Vintage Toys

10 Vintage Board Games That Sell For More Than $100

8991809_f520One 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.

Top 10

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.

1. Jati

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.

6. Hotels

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.

7. Séance

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.

10. Acquire

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.

Categories: board games, Vintage Toys | Tags: ,

1960s Propaganda Game Gets Hollywood Treatment

propaganda-game-coverWith a name like Propaganda — and with one of the game’s creators being Lorne Greene, the 60s western actor I had watched with my grandfather — I knew I had to purchase the game when I spotted it in the thrift store.

I’m glad I did, the game is like a time capsule from the mid-1960s.

Game’s Rules

The game is not one you just sit down and start playing. In the instruction booklet, which is 30-40 pages in length, players are advised,

“Since it is felt that an understanding of how one may deceive others is a prerequisite to an understanding of how one may be deceived by others, it is recommended that most players begin with Section A — Techniques of Self-Deception.”

the booklet further notes,

“A minimum understanding of each technique is necessary prior to the start of play; a more comprehensive understanding will develop as the players become involved in the game activities.”


Game’s Origin

The game is based on the book: Thinking Straighter a college philosophy textbook written by Dr. George Henry Moulds. Moulds, a Waverly, Iowa high school graduate was a philosophy professor at Kent State in Ohio when the game was created.

In the Dec. 9, 1966 edition of the Daily Kent Stater — the college newspaper for Kent State college  — we learn the game is based on an “intriguing little brain-tickler of a course titled, ‘How To Think Straight,’ taught by Dr. Moulds.

The course, known simply as Philosophy 281, uses Moulds’ textbook and the article describes the book:

“It’s a witty book dealing with fallacies in language and methods of fooling people through the use of words. Dr. Moulds book has been gaining national attention lately because of a new propaganda game designed by Robert W. Allen, a former student of Dr. Moulds, and Lorne Greene, television star of “Bonanza.” What’s Greene doing fooling around with games? It seems that Allen and Greene, who are friends, were discussing philosophical topics one evening when Greene suggested that they design a game based on propaganda and its techniques.”

WWII Indirectly Inspires Game

After high school, Moulds graduated from Wheaton College with honors in 1938. He went on to become a high school teacher and principal before joining the Army in 1942. Moulds was assigned to the anti-aircraft division and would eventually participate in the D-Day attack.

According to the game booklet, as a result of his war experiences, Dr. Moulds turned to the study of philosophy. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1959.

Value of Game

With such a specialized subject matter – and a game designed for thinking, instead of ‘fun’ — the game never really seemed to take off and it does not enjoy a significant collector’s market. The game was introduced in 1966 and came with a hard plastic shell. The version I have is the 1975 edition which has a soft plastic cover. Complete games in nice shape of the 1975 edition sell for around $10. The 1966 version — complete and in nice shape — sell for $25-$30.

When the game was released in 1966, it sold for $5.


Known for his role as Ben Cartwright in Bonanza, Greene was an accomplished actor both before and after the hit TV show. But the show had a lasting impact on the Canadian-born actor — Greene’s personal residence in Arizona was a replica of the house used on the Bonanza set.

Categories: Vintage Toys

Vintage Flash Cards Display High Level Of Craftsmanship

birds-coverAlthough I have no hard fast rules for what I pick when I am at a thrift store, a general rule is: old and unique. That is exactly what I found with a pair of Flash Card sets I purchased over the weekend.

Both sets were produced by Renwal Products Inc. out of New York in 1968 and each set contains 48 color cards. One set is of birds, the other is of fish. The fish set had a few damaged and torn cards, but save for a few wrinkles the bird set was perfect.

What impressed me the most about the cards was the craftsmanship. Each card — about 2 x 5 inches — could pass for a piece of pastel art. The images are that strong. On the back of each card is quite a bit of detail specific to the species. For a student interested in learning about the bird or fish — there was plenty to memorize.

Renwal Company

Finding information about the company that produced the cards was a little more difficult, but it appears the company was founded by Irving Lawner and the company derived its name by spelling Lawner backwards. The company produced quite a few educational kits — like plastic models of the human head — as well as plastic toy vehicles and plastic furniture for doll houses. The company was acquired by J. Chein & Company in the 1960s.

How Much Are They Worth

Like all vintage items, condition is everything. The set of birds cards are in nice condition and should sell for $10-$20. The set of fish cards has several damaged cards so they are probably worth around $5. Click here for latest eBay prices.

Learn more

You can read about Ben Kriner, who collects Renwal plastic vehicles, in this article from Toy Collector magazine.

The backbone of Kriner’s collection is Renwal, the company probably best known for dollhouse furniture and later model kits. From 1946 to 1957, however, the Renwal Manufacturing Co. of Mineola and New York, N.Y., also produced some of the most beautiful plastic vehicles of the 20th century, and Kriner has spent the past eight years hunting most of them down.

Categories: Vintage Toys