A pair of game-worn 1985 Air Jordan 1s signed by Michael Jordan sold for A$752,600 at a Sothebys auction | Image Source:The Sun

Blast From The Past: The Most Valuable Collectibles of the ’80s

Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan, Miami Vice, Madonna, the mixtape, muscle action figures… the 1980’s launched a mighty wave of pop culture. And with any generational movement comes classic memorabilia. Amongst the ’80’s music, fashion, toys and video games are some of the greatest collectables of all time.

In May 2020, a pair of game-worn 1985 Air Jordan 1s signed by Michael Jordan himself sold for A$752,600 at a Sotheby auction.

If boxes of old action figures, baseball cards, basketball shoes or comic books live hidden in your house, it might be worth rummaging through to see if you have any of the most valuable collectibles of the ’80s. Here’s a look at the best rare collectables from the decade.

1989 Original Game Boy

There’s no doubt the Game Boy is a revered piece of gaming history. First released in 1989, the handheld console sold 300,000 units in its first two weeks in Japan. Nowadays a Game Boy in its original packaging is a highly sought-after collectable. Prices range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. An unopened and sealed 1989 Nintendo Game Boy with Tetris reportedly sold for over A$8,000 on eBay according to Price Charting.

1982 World’s Fair ‘Astronaut B’ Pez Dispenser

The holy grail of PEZ dispensers is the 1982 World’s Fair Astronaut B. Only two were ever made as a prototype and never made it to the production stage. One of which became the most expensive ever sold, fetching A$43,549 on eBay in 2006. The rare 1980s collectable featured the words “1982 World’s Fair Knoxville Tennesse” on one side.

1985 Air Jordan 1

The original game-worn shoes signed by Michael Jordan sold at a 2020 Sotheby auction for A$752,600. The record-setting pair was the highest amount ever paid for Air Jordans, realising over three times the estimated selling price. The 1985 Air Jordan 1’s in the iconic ‘Chicago’ colourway, was a player sample pair meaning they were the only of its kind ever made.

1980 Topps #482 Rickey Henderson Rookie Card

Who knew vintage baseball cards from the 1980s would be worth a fortune three decades later. The creme of the crop is the 1980s Rickey Henderson Rookie Card with a perfect PSA condition rating of 10, worth an estimated A$36,900.

1983 D Quarter With Multiple Errors 

Coins are a popular collector’s item. The most valuable Australian coin, a rare penny, fetched over A$1 million in 2019. This 1980s coin is a 25 cent American quarter. More specifically it’s an error coin with a smudged “In God We Trust” that increases the value about 100,000 times. The rare collectable coin is listed on Esty for A$28,400.

1987 The Legend of Zelda for NES

It’s no secret that Nintendo Entertainment System games sell for mega-money. A mint-condition version of Super Mario 64 from 1996, sold for a staggering A$2.08 million this year at Heritage Auctions. This unopened copy of Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda made in 1987 sold for A$1.17 Million at another Heritage Auctions sale in July this year. The rare version is part of a limited production run that took place during a few months in late 1987.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (1984)

Combine the collectable power of comic books with the famous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise and you’ve got a match made in money heaven. The Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird comic book that started it all in 1984 marked the first appearance of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Splinter, Origin and Shredder. A popular piece amongst collectors, an original of the vintage comic book sold for A$331,000 in September 2021.

Star Wars: Droids, Vlix Action Figure

Star Wars collectables are some of the most sought after in the world. This particular piece is one of the rarest toys no one has ever heard of. Originally intended to be part of the Droids animated series, the action figure line was cancelled before it appeared. Even still, the rare action figure was available in Brazil, produced by Brazilian distributor Glassite Vlix in extremely limited numbers. The 4.25inch tall Vlix action figure from Glasslite’s 1988 “Droids” toy line, sold for A$61,432 in 2018.

1984 Original Panerai Compass

Before Google Maps, a good old-fashioned compass and paper map were the navigational tools of the trade. The rare Panerai Compass from 1984 features sapphire dome glass and a nylon strap that wears on the wrist. This 1980’s collectable will set you back A$32,305.

Vintage 1985 Cabbage Patch Kids Doll Teresa Ann

If you enjoyed your childhood in the 1980s, you could hardly forget the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls. The line of one-of-a-kind cloth dolls found the arms of children everywhere in 1982 courtesy of producer Coleco Industries. Today, collectable toys can fetch a high price. In 2019, a 1985 Cabbage Doll called Teresa Ann sold on eBay for A$2,700.

Michael Jackson: Superstar Of The 80’s Doll

Anything to do with the ‘King of Pop’ is going to drive collectors crazy. Of course very few are lucky enough to own one of his stage costumes or a signed piece of memorabilia, however, there are other Michael Jackson collectables a little more common. The Michael Jackson: Superstar Of The 80’s Doll is a rare collectable doll similar to Barbie. The “Thriller” 1984 collector Doll sells for close to A$200 on eBay.

David Bowie, 1989 ‘Sound + Vision’ CD

Only 350 copies of David Bowie’s 1989 compilation were ever made. One copy of the 49 track album, a mix of studio and live records, sold for A$7,645 on eBay in 2013. The CD is also accompanied by a 72-page booklet and comes in a basswood and birch box.

If your river of nostalgia runs through the 1990s instead, the most valuable collectibles of the ’90s is an interesting read.

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