Building toys from the 90s

Building toys from the 90s DEFAULT

22 Things You Owned in the '90s That Are Worth a Fortune Today

The Beanie Baby boom may have been overblown, but that doesn't mean that hanging onto vintage '90s toys was a terrible idea. Depending on what you kept from that era and what condition it's in, you could be sitting on a minor fortune in rare video games and toys. Here are 22 things you might have owned in the '90s and early 2000s that have majorly appreciated in value over the last few decades.

1. Polly Pocket

Tiny Polly Pocket dolls and their compact playhouses have gotten larger since Mattel bought the brand in 1998, which might be why the original, actually pocket-sized Pollys have increased in value. Sealed sets can net you hundreds of dollars on eBay, particularly those made between 1989 and 1998. A sealed Polly Pocket Jewel Case sold for$600 in 2016, and while a Polly Pocket Carry 'N Play Dream Home sold $550 that year. In 2017, an eBay lot featuring 69 different Polly Pocket compacts and more than 100 figures sold for almost $900, while in late 2018, a single Polly's Crystal Ball set went for $600.

2. Pokémon Cards

Hands shuffle Pokémon cards at a tournament

Even in the '90s, a Charizard was a rare find. Now, those who really want to "catch 'em all" will have to pay a high price to add a Charizard to their collections. A mint -condition Charizard Holo card, from the first edition of Pokémon released in 1999, can fetch more than $5000. Complete first-edition card sets can cost $4600 to $8700—or more. A February 2019 eBay auction started the bidding for a first-edition holographic Charizard set in mint condition at almost $12,000.

3. Pokémon for Nintendo Game Boy

It's not just Pokémon cards that have grown in value. Pokémon games for Nintendo Gameboy can also net owners a pretty penny. Red, Blue, and Yellow versions can cost several hundred dollars each. A sealed copy of Pokémon Red Version sold for $405 in 2016, while the same game sold for $500 in January 2019. Nor is that the biggest auction of one of the games—a February 2019 seller started bidding on eBay at more than $800 for a sealed copy of Pokémon Crystal Version.

4. Furby

If your Furby was too creepy for you to even take it out of the box as a child, you're in luck. A few years ago, original 1998 Furby recently sold for $700. Another limited edition toy from 1998 went for $405. Even used they can fetch high prices. A working Kid Cuisine Furby sold for $130 back in 2016, while in early 2019, a set of 12 used Furbys sold for $500.

5. Castlevania

The Dracula-inspired video game Castlevania is particularly valuable these days. Sealed versions of the game sell for upwards of $800, depending on the game and the condition. A 1994 Sega Genesis version of Castlevania: Bloodlines has sold for as much as $750 in the past, while Nintendo SNES editions of Castlevania: Dracula X regularly sell for more than $1000. A used copy of the 1990 PC game went for $585 in March 2016.

6. M.U.S.H.A. for Sega Genesis

The 1990 shooting game M.U.S.H.A. is much-coveted on eBay, where it can sell for up to $500. Even items that aren't in totally pristine condition are worth good money. A copy of the game that comes with a damaged manual was listed for $425 in early 2019, while one currently listed on Amazon (seen above) is available for $372.


You can play Super Mario Bros on a Wii these days, but some people are still on the lookout for the game’s original versions for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Super Mario Bros 3, released in 1990, has sold for as much as $960.

8. Super Soakers

A vintage Super Soaker Monster XL, which has the distinction of being one of the largest water guns ever sold, went for $500 back in 2016. That same year, a used Super Soaker CPS, known for being the most powerful water gun ever, went for $300. UK-based Wikipedia user Savager reports that he or she sold their 1996 CPS Super Soaker (above) for £140 in 2006. Based on inflation and today's exchange rate, that’s about $266 now.

9. G.I. Joe Action Figures

A vintage G.I. Joe prototype on display

Even used, Starduster, an action figure that you could get through the mail from Hasbro back in 1988, can net you $300 on eBay. Other G.I. Joe sets go for more, like an incomplete space shuttle complex that sold for $600 in May 2016. A used G.I. Joe Mobile Command Center, on the other hand, can sell for $3000, while a U.S.S. Flagg aircraft carrier can sell for more than $1100. Real American heroes don’t come cheap.

10. Power Rangers Action Figures

The Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers are now mighty valuable. A 1993 action figure the Carrier Zord (fighting machine) Titanus is worth $300. Other used Power Rangers toys have gone for more than $200 in recent years.

11. Transformers Action Figures

If you’ve got a sealed Transformers figure stashed somewhere, sell it off, stat. A 1995 Megatron action figure sold for $750 in 2016, and a pack with Optimus Prime and Megatron sold for $1000. An Abominus combiner set recently sold for $480.

12. Magic: The Gathering Cards

Magic: The Gathering debuted in 1993, and some of the earliest cards produced can fetch several thousand dollars from collectors. A sealed Alpha starter deck has sold for more than $8700, while a single Black Lotus alpha-deck card—one of only 1100 ever printed, considered the "holy grail" of Magic cards—is worth more than $27,000. Even an empty Alpha deck box is worth at least $85.

13. Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards

A first-edition box of Yu-Gi-Oh! cards can be worth more than a thousand bucks. First-edition Legend of Blue Eyes White Dragon booster boxes have sold for up to $1450. Just a single card from one of those booster boxes is worth $550, even if it's been played and has moderate wear.

14. Hot Wheels

A Hot Wheels 67 Pontiac GTO toy car

Hot Wheels Treasure Hunt cars, first released in 1995, are still quite popular with collectors. A toy version of a 1967 Camaro recently sold for $509, and a set of 12 cars in the original box sells in the $1100 to $1550 range. Even an incomplete set can go for upwards of $800.

15. RC Cars

Vintage RC Cars are worth several hundred dollars each, even used. An unopened Kyosho 4Runner sold for $700 in March 2016, while an incomplete, used Tamiya RC Ferrari from the early '90s sold for $140 a few months later. (One of the Ferrari 312B models above fetches between $100 and $200 on eBay.) A used Nitro RC Car sold for $2000 in January 2019.

16. LEGO Sets

Sealed vintage LEGO sets might get you around $500 (for a King's Mountain Fortress set), while used sets are worth significantly less, especially if they don’t have instructions or a box. Still, a used castle set with no box can be worth between $125 and $190 if it's complete. And it's not just decades-old LEGOs that are valuable. A 2007 Star Wars Millennium Falcon set recently sold for $1800.

17. Wrestling Specials

Some wrestling specials from the '90s are worth several hundred dollars today on VHS. A used 1996 tape from a match between Hulk Hogan and "Macho Man" Randy Savage can sell for $200. A 1997 tape of World Champion Wrestling's Great American Bash goes for around the same price, while a used Jim Crockett Sr. Memorial Cup Tag Team Tournament VHS from 1986 is worth up to $400.

18. Stamps

Postage stamps in a collector's book

A select number of rare stamps from the '90s get traded for (relatively) high prices among collectors. A 1997 sheet of Bugs Bunny stamps, for instance, sold for $90 in May 2016. A set of 1992 Junior Duck Stamps (which can't actually be used to mail anything, but benefit environmental conservation efforts) recently sold for a whopping $995.

19. Beanie Babies

Los Angeles Lakers player A.C. Green stands with a green Beanie Baby bear on his head during a game in 2000.

No, your plush Ty toy collection isn't worth the fortune you thought it would be during the Great Beanie Baby Craze of the late '90s, but if you've got an especially rare toy, or one with some kind of manufacturing defect, you might still get a few hundred bucks—that is, if you kept the tag on. A Peace bear that features several errors sold for $4000 recently, while a Britannia bear sold for $2000. A wingless Quacker—one of about 780 ever shipped—sold for $1800 in March 2016, although another wingless Quacker sold in April of that year fetched just $430.

20. Happy Meal Toys

That giant bin full of old Happy Meal toys in the attic will not make you a millionaire, sadly (sorry, mom!) but certain '90s McDonalds toys can earn you back the cost of that Happy Meal and more. If you happen to have gotten a hold of an entire display—like this one for Super Mario 3 Happy Meals with four toys—you could get up to $400. (We already know Super Mario fans are intense about their collectibles.) Another lot featuring hundreds of Happy Meal and other fast food toys recently sold for $145. But even the entire toy display for Tiny Toon Adventures meals only earned its seller $46 a few years ago, and a set of 46 unopened Furby toys sold for as little as $56, so the chances of you making it rich on Happy Meals toys are not great.

