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Toy Hunter's Jordan Hembrough puts numbers on nostalgia

A native of the storied coastal city of Charleston, South Carolina, Julie Sprankles has been a lover of words her entire life. As a Southerner, she certainly has what her mama calls “the gift of gab.” When she’s not writing, Julie can be...

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Dust off your toy bin and break out the Barbies… the value of that childhood keepsake you’ve been holding on to may be much more than simply sentimental. On the new original series Toy Hunter, premiering tonight on Travel Channel, toy dealer extraordinaire Jordan Hembrough scours the country to score sought-after vintage items. We caught up with the collectibles expert to get the inside scoop on some of our favorite nostalgic playthings.

Toy Hunter Host Jordan Hembrough Discovers a Box of Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesJulie: My dad gave me a Barbie virtually every holiday growing up… which should I hold on to, and which should I slap a yard sale sticker on?

Jordan: Anything from the '80s is not going to be worth that much, because they really started churning Barbies out in the '80s. The '70s Barbies are worth some money, but the 1960s Barbies are where the true money is — you’re talking in the $100s.

Julie: At the risk of dashing our "my toy chest is really a treasure chest" dreams, do any of these nostalgic favs have value today?

  • Teddy Ruxpin? In the box, Teddy can range anywhere from $75 to $100.
  • Raggedy Ann/Andy? Depending on which one you have and the size, you're talking anywhere from $40 to $200. The larger ones are a lot more desirable because they made less of them.
  • Popples? They are actually getting up high in value — some can go for over $100.
  • My Little Pony? Some of the rare Ponies can go for $200. The My Little Pony market is actually being bolstered right now by older men coming into the market. These male collectors call themselves "Bronies"… I kid you not!
  • GloWorms? The bigger ones can go for about $30 to $40.
  • Lite-Brite? The original by Hasbro, if it’s complete in its box, can go for about $75 to $80. Hasbro reissued Lite-Brite many times, so you really want to stick with the older ones from the '70s for the highest dollar value.
  • Pound Puppies? Depending on the size, they can go for anywhere between $2 to $15.
  • Smurfs? Smurf action figures can go for anywhere from $5 to $20. The very rare playsets, like Gargamel's Castle, can go for anywhere from $200 to $400 in the box.
  • Care Bears? The original Care Bears go for anywhere between $20 to $25, and the Care Bear Cousins can range anywhere from $30 to $50. There's a very rare Care Bear — a horse — that can go for even more.
  • Cabbage Patch Kids? You’re looking at anywhere from $50 to $75. Unless you have an extremely rare one — then you can bump that up to about $200.
  • Alf? The different Alf toys range from anywhere between $2 to $70. I’ve seen a talking plush Alf with pull-string go for $70 (in the box).
  • Chatty Cathy? Chatty Cathy, which is from the 1960s, can go for upwards of $500 in the box.

Julie: Any other toys or collectibles people are surprised to discover are worth big bucks?

Jordan: Star Wars stuff is always worth a lot of money, as are some of the later edition Strawberry Shortcake dolls. A lot of the boys' toys — like Masters of the Universe figures — go for much more than girls' toys. I will say this though, Jem and the Holograms dolls by Hasbro are really getting up there in value right now… I've seen some sell for over $300.

Julie: In your line of work, I imagine you've amassed a pretty impressive collection. Are there any toys or collectibles tucked away in your home you'd trade your eyeteeth to protect?

Jordan: My own Star Wars figures I played with when I was a kid! A lot of collectors are holding on to their toys and giving them to their children… they want to feel closer to their kids, and toys are something they can share.

Don’t miss Toy Hunter's one-hour premiere tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT! The show will move to its regular time slot of 9 p.m. ET/PT starting August 22.

Image courtesy of Travel Channel
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