Hemswell Antique Centres

How can we help?

The most popular vintage toys collectors should know more about


Few objects evoke memories like vintage toys for, whatever value they bring to an auction room, they all began life as playthings. Here are some of the most-loved and most-sought-after for collectors.

Vintage Barbie

Since her launch at the American International Toy Fair in March 1959, Mattel’s Barbie has been a trendsetter and market leader. Encompassing social and cultural trends of the late 1950s, Barbie capitalised on the introduction of television and its new consumer audience of children and teenagers. The first Barbie doll, based on glamourous stars of the silver screen such as Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe, was available as a blonde or brunette and featured a zebra print swimming costume, heavy make-up and gold hoop earrings. She marked a massive departure from the baby dolls that had previously been popular. Despite 350,000 dolls being sold in the first year, few remain. A genuine first edition (check the soles of the feet which will have holes in them) in mint, boxed condition can command tens of £1000s at auction.


Very few families can say that they have never had a game of Monopoly in the house that hasn’t caused some sibling arguments at some point. Created in 1933, the original version was circular in shape. The game’s creator, Charles Darrow,  hand-drew and painted 5,000 copies after Parker Brothers originally turned down the concept. One of these original examples was bought at auction for in excess of £100,000 by The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. As recently as 1991 when Hasbro took over the Monopoly brand, a ‘Last Edition’ was produced in a limited run of 650 copies for employees only. While not yet strictly speaking vintage, these could well become highly collectable and rare to find on the open market. Generally speaking, any edition from 1934-1954 is hard to find and will therefore command higher prices because of its rarity value.

Vintage Star Wars toys

By the 1970s, action figures had risen in popularity and with franchise links across books, television and film, figures connected to these multi-media channels were highly sought after. One of the most popular franchises from this time is Star Wars, considered the ultimate film phenomenon of the era. There were only 20 original Luke Skywalker action figures produced in 1978 before production was halted due to a design fault with the ‘double telescoping’ light sabre breaking too easily. One of these first 20, in the original packaging was expected to fetch $12,000 at auction in 2015. The final hammer price? $25,000! The last film to be released in the franchise was Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker in 2019 (also known as Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker) and with each new release, the demand for the earlier Star Wars toys has continued to soar.


The Golden Age of the comic book is generally accepted to be from 1938, when Superman made his first appearance in the first edition of Action Comics, up to the early 1960s, when Spiderman appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15. Action Comics #1 became the most valuable comic in the world, when a pristine issue realised over $3 MILLION on an online auction site in 2014. Believed to be fewer than 100 in existence, worldwide, it is easy to understand why a copy previously owned by actor and comic book enthusiast Nicholas Cage sold for over $2 million three years earlier.

The transient nature of toys, designed essentially to be played with by children, means that few remain and are therefore becoming increasingly collectable. Sadly this also means that we have seen a rise in counterfeit items. Buying vintage toys and games from Hemswell Antique Centres gives you the peace of mind of knowing that our experienced dealers deal only with genuine items. Each dealer has a speciality area of collectables, offering you the broadest choice, from antique dolls to vintage Corgi toy cars, and much more inbetween.

Back to articles