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22 Things You Owned in the ‘80s That Could Be Worth a Fortune Now

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If you sold your vast collection of Transformers, American Girl Dolls, and Garbage Pail Kids cards for a few bucks at your mom's garage sale a couple of decades ago, you might be kicking yourself now: These 22 blast-from-the-past ‘80s toys could pay for a new DeLorean.

1. THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS FIREHOUSE HEADQUARTERS: $600

The Ghostbusters firehouse is one of the coolest workplaces ever, so it makes sense that people wanted the playset—and still do. A firehouse with box goes for $100-$200, but a toy in superb condition could fetch up to $600. Nothing spooky about that.

2. TRANSFORMERS: OPTIMUS PRIME: $1000

If, as a child, you had an Optimus Prime that could really transform into a cab and tractor trailer, you probably thought you were pretty cool. But it would be even cooler if you had left this particular series 1 Autobot sealed in the box—in MISB (mint in sealed box) condition it's worth up to a grand.

3. FIREBALL ISLAND BOARD GAME: $250

Cardboard adventure seekers no doubt loved Fireball Island, a board game packed with volcanoes, Tiki gods, and marble "fireballs" that could knock players' pawns from the board. These days, a complete or near-complete set of the 1986 Milton Bradley game is worth at least a couple hundred to board game collectors.

4. THUNDERCATS LION-O ACTION FIGURE: $2783

In 2015, a Lion-O action figure still on the card was purchased for a cool $2783 by a particularly enthusiastic ThunderCats fan. Even if yours aren't mint, you can make some scratch: This lot sold for more than $200.

5. JUMANJI and POLAR EXPRESS FIRST EDITIONS

You're in luck if you've got these fantastical Chris Van Allsburg classics in your library. A "fine" copy of Polar Express (1985) is worth a cool $800, while a copy of Jumanji (1981) in the same condition is worth $600.

6. G.I. JOE MOTORIZED BATTLE TANK: $950

G.I. Joe toys can command a small fortune, especially if you've got the original 1963 prototype—it sold for a mind-boggling $200,000 in 2003. But you may be able to cash in even if you don't have that ultra-rare figure. The 1982 series motorized battle tank can bring in $950 in a sealed box or $150-$175 in a non-sealed box.

7. AIR JORDANS: UP TO $25,000

Basketball isn't the only thing that benefits from Michael Jordan's touch; His Airness's sneakers have also done quite well over the years. A pair of black Jordans with gold accents that were originally released in 1985 can go for $25,000 because only 12 of them were ever produced. But the not-so-rare (air) models also do pretty well on the secondary market: Air Jordan III's can also go for thousands.

8. C-3PO’S CEREAL BOX: $200

If you were the type of kid who saved anything and everything Star Wars, you’d better check your collection. A cereal box that held “crunchy honey-sweetened oat, wheat & corn cereal” could make you a couple of hundred bucks richer. The value depends on the mask that came with the cereal—Darth Vader, of course, makes it worth the most, while a Stormtrooper mask is merely worth about $50. But where’s the blue milk?

9. STAR WARS EWOK COMBAT PLAYPACK: $5998.98

Speaking of Star Wars, If you shelled out $17 for this in 1984 and then shoved it away in a closet, you may want to dig it back out. Because the set was popular with kids, it's hard to find one that hasn't been opened. A sealed-in-box copy once sold for nearly $6000.

10. MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE ETERNIA PLAYSET: $1900

Known as the "Holy Grail" of Masters of the Universe collecting, the three-towered plastic behemoth of a playset had a ton of little accessory pieces that were easy to lose. This makes a complete set hard to find—so when collectors find one, they're willing to pay a pretty penny for it.

See Also: 22 Things You Owned in the ‘90s That Are Worth a Fortune Today

11. GARBAGE PAIL KIDS CARDS: $4250

Though an Adam Bomb card was going for more than $4000 on eBay a few years ago, according to the people behind gpkworld.com, the value may have been slightly inflated. However, your old GPK collection can still earn you a tidy sum: A 1985 original series 1 set of Adam Bomb and Blasted Billy was listed for $120 on the auction site.

