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.

8 Bizarre Fan Theories About Your Favorite Holiday Movies

Walt Disney Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures

We all love a heartwarming holiday movie. On a cold winter’s day, few things are more comforting than curling up on the couch and getting into the Christmas spirit with a holiday movie marathon—no matter how many times you've seen the films in the lineup before.

While the plot lines rarely yield any surprises, multiple viewings of a movie can allow you to start to notice some things going on under the surface. With the rise of Reddit and other social media networks, fan theories have become a popular pastime for many pop culture fiends—and these alternate interpretations can sometimes go to some pretty dark places.

From Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to Home Alone, here are some bizarre fan theories about the holiday movies you only thought you knew.

1. The Santa Clause proves that the North Pole is full of cannibals.

On the surface, The Santa Clause series is the heartwarming tale of Tim Allen taking on the duties of a fallen Santa in need. But Twitter user Hannah Priest thinks it’s about something else entirely: The North Pole is inhabited by cannibals. Her evidence? The elves’ casual attitude toward death and a “new” Santa just taking over, the hundreds of elves (and Mrs. Clauses) who apparently go missing over the course of the series, and the size of the oven in the kitchen. “The elves are clearly baking women (& possibly children) in their oven, then using the bodies to make ceremonial cocoa, which they then feed to future Santas,” Priest tweeted. But this is one theory that’s best read in full (which you can do here).

2. Santa in The Santa Clause is actually an exiled wizard from Harry Potter.

Another theory about The Santa Clause would have you believe that Santa is an alumnus of Hogwarts. We all know Santa is magical, but the evidence does stack up. How does Santa get up and down chimneys? Floo powder, of course. And why can’t we see him? And how does he get to every house in one night? These jobs are made a little easier with an invisibility cloak and a time turner, of course.

3. Home Alone's Kevin McCallister grew up to be Saw’s Jigsaw.


20th Century Fox

In 2014, Grantland’s Jason Concepcion proposed a brilliant, if dastardly, theory that suggested a connection between holiday classic Home Alone and the terrifying Saw horror franchise. In a nutshell, he believes that Kevin McCallister and Jigsaw are the same person—and he made some pretty solid points.

For one, even at the tender age of eight, Kevin shows a talent for setting up some pretty elaborate traps, and he also has a clear obsession with recorded video. He’s also almost too interested in the rumor about Old Man Marley, his neighbor, who is rumored to be a serial killer. Some of the torture from the Saw movies also end up being eerily similar to the “pranks” Kevin pulls on the Wet Bandits. Concepcion goes even deeper, and you should read all of it here.

4. John Candy’s Home Alone character is the devil.

Kevin McCallister isn’t the only Home Alone character with a purported dark side. There’s a lot of suspicion surrounding John Candy’s character, Gus Polinski (a.k.a. the “Polka King of the Midwest”) as well. One Reddit theory goes like this: at one point in Home Alone, Kevin’s mom says that she would “sell [her] soul to the devil” if could just get back to Chicago to be with her son. The next time we see her, Gus Polinski appears and offers her a ride back to the Windy City. Coincidence? Not everyone thinks so—and this theory goes even deeper. Gus plays the clarinet, which is a woodwind instrument, and woodwinds are considered the instrument of Satan.

5. No, wait: Mia from Love Actually is the devil.

Not to be outdone, yet another popular holiday movie fan theory states that Mia (Heike Makatsch)—Alan Rickman’s wannabe-home wrecker of an assistant from Love Actually—is actually the devil. This one is actually a two-part theory, which posits that Rowan Atkinson is an angel while Mia is the devil. Adding credence to the latter part of this is the fact that the film’s writer/director Richard Curtis actually confirmed the former part.

Atkinson’s character was meant to have a larger role and serve as a sort of guardian angel to several of the film’s characters, but the filmmaker eventually decided it would be too much. But Mia’s devilish behavior is on full display: in addition to her repeated attempts to lure Harry (Rickman) away from Karen (Emma Thompson), she shows up at a company holiday party wearing devil horns.

6. Buddy the Elf is a creep.


Warner Bros.

Buddy, Will Ferrell’s maple syrup-loving character in Elf, is beloved for his childlike demeanor and over-the-top Christmas spirit. But some people believe this supposed naiveté may all be a ruse. And if that is in fact the case, then Buddy’s behavior is … questionable at best. Buddy, under this theory, would be a sociopath who forces his way into a random home through coercion and befriends a young child, all while stalking a random woman (Zooey Deschanel) he met through a job for which he was never actually hired.

7. Rudolph is Donner’s bastard son.

As compelling as it is absurd, one Redditor believes that Rudolph isn’t being told the truth about his parentage. We know, of course, that Rudolph doesn’t look like either his mother or his father. And that the other reindeer “used to laugh and call him names.” And that the father of Rudolph’s love interest, Clarice, seems incensed at the idea of his daughter being seen with a red-nosed reindeer. “The only explanation is that the red-nose is like a scarlet letter A,” the theory goes. “Rudolph is an illegitimate child, a bastard, an unclean birth.” (You can read the full docket of evidence here.)

8. Arnold Schwarzenegger is psychotic in Jingle All the Way, and Sinbad is a figment of his fractured mind.


20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

In Jingle All the Way, Arnold Schwarzenegger definitely seems stressed out about trying to acquire a Turbo-Man—the hot toy of the holiday season—for his son. But has all that stress led to a psychotic break with reality? One Redditor believes that might be the case, as Howard Langston (Schwarzenegger) suspiciously only seems to see Myron (played by Sinbad) in his most stressful moments. It could be a coincidence, but as Arnold’s hijinks escalate, there’s Sinbad egging him on every time.