21. Beauty and the Beast on VHS

In the modern era, VHS tapes can be surprisingly valuable, even if most people no longer own a VCR. The Disney classic Beauty and the Beast is a particular gold mine. Listings on eBay for a Black Diamond edition of the 1991 film run from $17 to $12,000. And people do buy them: One sold for $10,000 in January 2019.

22. Harry Potter Books

A signed early edition of 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' on display

Some early Harry Potter novels are now worth big money. Only 500 copies of the first 1998 edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone—with Joanne Rowling listed as the author—were printed, making them extremely valuable now. One bookseller estimates that one could be worth up to $56,000. Some other books in the series are a bit less valuable, but can still sell for far beyond list price. A pair of early-edition books signed by J.K. Rowling were recently appraised on Antiques Roadshow as being worth up to $4000.

A version of this story first ran in 2016.

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28 Incredibly Strange 90s Kids Toys We'll Never See Again

Everyone remembers toy commercials from the 90s – their bright colors, their catchy theme songs, their images of leaping kids and pure, blissful fun. We often get nostalgic for those days now that 90s kids are all grown up and have their own jobs and lives. We long to remember the days of tuning in to Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, the days of the euphoric feeling of opening the next new toy.

But sometimes nostalgia also means looking at our fond memories through rose-colored glasses. If we look closely at some of our old 90s toys, it may turn out some of them weren't just innocent fun like we thought. Some toys were inappropriate because they hinted at jokes or adult themes that went sailing right over our young little heads, others weren't fit for kids because they were flat-out dangerous or toxic. Some of our favorite childhood toys even ended up being pulled from the toy store shelves after parents complained. Now that we think about it, a lot of the toys we so desperately wanted as kids would be considered troubling now, and looking back many of them probably wouldn't make it past censors or safety standards today.

What dark tales can we hear from the age of psychedelic colors, dial-up internet, political turmoil, and of course, grunge? Prepare to have your childhood ruined once and for all. Here are 28 inappropriate 90s kids toys that you definitely could not get made today.

28 Booger Jenga

Everyone loves gross-out humor sometimes. Maybe you were a fan of Ren and Stimpy back in the day, the show that pretty much put extreme humor on the map for cartoons. But even the most die-hard fans of the genre would have a hard time stomaching the concept of Gooey Louie, a board game for kids where–wait for it–the board is some guy named Louie's head.

You pull boogers out of his nose one by one until his brain pops out.

I have a lot of questions. Who thought this would be appealing? What was its target demographic? What demand was there for this? Booger jokes aside, there's a warning on the box for kids to keep their faces 12 inches away from Louie's head to avoid being struck by the spring-loaded brain, which tells you what kind of game it is.

27 They Sweat Awesome

These particular wrestling toys were truly bizarre all around. The WWF Maximum Sweat toyline apparently believed that kids wanted to play with Incredible Hulk versions of their favorite professional wrestlers, complete with grotesquely huge muscles, veiny necks, and monstrous facial expressions. While the proportions were bad enough, the worst part is that the name is meant to be taken literally: yes, these toys actually perspired.

Each toy came complete with a vial labeled "Official Federation Sweat." The kid would fill with water and pour into an opening on the wrestler's back. The "sweat" would be released by pushing a button. We're not sure what's worse: the fact that this is meant as a hook to reel kids in when it's really just a wrestling version of the dolls who wet themselves, or the fact that they were popular enough to have four sets of released.

26 Confirmed: Jar Jar Is A Sith Lord

If there's one franchise that knows merchandising, it's Star Wars. Before other toy-driven franchises like Transformers, He-Man, My Little Pony, G.I. Joe and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, George Lucas' science fiction masterpiece was the first to capitalize on toys. In fact, Star Wars toys have made twice as much as the movies, profiting to the tune of billions. But with the amount of merch the series has, it's no wonder some would emerge that are just plain wrong.

Enter the Jar Jar Binks lollipop candy released for Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace.

While the movie displeased fans, this sucker where you open Jar Jar's mouth and actually eat his candy tongue right out of his mouth is just horrific. How could anyone eat this and not imagine kissing the character? This shouldn't be allowed anywhere near adults, much less children.

25 Bulls Eye

No list of inappropriate or dangerous toys would be complete without these. They're pretty much synonymous with "kids' toys that were a really, really bad idea." Lawn Darts seem like a fun concept: you put the targets down on the grass in your backyard and throw the foot-long plastic darts with weighted metal tips at them, in a sort of combination of horseshoes and darts. Sounds like fun, right?

It turns out giving little children access to flying things with sharp points made of weighted metal wasn't the greatest idea. Within eight years, the toys sent over 6,100 people to the ER, with half of those being 10 years old or younger. One girl even lost her life, while another was sent into a coma. Lawn Darts are now banned for sale in the United States and Canada.

24 The Rocket

What really needs to be written about this one? You can probably figure out what's wrong just from the picture above, and it's hard to imagine the designers didn't snicker to themselves constantly during production. It's toys like this that make you wonder: was there no one brave enough to raise their hands during the design meeting? The idea is that the Marvel Comics vigilante's action figure can transform the lower half of his body into a rocket launcher.

Really? Couldn't it have been one of his arms or something?

Chances are any kids who are old enough to have a toy of The Punisher would be old enough to laugh at the design of this toy and the rocket's resemblance to another part of the body.

23 Ken Came In Another Box

Yes, they did actually make a pregnant Barbie doll in the 90s. And why not? Because when you think of Barbie, you think about how realistic the dolls' bodies are, right? The "Happy Family" playset came with a character named Midge, who was sold "pregnant" with a baby named Nikki. Surprise, surprise, the doll created controversy when it was seen as inappropriate for children and accused of promoting teen pregnancy (Midge was given a wedding ring and shown next to Alan in later versions).

The pictures of the plastic baby inserted into the doll are pure nightmare fuel. Why am I thinking of the Alien franchise right about now? Really, if Mattel thought this was a good idea at any point during the pitch, they should've stopped at the moment when they uttered the phrase, "magnetically detachable belly." Not the most like-like example for kids.

22 Every Good Cook Had To Start Somewhere

Ah, the good ole Easy-Bake Oven, one of Hasbro's oldest cash cows. Let me ask you this: have you ever met anyone who actually liked anything they baked in one of these things? If you have, let me know, because over 16 million were sold by 1997. Going along with those big numbers were also recalls when, shocker, children were taken to the hospital with severe burns.

It turns out giving kids a toy with an incandescent bulb as a heat source that could reach up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit wasn't the best idea.

Particularly when one model had a faulty door that could get their fingers trapped in it, even inflicting second and third-degree burns. Over 77 reports of burns lead to a recall of millions of them. Turns out baking is not so easy after all.

21 They're Squirmy, And Wormy

Confession time: I had one of these as a kid and filled my parents' house with little rubbery multi-colored scorpions. Imagine my surprise when one day I realized that the Creepy Crawlers oven was pretty much just the boy version of the Easy-Bake Oven, except that you couldn't eat the critters you made. In the 90s, Toymax sold more than five million ovens and 60 million bottles of the "Plastigoop" that turned into rubber when heated. There was even a TV show. So, what's the problem?

The thing is that Creepy Crawlers came with die-cast metal molds which were then heated to about 400 degrees. And if you think that's dangerous, check out the original one from the 60s that got much hotter and, as it turns out, put out toxic fumes. Makes you wonder how our parents survived the days before regulations. Creepy, indeed!

20 Movie Snack Time

Few toy lines have been as successful as the Cabbage Patch Dolls. The iconic 80s toys enjoyed continued success in the 90s and beyond. But there is perhaps no better example of a nightmare "bad idea" this side of Lawn Darts than the Snack Time Cabbage Patch Kid. The idea behind the doll, released for the 1996 holiday season, was simple.

