True money stories from smart people: Make your child a millionaire – be a bad parent

The best way to build up wealth for your offspring is to make sure they have a miserable childhood with nothing to play with, nothing to collect, and certainly no free action figures in the bottom of the cereal packet.

By all means buy them toys, books and gadgets – the kind of things that you as a kid could only dream of – but don’t ever let your kids play with them. Good gracious, no. What a terrible waste of a marvellous investment.

You can show them the items in their boxes – maybe getting them out every Christmas to show them what they might have enjoyed. But they must not ever, on pain of being sent to their room to watch Antiques Roadshow, be allowed to actually play with them.

Because, as any investor in toys, games, action figures or popular children’s books will tell you, the most valuable children’s collectibles right now are not just the rarest, they are those that are still in the box, ideally with the price tag on.


You can tell your child as she tugs tearfully at your shirt, desperate to play with her Heath Ledger ‘The Joker’ action figure (extra valuable now that Ledger is no longer with us) that she will thank you when she’s 50 and wondering how to fund her retirement that you have kept her toys in pristine condition, ready to turn into a pot of gold.

When it comes to impressive yields in recent years, collectible toys have been the sector quietly growing in value. And of these, the one that goes to the top of the class has been Lego – particularly if you bought the right sets and never opened them. Lego sets kept in perfect condition have increased in value 12% each year since the turn of the century, with secondhand prices rising for specific sets as soon as they go out of production.

Like the Disney Vault – another nice earner if you have DVDs (ideally BlueRay) of Disney films that have been ‘discontinued’ for a while – Lego periodically bins a few of its creations. Once they stop production of these models – an old Star Wars ship or the Taj Mahal, for instance – their secondhand value goes ballistic.

Modern sets are doing even better, with those released last year now selling on eBay for 36% more than their original price. The cognoscenti, like my 16-year-old nephew, try to buy two sets of each: one to play with, the other to hide away for later sales.

Then there are Ladybird books – everyone’s favourite – if you’re over 30, at least – and now changing hands for a pretty penny. For example, the early six-book set of Adventures of Wonk can sell for as much as £600 per copy with dust jacket.

NatWest Piggy Banks – possibly the only element of that brand that is still worth something – are also hugely collectible now. You used to be able to pick them up at car boot sales and charity shops for a few pence, but not anymore.


Again, you see, these things are important, but did you even care, when you were a child and demanding that mum and dad deposited money they didn’t have in a bank they didn’t like just so you could complete the set? No. This is why these toys – nay, collectibles – are wasted on children.

The list is growing too. We know that Barbie dolls – at least some of the rarer or ‘designer’ ones – can fetch thousands at auction. Elvis dolls, even ones created decades after he died, if still in the box, sell for far more than their original price. TV action figures can be surprisingly valuable later on. Collector Dom White told Money Magpie in its Action Figures article that he’s been paid £700 for 63 Kinder Egg toys. It makes you want to gag on your chocolate snack.

Like so many investments, though, just as soon as you realise that there’s gold in them there plastic hills, you find that a bunch of early enthusiasts have dug most of it up and it’s hard to know where to know what to buy.

Experts say that if you want to start a collection now, you should invest in the things that today’s teenage boys want and can’t get like an Apple watch or an Xbox. Hang out with your teens, find out what’s on their wish list and then hide it from them.

See, who says being a bad parent doesn’t pay?

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