12. “ASTRONAUT B” PEZ DISPENSER: $32,000

The price may seem out-of-this-world, but this 1982 candy dispenser is exceedingly rare—only two were made. Created to promote the 1982 World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee, one of the dispensers has a blue stem with the head of an astronaut sporting a blue helmet, while the other has a white helmet and green stem. The green and white guy sold for $32,000 in 2006.

13. DAREDEVIL COMIC BOOK #168: $1000

This 1981 comic book contains the first appearance of Elektra, so fans are willing to pony up a shocking price: up to $1000 for a copy in mint condition.

14. AMERICAN GIRL DOLLS: $4200

First-edition American Girl Dolls from when the first three girls hit the market in 1986 can be worth a large chunk of change if you have the accompanying accessories and playsets. In 2015, an original Samantha doll was selling on eBay for $4200. Seem high? This one's a comparative steal for just $2850.

15. U2 "ALL I WANT IS YOU" PURPLE VINYL ALBUM BOXED SET: $3483.64

The next time you're at a vintage store, take a moment to flip through its record selection. This rare 1989 Australian release is worth thousands—but that's not the only U2 album that's worth a fat stack.

16. LASER LIGHT SKELETOR: $11,285

Masters of the Universe was in decline when this fancy-pants Skeletor was released in 1988. In fact, sales had become so lackluster that Mattel released Laser Light Skeletor only in Italy and Spain under the names Skeletor Occhi di Fuoco and Skeletor Ojos de Fuego, respectively. If you have an original (there are reproductions floating around out there), it's allegedly worth more than $10K.

17. TEDDY RUXPIN: UP TO $1000

Teddy Ruxpin, the teddy bear that could read stories to rapt children, was all the rage when he came out in 1985—and he still is, to some collectors. It's reported that mint condition Teddy Ruxpins and working tapes have sold for up to $1000. This one on Etsy is up for $699. But if you're looking for lower-priced nostalgia, Teddy Ruxpins in not-so-stellar condition are going for much cheaper. Or you can just buy a brand new one.

18. THE KNIGHT RIDER KNIGHT 2000 VOICE CAR: $200

A genuine talking KITT still in the box could bring in $200—and there's currently one talking Trans Am for sale for nearly $900.

19. “POWER DRENCHER” SUPER SOAKERS: $600

When these water-guns-on-steroids came out during the summer of 1989, they were labeled "Power Drenchers." Though they may not be as high-powered as today's toys, Power Drenchers are highly collectible, selling for up to $600.

20. HORROR MOVIE VHS TAPES: UP TO $700

The rumors you heard a few years ago about movies from Disney's "Black Diamond" VHS collection being worth a fortune was all false—but if you've got some campy '80s horror movies, you might be in luck. Unlike other collectibles, the tapes don't even have to be in good condition to be worth some cash. One of the most valuable VHS is a limited-release cult classic called Tales from the Quadead Zone, which sold for $700 in 2011.

21. AIR RAID ATARI GAME: $31,600

Released in 1982, this game in which you protect a city from alien invaders is worth more than many cars—if it comes with a box, that is. Only two copies of the boxed game are known to exist, so if you've got one, consider yourself flush. If the box disappeared long ago, don't despair: You could rake in $3000 for the cartridge alone. Better go check your attic ASAP.

22. STADIUM EVENTS NINTENDO GAME: $1000

If you were more of a Nintendo person than Atari, you could be sitting on a goldmine, too. In 1987, a Bandai Nintendo game called Stadium Events was recalled because it came with an interactive accessory called the "Bandai Family Fun Fitness" floor pad; Nintendo wanted to rebrand it as the Power Pad. If you've got the original, you're in luck.