The doll would eat snacks through its mechanical jaw, which provided "real chewing action."

Here's where they messed up: they forgot that the doll's unforgiving maw couldn't differentiate between plastic food and a child's fingers or hair. Mattel recalled the dolls in January of 1997 after a girl was nearly scalped when the doll began chewing her hair. Her parents called 911, and she had to be freed by rescue workers.

19 Secret Of The Ooze

Is it possible to have a more 90s name than the Oozinator Gun? Hasbro's addition to the extensive and popular Super Soaker family was unique, in that it shot a gooey liquid onto people instead of just plain water. It seems like a bright idea for ooze-and-slime-obsessed 90s. But it quickly gained fame for all the wrong reasons after the first eyebrow-raising advertisements were on TV.

If the pumping action you have to do every time you fire the Super Soakers wasn't bad enough, having a gun where you squirt "bio-ooze" onto unsuspecting children makes it ten thousand times worse, and the imagery in the commercial added to this uncomfortable perception. The Oozinator was so infamous that in 2006 it was the subject of a sketch on The Daily Show, where it was mocked as "the Devil's favorite plaything" for the holiday season.

18 To Infinity And Beyond!

Disney faces a lot of scrutiny in their products since they're marketed to children, and because this once-humble production company now owns about half the planet (they bought Star Wars, okay?). That's why people notice things like inappropriate images on the old cover for The Little Mermaid or say they see and hear secret messages in scenes in The Lion King and Aladdin.

Sometimes one doesn't have to look far to see stuff in Disney products.

Enter the Buzz Lightyear and Belle Funtime Tumblers. The unfortunate straw placement, which I remind you is meant to go in your kid's mouth, casts a shadow on both their facial expressions. Belle seems delighted by whatever you're doing, and Buzz's arm placement and cocked eyebrow are certainly disturbing. I can't imagine looking up at these as an adult, much less a kid.

17 The Candy That Explodes

The Fr-ooze pop is another manifestation of the 90s obsession with slime and ooze gone wrong. It's also another product for kids that's shaped like something you'd see in the window at a shop, shall we say, aimed at adults. But the similarities to a certain part of the human body don't stop with its shape. Get this: if you lick and suck on the Fr-ooze Pop for long enough, it squirts a gooey substance into your mouth from its tip.

What goes through the minds of people who design these toys? Is it that they're hopelessly naïve or are they laughing all the way to the bank, waiting to see what new ideas they can sneak past their bosses? If anyone working for these companies was too embarrassed to say anything in a workplace setting, the kids who bought them certainly weren't.

16 I Am Vengeance, I Am The Squirt Gun

This one is a double whammy, as the saying goes. Batman is certainly a beloved character these days, between the Nolan film trilogy, the Batfleck in the new DC Extended Universe, the Arkham series and the Telltale games, not to mention all the excellent fan-made content out there on YouTube.

But all that glorious media out there for us to enjoy doesn't make this water pistol any better.

The layout of the toy speaks for itself: you pull the plug out of Batman's rear and fill it with water, then you reach around and pull the poorly-placed trigger which causes him to squirt water out of his mouth. I wonder if they ever made any other Batman characters into undignified toys like this. Somehow it seems more fitting for the Joker than anybody else.

15 Buckets Of Fun

Every 90s kid saw this commercial about a million times. There was a similar toy with an elephant that spewed butterflies from its trunk. The concept of Mr. Bucket is simple but effective: you put balls into Mr. Bucket's bucket head, and balls spew out of his mouth. Rinse and repeat. This is one of the toys on this list where we can't blame the designers. Mr. Bucket's look is certainly tasteful and kid-appropriate. But what's not appropriate is his jingle.

Let me give you a sample: "I'm Mr. Bucket, toss your balls in my top/ I'm Mr Bucket, out my mouth they will pop." It continues, "I'm Mr Bucket, balls pop out of my mouth/ I'm Mr. Bucket, a ball is what I'm about." It's not difficult to read between the lines.

14 Not The Philosopher

Yes, the real name of this toy is the Balzac Balloon Ball. It was a sort of cloth sack in which you'd put an inflatable balloon. Then you'd kick the thing around like a ball. The idea was that it was pretty much indestructible. Milton Bradley really went all out with this one: the commercials in the 90s were filled with kids running and jumping and smacking this balloon ball around, with the cringe-inducing jingle:

"You can smack it, you can wack it, Balzac!"

It just all sounds so painful. That's not the worst of it either: when the kids finally catch the bouncing ball but it escapes nonetheless, a voice says, "Bet you can't bust Balzac!" Seriously, they really didn't care at this point.

13 Oh My, Mickey!

Mickey Mouse's Clubhouse can't even handle the imagery invoked by this toy microphone right now. At first glance, it resembles a dangerous weapon of some sort, like a club, but upon closer inspection, it resembles something you definitely do not want your kids getting their hands on. This sort of thing is inevitable with a media empire as vast as Disney's and with merchandise so extensive there's a demand for Mickey microphones.

Mickey Mouse has been around for 90 years now, and it goes without saying he's probably the most famous cartoon ever. That's the price of fame, we guess: sometimes you're on plush toys, figurines, watches, t-shirts, drinking glasses, shower curtains, and all that good stuff, and sometimes you hawk a microphone that looks really suspicious.

12 Gives A New Meaning To Parents Having Puppies

We're not sure what's with 90s toy companies wanting to familiarize children with the birthing process. One would think there were enough books and educational videos out there instead. But surprise, we get toys like Puppy Surprise, which apparently led an entire generation of kids to believe dogs gave birth to puppies through a Velcro-sealed pouch on their bellies.

Yes, toy company execs decided to make a toy that bravely defied the laws of nature.

They put the idea in kids' heads that you can simply shove a baby back into the womb when you're done with it, which probably led to some really awkward conversations. As if that wasn't enough, the "surprise" with each doll was that it could come with three, four, or five puppies inside. You can bet parents had a great time with the tantrums of kids who only got three.

11 Marvel At The Bad Taste

This one was so easily avoided. All they had to do was choose another spot to put the inflation nozzle, but no. Instead, Marvel decided you needed a real close-up look at Wolverine's areas while you're blowing up the inflatable squeaky hammer of everyone's favorite member of the X-Men.

This one has to be one of the most intentional of the bunch. Because there's no way the placement of the nozzle is an accident. The Wolverine with the nozzle isn't even the main one on the head of the inflatable hammer. I don't think this what people who are really into meditation mean when they say "find your center." Imagine if the hammer sprung a leak and you had to keep blowing air into it. Yeah, it's not a flattering image, is it?

10 The Care And Keeping Of Barbie

Barbie's "Growing Up Skipper" doll is truly the little toy that could. If you think the other toys on this list showing birth are a bit much, try on Skipper, Barbie's kid sister. She was originally released in 1964, and years after her introduction it was decided she should, shall we say, undergo some changes.

Namely, have a doll designed to teach kids about how their bodies would eventually change.

How did this very questionable idea work in practice? About as well as you'd expect: you rotated her left arm, she grew an inch taller and her chest popped out transforming her, as the box put it, "from a young girl to a teenager." It was probably meant as an educational tool, but Skipper understandably caused controversy and was eventually pulled from the store shelves.

9 A Slap On The Wrist

If you grew up in the late 80s or early 90s, you remember the commercial for these slap-on bracelets. Though they were just layered stainless steel bands with colorful plastic on them, the appeal of the simplest toys can't be overstated. You would straighten the bracelets so they were rigid, then slap them against your wrist, causing them to curl neatly into place.

Slap bracelets were very popular in schools, becoming a serious 90s fashion statement. Unfortunately, its status as a symbol of the decade didn't stop the slap bracelet from cutting into the fingers and wrists of children when the metal band inevitably wore through the plastic sheath. Cheap knock-offs were recalled in droves, and the bracelets were banned in schools in the state of New York.


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You might want to spend a few hours rummaging through your parents’ basement and your childhood bedroom because you’re about to LOVE your hoarding tendencies rn.

