Methods to promote classic toys and switch your child's jewels into cash

Know this if you're looking to sell old toys: vintage toy stores can pay up to $ 700 for Hasbro's rare 1967 GI Joe nurse. They'd love to buy a retired Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer LEGO set for $ 600 or more. Fisher Price's blue A-frame house could fetch $ 50.

But they're not interested in your bag of stuffed animals.

“People keep coming in with stuffed animals. I don't want to risk getting bed bugs. I keep passing this on unless it's a Care Bear from someone I know, ”said Jason Williams, who owns the Big Fun Vintage toy store in Columbus, Ohio.

The old toy market has grown during the pandemic due to the backlog of collectors and young parents nostalgic for an easier time. Many vintage toy stores have reopened in person and eager to buy and sell.

"I think the pandemic created a lot of recreational collectors," Williams said. "A lot of those toy lines that might not have sold as well before, like Polly Pockets or Mighty Max, are now selling pretty well."

Here's what you need to know to get the top dollars on your vintage toys, whether you sell them at toy stores or online auctions.

This is how you determine the value of collectible toys

Williams reel offs vintage toy values ​​as easily as Wall Street traders quote stock prices. However, the values ​​vary greatly depending on supply, demand, the number originally manufactured and the condition of the toys.

eBay research

If you are thinking of selling vintage toys, research the latest retail prices online and pay close attention to what is being sold, not asking asking prices for unsold vintage items.

"I look at sold items on eBay and try to find an average price," said Williams. "If something sells for $ 100 once, and it sells for $ 50 a dozen times, and it also sold for $ 10, I rate it at $ 40 or $ 50."

Williams then pays a seller 50 to 70 percent of the price he will set for the toy, depending on the rarity.

Professional assessments and gradings

If you have a toy, especially an action figure, that is in its original packaging and sells on eBay for $ 200 or more, it may be worthwhile to get a professional appraisal. If it has an outside review, you may get more for it and know if someone is trying to make a low offer.

Many companies rate collectibles, and prices vary based on size and wait time. For example, the Action Figure Authority charges $ 32 to rate a standard-size figure within 60 to 80 days, or $ 55 to rate it within a week. Usually you have to send the item to the sorter and they will send it back.

Finding a grader or appraiser at a toy fair or local auction house is the faster, cheaper way to go.

Toys from the 1960s and earlier can also be valued without the original box and are worth a professional evaluation.

Supply matters

The purely situational offer from a dealer at a certain point in time also has an effect on an offer to a seller.

"When I get 30 of a number, I'll put the price lower and pay less," said Williams.

Quality matters

A toy in its original packaging is of course worth more. If this original packaging is still wrapped in clear plastic, it will bring you top dollars.

Usually it is the professional collectors who keep toys in like new condition. But if you're trying to sell your vintage toys that kids have played with for years, there are still plenty of potential buyers out there.

Check out the vintage Fisher Price Little People sets made in the 1960s and 1970s.

The blue A-frame is one of the harder to find sets. Williams would sell it for about $ 100 and pay a seller $ 50. If a few parts are missing, it would be paying closer to a third of its asking price. If more than a few pieces are missing, it would pay about $ 25.

Just as vintage record stores can buy a scratched album because the cover is in good condition and they know the same album will be unscratched, vintage toy stores buy incomplete or even broken toys to complete previously purchased sets.

“We're always buying things to cannibalize the parts and match other sets,” Williams said.

How much can you get for old toys?

Here is a selection of what some old favorites are being sold for.

Photo courtesy of Katherine Snow-Smith

My little Pony

Big Fun has a display case full of all plastic tones of My Little Ponies that retails for $ 10 to $ 75. Expect yours to sell for about half that. The male ponies are worth the most.

“They made men who came with shoes and hats. There was a construction worker pony, ”said Williams. Male ponies did not sell as well as the female ponies, so fewer were made, which made them less common.

A used first generation Mountain Boy Pony just sold for $ 549 on eBay. First-generation Stardazzle women recently sold for $ 27 on eBay while Bangles went goodbye for $ 20 and Flutterbye for $ 12.50.

GI Joe figures

Williams recently paid $ 20 for a 1993 GI Joe. "He didn't have any of the guns," said Williams. "If he had these (the owner) he would have got an extra $ 10 or $ 15 from me."

A used 2008 GI Joe was recently sold on eBay for $ 15 and a 1964 GI Joe with uniform and boots for $ 165.

Marvel legends

Hasbro began making Marvel Legends characters based on Marvel Comics in the early 2000s.

“The demand for it is healthy. People bring her in all the time, ”Williams said. "A figure can be sold for $ 8 if nobody cares, or they can go for a few hundred dollars."

A new She Hulk action figure from the Fin Fang Foom series recently sold for $ 170 on eBay. A used 6-inch Epic Heroes Iron Man was $ 18.


