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Get nostalgic as you look back at these popular playthings.
Without them, our childhoods would have been drab and uninteresting. Toys — whether they were action figures, dolls, or interactive games — are what keep us engaged as children. After growing up, they remain a part of life, albeit as a novelty to gawk at and grow nostalgic over. Sure to pull on the strings of reminiscence are these best-selling toys of all time.
Even if you didn’t get to own one of them, chances are you knew their names and hoped you would wind up with one. Were you the recipient of one of these incredibly popular toys?
Around since the late 1970s, Cabbage Patch Kids remained popular well into the 1990s. Even heading into the 21st century, these pudgy-faced kids remained one of the most popular toys ever designed.
The brainchild was 21-year-old Xavier Roberts, who used German “needle molding” to sculpt what would become the launching point for the Cabbage Patch Kids. By 1981, the dolls were on the cover of The Atlanta Weekly and had pieces run in Newsweek and The Wall Street Journal. Xavier hit a milestone in less than a decade of unveiling the dolls when he sold 3 million Cabbage Patch Kids. When 2003 rolled around, there had been more than 130 million Cabbage Patch Kids sales.
If in mint condition, there are some dolls, typically from the 70s and 80s, that can sell for upwards of $3,000.
If you can entertain the masses with what amounts to nothing more than a metal spring, you’ve hit the jackpot. Over its lifetime, the Slinky has sold more than 300 million units. The success of this overly simplistic toy dates back to 1943, to a mechanical engineer named Richard James.
The invention of the Slinky was an accident on James’ part as he was really working on springs that help keep fragile equipment steady at sea. When he knocked a sample off the table, it “walked” down to the floor and inspired James and his wife Betty to develop the first Slinky.
As expected, the metal spring didn’t sell well initially, but when Gimbels Department Store demonstrated the product for Christmas in 1945, Slinkys started flying off the shelves.
There may be a rule that says everyone, at some point in their lives, owns an egg of Silly Putty. One of the more interesting toys to hit the market and start soaring, Silly Putty has a connection to World War II and was an accidental creation on the search for an alternative to rubber. To counter the reduction of available rubber, the United States sought to create an alternative.
In 2009, it was estimated that more than 20,000 eggs of Silly Putty were sold daily. Extrapolate that over a year, and that’s around 7.3 million units sold annually. Across its lifetime, Crayola has sold approximately 300 million units. Who that credit of those incredible sales figures goes to is a matter of debate, however.
While Crayola credits James Wright for developing the synthetic material, Earl Warrick and Harvey Chin have also earned recognition for Silly Putty. According to Warrick, he and his partner, Rob Roy McGrego, received their patent before Wright did.
With a wide variety of different dolls spanning different occupations, races, and pop culture icons, it’s no wonder Barbie found her way onto this list. But it’s not all rainbows and sunshine for Barbie as she’s been seeing a steady decline in sales since 2016, where Mattel suffered a 14% decrease in doll sales.
Even with the decline, Mattel has sold more than a billion Barbie dolls. Part of Barbie’s appeal is her versatility, which has led to her holding more than 180 careers, appearing in more than 40 nationalities, and donning thousands of different accessories.
Among Barbie’s more popular variations, Totally Hair Barbie has sold the most out of any other figure, selling more than 10 million units.
Toys come in all shapes and sizes, often morphing to fit the needs and wants of the current generations. While these popular playthings may be on the older side, their age hasn’t taken away from the novelty of owning them.
Quick! Check the attic and raid your parents’ basement — these playthings from your past are worth a small fortune now. Digging out your old games, comics, dolls, and action figures is a genius idea if you’re looking to make some extra cash — or a lot! Over the years, items you once considered to be nothing more than a fun childhood memory are now very, very valuable. Both collectors and people just feeling nostalgic are willing to pay big bucks for your goodies. So start searching through your old attic, garage, and closet — your wallet will thank you later.
Ahhhh, the ’80s. The surreal Garbage Pail Kids collectible cards have found their ideal home on the equally surreal internet, where a card like “Adam Bomb” can collect around $1,000. Bonus dollars if they are in their original packaging.