Remember all those old toys, board games, and playing cards you had in the ’90s? Well, they’re about to make you rich. Maybe not, like, the richest person in the world, but a few extra (hundred or thousand) bucks in the pocket never hurt anyone. Vintage toys like Barbies and Polly Pockets are being sold for hundreds of dollars, while your old playing cards might be worth thousands. If you even kept the original packaging from your vintage items, you may be well on your way to becoming a millionaire.

So even though you could never part with your creepy Furby, your hoarding habits are turning out to be quite possibly one of your best qualities. Look who’s laughing now, MOM!

1Vintage Sky Dancers

Sky Dancers were angelic toys that would fly in the air at the pull of a string. Although not the safest toy (it was nearly impossible to control its flight path), it turned out to be valuable. An original set of Sky Dancers is worth more than $220.

2Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards

TBH, I never really got into Yu-Gi-Oh, which is a decision I am very much regretting since these cards are worth lots of cash. Depending on the type of card, the Yu-Gi-Oh memorabilia can go for anywhere from single-digit prices to more than $400,000. For a more ~modest~ price, may we suggest this beauty for $372.72?

3Original Furby

Furby was one of the most annoying toys to come out of the ’90s, and in a cruel twist of fate, they’re now somehow worth almost $1K. Like…why would anyone buy this? I NEED ANSWERS.

4Old Harry Potter Books

If you own an original Harry Potter book, you could be looking at major $. Hardcover first editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (aka the UK version) with the print line “10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1” are worth up to $55,000, while Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (aka the U.S. version) is worth up to $6,500 if it has the print line “1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 8 9/9 0/0 01 02” on the copyright page. I’ll give you a moment to look at your copy.

5Your Old Playmobile Toys

The price point of these really depends on whether you bothered to keep the old box and instructions (probably not unless your mom was super extra) and if you managed not to lose the pieces (HAH, as if). But if you did treat your Playmobile like gold, good job: You’ve quite literally earned it. This Victorian mansion sold for almost $400, while Knight’s Castles go for around the same.

6Peace Beanie Baby

HAHAHAHA remember Beanie Babies? Yeah, I wish I didn’t either. But a few of them are worth some money. These peace-loving dudes run up to $80 a bear. But wait, there’s more….

7Claude the Crab

There are legit people trying (and succeeding?) to sell Claude the Crab for $50,000 on Etsy. IDEK what to say. Guess now is a good time to recite Claude’s poem: “Claude the crab paints by the sea / A famous artist he hopes to be / But the tide came in and his paints fell / Now his art is on his shell!”

8Princess Di Bear

This bear was touted as being super rare from the very beginning, and honestly, prices vary. But some people are out here trying to sell it for $10K. You could be that person!


To be honest, I’d pay any amount of money to own Bubbles. Except maybe not $129,000, which is how much he’s selling for on eBay, womp.

10Patti the Platypus

Sorry, we’re not done with Beanie Babies yet. Pattis, like this one here, are selling for up to $25,000. Which seems…deranged.

11Jurassic Park Toys

Jurassic Park was a huge deal when it came out in 1993, and the toys made to promote the franchise are worth a fortune. This board game alone sells for $200.

12Jeweled Splendor Barbie

Come through, Barbie! Jeweled Splendor was released in 1996 for the FAO Schwarz Floral Signature Collection, and nowadays, it sells for around $150. Unless you shaved off her hair like I did, in which case, she’s…worthless.

13Pink Splendor Barbie

Pink Splendor is a limited-edition Barbie who blessed us with whatever TF this outfit is in the late ’90s. If you made your poor, long-suffering mother buy this for you *and* she kept it, good news: It’s worth $1,000.

14Polly Pockets

I know, I know. The chances that any of us still have complete Polly Pocket sets are slim. But if you *do*, they’re worth up to a couple hundred bucks a pop, which isn’t too shabby for a hunk of plastic.

15Polly Pocket Pencil Case

Anyone have one of these lying around? ’Cause it’s worth more than $200 if ya do!!!!

16Spice Cam

I am honestly furious about the fact that I never owned a Spice Cam. If you, too, are furious, buy it on eBay for $115.

17Holographic Shadowless First Edition Charizard

Did you live that Pokémon life in the ’90s? Hope you kept your card collection, because there are some super-rare gems worth a ton—starting with this Charizard. Get ready, because he goes for anywhere from $32,999.99 to $74,999.95. Which is a lot for a literal piece of paper.

18Promotional Kangaskhan

Oh, look—another small piece of paper from the ’90s worth more than a car. Specifically, up to $96,346.05 on eBay.

*cuts to me cursing the day I threw out my Pokémon cards*

191995 Charizard Holofoil

This Pokémon card is worth pennies compared to the others on this list. And by that I mean it’s worth $10K, which will pay for your pizza takeout for at least a couple of years.

20Black Lotus Magic Card

Remember when you used to make fun of kids who played Magic the Gathering? Yeah, well, GUESS WHO IS HAVING THE LAST LAUGH NOW! This card is worth up to $350,000, although you can buy them for as “low” as $58K. If you find one of these in your collection, just make sure it’s from1993.

21Timetwister Magic Card

Kay, so this one isn’t going to make you rich, but it goes for about $7,350 on eBay, which is Not! Too! Shabby!

22Baby All Gone

If you were given this as a child, first of all, I’m sorry. But it’s worth about $90 now, so at least it hasn’t been haunting your nightmares for nothing!

23Masters of the Universe Dolls

Remember Masters of the Universe dolls? Or Masters of the Universe action figures, as insecure bros might call ’em? Well, they’re worth a couple hundred bucks a pop, so don’t let your mom throw yours out during her Marie Kondo phase.

24Old Atari Games

Vintage Atari cartridges vary in price, but if you have a bunch lying around your basement, you might want to round them up and pop them on eBay. Individual games can sell for up to $200 depending on rarity, and collections can get up to ~$500.

25Gremlins 2 Gizmo Doll

Furby can GTFO because I stan this Gremlins 2 doll for the much more reasonable price of $150.

26Lite Brite

If you’re one of the rare individuals who managed not to immediately lose every single piece of your Lite Brite, congrats. Time to sell it for $79.99. Not a fortune, but definitely more than a brand-new version of the game!

27Original Digimon

The late ’90s introduced us to the wonder of virtual pets, many of which I killed within several hours. Chances are, you didn’t hold on to your Digimon, but if you *did*, he could be worth about $205. A pretty steep upgrade considering these things cost, like, $5 at Walgreens.

28It From the Pit

Speaking of random board games you don’t remember existing but possibly owned, let’s talk about It From the Pit. It’s worth more than $100, so time to do a deep dive into your family game closet, ugh.

29Zelda Mini Nintendo Classic

Nintendo mini classics were the bomb, and Zelda freakin’ ruled. You probably paid about $20 for this in 1998, but it’s worth around $600 now so…bye!

30Smurfs Mini Nintendo Classic

Mini classic keychain games also bring in a decent amount of money these days. This one from 1999 is selling for $360.

31Molly American Girl Doll

I am *praying* you kept your Molly doll in good condition because she’s worth a whole lot. This girl (plus accessories) can be worth thousands depending on the condition of the doll. Tragically, my Molly doll has been through it and is probs worth about $1.

32Samantha American Girl Doll

That’s right, Molly isn’t the only American Girl Doll on this list bringing in bank. If your mom made you keep Samantha in solid condition, she could be worth more than $1,000 now.

33Garbage Pail Kids Cards

Fine, Garbage Pail Kids cards were more 80sthan ’90s, but if you had an older sibling, chances are they were hanging around your house, so now it’s time to Get! That! Money! According to Gizmodo, full sets sell from $600 to $700, and some of the rarer cards go for $4,250.

34Baseball Cards

Prices on these things are varied AF, but this 1991 Mike Mussina card (she said with authority, as though she knows who this person is) sells for about $200.

35Lego C-3PO

This cute little Lego C-3PO is the most expensive piece of plastic you (hopefully) own. He’s suuuper rare due to the limited amount made and reportedly worth $3,200.

36Little Samson

Attention: video game nerds. Your copy of 1992’s Little Samson is worth almost $800, so tell that to the next person who side-eyes you for keeping it under your bed all these years.

