Many people kick off the new year decluttering their attic, basement, or garage of stuff they no longer want in their life. Good riddance to it all! Almost. If you’re tossing old toys, rock concert T-shirts, or other items from your past, hang on—you might also be tossing out tons of cash.
A surprising number of items gathering dust in people’s homes have morphed over the decades into collectibles that can be sold on eBay and other sites—sometimes for thousands of dollars. So how do you know what’s truly valuable versus trash?
“The simplest way to identify whether your toys are valuable is to go to Google and type in a description, including any markings you see on it,” says Beau Berman, a collector who has made nearly $4,000 since the start of the pandemic by selling his old action figures from Masters of the Universe, Star Wars, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. “The markings are key. Sometimes they have the manufacturer’s name, the brand, the year.”
Once you’re armed with that information, head to eBay.
“You can filter your search to determine what people have paid for the item in the recent past,” says collector Brandon Crowther, founder of Uno Variations. “This is a great starting point in estimating the value of your item and setting an initial price point if you want to sell.”
YouTube and Amazon are also good places to look for pricing estimates. For some items, there are entire websites dedicated to the toys that will help you figure out what your items are worth.
That said, there are some caveats on how much you can make.
“Mint condition is not a subjective term to collectors,” says Crowther. “If something is in mint condition, it has never been opened, the box or product is free of dents or cosmetic damage, and there is nothing else wrong with it.”
Unless you have specifically maintained an item to be in mint condition, it probably isn’t. However, just because an item isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it’s not worth money.
To give you some inspiration to hit your old toy chest, closet, or wherever you stash your unwanted stuff, fintech company Self Financial compiled data on eBay sales in 2020 to find the average sales price of a variety of high-rolling collectibles. Take a look to see how much money your clutter could make!
1. Beanie Babies
Who doesn’t love Beanie Babies? Well, you might be loving your old stuffed pals from the 1990s even more when you find out how much they’re worth today. Hopefully you didn’t remove the tags; but even if you did, you can still cash in.
The rare Patti the Platypus variety (shown above) now goes for an average price of $12,504 in mint condition, and an impressive $4,100 used.
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures
Remember when Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles first hit the big screen in 1990? If you happened to save up your allowance to get any of those action figures, they now can go for as much as $720 in mint condition for Leonardo, and $520 for Donatello.
3. My Little Pony
Always wanted a pony, but only got My Little Pony? If you have Rapunzel, which is one of the rarest, it’s currently worth about $5,000 in new or good condition, or $2,500 used. Other My Little Pony figures may not be worth quite as much as this long-maned mare, but they can still bring in bucks. For example, in 2020, Self Financial found that the pony Blossom went for an average of $255 in new or good condition.
4. Vintage metal lunchboxes
Did your mom keep your first lunchbox out of nostalgia? Don’t overlook those metal sandwich stashers, as they might be worth more than a little lunch money.
The 1973 “Speed Buggy” version from Hasbro (with matching Dodge thermos) brought in an average of $140 in new condition in 2020, or $113 used. And a “Partridge Family” metal lunchbox sold for an average of $136.
5. Transformers toys
If you’re looking to transform your bank account, you might also want to check out any Transformers toys you’ve got lying around. The 1984 Transformer Optimus Prime (shown above) can bring in as much as $7,100 in new condition, up tons from its $20.99 original retail price.
6. ’80s and ’90s concert T-shirts
If you saved any T-shirts from your teenage rock star dreams, they could be worth more than the price of a front-row concert ticket today. For example, the Nirvana In Utero concert band T-shirt sold for an average of $500 in 2020 in mint condition and $250 used. And the Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream Tour grunge rock band T-shirt sold for an average of $1,000 in mint condition and $834 used. Concert posters can also be worth a lot, so be sure to look those up as well.
7. Vintage Nintendo video games
Last year, Donkey Kong Country on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System was one of the most popular games sold on eBay, averaging $575 without the box and $3,615 with the box and in mint condition.
According to Self Financial, the highest-earning popular console games were for the SNES ($286), followed by Nintendo 64 ($217), and the Sega Genesis ($190). There’s no word on the going rate for joysticks, but if you have old-school video games around that don’t spark joy, you might want to unload them.
8. Cabbage Patch Kids
While not every Cabbage Patch Kids doll is going to rake in the big bucks, the Little People red-hair version could be worth around $538 in new or good condition. Other dolls you may want to check as well include American Girl dolls (an original Felicity Merriman could sell for $965 in mint condition) and Strawberry Shortcake dolls (the Mint Tulip went for an average of $539 in good/new condition last year).
9. Air Jordan sneakers
Air Jordan sneakers could have you walking on air once you hear how much they fetch today: A pair of these 1994 Air Jordan 1 Nikes can pull in $1,000 or more, even in used condition. And if they happen to be signed by Michael Jordan and in mint condition, the figure skyrockets to $7,000. Other versions—like Air Jordans 2 through 5—can also sell for serious bank.