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Vintage toys: These bits of plastic and cardboard could be worth a pile of gold today

When it comes to vintage toys, a piece of plastic can sometimes skyrocket in price over the years, provided that the toy is still in mint condition inside its original packaging. Collectors are willing to shell out big bucks for the rarest nostalgic toys that only a few people will ever own. However, even toys that used to be commonplace can now sell for hundreds of dollars or even many thousands in some rare cases.

As the children of the millennials become obsessed with games and social media on their smartphones, there is an unfortunate trend to get less exercise and stay indoors more. Now, toys that used to be sold to kids who spent their summers running and playing outside seem to be ancient relics of a bygone era. However, these toys are hardly forgotten. Some parents are willing to pay whatever it takes to own the toys of their youth and maybe pass them on to their own kids if they can let go of them.

For many people, toys that have been in storage for decades are now hot commodities. You might be surprised that some of those toys laying around collecting dust could fetch a pretty penny. Although most of us played with our toys and threw away the box, a few people liked to treasure their toys, carefully protecting them in their box, fans of the whole experience including the packaging. Yes, it’s definitely nerdy, but now, that printed cardboard and plastic is suddenly worth gold if you can find a classic toy connoisseur.

Here’s a list of a few of the classic toys that have skyrocketed in value. Again, it’s mainly if you have the toy in mint, complete condition, but there are also a few that fetch top price even loose.

First Generation iPod

We’ll start with an item that isn’t technically a toy, but among the first Apple devices to start the technology obsession with kids. This music storing device might make you feel old because it came out in 2001 but is now considered a coveted vintage classic to some people. There are reports an original first generation iPod in new or working condition can fetch thousands on eBay.

Even an unopened first generation iPhone from 2007 has gone on sale on eBay for $10,000. It was only five years old at the time of the auction. It’s like an instant antique!


Nerf Turbo Screamer

Here’s a case where nostalgic parents who grew up throwing around these foam footballs will sometimes shell out unreal amounts of money for these toys. It was first released as a ball in 1969 and was an instant success as “the world’s first indoor ball.” Parents sick of telling their kids to stop throwing their balls inside the house could chill because it was not easy to break anything with the foam.

In ’89, the Nerf Turbo Screamer came out, and suddenly there were sound effects as the ball whistled through the air. There were two colors available: the more common orange and black and a less common red and black. Today it’s extremely rare, so if you have one in mint condition you could sell it for over a hundred dollars or even more. The Nerf Screaming Frisbee or Boomerang are also hot items.

The Nerf continued to appear with design changes, even one endorsed by Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, through the early 2000s.


Tickle Me Elmo Extreme

You may remember this toy becoming the must-have item for Christmas –about 23 years ago in December of 1996. Retailers couldn’t keep up with the demand as parents flooded stores looking to get their hands on one. Even in mild-mannered Canada, a store clerk was trampled and sent to the hospital when 300 shoppers lined up for a pre-dawn sale and rushed the store to find Elmo. The store price was $35, but they were all sold quickly. The aftermarket sales fetched $500 – $1,000 or more.

Today, Elmo remains in demand, though not like when it first hit the stores right at Christmas. The original red Muppet character can still go for several hundred dollars on eBay and new Elmo models remain on sale for around $40 or less.


The View-Master is truly an antique toy, first produced in 1939 and was unveiled at the New York World’s Fair. Viewers looked through the binocular-like device to view slides of tourist attractions. It seems so quaint, but today’s equivalent is virtual reality headsets instead.

Somehow these toys were a lot of fun, capturing the imagination as you clicked through the circular reels, not sure what you’d see next. View-Master remains so popular today that it remains an item for sale with 3D images of just about anything you can imagine. However, the classic View-Master in mint condition can still fetch a high price. Some collectors could pay as much as $400 by some accounts.

Some of the reels are also collector’s items, such as the Michale Jackson “Thriller” reels from the 80s. Those can fetch over $50.

See a good look at a vintage View-Master below:

Super Soakers

The first pressurized water guns ever made in the 80s, the Super Soakers are still popular with kids everywhere but the first models like the Super Soaker 50 and the powerful Monster XL fetch a high price with some collectors. There are reports of a Monster XL sold for $380.

Leave it to America ingenuity to come up with a water gun that can blast people 50 feet away. There was even a little-known Super Soaker “Wing Thing,” a water-powered glider that took to the air. Those can fetch $50 or more.


Sit N’ Spin

In the mid-70s, parents could tell their kids to go sit n’ spin whenever their kids needed to burn off some steam. The toy was like a giant hand-turned Lazy Susan that kids would spin themselves silly on and then laugh as they got as dizzy as possible. There might have been some exercise there but it was mostly an exercise in giggles.