37Panic Restaurant

1992’s Panic Restaurant basically involves fighting off evil chickens and pizzas. And now, it’s being sold for anywhere from $300 to $28,600. I’d just like to make it clear, though, that obviously, there is no such thing as an evil pizza.

38Amazing Tater

This extremely pure game about an amazing potato is worth—wait for it—around $350. BUT THERE’S MORE. If you have the original packaging, it’s worth $1,799.99. I’M LOLING.

39Home Alone 2 Talkboy

I never owned one of these, but if you did, I will seriously consider buying it from you for $999.99. Kidding, but only kinda.

40Disney VHS Tapes

The “black diamond” VHS versions of classic movies like Beauty and the Beast are notoriously rare and sell for SO MUCH MONEY. In fact, there’s a bundle on eBay right now going for $150K. I swear to god, my parents better have kept these.

41Vintage Super Soaker

Please cast your mind back to when your evil older brother tormented you with his Super Soaker. Don’t tell him, but that thing will sell for more than $150 if you can find it before he does at your parents’ house. The ultimate revenge.


IDK why you’d ever want to sell such an iconic game, but if you are looking to ditch your Bop-It Extreme, you can get, like, $150 for it online.

43Little Mermaid Burger King Cups

Remember when Burger King toys were actually decent? For a while, they were selling these adorable Little Mermaid cups, which are now going for about $100—or in layman’s terms, the price of 100 burgers.

44Hot Wheels Funny Car

Chances are, there are at least a dozen Hot Wheels cars hiding in random corners of your family home, and if you own a Funny Car, you’re in major luck: They’re worth more than $2,000.

45The New Mutants

Comic books are notoriously collectible, and the ’90s had quite a few covetable issues. The New Mutants #98 can get you up to $7,500.


Meanwhile, the first issue of Bone is worth up to $3,200—so dive into your bookshelf ASAP.


Only real nerds owned this game (hi, me), and if you kept yours (hi, not me), it could be worth $60.

48Omega Supreme Transformer

TFW you realize your sibling’s annoying Transformer is worth $2,000 and you don’t own it: 😐.

49McDonald’s Changeables

Move TF over, Burger King, because McDonald’s also had some cool gifts that are now worth way more than a Happy Meal. Changeables sell for varying amounts on eBay, but if you get a group of them together, you can collect almost $100.

50McDonald’s Halloween Happy Meal

The only thing scary about these Halloween buckets is that they go for $150 a collection and I didn’t freakin’ keep mine.

Mehera BonnerMehera Bonner is a news writer who focuses on celebrities and royals.

Mariah SchlossmannMariah Schlossmann is the editorial business assistant at Cosmoplitan and is obsessed with all things food, lifestyle, and entertainment.

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Top 10 90s Toys You Forgot Were Awesome

1990s Vintage Children's Toys with Prices, Descriptions and Images

  • Buzz Lightyear Costume

    Buzz Lightyear Costume

    Buzz Lightyear Costume
    Price: $19.99

    A one-piece body suit printed on the front and back to look like Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story.

  • Lazer Challenge Duel Set

    Lazer Challenge Duel Set

    Lazer Challenge Duel Set
    Manufacturer: Toymax
    Price: $39.99

    This electronic adventure game set lets you accurately hit targets up to fifty feet away. Super-bright, LED scoring and sound effects. The set includes two infra-red "laser" pistols and two target vests.

  • Sega Saturn CD Game System

    Sega Saturn CD Game System

    Sega Saturn CD Game System
    Manufacturer: Sega
    Price: $249.99

    The 32-bit co-processor provides power play that rivals many arcade machines. Plays Saturn CD games and music CDs when hooked into a stereo system. Includes controller, stereo A/V cable, power cord, control pad, and instructions.

  • Furby


    Price: $39.99

    Furby originally came out in 1998, but due to it's popularity it was still selling well throughout the 00's

  • 6 Volt Ride-On Batmobile

    6 Volt Ride-On Batmobile

    6 Volt Ride-On Batmobile
    Price: $199.99

    Featured in the film "Batman and Robin", this authentically detailed ride is perfect for your mini crime fighter. Zooms up to 3mph, and drives in forward and reverse due to an automobile quality electrical system. Features direct action steering and a super tough, 3-layer deep, high gloss body. Includes 6-volt battery and charger. For ages three to six.
    From Our 1997 Toys Page

  • Power Rangers Deluxe Double Morphing Rescue Megazord

    Power Rangers Deluxe Double Morphing Rescue Megazord

    Power Rangers Deluxe Double Morphing Rescue Megazord
    Price: $39.99

    From The Popular TV Cartoon series "Power Rangers" Get ready for the double morphing feature. Each individual Rescue Zord vehicle morphs into an individual robot. The robots combine together to form the Deluxe Double Morphing Rescue Megazord. For ages four and up.

  • Nintendo 64 Game System

    Nintendo 64 Game System

    Nintendo 64 Game System
    Manufacturer: Nintendo
    Price: $169.99

    The world's first true 64-bit home video game system with the power and speed to create stunning and realistic 3D graphics. RISC processing provides Tri-linear Mip Map Interpolation, Anti-aliasing, Real time 3D, 32-bit color palette, and much more. Includes control deck, advanced N64 controller with full-function joystick, AC power supply, and stereo AV cable.

  • Water Lily Barbie

    Water Lily Barbie

    Water Lily Barbie
    Manufacturer: Mattel
    Price: $74.99

    This dramatic limited edition Barbie is the first in a series inspired by the works of famous artists. Here Barbie doll wears a "waterlilies" print gown featuring glittering pink waterlilies and a blue and green chiffon ruffle which flows across the front of her full skirt. Accessories include pearlized stud earrings with matching hand ring, bracelet and blue pearlized pumps. Includes doll stand.

  • Playstation with Controller

    Playstation with Controller

    Playstation with Controller
    Manufacturer: Sony
    Price: $169.99

    Prepare yourself for a blast of ultimate game system power. Breakthrough 32-bit processor, CD Rom architecture delivers realtime experience with ever changing 3D perspectives and stereo CD-quality sound.

  • Becky Doll

    Becky Doll

    Becky Doll
    Manufacturer: Mattel
    Price: $22.99

    Becky doll is the hip and trendy photographer friend to Barbie. She comes with a camera, red stud earrings, sunglasses and a backpack that hangs from the back of her wheelchair.

  • Beanie Babies

    Beanie Babies

    Beanie Babies
    Manufacturer: Tyco
    Price: From $5.99

    Beanie Babies were super popular and could easily be spotted with the TY tag, over the years some of earliest ones and those that did not sell well have become extremely collectable

  • Pokemon Gameboy Game

    Pokemon Gameboy Game

    Pokemon Gameboy Game
    Manufacturer: Nintendo
    Price: $39.99

    The latest in overseas rage! Each game cartridge has seventy five monsters you can raise and train for battle! Choose from the Red or Blue versions to play on your Nintendo Gameboy.

    Happenin' Hair Barbie

    Happenin' Hair Barbie

    Happenin' Hair Barbie
    Manufacturer: Mattel
    Price: $14.99

    Create cool hair, tattoos, color streaks and more. Doll has color=change hair. Includes three stencils, one flower stamper, and one sponge-streaking wand.
    From Our 1999 Toys Page

    Polly Pocket Deluxe Mansion

    Polly Pocket Deluxe Mansion

    Polly Pocket Deluxe Mansion
    Manufacturer: Mattel
    Price: $22.99

    Contains four deluxe double rooms. Also includes a pool, two roof pieces, a gazebo, two small trees, four potted plants, and one statue. Plus a Polly figure with her mom, dad, and little brother.


    The from building 90s toys

    15 toys you'll only remember if you grew up in the '90s

    tickle me elmo
    Colin McConnell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

    Believe it or not, it's almost 30 years since the start of the '90s.

    With all that nostalgia brewing, it's only fitting that we look at the toys that made '90s kids who they are today — adults obsessed with reboots, reunions, and comebacks.

    Keep scrolling and remember all the toys you — or your son or daughter — enjoyed throughout the '90s.

