The 1970s were a vibrant decade, with the start of the Star Wars franchise, the first Atari video game console, grooving to Saturday Night Fever and rocking to David Bowie and Fleetwood Mac. The era is associated with some of the greatest action figures and comic books, which not only evoke feelings of nostalgia but also compel collectors to act.
While most 1970s collectibles began as low-cost commodities, many have aged like fine wine and are now worth a fortune. Among the memorabilia are some vintage treasures sought after by collectors. Here are some of the most valuable 1970s collectibles available today.
Stretch Armstrong Doll
Kenner’s vintage action figure, which was produced from 1976 to 1979, was a huge hit with children. The retro toy, shaped like a muscled blond man, was filled with corn syrup, which gave the toy stretchy limbs. Despite the fact that the doll was prone to’overstretching’ and thus easily damaged, Kenner produced 40,000 Stretch Armstrong toys in those three years, earning over $65 million. The original ‘unstretched’ version of the toy from 1976 is said to sell for more than $1500.
Hidden Mickey Pin
You might not expect a pin, which is small and seemingly insignificant, to be one of the most valuable collectibles of the 1970s. And it wouldn’t be unless it was named after Disney’s most famous character, Mickey Mouse. Disney pins are already worth thousands of dollars to collectors, so it’s no surprise that a Hidden Mickey pin from 1971 sold for more than $16,000 on eBay in 2018.
Luke Skywalker Action Figure
Collectors must have anything original Star Wars. And nothing more than a Luke Skywalker action figure, a fan favorite. This important piece of Star Wars memorabilia is a rare two-piece double telescoping lightsaber figure with a serial number on the footer indicating that it was one of the first toys to leave the assembly line. Only about 20 confirmed examples of this extremely rare toy exist, with one selling for $34,000 at a Sotheby’s auction in 2015.
David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs Pulled Album Art
The legendary glam rocker was well-known for pushing the envelope. That is exactly what his Diamond Dogs LP did when it was first released in 1974. The album art depicted a cartoonish rendition of Bowie with “dog genitals,” which was pulled before it could be released by his record label. Later editions had the offending parts airbrushed out. As a result, an original cover is one of the most rare and valuable Bowie collectibles. Depending on condition, old vinyl typically sells for between $3,000 and $10,000.
The Original Sony Walkman
The original Sony Walkman’s popularity in 1979 ensured that the name ‘Walkman’ became synonymous with any portable music device of the time. Sony predicted only 5,000 sales in the first month after pricing the device at around $207. In fact, the personal cassette player sold 30,000 units in the first two months. Refurbished original Walkmans can now sell for up to $1000.
First Star Wars Comic Book
The 1970s were a boom time for Star Wars collectibles. The rare edition of the first Star Wars comic book, which cost only 30 cents in 1977, is now worth far more. Marvel only printed about 1500 limited edition copies, with mint condition originals starting at $1000 on eBay and a CGC Signature Series by Roy Thomas going for $34,000.
Remco Batman Utility Belt
Batman is undoubtedly one of the most well-known superheroes, with a large and devoted fan base. This Remco Batman Utility Belt from 1979 is one of the more detailed vintage Batman toys. The retro collectible included a communicator, decoder glasses, a toy watch, handcuffs, a Gotham City decoder map, a secret identity card, and a secret message. With so many pieces to keep track of, it’s no surprise that a complete original set sells for nearly $3,980 online.
Xavier Roberts Little People Twins
If you were a kid in the 1970s, you probably remember the Cabbage Patch Dolls. The popular toy was a huge hit and is still in high demand, with the largest collection featuring over 5,000 pieces. The most valuable Cabbage Patch Dolls are a pair of twins known as “Little People.” In 2018, a hand-signed by creator Xavier Roberts version of the twins in good condition sold for more than $4,800.
Apple Computer 1 Palo Alto
The iPod, iPhone, and Apple Watch have become ubiquitous technological devices around the world. There was an Apple 1 computer before the Apple brand boom, which was Steve Jobs’ first foray into the personal computer world. These original pieces of technology are now among the most sought-after computers by collectors. The Apple 1 systems were the first to be sold with a fully assembled motherboard and were sold without a casing, power supply, keyboard, or monitor. Only about 200 Apple-1s were produced, and about a quarter of them are still in existence, with one selling for $491,000 at a Christie’s auction in 2017.
14 Karat Lego Brick
There are few brands as synonymous with toys as Lego, and with such massive popularity comes a slew of eager collectors. While most people remember fondly building a Lego set, a few Lego employees who had worked for the company for 25 years were given 14 Karat gold bricks between 1979 and 1981. Collectors value the extremely rare pieces, with one selling for nearly $27,000 at an online auction in 2017.
