One of the common misconceptions of individuals just starting to collect board games is ‘if it’s old, it must be valuable.’ Whereas some older games are valuable despite being in poor condition a good rule of thumb is — go for unplayed games — preferably games still in their shrink wrap. Collectors want the game as close to new condition as possible. That being said, it always depends on the game.
Here is a list of recent sales on eBay of somewhat common, and sometimes fairly new (less than 20 years old) games that have generated big bucks.
This game recently sold for nearly $560 and there is a good reason why it commands such a large price: rarity. Jati was one of more than 10 bookshelf games created by 3M (the company that gave us the Post-It Note) in the 1960s. The games were designed in such a way that all the contents would fit neatly into a box — a box that could be placed on the bookshelf — and look nice. The reason Jati is so valuable is because only a handful made it into production (100-150). Some copies of the game have reportedly sold for as much as $1,000.
2. Fireball Island
This is a fairly new game — produced by Milton Bradley in 1986 — that easily fetches more than $400 for a mint in box (MIB) copy. What’s interesting from a collecting point of view is the game — as a game — was not all that spectacular. Some have described it as a glorified Mouse-Trap game. Part of its appeal is nostalgia since it was one of the first 3D board games.
Condition is key with this game, however, if you find a beat up version at a thrift stores don’t pass it up some of the replacement parts can sell for $10-$30 a piece.
3. Haunted Mansion
When you consider the fact that board games in the U.S. go back into the late 1880s, this is another relatively new game. Released in 1975 by Lakeside, this game is designed around a Walt Disney attraction of the same name and in the game players try to move their Doom Buggy through the haunted mansion. Although the game typically sells for $300-$400, a sealed (NIB) version sold for more than $900 on eBay.
4. Dark Tower
This 1981 Milton Bradley game is almost legendary in collecting circles and has even been featured in some of the TV reality ‘picking’ shows. It’s an electronic game with non-electronic components and even games that do not work electronically still sell for close to $100. However, the MIB version sells for between $250-$350.
5. Star Wars: The Queens Gambit
Published in 2000, this Avalon Hill game (which is owned by Hasbro) consists of 155 plastic miniatures with three separate boards and includes a three-level palace. Avalon Hill, which has another game on this list (No. 10 Acquire) is known for its highly detailed, quality artwork. This game is no exception and you can expect to get up $200-$300 for the game — and some sealed versions have sold for nearly $500.
This 1987 Milton Bradley product is a Monopoly-like game where players buy and build the world’s best hotels and compete for guests. Playing try to either bankrupt their competition or end up with the most cash. Used versions of this game regularly sell for $50-$75, but if you find one that is still sealed, you can get between $200-$300 for the game.
Players bid on dead Uncle Everett’s possessions in this hard-to-find 1972 Milton Bradley game. The high bidder then listens to instructions from the dead Uncle by playing the enclosed record. This game is a sequel to Milton Bradley’s Voice of the Mummy. Game sells for around $200 in excellent condition.
8. Voice of the Mummy
The first in a two-game set which includes Séance, Voice of the Mummy was released by Milton Bradley in 1971. Like Séance, this game also included a record player — a small battery powered one. In the game, players move around a multi-level pyramid collecting gems. Once the Great Jewel is found, side B of the record is played, and the game becomes a race back to the player’s home temple. Game sells in the upper $100 to $200 range, although some copies have fetched more than $300.
9. Legend of Zelda
It’s the 1988 version of this Milton Bradley game that you want to find. The game, a simple roll dice and move board game, is based on the franchise of the same name. It sells for up to $200.
Of all the games on the list this is the only one I have purchased — and later sold for $100. The version collectors want in the 1999 Avalon Hill game. It sells for as much as $150.
The value of board games fluctuate greatly throughout the course of the year with supply and demand playing a pivotal role in the game’s final price.