Why vintage video games and consoles are hot property at auction

Posted on 25/08/2020 in Press Coverage

Move over Star Wars, you have a rival in the auction world that’s taking off like a rocket.

Gaming nostalgia is sending prices sky-high at auction right now and that means your retro Game Boy, Sega Mega Drive or Nintendo, quite possibly gathering dust at the back of a cupboard, could net you more than you ever imagined.

This was brought home to us with a bang in our June sales. We witnessed a flurry of strong prices for vintage video games, gaming consoles and equipment – results we’d simply never witnessed on this scale before, even though we knew the trend was coming.

For example, lot 3122, a large quantity of video games including Sega, Nintendo and Xbox made £660. Then there was lot 3168, another large quantity of video games including Sega, Dreamcast and PlayStation along with a PS1 console and Dreamcast arcade stick. It made £560.

I can almost hear the groans now from people who may have chucked their old games and consoles away years ago or, worse still, during lockdown.

The message to remember when it comes to objects from your childhood or youth is that desirability moves with the generations. We all eventually reach an age where nostalgia kicks in and, by then, people often have the disposable income to fulfil their passion. Now the gaming generation from the late 1980s and 1990s has come of age and they’ve joined the nostalgia club.

As always, America has been leading the way. Last October, video games fan and Hollywood dentist Eric Naierman paid $1.02 million (just under £997,000) for a set of first-edition sticker-sealed video games. Though he’s not the first person to do something like this, it’s a reminder of the inflating market prices.

He bought around 40 factory-sealed Nintendo games, gathered by three Denver-based collectors over a combined 52 years. A number of the games were thought to be the only in existence.

These first-editions included titles like the Mario Bros. arcade classics series, Golf, Balloon Fight and Gumshoe. This transaction was regarded as a watershed moment for the hobby of video game collecting. But there have been other big-news buys.A group of video game collectors jointly bought a rare Super Mario Bros. game for more than $100,000 (£80,523) and a copy of the original Mega Man has sold at auction for $75,000 (£60,383). The original Mega Man series consists of 11 main games, a side game titled Mega Man & Bass, as well as all Game Boy, Sega Genesis, Sega Game Gear and other console games featuring the original design of Mega Man.

Japanese Puck Man video machine by Namco. Sold for £290.

All this doesn’t mean Star Wars toys from the 1970s and 80s, Dinky cars or locomotives aren’t still big sellers. They consistently excel at auction and will remain popular. But we have a new kid on the block, gamers with cash to spare who want to celebrate nostalgia or simply invest in a burgeoning sector. And it could be a huge market for many years to come because there are millions of gamers worldwide and the hobby is here to stay.

So, what could you have at home that could sell well? Another hot lot in our June sales was 3166, a boxed Sega Mega Drive, plus a Mega DDrive II together with games collection. It made £420.

Then there was lot 458 in our June Toy Auction, an original Japanese Puck Man – later renamed Pac-Man - video machine by Namco. It sold for £290.

Another winner was lot 350, assorted Nintendo Gameboy consoles in working condition with Advance consoles, a boxed Special Edition Pokémon and accessories. It was contested to £400.

Hansons’ toy expert David Wilson-Turner says large quantities of games and consoles are attracting buyers, even if some of the games aren’t worth much individually. A couple of years ago boxes of retro games were selling for as little as £30, now they can fetch hundreds of pounds.

The better the condition, the more you’re likely to achieve under the hammer. If games and consoles are still usable and original stickers intact, expect higher prices.

Games with original stickers intact are sought by collectors.

Like old vinyl record collections, games and consoles tend to get tucked away in boxes, cupboards, drawers or garages. If you have some, now is definitely the time to dig them out.

If you haven’t don’t despair.The toy sector is booming generally. Other items to excel in our June sale included lot 301, a Roundhouse, 'Annie', 2-6-2, locomotive with Radio Control which made £2,300. In the same vein, lot 302, a boxed and unused Accucraft I.O.M. Mannin 2-4-0T locomotive sold for £1,150.

Then there was lot 160, a collection of Matchbox vehicles including Auto Transporter Mit 6 Autos, German issue, Ford Zodiac, No. 33, green body and Hillman Minx, No. 43 among others. It soared to £1,150. And Dinky vehicles rarely disappoint. Lot 96, some 26 diecast Dinky toys including a Ford Sedan and Austin Taxi made £1,000.

And let’s not forget a headline-grabbing vintage 1970s Mk2 Raleigh Chopper bicycle, found in Derby and believed to be unridden. It did wheelie well (sorry!), making £1,250.

We are now inviting entries for our November 23 Toy and Gaming Auction.

Free valuations

For a free valuation of games, toys, dolls, teddies, live steam or railwayana, please email [email protected] or [email protected]

Alternatively, free valuations are available at our auction centres. Take your items along to:
Hansons, Heage Lane, Etwall, DE65 6LS
Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm; Wednesday, 5-7pm, or Saturday, 9am-noon.

Hansons Country House Saleroom, Bishton Hall, Wolseley Bridge, Staffs, ST17 0XN
Wednesday, 5-7pm; Thursday, 10am-4pm.