How Masters of the Universe from the 1980s are making a killing again! Along with Barbie, Care Bears and the classics enjoying a lucrative comeback
In demand: An early 1980s Masters of the Universe ‘man at arms’ He-Man plastic figure can now sell for £1,800
Nostalgia is fuelling demand this Christmas for traditional classic toys. Among those gifts making a comeback are Airfix model-making kits, Barbie dolls, Lego and Scalextric.
Joanne McDonald, an auctioneer at toy trader Vectis, says: ‘This renewed love of old classics is helping fuel a rise in the value of old toys as investments – not to be confused with ones that are played with on Christmas Day. To maximise returns, toys as investments should be kept in their original packaging.’
It is not just the early classic toys that are increasing in price. Strong demand for once nearworthless My Little Pony, He-Man, Stretch Armstrong and Care Bear toys – which were popular in the 1970s and 1980s – has caused their prices to soar.
McDonald gives the example of an early 1980s Masters of the Universe ‘man at arms’ He-Man plastic figure. It can now sell for £1,800 if it has been kept in its original plastic and backing card.
Yet if played with and showing signs of wear, it might only fetch a few pounds. One of its evil foes, Megator, can sell for as much as £3,500. Originally, both these plastic figures cost £5.
An ‘ice crystal’ My Little Pony now sells for £750. As a male pony, it was a rarity because most girls chose a mare.
FAMILY APPEAL ADDS EVEN MORE VALUE
About 80 per cent of Scalextric sales are made in the run-up to Christmas. Simon Owen, head of brand at Scalextric, believes a key reason for a surge of interest in toy classics is their appeal across all generations.
He says: ‘With computer games, you find that not everyone can play. But with slot car racing, the whole family gets involved on an equal level – and it does not matter what age you are.’
Older players will find the basics of slot car racing have not changed over 60 years – and if you have a vintage car, it can be used on a modern track.
The most valuable is the 007 James Bond from the 1960s that sells for £4,000 – it originally cost £11. This year a Scalextric 1980s TV Back To The Future vs KnightRider is being released for £160. Some will buy and store unopened sets in the attic in the hope that they will soar in value over time.
MODEL INVESTMENT… JUST DON’T BUILD IT
Airfix models are being manufactured in the UK for the first time in 41 years. Interest in kits has risen 40 per cent since the first lockdown in March 2020, prompting the launch of the Supermarine Spitfire Mk.IXc model-making kit.
The Spitfire is expensive at £95, but this 1:24 model is highly detailed. Airfix also makes 1:72 starter sets, including paint, glue and brush, from £12. Dale Luckhurst, of Airfix, says: ‘We find that enthusiasts buy two sets – one to build and another to keep aside for a rainy day in the hope it rises in value.’
In the past, Airfix car kits have turned out to be a great buy. For example, a yet-to-be-built Jaguar 420 kit from 1968 cost £1, but now sells for as much as £300. Airfix reissued the Jaguar 420 kit last year in its ‘vintage classics’ range and it now sells for £16.
Lego is another favourite. In 2007, it launched the collector’s Star Wars Millennium Falcon for £342. At the time, most balked at this price – yet four years ago an unopened example sold for £8,000. This year’s release of a Star Wars Razor Crest at £520 may be a future winner.
CHILDHOOD FRIENDS WORTH KEEPING
Those seeking comfort during these challenging times might prefer the company of a teddy bear to cuddle for warmth.
The original name for teddies is Steiff, who invented the fluffy toy in 1902. Even well-worn, early examples sell for £500 or more.
But auctioneer McDonald, of Vectis, says: ‘Modern teddy bears are also increasing in value as owners look back fondly on their earliest best friends.’
She adds: ‘The 1980s Care Bear is one of those growing in popularity and if kept in good condition they now sell for £200.’
McDonald also points to Charlie Bears that only started to be produced in 2006. An early Dion Charlie Bear that originally sold for £200 can now change hands for £1,600. Barbie has seen off lots of competition over the years – with the girl-next-door doll Sindy and plastic soldier Action Man falling out of fashion. An Astronaut Barbie, based on real space aviator Samantha Cristoforetti released last year at £34, is now selling for £150 on auction websites.
A top condition, classic 1970s Stretch Armstrong – on which the modern stretchable figure Goo Jit Zu is based – can be worth £700.
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