    Though Barbie dolls have been around since 1959, the "Totally Hair Barbie" in 1992 was the hottest Barbie of the decade.

    totally hair barbie
    Ole Spata/picture alliance via Getty Images

    Barbie has come a long way since she first entered our lives in 1959. But a huge change came in 1992, when Totally Hair Barbie hit toy stores with ankle-length hair, a retro patterned dress, chunky earrings, and a scrunchie — peak '90s fashion. She also came with gel and hair accessories so you could experiment with her luscious locks yourself.

    Totally Hair Barbie made such an impact that an authentic 1992 doll can cost over $100 on eBay, according to Good Housekeeping. Kylie Jenner took us back in time when she dressed up as the doll for Halloween last year.

    Skip-Its first came out in the '80s but got a makeover in the '90s.

    Skip It
    The ysa & gaby show/Youtube

    Playing with a Skip-It was easy enough. You'd slide the loop over one foot and swing the plastic ball around your feet, hopping over it every time it passed your other leg — or else you'd trip and fall, or hit yourself. Later iterations even had a counter so you could monitor your progress.

    Skip-Its were released in the '80s but received a makeover and Nickelodeon commercials in the '90s, turning them into one of the hottest items of the time.

    While pens aren't traditionally thought of as toys, gel pens were certainly a way to make writing way more fun.

    gel pens
    Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

    Gelly Roll pens first arrived in the US in 1989 after years of development in Japan — but it took a few more years for them to really take off with teens. What made them break through? The iconic metallic colors that made your notes pop off the page, of course.

    The metallic colors hit stores in 1997, and they immediately became the must-have school supply for all teen girls. But they also wrote on black paper, making them useful for after-school craft activities, too.

    Another option was the Milky brand gel pens, which offered pastel colors. Those were introduced in 1996.

    Gel pens are still available today, but we have to imagine that buyers are mainly nostalgic millennials picking up gel pens to recapture that middle school magic.


    Before GameCubes, the Wii, the Wii U, and the Switch, there was the Nintendo 64, the ultimate video game console for '90s kids.

    nintendo 64
    Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

    For those of us who were kids in the '90s, we've never been able to outgrow the iconic Nintendo 64 games, like "Super Mario 64," "Super Mario Kart," "Super Smash Bros," "Banjo-Kazooie," "Pokemon Stadium," and "GoldenEye 007." In fact, most of those games are still being remade to this day.

    The console first launched in 1996, and was a huge hit — but by the 2000s, it was already becoming obsolete. The GameCube launched in 2001, and our trusty N64s were left in the dust.

    The original Tamagotchi taught us how to take care of a pet ... without our parents actually getting us pets.

    REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

    The first Tamagotchi came alive in 1996 in Japan. Tamagotchis were released internationally the following year. These key chain-sized digital pets had to be fed, cleaned, played with, and eventually they needed to make friends with your friends' Tamagotchi.

    Tamagotchis disappeared in the 2000s, though there was a revival when an app was created for smartphones. A new color Tamagotchi was released in 2019 for a whopping $59.99 — a far cry from the $17.99 of the original.

    It remains to be seen if the younger generations will care as much as millennials did.


    The Talkboy was a fake toy used by Kevin in "Home Alone 2: Lost in New York," but after fans of the film demanded it, a toy company made a real version.

    Talkboy home alone 2
    20th Century Fox

    In "Home Alone 2," Kevin uses his Talkboy to record his voice and distort it to make him sound like an adult — seems like a useful toy, right? Unfortunately, it was just a prop that writer and producer John Hughes dreamed up to help Kevin's scheme.

    However, after a mail-in campaign by fans, Tiger Electronics created a real version of the Talkboy, which debuted in 1993. That year, it was one of the hottest toys on Black Friday.

    This recording technology would become outdated by the next decade, and it was set aside for more portable toys without cassette tapes. You can now find Talkboys on eBay for as low as $10. 

    Of course, the '90s was a time of full-on Beanie Baby mania.

    beanie babies
    AP/Peter Barreras

    In 2019, Beanie Babies are more of a punchline than anything else, but in the '90s they were a phenomenon. But for those of us who weren't interested in keeping our stuffed animals in pristine condition, they were just toys that we loved to play with and cart around with us at all times.

    Toy company Ty first introduced Beanie Babies in 1993 with a nine-animal lineup. The brand exploded to include hundreds of animals and special edition bears, but by the 2000s, the ubiquity of Beanie Babies had diminished.

    Poo-Chis were one of the first robo-pets to steal our hearts in the new millennium.

    poo chi toy
    YouTube/Einfari Âûtomata

    Poo-Chis were the dream gift for any kid whose parents wouldn't let them have a living pet. It could recognize your voice, perform tricks, and even talk to other Poo-Chis. It needed to be "fed," and it would have a different personality depending on how often you trained it.

    For the new millennium, this was a huge deal. But Poo-Chis were discontinued in 2002 after the advent of FurReal Friends, which did all of the above and were soft and huggable.

    Game Boys, in all their shapes and sizes, were the hottest toys of the '90s.

    nintendo game boy
    In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images

    The first Game Boy was released in Japan in April 1989, and the world of gaming was forever changed. You could finally take your favorite video games with you on the go. Game Boy mania hit fever pitch when it was released a few months later in the US.

    All of Nintendo's heavy hitters appeared in Game Boy games, and a few even made their debut there, like Pokémon and Kirby. Throughout the next two decades many advancements were made, such as the Game Boy Color, released in '98, and the Game Boy Advance in 2001.

    Sky Dancers were very popular for six years ... until they were recalled for being hazardous.

    sky dancer toy
    Mario Ruiz/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

    Sky Dancers, introduced in 1994, were dolls attached to a plastic base. Kids were directed to pull a string on the base, causing the Sky Dancer dolls to spin and fly.

    However, these dolls were not all fun and games. The company that manufactured them, Galoob, received 170 complaints before recalling them. According to CNN Money, injuries included "eye injuries, scratched corneas, and incidents of temporary blindness, broken teeth, a mild concussion, a broken rib, and facial lacerations that required stitches."

    They were off the market by 2000 — but let's be honest, all the best toys have a little edge to them, and watching the Sky Dancers fly 

    Top Selling 90's Christmas Toys!

    Architectural Toys

    Gift of George Wetzel

    Donated in 2006
    Supported by the Bender Foundation; The Morris and Gwendolyn Caftitz Foundation; Lieutenant Colonel and Mrs. William K. Konze; and the Sunrise Foundation.

    Acquired by the Museum in 2006, the Architectural Toy Collection is one of the largest and most sophisticated of its kind held in public trust within the United States. Assembled over the past 30 years by Chicagolander George Wetzel, the collection holds more than 2,300 toys dating from the 1860s to the 1990s. Highlights include building sets that trace the history of such childhood favorites as Lincoln Logs, Erector Sets, Tinker Toys, and LEGO® bricks; rarer and less familiar toys from around the globe; and examples featuring specific buildings or building types, such as skyscrapers and suburban homes.

    The Architectural Toys collection is in storage and not on view. Please check current exhibitions for a list of what is publicly accessible.

    George Wetzel discussed the collection in a 2007 issue of Blueprints, excerpted below.

    Blueprints Spring 2007
    Volume XXV, No. 2

    Martin Moeller, National Building Museum: How did your toy collecting get started?

    George Wetzel: It began about 25 years ago, when I started to have my own family. I was buying toys for my children and soon realized that the ones available at the time were a lot different from the ones I had growing up. Today’s stuff is often a bunch of cheap junk compared to what I remember as a child. There are still sets they call “erector sets” these days, but nothing like what I had 50 years ago. There are exceptions—I continue to buy Legos, which I enjoy. They are among the few toys that I still think well of. Legos have always been good in terms of function—they challenge kids’ creativity.

    Within a year or so after I started buying toys for my kids, my own dad actually turned up my old American Flyer train, and within another year my mother turned up my old Erector Set. They were so well made back then, you just didn’t throw them away. You kept them for the next generation. When I started collecting, I found that this was not unusual—handing down from generation to generation. But my kids did not show much interest in toy trains.

    Shelving for architectural toys in George Wetzel's attic.

    Gradually, I found a lot of other Baby Boomers like me, and then I realized that there was a group of collectors of toy trains. The more I found the more I rediscovered the history and variety of these things. I got the collecting bug. Gradually as my kids showed less and less interest, it turned into an addiction for me!

