Most of us Turtle fans have some memorabilia floating around: comics, toys, games, posters – whatever. For a lot of fans, part of fandom means picking up cool stuff that represents our favorite characters, and Turtle fans are no different.
The Turtles came out of their shells during a time when action figure collecting was really hitting its stride. In the 80’s, occasional rare GI Joe 12” figures or Barbie dolls could fetch a pretty penny in collector’s markets, but the idea of whole collector subcultures was still pretty much a fringe notion. Remember: Star Wars had only come out a decade before, and so the action figure market itself was kind of lukewarm. Rare and chase figures were a hot commodity, but if you wanted an original Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader, you just waited for one of your neighbors to have a garage sale.
Comics were considered an even weirder collectible, and although the Overstreet price guide came out in 1970, the hobby just didn’t have the popularity to give it mainstream legitimacy.
The turtles gave a big boost to both collectible markets because of their massive crossover success. While you’d be hard pressed to find two bigger comic fans than Eastman and Laird, the screaming media juggernaut of the TMNT franchise made collecting cool (or if not cool, at least more accessible).
Now, nearly 30 years after the introduction of TMNT, we can look back at some of the things we’ve picked up and see how much money we’ll refuse to sell them for – provided we kept them in the package. You did keep all your toys in the package, didn’t you?
(Note – for all prices, we used the most vigorous marketplace available: EBay. Prices are approximate averages of similar items sold separately)
#1 – Original Playmates TMNT figures
In 1988, if you didn’t have the original 4 heroes in your toy collection, you didn’t bother inviting friends to your house. Leo, Mike, Raph, and Donnie retailed for about 5-10 dollars depending on where you lived and how close to the holidays you bought. How did they age?
2 out of 4 shells. The turtles themselves go for about 25-30 dollars, which isn’t bad, but not worth giving up your collection over. April O’Neil remains the most sought-after figure, fetching anywhere from 50 to 200 dollars in a mint condition package.
Oh – if you happen to have the soft-heads Turtle Force Fan Club version, forget what I just said – those guys go for 60 bucks a pop or more! Complete sets of regular toys also fetch more money, but only when they’re all together and in perfect condition (package and all).
#2 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for NES
0 out of 4 shells. Other Turtles games were better than this impossible-to-beat button masher, but none are so well known. Unfortunately, you can’t give these things away even in good condition. Hopeful EBayers have listed them for up to 35 dollars, but more realistic sellers start the bidding at about a quarter.
#3 – TMNT Original Movie Poster
3 out of 4 shells (conditional). TMNT movie posters are a mixed bag because so much depends on condition. On top of that, there’s a surprisingly large market for foreign turtle movie posters – it seems people just love seeing our favorite four words in different languages.
In any case, the nice thing about a collectible movie poster is that you probably didn’t pay too much for it – you probably didn’t pay anything at all, come to think of it, so when you have a free collectible now fetching over 100 dollars in the right condition, well, that’s a pretty good investment right there.
#4 – TMNT Cereal
3 out of 4 shells. If you’d told anyone in 1984, when the Turtle’s launched, that there would be a collectible cereal market, they’d probably look at you like you had mutagen running out of your ears – but it turns out, here in the 21st century, cereal collecting is a real thing.
TMNT cereal, basically corn checks and turtle-shaped marshmallows, has appreciated pretty well over the years: one 2-dollar box of cereal is now worth about 25 bucks – but if you have a box with the promotional bowl or cup still intact, congratulations: your cereal hoarding paid off!
…of course, we do kind of wonder why you were hoarding cereal…
#5 – TMNT #1, First Printing
4 out of 4 shells. If you have this, hold it – it’s only going up. The grand poobah of all TMNT collectibles, TMNT #1 alone fetches close to 9,000 dollars on the open market. Nine. Thousand. Dollars. For a comic book.
Of course that’s in mint condition, sealed, never read, etc, etc, etc – but even slightly dinged copies, or second + run copies fetch a decent price. If you’re looking to sell, you can pat yourself on the back for a good investment, since what you bought for a few dollars in 1984 has now multiplied exponentially in value.
Oh and also, if you’re looking to sell – call me? Please? I have a kidney I can get rid of quick…