11 collectible crazes that ended up being huge wastes of money

Remember the utter frenzy created by Pokémon cards? Or the “one-of-a-kind” Cabbage Patch Kid Dolls?

Sucked in by marketing ploys to scoop up these “one-of-a-kind” items that could eventually be worth a fortune, many consumers have found themselves with piles of junk in their garages rather than the promised goldmine.

“You have to be really aware of ‘phenomenons,” Rudy Franchi, an appraiser who has often appeared on PBS’ hit show “Antiques Roadhouse,” told Business Insider. “People get swept up in a mass craze to collect something … until it creates a giant bubble that bursts.”

Here are 11 such collectible crazes that didn’t live up to their potential.

Mandi Woodruff contributed to an earlier version of this article.

Andy Warhol cookie jars

After pop culture icon Andy Warhol died in the late 80s, friends and family discovered one of his greatest obsessions: antique cookie jars.

The jars turned into hot-sellers at his estate sale, with some fetching as much as $250,000.

But what collectors didn't realise was that their value expired not long after their owner. 'I tell people at the roadshow that (the jars) are worth today what they were always worth -- about $200,' Franchi explained.

80s movie posters

Some vintage movie posters from the early 20th century have been sold for upwards of half a million dollars.

The same can't be said for more modern flicks, thanks to a couple of factors: For one thing, it's easy to recreate posters online, and secondly, theatre employees hoarded posters so much in the 80s and 90s that supply began to outweigh demand.

'There's a difference between rarity and scarcity,' Franchi said. 'Now there's an absolute flood of movie posters from that period. It will be a long time before they find homes.'

Modern baseball cards

Chris McGrath/Getty

The 80s and 90s saw a massive baseball card balloon that made many modern ball cards (post-1970s) basically worthless.

'Manufacturers were coy about how many cards they were printing,' Zac Bissonnette, consignment director for Heritage Auctions, told Business Insider. 'Once you had eBay -- a searchable database of everything everyone wants to sell -- it became obvious that stuff that was thought to be rare wasn't rare at all.'

Don Mattingly rookie cards used to sell for $50 a pop. Now you can find them for pennies online.

Beanie Babies

If you had a pulse in the early 1990s, then you probably came in contact with at least one of these ubiquitous animal-shaped bean bags.

Beanie Babies weren't so much a collector's item as they were a child's toy, but when manufacturer Ty Inc. started rolling out special editions, such as the Princess Diana and Millennium bears, people started hoarding the things like rare gems.

'Now you can't give them away,' said Franchi. 'People are trying to sell them, but there's just no market. You need an active market and Beanie Babies wasn't a sustainable or repeatable phenomenon.'

Hummel figurines

Hummel figurines started turning up in the early 20th century by way of Germany.

Most 80s babies probably remember getting chastised for playing too closely to their grandmother's display case of the tiny creatures. Too bad their popularity didn't make it past the millennium.

'People were paying ridiculous prices for Hummels, anywhere from $100 to $5,000,' Kathleen Guzman, an appraiser for Heritage Auctions, told Business Insider. 'In today's market ... for a group of 10, an auctioneer will hardly accept $30 for them.'

Animation art

Seems like light years ago that cartoons and animated flicks couldn't be made without two things: pen and paper.

Back in the day, thousands of drawings -- called sericells -- went into one hour of film, and afterward, animation studios would sell one-off drawings as art to eager fans.

'Those were selling in 1995 at Sotheby's for astronomical prices, tens of thousands of dollars and up for some,' Guzman said. 'And you can't give them away today.'

She blames a 'perfect storm of problems' for the nostalgic renderings' plummeting value. Disney was, and still is, one of the biggest players in the game, but when it started mass producing prints, the value instantly tanked.

Cabbage patch kids

No child's playpen was complete without one of these 'one-of-a-kind' dolls popularised in the 80s. Cabbage Patch Kid Dolls were so in-demand that parents turned to the black market when retail shelves ran empty leading up to the holiday season.

The craze eventually died down in the late 80s, along with the dolls' value. Unless you've got a rare edition (African American and freckled dolls, for example), you probably won't fetch much on eBay.

Art deco prints by Louis Icart

Louis Icart had his heyday back in the late 1920s and early 1940s, Guzman said, when some of the French artist's pieces sold for as much as $10,000.

'The market has really softened on those incredibly,' she added. 'You see Icarts at yard sales for 50 bucks.'

Precious moments

Guzman called the Precious Moments craze of the 1980s even more frightening than the Hummel figurine bubble.

While there was a limited quantitiy of Hummels, Precious Moments dolls were actually 'incredibly overproduced,' Gunzman explained. The company advertised that they were producing about 3,000 in one day.

Today, they offer pretty terrible return on value: You can find them on eBay for less than $5.

Pokémon cards

Any child of the 90s remembers the Pokémon trading card craze.

Pre-teens had three-ring binders full of them and parents would be worshipped if they brought home a cellophane package that happened to include the elusive Charizard card. The obsession was so extreme that schools had to ban the cards to keep their students focused.

While the rare Pokémon cards can sell for more on eBay, you won't get much more than $20 for 100 cards.


If you didn't have a Cabbage Patch doll or Beanie Baby in your hand in the 90s, you probably had a handful of POGS.

Originally milk bottle caps, POGS were a phenomenon in the 1990s. Despite the fact that they were simply cardboard circles adorned with cartoons or popular icons, people collected and hoarded them like they would diamonds.

Today, you won't find them going for much on eBay: between $25 and $35 for 1,000 POGS.

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