When Nigo, the Japanese designer and founder of A Bathing Ape, decided to offload his Star Wars collection, he turned to Sotheby’s. The total haul of the 2015 auction came to over half a million dollars, and included a new boxed Luke Skywalker figurine, one of only 20 out there.
Due to a manufacturing error, only 2,000 of these royal blue “Peanut” elephants were fabricated with a darker color than originally intended. Now, it’s the most collectible Beanie Baby in existence, and sells for as much as $5,000. Other valuable versions include Humphrey the Camel, valued around $2,000, and the 1997 Princess Diana Beanie Baby.
Sugar fiends will be delighted to know that even that old, candy-less PEZ dispenser might be worth something someday. In 2006, a dispenser known as the Astronaut B, created for the 1982 World’s Fair made major bank, selling on eBay for $32,000. Other collectible dispensers include the Mickey Mouse Soft Head dispenser, the 1955 Santa Claus Head dispenser, and the PEZ gun.
An original hand drawn oil cloth version of Monopoly made in 1933 and owned by the game’s inventor Charles Darrow sold for $146,500 at Sotheby’s auction house in 2011, nearly double its expected price. But, even if you don’t have such a rare version of this beloved game, vintage versions from the 1930s have sold for $3,125 and limited editions sell for hundreds on eBay.
While most of these palm-sized cars go for just a few dollars, rare finds can be worth thousands. Among the most valuable is the 1969 “Volkswagen Beach Bomb” prototype, designed with surf boards hanging out the back window and wheels that made it too large for Mattel’s race tracks. Though it never went into wide production, that’s what makes it all the more valuable to collectors, who value it around $150,000.
The most expensive comic ever sold on eBay, this “pristine” 1938 edition went up for auction in 2014, to staggering results. Why the frenzy? It’s the comic that first introduced Superman to the world, and there are fewer than 50 in existence worldwide.
Also known as naked-with-a-loin-cloth He-Man, this brawny action figure was a giveaway that came with the purchase of Wonder Bread in the 1990s. If you saved it, you’re in luck: Your love of white bread could pay off, thanks to the wonder of eBay where some of these go for as much as $200.
If they’re in mint condition, vintage Fisher Price toys can make a mint. In 2009, this 9-inch 1936 pull toy raked in upwards of $8,000 — not bad since it originally retailed for 50 cents.
A new American Girl Doll will run you about $120, but isn’t it reassuring to know that discontinued dolls like Felicity, Samantha, Kirsten, and Molly live on somewhere? If you have one of these “out of print” dolls at home, with their original clothing and accessories, you could make as much as $3,000.
In 2012, a signed 1963 first edition of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book sold on Abebooks.com for $25K. The condition of the book was especially remarkable because, as parents know all too well, picture books rarely survive without any rips, smudges, or smears
Lionel’s nostalgic electric train sets evoke a bygone era (and are now made with 21st century technology), but if you happen to find an original Lionel set in your attic, it could be worth hundreds.
Barbie may have undergone a makeover, but for some collectors, the classic 1959 version will always be the one and only. Originals, complete with zebra-stripe swimsuits and a sweeping up-do, retail from around $8,000.
In a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction twist, an urban legend that Atari had buried hundreds of its game cartridges in the New Mexico desert in 1983 turned out to be true. In all, 881 recovered cartridges were sold, totaling $107,000 in proceeds. Individually, the more rare and popular games can go for hundreds of dollars on eBay.
These furry, interactive toys came on the scene in 1998. If you’re holding on to an early version in an unopened box, you could expect it to fetch close to $900.
Before we were obsessed with our cell phones, we whiled away the hours on Nintendo’s handheld game system, which was first released in the U.S. in 1989. These days, Game Boys go for hundreds, and possibly even more depending on the make and condition.
