Hindsight is a wonderful thing. If we had known how much our childhood toys would be worth three or four decades later, we would have held onto them rather than letting them rot in the attic or allowing our parents to sell them! With that said, there are also some toys so rare that we probably never even saw them growing up, let alone owned them!
Below are some of the very rarest toys in existence from when we were growing up – are you lucky enough to still own any of them, and, more importantly, are you going to cash in?
Mego Elastic Batman ($1,500)
With every new Batman reboot comes another line of always-popular action figures. It seems impossible to imagine a Batman figurine of which only two were ever made, but that’s exactly the case with the Mego Elastic Batman, released in 1980.
The Mego Elastic Batman was designed to be an alternative to the standard 8″ figurine, which was dropping in popularity by the late 70s. Unfortunately, after prototypes were made, toy company Kenner sued Mego, saying that the elastic superhero range was too similar to their own Stretch Armstrong toy. The idea was killed following the lawsuit, leaving only two Elastic Batman figures left in existence, one of which sold for $15,000 in 2006.
1982 World’s Fair Knoxville, Tennessee Pez Dispensers ($32,305)
It’s 1982, and the theme for the annual World’s Fair is Energy Turns the World. To commemorate the event, Pez creates the Tennessee Astronaut B, a special-edition Pez Dispenser with an astronaut head dispenser that is given out over the course of the conference. Only a handful were handed out over the course of 11 months, and only two are known to have survived to this day.
Today, the Astronaut B is one of the rarest collectible Pez Dispensers of all time, and sells for mammoth amounts at collectors’ auctions. It looks identical to the 1977 Pez Astronaut, except for the misspelling of Tennessee on the side, which hikes up the value even more. The last time one was sold was in 2006, when it went for $32,305.
Golden Monopoly Set ($2 million)
Monopoly is a game with a rich and storied history, from its origins as a satirical thought experiment to a smash hit game espousing the benefits of capitalism. The game was taken to its most logical extreme in 1998, when prominent jeweller Sidney Mobell created a version of Monopoly plated with 23-carat gold, accompanied by solid 18-carat gold pieces and diamond-studded dice.
This unique Monopoly set is currently held in the Smithsonian Museum, unavailable for purchase. However, the latest valuations have the Golden Monopoly as being worth around $2 million, which means you’d have to pass Go at least 10,000 times to buy it.
Astolat Dollhouse Castle ($8.5 million)
Work on the Astolat Dollhouse Castle began way back in 1974, but it took a full 13 years for the project to be completed, with the finished piece being unveiled in 1987. The castle was created by master miniaturist Elaine Diehl and boasts 29 rooms and 20 adjacent areas, as well as 10,000 pieces of tiny, intricate furniture.
Until 1996, the Astolat Dollhouse Castle was displayed in Diehl’s own workshop. However, after she retired, the castle was sold to collector L Freeman, who moved it to Nassau County Museum of Art. Since then, 30,000 more pieces have been added to this sprawling miniature estate, and the castle was last valued at $8.5 million. This makes the Astolat Dollhouse Castle the most expensive toy in existence.
Adam Bomb Garbage Pail Kid Card ($3,000)
The Garbage Pail Kids were an 80s card-collecting fad that became popular due to the outrageous character designs and images that graced each one. Like many other kitsch collectibles from this era, many of these cards still hold value today, especially if they have been kept in mint condition in the decades since they were on sale. However, by far the most valuable of all the cards is Adam Bomb.
It’s difficult to say why Adam Bomb is more popular than the other sticker cards in the Garbage Pail Kids collection, but it is worth roughly triple any other card in the deck. While most Garbage Pail Kids cards go for about $1,000 on the resale market, an Adam Bomb card of similar quality can be expected to fetch around $3,000!
Peanut Blue Beanie Baby ($5,000)
When it comes to both valuable rare toys and nostalgic 80s fads, Beanie Babies are an empire unto themselves. From the Princess Diana commemorative memorial bear to the original Patti the Platypus, there are plenty of bears that are coveted hugely by enthusiasts. However, few are as rare or as valuable as Peanut the Elephant.