Typewriters were a popular way to write almost anything long before the advent of keyboards. Although technology has rendered them obsolete, collectors are willing to pay top dollar for specific antique and vintage typewriter models. Electronic typewriters were popular in the late 1970s. While the most valuable typewriters date back to the 1940s, newer electronic typewriters are still worth a lot if they work.
Nancy Drew Lunchbox and Thermos
Since the 1930s, Nancy Drew books have been popular. The female super sleuth has always piqued the interest of readers and collectors. The books retain some value, particularly original editions. Don’t worry if you’ve sold your collection. You might still have a hard-to-find item from the late 1970s, such as this lunchbox and thermos, which is surprisingly valuable.
Sports Illustrated Board Games
Sports fans have always been some of the most devoted fans, willing to spend hundreds of dollars on memorabilia to support their favorite team. Sports Illustrated entered the fray with its first baseball board game in 1971. They released new editions featuring the most recent baseball season for the next two years. Check to see if any of these board games are sandwiched between Monopoly and Scrabble, long-time baseball fans.
Alpine Man Pez Dispenser
PEZ created the “Alpine Man” Pez Dispenser to commemorate the 1972 Olympics in Munich. There were two types: a mustachioed man in a green Alpine hat and a clean-shaven man in a brown cap. The green hat is worth up to $3000; the brown hat is worth much more but is apparently so rare that no pricing appears to exist.
Original Mego Robin Action Figure
The Mego company no longer manufactures action figures—it went bankrupt in 1982—but for a decade, it was known as “The World’s Greatest Action Figure Company.” Many of their figures are still valuable today, but the original Robin the Boy Wonder figure from 1973 takes the prize. The first version included a removable mask, whereas later versions had the mask painted on. As you might expect, that teeny tiny piece of cloth was frequently lost by the children who played with the toy, so finding a Robin in good condition with the mask is quite rare; one sold for $7357.
1970 Lincoln Memorial Penny
If you’re looking through your wallet right now, the penny inside is most likely worth one cent. The penny shown here is an example of a rare find, but there are numerous coins from the 1970s that could fetch a fortune. Check each coin for unique dates or markings if you find any old coins in your home. A coin collector or an online price guide are excellent places to begin.
Superman’s Ex-Pal Comic Book
Check your toy box, Superman fans! Rare comic books from the 1970s have sold for millions of dollars, but they are in short supply. However, comic books, such as the one shown here, were more widely available and may already be in your collection.
1970 Hot Wheels Mechanical Watch
Children wore watches with their favorite toy’s face plate decades before the Apple Watch, and even before digital timepieces. There are many watches from this era that are valuable, but this Hot Wheels mechanical watch is one of the best-selling. The accessory was a must-have for fans of the popular Hot Wheels toy and track line.
Steve Miller Band Vinyl Box Set
Vinyl albums have always been a popular item, with collectors scouring racks of old record stores for new additions to their collection. While millennials are the generation of compact discs and MP3s, they are also album consumers. More than 13 million vinyl LPs were sold in 2014, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. The last time they had this many sales was in 1989.
Old Fisher Price Toys
Since the 1930s, the company has been a household name among families. One of the originals is the Little People toy line, which has evolved into approximately 5,000 toys since its inception. The Fisher Price Collectors Club, founded in the 1990s, is dedicated to preserving, purchasing, selling, and trading these toys. One of the most popular 1970s toys was the family camper set.
Since 1900, the well-known Lionel train company has been producing model trains and railroads. They’ve amassed a sizable fan base among collectors and gained popularity thanks to their Christmas line. Depending on the design and production date of the train, there is a lot of supply available. The MPC Era encompassed the years 1969 to 1995. The Mickey Mouse Express railroad set from 1977 is highly sought after.
Kids in the 1970s could read their mood by looking down at their hand. There’s a reason this quirky ring has remained a childhood favorite. Classy versions in sterling silver and other metals are now available, transforming this childhood favorite into an adult fashion statement.
Tupperware Jello Mold
Brightly colored Jell-O salads with suspended fruit were a staple of 1970s entertainment. Vintage Tupperware molds for gelatin creations can be found on Etsy.
Perhaps nothing says 1970s home decor more than a shag rug. These creations are massive dust traps, but they are extremely comfortable. You can look for a vintage version or go for a modern twist.
Happy Meal Toys
McDonald’s has certainly evolved their Happy Meal toy since 1979. Toys released for new movies and TV shows, among other trends, are popular among today’s children. There are hard-to-find toys from today that are selling, indicating the long-term value of these toys. So make sure you keep them! If you started collecting a long time ago, it’s probably time to see what those original toys can reveal.
It’s simply not possible to go back half a century to the era of perfectly coiffed shag haircuts and eight-track cassettes. For those of us who lived through – and triumphed over – this difficult but progressive period, it will always be a part of our spirits. These items will help you relive and recall the best of 1970s nostalgia.