See Also: 22 Things You Owned in the ‘90s That Are Worth a Fortune Today

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12 Surprising Facts About Bela Lugosi
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On October 20, 1882—135 years ago today—one of the world's most gifted performers was born. In his heyday, Bela Lugosi was hailed as the undisputed king of horror. Eighty-five years after he first donned a vampire’s cape, Lugosi's take on Count Dracula is still widely hailed as the definitive portrayal of the legendary fiend. But who was the man behind the monster?

1. HE WORKED WITH THE NATIONAL THEATER OF HUNGARY.

To the chagrin of his biographers, the details concerning Bela Lugosi’s youth have been clouded in mystery. (In a 1929 interview, he straight-up admitted “for purposes of simplification, I have always thought it better to tell [lies] about the early years of my life.”) That said, we do know that he was born as Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó on October 20, 1882 in Lugoj, Hungary (now part of Romania). We also know that his professional stage debut came at some point in either 1901 or 1902. By 1903, Lugosi had begun to find steady work with traveling theater companies, through which he took part in operas, operettas, and stage plays. In 1913, Lugosi caught a major break when the most prestigious performing arts venue in his native country—the Budapest-based National Theater of Hungary—cast him in no less than 34 shows. Most of the characters that he played there were small Shakespearean roles such as Rosencrantz in Hamlet and Sir Walter Herbert in Richard III.

2. HE FOUGHT IN WORLD WAR I.

The so-called war to end all wars put Lugosi’s dramatic aspirations on hold. Although being a member of the National Theater exempted him from military service, he voluntarily enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian Army in 1914. Over the next year and a half, he fought against Russian forces as a lieutenant with the 43rd Royal Hungarian Infantry. While serving in the Carpathian mountains, Lugosi was wounded on three separate occasions. Upon healing from his injuries, he left the armed forces in 1916 and gratefully resumed his work with the National Theater.

3. WHEN HE MADE HIS BROADWAY DEBUT, LUGOSI BARELY KNEW ANY ENGLISH.

In December 1920, Lugosi boarded a cargo boat and emigrated to the United States. Two years later, audiences on the Great White Way got their first look at this charismatic stage veteran. Lugosi was cast as Fernando—a suave, Latin lover—in the 1922 Broadway stage play The Red Poppy. At the time, his grasp of the English language was practically nonexistent. Undaunted, Lugosi went over all of his lines with a tutor. Although he couldn’t comprehend their meaning, the actor managed to memorize and phonetically reproduce every single syllable that he was supposed to deliver on stage.

4. UNIVERSAL DIDN’T WANT TO CAST HIM AS COUNT DRACULA.

The year 1927 saw Bela Lugosi sink his teeth into the role of a lifetime. A play based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker had opened in London in 1924. Sensing its potential, Horace Liveright, an American producer, decided to create an U.S. version of the show. Over the summer of 1927, Lugosi was cast as the blood-sucking Count Dracula. For him, the part represented a real challenge. In Lugosi’s own words, “It was a complete change from the usual romantic characters I was playing, but it was a success.” It certainly was. Enhanced by his presence, the American Dracula remained on Broadway for a full year, then spent two years touring the country.

Impressed by its box office prowess, Universal decided to adapt the show into a major motion picture in 1930. Horror fans might be surprised to learn that when the studio began the process of casting this movie’s vampiric villain, Lugosi was not their first choice. At the time, Lugosi was still a relative unknown, which made director Tod Browning more than a little hesitant to offer him the job. A number of established actors were all considered before the man who’d played Dracula on Broadway was tapped to immortalize his biting performance on film.

5. MOST OF HIS DRACULA-RELATED FAN MAIL CAME FROM WOMEN.

The recent Twilight phenomenon is not without historical precedent. Lugosi estimated that, while he was playing the Count on Broadway, more than 97 percent of the fan letters he received were penned by female admirers. A 1932 Universal press book quotes him as saying, “When I was on the stage in Dracula, my audiences were composed mostly of women.” Moreover, Lugosi contended that most of the men who’d attended his show had merely been dragged there by female companions.   