Due to a printing error, 2000 Peanut the Elephants hit the shelves with a much darker fur colour than was originally intended. These navy elephants are now among the most collectable teddies out there, and can sell for up to $5,000 depending on the quality of the bear and whether tags are included.
American Girl Molly ($11,000)
American Girl Dolls are already an upscale toy, retailing at around $120 new. However, when it comes to dolls that have been discontinued over the years, like Felicity, Samantha and Kirsten, these can sell for significantly more on the collectors’ market.
Though any discontinued doll still with her original clothes and accessories can fetch around a minimum of $1,000 when sold, Molly in particular is hugely coveted amongst collectors. Though listings vary based on doll cleanliness and the presence of accessories, Molly dolls on average sell for around $11,000.
Vintage Atari Cartridges ($500,000)
Atari cartridges are basically as close as you can get to a hit of pure 80s nostalgia, so it’s no wonder they’re so in demand. Almost all games from the discontinued console can fetch a high price from the right collector, but some are more valuable than others. Among those games constantly watched for at collectors’ markets are River Patrol, Mangia and Birthday Mania.
However, the most valuable of these bygone games is Gamma-Attack. Only one copy of this sci-fi epic is known to exist, and it has been in the private collection of Anthony DeNardo for most of its recent history. DeNardo has said that he is unwilling to sell the game, but has previously listed it on eBay for $500,000, just to see how much other collectors were willing to pay.
Original Transformers Action Figures ($1,600)
The 80s was defined by a lot of things: big hair, shoulder pads, the aerobics craze. However, nothing defined the 80s as much as hugely popular toylines backed by even more successful cartoons, with the king of them all being Transformers.
Even more than My Little Pony toys or Strawberry Shortcakes, your original 80s Transformers could be worth a lot today. If you were lucky enough to buy a Transformer in 1984, or more likely an adult in your life bought it for you, and you managed to keep it in its original box, then you’re looking at a toy that’s now worth $1,000-$2,000.
Original Luke Skywalker Toy ($25,000)
Star Wars toys are another range that are often sold for a lot of money, but if you want to make the really big bucks, then look no further than this 1978 Luke Skywalker figure. Out of the mountains of Star Wars merchandise sold between the original trilogy’s release and now, this is by far the most valuable piece.
There are thought to be only 20 boxed versions still in circulation, since most were lost or destroyed over time, and not too many were sold in the first place. Now, however, an original Luke Skywalker toy, originally sold to tie in with the first Star Wars movie, can sell for up to $25,000.
Rocket Firing Boba Fett, 1979 ($236,000)
The rocket-firing Boba Fett is a legendary action figure among toy enthusiasts. Only around 100 were made with this specific firing mechanism, in order to test the safety and efficiency before they officially hit shelves. Nowadays, finding one at all is like gold dust, and finding one still in its original packaging is even rarer.
As a result of this quasi-mythic status, Rocket-firing Boba Fetts have been known to sell for up to $236,000 on the resale market, though you’ll likely be watching the auctions for a while as you wait for one to be listed.
Transformers Autobot Air Guardian Jetfire, 1985 ($599)
Plenty of Generation One Transformers toys have become more valuable over the years, but none so more so than the Generation One Autobot Air Guardian, released in 1985. This awesome red and white plane has become pretty hard to source on the resale market, leading to auction prices of around $200 minimum.
However, if you’re lucky enough to have an Autobot Air Guardian in mint or out-of-the-box condition, then you’re actually looking at a price tag of almost $600.
Mint Tulip Strawberry Shortcake ($120)
If you’re a pretty serious Strawberry Shortcake fan but you’ve never heard of Mint Tulip – don’t worry! Instead of being part of the original central cast, she was introduced during Strawberry’s around-the-world tour, when she visited the Dutch-inspired area of Hollandaise.
Mint Tulip was said to have the most beautifully tended garden in all of Straberryland and that, plus her flowing blonde hair and adorable print dress, have made her a favourite of collectors. A still-in-the-box Mint Tulip will fetch almost $1,000, while a doll without her box will still be worth over $100.
