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McDonald’s Happy Meal toys may seem like child's play, but some adults are now raking in big bucks by selling older, highly-coveted versions of the free knickknacks.
LoveAntiques.com, asite dedicated to tracking the value of certain collectors' items, recently compiled a list of Happy Meal toys that they claim have appreciated in value over the years.
According to Love Antiques, the mini Potato Head Kids from 1987 could fetch up to $120; TY Beanie Babies from 2000 could fetch up to $400 and a complete set of Happy Meal Power Rangers may net you $300.
But how realistic are these estimates?
An eBay search confirms that there is potential for certain toys of yesteryear to increase in value if the demand is there but supply is scarce. Some examples include Disney's 101 Dalmatians toys, which have sold for around $70. Furby toys, which were included in Happy Meals in 2000, have been listed for up to $900, but products not in mint condition sold for about $75.
If you want a better idea as to how much your toys are worth, checking in with a vintage toy collector or niche antiques specialist will likely give you the most accurate estimate.
"As with any collectibles category, the main factors of value are supply and demand, impacted often by a 'nostalgia curve' based on generational change and new media," antiques appraiser Gary Sohmers, who was featured on "Antiques Roadshow," told TODAY Food via email.
Simply put, some of those toys will be worth a big chunk of cash, while others will see little appreciation if the market just doesn't care. "McDonald's collectibles have been led by franchise owners and longtime customers or employees whose loyalty to the brand supersedes market logic at times, along with the cross-marketing with other high-demand categories like Disney, Hot Wheels and current media hits," added Sohmers, who believes limited supply by region or the planned obsolescence of most Happy Meal items, may help add value to these types of toys
The internet has also changed the way collectors value and gain access to items that were previously much harder to find. "Thanks to the web, rare can be determined by how often an object appears [online] for sale..." said Sohmers.
Of course, that doesn't mean we should all run out right now and stock up on whatever Happy Meal toys are currently available. "Unfortunately, in my toy dealing experience most modern McDonald's Happy Meal toys have little or no value to collectors and I doubt there are any notable auction houses selling them," Dov Kelemer, president of DKE Toys, told TODAY Food. "There are always exceptions when items have been recalled or there is a surge in popularity of a specific license but it often doesn't last."
However, he admitted there are exceptions to every rule. "As with every collectible hobby, there are bound to be some holy grails out there, as well as pre-production and unreleased pieces that advanced collectors chase after and pay crazy prices for."
For example, on eBay right now there's a four-piece set of mini TY Beanie Babies listed for a cool $1,215. Yes, that's a lot of money, but for the right collector, the price might be just right.
Looking to offload some old Happy Meal toys quickly? Most listings on eBay are well under $100, so if you want stay competitive, the experts recommend checking out the market before pricing the item too high.