Thanks to the Internet there has never been a more profitable time to be a compulsive hoarder. It turns out that loads of the stufff you’ve refused to throw out since childhood, gathering dust in boxes in your closet and attic, might be worth a significant amount of money to some pathetic sap whose weirdly specific hobby drives them to open up their wallets. And no, we’re not talking about that mint condition Batman Issue No. 1 — we’re talking about seemingly worthless, random stuff like …
1. Individual LEGO Blocks
Let’s face it, no one’s childhood was complete if they didn’t own a LEGO set, and no one’s parenthood is complete until they step on a LEGO block in the middle of the night while barefoot. Ouch! There are 400 billion LEGO blocks in the world, and we’re guessing that 80 percent of them got buried in sandboxes, lost under car seats, or flushed down toilets.
And sure, it makes sense that rare or older LEGO sets can fetch high prices among collectors — those sets were pretty pricey when they were new. But you may be surprised how much the loose blocks in your junk drawer might be worth, considering they’re each made out of less than a penny’s worth of plastic.
The Price Tag: hundreds of dollars … for the right piece
Think about it this way: there are maniacal LEGO collectors out there, with those fancy elaborate sets they bought decades ago, who are missing just one piece. Maybe their nephew swallowed it and the doctor wouldn’t give it back after the surgery. Well, those people are willing to pay big to make their collection whole again.
“Hang on, I think I’m missing the thermal exhaust port cover piece. Eh … who’d ever notice?”
That’s where BrickLink.com comes in. It’s an online marketplace that allows hobbyists to buy and sell individual LEGO pieces. And if some of those pieces are out of production, an unusual color, or have some kind of manufacturing fault, the price skyrockets — like this red Darth Vader helmet that Vader apparently donned during his college Marxist phase, which sells for over $400. A particular antenna — the type of thing you probably lost in the backyard when you were 10 — sells for over $200 in good condition, or $84 if it’s a little beaten up. Boba Fett’s legs are selling for around the same price. Even a regular 2×2 brick, if it’s a certain color, can list for $200 new (less than a buck if used). And you won’t believe, the instruction booklets can sell for up to $275 without a single brick included.
But the most expensive item on the site? A pink Duplo castle turret, which is being sold at an astounding $1,374. Because someone out there is building a pink Duplo castle with one off-white turret, and it’s keeping them up night after night.
2. Old Breakfast Cereal
No. No way. There is no such thing as antique food.
Breakfast cereal turns into stale non-food within a couple of weeks of being opened, and decades-old cereal probably petrifies into some kind of mineral. There’s no way people would buy your ancient cereal out of pure nostalgia, would they?
The Price Tag: $100 for the box, $200 for the horrors inside.
There was a breakfast cereal for almost every franchise in the ’80s and ’90s, from Donkey Kong to Steve Urkel. And, despite the fact that these were just short-lived cynical cash-grabs meant to catch our easily distracted eye at the grocery store, others see these Urkel-shaped sugar nuggets as invaluable collector’s items.
For example, in 1988 cereal company Ralston released the Nintendo Cereal System, a box that came with two ambiguously flavored breakfast cereals — a Mario Bros.-themed cereal described as “fruity,” and a Zelda-themed cereal described as “berry,” because there’s just no overlap there at all. These days, the Nintendo cereal is considered one of the most high-end scores for die-hard … cereal collectors (sorry, we’re still coming to terms with that being a thing). An unopened box of Nintendo cereal recently netted just over $200, while an empty box sold for half that amount. Because $100 is a small price to pay for the ability to brag that you have a box full of dried-up 1980s foodstuffs.
But that’s far from an isolated case — there are plenty of auctions on eBay at any given moment selling unopened cereal boxes for, on average, $50 apiece. Like this box of Wheaties emblazoned with the Carolina Panthers logo:
That’s still probably not enough of a cash incentive to buy a bunch of cereal and just let it rot on your shelf for decades, considering that’s the kind of hobby that ruins relationships. But others clearly disagree. There is a rich cultural history of breakfast cereal that must be preserved.