    Moeller: But you did not have a background in architecture or engineering, right?

    Wetzel: I am a retired English teacher. I took a few classes in college about architecture, but that’s not really what drew me to this. A lot of collectors of these toys are architects and engineers, but not me.

    I decided to keep my collecting interest fairly broad. I asked myself, “What has not been done before? What is really unique?” So I came across architectural sets fairly early on.

    Moeller: How did your philosophy of collecting develop?

    Wetzel: It was a learning process—every year I came across some new toy and new piece of history. I wanted to have a representative collection of just about every type of building toy that was made. I started writing letters to people, joining collectors’ groups and clubs, and found out where you can get these things.

    Most of the items initially came from other collectors. I went to trading shows, where you could buy, sell, and trade. I kept bumping into the right people. Once they realized I was a serious and studious collector, they let me into the “club.” I didn’t have a lot of money—I soon found it was kind of a rich man’s game—but I made a commitment to acquire things over a long period of time. I always made a point when I met collectors to go see their stuff first hand. Once I saw those collections, that is what pointed me in a direction that no one else had quite gone. I focused on the architectural aspect of these toys, which I didn’t see anyone else doing at the time.

    Moeller: Did your attitudes toward the collection itself change over the years?

    Wetzel: My objectives changed. I have been doing this about 25 years, and about every five years my direction changed a little. There was a certain point in time I remember when I decided that, on the one hand, I could devote myself to actually building layouts from these sets and spend hours away from my family. On the other hand, I could just collect and put them on a shelf and enjoy them—and keep spending time with my family. I just enjoyed the collecting aspect more than the actual building.

    As I got into it, once I started seeing some of the exotic and unusual Victorian pictures on the box lids, that intrigued me even more, especially the old period graphics on the boxes—boys in knickers and girls in pinafores.

    Moeller: Forgive the cliché question, but what are your favorite items in the collection?

    Wetzel: I could probably find a dozen really unusual, rare, and valuable items. There’s the Bilt-E-Z, a metal set made in Chicago in the 1920s, which can be used to make a very realistic looking early skyscraper. Not only was the result authentic, but the set fit together easily—it was easy to use. Some others are so awkward and hard to build with—really not for kids at all. Examples of the Bilt-E-Z set can be found, but to find a large set that’s whole and presentable was tough.

    Moeller: You have pointed out that one of the ironies of collecting is that people tend to collect unsuccessful products, because they were not produced in large numbers and are therefore rare. So what are the worst items you collected?

    Wetzel: Right. I wasn’t really seeking the best or most popular. It’s the oddball sets that are rare because not many were made. Sometimes you’d see a nice picture on the box, but then you’d open it up and say, “What’s this?”

    One of the oddest is the Build-a-Set, though there are lots with similar names. It was made in the early ’40s. During the war, there was a metal shortage, so this was made out of cardboard. Instead of nuts and bolts, there were little wooden pins. It’s so flimsy—the whole concept was crazy. I found two versions—one in mint condition, the other mangled, showing what happened if you actually tried to use it.

    Shelving for architectural toys in George Wetzel's attic.

    Moeller: You primarily collected sets that were used to create miniature buildings. Where does the history of such sets begin?

    Wetzel: A lot of early sets had religious connotations. They were often used to build model churches. It was traditional to play with them on Sundays, but then the kids would have to put them back in the box and not play with them again until the next Sunday. Some pieces had scripture verses written right on them. So they were attempting to instill Christian values with these blocks in a hands-on, tactile way. That’s where this all started back in the 1850s.

    Moeller: How did they develop from there?

    Wetzel: From there through the 1890s they became more sophisticated. A key figure was Frederick Richter in Germany in the 1880s. He made building blocks that were like stone.

    By the 1890s, they started putting metal pieces in the sets for roofs and floorboards, or to make bridges. Before the introduction of metal parts, roofs, in particular, were always a problem, so this was a step to another level of realism.

    In 1901, Frank Hornby invented the Meccano set in England—a precursor to the Erector Set in the United States in 1913. This brought building sets to a whole other level, with wheels and other moving parts.

    A.C. Gilbert, who invented the Erector Set in 1913, was a genius at several levels. Once he got into toys, he made refinements to what Hornby had done, operating on the theory that bigger is better. With Gilbert’s set, you could make bridges and towers seven or eight feet high, as well as airplanes and zeppelins and locomotives. He really brought it out of toy realm and into the model-building arena.

    The high-end toys from the teens, ’20s and ’30s are highly sought after. Then came the Depression and the war, and Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys became popular because no one could afford to make metal toys. Then in the ’50s and ’60s, it was all about plastic. I kind of feel lucky to have grown up in the ’50s, because I was part of the last generation to have a lot of really high-quality toys.

    Moeller: When did you decide that it was time for the collection to find a new home in a museum?

    Wetzel: Eventually, after about 15 years of collecting, I could barely walk into my attic, and that’s when I realized these things belong in a museum. That’s also when I started writing stories about my experiences as a collector.

    Not much happened for some time. But then I spoke to Chase [Rynd] a couple of years ago. He came out and looked at the collection, and he was thoroughly taken by it. I was very pleased, as [the National Building Museum] is exactly the type of place where I hoped it would end up.

    Moeller: How would you assess the importance of this collection for posterity?

    Wetzel: When you see people pick up these items and touch them like they are their old friends, you realize the connection. These were so popular then— they were the equivalent of the video games of today. And yet, in many ways, they were the exact opposite of the video games. These toys demanded a lot of patience, a lot of creativity. You’d spend a whole evening with these things—hours and hours. The whole family could enjoy them. Now [that the collection has gone to the National Building Museum], future generations will have a chance to catch a glimpse of another way of life.


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    The 80s were a great decade for toys. And it was followed by the 90s. An equally good year for toys.

    But there were some toys that certain 90s kids just had to have. And then there were the toys that ALL 90s kids had. Schools were filled with these toys.

    Remember the epic POG tournaments at recess? Nineties kids have only good memories when it comes to these toys. These are our favorites.

    Here are 50 toys every kid in the 90s just had to have:

    1) POGS

    POGS may have been THE defining toy of the 90s. Every kid in the 90s had, played, and traded POGS. In order to play POGS you need a slammer. Your slammer was the pride and joy of your POGS collection, you chose your slammer very carefully.

    2) Tamagotchi

    In the 90s, your could murder your toys. Tamagotchis were digital pets that you had to feed and take care of or else they would die. Keeping your Tamagotchi alive was serious business in the 90s.

    3) Bop It

    Kids in the 90s loved to Bop It. This contrapation would bark orders at you and you would have to follow those command by pressing or activating certain mechanism on the toy. The pace kept increasing as you went which would eventually turn you frantic. No wonder people have so much anxiety these days. Thanks Bop It.

    4) Creepy Crawlers Oven

    The Creepy Crawlers Oven was a DIY toy of the 90s. It allowed you to bake your own gummy creatures. Except they were plastic and you couldn’t eat them.

    5) Beanie Babies

    People went nuts for Beanie Babies in the 90s. These things flew off shelves. They were more of a collector’s item than a toy. Some of them are worth thousands today.

    6) Cadbury Chocolate Money Box

    The Cadbury Chocolate Money Box was a snack that also served as a money bank. It would charge you everytime you wanted to take a piece of your own candy out. And it would save it in the bottom of the bank.

    7) Furby

    This was another big toy craze of the 90s. These things were freaky looking and seemed like they were possessed. Kids in the 90s loved them anyway.

    8) Nintendo 64

    Ninteno 64 was the ultimate gaming station in the 90s as it boasted superior graphics to previous gaming systems. It was also known as N64. And, according to Wikipedia, it was the last major home console to use cartridges as its primary stroage format.

    9) Perfection

    Ninties kids new the struggle was real when they played Perfection. It was a game where you’d have to fit shapes into their spots within a certain time frame. When time ran out, the game would pop out all of the shapes and scare the crap out of you.

    10) Moon Shoes

    Moon shoes were first introduced in the 50s. But Nickelodeon started manufacturing an updated version in the 90s. It allowed you to bounce up and down.

