How to Value: Toys & Dolls

Learn about how to value toys and dolls, with our ValueMyStuff valuations and appraisals experts. Discover what to look out for and how it can impact the value.


Children’s toys are areas known for surprise valuations because toys continue to prove extremely collectable despite their lack of intrinsic value. Expectations have to be countered, though, by the understanding that modern toys are often very common, and collectors often look to build large collections and so are only rarely willing to part with huge sums. This said, almost all types of toys, games or dolls have their own collecting niche and will be of interest to someone.

Valuing Dolls

High quality antique dolls can be among the most valuable examples of toys on the market. Dolls made before the Second World War can be found in wax, fabrics, papier-mâché, china, parian and bisque, the latter of which generally has the highest value, in particular ‘bébé’ dolls. There are valuable examples of all types of antique doll, however, and condition and completeness are crucial to any doll’s value: clothing should be original and reflect period fashion; the doll should have its original limbs and body; cracks, fading and heat damage will lessen the potential value. Finally, there is an element of desirability in unusual or particularly charming aspects to a toy. ‘Bonnet-head’ wax dolls or swivel-head china dolls, for example, have a special rarity which has made them highly collectible while the detail in painting of the face and the features used can also enhance value.

Valuing Toys & Board Games

It is widely caricatured that the original packaging for collectibles such as toys are very valuable and this can certainly be the case when it comes to mass-produced toys and board games; instructions and/or accompanying artwork, leaflets or labels can also enhance value particularly where unboxed examples are common. This said the value of some toys, in particular early examples of wood and tinplate are not reliant on packaging, sometimes there would not have been such an original box and in these cases the condition of paintwork and the design may well be enough to secure a high value. As most types of toy are collected, age is often a significant a significant factor within a type. For example, while Märklin model trains may generally fetch higher prices than Bing examples, Bing pieces from before the First World War are highly desirable.

Valuing Teddy Bears & Soft Toys

Mass-produced soft toys are a relatively recent addition to the toy market. The German firm Steiff is probably the most well-known and perhaps the first great soft-toy producer having been established in 1877. Steiff is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most sought after make but most other soft toys that predate the First World War will have a high value. Unfortunately, the simplicity of soft toys, in particular teddy bears, has made fakes popular. For this reason, in valuable examples wear should be generally consistent with age, but not in bad condition; this likely means worn noses and paws but not replaced eyes or heavy restoration work. Uneven seams or inaccurate modelling can also give away fakes. On top of age, some bears or other soft toys have a particularly rare attribute or model which can enhance their value; a toy which appears unusual can have a hidden value.

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