For all of the differences American kids had growing up, there's one thing many of us have in common - we were raised by Disney. Virtually everyone has a favorite Disney film they turn to when the world feels overwhelming. But instantly transporting you back to your childhood isn't the only thing Disney's good for. Some of the merch can be quite valuable, too. So, even if you thought your '90s toys weren't going to be worth anything in the future, you might be wrong. If you have any of these rare and valuable Disney collectibles, you could be sitting on a small fortune.
Retro Disney Collectibles Worth a Ton of Money
|Rare Disney Collectibles Worth Money||Recent Sales Price|
|Soft Head Pez Dispenser Prototypes||$3,500|
|Disney VHS Tapes||$37,777.77|
|Charlotte Clark Mickey Mouse Stuffed Animals||$1,400|
|Walt Disney's Personal Sketchbook||$75,000|
|1930s Animated Mickey Poster||$30,000|
|Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Animation Cel||$18,000|
|First Edition Norwegian Donald Duck & Co. Comic (1948)||$18,560|
If you grew up in America, chances are you had your own version of a Disney collection featuring the licensed toys you got out of kids' meals, gifts your parents bought you for your birthday or Christmas, and the stuffed Disney characters that went everywhere with you. Those childhood playthings might be worth a lot of money today. Some lucky Disney kids are sitting on a collector's goldmine, so head to the attic or basement (or your parents' house) and check your toy trunks to see if this is the year you can pay off your student loans (or at least pay down a credit card).
Soft Head Disney Pez Dispenser Prototypes
Kids of the past never had to wonder what the chalk their teachers used to illustrate math problems on the blackboard tasted like; all they had to do was pop one piece of dusty candy from their Pez dispensers into their mouths. Pez dispensers used to be one of the coolest cheap toys that kids interested in pop culture could convince their parents to buy. From cartoons to sports teams and everything in-between, the Pez Candy Company made a dispenser out of it.
Naturally, a pioneer as famous as Walt Disney and his cast of cartoon characters was a great fit for the Austrian manufacturer's product. Yet, their idea for a 'soft head' Pez Dispenser bearing Disney heroes and villains was promptly shot down by the Mouse itself - only, they'd already made a series of prototypes. Instead of trashing them, these prototypes fell into various hands before ending up on the auction block many years later. If you can locate any of these squishy-headed candy dispensers, then you might find yourself about $2,000-$3,000 richer.
Disney VHS Tapes
The beloved VHS player was a staple of the home video set up in the '80s and '90s. Long before you could download practically every film in human history to your phone in a matter of seconds, you had to wait and spend loads of money on the perfect home movie collection. People used to pile clamshells the size of novels in their TV cabinet's bottom drawers. For most families with at least one kid, half of those were probably Disney VHS tapes.
For parents in the '80s and '90s, Disney VHS tapes were lifesavers. Rewinding The Little Mermaid 15 times in one day was well worth the four hours you got to clean the kitchen without your toddler stuffing the dishtowel into the drain again. Or, you might be a '90s kid yourself who's held onto these pieces of your childhood. If so, congratulations! For once, your hoarding instincts paid off because some Disney VHS tapes sell for thousands of dollars today. Rare, sealed Black Diamond tapes are, by far, the items that sell most consistently online today for the highest dollar amounts. Take this copy of Beauty and the Beast that sold $37,777.77 on eBay as a taste of what these tapes can go for to the right collector.
Charlotte Clark Mickey Mouse Stuffed Animals
It's hard to think about a time before Disney was the world's best company at rolling out merchandise. They even have multi-location stores specifically built around selling their items. But before all that, one of Disney's first forays into branded merch was a creepy stuffed interpretation of the studio's famous character, Mickey Mouse.
You have Charlotte Clark, a doll designer, to thank for these outrageously expensive and nightmare-inducing Disney collectibles. Her mass-produced Mickey Mouse dolls from the 1930s are insanely popular with collectors today. Although she produced all kinds of designs over the next few decades, the earliest versions bring in the best buyers.
What makes these stuffed likenesses of America's favorite mouse so creepy? They're not cuddly in the way that Mickey Mouse is today. Instead, they're very mouse-like in their design, a far cry from today's friendly, huggable anthropomorphized version that kids at Disneyland line up to take photos with.
Typically, these stuffed animals can sell for about $500-$1,500 at auction. Those with the least amount of childhood love on them (aka no broken stitches, rumpled limbs, missing eyes or buttons, etc) have the best chance of selling for over $1,000. Take this high-quality example that sold for $1,400 in one online auction.
Walt Disney's Personal Effects
People love possessing things previously owned or 'touched' by someone famous. It's as if that person's greatness will rub off on the new owner. Whether you'll get a touch of greatness or a runny nose from the 50-year-old dust you inhale on your new collectible, it's undeniable that people are fascinated by Walt Disney. Items from the mind behind the magic are super desirable, whether it's artifacts with Walt Disney's signature or his personal effects.
