Ah, the 1990s. What a time to be a consumer! With commodities like the Tamagotchi, Pokémon cards, and Vanilla Ice, it was undoubtedly the greatest decade for buying useless junk. ‘90s kids will remember running down to the store every Saturday, clutching their pocket money tight in their grubby hand to get whatever new fad had swept the schoolyard that week. Those who were adults in the final decade of the 20th century will be able to recall spending their hard-earned money on thrilling new technology such as mobile phones, laptops, and a little-known DVD mailing service called “Netflix”.
While much of what we spent our money on throughout the 1990s is today even more worthless than it was back then, there are a couple of exceptions. Certain things have increased in value over the near two decades that have elapsed since we rang in the year 2000 and there’s a good chance you are in possession of at least some of them. In this article, we’re going to be giving you a checklist for the next time you clear out your garage or attic. Keep your eyes peeled, this time next year, you could be a millionaire!
Here are 15 things bought in the ‘90s that are worth a fortune today.
15. First Edition Harry Potter
According to Forbes, the go-to source for celebrity finances, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling is worth an estimated $650 million. It’s safe to say the vast majority of that money comes from her wizarding empire and not The Casual Vacancy.
If you purchased a Harry Potter book in the 1990s, you too could earn quite a bit of money from Rowling’s creation. A first edition copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – which lists Joanne Rowling as the author – can go from anywhere between $20 to $100,000 depending on its condition and the determination of the person trying to purchase it. Newer Harry Potter novels can also fetch a pretty penny. A well-kept first edition copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows can go for several hundred dollars, while signed copies may enter the thousands.
14. WCW VHS
As any fan of pro wrestling will tell you, the 1990s was a pivotal time for the industry as it saw Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation do battle with Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling for sports entertainment supremacy. After a hard-fought battle, the WWF came out on top and McMahon purchased WCW, subsequently closing it down. McMahon’s pro wrestling juggernaut has since released several WCW pay-per-views on DVD, but it is the original WCW produced VHS tapes that hold the most value for collectors.
An original, non-WWF/E released VHS of literally any WCW pay-per-view could earn you some serious cash. Recently, a videotape of the 2000 installment of WCW’s annual pay-per-view Bash at the Beach – one of the most heavily criticized shows the company ever produced – went for over $800.
13. Kamala with a Moon on His Belly
Towards the end of their merchandising contract with the then World Wrestling Federation, ‘90s toy juggernaut Hasbro produced a plastic rendition of the admittedly culturally insensitive wrestling character “The Ugandan Giant” Kamala. The Kamala figure that made it to stores featured a yellow star painted on his belly, which wasn’t entirely accurate as the real Kamala generally performed with a crescent moon in its place.
Hasbro actually produced a couple of Kamala action figures featuring the crescent moon as prototypes, but switched to the star design just before the figure went into mass production. Why they did this is uncertain, but insiders speculate it may have had something to do with Jim Harris, the man who portrayed Kamala, owning the rights to the character and its logos. Most of the prototype Kamalas were destroyed, but there are still a couple out there, making the figure the Holy Grail for collectors of wrestling action figures. Kamala with a moon on his belly could make you anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000, which should cover your WWE Network subscription for the foreseeable future.
12. G.I. Joe Action Figures
Kids of the ‘70s and ’80s may have been happy playing with their featureless, unarticulated plastic soldiers, but us ‘90s kids had been desensitized by the mesmerizing special effects of the horror and war movies of the time, so we needed something more realistic. That something was G.I. Joe.
G.I. Joe action figures were a favorite of ‘90s kids around the world and remain extremely popular among toy collectors to this day. Because of their unwavering popularity, G.I. Joe action figures from the 1990s command a high price even when they have been used. Recently, an opened and somewhat dilapidated G.I. Joe space playset was sold for $600 to an unnamed collector who was willing to clean out his bank account even though the toy was missing many of its original parts.
