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

Take Advantage of Amazon's Early Black Friday Deals on Tech, Kitchen Appliances, and More

Amazon
Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Even though Black Friday is still a few days away, Amazon is offering early deals on kitchen appliances, tech, video games, and plenty more. We will keep updating this page as sales come in, but for now, here are the best Amazon Black Friday sales to check out.

Kitchen

Instant Pot/Amazon

- Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-115 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker; $90 (save $40) 

- Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Sauteuse 3.5 Quarts; $180 (save $120)

- KitchenAid KSMSFTA Sifter with Scale Attachment; $95 (save $75) 

- Keurig K-Mini Coffee Maker; $60 (save $20)

- Cuisinart Bread Maker; $88 (save $97)

- Anova Culinary Sous Vide Precision Cooker; $139 (save $60)

- Aicook Juicer Machine; $35 (save $15)

- JoyJolt Double Wall Insulated Espresso Mugs - Set of Two; $14 (save $10) 

- Longzon Silicone Stretch Lids - Set of 14; $13 (save $14)

HadinEEon Milk Frother; $37 (save $33)

Home Appliances

Roomba/Amazon

- iRobot Roomba 675 Robot Vacuum with Wi-Fi Connectivity; $179 (save $101)

- Fairywill Electric Toothbrush with Four Brush Heads; $19 (save $9)

- ASAKUKI 500ml Premium Essential Oil Diffuser; $22 (save $4)

- Facebook Portal Smart Video Calling 10 inch Touch Screen Display with Alexa; $129 (save $50)

- Bissell air320 Smart Air Purifier with HEPA and Carbon Filters; $280 (save $50)

Oscillating Quiet Cooling Fan Tower; $59 (save $31) 

TaoTronics PTC 1500W Fast Quiet Heating Ceramic Tower; $55 (save $10)

Vitamix 068051 FoodCycler 2 Liter Capacity; $300 (save $100)

AmazonBasics 8-Sheet Home Office Shredder; $33 (save $7)

Ring Video Doorbell; $70 (save $30) 

Video games

Sony

- Marvel's Spider-Man: Game of The Year Edition for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $20)

- Marvel's Avengers; $27 (save $33)

- Minecraft Dungeons Hero Edition for Nintendo Switch; $20 (save $10)

- The Last of Us Part II for PlayStation 4; $30 (save $30)

- LEGO Harry Potter: Collection; $15 (save $15)

- Ghost of Tsushima; $40 (save $20)

BioShock: The Collection; $20 (save $30)

The Sims 4; $20 (save $20)

God of War for PlayStation 4; $10 (save $10)

Days Gone for PlayStation 4; $20 (save $6)

Luigi's Mansion 3 for Nintendo Switch; $40 (save $20)

Computers and tablets

Microsoft/Amazon

- Apple MacBook Air 13 inches with 256 GB; $899 (save $100)

- New Apple MacBook Pro 16 inches with 512 GB; $2149 (save $250) 

- Samsung Chromebook 4 Chrome OS 11.6 inches with 32 GB; $210 (save $20) 

- Microsoft Surface Laptop 3 with 13.5 inch Touch-Screen; $1200 (save $400)

- Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Laptop; $889 (save $111)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet (64GB); $120 (save $70)

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Kids Edition Tablet (32 GB); $130 (save $70)

- Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8 inches with 32 GB; $100 (save $50)

Apple iPad Mini (64 GB); $379 (save $20)

- Apple iMac 27 inches with 256 GB; $1649 (save $150)

- Vankyo MatrixPad S2 Tablet; $120 (save $10)

Tech, gadgets, and TVs

Apple/Amazon

- Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS; $179 (save $20) 

- SAMSUNG 75-inch Class Crystal 4K Smart TV; $998 (save $200)

- Apple AirPods Pro; $169 (save $50)

- Nixplay 2K Smart Digital Picture Frame 9.7 Inch Silver; $238 (save $92)

- All-New Amazon Echo Dot with Clock and Alexa (4th Gen); $39 (save $21)

- MACTREM LED Ring Light 6" with Tripod Stand; $16 (save $3)

- Anker Soundcore Upgraded Bluetooth Speaker; $22 (save $8)

- Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote; $28 (save $12)

Canon EOS M50 Mirrorless Camera with EF-M 15-45mm Lens; $549 (save $100)

DR. J Professional HI-04 Mini Projector; $93 (save $37)

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9 Things Invented By Accident

These sugary summer treats were an accidental invention.
These sugary summer treats were an accidental invention.
Daniel Öberg, Unsplash

Not every great invention was created according to plan. Some, in fact, were the result of a happy accident. In November 2020, the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced that the COVID-19 vaccine it had developed in partnership with Oxford University was 90 percent effective when administered in a dosing regimen they had discovered thanks to some “serendipity.” This wasn't the only unintentional discovery in history, of course. From penicillin to artificial sweeteners, all nine of the everyday items below were invented entirely by accident.

1. Penicillin

On September 28, 1928, Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming discovered that a petri dish of staphylococcus bacteria that had been inadvertently left out on the windowsill of his London laboratory had become contaminated by a greenish-colored mold—and encircling the mold was a halo of inhibited bacterial growth. After taking a sample and developing a culture, Fleming discovered that the mold was a member of the Penicillium genus, and the rest, as they say, is history.

