Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images
Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images

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

 Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images
Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images

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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iStock
18 Smart Products To Help You Kick Off Summer
iStock
iStock

Whether you’re trying to spiff up your backyard barbeque or cultivate your green thumb, these summertime gadgets will help you celebrate the season from solstice to the dog days.

1. ROSÉ WINE GLASSES; $60

Rosé Wine Glass
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Wine not? When the temperature rises and beer isn’t your thing, reach for the rosé. Riedel’s machine-blown SST (see, smell, taste) wine glasses will give the sparkly stuff ample room to breathe, making every refreshing sip worthwhile.

Find It: Amazon

2. NERF N-STRIKE ELITE SURGEFIRE; $25

Nerf SurgeFire
Hasbro

Why It’s Cool: The N-Strike Elite SurgeFire (say that five-times-fast) sports a pump-action rotating drum for maximum foam-based firepower and holds up to 15 Nerf darts in its arsenal.

Find It: Hasbro Toy Shop

3. BUSHEL & BERRY PLANTS; $34

plant
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: You don’t need to have a green thumb to create a brag-worthy garden this summer. Besides producing snackable mid-season berries, these open-growing bushes can be planted immediately for easy set-up to make you look like a botanical pro.

Find It: Amazon

4. INFLATABLE DONUT; $17

Doughnut float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When the only dunking you’re doing is taking a dip in the pool, a 48-inch inflatable donut is the perfect way to stay afloat.

Find It: Amazon

5. STAR SPANGLED SPATULA; $21

American flag spatula
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: O say can you see by your grill’s charcoal light / Meats so proudly we cooked ... with a star spangled spatula. Depending on the specific model, these all-American grilling tools (designed in New Jersey and made in Chicago) are made of a combination of walnut and stainless steel or nylon. As an added bonus: 5 percent of the proceeds go to the Penn Abramson Cancer Center.

Find It: Amazon

6. MLB HOT DOG BRANDERS; $8 AND UP

MLB San Diego Padres Hot Dog BBQ Brander
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Take your hot dogs, sausages, brats, and more out to the ballgame without ever leaving your grill. These branders from Pangea Brands are dishwasher-safe and made of ceramic-coated cast iron.

Find It: Amazon

7. UNA GRILL; $139

grill
MoMA Shop

Why It’s Cool: This portable charcoal-heated grill is as efficient as it is stylish. The compact size lets you cook at the park, after hitting up MoMA, or anywhere in between.

Find It: MoMa Shop

8. HAMBURGER GRILLING BASKET; $21


Why It’s Cool: Made of steel and finished with a non-stick coating, this grilling tool flips four burgers at once and maintains perfect burger proportions to guarantee nobody stays hungry for long.

Find It: Amazon

9. COPPER FIRE PIT; $121

metal fire pit
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: The grill isn’t the only place for a roaring fire this summer. This 100 percent solid copper fire pit makes for the perfect gathering spot at your next BBQ, or just to warm up after a cool summer evening.

Find It: Amazon

10. BENDY STRAW POOL NOODLE FLOAT; $10

Bendy Straw Inflatable Pool Float
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Inflatable pool floats shouldn’t be boring, and this bendy straw float definitely does not suck. This unique spin on traditional pool noodles is sure to make for some cheesy jokes, but at least you’ll be comfortable floating in the pool or at the beach.

Find It: Amazon

11. GRIDDLER DELUXE; $111

Cuisinart GR-150 Griddler Deluxe
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: If you’re looking for some serious panini power, this griddler offers up a versatile lineup of six cooking options in one. And with dual-zone functions you can sling burgers while searing filets and sautéeing vegetables all at the same time.

Find It: Amazon

12. VINTAGE SNOW CONE MAKER; $30

Vintage Snow Cone Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: With its old-timey design, dual cone shelf, and endless flavor options, this snow cone maker is guaranteed create a cool treat.

Find It: Amazon

13. DACHSHUND CORN ON THE COB HOLDERS; $7

Dog Corn Holders
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: While meat-lovers will inevitably scarf down a lot of hot dogs this summer, vegetarians who happen to love another kind of dog will be smitten with these stainless steel, Dachshund-shaped corn on the cob prongs. They’re a fun spin on a summer grilling favorite.

