1980's collectible market is surprising
Star Trek Ken and Barbie dolls (Dan DiPaolo)
Nearly 30 years has passed since Madonna sang "Material Girl" and the question is whether anything from that era is now worth the time and space some of those items might be taking from you and your attic.
Are there hidden gems? Veritable gold mines of hair scrunches and Michael Jackson Moonwalk boots?
The answer — for the most part — is no.
"We just don't get any calls from people interested in that time," said Janie Beahr, a dealer at Route 30 Antiques in Central City. "I can't think of anything special about the 80s."
Turns out that a number of factors have made the decade a near-wasteland for those who make a living in collectibles, said Jeff Bidelman, owner of Rare Collectibles, in the Galleria in Richland Township.
"They just mass-produced everything," he said while looking through a small pile of recently-purchased antique jewelry that included watch fobs and silver utensils.
Sports cards, comic books, toys, games — even those issued as collectors editions — likely came in such quantities that their value isn't significantly higher than when many of the items were purchased, he said.
"If it says collectors edition it isn't. Things that are rare or unique are the ones that have value," he said. Remember Beanie Babies? Selling now for a dollar.
That goes doubly for the 80s. Care bears in the original box will fetch a seller about the original price they paid.
Comic books, in many cases, have shown some increase.
Some, according to Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, have prices in the $70 to $80 price range if they're in perfect condition and sealed in plastic wrap and feature a unique event in that comic's universe.
Spider-Man #1 as drawn and written by artist Todd McFarlane — Spidey was re-booted for a new series — might fetch you $180 in perfect condition, according to the guide.
The vast majority of the rest? Maybe $3 on a dollar investment.
Trading cards saw a similar decline in value, Bidelman said.
The famous card company Topps even dumped a boatload of their cards in the ocean at one point rather than continue to lose money warehousing the overstock, he said.
"There are just so many great stories about how they had to get rid of their cards because there were too many," he said.
The transition to cheaper mass-production during that time period led to some items taking on value. Playboy magazine switched from stapled bindings to glue the issue after it featured a young Madonna within.
The singer's spread is now worth around $25 thanks in large part for those staples, he said.