It’s a long shot, but you can make extra money in Singapore if you manage to unearth these valuable items from your house.
Many of us have heard the story about the family stumbling upon an original copy of Superman #1. Who doesn’t want to just bump into a million dollars lying at the bottom of a box?
While it’s unlikely you’ll find something that valuable, you probably have some old things at home that will fetch a good price in Singapore and overseas. So if you’re saving money for a big-ticket purchase, or simply need extra cash, check if you own any of these:
1. Old Fast Food Toys
These are the toys you get with fast food meals. The most famous are McDonald’s Happy Meal toys, but Burger King and other chains have them too.
The main reason for their value is twofold: the first is that many of these toys were not released globally. Some toys only appeared in specific countries (the infamous Hello Kitty McDonald’s toys, for example, are rare in western countries). Demand can be high in countries that never had access.
The second reason is that these toys are limited production; you’ll never see them again once the promotion is over.
You make more money off these toys if you sell a whole set. The recent Despicable Me set from McDonald’s, for example, goes for over S$420 on Ebay. For Burger King, the high demand toy lines tend to be Simpsons related. The most famous of these is the light-up Simpsons toy set from 2001, which often goes for over S$100.
Even if you don’t have the full set, it’s worth looking around on Ebay. Collectors who are missing one or two specific pieces may be more than willing to purchase your toy. Individual pieces can sell for between S$10 to S$25, a significant return on investment for a S$6 meal.
2. VHS Tapes of Cult Classics
It’s a tall order to still have these, and in working condition to boot. But if you do, you should know there is a massive club of VHS collectors who love these. Oddly though, the tapes with famous movies will be less valuable.
What VHS collectors look for are obscure, direct-to-video movies, or cult classics. These are often B-grade movies that were never shown in the cinema, which have a small, dedicated following (e.g. The Evil Dead).
Alternatively, they may be VHS recordings of classic movies. A particularly big market exists for old Disney movies, which is why this VHS version of Beauty and the Beast sold for over S$12,000.
The current Holy Grail of VHS movies is Tales from the Quadead Zone (it’s about a zombie clown from hell, don’t ask), which last sold for over S$2,000. While it’s improbable that you’ll have it (in the ‘80s Singapore was slow to receive movies), look around your old collection anyway – you may have one or two that a collector will throw a few hundred dollars at.
3. Vintage Movie Posters
Movie posters have the biggest collectors market. Old Star Wars posters, for example, can sell for well over S$6,000. The most valuable Star Wars posters – of which some may have made their way to Singapore – are of the original 1970s era A New Hope movie.
Also in high demand are posters for classic movies, such as King Kong. The MINT Museum of Toys on Seah Street (across the road from Raffles Hotel) has an impressive collection.
While movie posters are the easiest to resell, many collectors also buy posters that feature old advertisements, or past concert events. Classic brands or products, such as Tiger Beer, Marmite, Ford, and so on tend to fetch higher prices; if looking at it makes you nostalgic, it’s probably worth money.
4. Vintage Video Games
There is a large collector’s market for vintage game consoles. Your old Playstation 3 doesn’t count – we’re referring to consoles that date back to the ‘70s. The old Atari 2600, for example, can fetch between S$90 to sometimes over S$200 (it depends on the condition and your luck). The real money, however, is in the cartridges.
The Air Raid game for Atari, for example, has eBayed for approximately S$42,900. The games for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) are also money magnets, with the most valuable being a tournament-use game cartridge (eBayed for around S$36,200).
But again, back to reality: the odds that you would have these are kind of low, since back in the ‘80s many Singaporeans rented video games rather than bought them. We were also…something of a piracy haven at the time, so a lot of fake cartridges are floating around.
But if you have original video games, classics like Castlevania or the original Silent Hill, quickly head to eBay. Odds are someone wants to buy it.
5. First Edition Books
When it comes to rare or old books, most collectors look for first editions. If it’s a reprint, it’s usually not worth much unless it’s signed (by the author or someone famous).
In 2014, a first edition of John Le Carre’s Call for the Dead sold for around S$33,900. In the same year Tortilla Flat, by John Steinbeck, sold for over S$20,300. You can check out the list of sales, as well as get as access to an online price check, via Abebooks.
The value of an old book is dependent on its condition, its scarcity, and the fame of the writer or the work. If you’re clueless about it, you might want to get a well-read friend (or someone with history or literature degree) to skim your titles if you have a big library – they’ll usually be able to pick out the canonical works.
As most people tend not to throw books, there is a higher chance of finding a rare one compared to anything on this list (assuming, of course, your forebears were big readers).
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By Ryan Ong
Ryan has been writing about finance for the last 10 years. He also has his fingers in a lot of other pies, having written for publications such as Men’s Health, Her World, Esquire, and Yahoo! Finance.