This red-haired Kenner Blythe from 1972 would be a pièce de résistance if found in a storage unit, as it brought $2,500 at auction in 2011.
To be a good storage hunter, you need to learn to be a jack-of-all-trades; because really, anything goes at a storage auction. You might find a unit filled to the brim with nothing but garbage, and other times you might find an antique treasure trove. Of course, there’s the unit that has that one needle in the haystack, the pièce de résistance… the one thing that you might just overlook. Thusly, it’s important to have a trained eye when looking through every single item in your unit.
Toys are often easily overlooked; if they’re not in their original packaging, it might be hard to distinguish if it’s old or new, since the look of many newer toys borrows from their vintage ancestors. Conversely, there are also some newer toys that have garnered popularity and collectability as well as value. Here’s a list of five cutesy and unsuspecting toys that you might not want to overlook, as they can be quite valuable to collectors!
The Kewpie has a long and illustrious history. From their creation by illustrator Rose O’Neil in 1909, the cherubic Kewpies enjoyed 25 years of appearing in The Ladies Home Journal, Good House Keeping and other women’s publications. Kewpies were loved by both children and adults alike, and their popularity prompted the production of bisque dolls, figurines, greeting cards and much more.
Though the Kewpie craze died down in the 1920s, there has been a recent resurgence in their popularity. Today’s Kewpies can be seen wearing colorful fruit costumes and other elaborate getups, and these modern vinyl Kewpies aren’t a far cry from their early ancestors; they still retain those innocent yet impish faces that the world has grown to love. But buyers beware: newer Kewpies are not nearly as valuable as the original Kewpies from the 1900s. Don’t base your unit purchase on the fact that you see a vinyl Kewpie poking out of a box. Sure, it’s adorable, but it might now be worth the money.
This beautiful little German bisque original Rose O’Neill “O Mouth” Kewpie, circa 1913, is worth an easy $1,200.
An 11-inch Kewpie doll in a sun suit with a squeaker—a more modern version of the Kewpie—might bring you $10.
The Blythe doll has also seen a renaissance in popularity over the past decade. Originally created and produced by the Kenner toy company in 1972, the original Blythes were only produced for one year, due to their lack of sales. Since then, Blythe has seen a humongous rise in popularity, thanks to being featured in photo books, TV commercials and even fashion campaign ads.
In 2001, Japanese toy company Takara received license to create the Neo Blythe, which is still popularly produced and collected. Neo Blythes look just like the originals, with their big, doe eyes that can change color and position by pulling a string on the back of their heads. Even though these dolls are relatively new, they can still fetch a pretty high resale price, as they’re so sought-after and collectible. It has become popular among collectors and enthusiasts to “modify” Blythe dolls, which includes re-rooting their hair, creating new clothing and even changing the color of their plastic irises.
A 12-inch Neo Blythe “Snowflake” doll, by Takara, can still turn a pretty penny, This one sold for $140 on eBay.
Mattel produced the first series of 24 Liddle Kiddles in 1966. These little vinyl dolls were known for their bite-sized appearance, standing only about 2 to 3 inches tall. Kiddles came with eccentric names, such as Greta Griddle and Liddle Red Riding Hiddle—definitely easy to see the theme here. Most Kiddles came with accessories or a change of outfits, as well as a mini storybook.
In the four years that they were produced, there was a large variety of designs, including holiday-themed and fairytale-themed versions. There were Kiddles you could wear as jewelry, Kiddles in plastic soda pop bottles, even the Kosmic Kiddles—which were cute little aliens in spaceships. These dolls have a relatively modern look to them, so it’s easy to mistake them for a newer toy, but pay attention to details and always do your research; these little dolls can make you a huge profit.
If you are really lucky, you could come across a Storybook Liddle Kiddles Alice in Wonderliddle. This example, pristine in its original 1967 packaging, gaveled for $1,699 in an auction last year.
Japanese Pose Dolls/Bradley Big Eyed Dolls
Another set of dolls you may run across is style of dolls produced in Japan during the ’60s through the ’80s that were made by many companies over the years, but are probably most commonly known by the Bradley brand, under the name “Bradley Big Eyed Dolls.” It’s hard to mistake a Japanese pose doll. Their thin cloth “skin” is usually lined with wire, making the dolls easy to put in fun poses. Most have hard-molded faces with their signature big, sparkling eyes and delicate painted-on lips.
What makes these dolls so appealing is their bright, often elaborate and detailed clothing—they can be found wearing styles that harken back to the era of Twiggy to Southern Belles or even fairytale characters. The wide variety of styles makes this doll easily collectible.
A lot of five Bradley “Big Eye” dolls. They sold for an easy $62.
Dakin Dream Pets
The story of Dakin Dream Pets is unlike any other. In 1957, Dakin Inc. ordered a shipment of toy trains from its manufacturer in Japan. To the company’s surprise, the manufacturers packed the box with little stuffed animals in order to keep the trains from getting damaged. Needless to say, the folks at Dakin soon forgot about the toy trains when they saw these irresistible little stuffed animals. They were somewhat of an overnight sensation.
These stuffies were produced until 1979, giving them a healthy 22-year lifespan. By the end of their production, there were more than 2,000 different Dakin Dream pets—ranging from octopuses to giraffes—each with its own name and unique design. The original Dream Pets were made from colorful velveteen fabric and stuffed with sawdust. In 2004, Applause Toy Co. re-issued copies of 24 of the most popular Dream Pets. Though not necessarily the most high-end product in the world, these adorable stuffed toys have earned a special place in the hearts of many collectors.
A lot of 11 vintage stuffed animal Dakin Dream Pets, with their tags still attached, sold for $159.99.
When dealing with storage auctions, it might be overwhelming researching all of the goods you collect. You’ll probably find yourself spiraling down rabbit holes of information, and it might be a lot to take in. But if you research piece by piece and take your time, you’ll begin to learn these things by sight, making your job a lot easier—and making the risk of mistakenly giving a valuable collectible to your niece to play with a lot less!
Val Doty is the content writer at Storage Unit Auction List, a website dedicated to bringing customers the best and largest listing of storage auctions on the internet. Storage Unit Auction List is paired with more than 50,000 storage facilities nationwide, ensuring auction listings in every state.
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