6. HE TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF FRANKENSTEIN’S MONSTER.

Released in 1931, Dracula quickly became one of the year's biggest hits for Universal (some film historians even argue that the movie single-handedly rescued the ailing studio from bankruptcy). Furthermore, its astronomical success transformed Lugosi into a household name for the first time in his career. Regrettably for him, though, he’d soon miss the chance to star in another smash. Pleased by Dracula’s box office showing, Universal green-lit a new cinematic adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Lugosi seemed like the natural choice to play the monster, but because the poor brute had few lines and would be caked in layers of thick makeup, the actor rejected the job offer. As far as Lugosi was concerned, the character was better suited for some “half-wit extra” than a serious actor. Once the superstar tossed Frankenstein aside, the part was given to a little-known actor named Boris Karloff.

Moviegoers eventually did get to see Lugosi play the bolt-necked corpse in the 1943 cult classic Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man. According to some sources, he strongly detested the guttural scream that the script forced him to emit at regular intervals. “That yell is the worst thing about the part. You feel like a big jerk every time you do it!” Lugosi allegedly complained.

7. LUGOSI’S RELATIONSHIP WITH BORIS KARLOFF WAS MORE CORDIAL THAN IT’S USUALLY MADE OUT TO BE.

It’s often reported that the two horror icons were embittered rivals. In reality, however, Karloff and Lugosi seemed to have harbored some mutual respect—and perhaps even affection for one another. The dynamic duo co-starred in five films together, the first of which was 1934’s The Black Cat; Karloff claimed that, on set, Lugosi was “Suspicious of tricks, fearful of what he regarded as scene stealing. Later on, when he realized I didn’t go in for such nonsense, we became friends.” During one of their later collaborations, Lugosi told the press “we laughed over my sad mistake and his good fortune as Frankenstein is concerned.”

That being said, Lugosi probably didn’t appreciate the fact that in every single film which featured both actors, Karloff got top billing. Also, he once privately remarked, “If it hadn’t been for Boris Karloff, I could have had a corner on the horror market.”

8. HE LOVED SOCCER.

In 1935, Lugosi was named Honorary President of the Los Angeles Soccer League. An avid fan, he was regularly seen at Loyola Stadium, where he’d occasionally kick off the first ball during games held there. Also, on top of donating funds to certain Hungarian teams, Lugosi helped finance the Los Angeles Magyar soccer club. When the team won a state championship in 1935, one newspaper wrote that the players were “headed back to Dracula’s castle with the state cup.” [PDF]

9. HE WAS A HARDCORE STAMP COLLECTOR.

Lugosi's fourth wife, Lillian Arch, claimed that Lugosi maintained a collection of more than 150,000 stamps. Once, on a 1944 trip to Boston, he told the press that he intended to visit all 18 of the city's resident philately dealers. “Stamp collecting,” Lugosi declared, “is a hobby which may cost you as much as 10 percent of your investment. You can always sell your stamps with not more than a 10 percent loss. Sometimes, you can even make money.” Fittingly enough, the image of Lugosi’s iconic Dracula appeared on a commemorative stamp issued by the post office in 1997.

10. LUGOSI ALMOST DIDN’T APPEAR IN ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN—BECAUSE THE STUDIO THOUGHT HE WAS DEAD.

The role of Count Dracula in this 1948 blockbuster was nearly given to Ian Keith—who was considered for the same role in the 1931 Dracula movie. Being a good sport, Lugosi helped promote the horror-comedy by making a special guest appearance on The Abbott and Costello Show. While playing himself in one memorable sketch, the famed actor claimed to eat rattlesnake burgers for dinner and “shrouded wheat” for breakfast.