2. Corn Flakes

The two Kellogg brothers—Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and his younger brother (and former broom salesman) Will Keith Kellogg—worked at Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, where John was physician-in-chief. Both were strict Seventh-day Adventists, who used their work at the sanitarium to promote the austere dietary and moralist principles of their religion (including strict vegetarianism and a lifelong restraint from excessive sex and alcohol) and to carry out research into nutrition, and the impact of diet on their patients. It was during one of these experiments in 1894 that, while in the process of making dough from boiled wheat, one of the Kelloggs left the mash to dry for too long and when it came time to be rolled out, it splintered into dozens of individual flakes. Curious as to what these flakes tasted like, he baked them in the oven—and in the process, produced a cereal called Granose. Some later tinkering switched out the wheat for corn, and gave us corn flakes.

3. Teflon

Polytetrafluoroethylene—better known as PTFE, or Teflon—was invented by accident at a DuPont laboratory in New Jersey in 1938. Roy Plunkett, an Ohio-born chemist, was attempting to make a new CFC refrigerant when he noticed that a canister of tetrafluoroethylene, despite appearing to be empty, weighed as much as if it were full. Cutting the canister open with a saw, Plunkett found that the gas had reacted with the iron in the canister’s shell and had coated its insides with polymerized polytetrafluoroethylene—a waxy, water-repellent, non-stick substance. Du Pont soon saw the potential of Plunkett’s discovery and began mass producing PTFE, but it wasn’t until 1954, when the wife of French engineer Marc Grégoire asked her husband to use the same substance to coat her cookware to stop food sticking to her pans, that the true usefulness of Plunkett’s discovery was finally realized.

4. Slinky

In 1943, naval engineer Richard T. James was working at a shipyard in Philadelphia when he accidentally knocked a spring (that he had been trying to modify into a stabilizer for sensitive maritime equipment) from a high shelf. To his surprise, the spring neatly uncoiled itself and stepped its way down from the shelf and onto a pile of books, and from there onto a tabletop, and then onto the floor. After two years of development, the first batch of 400 “Slinky” toys sold out in just 90 minutes when they were demonstrated in the toy department of a local Gimbels store in 1945.

5. Silly Putty

At the height of World War II, rubber was rationed across the United States after Japan invaded a number of rubber-producing countries across southeast Asia and hampered production. The race was on to find a suitable replacement—a synthetic rubber that could be produced inside the U.S. without the need of overseas imports, which eventually led to the entirely unexpected invention of Silly Putty. There are at least two rival claims to the invention of Silly Putty (chiefly from chemist Earl L. Warrick and Scottish-born engineer James Wright), both of whom found that mixing boric acid with silicone oil produced a stretchy, bouncy rubber-like substance that also had the unusual ability of leaching newspaper print from a page (an ability that changing technology has now eliminated).

6. Post-It Notes

Pexels, Pixabay

In 1968, a 3M chemist named Dr. Spencer Silver was attempting to create a super-strong adhesive when instead he accidentally invented a super-weak adhesive, which could be used to only temporarily stick things together. The seemingly limited application of Silver’s product meant that it sat unused at 3M (then technically known as Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing) for another five years, until, in 1973, a colleague named Art Fry attended one of Silver’s seminars and struck upon the idea that his impermanent glue could be used to stick bookmarks into the pages of his hymnbook. It took another few years for 3M to be convinced both of Fry and Silver’s idea and of the salability of their product, but eventually they came up with a unique design that worked perfectly: a thin film of Spencer’s adhesive was applied along just one edge of a piece of paper. After a failed test-market push in 1977 as Press ’N Peel, the product went national as the Post-It note in 1980.

7. Saccharin

In 1878 or '79 (sources differ), Constantin Fahlberg, a chemist studying the properties of oxidized coal tar at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, discoveredwhile eating his meal one evening that food he picked up with this fingers tasted sweeter than normal. He traced the sweetening effect back to the chemical he had been working with that day (Ortho-sulfobenzoic Acid Imide, no less) and, noting its potential salability, quickly set up a business mass producing his sweetener under the name Saccharin. Although quickly popular (and equally quickly controversial), it would take the sugar shortages of two World Wars to make the discovery truly universal.

8. Popsicles

The first popsicle was reportedly invented by 11-year-old Frank Epperson in 1905, when he accidentally left a container of powdered soda and water, with its mixing stick still inside, on his porch overnight. One unexpectedly cold night later, and the popsicle—which Epperson originally marketed 20 years later as an Epsicle—was born.

9. Safety glass

Safety glass—or rather, laminated glass—was accidentally discovered by the French chemist Édouard Bénédictus when he knocked a glass beaker from a high shelf in his laboratory and found, to his surprise, that it shattered but did not break. His assistant informed him that the beaker had contained cellulose nitrate, a type of clear natural plastic, that had left a film on the inside of the glass. He filed a patent for his discovery in 1909, and it has been in production (albeit in various different forms) ever since.