11. Power Rangers Action Figures
If you were a child during the first half of the 1990s, there’s a good chance your life was centered around the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers action figure range, which dominated toy stores for much of the decade. Although Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers were relatively inexpensive when they first hit the market, today they can earn several hundred dollars for those who were smart enough to keep them in their packaging. Even used Power Rangers action figures, with all their loose limbs and chipped paint, can yield upwards of $50.
The most valuable of all toys to come out of the ‘90s line of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers figures is Titanus the Carrier Zord, a “motor driven” playset that has been known to sell for over $200, on some occasions even reaching $500 in price.
10. Yu-Gi-Oh Cards
Yu-Gi-Oh cards really took off in the first years of the new millennium and those of us who were still in elementary school in the early 2000s no doubt remember eagerly swapping them with our friends during lunch breaks. Despite being forever associated with the ‘00s, Yu-Gi-Oh cards were originally released in the late 1990s and first edition cards that were picked up during that period today go for hundreds of dollars.
In 1999, Yu-Gi-Oh creators printed Tournament Black Luster Soldier, a one-of-a-kind trading card given to the winner of a Yu-Gi-Oh card tournament held in Japan. Today, that card has an estimated value of $10 million (you read that right), so if you’re the lucky guy who won it in the ‘90s, it may be time to sell.
9. Transformers Action Figures
I don’t know how many of those Transformers movies Michael Bay has directed over the past decade – I think it’s about 20-something by this point – but I do know that they have spawned a renewed interest in Transformers action figures. Nowadays, Transformers action figures are in such high demand and produced in such quantity that none of them will fetch any significant cash on the secondary market. Transformers action figures that were produced prior to the Michael Bay film series, however, can prove to be quite valuable.
For much of the ‘90s, Hasbro produced action figures based on the Transformers: Generation 2 television series. They were pretty underwhelming and largely re-releases of figures from the 1980s, but their lack of success has made them rare, which, in turn, has made them valuable. Transformers action figures bought during the ‘90s have been known to go for as high as $1000 and could transform you into a very wealthy individual.
8. Polly Pocket
A lot of toy collectors have noted that the action figures and accessories of the beloved Polly Pocket line don’t actually fit inside your pocket unless you’re wearing a pair of parachute pants. This has been the case ever since toy giant Mattel took over the brand at the end of the 1990s and totally redesigned it. However, Polly Pocket dolls that were designed and released prior to Mattel’s takeover do indeed fit inside your pocket and if you have a couple lying around, you may very well be on track to lining your pockets with something else.
The original Polly Pocket figures go for a small fortune on the secondary market, with the initial line of playsets and accessories fetching the highest amounts. A mint condition Polly Pocket Jewel Case, for example, can go for close to $1000, while a boxed Polly Pocket Dream Home will make you about half that.
7. LEGO: King’s Mountain Fortress
LEGO is one of those toy companies that’s probably never going to go away. As times change and interests evolve, LEGO remains a constant favorite of children around the world and links today’s ‘10s kids (it feels so weird typing that) to their ‘90s counterparts.
A large part of LEGO’s continued success comes from the fact that it is always retiring old sets and releasing new ones in their place. LEGO sets of yesteryear that are no longer in production can earn a pretty penny on the secondary market. Take the King’s Mountain Fortress playset, for example. When it was first released back in 1990, it went for just under $60. Today, almost 30 years since it was last available in stores, a sealed King’s Mountain Fortress can cost you – or earn you – close to $500.
6. Beauty and the Beast VHS
Most of Disney’s classic animations can be purchased on DVD for less than $10. This is because the children’s entertainment juggernaut is in the process of remaking many of its most beloved animated feature-length films as live action movies, so selling the originals at a low price is a means of promoting upcoming releases while continuing to make money off older offerings. A DVD copy of Disney’s perennial ‘90s favorite Beauty and the Beast probably won’t set you back more than a couple of dollars. However, if you want a VHS copy of the same movie, you should be prepared to drop some serious cash. A packaged videotape of Beauty and the Beast from its original October 1992 release can go for literally thousands, as one collector proved when they dropped $1000 to own it.