Retired LEGO sets are worth the most, and anything Star Wars or Harry Potter related is in demand, Williams said.

A Diagon Alley set opened with a worn box just sold for $ 70 on eBay, but the same set in a sealed box went for $ 510.

As for Star Wars LEGOS, a used Rogue Shadow Force Unleashed set sold for $ 149 while a used resistance bomber sold for $ 110.

Polly Pockets sit in a showcase.

Photo courtesy of Katherine Snow-Smith

Polly Pocket

"Polly Pocket has grown in popularity in the last year and a half," Williams said, nodding again to parents who became more nostalgic during the pandemic.

A used 1993 Polly Pocket Fairy Light Wonderland was just $ 58 on eBay, while a 1992 Sky Princess ring doll sold for $ 24 and a glitter wedding locket with all parts went for $ 85.


Hasbro and Takara's Transformers, manufactured between 1984 and 1990, are known as Generation One. These are the ones who most interest toy buyers. Black Zarak, Fortress Maximus, and some Diaclones pieces are the most popular, Williams said.

A used Cybertron Dark Scorponok from the Black Zarak series recently sold on eBay for $ 60, while a used 1987 Fortress Maximus Headmaster sold for $ 288.

Beanie babies

Rumors have been circulating for years that the rarest beanie babies sell for tens of thousands of dollars. But sellers watch out: More than 1,000 of the purple Princess Diana bears are listed on eBay for $ 3.95 to more than $ 10,000. Some are certainly imitations, while other prices are more wishful thinking than comparable sales.

The internet is full of lists of the most cherished beanie babies, and they vary widely too. Some concurring comments say that with embroidered emblems or a wording mistake on their white label, the bears get the best price. Without the heart-shaped Ty tag, they're supposedly worth half as much.

If you want to find some value and maybe a potential buyer, it is a good idea to join one of the many Beanie Baby groups on Facebook.

There is an old Fisher Price school toy on the yellow carpet.

Photo courtesy of Katherine Snow-Smith

Fisher Price sets for little people

A 1971 Fisher Price schoolhouse in Big Fun's window display is a catch to bring prospective buyers into the store.

"Fisher Price is one of those iconic things that gets people's attention," Williams said. It's not as in demand as action figures or retired LEGO sets, but so many people connect with these sets that have been entrenched in playrooms for generations.

They're also gender neutral so they appeal to a wider audience.

A Fisher Price A-frame playset with all of the pieces in it, which recently sold for $ 114 on eBay. Twelve little wooden people and five plastic chairs from the early 1970s were $ 16.50, while the pink dragon from the castle was $ 50.

Sesame Street sets appeal to a specific but broad audience: those who are nostalgic after Fisher Price and are fans of Kermit, Oscar, and Big Bird. The town of Fisher Price on Sesame Street with its figurines and furniture recently sold for $ 250 on eBay, while a single lamppost with the Sesame Street sign was $ 12.50.

Selling vintage toys at a toy store

Vintage toy stores are a great stop for professional and recreational collectors alike.

Toy store owners pay locally, which is an advantage over waiting for items to sell in an online auction. If you can drive to the store, there are no shipping costs when selling.

Williams' calendar is filled with "clean outs," which means he goes to a house with lots of old toys hidden in the attic or basement. Some homeowners bring in an estate administrator or auction house, but Williams goes in first to appraise and buy the old toys.

There are vintage toy stores in every state. When you look at their websites, most of them say they are always ready to buy and sell. Of course, call ahead of time to confirm that they are buying what you have to sell. Some vintage toy stores mainly buy comics, while some comic stores also buy toys.

Selling through an auction house

If you only have one or two items, eBay or a toy store are good choices, advises Blake Kennedy, auctioneer, appraiser, and co-owner of Kennedy Brothers Auctions in St. Petersburg, Florida. But if you have a collection, an online or in-person auction run by an auction company can make more money, he said.

Nationwide, auction companies generally charge a commission of 10 to 35%, although they may charge a flat fee or negotiate a lower commission for a very expensive item.

6 tips for selling vintage toys online

Many people automatically go to eBay to offload their children's toys. This is how you create an effective listing.

1. Be transparent.

Describe any defects or missing parts. This saves a lot of time and aggravation if the purchase later becomes disputed.

2. Post good photos.

Take at least five well-lit photos of the item from each angle and add any tags or manufacturer markings for the best price.

3. Be detailed.

Include as many details as possible in your product description, which are also keywords, such as manufacturer and year of publication.

4. Be clear.

See the product descriptions of other sold products in similar categories online for their keywords.

5. Be responsive.

Watch out for direct emails or messages on the online platform so that you can quickly answer any questions potential buyers may have.

6. Be quick.

If the item sells, post it promptly and carefully so that you can get a good online review.

Katherine Snow Smith is a senior writer for The Penny Hoarder.

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