Fisher-Price Little People Family House ($83)
When you think of nostalgic old toys that are worth a lot of money today, you probably think of doll or action figure lines based on some kind of iconic 80s cartoon. With that said, there are plenty of immensely valuable toys that were aimed at an even younger demographic, such as the Fisher-Price Little People Family House.
Due to the fact that this particular toy was aimed at toddlers, who tend to be pretty messy and heavy-handed with their toys, not many of these plastic yellow doll houses still exist in circulation. Therefore, they can fetch prices of $83, even with significant wear and tear.
Thundercats Lion-O Action Figure ($1,672)
Out of all the cartoons created to promote a toyline in the 80s, Thundercats has maybe the most instantly recognisable visual style, with its brightly-coloured heroes and villains inspired by cats. Of all of the central cast, none are so iconic as Lion-O, the leader of the Thundercats clan and its most powerful warrior.
Though Lion-O action figures are pretty easy to come by, boxed versions are hugely coveted on the resale market, resulting in a price of over $1,600.
Original Teddy Ruxpin ($230)
Despite teddy bears being a pretty ubiquitous childhood toy, not that many bears have managed to achieve name recognition outside of books or television. Teddy Ruxpin is maybe the only example of a specific brand of teddy bear becoming popular enough to be the best-selling toy of the year in both 1985 and 1986.
Plenty of Teddy Ruxpin bears still exist in circulation today, with the price increasing based on their age and lack of wear and tear. Though some specimens have a much higher or lower price, on average you can expect to pay just over $200 for one secondhand.
G.I. Joe Motorized Battle Tank ($1,911)
What is the original aspirational American hero? Is it Superman? Errol Flynn? Nope, it’s G.I. Joe! This exceptional military man has been a favourite of generations of children, and no game involving him is complete without his motorised battle tank, which lends him an unbeatable advantage in battle.
Several versions of this toy have been released since the 80s, but the original run is increasingly difficult to find. If you’re lucky enough to find one listed at auction, then you can expect to pay upwards of $1,000, especially if it is still in the box.
Megatron Gun ($2,359)
No matter when or where you grew up, there’s a good chance that some form of toy gun was an integral part of your upbringing, whether it was Han Solo’s blaster, a simple lime green and yellow water gun, or a Rambo-style machine gun. All sorts of 80s properties got in on the merch gun game, even those you wouldn’t expect, like Transformers.
This ingenious transformer gun has three totally distinct forms, making it hugely desirable for play. As a result, not many examples are left still in the box, leading to a whopping price tag of over $2,000 for still sealed Megatron guns!
He-Man And Battle Cat Two-Pack ($95)
Ever since He-Man was released in 1983, it’s been an iconic piece of cartoon history. Very few shows have as many hilariously meme-able moments, and even fewer have such recognisable creatures and villains. In fact: it’s very possible that you can remember Skeletor’s laugh right now, even if you’ve never seen the show.
Unfortunately, He-Man’s popularity works against it in terms of toy value. The He-Man and Battle Cat two-pack playset is one of the most desired items on the resale market, but its value tops out at just under $100. That does mean you can pick one up for relatively cheap though!
The Super Soaker 50 ($107)
Summer holidays have a few associations in terms of toys: water balloons, those sticky velcro hand pads that you could throw tennis balls at, and Swingball. However, the toy that every kid with a summer birthday begged for above all others was a Super Soaker, and the 1990s Super Soaker 50 was the best of them all.
Super Soakers were meant to be played with, not left languishing in a box, so most of the secondhand listings you’ll see have some level of wear and tear. However, that hasn’t stopped their value from increasing to over $100!
Original Pikachu Pokemon card ($5,375)
Some retro toys are more cherished than others. Teddy bears usually get hugged into tatters over their lifespan, while expensive porcelain dolls are kept on a shelf to be looked at and not touched. However, no toys are kept as carefully pristine as trading cards, especially Pokémon cards.
