybrid stuck in a mousetrap. If you've learned anything about the GPK cards, then you know this is PBS programming compared to the Adult Swim cartoons they put on most of their other cards. Typically, Matt Ratt isn't all that popular unless it's a gem mint 10. These gem mint 10s will usually sell for around $500 each, like this one that sold for exactly $500 in 2021.
One of the most harmless cards of the original bunch, Dead Ted is an animated, zombified version of a kid. Crawling out of his grave and into some collector's hands, these cards aren't worth all that much unless they're in a gem mint 10 condition. Generally, these cards can sell for pennies on the dollar, but a rare gem mint 10 (especially one with the not-often-seen checklist reverse) will go for the low thousands. Take this one from 2020, for example; it sold for $2,599.99 on eBay.
Tips to Help You Sell You Garbage Pail Kids Cards Fast
If you've never sold any collectibles before, then you've probably managed to keep on top of your spring cleaning every year. No matter how familiar you are with selling trading cards online, the process is super simple and only requires a couple of insider tips to go smoothly.
- Get your cards graded. Before you can sell any GPK cards to a vintage collector, you have to get them professionally graded. You might be sitting on a valuable gem mint 10 card that your untrained eyes can't pick out. Our top pick for getting your cards graded is the Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA), which has been grading the best trading cards in the business for years.
- Look for glossy and checklist cards. Most of these insulting sticker cards aren't worth more than about $10-$20, but you want to keep your eyes peeled for the glossy editions as well as cards with checklists on the back. These are all rarer and will bring in more money at auction.
- List your cards in the right place. Kitschy vintage goods aren't sold in prestigious auctions, so you shouldn't worry too much about needing to understand that process if you're trying to sell your GPK cards. Rather, eBay is the best place to go, as that's where most of the sales (even the high dollar ones) are coming from.
These Kids Don't Come From Oscar's Garbage Pail
The Garbage Pail Kids sticker card series from the 80s was such a massive hit because it tapped into every child's inner need for a little dark rebellion - much like Wacky Packages stickers from the previous decade. Because of it, they still resonate with people today, making them an unexpected but valuable collectible from a totally tubular time.