You can still buy these today for around $30 – $40, but the classic originals in the box can sell for over $100.

Speak & Spell

The Texas Instruments Speak & Spell was relatively expensive back in the day when it debuted. It cost around $50 in 1978 ( over $100 in today’s cash) and was akin to the first computer kids could own. The robotic talking toy helped kids learn how to spell, which sounds rather bland by today’s standards.

However, the toy’s popularity skyrocketed thanks to a cameo appearance in the ’82 blockbuster Spielberg movie, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. The toy was used by the loveable alien to “phone home” which got young imaginations going. In fact, the toy was easily hackable and could be reprogrammed to do different things.


Today, the original Speak & Spell with raised keys rather than a smooth membrane surface can fetch over $150, as long as its in pristine working condition. There were also versions called the Speak & Read and the Speak & Math that can fetch similar prices.

The toy is such a classic that it became a popular device for sampling sounds by musicians. You can even sell broken Speak & Spell units for parts so fans can refurbish them.

Although it seems primitive by today’s standards, it’s a piece of classic toy history that will never be forgotten.

See all about the toy in the great video below:



When Furby was released in 1998, kids went crazy for the robotic talking and interactive toys. The animated toys could be trained, could learn, and could respond to human interaction, which was a game changer. By 1999, the NSA feared that the toys could be tampered with to spy on people and they were banned from their offices in Fort Meade and the manufacturer had to allay fears that the toys weren’t international spies. Fortunately, (or not depending on if you like that weird Furby voice or not) those concerns dissipated and the toys remained in production.

The demand was so high that they could sell for $300 even in the stores. There were endless color varieties and special edition ones that cost double that. New Furbies with advanced technology are widely available today, including characters inspired by movies like the Furbacca, based on Chewbacca from Star Wars. Some of today’s Furbies can go for over $170, depending on the design.

Although the functionality of the Furby remains the same, the color and pattern of the fur makes all the difference to collectors, who can shell out over $350 for a classic first-edition Furby in pristine working condition in the box. Special editions and unreleased prototypes still go for more, all the way up to over $700 for some rare Furbies.

There is a 1998 Bejeweled Furby that has a recommended price of $10k+.

If you have a first-edition Furby in the box, you might want to keep it because it’s sure to go up in value and could become a strange family heirloom. Be sure to keep it mint in the box so you never have to hear that crazy voice!

See more from BuzzFeed Video below:


Happy Meals Toys

The story with these toys boggles the mind because these inexpensively-produced plastic bits that came out in 1979 can go for quite a lot of money. The free toys followed the toy trends and featured the most popular kid’s characters of the day from movies and cartoons, serving to promote both McDonald’s and the movies.

Kids all over America to demand that their parents take them to McDonald’s so they could own their favorites. The actual food in the Happy Meal was of secondary concern, gobbled up only after kids got their hands on the toy. While most of those toys ended up in the trash, quite a few people collected them, and they continue to be popular on eBay and at antique markets.


Today, some Happy Meal toys from the 90s can go for over $100 if sealed inside their plastic bags in the Happy Meal box. Coinciding with the Furby craze, a McFurby toy was released in 1999 and can be particularly profitable, with one report of a sale of a set of 80 different McFurbies for over $900.

The ubiquitous collectible Beanie Babies also appeared inside Happy Meals as “Teenie Babies” and later as “Beanie Boos.” Full sets can command $400 and a rare Roary the Lion can fetch as much as $700.

See all about classic Happy Meal toys from TheThings below:


Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head

First distributed by Hasbro in 1952, this toy classic has had an amazing shelf life for a tuber, remaining in production today. Mrs. Potato Head’s first appearance was a year later in ’53 and ever since they have remained a staple of American culture. The toy was among the first to be advertised on television and remains for sale by Hasbro, Inc. today.

Of course, the original toy was a set of plastic eyes, ears, shoes, a hat, a nose, and a mouth to be pushed into a real potato or another veggie. Then the company made a plastic potato body in 1964. The reasons for the change were complaints about wasting food during food rations caused by World War II, stinky produce kids were forgetting about, and safety hazards of the pins.

One seller on eBay is asking $2,000 for a vintage Mr. Potato head set from 1954 with the box and manual.

Sets with Pete the Pepper and Kooky the Cucumber from the 70s can fetch $50 or more, but the toys based on the “Toy Story” Pixar movie from 1995 seem to be more valuable, with some items selling for as much as $649.

See the 1960s commercial below:

This is just a sampling of the classic toys that could fetch extremely high prices in some cases. It’s definitely worth taking a peek in your attic to see if you might have a small fortune on your hands. Who knows – There might be someone willing to fork over serious cash to relive their happiest childhood memories.

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Featured image: Vintage View-Master via YouTube

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