From Beanie Babies, to Stretch Armstrong, Polly Pocket, Tamagotchis and the Nintendo 64, the 1990s had more than its fair share of fads gripping the minds of children and teenagers, and Pogs were no exception. These collectible cardboard bottle caps ruled the playground for a brief but explosive amount of time. Before being branded as Pogs, milk caps had been popular since the 1950s, and the business of stacking and them knocking down piles of caps had been a hobby of many children in Japan. After they fell out of fashion overseas, it was Maui company Halaeakala Dairy who revived the success with kids in Hawaii to such an extent they eventually sold them with their own logo.
In the 1970s, they became known as Pogs after Halaeakala Dairy released a passionfruit, orange and guava juice (or POG) blend. After spreading to the mainland, Pogmania went stratospheric. While they’re very much a pop culture fad of days gone by, hardcore fans continue to collect and sell unique Pogs – and they can be worth a truly eyewatering amount of money.
Where did Pogs come from?
Californian investor Alan Rypinski capitalised on the milk cap craze by buying the POG trademark from Haleakala Dairy after they failed to keep up with demand. The subsequent World POG Federation became an instant success, recording sales exceeding $175 million by their second year.
Then, Rypinski signed deals with the likes of Wal-Mart, Disney and Nintendo in order to spread Pogs even further. He began hosting an annual U.S. National POG Tournament. The popularity of these little, apparently useless toys, had an estimated weekly sales of $10 million a week during their height between 1994 and 1995.
Unfortunately, like all fads, interest in Pogs naturally waned with the passage of time, dropping off as quickly as they burst onto the scene. A ban on Pogs in several schools, thanks to their resemblance to poker chips, didn’t exactly help matters.
The World POG Federation faced bankruptcy by the late 90s. As a result, Rypinksi sold control of the company to Pacific Capital Group. In a desperate bid to rescue the industry, the WPF cut staff and even rebranded under a new name, but it was too late – Pogs as a cultural phenomenon were finished. Today, however, certain types are going for eye-watering amounts of money…
Harry Potter Set of 50 – $84.00
Yes, the Harry Potter books were released as early as 1997, around the golden age of Pogs, but the set displayed here is based on the films, and they didn’t start until 2001, when Pogs were ancient history.
Maybe this is what makes this them worth $90, apparently. Who needs a cloak and a wand for Christmas when you could have gotten a Pog bearing the face of Ron Weasley?
Pocahontas Lenticular Triple Tazos – $80.00
Disney’s 33rd animated film, Pocahontas, was a little different than the Jungle Book, Dumbo and Lady and the Tramp – it was based on real history. This 1995 flick tells the story of Pocahontas, a Native American, and her encounters with the English settler John Smith during the emergence of the Jamestown colony. The speaking voice of Pocahontas was provided by Irene Bedard while Judy Kuhn provided her singing voice. It was Mel Gibson, before his days as a Hollywood pariah, who brought John Smith to life.
This set of Pocahontas Pogs, should you care to part with them, can go for a decent $80.
OJ Simpson Slammers – $99.00
You read that right. The variety of Pogs didn’t begin and end with zeitgeist cartoons; they extended to notorious former American football stars, too. Though not visibly inappropriate (Simpson is represented as an orange due to his O.J., ‘The Juice’ nickname) these Pogs are not in the best taste, meaning they might not be something you want guests to come across when they visit your house.
What you could do is sell them online. A set of just four used OJ Simpson metal slammer Pogs are currently going for $99 on eBay.
Star Trek Pogs – $100.00
Set 75 years after Captain Kirk’s five-year mission, Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) follows the trials and tribulations of a Federation-Klingon collaboration, fending off the evils of the Q and Ferengi. Under pressure to live up to previous accomplishments, TNG in fact exceeded expectations, introducing a new wave of fans to the Star Trek universe. By its fifth season, TNG was nearing almost 12 million viewers. What’s more, the series finale in 1994 was watched by over 30 million people.
A little pack of TNG star discs like these can go for as much as $100.00. Given the impact of the show, and the obsession Trekkies have with collectibles, we’d say there are a good few more packs like this out there.