11. A CHIROPRACTOR FILLED IN FOR HIM IN PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE.

Toward the end of his life, Lugosi worked on three ultra-low-budget science fiction pictures with Ed Wood, a man who’s been posthumously embraced as the worst director of all time. In the 1953 transvestite picture Glen or Glenda?, Lugosi plays a cryptic narrator who offers such random and unsolicited bits of advice as “Beware of the big, green dragon who sits on your doorstep.” Then came 1955’s Bride of the Monster, in which Lugosi played a mad scientist who ends up doing battle with a (suspiciously limp) giant octopus.

Before long, Wood had cooked up around half a dozen concepts for new films, all starring Lugosi. At some point in the spring of 1956, the director shot some quick footage of the actor wandering around a suburban neighborhood, clad in a baggy cloak. This proved to be the last time that the star would ever appear on film. Lugosi died of a heart attack on August 16, 1956;  he was 73 years old.

Three years after Lugosi's passing, this footage was spliced into a cult classic that Wood came to regard as his “pride and joy.” Plan 9 From Outer Space tells the twisted tale of extraterrestrial environmentalists who turn newly-deceased human beings into murderous zombies. Since Lugosi could obviously no longer play his character, Wood hired a stand-in for some additional scenes. Unfortunately, the man who was given this job—California chiropractor Tom Mason—was several inches taller than Lugosi. In an attempt to hide the height difference, Wood instructed Mason to constantly hunch over. Also, Mason always kept his face hidden behind a cloak.

12. HE WAS BURIED IN HIS DRACULA CAPE.

Although Lugosi resented the years of typecasting that followed his breakout performance in Dracula, he asked to be laid to rest wearing the Count’s signature garment. Lugosi was buried under a simple tombstone at California's Holy Cross Cemetery.

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The First Known Uses of 6 Common Typographic Symbols
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Many of the most common symbols on our keyboards have fascinating origin stories. Some, such as the zero, we now take for granted—yet the idea of denoting an absence of value was not present in Western mathematics until introduced from the East. Other symbols, such as the hashtag or at-sign, had a variety of uses until the internet ushered in a new way of communicating and fixed them with the meanings we know today. Below are six examples of the first known usage and subsequent history of some of the most common typographic symbols.

1. AT SIGN // @

The @ (or at-sign) is usually dated to 1536 in a letter from a Florentine merchant, Francesco Lapi, who used it to mean a unit of wine called “amphorae.” But a Spanish researcher claims to have found an even earlier usage in a 1448 document, where the symbol also referred to a unit of measurement (even today, Spaniards call the @ symbol arroba, which is also a unit of weight, and some other Romance languages have similar dual meanings). Either way, the researchers think that the symbol then moved to Northern Europe, where it eventually gained the meaning of “at the price.” Other explanations have also been offered, but whatever the exact root of the symbol, its meaning eventually became known as shorthand for at, and it was generally used in written financial transactions—for example, in noting “Bob sells James 4 apples @ $1.”

The sign had largely fallen out of use by the early 1970s, when computer scientist Ray Tomlinson was working at what is now BBN Technologies, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Tomlinson, who was working for the government on a forerunner of the internet, was trying to figure out how to address messages sent from one computer to another when he noticed the little-used @ on his computer keyboard, and used it to send a prototype email. This precedent was soon adopted as the internet developed, and the at-sign is now, of course, central to our lives.

2. ZERO // 0

The absence of a value is a complex concept, one that many ancient civilizations struggled with. The idea of a zero ultimately came to the West from the mathematicians of India, where, as in a few other cultures, zero was initially used as a placeholder, for example to indicate a lack of units, as in the number 101.

