Vintage toy collecting has become a window into long-forgotten childhood, a way to make a quick buck and a nostalgic’s dream. Think back to the ’70s, before Star Wars became the multi-billionaire franchise everyone knows today. Kids would play with cheap, plastic figurines; toys were tossed into the trash or donated. These little Star Wars figurines, GI Joe Dolls, Hot Wheels cars, Cabbage Patch Kids and Strawberry Shortcake dolls are being sold today for anywhere between $100 to $16,000 on eBay, through collectible shows or auctions.
Rare and collectible toys might be too outrageous to purchase now, but have you been thinking about where to begin collecting the vintage toys of the future?
A savvy purchaser could be buying a $10 toy today, only for it to sell upwards of $1,000 in 10 or 20 years. Toy collecting is fun, it can be inexpensive, and it can earn you some serious cash (or make a creative home display). Here’s where you can start with becoming a toy collector and knowing what to collect:
Pick a Toy Line
It can be daunting knowing where to begin with collecting. There are plenty of toy lines that have already drawn a collector community: Star Wars, Barbie, G.I. Joe, Polly Pocket, Care Bears, Transformers, and many other brands are insanely popular toys. You can invest in the rare editions released every once in a while or whatever is on the market currently.
Maybe you can take a risk on a toy line. The transforming Donnie toy figure, for example, or the hatching toothless baby dragon at Target might be a good place to start. Think about Littlest Pet Shops, Pokemon, Digimon cards and Bratz dolls– these were all brand new lines of toys no one had ever heard of. You never know who will be interested in buying a new, mint condition toy from your collection.
Go For the Rare Finds
You want to keep an eye out for certain things when collecting toys: age, authenticity, rarity and condition. These factors can majorly appreciate a toy’s value, according to eBay’s entertainment memorabilia selling guide. A rare toy is a find that could be sold for a pretty penny, rather than a doll, toy car or action figure that everyone and their mom had at one time.
Think of the Harry Potter toy collection; maybe everyone was busy buying the Harry, Ron and Hermione figurines. How many people kept an eye on the Dobby, Draco and Hagrid figurines?
These are toys that could have long been discontinued, but now they have become valuable finds in the toy world. Millions of Harry, Ron and Hermione figurines are produced worldwide, which makes them far less attractive to buyers. However, like the Star Wars toys made during the early 2000s in support of the new franchise, a toy line could flop. Essentially, their line of toys could become worthless.
You want to be strategic and watch trends.
Keep an Eye on New Toys
Think of the Funko Pop Collectibles—they seem to have burst out of nowhere, even though Funko was founded in 1998, but they are on sale everywhere. Not every single Funko Pop figure is worth collecting because they are so plentiful, but some figures have minimal editions. For example, The Simpsons figures were only made for a short period of time in 2011 and they’ll now run for well over hundreds of dollars on Amazon. The Queen Amidala Funko Pop figurine sells for nearly $110 on eBay.
There are some limited edition Funko Pop figurines explicitly made for gatherings and conventions, like Comic-Con, which are rare collectible finds by the end of the day. The more you begin to collect, the better you will understand the value of certain discoveries and memorabilia.
Hold Onto Unopened Toys
If you plan to eventually sell your toy collection, there is one important rule you must keep in mind: a toy is worth the most in excellent condition, secure in its original packaging. Toys that have been pulled from their original packaging are called “loose toys,” or “loose in the box,” which refers to an opened box without the toy being removed.
If you have a child who wants to play with the toy, it would be best to buy two of the same toys. This way, you can leave one toy pristine and untouched in its packaging, and your child has a new toy to play with!
Which Toys are the Best Bet?It is nearly impossible to predict future trends. What you will want to focus on is popular media, like video games, movies and TV shows. If you can find memorabilia from these popular outlets, like a rare Funko Pop Grogu figurine from The Mandalorian. Some popular items might include limited-edition LEGO sets, limited edition board games (collector Monopoly, Candy Land, Life, or Sorry boards), original Minecraft or Fortnite toys, or anything similarly hard to find.
This post is a collaborative effort by St. Louis Dad.