Lot 23 Goosebumps – $114.00
When Scholastic took a chance on R.L Stine’s Goosebumps series of books in 1992, they couldn’t have guessed how big a cultural phenomenon it would become. 62 of these spooky, teenage-friendly, tales came out altogether, spanning a popular TV series adaptation. The books alone sold over 350 million copies in 32 languages.
Of course, the branding and visuals of Goosebumps made their way to Pogs, which can now be sold for upwards of $100.
Beavis and Butthead Gold Metal Pog – $125.00
For a handful of years in the 1990s, teenage slackers Beavis and Butthead ruled the roost. By doing not much besides sitting on a couch slating music videos, this dim duo exemplified a generation of malcontents with nothing to do. Starting out as a 30-minute show on MTV, Beavis and Butthead soon spawned VHS specials. In 1996, their blockbuster film Beavis and Butthead Do America, broke box office records. Apparently, they also released gold metal Pogs.
What makes this Pog extra special, unlike the others on this list, is that you only need one of them. At the time of writing, this rare metal slammer is going for $125.
Star Wars 1995 Pogs – $147.00
By 1995, the Star Wars merchandising gravy train was still going, despite not having released a film for twelve years. Not content with the gargantuan VHS and Lego Death Star sales, Star Wars Pogs soon hit the market.
Though clearly nowhere near as fun as a toy lightsaber, these Pogs did get about. Today, they’re something of a collector’s item, known to go for around $150.
Stussy Pog – $150.00
Shawn Stüssy’s origins were pure. He was a simple man, devoted to all things surfing, and that included shaping his own boards for friends. Going a step further, he began designing t-shirts and shorts for his surfer friends to wear to the beach. The graffiti-style signature would go on to become the logo of a company that stretched far and wide.
Stüssy never trademarked its Pogs, but they certainly became popular all the same. Just one of these can go for $150.00.
Super Nintendo Pog Slammer Board – $155.00
The Japanese were truly on to something when they released the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, or Super NES, back in the 90s. Nintendo’s second home console, this gaming device went head-to-head with rival consoles of the time, with advanced graphics and enhancement chips. The joy this humble piece of plastic brought to the world can never be overstated.
Over on Ebay, the price of a SNES ‘slammer board’ – the surface on which Pogs are dropped – can be as high as $155.00.
No Fear Pogs - $170.00
Though sadly a shadow of its former self these days, at one time the No Fear brand ruled the world, decorating every teenager’s shirt and motocross helmet in the world. The company was started by brothers Mark and Brian Simo in California back in 1989. At the peak of their powers, No Fear was making close to $200 million in annual sales through casual clothing alone.
It’s unclear how much the company made through Pogs. However, it’s very clear what you could make if you happen to own a large set. If you have enough of the things, you could be making around $170.00.
Hockey Pogs 1995 – $190
Much like every other sport and thing from the 1990s, the NHL’s stint in the decade is looked back with great fondness by its fans. A purer time, with even more fighting, legends and competition. Some of the huge names from that era include, of course, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Patrick Roy, Mark Messier, Peter Forsberg, Eric Lindros, Joe Sakic, Dominik Hasek, Bret Hull and Steve Yzerman.
Put their heads on Pogs and you’re in business, especially in 2023. You’re looking at a potential sale of $190.
The Lion King - $250.00
TIME magazine named The Lion King number one among its 25 All-TIME Best Animated Films for good reason. This cartoon reimagining of Hamlet, set in the animal kingdom, raked in a cool $763.4 million at the box office in its initial theatrical run, making it not only the highest-grossing film Disney film and the highest-grossing film of 1994, but the highest-grossing animated film of all time.
The success of the film spawned a staggeringly popular West End adaptation. Originally manifested by Julie Taymor in Minneapolis, The Lion King musical play has been a permanent fixture at London’s Lyceum Theatre since 1999. It also spawned a series of Pogs. One pack of 24 has been known to sell for $250.00
The Simpsons Pog Set - $260.00
What distinguishes The Simpsons on this list is that Pogs were actually mentioned on an episode of the beloved cartoon. In season 7’s Bart Sells His Soul (which aired in 1996, a year before Pog popularity collapsed), Milhouse exchanges a piece of paper ostensibly containing Bart’s soul for Alf-themed Pogs.
