How Much Are My Vintage Toys Worth?
Provided your mom didn’t garage sale your vintage toys, give them away or just plain throw them out, you might have a nice little stash for that rainy day fund. Many of you are likely to still have toys collecting dust in the darkest recesses of your parent’s house or even your own. Awesome toys like Dino Riders, G.I. Joe, He-Man, M.A.S.K., Star Wars, Thundercats, Transformers and many more are worth quite a lot today.
Determining the exact value of any given toy can be tricky and for larger collections a downright daunting task, especially for a novice. Particularly difficult if the collection includes toys from multiple toy lines. Here we will break down how you get from no idea to a rough idea of how much your toys are worth.
Identify What You Have?
While most reading this will know what toys they have, in some cases this is not the case. Imagine an adult selling their son’s toys who, for example, never watched the Transformers cartoon themselves. Just naming each Transformers figure is going to be a real task as there are nearly 350 different Transformers G1 toy characters from 1984-1990. In the case of vintage G1 Transformers you can identify them here.
What’s Your Vintage Toy Worth?
Assuming you have names for your toys, how do you price them? The best way to do this is by finding a comparable item through other toys that are for sale. The easiest way to find a comparable price is on eBay, there are other means, but eBay is the simplest. Whatever you do don’t buy an outdated price guide. Price guides are largely useless, as they are too vague and limiting regarding items exact condition. Never use the active listings on eBay, as anyone can ask anything they want and never get it. The key is looking at the sold prices where two parties agreed to a value.
But this is only part of the equation. Once you see the prices don’t just zoom up to the highest sold price. There are reasons the same toy might have sold for only $10 or $20, but also sell for $50 and even $100, yet look mostly identical.
Do You Have the Box?
So how do we take into account your item that is merely similar? The biggest variable, should you have it, is the box. Not only do you have it, but also what condition is it in? The same box can literally be worth almost nothing if it’s in bad condition, yet in another case worth much, much more. This generally is the biggest variable in pricing, at least in terms of moving up in price. There are other things that matter too: are there any tears, holes, stains, pen marks, portions cut out for mail in offers? Everything must be accounted for.
Is Your Vintage Toy Complete?
Simply put, is your toy complete with all its parts, accessories, weapons and paperwork? This too can get pretty difficult. For example, some parts on figures are hard to see as missing to a novice. Another example is do you have 100 Gi Joe’s from a now deceased husband? Those 100 Joes would have 300 – 400 accessories. Can you match them? Maybe, but that will not be fast nor easy.
How Completeness Affects What Your Vintage Toy Is Worth
So to put both the box and completeness in context I will share an example. An example would be someone selling a Mattel MOTU Scareglow. Take that Scare Glow, it sells for $55 or more as just the figure. Now add just a staff and that price jumps to $130 or more. Then add his cape it jumps to $200 or more. Here’s where it gets interesting. Do you have the rare variant glow in the dark staff? If you do add $50 to make it $250 or more. If you have it on the card, altogether it could be worth at least $400.
To arrive at this information for just Scare Glow I looked through 254 sold eBay items. As any item you find will only be “similar” not exact. You have to take into account the distinguishing features so you can estimate your item’s true value. That’s just where the start.
Condition Condition Condition
Just like buying a car, condition is everything. The better it is the higher the price, and for near new condition it’s a nice little bonus in price. But in most cases we are talking about played with or even heavily loved toys. This is another reason not to just pick a comparable that is the highest price. Few mint loose toys exist 30 years later. You’re more likely to be looking at a lower priced comparable than a high price.
Is It Clean?
Some collections unfortunately get attacked. Be it mice, bugs, or pets, collections that are affected by those factors are items most people don’t want. My least favorite are loose Legos. They are great toys, but often played with and dumped on the floor then swept up into the storage box. In doing so they are swept up with loads of pet hair. I won’t buy them for that reason.
Other factors affecting how clean they are: Were they sitting in an open box? If for 30 years, they will likely be covered in dust. Are they from a smoking home? If so your old buddies are going to be yellowed as smoke discolors all. Did they get any sunlight while in storage? Sunlight breaks down the plastic and also discolors it. If you’re a collector and would like to fix that check out this article. How about high heat? High heat can change some plastic’s color or texture. Even low humidity can cause problems causing some plastics to become brittle. Read more about the top 5 things killing your collection.
Toy Buyers – Where Are You Selling
Different markets matter. Where to sell collectible toys? You wouldn’t expect to get top dollar at a pawn shop, they’re not geared for selling vintage toys. Additionally, different selling markets/platforms have different fees, eBay along with PayPal is a high fee option. Additionally local auctions are also a very high fee platform. There are a plethora of options each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Is The Time Worth The Investment?
If you haven’t determined how much your vintage toys are worth before this process will be time consuming to say the least. Cleaning, staging, lighting, naming, and then matching everything up. We love to buy Transformers and other vintage toys and action figures. If you have a collection or an old box of toys that you are looking to sell give us a call at 515-329-5090 or send a message and we will take care of everything for you.
Author: Chris Ingledue
Bio: I’m the founder and owner of Wheeljack’s Lab. My vision has always been to reunite customers with their favorite childhood toys, triggering fond memories and reigniting their imaginations. Every day I work in the “lab” where it’s Christmas 365 days a year; scouring the internet – like we did the Sears Catalog of yesteryear – for the next great treasure, awaiting the arrival of the postman as if he was Santa Claus himself and helping collectors worldwide with their own versions of Christmas. Every day is an absolute joy!