Fueled by morning cartoons that were nothing more than thinly veiled commercials, the 1980s were arguably the golden era of toys, with iconic lines like Transformers, G.I. Joe, and the Masters of the Universe debuting that are still popular today—and maybe even moreso, based on a toy-filled auction that ends tomorrow.
The problem with growing up with many of these toy lines is that when you’re a kid, you don’t give a second thought to preserving the packaging as you tear open a new toy, nor do you play with it gently, with thoughts of what it might fetch at auction one day. As a result, toys from the ‘80s, particularly those still in their original packaging, are few and far between, and those that have survived the past few decades are fetching incomprehensible amounts of money at auction.
Hake’s Auctions has a mountain of ‘80s merchandise up for auction right now, including video games and comic books, but it’s the toys that have really caught our attention, making us both nostalgic and really sad we weren’t more careful with our toys as kids. We’ve rounded up some of the best offerings and you might be surprised what some of these items will sell for when the auction officially closes tomorrow.
Hasbro Transformers (1984) Series 1 Optimus Prime
We might as well start with the most iconic and most popular toy of the ‘80s, the original Transformers Generation 1 Optimus Prime. Peter Cullen’s voice was the definition of a hero to a generation of kids, and this figure is still being reproduced over and over even today. Even with original packaging that’s far from mint condition, Hake’s has valued this in-box Optimus Prime at $10,000 to $20,000, but at the time of writing the highest bid was $6,050.
Hasbro Transformers (1984) Series 1 Megatron
You can’t have Optimus Prime without his arch-nemesis, Megatron, and as much as Prime is a holy grail of ‘80s toy collecting, Megatron might be even harder to come by after many countries banned the figure because it looked too much like a real Walther P-38 handgun. Hake’s has valued this figure at $5,000 to $10,000, but at the time of writing the highest bid was well below that at $2,500.
LJN ThunderCats (1986) Lion-O
The various toy lines of the ‘80s always had one thing in common: a fearless leader. For the ThunderCats, a cartoon with an incredibly catchy theme song that’s probably now stuck in your head, that was Lion-O. This figure is packed with features including “Battle-Matic Action” and eyes that glow thanks to a tiny included flashlight. Hake’s has valued this figure at $2,000 to $5,000, but at the time of writing the highest bid was $1,210.
Hasbro G.I. Joe (1986) Series 5 Cobra B.A.T.
My personal favorite G.I. Joe figure of all time was the B.A.T. (Battle Android Trooper) which featured removable arms that could be swapped for weapons. They were emotionless soldiers that didn’t let personality get in the way of trying to take down the G.I. Forces, and while Hake’s has valued this figure at between $2,000 to $5,000, at the time of writing the highest bid was below that at $1,320.
Hasbro Transformers (1985) Series 2 Constructicon Hook
When they debuted as part of the second wave of the Transformers toys, the Constructicons took the idea of transforming robotic vehicles to the next level with six of them combining to form a towering robot called Devastator. The Constructicons were incredibly popular in the mid-’80s, and despite this Hook figure being much smaller than most Transformers toys, Hake’s has still valued it at $400 to $700. At the time of writing the highest bid had already hit $880.
Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1988) Raphael
Although easily the least popular of the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, given the unbelievable popularity of the animated series and the toy line that both debuted in the late ‘80s, this original Raphael figure with an 80 grading has been valued by Hake’s at $400 to $700, with a highest bid of $655 at the time of writing.
Hasbro G.I. Joe (1982) Snake Eyes
The B.A.T. android trooper might be my favorite G.I. Joe figure of all time, but ask a group of ‘80s kids who their favorite was and nine out of then of them will probably say Snake Eyes, who was about as awesomely mysterious as heroes got back then. Oddly enough, this example is especially valuable with a giant promotional graphic for a free Cobra Commander figure on the front of the cardback. Hake’s has valued it at $5,000 to $10,000, but at the time of writing the highest bid was $3,300. Notice the $1.89 price tag still on it.