The Simpsons Pogs for sale here don’t have Alf on them, but they are extremely valuable. Are you lucky enough to have hoarded some for the last thirty years?
Lot 32 Vtg Poison Heavy Metal Slammer Pogs – $350
What? Are you serious? They made Pogs of popular 1980s hair metal act Poison? The one with Bret Michaels? The guys who sang ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn’, ‘Your Mama Wont Dance’, ‘Something To Believe In’ and ‘I Won’t Forget You’? This made the cut for Pogs marketed at kids in the 1990s?
No. These are just a series of Pogs branded with the word “poison” because, well, it’s cool isn’t it? “Poison”. It’s a cool word for cool kids. If you’re now a cool adult in possession of these metal slammers, you could win yourself $350.
Australia PogPourri – $420.00
You know Potpourri don’t you? ICYMI, Potpourri is a mixture of dried flowers, natural herbs, essential oils and spices. That mixture is placed in a container or open bowl, allowing the scent to fill the room and give it a nice earthy fragrance. Over in PogWorld, they created the “PogPourri” Pog, cause what kid cares about dried flowers?
The PogPourri, however? Lots of people care about that. This Australia PogPourri set is currently going for $420.
1995 Full Set of Power Pac Pogs – $420.00
Did you know Pogs had an official mascot of sorts? The aptly named Pogman was someone (thing?) you’d see plastered across a lot of miscellaneous Pog merchandise. Physically, they’re a lot like Captain Caveman mixed with the frantic buffoonery of the Tasmanian Devil.
Here they are on a 1995 Power Pac set, which - by the way - is also selling for $420.
“AC Comics” Venom - $470.00
Here’s something you may not know: the much-loved Marvel villain Venom was originally designed by a fan. In the 80s, the comic book giants ran a competition for aspiring comic book writers and artists. One Randy Schueller jumped at the opportunity. Feeling Spider-Man needed an upgrade, he pitched the idea of unstable molecules flowing into Peter Parker’s pores, causing a change of appearance.
A couple of months later, Schueller received a letter from Marvel’s editor-in-chief James Shooter saying they wanted to buy it, which they did, for a humble $220. A price tag close to what you’d get with this Pog. As far as Venom-based Pogs go it doesn’t get rarer than this typo’d “AC Comics” one.
Marilyn Monroe Pogs - $644.00
The power of Marilyn Monroe’s image is unique in its longevity. Fifty-six years after her premature death, the Some Like It Hot actress is one of the most celebrated and iconic figures of the 20th century, with her image still finding its way into ad campaigns and inspiring fashion brands.
Naturally, she found herself on the front of Pogs back in the 90s, despite being an odd choice in and among the more cartoon-focused slammers. And the price tag is astounding, with one set of Monroe Pogs being sold for a whopping $644.00.
Pokémon Set - $1,290.00
It’s hard to quantify just how big Pokémon was in the late 90s. Though, still a huge industry in 2023, in the early boom of the franchise, kids would do absolutely anything to get their hands on every game, card and film. So much so that it is now estimated to be the highest-grossing media franchise of all time. The Pokémon video game series alone is the third best-selling of all time with over 440 million copies sold and a billion mobile downloads.
Apart of this mass production of games and toys and TV and films were the humble Pogs. Pokémon Pogs were hugely popular at one time, in spite of their apparent uselessness compared to the dizzying thrills of, say, Pokémon Red. One collection of 95 vintage Poké Pogs on Ebay has gone for as much as $1,290.
Jurassic Park Set - $1,450.00
If you were alive in 1993 and didn’t see Jurassic Park, chances are you were either in a) a tribe or b) a coma. Spielberg’s ground-breaking epic went on to gross more than $914 million worldwide in its original theatrical run, becoming - at the time - the highest-grossing film ever. It held the record til the release of Titanic in 1997.
You might think a Pog with a picture of a Tyrannosaurus Rex on it may be quaint compared to other merchandise available, but they still go for obscene amounts on the market.