We've talked a few times about whether our old toys from the '90s are actually worth something nowadays, and usually, the answer is, "Not nearly as much as you were hoping." However, that's not always the case — and as these 10 toys show, sometimes it's still possible to be pleasantly surprised by what your old gear will go for on eBay. Isn't the Internet fantastic?
Something to keep in mind: We're working primarily with asking prices on eBay here — but first off, "asking price" isn't necessarily the same thing as "price people will actually pay"; and second off, "worth" is pretty much always relative, and sometimes even arbitrary. I'm not a collector, so personally, I would never find a Pokemon card or an action figure “worth” several hundred dollars — even if it was a throwback to something I really, really loved when I was a kid. You, however, might feel differently. Maybe that Pokemon card is everything to you, and therefore worth whatever you're able to pay for it. It's totally up to you.
Things that generally weren't worth a whole lot, according to my afternoon of eBay-ing? Tamagotchis, Skip-Its, Polly Pocket sets, Talk Boys and Talk Girls, and the like. These toys often make their way onto “LOOK HOW MUCH YOUR CHILDHOOD IS WORTH NOW!”-type posts, but by and large, they're not going to net you much more than $30 or so. (Or at least, not in the current eBay market.) Sorry to burst your bubble, but, well… best not to get your hopes up, right?
Also, bear in mind that there are a lot of beddraggled and much-loved vintage toys for sale on eBay. These ones will also obviously not go for as much. You have to dig a bit to find the stuff in good condition — and if you have unopened, brand-new-in-box merch? You might be in luck.
So go check out your old toy box, or see if your parents have any gifts they stashed away and subsequently forgot to give you. You might be able to snag a little somethin' somethin' for them.
1. Some American Girl Dolls
As we've already discovered, most American Girl dolls — even the retired ones or those from the pre-Mattel era — aren't often worth a heck of a lot. There are, however, a pretty sizeable number of huge sets for those original dolls going for several hundred bucks on eBay. In some cases, the asking price is a whopping $1,000, although I think that might just be wishful thinking on the owners' parts. It's worth noting that I don't know if anyone actually bids on these kinds of lots — but if you wanted to, you could snag a massive Molly lot including original packaging and a ton of accessories for a $1,000 Buy It Now price, or bid on a “slightly used but in excellent condition” Kirsten doll with the complete school and holiday sets for a starting price of $650.
2. Original Furbies
I'll admit that I found this one kind of surprising; if original Tamagotchis re only worth around $40, you'd expect the same to be true of original Furbies, right? But a Furby from 1998 that's brand-new-in-box might go for anywhere between $500 and $900. This little guy has a Buy It Now price of $500.
3. GI Joe Mobile Command Center
I was never incredibly into GI Joe, but I do vividly recall watching the commercials for this on TV as a kid — because the Mobile Command Center, like most playsets, looked amazing. These days, it's common for it to go for upwards of $100 on eBay — and frequently more. The one seen here is asking for nearly $300.
4. Magic Nursery Dolls
Remember these? The deciding factor in their relative price these days is dependent on their gimmick: Has someone already opened it up, dissolved the doll's paper nighty in water, unveiled its hair, and discovered what the gender binary determines it to be? If yes, sorry; it's just a regular ol' baby doll worth between $10 and $35. Is it still in its box, its mystery not yet uncovered? Congratulations! Your doll might fetch between $100 and $250. Alas, though, if your doll is actually supposed to be a pair of twins, you probably won't be able to acquire the second doll; I'm not sure exactly when they ceased production, but they seem have been a late '80s-early '90s offering. Is anyone else kind of curious about what happened to any unclaimed twins that remained after they were discontinued?
5. Mint Condition Game Boys
If all you want is a vintage-esque Game Boy so you can play Tetris like you did in 1992, a lot of refurbished or modified systems — by which I mean ones that have had their screens replaced or been otherwise tinkered with in some way, shape, or form over the years — are available on eBay for around $30 to $50. If, however, you want a mint condition Game Boy, complete with the original box and launch title? Well, let's just say that's where the money lies. They're largely only available at Buy It Now prices — that is, they're not auctions — but hey, at least it takes the guesswork out of it: You know that you'll be paying anywhere between $129 and $699 for an in-box Game Boy with a Tetris cartidge and various other acoutrements. Also, you don't have to worry about somebody snatching it right out from under your nose at the last second.
6. Select Few Beanie Babies
Yes, we all thought that our Beanie Baby collections would be worth a fortune when we were building them. No, that assumption has not yet come to pass. But according to the Beanie afficionados at Love My Beanies, there are a select few of the toys that might be worth something. For example, “Punchers” — later “Pinchers” — the lobster with Korean tags? Is probably worth enough to pay your rent for a month or two, depending on where you live. Just FYI.
7. A Bunch of Board Games
Given that board games for kids typically only cost around $20, it was somewhat surprising to me to find that games like Mall Madness, Dream Phone, and HeroQuest all go for several times that. Mall Madness tends to run somewhere in the neighborhood of $60, while the electronic version of Dream Phone might go for about $100 — but a complete set of HeroQuest? The asking price might be as much as $125.
8. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Zords
Individual action figures of the Rangers might not net you much, but a Zord or — better yet — a complete Megazord in the box? The asking price might be over $100 — and people will actually bid on it. You can acquire some even crazier-expensive ones if you go for a Buy It Now-only pick.
1995 Deluxe SHOGUN Megazord, $15, eBay
9. Mint Condition Rainbow Brite Gear
As is the case with most toys, the value (or perhaps the perceived value, but whatever) increases depending on its condition. If it's in excellent condition — or still in the box and unopened — then people are willing to both ask for and shell out more. A Rainbow Brite doll that looks the way mine did growing up — that is, well loved — will probably only fetch a few bucks; one in the box, though, might go for much more. The asking price of this one here is $162.50, but there are others with price tags of over $400.
10. Some She-Ra: Princess of Power Stuff
(Note: Yes, I realize that both Rainbow Brite and She-Ra were technically '80s toys; however, I think they were still popular enough in the early '90s to qualify, so I'm running with it. Just… roll with it.)
A sealed action figure won't necessarily guarantee a high price for She-Ra and other MOTU stuff — this figure, for example, has an asking price of almost $100, while this one is only about $20. The playsets, though? Those pretty much always go for the big bucks — as long as you've got all the pieces. Try a hundred smackeroos for the Crystal Palace.
Flutterina Figure, $19, eBay
Images: scarlett1854/Flickr; eBay (10)