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

Amanda, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Amanda, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

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

Open Polly Pocket sets on a table
Herry Lawford, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

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
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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

A red Pokémon game cartridge
mrbalcom, Pixabay

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

A yellow Furby
Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

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

A copy of M.U.S.H.A. for Sega Genesis in its box
Seismic, Amazon

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.

7. SUPER MARIO BROS FOR NES

A Super Mario Bros. 3 game next to an NES console
Martin Bergesen, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

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
Savager, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

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
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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

Power Rangers action figures
Richard Lewis, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

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

A Transformers action figure and cassette
Joe Haupt, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

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

Players at a table playing Magic: The Gathering

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

Yu-Gi-Oh! cards on a table
Timothy Tsui, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

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 67 Pontiac GTO
iStock.com/CTRPhotos

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

A Ferrari RC toy
ZANTAFIO56, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

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

A Star Wars Snowspeeder LEGO set
A Star Wars Snowspeeder LEGO set released in 1999

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

Hulk Hogan's Hulkmania tour in 2009
Paul Kane/Getty Images

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
iStock.com/ideabug

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.
MIKE FIALA/AFP/Getty Images

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

A Happy Meal from McDonald's
DocChewbacca, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

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

Stacks of Disney VHS tapes

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
NEIL HANNA/AFP/Getty Images

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.

Visit Any National Park for Free on September 28—or Volunteer to Help Maintain Them

Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
Nick Hanauer/iStock via Getty Images

By the end of September—which always seems especially busy, even if you’re not a student anymore—you might be ready for a small break from the hustle and bustle. On Saturday, September 28, you can bask in the tranquility of any national park for free, as part of National Public Lands Day.

According to the National Park Service, the holiday has been held on the fourth Saturday of every September since 1994, and it’s also the nation’s largest single-day volunteer effort. It’s up to you whether you’d like to partake in the service side or simply go for a stroll, but there is an added incentive to volunteer: You’ll get a one-day park pass that you can use for free park entry on a different day. Opportunities for volunteering include trail restoration, invasive plant removal, park cleanups, and more; you can see the details and filter by park, state, and/or type of event here.

If you’re not sure how you should celebrate National Public Lands Day, the National Park Service has created a handy flowchart to help you choose the best course of action for you—which might be as simple as sharing your favorite outdoor activity on social media with the hashtag #NPLD.

National public lands day celebration flowchart
National Park Service

There are more than 400 areas run by the National Park Service across the U.S., and many of them aren’t parks in the traditional sense of the word; the Statue of Liberty, Alcatraz Island, and countless other monuments and historical sites are also run by the NPS. Wondering if there might be one closer than you thought? Explore parks in your area on this interactive map.

For those of you who can’t take advantage of the free admission on September 28, the National Park Service will also waive all entrance fees for Veteran’s Day on November 11.

And, if you’re wishing a free-admission day existed for museums, you’re in luck—more than 1500 museums will be free to visit on Museum Day, which happens to be this Saturday.

14 Facts About International Talk Like A Pirate Day

iStock
iStock

Ahoy, me hearties! As many of you know, September 19 is International Talk Like A Pirate Day, an annual phenomenon that’s taken the world by storm, having been observed by every continent, the International Space Station, and even the Oval Office since it first made headlines back in 2002. So let’s hoist the Jolly Roger, break out the rum, and take a look back at the holiday’s timber-shivering history.

1. Talk Like a Pirate Day was originally conceived of on D-Day.

Talk Like a Pirate Day creators John Baur and Mark Summer (who’ve since acquired the nicknames “Ol’ Chumbucket” and “Cap’n Slappy,” respectively) created the holiday while playing racquetball on June 6, 1995—the 51st anniversary of the invasion of Normandy. Out of respect to the battle’s veterans, a new observance date was quickly sought.

2. September 19th also happens to be the birthday of the ex-wife of the holiday's co-creator.

“[September 19th was] the only date we could readily recall that wasn’t already taken up with Christmas or the Super Bowl or something,” the pair later claimed. Summers claims to harbor no ill will toward his former spouse, who has since stated, “I’ve never been prouder to be his ex-wife!

3. Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry is largely responsible for popularizing the holiday.

Dave Barry was so smitten with the holiday after having been introduced to it via email in early 2002 that he dedicated an entire column to its publicity that September, turning an inside joke into a global sensation. He later went on to make a cameo appearance in one of Baur and Summers’s buccaneer-themed music videos in 2011 (look for him in the video above at the 3:25 mark).

4. Real pirates spoke in a wide variety of dialects.

Despite some extensive “English-to-Pirate” dictionaries that have cropped up all over the Internet the idea that all pirates shared a common accent regardless of national origin is historically absurd, as National Geographic pointed out in 2011.

5. Actor Robert Newton is hailed as the "patron saint" of Talk Like a Pirate Day.

So where did the modern “pirate dialect” come from? Summers and Baur credit actor Robert Newton's performance in Treasure Island (1950) and have accordingly dubbed him the “patron saint” of their holiday. Tasked with breathing life into the scheming buccaneer, Newton simply exaggerated his native West Country accent and the rest is history.

6. John Baur's family was featured on a pirate-themed episode of Wife Swap.

The reality show’s highly-anticipated 2006 season premiere pitted the Baurs (in full pillaging regalia) against a family which, according to John’s wife Tori (a.k.a. “Mad Sally”), “behaved as though ‘fun’ was something that had to be pre-packaged for their protection.”

7. John Baur was also on Jeopardy!

Baur was described to the audience as “a writer and pirate from Oregon” in his 2008 appearance. “I didn’t win,” Baur said, “but the introduction made Alex blink.”

8. International Talk Like a Pirate Day has become a cornerstone of the Pastafarian movement.

Bobby Henderson, founder of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, cited Earth’s dwindling pirate population as the clear source of global warming in his 2005 open letter to the Kansas school board which established the religion. Since then, Talk Like A Pirate Day has been observed by devout Pastafarians worldwide. 

9. A Florida mayor once ignited a local controversy for making an official Talk Like a Pirate Day proclamation.

In 2012, Lake Worth, Florida Mayor Pam Triolo lightheartedly urged her constituents to embrace the holiday last year, writing, “The City … is known to possess a spirit of independence, high spirits, and swashbuckling, all traits of a good pirate.” Her actions were criticized by the city’s former commissioner, Jo-Ann Golden, who took offense to the association with murderous seamen.

10. Day of the Ninja was created in response to Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Not to be outdone by their hated rivals, the pro-ninja community was quick to execute the first annual Day of the Ninja on December 5, 2002. For Summers and Baur’s take on the warring factions, see the clip above.

11. Pirates once celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day aboard the International Space Station.

In a 2012 interview, Summers recalled being “informed that the astronauts on the International Space Station were awakened to ‘A Pirate’s Life For Me' and joined in the pirate talk from space.”

12. President Obama once celebrated with a costumed buccaneer in the Oval Office.

In 2012, Barack Obama tweeted this image on Talk Like a Pirate Day with the caption “Arr you in?”

13. A congressman later used the holiday to slam President Obama's tax plan.

In 2011, Florida’s 12th congressional district representative Dennis Ross used the festivity as a political punchline after Obama made a speech detailing his tax plan, tweeting, “It is TALK like a pirate day … not ACT like one. Watch ye purses and bury yr loot, the taxman cometh.”

14. It's an official holiday in the state of Michigan.

On June 4, 2013, state senator Roger Kahn’s proposal to grant International Talk Like A Pirate Day official acknowledgement from the Michigan government was formally adopted, to the chagrin of some dissenting landlubbers. 

This story originally ran in 2013.

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