From sci-fi memorabilia to troll collections, Katy Ward helps you spot the money hidden in your childhood bedroom.
Flashback to the late nineties. It’s nine o’clock on a Tuesday night. I ought to be revising for my mock GCSE in chemistry. What am I actually doing?
I’m alone in my bedroom watching The X-Files, Buffy: The Vampire Slayer or Star Trek: Voyager. Whatever tickles my nerdy fancy that evening.
The room is littered with sci-fi memorabilia… posters, books, magazines, outfits and, cringingly, even dolls. If Mulder or Scully’s face is on it, I own it. Suffice to say, I was not one of the cool kids.
Now I’m in my thirties, I’ve put my love of all things science fiction behind me.
In fact, it wasn’t until I moved back to my childhood home last year to care for my mother that I had a mortifying reminder of my adolescent obsession and all the money I’d wasted on, well, junk.
I needed to clear out my old bedroom. Here’s how I bagged £470 from the rubbish in my teenage bedroom.
Science fiction memorabilia
Here I got lucky. I regularly visit a local curiosity shop, which runs a cult TV section. The owner (yes, a mate) offered me £150 for the entire collection. Apparently, the (ahem) Star Trek items could fetch a fair bit.
Perhaps I could have done better auctioning these items off myself. Or perhaps not. The truth is... I simply don’t have the buyer’s connections in the TV collectables world. I was happy with what she offered and grabbed it.
Ok, my embarrassing collection of science fiction paraphernalia may not be worth a huge amount. But, imagine if you owned a selection of fine wines from an obscure French vineyard, an original Harry Potter novel or an Elvis signature.
It would be absolutely essential to name these items on your home insurance policy or you would risk being seriously underinsured should disaster strike.
Read our piece on the surprisingly valuable things from the year you were born
The story of my toys
Stretching further back into my past... the embarrassment intensifies, but so does the value of my knick-knacks.
My troll collection was the pride of my primary school years. Embarrassing confession ahead – I had more than 100 troll dolls. My so-called Elvis troll (pictured) was the joy of my eight-year-old life, but I had no idea anyone else would be interested.
Hello, fellow obsessive. An e-Bay collector offered to buy the entire lot for £100. Goodbye guys... you made my childhood. I hope you go to a good home.
Another highlight of my younger years was my Cricket doll. If you’re a child of the eighties, you’ll remember her.
Her mouth and eyes moved in unison and she sang creepy songs from a cassette player in her back. She was essentially the female Chucky doll. The going rate for her and her accessories? £40. Toss in my original nineties Gameboy for £30.
If you’re going down the e-Bay route for a toy sale, the dedicated toy area offers a list of completed sales so you can check the value your goods and see how much similar items have gone for in the past.
Rifling through your childhood tat brings back a range of memories... some welcome, others not. The watch my mum gave me when I got into university is a treasured possession. I’d never part with that. The bracelet my first boyfriend bought me when I was 16 the week before he dumped me. I’d have no reservations about seeing that melted down for scrap.
As a financial journalist, I’ve heard all variety of horror stories about unscrupulous online buyers expecting sellers to send in their precious items, which were never to be seen again.
The cash-for-gold industry is unregulated and this fact scares the hell out of me. I’m sure there are decent buyers out there, but this doesn’t suit my cautious nature.
So, I visited three local jewellers to get a sense of my items’ value. One of these came up as £150, which was more than fair.
We financial journalists love to recommend that our readers haggle for the best deal. In truth, dishing out this advice always makes me feel like a hypocrite.
As a wallflower by nature, asking for more money makes my toes curl with embarrassment in any situation.
This tactic worked in this scenario, however. The jeweller I eventually chose initially offered me £120 for my items. I pushed for more and his offer increased to £150.
Was it worth my while?
So, it was tough to sell my childhood treasures, but I had to be ruthless. I’ll never need any of these things again.
In fact, the thirty-odd-year-old me needs to say thank-you to my 16-year-old-self. Well done you for saving all that junk that would eventually help pay a rather tricky bill.
Read our piece on making a profit on e-Bay
Where to sell online
While we all know e-Bay, there are other options for toys and collectables:
Preloved is a classified ads and community website for pretty much any item of possession, from accommodation to clothing. Sellers can place both paid for and free adverts, and there is a section called 'freeloved' where items are listed for free.
Amazon Marketplace is a section on Amazon where third-party sellers can list their new or used products for a fixed price alongside Amazon's regular offering.
Shpock calls itself 'the bootsale app' and is designed to be a quick and easy way to sell used belongings to people near you. Sellers take a photo of the item and add a price and description. Buyers will search by object, price or distance and can bid higher or lower offers.
Musicmagpie is for selling gadgets and tech items such as games, DVDs, phones, laptops, cameras, tablets and LEGO. To use the site sellers will simply type in what it is they want to sell and they will receive an instant price.
Gumtree is a classified ads and community website where users can post anything from cars and pets to babysitting and tuition. Buyers will message the seller, meet face to face or organise the payment and collection independently.
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