Our Top Five... Just in time for Christmas, the most valuable collectible toys

As Christmas draws closer, you can be certain of the following things: across the world impatient children are hunting for their hidden presents, parents are making that last-minute dash for this year's must-have toy, and elves in the North Pole are clocking up some serious overtime.

Everybody remembers their favourite Christmas toys, the gifts we got as children that sent us crazy with excitement. Sometimes just the box it came in was enough to keep us entertained all day.

But for some people the world of toys remains something special long after they've grown up, and the lost relics of their childhood become highly sought-after collector's items.  

The collectible toy market is a multi-million dollar business, from limited-edition action figures to antique teddy bears, and some collectors see them as the most fun you can have with alternative assets.

So for our festive top five this week, we look at some of the world's most valuable toys. Let's see if you have any of these on your Christmas list....

The Gang of Four Target Robot

5) At number five we have a Japanese battery-operated Gang of Four Target Robot, described on the box rather menacingly: "Shoot him... He roars, flashes, and goes away... Soon comes back to you!"

Armed with a plastic gun and fireable darts, the robot was sold in its original mint condition packaging at auction in Pennsylvania earlier this year. It had a pre-sale estimate of $7,000 - $10,000, but its rarity and near-perfect condition saw it eventually sell for $52,900.

The 40th anniversary De Beers Barbie doll

4) At number four we have a Barbie with some serious bling. Designed by De Beers, the doll was created to celebrate Barbie's 40th anniversary in 1999 and wears a gown detailed with 160 diamonds, along with miniature white gold jewellery. Priced at $85,000, and unlikely to turn up in a Christmas stocking, the only question is this: where do you get the 5-star doll house for her to live in?

The diamond-encrusted Hot Wheels car

3) At number three we have a slight sense of déjà vu. Another 40th anniversary and another diamond-encrusted toy, but this time one of the four-wheeled variety. In 2009 toy car maker Hot Wheels celebrated 40 years in business and the production of their 4 billionth car.

To celebrate, they commissioned a Beverly Hills jeweller to customise one of their Otto models and the result was a $140,000 Hot Wheels car that you probably wouldn't play with too much. Cast from 18k white gold, the toy is covered in 2,700 diamonds and features rubies for tail-lights.

The earliest-surviving Monopoly set

2) At number 2 we lose the diamonds and turn to the only board game that allows children to bankrupt their own parents: Monopoly. A hand-made 1933 edition of the game, produced by one of its originators Charles Darrow, was sold at auction last week as part of the legendary toy collection of publisher Malcolm Forbes.

Made before the game was picked up by Parker Bros and mass produced, this example was the oldest to have survived, the only one with a circular board and earliest known set to contain a set of rules. It sold for $146,500, proving that some toys are definitely for life, not just for Christmas.

Dan Levine's prototype G.I Joe doll

1) And at number one we have the ultimate action man, G.I Joe. Created in 1964 by Stan Weston and Dan Levine, G.I Joe has endured over the years despite attacks from various deadly enemies and some questionable outfits.

In 2003 the original prototype for the figure, hand-carved by Levine himself, went under the hammer. It featured 22 moving parts and a hand-sewn uniform, and was described as not just an artefact of toy history, but a true piece of Americana. It sold for an impressive $200,000, and that was without even having a kung-fu grip.


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