Where Can I Sell My Vintage Toys?
You've decided to clean house and depart with some of your childhood toys—but how do you know what they are worth and where can you sell them? Coming up with hard numbers as far as value can be difficult at times, but here are a few solid methods to use.
What Are My Toys Worth?
Once you have decided to sell your toys, the next obvious step is to determine their value. Here are four ways to do it:
1. Online Research
Probably the most popular way to determine a vintage toy's value—and for the most part a fairly credible way—is seeing what the item sold for on an online auction site. You can go to a site like eBay and do a search for sold listings of the vintage toy and sort the results to get a range of values for the item. You can also compare prices from the online auction sites to online stores like Amazon or Etsy to get a more complete picture of the item's selling price.
There are certain variables, though, to consider with this approach. Prices can vary widely based on condition and even the time of year that the item sold. However, if you use this approach, expect your item to sell for at least the mid-range price (for a toy in the same condition).
Your toy's condition has a huge impact on its value. You will always get a higher price for mint in box or unused toys. If you are selling online, save yourself a lot of problems by being completely accurate with the item's condition (and supplying ample photos). Photos let the consumer decide if they agree with your assessment of the toy's condition.
2. Guides and Books
This is an excellent way to get a more accurate value, but since it takes time to get a book published the listed values can shift even as the book hits the shelf. However, most of the guides are written by experts or at the very least enthusiasts so the books and the values they state are generally well-researched, based on multiple markets, and to a degree take into account the lead time required in book publishing.
3. Antique Roadshow-Type Venues
If you have watched the Antique Roadshow, you quickly realize they utilize expert appraisers to place a value on any item. Because of this approach, the values tend to be more accurate since the appraisers are experts in a particular field. The only thing to be careful of is when attending any show—is make sure it is legitimate. Some 'shows' are simply businesses attempting to exploit an unknowing public.
This is the best way to determine the value of a toy. But, if the toy is worth less than $100 (based on auction searches)—then the appraisal fee may cut too deeply into your profit. However, if you have a large collection, it may be money well spent especially since you may have a hidden gem that only an expert appraiser could uncover.
Consider Taking Up the Hobby of Restoration
If you are looking for a challenging but rewarding hobby, try restoring some of your old favorite diecast toys. Or, go to local thrift stores and but some solid, but used-looking models to dismantle and revive.
Where Can I Sell My Vintage Toys?
Here are four tips to help you find a place to sell your vintage toys:
1. Online Auctions or Online Stores
Again the first choice for many is to list the toy on eBay or some other auction site and see what the item brings. If you want quick cash, it is the simplest way to go, but double check the fees associated with the auction site because they are not all created equally. For example, eBay charges you a percentage based on selling price and that percentage is even charged to actual shipping price, meaning, in essence, you are supplementing the postage cost. Online stores like Amazon and others tend to set a fixed fee—and give your a shipping credit—so you know immediately what you will be charged and what you will receive if the item sells for the listed price.
2. Local Retailers
A source that is too often overlooked is local 'mom and pop' retailers. Although you most likely will receive wholesale value for an item—since the establishment will be reselling it—you can get your money quicker this way. Most regions have at least one strong vintage toy store—I know there are several within 50 miles of where I live. Selling locally also has the added benefit of helping the local economy.
3. Yard Sales
Two of the most popular annual garage sales are the World's Longest Yard Sale which originally started in Jamestown, TN. The sale winds along U.S. 127 and now extends from Alabama to Michigan. I live near U.S. 127 and have seen multiple vintage toys for sale over the years—and usually selling for retail prices. (I've never found any 'picking' type of garage sales during the event). Another significantly large garage sale follows the National Road (U.S. 40). Generally speaking even if you don't live near either U.S. route, you can rent a spot—which may be worth your time if you have a significant amount of toys.
Lastly, you could set up a garage sale in your hometown, just try to time it to match any regional or city-wide sales that may be occurring. This way you are almost guaranteed to have motivated customers.
Note: For information about 10 of the most significant and largest yard sales in the United States, check out this list from The Spruce.
4. Hire an Auctioneer
Use this approach only if you have a large, unique and collectible variety of toys for sale. If you has this, a good auctioneer will get the message out about the sale beforehand and be able to generate top dollar for your items.
Which Vintage Toys Still Hold Value?
As you start researching what toys you have and what they are worth, you will notice some patterns. First you will realize that anything mass produced as a 'collectible' probably has little to no value. And, since value is a somewhat subjective idea—the toys that have value are subjective. But here are four broad categories that tend to retain value.
Diecast Farm Toys
There's just something about older quality diecast farm toys that seem to appeal to a large section of collectors. If fact, there are entire shows and magazines built around the genre. To get an idea of what farm toys hold the most value, view these sites:
- National Farm Toy Museum: This site includes images of collector toys, but its most valuable asset may be information on annual vintage farm toy events and sales.
- 3000Toys: This site is more about current diecast collectibles, but its prices provide a benchmark for what brands and types of vintage toys people collect.
- RubyLane: This is an online store site that caters to vintage collectors. You can search by category and brand to narrow down types of toys.
Specific Board Games
This section is an interesting one because some relatively new games hold value almost as easily as older, vintage games. Common games that tend to hold value—dependent on version are war and strategy games. To get a good understanding of which games have value view any on these four sites.
- BoardGameGeek: This is an excellent site when you want to research a board game. It will list prices, give a description and tell you the various versions and years of a game.
- RubyLane: This is also a good source for board game values.
- PurplePawn: This site includes a list of the 20 most valuable vintage board games and includes a screen shot of their selling price. Interesting list.
- Amazon: The site has quite a few price guides for board game, including by Desi Scarpone. Board Games (Schiffer Book for Collectors)
Toys That Represent an Era
Currently toys from the 80s are selling well. This is probably because as people age, they want to recapture their childhood memories—and a simple way to do that is buying the toys they owned. Most collectors though tend to want games that are in near perfect condition.
Where to Begin
Evaluate your desired outcome before you sell. Are you going to regret parting with a specific item? If so, hang onto it a little while longer. Is your goal to clean house and get a few bucks in the process? If so, find a reputable reseller. If you want to get a little more money, go with an online auction—just make sure you understand the fees and obligations of the site.
However, if you want to interact with another collector looking for the toy you have to sell, then consider a garage sale or an auction.
A Few Highly Valuable Toys
Name of Toy
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Scratch the Cat Figure
Mint in Package: $1,000
First-Generation Charizard Pokemon Card
Mint: Around $700
Kenner Starting Lineup Utah Jazz Figures
Mint: $200–$300 each