Saturday, April 13, 2013

Vintage Marx toys in the thrift store

A few days ago, I received a very nice e-mail from a reader named Trey. He wanted to give me the heads up on a sweet find he uncovered at his local Goodwill store. Check out his story below....

Hey Dude,
Just wanted to share a pretty decent find I had at my local Goodwill. It's because of reading your site that I even thought about finding things to resell. Goodwill has those big gallon Ziploc bags of toys and I usually don't pay them much attention but this one stood out to me. It had these little miniature figurines and upon closer inspection they were United States Presidents. 

I bought the entire bag of random toys and the Presidents for $2.50. After doing some
Hail to the Chiefs...a couple bucks turns into $30!
research, I found out these were 1950-60's toys made by Marx. I counted my set and had 32 but I was three Presidents short from having a complete set. I decided to list it
BIN/OBO on eBay for $30  plus shipping . This morning I received a BO for $20 which I countered, but before the buyer could respond someone paid my full $30 price! Not a bad profit for those toys! (Even though part of me wanted to keep them for my collection.)
Just thought I'd let you know about these so you could be on the look out in case you ever ran across them on your excursions.
Keep up the good work!....Trey

What a great flip! Think about it-what can $2.50 buy you any more? If you're lucky, maybe a Starbucks coffee or the sunday paper? Trey turned $2.50 into thirty big ones! Major props also to Trey for his eagle-eye skills in spotting those little Marx figures in a plastic bag. I often see those Goodwill "grab bags" on the shelves. Like Trey, I'll admit I occasionally overlook them. My nonchalant attitude is based on having looked inside those bags many times, only to find them filled with cheap toys from someone's McDonald's' Happy Meal. However Trey's score proves those bags shouldn't be ignored. You just never know what you're  going to find inside!

It's not every day you find a bunch of old Marx toys just sitting in a Goodwill store. Marx went out of business in 1978.  During their glory days the company made all kinds of toys and play sets. Here's what the well-known website, Collector's Weekly says about Marx toys:

"In 1955, "Time" magazine declared Louis Marx the “Toy King” of the United States. That’s not surprising, considering it’s likely that every child—and parent—in the country had played with at least one of his toys at that point. Today, Louis Marx and Company is perhaps best known for its early wind-up tinplate toys, yo-yos, HO and O scale train sets, and plastic playsets depicting everything from European battlefields to prehistoric dinosaur-filled landscapes. The company also made toy guns, dolls, doll houses, robots, and Big Wheels."

Given their long history, many of the Marx toys are now sought after by collectors. Baby boomers are the primary collectors, having grown up with Marx back in the fifties and sixties. As a kid, I had my share of Marx toys including the Fort Apache play set. I am not sure what ever happened to the set, but most likely I sold it back in the day for college text book money-ugh! Oh well, maybe I'll find a replacement set at some future garage sale. Of course, if I do find one, I'll have to fight off my natural instinct to immediately sell it on eBay!

Make sure you put Marx toys on your "buy" list this garage sale season. If you don't know your Marx toys from your Mattel, look for this little target-like logo somewhere on the toy. Usually you'll find the Marx logo on the underside of the base or the back, depending on the particular toy. If the toy is small like Trey's presidential figures, you may need a microscope to find the logo, but it's there.

Thanks to Trey for sharing his awesome find! How about you? Any incredible scores in those Goodwill grab bags? How about Marx toys? Let us know in the comment section below..... 


Pin It now!


  1. I recently found someone's entire collection of vintage Strawberry Shortcake dolls throughout a bunch of grab bags at Value Village. They were pricey & I invested a hefty $50 in that collection - well I'm glad I did because I've so far turned that $50 into over $300 and I still have a handful of dolls & accessories left to sell! I almost passed them up because I didn't want to invest that much in those dolls but I'm really glad I did! They are the American Greetings dolls & pets from 1979-84 and they smell like strawberries, I remember playing with these as a kid and having a bunch of them too which they probably were sold at a yard sale for a quarter a piece back in the day!

    1. What an awesome find! I can understand your initial hesitation on the price. $50 is a lot of money to shell out at a thrift store. But WOW, it really paid off for you!

      Thanks for sharing your story and congrats on the major score....Dude!

  2. I also had that Fort Apache play set. I remember at one time putting the fort piece into my fish tank so my fish had a house. It wasn't the best idea as the fish kept getting stuck in the openings.

    1. Ha! That's a unique use for the Fort Apache play set. Imagine all the Marx collectors who would cringe at hearing that story!

      Wish I still had mine, but there's a long list of toys I could say that about.

  3. i found a Marx Blame It doll for a quarter. I knew the Marx name and it was ugly enough to sell.
    It sold for $30.

    Look them up..they are so weird!! lol

  4. That's a pretty rare find- I've come across the Nutty Mad figures but never a "Blame it"....sweet score! They are definitely weird, there was a lot of that bizarre, ugly toy stuff back in the Sixties.

    Thanks for the head up on those ugly things LOL...Dude!

  5. Was at a garage sale on Saturday and found three figures from this same exact set (perhaps the three he was missing; Ha!). I recognized them right away (thanks to reading this blog last week) but checked the bottom for the stamp to be sure and there it was. Unfortunately, the seller wanted $5 for the lot of three. Figured it wasn't even worth haggling over, so I put them right back down. It's unlikely I wouldn't have bought them for that price even if I didn't know what they were, but at least I didn't have to deal with the "what if" mental game I would have gone through as I tried to figure out what they were and whether I was wise to put them back or not. So thanks for the info!

    1. That's you said, at least you were able to identify them right away. That little logo is small though-I would have needed my magnifying glass-Ha!

      Thanks for the ID on them-hope you find some good stuff out there this season...Dude!