Vintage toys are more than child’s play for collectors and enthusiasts around the world. Old toys like action figures, dolls, board games, and toy vehicles can be worth a lot of money, especially if they are in mint condition and are from popular brands and decades like Star Wars, Barbie, Monopoly, and Hot Wheels.
As an avid toy collector or reseller, it helps to understand the vintage toy market if you want to buy and sell these nostalgic toys for profit.
Overview of the Vintage Toy Market
The vintage toy market refers to the collectors’ trade for old toys made in the early to mid 20th century. Some of the most valuable decades for vintage toys include:
- Pre-1950s: Toy lines like Shirley Temple, Buck Rogers.
- 1950s: Toy lines like Barbie, MR Potato Head, PEZ.
- 1960s: Toy lines like G.I. Joe, Hot Wheels, Major Matt Mason.
- 1970s: Toy lines like Star Wars, Six Million Dollar Man, Micronauts.
- 1980s: Toy lines like Masters of the Universe, Cabbage Patch Kids, Transformers.
Popular toy brands and franchises from the mid to late 1900s can fetch high prices in today’s market due to nostalgia and rarity. Mint condition items still in their original packaging tend to command the highest values.
Vintage toy collecting has grown as a hobby since the 1970s, with collector conventions, auctions, and online marketplaces helping set market values. There is high demand for rare, niche toys as well as toys tied to iconic pop culture franchises. The market appears to be growing as more millennials gain interest in toys from their childhood.
How to Determine a Toy’s Value
There are many factors that determine how much a vintage toy is worth to collectors and resellers:
- Age – The older the toy, the more inherent value it tends to hold. Pre-1950s vintage toys are most prized.
- Condition – Toys in “mint” condition and in their original packaging fetch much higher prices over used toys. Even small damages can greatly reduce value.
- Rarity – Rare toys or limited editions have higher value. Unique variants and toys only released in small quantities are in high demand.
- Brand – Major brands like Barbie, Hot Wheels, and Star Wars hold value better. Obscure toy lines are tougher to appraise.
- Pop culture status – Toys tied to major entertainment franchises, celebrities, or iconic characters are more sought after.
- Demand – Check recent sold listings to see what prices a toy has fetched from eager buyers. Trends can vary.
- Special features – Rare features like retractable weapons, talking mechanisms, or unique play functions can increase value for collectors.
Doing research on the toy, checking collector forums, consulting price guides, and confirming recent sold prices are key to maximizing value.
Where to Buy Vintage Toys
There are many options for finding vintage toys to buy or trade:
- Online marketplaces – eBay, Etsy, and individual online toy stores sell vintage toys. Comparison shop for the best deals.
- Collector shows – Collector conventions and toy shows allow you to browse multiple vendors and find rare items. Entry fees usually apply.
- Auctions – Auction houses and online auctions like eBay are places to bid on and win vintage toys. Can get expensive.
- Estate sales – Look for estate and garage sales in your area, as they may sell older toys at discounted prices.
- Antique malls – Check booths and vendors at antique malls for areas dedicated to toys and pop culture merchandise.
- Specialty toy shops – Brick-and-mortar toy shops may carry vintage toys, especially in retro entertainment areas.
- Classified ads – Check local classifieds online and in print for locals selling off vintage toys and collections.
Shop around for the best deals and rare finds when sourcing vintage toys to resell in the market. Pay close attention to conditions and look up fair market values through price guides or past sales.
How to Increase Your Vintage Toy Inventory
Once you get started reselling vintage toys, there are some smart strategies to increase your available toy inventory:
- Set up alerts on eBay, Craigslist, and other auction sites for new toy listings so you’re notified right away.
- Build relationships with other local toy collectors and resellers who can help source toys.
- Let family and friends know you buy/trade old toys and ask them to watch for vintage toys.
- Partner with an estate sale company to be notified early about upcoming estate toy sales.
- Rent vendor booths at collector shows and conventions to buy and sell in volume.
- Join collector forums online to trade information about upcoming vintage toy sales and deals.
- Specialize in niche toys lines you’re knowledgeable about that may be under the radar.
- Buy larger vintage toy lots at bulk discount and break apart into separate sales.
With some hustle and clever sourcing tactics, you can continually add to your toy inventory and have ample stock to list online or bring to local toy shows.
How to Price Your Vintage Toys for Sale
Smart pricing is crucial when reselling vintage toys to maximize profits. Follow these pricing tips:
- Research completed/sold listings thoroughly for the exact item to gauge fair market value.
- Factor in all details like condition, packaging, working features when comparing to your item.
- Consider starting on the higher side of the recent sold price range and negotiate down.
- Account for fees/shipping when listing on eBay/Etsy so you net your minimum price.
- For rare high-value toys, get appraisals and consult price guides like Tams or Terapeak.
- Bundle less valuable toys together in affordable lots to move older inventory.
- Offer discounts/free shipping for buyers purchasing multiple toys to boost average sale value.
- Get collectible toys graded if condition merits it, graded toys can fetch 2x-4x more.
- Be flexible on pricing for items that have been listed for a long time without selling.
Adjust and experiment with different prices to maximize profits while still moving inventory. Vintage toy markets fluctuate, so stay on top of changing demand and value.
Where to Sell Your Vintage Toy Collection
Once you’ve built up an inventory, there are several options for reselling your vintage toy collection:
- eBay – Largest online auction marketplace. Huge buyer demand for toys. Fees apply but large exposure.
- Etsy – Popular for unique, handmade items but also great for vintage toys. Lower fees than eBay.
- Facebook Marketplace – List toys locally for free. Arrange safe pickups/meetups for cash sales.
- Webstore – Set up an online store to directly sell toys if you have large enough inventory. Adds costs.
- Conventions – Rent vendor tables at collector conventions to sell toys directly to fellow collectors.
- Auction houses – Major auctioneers like Heritage can auction high-value, rare toys to collectors. Higher fees.
- Toy shops – Pitch to local toy shops to sell them select toys on consignment and share profits.
- Trade groups – Trading groups online connect buyers and sellers directly. Can find niche items.
Consider costs, fees, and effort when choosing how to resell toys. A mix of local and online sales works for many vintage toy sellers.