80s Toys are Making Noise
If you were a child in the 1980s, and like me, your Mecca was most likely Toys“R”Us, Kiddie City and the like. Transformers, He-Man, Strawberry Shortcake and Ninja Turtles, just to name a few, all flew off the shelves. The economy had recently recovered from the “malaise” of the 1970s and several toy franchises were all the rage. Fast forward to today, those kids, now grown, are revisiting this age as in seen in current pop-culture. The word is nostalgia. After all, that is what collecting is all about. It is why the stores seem to have an injection of reproductions and reissues. The boomers and gen-xers children are enjoying the several of the same toys, we did. They were awesome then and still are now. Like Kiss. (Yeah, I just invoked Paul Gene Ace and Peter for no reason.) Anyway, this post is for those of you that "grew up" and still have some of your original toys. If you kept them, and in good shape, which was not me, you just might find some handsome returns in the resale market. eBay, Invaluable, Live Auctioneers and several other online auction platforms are proving, day in and day out….80’s toys are hot!
Here are some excellent examples to illustrate…
1. Game Boy
1989 saw the release of the Nintendo Game Boy. Its most popular game at the outset was Super Mario Land. It was quickly followed up with monster hits like Tetris and Legend of Zelda. Thus, solidifying the crazy. And Pokémon, took it to the next level. The Game Boy’s game library became so extensive that it included approximately 700 different titles. Multiplayer modes requiring link cables, pre blue tooth, made it the addiction of millions. Come to think of it. The idea of monsters like Japan’s vending machine Capsule Monsters running through link cables, is rumored to be what inspired Satoshi Tajiri to create what we know as the Pokémon Franchise. This illustrates just how big Game Boy was to the entire world. Though the initial 8-bit Game Boy was eventually dropped for a “new” 32-bit Game Boy Advanced in 2003, make sure you check out the price for restored 80s’ Original Gameboy on eBay. A factory sealed original just sold for $2525 in August. Some of the original games’ resale prices are just crazy.
2. Strawberry Shortcake
Many avid toy collectors are not aware that Strawberry Shortcake and her friends were originally designed in the late 70s as greeting card characters. No one knew at the time; they would go on to be a wildly successful line of toys & a superhit cartoon series. Starting in 1979, Kenner produced these sweet-smelling dolls. You had Strawberry, The Berry Bake Shoppe, The Snail Cart (with Escargot The Snail), The Carrousel, The Berry-Shaped Carry Case, Flitter-Bit the Butterfly and so much more.
An original Strawberry Shortcake Berry Happy Home is an easy $200-400 these days. A few of the rare dolls can fetch in to the $1000s. A Plum Berrykin just sold for $1380. A Mint Tulip $1200 and an Orange Blossom $1650.
3. He-Man & the Masters of the Universe Action Figures
First hitting the market in 1981, Mattel’s He-Man found his way on to everyone’s Christmas gift-list real quick. What once cost less than $5 bucks ($4.99) can now fetch over $2000. A mint condition original 1982 Skeletor figure just brought $2500 on eBay. And just wait till the release of Masters of the Universe movie in 2021. The growing interest and renewed popularity, coupled with the new reissues and reproductions should cause these first generations to-rocket even more…
4. Care Bears
The Care Bears were every 80s girl’s bestest plush buddy. Originally created by an American greetings card company, American Greetings, in 1981, the franchise was launched in New York City in 1982. The cartoon series was only created later, based on America’s cuddliest toys.
The rarest of the Care Bears is the Noble Heart Horse. Released only in the UK it can fetch $400+ these days. A Care Bear Cousins Proud Heart Cat, $200-300. So, if you have one of these locked away in your closet, you might think of selling.
5. G.I. Joe Action Figures
Ever wondered were the word “Action Figure” came from? G.I. Joe is responsible for coining the actual word itself. When Hasbro technically re-released these U.S. armed forces-themed line of toys in 1982, no one would’ve thought these 3.75” versions would capture the hearts of so many kids. Wikipedia says G.I. Joe is “an American icon among toys” and who would argue. Remember Ross Geller from “Friends” desperately asking his baby boy to “drop the Barbie” in exchange for a G.I. Joe action figure? That is how much it meant to an 80s kid. A few dollars fetched an 80s G.I. Joe and check out the eBay price for the same today. Carded figures can fetch over $1000 depending on the character.
6. Teddy Ruxpin and Grubby
The 80s saw a revolutionized bedtime story-telling with Hug 'N Sing Plush Teddy Ruxpin plush dolls. They animatronically moved their mouths to audio tapes of children’s stories. Ruxpin was also accompanied by Grubby, an eight-legged friend with his signature blue eyes.
A year within release, Ruxpin was the best-selling toy of 1985 and 1986. Today, a Teddy Ruxpin in the box can still fetch $200 or more.
Transformers were the ultimate toy and on everyone's list. And I am talking, way before the movie franchise. Released in 1984, the entire line of first-generation toys left an indelible in pop culture history and have had their popularity span several decades.
If you are lucky enough to find some, out their thrifting, or....you still have yours, they can make their final transformation into cold hard cash. See what I did there ?
A Devastator Set just brought $1800, a Jet Fire $910, and a Sealed Optimus Prime $7500.
8. Cabbage Patch Kids
How can the Kids not be on the list? Sprouted in Babyland General Hospital, they are one of the longest-running toy franchises in US History. These first went into mass production in 1982, and The Christmas Craze they caused was really the first of its kind. The original retail was approx. $29 & I remember a childhood friend’s dad, forking over $600 that Christmas Eve. His daughter absolutely had to have it Christmas morning. That's pony money.
But remember when I said, they have made them since 1982 and they are still in production. Over 130 million have been made, which hurt the resale value over the years. A simple supply and demand kind of thing....but, if you are lucky enough to have one of the early, hand sign variants…. you might have something there.
A 1985 Coleco with Original Box and Birth Certificate just sold for $1250.
9. Easy Bake Oven – “It’s Kenner, It’s Fun!”
And not false advertising. Baking was fun….and actually educational. 80’s kids learned both baking and discipline from the Easy Bake Oven. And before you say, they are not a true 80s toy, I know, they first hit the market in 1963. The original play set was technically no more than a 100W bulb heating cake mixes into actual little cakes for kids, but it was magic to them. By the time those bulbs were banned, the design was revamped and made a little more foolproof. Or burn proof. It was available in about a dozen colors like turquoise (original), avocado green, harvest gold, sunshine yellow, lime green, and poppy red. In total, there have been 11 or so models & over 23 million have been sold. That’s amazing, right? The original design cost $15.95 in the stores. Today an original Easy Bake Oven with original box, can fetch $100 or more.
10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Action Figures
First introduced to the world in 1988, April O'Neil, Bebop, Donatello, Foot Soldier, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Rocksteady, Shredder, and Splinter quickly became household names. They became quite the formidable collectible series. If you are a proud owner of your original collection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you might want to go find them. Carded Figures are fetching $300+, some of the rare variants are several $1000. Scratch just sold for $4300, 3 weeks ago on eBay. Amazing….
Anyway, I got to get back to work. I could obsess over 80s toys for ever. And do not get me started on the video games from the era. Might be my next blog. Atari, Intellivision, ColecoVision, Odyssey, VecTrex…. a pre-Nintendo Blog…then a post. Okay, I hear you…. NERD!
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