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Toys that make a good investment

As the festive season approaches, we take a look at classic toys that became worth a mint, and some so-called collectibles that didn’t.
Investing in toys
Reading time: 5 mins

Toys aren’t generally considered sound investments – particularly given the way some kids treat them – but if you can get your hands on the right ones and manage to keep them in perfect condition, with a bit of luck, they could just get you eye-watering returns that far exceed their original purchase price.

So, we’ve done some research into a few of the pocket money purchases from the past that have sold for outrageous sums of money, and some so-called 'collectibles' that became worthless clutter.

Comic books

It doesn’t take an expert to realise that 248,600,000% is an impressive return on any investment. And that’s exactly what one lucky comic book owner pocketed in 2014 when they sold a first edition copy of Action Comics from 1938 (featuring the first ever appearance of Superman) for over £2.4m ($3.2m) on eBay.1

Other comics to reach astronomic values include a 1939 copy of Detective #27 (this one featuring the first appearance of ‘The Batman’) that fetched a total of $1,075,500 (£808,185) back in 20102, and the first Marvel comic which was published in October 1939. This went for $350,000 (£262,000) in 2003.3

All three comics originally retailed at 10 Cents.

Toy cars

Ten-a-penny miniature cars clog up many a child’s toy cupboard, but highly collectable versions could command huge price tags.

According to CompleteSet, a website about collectables, the ten most valuable Hot Wheels cars ever made (which includes models from the sixties and seventies, as well as a collector’s edition from the nineties) will set you back over $100k (or £75,000) together.

The most valuable, a rare hot pink rear-loading VW camper van with surfboard accessory from 1969, actually commanded a five-figure sum in 2000. Not bad given that they originally retailed for around 99 Cents each back in the day.

Dolls and teddy bears

If your plastic childhood pals avoided having their limbs and heads removed by sadistic siblings, they could be worth a few quid.

A mint-condition original 1959 Barbie sporting a black and white bathing suit sold for an impressive $27,450 (£20,731) at auction in 2006 – a near 915,000% mark up on its original $3 (£2.25) price tag.4

Another valuable examples is limited edition 2013 Marie Antoinette Barbie at $1,250 (£944)5 – a very handsome return, if we do say so!

And it’s not just dolls that could be worth a fortune. An original Steiff bear from the early 1900s sold for $25,000 in 20206, and rare examples like the black Titanic Mourning bear, issued to commemorate the 1912 tragedy, netted £22,320 in 2022.7

Collectors’ cards

Back in the 90s, Pokémon cards retailed at around £3 for a pack of 10. But they could be worth a lot more than that these days. In fact, you may be in luck if you own a Series One 1999 ‘Charizard’ holo-card. In a March 2022 auction, one sold for a whopping $420,000.8

However, The holy grail of cards is the Pikachu Illustrator card, with one fetching more than £44,000 in 20169. And more recently, in 2021, YouTuber Logan Paul swapped the PSA 10 Pikachu Illustrator in exchange for a PSA 9 version of the same card for $5.275 million, setting a Guinness World Record for the most expensive Pokémon trading card sold at a private sale in 2022.8

Don’t expect to find one lurking in your album though, as only around 39 were ever printed and few are thought to be in circulation today.

  1. https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/whats-on/family-kids-news/most-valuable-toys-cards-comics-19561784
  2. https://www.mlive.com/business/west-michigan/2010/02/forget_1_million_most_comic_bo.html
  3. https://robbreport.com/shelter/art-collectibles/slideshow/top-10-most-expensive-marvel-and-dc-comic-books-ever-sold/marvel-comics-1/
  4. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/money/g3844/most-expensive-barbies-ever/
  5. https://news.artnet.com/art-world/most-expensive-barbie-dolls-2332689
  6. https://auctiondaily.com/news/4-trends-in-fine-teddy-bear-collecting-during-lockdown/
  7. https://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/uk-news/teddy-bear-made-cash-titanic-24301037
  8. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/check-pok-mon-cards-could-184257762.html
  9. https://metro.co.uk/2016/11/22/worlds-most-valuable-pokemon-card-just-sold-for-44000-6275428/
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