In fact, items connected to Walt Disney account for some of the most expensive Disney collectibles ever sold. Anything that comes from Disney's hands will always sell for top-dollar. For example, his personal sketchbook from WWI sold for $75,000 in a 2020 auction.
Rare Disney Collectibles Every Collector Dreams of Finding
Disney kids with pocket change turn into Disney adults with jobs, credit cards, and the need to own a piece of their childhood. While you might not be able to afford some of these rare Disney collectibles outright, you could make a nice chunk of change selling them. Fortunately, they're not so rare that one won't possibly turn up in an older relative's closet someday. Keep your eyes peeled for valuable Disney collectibles like these.
Early Animation Posters
People love movie posters of all kinds, and they can be highly collectible. It might surprise you to know that Disney created posters for even their earliest cartoon shorts and films. Given that the poster collecting world is really particular about condition, the highest selling Disney posters tend to be of pristine quality. None of these were discovered wrapped in a moth-eaten quilt, that's for sure.
Typically, these posters are entered into professional auctions because that's where the clientele is and where they'll bring in the highest prices. For example, Sotheby's often auctions movie posters to their global clientele. One brightly-colored early 1930s poster with Mickey in his earliest animation style was estimated to be worth about $29,000-$33,000. Another from the end of the decade promoting Walt Disney's Society Dog Show was given a similar estimated value.
Vintage animation cels are the bread and butter of the Disney collectors' community. These 'cels' refer to the individual hand-drawn celluloids of a single frame from an animation. Before the 2000s, hand-drawn 2-D animation was the standard, and people weren't precious about the animation cels like they are today. Mr. Disney himself banished the cels to the company's morgue, but eventually, they began surfacing to be sold at the theme parks and in stores and galleries, or even given away.
Today, certified animation cels from Disney's mid-20th century period are what you'll mostly find online. Things like shots from Alice in Wonderland and 101 Dalmatians can sell for only a few hundred bucks or as much as a few thousand. It all depends on if you've got a cel of an interesting or iconic scene from a film and if it's certified authentic.
For example, this Walt Disney signed 1945 cel featuring Pluto as a U.S. Coast Guard dog sold for $3,499.99 on eBay. Meanwhile, this super important set-up shot for the Prince's sequence in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with its certificate of authenticity is listed for $18,000 online. It's these key moments that draw the biggest payouts, though the intermediary shots aren't anything to turn your nose up at.
Disney Comic Books
Given that Walt Disney got his start in animation, it's a no-brainer that his 2-D characters would naturally fit well inside the boxes of a comic strip. Lasting over 700 issues, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories debuted in 1940, featuring Mickey Mouse's friend Donald Duck. For decades, these comics followed the exploits of beloved Disney characters.
As with most mouse merch, early comics with 1940s Disney core characters are worth the highest amounts. Although they were pretty popular, time wasn't always kind to their pages, but even torn or dirty comics can sell for a few thousand dollars at auction. For example, this 1943 No. 31 comic with only a CGC 6.0 grade sold for about $200 more than this later 1949 No. 101 comic with a CGC 9.2 grade. When it comes to Disney comics, collectors prefer shelling out more money for older items than newer comics in a better condition.
Rare first publications can bring in top dollar as well. For instance, one Norwegian collector bought a 1948 Norwegian first edition of Walt Disney's Donald Duck & Co. comic for $18,560 in 2014.
How to Turn Your Disney Collectibles Into Cash
While some Disney stans can't imagine parting with their childhood collectibles, you might be thinking about how to afford that tropical vacay you've always dreamed of. Having collectibles is all well and good, but sometimes figuring out how you can actually make money with them is a lot harder. Try these tips to bippity-boppity-boo your Disney collectibles into cash.
- List your stuff at the right places. The rarest Disney collectibles - those with signatures and certificates of authenticity, as well as from the earliest Disney days - can sell at major auction houses like Sotheby's, but most collectibles will sell the fastest at other online markets. Think eBay, Etsy, and Facebook Marketplace, for starters.
- Authenticity is important. When you're thinking about selling genuine Disney memorabilia, especially things related to film or cartoon production, make sure you have the papers to back it up. If not, you can get a professional appraisal for your items, since they'll be able to do the research for you to make sure you've got an authentic piece.
- Past sale prices don't guarantee future ones. Just because you can find the record of a previous comic book, animation cel, or Walt Disney signature selling for $10,000 doesn't mean your similar collectible is guaranteed to make that much. It's all about finding the right buyer at the right time to max out your collectible's price potential; so, don't be afraid to be picky if you think you're not getting the offers you'd like.
Turn Mickey Mouse Into Money Mouse
People's obsession with Disney hasn't waned one bit since the company broke onto the scene in 1923, and Disney collectibles - both new and old - can be worth a ton of money to the right person. As long as you find the right buyer, you can sell just about any Disney collectible you can find. You can only make a fortune from a select few, but the chance of getting that sale makes it well worth wishing on a star.