Hee-Haw: The Wild Ride of "Dominick the Donkey"—the Holiday Earworm You Love to Hate

Delpixart/iStock via Getty Images
Delpixart/iStock via Getty Images

Everyone loves Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. He’s got the whole underdog thing going for him, and when the fog is thick on Christmas Eve, he’s definitely the creature you want guiding Santa’s sleigh. But what happens when Saint Nick reaches Italy, and he’s faced with steep hills that no reindeer—magical or otherwise—can climb?

That’s when Santa apparently calls upon Dominick the Donkey, the holiday hero immortalized in the 1960 song of the same name. Recorded by Lou Monte, “Dominick The Donkey” is a novelty song even by Christmas music standards. The opening line finds Monte—or someone else, or heck, maybe a real donkey—singing “hee-haw, hee-haw” as sleigh bells jingle in the background. A mere 12 seconds into the tune, it’s clear you’re in for a wild ride.

 

Over the next two minutes and 30 seconds, Monte shares some fun facts about Dominick: He’s a nice donkey who never kicks but loves to dance. When ol’ Dom starts shaking his tail, the old folks—cummares and cumpares, or godmothers and godfathers—join the fun and "dance a tarentell," an abbreviation of la tarantella, a traditional Italian folk dance. Most importantly, Dominick negotiates Italy’s hills on Christmas Eve, helping Santa distribute presents to boys and girls across the country.

And not just any presents: Dominick delivers shoes and dresses “made in Brook-a-lyn,” which Monte somehow rhymes with “Josephine.” Oh yeah, and while the donkey’s doing all this, he’s wearing the mayor’s derby hat, because you’ve got to look sharp. It’s a silly story made even sillier by that incessant “hee-haw, hee-haw,” which cuts in every 30 seconds like a squeaky door hinge.

There may have actually been some historical basis for “Dominick.”

“Travelling by donkey was universal in southern Italy, as it was in Greece,” Dominic DiFrisco, president emeritus of the joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, said in a 2012 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times. “[Monte’s] playing easy with history, but it’s a cute song, and Monte was at that time one of the hottest singers in America.”

Rumored to have been financed by the Gambino crime family, “Dominick the Donkey” somehow failed to make the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960. But it’s become a cult classic in the nearly 70 years since, especially in Italian American households. In 2014, the song reached #69 on Billboard’s Holiday 100 and #23 on the Holiday Digital Song Sales chart. In 2018, “Dominick” hit #1 on the Comedy Digital Track Sales tally. As of December 2019, the Christmas curio had surpassed 21 million Spotify streams.

“Dominick the Donkey” made international headlines in 2011, when popular BBC DJ Chris Moyles launched a campaign to push the song onto the UK singles chart. “If we leave Britain one thing, it would be that each Christmas kids would listen to 'Dominick the Donkey,’” Moyles said. While his noble efforts didn’t yield a coveted Christmas #1, “Dominick” peaked at a very respectable #3.

 

As with a lot of Christmas songs, there’s a certain kitschy, ironic appeal to “Dominick the Donkey.” Many listeners enjoy the song because, on some level, they’re amazed it exists. But there’s a deeper meaning that becomes apparent the more you know about Lou Monte.

Born Luigi Scaglione in New York City, Monte began his career as a singer and comedian shortly before he served in World War II. Based in New Jersey, Monte subsequently became known as “The Godfather of Italian Humor” and “The King of Italian-American Music.” His specialty was Italian-themed novelty songs like “Pepino the Italian Mouse,” his first and only Top 10 hit. “Pepino” reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1963, the year before The Beatles broke America.

“Pepino” was penned by Ray Allen and Wandra Merrell, the duo that teamed up with Sam Saltzberg to write “Dominick the Donkey.” That same trio of songwriters was also responsible for “What Did Washington Say (When He Crossed the Delaware),” the B-side of “Pepino.” In that song, George Washington declares, “Fa un’fridd,” or ‘It’s cold!” while making his famous 1776 boat ride.

With his mix of English and Italian dialect, Monte made inside jokes for Italian Americans while sharing their culture with the rest of the country. His riffs on American history (“What Did Washington Say,” “Paul Revere’s Horse (Ba-cha-ca-loop),” “Please, Mr. Columbus”) gave the nation’s foundational stories a dash of Italian flavor. This was important at a time when Italians were still considered outsiders.

According to the 1993 book Italian Americans and Their Public and Private Life, Monte’s songs appealed to “a broad spectrum ranging from working class to professional middle-class Italian Americans.” Monte sold millions of records, played nightclubs across America, and appeared on TV programs like The Perry Como Show and The Ernie Kovacs Show. He died in Pompano Beach, Florida, in 1989. He was 72.

Monte lives on thanks to Dominick—a character too iconic to die. In 2016, author Shirley Alarie released A New Home for Dominick and A New Family for Dominick, a two-part children’s book series about the beloved jackass. In 2018, Jersey native Joe Baccan dropped “Dominooch,” a sequel to “Dominick.” The song tells the tale of how Dominick’s son takes over for his aging padre. Fittingly, “Dominooch” was written by composer Nancy Triggiani, who worked with Monte’s son, Ray, at her recording studio.

Speaking with NorthJersey.com in 2016, Ray Monte had a simple explanation for why Dominick’s hee-haw has echoed through the generations. “It was a funny novelty song,” he said, noting that his father “had a niche for novelty.”

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