Lots of former Pokémon obsessives have grown up and found out that their prized collection of cards has accrued massive value since they last pulled them out to battle, but the Holy Grail of Pokémon cards is the original Pikachu card, which now regularly fetches over $5,000 at auction when in good condition.
My Little Pony Rapunzel ($900)
If you’ve ever spent a Saturday browsing secondhand stores or combing through car boot sales, then you’ve almost definitely come across a big plastic tub of My Little Ponies, in various states of disrepair. Given how many ponies were released in the 80s and 90s, it’s unsurprising that most of them ended up covered in biro marks and gunk, but some ponies managed to avoid that fate.
The legendary Rapunzel pony was only available as a special mail order toy, and so it was only purchased by serious enthusiasts and collectors. As a result, it’s easier to find them in good condition, but you should be prepared to pay upwards of $900.
Polly Pocket Jasmine’s Royal Castle ($165)
Polly Pocket was famous for playsets that, as the name suggests, could fit in your pocket. However, that doesn’t mean that they never released normal-sized locations to facilitate play with multiple people. In the mid-90s, Polly Pocket released a collaboration with Disney that included multiple princess castles, the coolest of which was Jasmine’s.
Due to all its tiny component parts and little details, the Polly Pocket Jasmine Princess Castle was expensive when it was released, and is even more expensive today. If you’re watching the auction sites for one with minimal wear and tear, you can expect to pay upwards of $150.
NobleHeart Horse Care Bear ($599)
Care Bears are one of the most iconic 80s properties out there. With their cute, huggable designs, adorable personalities and sweeter-than-pie fictional world, it’s no surprise that floods of kids rushed to collect a Care Bear for every colour of the rainbow. However, arguably even cuter than the Care Bears themselves were the Care Bear Cousins, which were each based on a different, distinct animal.
All the original Care Bear Cousin toys have become more valuable over time, but by far, the most coveted on the secondhand market is Noble Heart the Horse. If you’re looking to snag one at auction you’ll have to wait patiently, and be prepared to spend almost $600!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Technodrome Playset ($360)
If any property is the direct opposite of Care Bears, it’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Care Bears live in the clouds? Ninja Turtles live in the sewers! The Care Bears solve problems with rainbow magic? The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles use fighting techniques taught to them by an elderly rat! TMNT is also different in that it has cooler playsets, in which the Ninja Turtles’ bedrooms transform into a huge ball with eyes.
If you’re looking to add your own Technodome to your retro collection, then you can expect to pay just over $300 for one out of the box.
Vintage 1959 Barbie ($23,000)
Although there are now hundreds of Barbies to choose from, including Ghost Barbie and Medusa Barbie, if you are in possession of one of the earliest editions you might be in luck. The 1959 limited edition Barbie, which sports a black and white swimsuit and high heels, has gone for $23,000 at auction, setting a record which has yet to be beaten.
Hot Wheels: 1969 VW Beach Bomb ($125,000)
The honour for most expensive Hot Wheels car ever sold goes to the 1969 Volkswagen Beach Bomb. This prototype was never approved for production, making it the only one of its kind and a serious prize for collectors. In 2011 the model was sold for an eye-popping $125,000.
Original Monopoly ($146,500)
Whilst you can pick up a Monopoly set today for around $25, some of the vintage editions go for considerably more. Early sets are so desirable to collectors because they were hand painted, making each one unique (uniqueness being like catnip to collectors).
Charles Darrow, the creator of Monopoly, sold his hand-painted oil cloth version at auction for $146,500, and whilst it is unlikely that any other set will fetch that price, some of the earliest editions are still worth life-changing amounts of money.
Mickey Mantle baseball card ($12.6 million)
Bowman Gum released their first baseball cards in 1948, starting a craze that would last well into the 90s and give baseball enthusiasts something to do in the off-season. Cards of any kind tend to attract collectors because there are always limited editions which grow in value as they age, and baseball cards are no different.
A mint condition 1952 Mickey Mantle card was sold in 2022 for $12.6 million, making it the most valuable baseball card of all time, and the most expensive piece of sports memorabilia in general. The previous record was held by football maestro Maradona’s shirt, which went for $9.3 million at auction.