Find It: Amazon

14. ICE CREAM SANDWICH MAKER; $16

Ice Cream Sandwich Maker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Four sandwiches are better than one, especially when they're of the ice cream variety. Make four ice cream sandwiches at once with this homemade spin on a classic cold treat.

Find It: Amazon

15. UE WONDERBOOM; $68

Bluetooth speaker
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Besides delicious food and great company, some memorable tunes are required for the quintessential barbeque. This portable bluetooth speaker offers up some booming sound in a small package, and with a battery power of 10 hours on a single charge you can keep the party going all night.

Find It: Amazon

16. ROLLORS GAME; $38

Rollors Backyard Game
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: When you’re sick of bocce, hate horseshoes, and you’re over cornhole, you might want to take up “rollors,” a family-friendly game that combines your favorite traditional backyard festivities into one game for people of all ages.

Find It: Amazon

17. HAMMOCK; $174

hammock
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Rest easy knowing that this 100 percent hand-woven and hand-dyed cotton hammock contributes to artisan job-creation in Thailand.

Find It: Amazon

18. VSSL SURVIVAL ESSENTIALS; $59

Emergency Survival Tent Outdoors
Amazon

Why It’s Cool: Compact, convenient, and durable, the VSSL Shelter can come in handy when things don’t go quite as planned. The device—which features a lightweight emergency shelter all within the handle of a compact, weather-resistant aluminum LED flashlight—is designed to keep you safe under the worst conditions.

Find It: Amazon

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Illustration by Mental Floss. Image: Rischgitz, Getty Images
11 Things You Might Not Know About Johann Sebastian Bach
Illustration by Mental Floss. Image: Rischgitz, Getty Images
Illustration by Mental Floss. Image: Rischgitz, Getty Images

Johann Sebastian Bach is everywhere. Weddings? Bach. Haunted houses? Bach. Church? Bach. Shredding electric guitar solos? Look, it’s Bach! The Baroque composer produced more than 1100 works, from liturgical organ pieces to secular cantatas for orchestra, and his ideas about musical form and harmony continue to influence generations of music-makers. Here are 11 things you might not know about the man behind the music.

1. PEOPLE DISAGREE ABOUT WHEN TO CELEBRATE HIS BIRTHDAY.

Some people celebrate Bach’s birthday on March 21. Other people light the candles on March 31. The correct date depends on whom you ask. Bach was born in Thuringia in 1685, when the German state was still observing the Julian calendar. Today, we use the Gregorian calendar, which shifted the dates by 11 days. And while most biographies opt for the March 31 date, Bach scholar Christopher Wolff firmly roots for Team 21. “True, his life was actually 11 days longer because Protestant Germany adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1700,” he told Classical MPR, “but with the legal stipulation that all dates prior to Dec. 31, 1699, remain valid.”

2. HE WAS THE CENTER OF A MUSICAL DYNASTY.

Bach’s great-grandfather was a piper. His grandfather was a court musician. His father was a violinist, organist, court trumpeter, and kettledrum player. At least two of his uncles were composers. He had five brothers—all named Johann—and the three who lived to adulthood became musicians. J.S. Bach also had 20 children, and, of those who lived past childhood, at least five became professional composers. According to the Nekrolog, an obituary written by Bach’s son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, "[S]tarting with Veit Bach, the founding father of this family, all his descendants, down to the seventh generation, have dedicated themselves to the profession of music, with only a few exceptions."

3. BACH TOOK A MUSICAL PILGRIMAGE THAT PUTS EVERY ROAD TRIP TO WOODSTOCK TO SHAME.

In 1705, 20-year-old Bach walked 280 miles—that's right, walked—from the city of Arnstadt to Lübeck in northern Germany to hear a concert by the influential organist and composer Dieterich Buxtehude. He stuck around for four months to study with the musician [PDF]. Bach hoped to succeed Buxtehude as the organist of Lübeck's St. Mary's Church, but marriage to one of Buxtehude's daughters was a prerequisite to taking over the job. Bach declined, and walked back home.

4. HE BRAWLED WITH HIS STUDENTS.

One of Bach’s first jobs was as a church organist in Arnstadt. When he signed up for the role, nobody told him he also had to teach a student choir and orchestra, a responsibility Bach hated. Not one to mince words, Bach one day lost patience with a error-prone bassoonist, Johann Geyersbach, and called him a zippelfagottist—that is, a “nanny-goat bassoonist.” Those were fighting words. Days later, Geyersbach attacked Bach with a walking stick. Bach pulled a dagger. The rumble escalated into a full-blown scrum that required the two be pulled apart.

