colourful antique toys in a box

Are your childhood toys now worth a fortune?

author: Helen Fox

By Helen Fox


Many of us still have boxes of our old childhood toys, from dolls and teddies to games consoles. But why do we keep them?

Maybe you kept them to pass on to your own children one day. Or, perhaps you simply couldn’t bear to get rid of things you once loved so much. Or, did you hang onto them in case they became worth something someday?

If that’s why you kept your favourite toys, then this is a must-read for you. We’ve looked at some of the most popular toys from the 80s and 90s to see what they’re worth today. Do you have any of these?

Beanie Babies


Credit: LovetoKnow

If you were a child in the 90s, you probably had a few – or more – of these cute animal plushies filling up your bedroom. Even when they were brand new, everyone thought they’d be worth something one day. But are they? Yes, and no.

When TY Inc, the company behind Beanie Babies, started manufacturing them, they set them up to become collectibles from the start. They created what’s known as a “scarcity strategy”, limiting the numbers of each toy design they made and retiring designs regularly so they’d become collectible. These tactics created demand for the toys and sent collectors wild for a few years. Eventually, though, the bubble burst, and everyone moved on to the next “big thing”.

These days, it’s only extremely rare Beanie Babies that are worth much. Early generation Beanie Babies like Chocolate the Moose and Legs the Frog can still fetch a pretty penny, as can the 1997 “Princess” bear, who was created in memory of Princess Diana and can fetch upwards of £1,000.

How to tell if yours is valuable

The best way to tell if you’ve got a valuable Beanie Baby is to check its tags, if you still have them. Each generation had a different tag design, and with the help of this chart, you can easily work out which generation yours belongs to. The earlier the generation your Beanie Babies belong to, the more they’re likely to be worth.

If you spot a typo on your tags, even better – collectors will often pay more for the additional scarcity that comes with a mistake on the tag!

Optimus Prime Transformers


Credit: Truck & Driver

When the Transformers hero Optimus Prime became available as a toy who could really transform in 1984, it was one of the coolest toys around. And its coolness has clung on, because now original 80s versions of this Autobot are worth quite a bit to collectors.

How much is a bit? How does £250 or more sound? Because that’s how much you could get if you sold your original Optimus Prime on eBay.

How to tell if yours is valuable

How much your Optimus Prime is worth is all down to its age and its condition. It’s got to be from the 80s, and it’s got to be well-looked-after. To get the most money for it, you’d still have the box (in good condition), too. If you think you have an 80s original Optimus in great condition, don't get too excited too quickly, though. Commemorative series replicating the 80s design have been launched over the years, but with different colours, accessories, and other features. So, yours could be much newer than you think. This guide is a great place to start to make sure your Optimus Prime is the real, 80s deal.

Cabbage Patch Kids


Credit: Antiques Trader

Cabbage Patch Kids were a global sensation during the 80s, 90s and 00s. Somewhere between a cuddly toy and a baby doll, they have distinctive chubby cheeks and soft, cuddly bodies. But with their popularity spanning more than 40 years, how do you spot a valuable one?

Cabbage Patch Kids got their first breath of life from American artist Xavier Roberts, who called them “Little People Originals” and made each doll by hand until 1982. Then, he sold the rights to mass-produce them to Coleco, who re-named them Cabbage Patch Kids, and made the toys throughout the 80s. However, Coleco declared bankruptcy in 1988 (although it was later revived and remains active today), and toymaking giants Mattel took over the rights to make Cabbage Patch Kids in 1994.

Nowadays, it’s the original, hand-made dolls that Xavier Roberts created that are usually worth the most. But, the Coleco dolls of the 80s can still fetch upwards of £300 in good condition.

How to tell if yours is valuable

Once Xavier Roberts sold the rights to his dolls, they were produced in their millions. But even though they aren’t rare, some dolls are still more sought after, and so more valuable, than others. Dolls with red, fuzzy hair seem to be popular among collectors, as are those who have no hair at all. Anniversary dolls are also valuable to collectors, even though they’ve mostly been made by Mattel, rather than Roberts or Coleco.

To maximise the value of your Cabbage Patch Kid, though, it’ll need to be in excellent condition, complete with its box and original birth certificate. Antiques Prices estimated that dolls who still have their birth certificate can be worth $40 (£30ish) more than dolls without.

Nintendo Gameboys


Credit: Evan-Amos

Launched at the very end of the 80s, the Nintendo Gameboy revolutionised hand-held gaming for a generation. Over 86 million Gameboys were sold over the years, and with retro gaming becoming popular again, people are digging out their old consoles, or trying to get their hands on one they can play. But does their revival and the nostalgia factor make them valuable? Not necessarily.

When they were new, Nintendo Gameboys cost £67.40, according to The Sun. Nowadays, a classic Gameboy with its box will easily sell on eBay for about £80. So, you’ll make your money back, but it’s not exactly lifechanging money we’re talking about, here.

That is, unless you have a special or limited edition Gameboy. These are more interesting to collectors because they’re rare, and almost never come up for sale. Special editions we’ve seen include the Black Wario edition Gameboy, which was given away as a prize on the late 80s children's TV show, Ghost Train, and the Planet Hollywood edition, which was sold in the gift shop at Planet Hollywood restaurants in the early 90s. One of these sold for an enormous £3600 on eBay recently.

How to tell if yours is valuable

The original Gameboy design was made until 2003, so if yours isn’t a limited edition, it needs to be from the console’s early days – 1989 or the early 90s at a push - to be valuable. It’ll also need be in working order, be in good condition, and have its box. If you still have some games, then selling them along with your console as a bundle can help you make more from it.

That said, even broken consoles aren’t completely worthless. If you’ve got one you can sell for parts, you can expect to make up to £30 for it – not bad for something that doesn’t even work!

Not got any of these, but do have a collection of Pokemon cards? See if you have any of the most valuable ones – they could be worth more than the average house!


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colourful antique toys in a box colourful antique toys in a box