The earliest surviving usage of a zero in India has been traced to an ancient mathematical text known as the Bakhshali manuscript, which is held at Oxford’s Bodleian Library. In September 2017, radiocarbon dating indicated that the manuscript was produced as early as the 3rd or 4th century—providing us with the first known usage of zero some 500 years earlier than previously thought. As Oxford’s Bodleian Library says, “the symbol in the Bakhshali manuscript is particularly significant for two reasons. Firstly, it is this dot that evolved to have a hollow centre and became the symbol that we use as zero today. Secondly, it was only in India that this zero developed into a number in its own right, hence creating the concept and the number zero that we understand today."

The manuscript itself was discovered buried in a field in 1881 in what is today Pakistan. Written on 70 delicate leaves of birch bark, historians think it represents a training manual for Silk Road traders, teaching them concepts of arithmetic.

3. HASHTAG // #

Hashtag on an old typewriter key
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The origin of the hashtag (or pound sign as it's traditionally known in the U.S.) comes from scribes writing shorthand for the Latin libra pondo, which translates as "pound by weight." The abbreviation they used was lb, which was sometimes misread as 16. So, scribes took to drawing a line through the top of the two letters, which over time developed into the now familiar #. In the 1960s, the pound sign was chosen by Bell Laboratories to be a function key on their newly designed telephone keypad. (The Bell Labs team fondly nicknamed the symbol the “octothorpe,” possibly in honor of athlete Jim Thorpe.) Fast-forward to 2007, when early Twitter users wanted to be able to group and filter their feeds, so developer Chris Messina suggested they appropriate the method used in IRC (Internet Relay Chat) whereby users employed the pound sign or "hashtag" to signpost what they were chatting about. (Programmers knew the symbol as the hash, which was now being used to "tag" content.) This simple method soon caught on, and today the hashtag has become indelibly linked to the rise of social media.

4. ELLIPSIS // …

Originally, periods of silence were marked textually with a series of hyphens, but today the symbol of choice is the , a.k.a. the ellipsis. Dr. Anne Toner of Cambridge University spent years researching the ellipsis and finally discovered what she thinks is its first use—an English translation of Roman dramatist Terence’s play Andria printed in 1588. Although the play used hyphens instead of dots, the general idea caught on rapidly. (Toner notes that although there are only four “ellipses” in the 1588 translation, there are 29 in the 1627 version.) By the 18th century, dots started to replace the dashes, which an assistant professor from Southeastern University suggests may be connected to a medieval piece of punctuation called subpuncting or underdotting, which generally indicated something was incorrectly copied.

5. AMPERSAND // &

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The ampersand originated in Latin when the word et (meaning and) was written in cursive script as a ligature (in which one or more letters are written together as a single glyph). One of the earliest examples was found daubed in graffiti on the walls of a house in Pompeii, where it was preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE. By the 8th century the ampersand became a recognizably distinct character, but the word ampersand did not come into use until the late 18th/19th century, when English school children would recite "and per se and" meaning “and by itself means and” to help remember the symbol (per se being Latin for "by itself"). One of the most thorough investigations into the typographic history of the ampersand comes courtesy of German graphic designer Jan Tschichold, who in 1953 published The am­persand: its ori­gin and de­vel­op­ment, in which he collected numerous examples of the ampersand from the 1st century onwards, visually charting its developing form.

6. PLUS SIGN // +

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The plus sign used for addition in mathematics likely derives from a shorthand ligature for the Latin et meaning “and” and was probably in use for a long time before a surviving example appeared in print. One candidate for the earliest surviving usage is in French philosopher and polymath Nicole Oresme's Algorismus proportionum, a manuscript handwritten between 1356 and 1361, although scholars debate whether it's a true plus symbol. The first use of a plus sign in a printed book is more definitive, and can be found in a 1489 edition of Johannes Widmann’s Mercantile Arithmetic. Widmann also uses the minus sign for the first time in print in this volume—although both plus and minus signs relate not to addition and subtraction but to surpluses and deficits in business accounting. After this usage, the plus sign began to appear more frequently in German mathematical texts, and first appeared in an English text in 1557 in Robert Recorde’s The Whetstone of Witte—which also introduced the equals sign.

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