Hasbro produced the first line of these transforming robot action figures in 1984. If you were lucky enough to keep the originals in their box, they can be worth way more than their original value: Optimus Prime figures in pristine packaging are listed on eBay for upwards of $2,000
Originally published in 1998, first editions of the U.S. version of J.K. Rowling’s story that kicked off the Harry Potter phenomenon have sold for up to $6,500. Score one for Gryffindor if you find a signed copy, which adds to the value, like this one selling for $15,000.
One of Nintendo’s most beloved games (we all wanted to be Yoshi) now sells for hundreds. An original sealed copy like the one pictured, however, can go for a whopping $10,000! A game that is worth a ton of money and taught us how to drive? Not too shabby.
Doll collectors adore Cabbage Patch Kids, first created by Xavier Roberts in 1978. Pat and Joe Prosey are the world’s most obsessive Cabbage Patch doll collectors, having amassed over 5,000 dolls they house in a custom-built Maryland museum (you can buy them all for a cool $360,000). If you’re more of a casual fan, there’s also an official collector’s club with an annual membership of $35.
This beloved, animatronic bear “reads” kids stories thanks to an audio cassette player built into its back. These days, bears in topnotch condition can be had for around $500. The Original Storytelling teddy bear from 1985, on the other hand, is a hefty $5,000.
We all loved Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film about a theme park gone wrong, and there’s lot of merchandise to prove it. If you held on to the original ’90s action figures and kept them in good condition, they can be worth thousands of dollars each these days. T-Rex is one of the most sought after — this one is listed at $4,000.
His name might be Faker, but there is certainly nothing fake about his worth. Fans are willing to pay upwards of $300-$1,000 for an in-box version of the evil robotic imposter.
First published in Japan in 1996, Pokemon trading cards have a huge following and rare cards can go for wildly high prices.
First marketed in 1967, this toy allowed children to create glowing art by fitting small, colored plastic pegs into an illuminated board. Full sets from the ’70s and ’90s go for around $200 today.
These “heroes in a half shell” first made an appearance as comic book characters in 1984, and a wildly popular animated series soon followed in 1987. Pretty much every kids’ birthday party we attended in the late ’80s was Teenage Turtle-themed, and plenty of the action figures were gifted. In mint condition, these figures can go for about $400-900, with rarer pieces being offered for thousands.
Given the current popularity of adult coloring books, it’s no surprise that old school Colorforms, with their colorful backgrounds and reusable stickers, are in demand too. They can go for up to $700.
Girls of the ’80s all loved this cartoon rocker. And the prices these dolls currently fetch are truly, truly, truly outrageous indeed — Jem dolls can sell for upwards of $1,000, with accessories and related toys selling for similarly high prices.
Childhood is practically synonymous with German toymaker Playmobil. Which helps explain why collectors are so nostalgic for throwback pieces and willing to shell out the big bucks for them: This 1995 Victorian Dollhouse is listed at $450 and this knight’s castle is on the market for $395.
Who didn’t adore Strawberry Shortcake and all her adorable friends with dessert-themed names? The original dolls were released in the 1980s and now command between $100 and $500, especially ones still housed in their box.
These virtual monsters were first created in 1997 and gained popularity after an anime series and video game followed. Mint condition versions can go for well over $100 these days, and Digimon cards are also collectors’ items.
Take two things people are wildly passionate about (Lego + trains) and it’s no wonder that the vintage railroad sets from the beloved brand command top dollar. Sets range from Steam Cargo Trains to Diesel Freight Trains to High-Speed City Express Trains, and can all go for between $400 and $1,000.
If you were into this fantasy card game growing up, your collection could be worth a pretty penny today. Collections have sold for tens of thousands of dollars, and rare individual cards like the Alpha “Black Lotus” have sold for as much as $87k.
Given the franchise’s massive popularity, it’s a safe bet that vintage Star Wars merchandise will command some of the highest prices in the galaxy. Bounty hunter Boba Fett is among the most popular action figure from the films, with mint condition, in-box versions being sold for as much as $32,000.
