(NEXSTAR) – You’ve probably heard the phrase “collect them all!” when it comes to toys, cards, bobbleheads, or just about anything else in a series, like Beanie Babies. You may still have some or all of the stuff you collected as a kid today, but they may be better for collecting dust than dollars for you.
Many of those toys and other items were released in the late 1900s, a time when mass production was underway. Mass production allowed customers to collect every piece in the line, and then some (how many times did you get a duplicate toy in your Happy Meal or a duplicate Pokémon card?).
This also means that while you were busy “collecting them all”, you created a set of items that were surely destined to be valuable in the future, just like many others.
“You know, people seem to think that since something is collectible, it’s automatically valuable, and that’s not always true,” Jordan Hembrough, toy expert and host of “Toy Hunter,” tells Nexstar.
Beanie Babies, Cabbage Patch Kids, Barbies, Pokemon cards, and comic books are all great examples of this, Hembrough explains. These lines of toys and collectibles are the most common that people think will be worth a lot of money, but they are not. Comics are one of the most popular items for collectors right now.
“Unfortunately, a lot of people collect comics from the ’80s and even ’70s,” says Hembrough. “However, those comics really aren’t the ones that are super valuable.”
Those from earlier decades (the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s) are usually more valuable. The same goes for another popular item for collectors: baseball cards.
Cards released during the ’80s and ’90s were, like many other collectibles, made during a time of mass production, Mike Provenzale, production manager for Heritage Auctions, tells Nexstar. While the tides are turning for some of these ‘Trash Wax Era’ cards, that’s not the case for other items.
Speaking of sports memorabilia, Provenzale says that most modern autographs aren’t worth as much as you might expect, either. This is great because there are so many out there, he explains. Every time an athlete signs off on something, he’s essentially devaluing himself.
Having more signatures on an item, such as a soccer ball autographed by a team, generally doesn’t increase its monetary value because collectors usually only want one signature, according to Provenzale.
And if you get free memorabilia for attending a game, like a bobblehead, Provenzale says it’ll be worth more in the parking lot to someone who didn’t get one than at the collectors’ market later on. However, there are some exceptions within these over-collected categories.
According to Hembrough, “the collectibles industry is very, very cyclical.” If roles or franchises are revived, this can help make older collectibles desirable again. He points to “Star Wars,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and “Jurassic Park.”
On the other hand, there are the toys that were relatively popular before but have recently lost their value. Among them are toys from the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” franchise, which “was very popular five or six years ago,” Hembrough explains.
When it comes to autographed sports memorabilia, while most modern signatures aren’t worth much, select athletes can be special. Derek Jeter, Michael Jordan and Tom Brady are big exceptions to this because they have exclusive deals to sign only for specific companies, which makes fewer signings available.
If your favorite athlete and his team win the championship game, know that the championship team left unpurchased probably won’t be worth much more than what you pay at the store. Instead, the losing team’s championship kit, which is usually donated, is more likely to have kitsch value, Provenzale explained.
Regardless of whether you come across a collectible like a Happy Meal toy or a Beanie Baby or one of these toys that Hembrough says is worth keeping, both Hembrough and Provenzale recommend researching your item. You can search for your item on Google or eBay, for example, to see how others like yours are selling. You may also consider taking your items to local collector stores or auction houses to have their value checked by an expert.