Kenner Star Wars (1978) Ben (Obi-Wan) Kenobi With Double Telescoping Lightsaber
Looking to splurge on your retro figure collection? Kenner only made three figures with a double-extending lightsaber feature—Luke, Vader, and Obi-Wan—but eventually changed the design to streamline manufacturing and make the figures cheaper to produce. As a result this figure is incredibly rare, and even moreso in its original packaging. Hake’s has valued it at $100,000 to $200,000 based on other figures like this coming up for auction before, and at the time of writing the highest bid was $39,600. You can expect that to jump as we approach the auction’s close tomorrow.
Mattel Masters of the Universe (1982) Man-At-Arms
The Masters of the Universe line was developed by Mattel to go up against Hasbro’s G.I. Joe, and distinguished itself with even wilder characters busting out of their costumes with huge muscles. Hake’s has valued this Man-At-Arms figure, He-Man’s right hand man, at $2,000 to $5,000, while at the time of writing the highest bid was just $1,230.
Kenner Star Wars (1985) Power of the Force Anakin Skywalker
If this auction proves anything, it’s that retro figures don’t need to be in flawless mint-in-the-box condition to fetch a small fortune. This Power of the Force Anakin Skywalker that includes an aluminum medallion is exhibiting quite a bit of yellowing on its blister plastic packaging. But Hake’s has still valued it at $10,000 to $20,000, with the highest bid at the time of writing being $8,111.
Hasbro Transformers (1985) Series 2 Dinobot Sludge
Wave 2 of the Transformers toys not only included the Constructicons, but the Dinobots as well. The robotic T.rex Grimlock remains a fan favorite and the only Autobot who holds a candle to Optimus Prime, but Hake’s has valued this Sludge figure, based on the brontosaurus, at $1,000 to $2,000, with the highest bid at the time of writing being $1,400.
Hasbro G.I. Joe (1985) Cobra Emperor Serpentor with Air Chariot
The morning cartoons of the ‘80s rivaled afternoon soap operas when it came to overly dramatic and and long-drawn-out storylines, and for G.I. Joe, none was more captivating to kids than the back story of Serpentor, the Cobra Emperor, cloned from the DNA of some of history’s greatest leaders. Debuting at the start of the second season, Serpentor was as cool as characters could get, flying over the battlefield in a serpent-shaped chariot. Hake’s has valued this figure at $1,000 to $2,000, and at the time of writing the highest bid stands at $825.
Kenner Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1981) AT-AT All Terrain Armored Transport
The ‘80s delivered some of the most iconic action figures of all time, but many of those toy lines were also known for their over-the-top vehicles and playsets. G.I. Joe’s USS Flagg comes to mind, but Star Wars had its fair share too, including this AT-AT from Kenner that was large enough to squeeze a bunch of Stormtroopers inside. Hake’s has valued this still in box example at $5,000 to $10,000, while at the time of writing the top bid was just below that $2,530.
Kenner M.A.S.K. (1986) Series 2 Hurricane
As is often the case, this auction is dominated by Star Wars toys given Lucasfilm’s prolific merchandising. But dig real deep into the toy bin and you’ll find treasures like this, the M.A.S.K. Hurricane vehicle—another toy line where things aren’t always what they seem. Hake’s has valued this item at $400 to $700, while at the time of writing the highest bid was $400.
Hasbro Transformers (1984) Series 1 Prowl
Story time! In 1984, after some minor dental surgery (a couple of baby teeth pulled) my parents took me to the pharmacy next door and told me I could have anything I wanted from the toy section. At the time, the Transformers had just debuted and it was so new I had no idea what Autobots or Decepticons were, or who the good guys and bad guys were. Not wanting to accidentally buy an antagonist, I opted for the safe choice, the police car, Prowl.
For at least a week I was a king at my grade school with one of the first Transformers toys anyone had ever seen, but a few months later Prowl met a tragic demise when my aunt accidentally sat on him and shattered the vehicle’s windshield. It was far from being my only Transformers toy, but you never forget your first. Hake’s has valued this Prowl at $400 to $700, with the highest bid at the time of writing being $440. Don’t think I’m not tempted.
More from Gizmodo