The Unexpected Value Of Your Old Barbies

Countless toy fads have captured the excitement of children throughout history. From Cabbage Patch Kids and Furby to the Slinky and iPod (which now has unexpected value), birthday and holiday wish lists have always been ever-changing to include the latest popular plaything. However, as most of these become outdated and unwanted by the next generation of kids, who already have their sights set on the newest fad, one toy remains as popular as ever more than six decades after its introduction to the public: Barbie.

The brainchild of Mattel co-founder Ruth Handler, Barbie was an instant hit among the target population of young girls, who not only enjoyed an alternative to playing with baby dolls, but were also able to envision a future beyond the housewife expectation thanks to Barbie's slew of jobs.

While most toys (like these McDonald's Happy Meal freebies that are worth a ton of money today) eventually meet a yard sale, Goodwill, or trash fate, Barbie is often the exception, with many adults hanging onto their dolls because of how much they once meant to them. Still, the owners of certain dolls might be more inclined to part ways with their old plastic besties upon learning that some are worth a small fortune.

Queen Elizabeth I Barbie from 2004

As one of the most beloved British rulers in history, it's only natural that Queen Elizabeth I was honored by Mattel with a Barbie doll made in her likeness. Featuring the Tudor monarch's signature lavish gown, jewelry and regal headpiece, the doll was released in 2004 as part of the company's Women of Royalty Series, which also included Empress Josephine and Marie Antoinette. The doll is a Gold Label Barbie, which means that no more than 25,000 of them were produced.

Elizabeth I reigned for 45 years (1485-1603), during which time she established the Church of England. Other notable achievements during her reign included the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 and the flourishing of the arts, from the plays of William Shakepeare to the poetry of Edmund Spenser and the music of William Byrd and Thomas Tallis, both of whom worked in the queen's court.

On eBay, Queen Elizabeth I Barbies in mint condition, including the collector's box that includes a detailed summary of her work, are valued at upward of $2,799. This doll has significantly increased in value over the past few years. One comment in response to a listing on Amazon stated that the buyer paid $500 in 2016.

Marie Antoinette Barbie from 2003

Similar to her fellow Women of Royalty Series release, Marie Antoinette Barbie is also worth a pretty penny. First available in 2003, the Gold Label doll features the iconically elaborate gown and headpiece of the controversial queen of France, who was beheaded in 1793, at only 37 years old, after being accused of high treason.

The doll is also seen wearing her own miniature version of the infamous diamond necklace (which weighed nearly 2,800 carats) that was at the center of a scandal involving Countess La Motte, who posed as the queen to steal the extravagant piece of jewelry and make it appear as though Marie Antoinette was withholding payment to the jewelers. This scheme further ruined the queen's already diminishing public image. It's been pointed out that this is a design error on Mattel's part, as the necklace was never actually around her neck.

A slight uptick from Queen Elizabeth I Barbie, the Marie Antoinette doll is available on eBay for upward of $2,999. Like the other releases in the Women of Royalty Series, such pricier offerings are mint in their exquisitely detailed original box, which includes a summary of the late queen's life and reign, a photo of the ruler on the back, a certificate of authenticity and other official paperwork.

Color Magic Barbie from 1966

As part of the American Girl Barbie collection, a special lineup of dolls that featured bendable legs, Mattel released in 1966 Color Magic Barbie. Thanks to small packets of solution that were included in the box, kids were able to transform her hair shade. Two options were available: the golden blond Barbie's locks would change to scarlet flame, and the midnight black-haired Barbie would become ruby red. Even the plastic box was unique in that it could be used as a closet.

Though Color Magic Barbie was reproduced in 2003, the magical aspect was gone, and the doll's owners were no longer able to play salon with their doll. (On that note, see how much money you should be tipping your hairdresser.) The back of the box reads, "Faux sponge applicator and faux color change 'packets' capture the retro charm."

While the reproduction sells for about $170 on Amazon, those with the original 1966 Color Magic Barbie could fetch upward of $3,000 if the doll is in good shape — and is wearing the diamond-print bathing suit.

Karl Lagerfeld Barbie from 2014

During Paris Fashion Week in 2014, Mattel released a Robert Best-designed limited-edition Karl Lagerfeld Barbie. Created in the likeness of the acclaimed Chanel designer as part of the Barbie Collector series, the Barbie doll is dressed in a chic ensemble that includes black jeans, sunglasses, fingerless gloves, and a tie, all starkly sitting against a white collared shirt and the doll's white-blond ponytail. In fact, a brand-new face mold was used by Mattel for the Karl Lagerfeld Barbie. While the sculpt for the Bob Mackie Barbie was previously the go-to shape for collector Barbies, the Karl Lagerfeld sculpt became the norm moving forward and can be seen on a variety of dolls.

As a Platinum Label release, only 999 Karl Lagerfeld Barbies were created. Initially, they were sold via Net-a-Porter for $200 each. Now, in order for a collector to get their hands on one in its original packaging, they're going to have to shell out upward of $11,400 on eBay. Referring to this ultra-rare doll, online toy retailer Simon Farnworth told Good Housekeeping, "The most valuable dolls tend to be the very limited edition or 'one off' editions." These Barbie dolls became even more in-demand following Lagerfeld's death in 2019 at age 85.

Original Barbie from 1959

From the Karl Lagerfeld limited release to the Women of Royalty Series, Mattel has certainly brainstormed some impressive creations that became extremely pricey over the years. Still, the most valuable Barbie isn't one with an intricate ballgown or fancy jewels. In her simple, strapless black–and-white bathing suit, the original Barbie from 1959 reigns supreme over her elaborate counterparts, with the doll going for upward of $25,000 on eBay.

For owners of OG Barbie who are wondering if they have a small fortune sitting in storage, they should know a few things. In order to sell for such a hefty price, the doll should be in its original packaging and have holes in the undersides of her feet, a telltale sign of the first-edition release. When taking into consideration how far this doll has come from her original $3 price tag (which today, would have a buying power of $32.09), it's clear that, generations later, Barbie is still an in-demand icon.