Give an adult their favorite childhood toy, and you'll watch them turn into a nine-year-old right before your eyes. The connections we make to our childhood toys are special, and many of our favorites get tucked away into boxes that we carry from home to home. In a few lucky instances, the toys we kept close have tripled in value. Maybe one of the most valuable toys from when you were a kid will turn out to be that special one you've held onto.
1960s & 1970s Barbies
Barbie debuted in 1959 with her iconic black-and-white striped swimsuit and high ponytail. Mattel is synonymous with Barbie today, and the fashion doll continues to be on Christmas lists every year. Collectors will do just about anything to complete their vintage Barbie collections.
Of course, with dolls from the 1960s and 1970s, the most valuable Barbies haven't even been opened. But, Barbies without their boxes still have some appeal. Depending on exactly which dolls you have and how well you've kept them (we're hoping you didn't experiment with going to beauty school using your doll's hair as practice), they can feasibly bring in a few hundred dollars.
In some cases, Barbie accessories can be just as valuable as the dolls themselves. For example, vintage Barbie Dreamhouses list for $100-$150 online.
Video Game Cartridges and Discs From the 80s and 90s
If you grew up in the 80s and 90s, you got to live history as it was being made; the late-20th century was where home gaming broke into the mainstream. From Nintendo to PlayStation, everyone had their favorite console and hoarded new game cartridges like they were gold bricks. Hilariously enough, they're basically gold bricks today.
Whether they're gently used or haven't even been opened, these video game cartridges and discs are worth hundreds to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Video game collectors take having the original games very seriously.
Heritage Auctions constantly sells top dollar vintage video games, and if you've got one in your possession that you think might be worth something, head on over to their website. Type the game title in the search bar and select the 'past sale prices' icon. You'll find loads of previous auction lots to compare your game to.
Why bother with boring motel keychains and wallet chains when you could have an electronic creature clipped to your belt? Tamagotchis came out in 1996 as a sort of pet simulator that you could clip to your pocket. These little egg-shaped electronic toys were everywhere in the 90s and early 2000s. Like how kids get their phones taken away in class today, kids had to sacrifice their Tamagotchis to tired teachers everywhere,
Nowadays, these early electronics are worth way more than anyone predicted. Boxed 'gotchis frequently sell for $500-$1,000. For example, one boxed egg from 1998 sold for $1,099.99 on eBay.
Original Pokémon Cards
Slamming down a legendary Pokemon card in a neighborhood duel was the closest 90s kids ever got to armed combat. Nowadays, these Pokemon cards that 90s kids used for bookmarks, magic tricks, and sticking between their teeth are worth thousands of dollars. We hope you kept your plastic page-protected binders full of cards, because it's more likely that you've got a valuable Pokemon card than it is that you'll win the lottery.
Look for the original lineup and super rare cards, like the gold star cards with a gold star beside their name. Even if you weren't a Pokemon kid, you're in luck. Trading cards from the 1990s are making a huge comeback on the collectors' circuit, so chances are that whatever card game struck your fancy, it could be worth a ton.
A card's condition has a huge impact on its value, so look for cards that are nearly perfect. If they look like you could've pulled them out of a foil pack today, they've got a fighting chance of being worth a lot.
Original American Girl Dolls
You probably grew up with a few horse girls or wolf girls, but if you were a history girl in the early 2000s, then you begged your parents to get you an American Girl Doll for your birthday. These pseudo-collectible dolls with their stiff bodies and soulless eyes were all the rage. Their unique appeal was that each doll came from a different period in history and had an accompanying book that explored what life was like for girls in the past.
Now, if there's one thing these dolls were well known for, it's for being outrageously expensive. We're talking (at the time) video game console expensive. Their prices have continued to rise over the years. The original dolls that have been retired for a long time are worth thousands to the right bidders. For example, one 1986 Molly doll sold for $2,9999.
Keep your eyes peeled for that original 80s and 90s lineup: Kirsten, Samantha, Molly, Felicity, Addy, and Josefina. These girls bring in the biggest paydays.
Other Valuable Toys to Look For
There are more fun toys from your childhood that might be worth something, and these are just a few special ones to consider.
- Hot Wheels - Rare red line Hot Wheels are the ones to look for; one recently sold at auction for $150,000.
- Beanie Babies - Some of the most valuable Beanie Babies sell for $2,000-$4,000.
- Steiff Bears - Your grandparents would have begged to have one of these expensive and well-crafted Steiff Bears. Rare examples of these turn-of-the-century bears have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Madame Alexander Dolls - The upscale fashion dolls that rivaled Barbie were Madame Alexander Dolls. Today, old dolls from the 1950s, in great condition can sell for a few thousand dollars.
Possible Signs Your Vintage Toys Are Worth Something
We couldn't possibly include every valuable toy from your childhood on this list, but that doesn't mean your favorites aren't worth something in their own way. Look over the old toys you've held onto and see how many of these valuable characteristics they've got.
- It's sealed in the original packaging. Collectors love to have toys in their original boxes, but finding them with their packaging still intact can be the holy grail for some toys.
- It's got a factory mistake. Something that puts a leg up on other toys is finding factory errors. Look for extra pieces, missing parts, backwards labels, or upside down paint jobs.
- It was insanely popular when it came out. Toys that hit the ground running when they first came out and still have a lasting impression on pop culture stay popular with collectors and will sell quicker than others.
Some Toys Have Aged Like Fine Wine
Unfortunately, not every toy you've pulled out of your childhood toy box is going to help you pay for that vacation you've been planning. But a few lucky ones have outpaced all the others in how valuable they've become. Nostalgia is a powerful elixir, and people with some cash to burn and an internet connection will pay a whole lot to get one dose of the giddy feeling.