5. BACH SPENT 30 DAYS IN JAIL FOR QUITTING HIS JOB.

When Bach took a job in 1708 as a chamber musician in the court of the Duke of Saxe-Weimar, he once again assumed a slew of responsibilities that he never signed up for. This time, he took it in stride, believing his hard work would lead to his promotion to kapellmeister (music director). But after five years, the top job was handed to the former kapellmeister’s son. Furious, Bach resigned and joined a rival court. As retribution, the duke jailed him for four weeks. Bach spent his time in the slammer writing preludes for organ.

6. THE BRANDENBURG CONCERTOS WERE A FAILED JOB APPLICATION.

Around 1721, Bach was the head of court music for Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen. Unfortunately, the composer reportedly didn’t get along with the prince’s new wife, and he started looking for a new gig. (Notice a pattern?) Bach polished some manuscripts that had been sitting around and mailed them to a potential employer, Christian Ludwig, the Margrave of Brandenburg. That package, which included the Brandenburg Concertos—now considered some of the most important orchestral compositions of the Baroque era—failed to get Bach the job [PDF].

7. HE WROTE ONE OF THE WORLD'S GREATEST COFFEE JINGLES.

Bach apparently loved coffee enough to write a song about it: "Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht" ("Be still, stop chattering"). Performed in 1735 at Zimmerman’s coffee house in Leipzig, the song is about a coffee-obsessed woman whose father wants her to stop drinking the caffeinated stuff. She rebels and sings this stanza:

Ah! How sweet coffee tastes
More delicious than a thousand kisses
Milder than muscatel wine.
Coffee, I have to have coffee,
And, if someone wants to pamper me,
Ah, then bring me coffee as a gift!

8. IF BACH CHALLENGED YOU TO A KEYBOARD DUEL, YOU WERE GUARANTEED TO BE EMBARRASSED.

In 1717, Louis Marchand, a harpsichordist from France, was invited to play for Augustus, Elector of Saxony, and performed so well that he was offered a position playing for the court. This annoyed the court’s concertmaster, who found Marchand arrogant and insufferable. To scare the French harpsichordist away, the concertmaster hatched a plan with his friend, J.S. Bach: a keyboard duel. Bach and Marchand would improvise over a number of different styles, and the winner would take home 500 talers. But when Marchand learned just how talented Bach was, he hightailed it out of town.

9. SOME OF HIS MUSIC MAY HAVE BEEN COMPOSED TO HELP INSOMNIA.

Some people are ashamed to admit that classical music, especially the Baroque style, makes them sleepy. Be ashamed no more! According to Bach’s earliest biographer, the Goldberg Variations were composed to help Count Hermann Karl von Keyserling overcome insomnia. (This story, to be fair, is disputed.) Whatever the truth, it hasn’t stopped the Andersson Dance troupe from presenting a fantastic Goldberg-based tour of performances called “Ternary Patterns for Insomnia.” Sleep researchers have also suggested studying the tunes’ effects on sleeplessness [PDF].

10. HE WAS BLINDED BY BOTCHED EYE SURGERY.

When Bach was 65, he had eye surgery. The “couching” procedure, which was performed by a traveling surgeon named John Taylor, involved shoving the cataract deep into the eye with a blunt instrument. Post-op, Taylor gave the composer eye drops that contained pigeon blood, mercury, and pulverized sugar. It didn’t work. Bach went blind and died shortly after. Meanwhile, Taylor moved on to botch more musical surgeries. He would perform the same procedure on the composer George Frideric Handel, who also went blind.

11. NOBODY IS 100 PERCENT CONFIDENT THAT BACH IS BURIED IN HIS GRAVE.

In 1894, the pastor of St. John’s Church in Leipzig wanted to move the composer’s body out of the church graveyard to a more dignified setting. There was one small problem: Bach had been buried in an unmarked grave, as was common for regular folks at the time. According to craniologist Wilhelm His, a dig crew tried its best to find the composer but instead found “heaps of bones, some in many layers lying on top of each other, some mixed in with the remains of coffins, others already smashed by the hacking of the diggers.” The team later claimed to find Bach’s box, but there’s doubt they found the right (de)composer. Today, Bach supposedly resides in Leipzig’s St. Thomas Church.

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