Telescoping lightsaber Darth Vader ($7,000-$9,000)
However, early customers reported that the lightsabers were incredibly fiddly and prone to breaking. Kenner withdrew the product line and quickly rushed out a new design, this time with non-retractable lightsabers. Since not many of the original edition were ever sold, they have become a collector’s item and go for somewhere between $7,000 and $9,000, depending on condition.
Babe Ruth toy ($13,600)
The unique models were distributed randomly, and collectors have invested serious time and energy into tracking them down. In 2009, one showed up in a comic book shop in Colorado Springs. It was listed on eBay and promptly sold for the princely sum of $13,600, revitalising efforts to hunt down the remaining blue-hatted toys.
Vinyl cape Jawa ($18,000)
Kenner took the criticism on board and henceforth Jawa toys were sold with cloth capes like the other characters. As a result, the original vinyl-sporting Jawas ironically became more valuable due to their rarity. One such Jawa toy was sold for $18,000 at a Vectis auction, making it one of the most valuable Star Wars toys of all time.
Life sized Megumi Kato doll ($19,600)
Only ten dolls were ever created, and although owning a life sized schoolgirl doll is likely to raise some eyebrows, this hasn’t stopped avid collectors from trying to get their hands on one. The dolls were listed for $19,600 each and demand quickly outstripped supply, so they ended up being sold via a lottery system.
Steiff and Louis Vuitton teddy ($2.1 million)
Kim, who grew up under the oppressive North Korean regime before escaping and becoming one of South Korea’s most successful businesswomen, paid $2.1 million for the teddy. Instead of keeping it as a private trophy, she has allowed the bear to be displayed at the Teddy Bear Museum in Jeju, South Korea, where it can be found today.
Mickey Mouse motorcycle ($110,000)
The single most expensive Mickey Mouse toy ever sold is a tin model of Mickey and Minnie on a motorcycle. The wind-up toy was produced in Germany in 1930, intended for sale in the UK market. Although there aren’t any exact records, it seems that only around 18 were ever manufactured, making this a rare find indeed. Only one boxed version has ever been discovered, and it sold for $110,000 at Randy Inman Auctions on October 8, 2000.
She-Ra and Swift Wind ($100-$4,000)
The most valuable She-Ra toy is a model which comes complete with her sidekick, the flying unicorn Swift Wind. A mint condition, boxed version of this toy sold in 2018 for $4,000. Not quite as lucrative as some of the items on this list but not exactly small change either.
Moon Belly Kamala ($3,000-$22,000)
Hasbro were slow to pick up on the error, and the majority of Kamala figures were sold with the misprint. However, a few moon-bellied figures did get manufactured, and they are highly prized by collectors. Depending on condition and whether or not they are boxed, owners of these Kamala figures can expect to net between $3,000 and $22,000.
Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse Nintendo game ($9,000)
Copies of the game, which was released in 1989 for the NES and has been described by reviewers as “excessively difficult”, can go for up to $9,000.
Magic: The Gathering: Black Lotus card ($511,000)
First going on sale in 1993, Magic: The Gathering was the first trading card game and has since built up a huge fanbase, with approximately 35 million players as of 2018. The game, which casts players in the role of a powerful wizard, exploded in popularity between 2008 and 2016, with over 20 billion cards produced across the same period. Some of the early cards have achieved a mythical status due to their rarity, with die-hard Magic players spending exorbitant amounts of cash to get hold of them.
The most prized of these cards is the Black Lotus. Released in 1993 as part of the original Alpha set of cards, the card is one of a kind and has been sold multiple times, always setting records. Its most recent change of hands occurred in 2021, when the Black Lotus was auctioned on eBay for an astonishing $511,000.
Original Furby ($900)
The last updated Furby was released in 2016, and since then their popularity has dwindled. Whilst Furbies were never really seen as collectors’ items, owners of original 1998 Furbies might still be in for a payday, with early editions going for almost a thousand dollars online.