Hasbro’s G.I. Joe has been around since 1964 and remains a favorite for a large base of collectors. Vintage Joes and their accessories run a broad range price-wise, with enemy organization “Cobra” accessories among the most popular. This “Command Center” is priced at over $100, while some individual figures are set as high as $8,000. A prototype G.I. Joe “Toy Soldier” made in 1963 sold on eBay for $200,000 in 2003, according to Mental Floss.
We still remember the theme song from this animated TV series about Rainbow Brite and her sidekicks, the Color Kids, who were in charge of preserving all of the color in the world. These days, original Rainbow Brite and Color Kids dolls can sell for around $1,000.
McDonald’s Happy Meals have come with toys since 1979, so it’s no wonder there’s a following of collectors that loves these pint-sized playthings. On eBay, you’ll find collections like this one of all Disney-themed characters priced around $1,000 or this one full of Barbies priced at $115.
Super Soakers took water fights to the next level, and these vibrantly-colored aqua guns are still in high demand. Models like this one from the 1990s can start around $500.
Everyone loved the bright colors of Lisa Frank — especially when they glowed in the dark. This vintage kit is listed at a whopping $2,000, with its matching backpack going for (get this) $150,000.
These cuties came in a variety of colors, characters, and designs. Depending on which kind you held onto, you could be making some serious cash. While more common versions can be found for fairly inexpensive prices, rarer Trolls — like this gold glitter one — go for thousands.
While you can score one of these rare finds for around $300, if you want the whole set, it could cost over $3,000.
It was the hottest toy of the ’60s (and beyond!), and ignited a passion for baking yummy treats for many. If you still have yours from years ago, it could earn you around $150.
Who knew My Little Pony would be so expensive? These bright little figurines — especially the vintage characters — are worth a lot nowadays. While sets like the one pictured can go for $6,000, rare finds can go for even more.
This ahead-of-its-time toy dates back to 1964. It comes with four spooky tales: Frankenstein, Dracula, Creature From the Black Lagoon, and The Curse of the Werewolf. Oh, and it’s on sale for a cool $30,000.
That’s right: If you can find your old Game Boy cartridge for Super Mario 2, you could become a millionaire.
This game let kids embrace their inner princess and play dress up whenever they wanted. Although you won’t find it on many store shelves today, you will find it online for about $125.
It wasn’t easy keeping up with all the bopping, twisting, and flicking in this fun game. Nowadays, you’ll have an even harder time finding it, which is why sellers are listing it for between $200 and $300.
If you’ve ever played with a Skip It, you know the pain of hitting your ankle…hard. Nevertheless, it could keep you busy outside for hours. Now, it’s online for anywhere between $100 and $300 depending on how old of a model you own.
From Crazy Taxi to Super Mario, the game options on this ’00s-era console provided endless entertainment. Now, you can find one online for around $7,000.
Not all clowns are scary, as Molly from the The Big Comfy Couch proved in the ’90s. If you still have this plush doll buried away somewhere, it could earn you around $250.
Competitive gamers could get stuck down a rabbit hole playing Simon — a game where you had to remember the order of the colors on the device — for hours. A vintage one will sell for around $50 today.
Hopefully you didn’t lose your bag of marbles, because some varieties can go for thousands today. A set from 1926, for example, goes for up to $1,500.
Everyone talks about Barbie, but her younger sister Skipper is also valuable. Older varieties, depending on the accessories and theme, could start at around $700 and go up from there.
Depending on how old your Raggedy Ann is, you could make more than $1,000 by selling it. This set of Ann and Andy, dating back to 1920, is listed for nearly $2,000!
Mistakes can be very valuable. If you have an unopened action figure, take a look at the name on the box. If it doesn’t match the character, you’re in luck! This mislabeled Wonder Woman figurine (inside a Batman package) is listed for $2,000.
They were the twins who took over the ’00s, and their dolls were just as much of a hit. Now, they can be found online (as a set, of course) for around $200.
Who could forget trying to take care of this tiny digital pet? Although you can find Tamagotchis for less, vintage or limited edition versions go for thousands.
Bratz are still around today, but they’re different than the old school models, which can go for thousands — especially if you kept an entire collection intact.
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