This year marks the 38th anniversary of the Garbage Pail Kids, those noxious Topps trading cards that delighted children—and disgusted their parents—with depictions of unfortunate kids in a variety of gruesome situations.
Like many relics of the past decades, Garbage Pail Kids have proven to be a valuable commodity for collectors, with some cards fetching thousands of dollars depending on their condition and rarity. (Entire bundles or boxes with unopened packs can also sell for thousands.)
Take a look at 11 of the most valuable cards that might be lurking in a drawer somewhere. Remember that collectors often prefer cards that have been graded by a third party like Professional Sports Authenticator (PSA) to accurately assess their condition. And in the case of GPK, keep in mind that cards can sell for different amounts depending on the name used: Almost all cards featured two versions of the same artwork with different names. Cards that feature a glossy paper finish instead of matte can also command a premium, as the matte card stock is more common.
1. Adam Bomb (Series 1, 1985)
The Kid who ushered in a new era of gross trading cards is highly sought after by collectors. (His image also appeared on a lot of the advertising materials.) Adam Bombs graded 9, or perfect, by PSA recently sold for nearly $1200 on eBay, but be aware that most cards aren’t in the same shape and that a more worn version is worth closer to $400. The alternatively named Blasted Billy—which has the same artwork—can sell for upwards of $3500, although most sell for around $200 to $300.
2. Nasty Nick (Series 1, 1985)
This bloodsucking character is technically the first-ever Garbage Pail Kid, with a designation of #1a in the first series. He can command around $1500 on the secondary market.
3. Semi Colin (Series 9, 1987)
This freakish tyke is valued because the card contains a printing error that left off the card number (#355a). Expect to pay up to $1350, although some are available for anywhere between $100 to $600.
4. Corroded Carl (Chrome Series 1, 2013)
In 2013, Topps issued a limited-edition Chrome Series of the Kids. Owing to their scarcity, characters like Corroded Carl (even cards from the 1980s) can sell for up to $1200.
5. Jay Decay (Series 1, 1985)
This charming corpse can go for as much as $742, although it usually sells for around $200.
6. Dead Fred (Series 2, 1985)
This gun-toting tot got on the wrong side of the law. He can run as much as $350.
7. Schizo Fran (Series 2, 1985)
Hardly the model of political correctness, Schizo Fran represents the Kids at their worst. That’s probably why it sells for around $300.
8. Stinky Stan (Series 1, 1985)
9. Buggy Betty (Series 1, 1985)
This pest can sell for as much as $180, although it is usually priced around $100.
10. Soft Boiled Sam (Series 2, 1985)
This shelled character is hard to find and can sell for around $150 or more.
11. Hot Head Harvey (Series 3, 1986)
This parody of Transformers holds appeal for collectors of both the Garbage Pail Kids and the robot toy line. It can sell for around $100.
A version of this article originally ran in 2020 and has been updated for 2023.