    11) Stretch Armstrong

    Stretch Armstrong was released in 1976 but it was still pretty big in the 90s. He was a gel filled action toy that could stretch up to 5-feet. You’d basically spend your time trying to see if you could break this thing.

    12) Dear Diary

    Before there were PalmPilots and iPhones, there was Dear Diary. It was an electronic keypad where you could store diary notes. It also did a bunch of other stuff.

    13) Skip It

    Skip It really hit its’ prime in the 90s. That’s because the company who made it added a counter on it that would count your skips. The Skip It then became a competition with yourself and your playmates.

    14) Polly Pocket

    Polly Pocket was a favorite among 90s girls. They were tiny compacts that opened up to reveal a little doll house. Them came complete with tiny little dolls that snapped into the doll house.

    15) Trolls

    Troll dolls have been around since the the 60s. But they got really big in the 90s. That’s when they began to be copied by several manufacturers and in different styles, according to Wikipedia. They also made several video games and a video show.

    16) Pretty Pretty Princess

    This was my favorite game of the 90s. The object was to collect as much jewelry as you could. You had to end up with the crown to be the Pretty Pretty Princess.

    17) Betty Spaghetty

    Betty Spaghetty was a toy of the late 90s. She had rubbery hair that could be manipulated into various hairstyles. She also came with interchangeable hands and feet.

    18) Puppy Surprise

    Puppy Surpise was a plush dog that was supposed to be pregnant. Then you’d reach inside of her belly and pull out her babies. The surprise was that you never knew how many you would get. There could be three or four or five puppies.

    Source: wtcvidman

    19) Game Boy Camera and Printer

    Back in the day, no one hand cameras on their phones. But your GameBoy could be turned into a camera and printer. Look at that high quality print!

    20) Game Boy Color

    Game Boy started out with a black and white screen. Then it was made in color. The Game Boy itself became colorful too.

    21) Cupcake Surprise

    Cupcake Surprise was a scented toy doll line. They were cupcakes that could transform into dolls.. When you opened them up the cupcake wrapper turned into their skirt and the cupcake frosting was their hat.

    22) Marble Run

    Marble Run was a pretty bad ass toy. You’d assemble a series of tubes then drop a marble through it. The marble would run through the entire series of tubes into a lower chamber.

    23) Tickle Me Elmo

    Tickle Me Elmo was another toy that parents trampled each other over during Christmas. Elmo was sold out everywhere. People suffered from Elmo-mania in the 90s and Tickle Me Elmo threw people over the top.

    24) Don’t Wake Daddy

    Don’t Wake Daddy was a weird 90s game. You were a kid who had to sneak to the refrigerator in the middle of the night while trying not to wake the dad. You’d lose when dad would shoot upright in bed and wake up.

    Source: bowser914

    25) Doodle Bear

    Doodle bear was totally awesome! You could write all over it. Then you threw it in the wash and it could come out clean and you could draw all over it again.

    26) Mouse Trap

    Mouse Trap was basically a Rube Goldberg machine. One that you’d have to build with your playmates. It was super fun.

    27) Gogo’s Crazy Bones

    Crazy Bones were a big fad in the 90s. They were tiny collectible figurines. They were based on a game played in Ancient Greece, according to Wikipedia.

    28) Super Soakers

    Super Soakers weren’t just a water gun. They were water guns that would completely soak you. Many epic battles were fought in the 90s with Super Soakers.

    29) Pokémon Cards

    The Pokémon craze all began in the 90s. These cards sold like hotcakes. Kids just had to collect them all.

    30) Talkboy and Talkgirl

    Every kid wanted a Talkboy or Talkgirl after Home Alone 2 came out. It was an electronic recorder that could also slow down or speed up your voice. You just popped your blank cassette tape in and you were recording. They were great for prank calls.

    31) Power Rangers Toys

    Power Rangers blew up in the 90s. As a result, there was Power Rangers everything. And kids wanted it all.

    32) Crossfire

    Crossfire was an intense game. Or at least that’s what the commercial would have you believe. The object was to shoot a puck into a goal with marbles shot from a gun.

    Source: TTPM Toy Reviews

    33) Sky Dancers

    Sky Dancers were gorgeous flying faires. They spun into the air when you pulled the chord. But it could actually hurt if someone aimed one of these flying fairies at you. As a result, they were recalled.

    34) Dreamphone

    This game was a staple of 90s sleepovers. It played on the horrible stereotype that girls should be obsessed with boys and earning their affection . For some reason there was never a version for boys… I wonder why?

    35) Spice Girls Dolls

    Spice Girls were a global phenomenon in the 90s. So, naturally they made Spice Girl dolls. And all 90s girls had to have them.

    36) Crocodile Dentist

    This poor crocodile needed to see a dentist. The goal of this 90s game was to pull out as many teeth from the crocodile’s mouth as you could. If you pull the sore tooth, the crocodile would snap his mouth shut and you’d lose.

    37) Water Wigglies

    Water wigglies were sacks of water in plastic that kids, for some reason, loved. They sometimes had sparkles or little toy animals inside them. When you’d finally break them, gross smelling liquid would come out.

    38) Baby Born

    Baby born was a very lifelike doll made in the 90s. It cried and could pee. You could also feed it.

    Source: 90s Commercials

    39) Mr. Bucket

    Mr Bucket was buckets of fun. You had to scoop up balls and put them into Mr. Bucket before he spit them out again. Whoever got all their balls in the bucket won.

    Source: that90sguy

    40) Baby All Gone

    Baby All Gone was a doll that you could feed. She came with cherries and baby forumula. That’s all this kid ate, just cheeries and formula.

    41) Totally Hair Barbie

    Totally Hair Barbie was another totally 90s toy. It was Barbie in a super short, almost crotch length, retro dress with a totally 90s scrunchie and ankle length hair. She came with gel and accessories to style all that hair. These babies sell for $100 + online these days.

    42) HipClips

    HitClips were a late 90s toy. It was a toy that played one-minute clips of pop songs. You just placed different plastic squares in your tiny player. So, they were pretty useless.

    43) Foxtail

    Foxtail was just a ball in a sleeve. You’d swing it over your head and throw it at people who had to catch it. It was marketed to be super cool and exciting. But it was just a ball in a sack.

    Source: d0nkeyshines

    44) Socker Boppers

    Socker Boppers gave you permission to beat the crap out of your siblings without getting in trouble. They were inflatable bubbles you put over your hands. Then you’d just pummel your playmate.

    45) Super Simon

    Super Simon was 90s a reinvention of the original electronic Simon game that came out in the 70s. The piece would light up and require you to tap it’s buttons. You’d then have to repeat these patterns proving you were a genius.

    46) Gak

    Before DIY slime, there was Nickelodeon Gak. Nickelodeon loved dumping slime on people on TV. So, they started manufacturing slime in a container so kids could make fart noises with it at home. It smelled really weird.

    47) Koosh Balls

    Kooshballs were fun to toss around. It felt good to bounce those plastic hair-like thingies on your palms. They came in all different colors and sizes.

    48) Homies

    Homies were small figurines representing Chicano Mexican American characters. They were sold in grocery store vending machines and became highly collectible. They were based on a comic strip, The Adventures of Chico Loco, by David Gonzales.

    49) American Girl Dolls

    This was an expensive 90s craze. American Girl dolls were pricey and also had expensive accessories you could buy for them. They each came with a book. The early dolls were based on characters from different time historical time periods.

    50) Nerf Blaster

    The Nerf Blaster was another toy that made it OK to assault your siblings. That’s because it would shoot out foam and plastic darts that technically wouldn’t hurt you. It was fun to catch your unsuspecting sibling in the side of the face with a Nerf dart.

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    Source: Good to Know/BuzzFeed/Retrododo/ Bustle

    The 80s were a great decade for toys. And it was followed by the 90s. An equally good year for toys.

    But there were some toys that certain 90s kids just had to have. And then there were the toys that ALL 90s kids had. Schools were filled with these toys.

    Remember the epic POG tournaments at recess? Nineties kids have only good memories when it comes to these toys. These are our favorites.

    Here are 50 toys every kid in the 90s just had to have:


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