5. Happy Meal Toys
A toy doesn’t have to have been formally released and sold in a designated toy store to be worth a fortune today. Hell, it doesn’t even have to be of a high quality, as countless McDonald’s toys have proven over the years. Many of the toys that the fast food giant included for free with its Happy Meals throughout the 1990s can today fetch hundreds of dollars among certain circles of toy fanatics and nostalgia junkies.
In 1998, McDonald’s attempted to capitalize on the aforementioned Furby mania by inking a deal with the toy’s manufacturers which allowed McDonald’s to include a miniature Furby doll with each Happy Meal. Today, those Happy Meal Furbies can go for as much as $100 when sold in a complete set.
4. Magic: The Gathering Cards
Although it has taken a backseat to Yu-Gi-Oh in some parts of the world, Magic: The Gathering is the original trading card game. It was introduced in the first half of the 1990s, almost a decade before Yu-Gi-Oh cards went into production. Cards from the first series of Magic: The Gathering, while purchased for just a couple of dollars upon their release, go for hundreds of dollars today. In fact, sealed starter decks from the game’s first batch can go for as much as $9000.
The Holy Grail for Magic: The Gathering fans is the Black Lotus card. Only a couple of thousand Black Lotuses are known to have been printed, which makes it the game’s single most valuable card. In 2013, one particularly devoted – not to mention rich – Magic: The Gathering collector dropped a staggering $27,302 at auction on a single Black Lotus card.
3. Super Soakers
In the 1990s, your summer was incomplete if you and your friends didn’t get together for a water fight, utilizing buckets, water balloons, and, of course, a couple of water guns. In the ‘90s, much like today, the premier manufacturer of water guns was Super Soaker. When the brand first came on the scene in 1990, it revolutionized the water fight. Super Soakers went far beyond the flimsy plastic water pistols that American kids had been forced to resign themselves to in the 1980s.
Owing to their sophistication, Super Soakers were pretty expensive in the 1990s and those same models are even more expensive today. If you happen to have an original ‘90s Super Soaker in your garage, you should definitely look into getting it valued. Just before the summer of 2016, one Super Soaker fanatic managed to sell his Super Soaker Monster XL for $500 to an obviously more fanatical collector.
2. Pokémon On Game Boy
Is there anything more ‘90s than the Game Boy? Possibly Pokémon. Luckily, both of those deliciously retro things come together in this entry.
Throughout the 1990s, Nintendo capitalized on the Pokémon craze by releasing Game Boy games based on the series. The Game Boy, for those who don’t remember, was a handheld device that you played games on, sort of like an iPhone. Of course, it wasn’t very good at making calls, again, sort of like an iPhone.
The Pokémon games Nintendo released were mainly differentiated by their color – such as Pokémon: Blue and Pokémon: Red – which was a subtle way of urging consumers to buy the appropriately colored Game Boy to go along with each game. Today, sealed copies of those Pokémon Game Boy games will set you back hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Recently, a Nintendo devotee dropped more than $400 on a mint condition copy of Pokémon: Red.
With its initial release coming in 1998, Furby was one of the defining toys of the 1990s. In the two decades that have passed, Furby has been redesigned and re-released on multiple occasions and is actually still available today, with most selling for at around $50. Vintage Furbies, however, go for a hell of a lot more.
If you purchased a Furby during the toy’s original run – 1998 through to 2002 – you may be sitting on a small fortune. A functioning original Furby can fetch hundreds of dollars on the secondary market, especially if it’s boxed. Recently, a mint condition 1998 Furby sold for a mouthwatering $700 on eBay, while one collector dropped $130 on a Kid Cuisine Furby despite the fact it had been removed from its original packaging by its previous owner (presumably a careless child with no knowledge of inflation or appreciation).
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