Holding a tea party for all your My Little Ponies, forgetting to feed your Tamagotchi, being the first in class to get a Game Boy... You’ve probably got a warm, fuzzy nostalgic feeling right now, remembering the toys you used to play with.
And did you know, some of them could be worth an absolute packet? While it’s unlikely (but not impossible) that you’ve got a vintage Steiff teddy bear worth a five-figure sum in your loft, you’ll be surprised at how valuable the childhood toys you used to fling all over your bedroom floor could be now.
We asked Peter Metalli of Highclere Antiques why toys are so collectible: “We all grew up with the popular culture of our time, and toys resonate because they remind us of our childhood. As adults we make the connection between their monetary and their emotional value,” he confirmed.
So which toys could earn you some serious cash?
Remember the excitement of plugging Pong into the telly and playing a rudimentary game of tennis? If you’ve still got an original working, boxed Pong C-100 in the back of the video cupboard, it’s worth around £100 now. Pong was eclipsed in 1987 by the Nintendo Entertainment System Console, which you still had to plug into your telly, but you could knock Super Mario off a wall in colour. One NES was reportedly sold in the US for $50,000, but more realistically you could get around £250 for one in mint condition. And if you have a rare original, working Tamagotchi – the digital pet from the 1990s - you could sell it for up to £350.
If you’re about to drop that irritating Ood Dr Who figure into the charity bag because you’ve trodden on it once too often, stop! It could be a future heirloom. Action figures are probably the most collectible toys and even more so if they are linked to an original big film, TV programme or comic. The rarer figures and less popular characters often have more value. Peter jokes that the “irony is that Stinky Pete from Toy Story 2 is also the one that will give you the best return in real life”.
Remember the Pokémon cards you bought with your pocket money and swapped with your mates (and no, we are not talking about Pokémon Go)? Well, if you did you could be sitting on a small fortune, especially if you happen to have the rare Pokémon Illustrator. Only 39 of these were produced and are valued at £75,000. Peter advises: “Check your Pokémon collection to see if they’re worth selling individually.” And watch out for Garbage Pail Kids cards. These were brought out as a parody of Cabbage Patch Kids, but they’re anything but garbage on the open market today.
Digital pets became more sophisticated (and furry) than Tamagotchis when the communicative Furby arrived in 1999. If you have a boxed original, or one of the special editions, you could be looking at up to £350 for this squeaky little character. And if you were an avid collector of Care Bears (who wouldn’t be?) a complete set could net just over £5,000. And, despite all the hype when they came out, Beanie Babies are still only worth £1, unless you are fortunate enough to own one of Ty’s original nine, a special edition or one with a misspelled label or wrong fabric.
It’s often not the toy itself that is valuable, but the accessories that came with it. Charity shops are full of My Little Ponies, but add a My Little Pony tea set and that’s a different (£370) ball game altogether. Early Action Man, Sindy and Barbie dolls are the same – if you have the original box, uniform/dresses and accessories, you could be quids in.
So what final advice about collecting childhood toys does Peter offer? “In terms of investment, it is usually better that toys are unplayed with and ‘mint in box’. Mint in box means never having opened it. Not once. Of course it is better that toys are played with as that is what they were designed for and you cannot put a price on fun, play and memories for your children. Buy two, keep one mint and play with the other!” Peter concludes.