Hello fellow '80s kids, do you remember Garbage Pail Kids? These disgusting little cards were parodies of the wholesome Cabbage Patch Kids and they were the bane of many a concerned parent. Kids loved them because kids love being gross, and those kids are now adults.
So why are they valuable? They were insanely popular back in the day and the kids who played with them are now adults with disposable incomes and a sense of nostalgia. Collectors are looking for mint condition cards (graded by collector organizations like PSA) which can be especially challenging as most of the cards people want were also stickers that many little kids would peel off. In addition, old sealed packs often included bubblegum, which would melt over the years and destroy cards in unopened packs.
So, if you're interested in collecting Garbage Pail Kids, what do you need to know? First, a true collecter – especially one with a higher budget – will want to go for cards ranked 10, or highest condition. If you are more modest in your spending, you can get deals for 9-ranked cards. PSA has population and price guides on their website.
The second thing that a collector needs to know is the difference between matte and glossy. The first series were matte cards (referring to the type of paper) but were so popular that they ran out of paper, so the following edition was printed on glossy paper. The glossy prints had a shorter run so they are more valuable. The prices in this article that we quote are for glossy prints, which can go for up to double the price for matte prints.
Topps are still printing Garbage Pail Kids to this day, which are available online for pre-sales. Like many collectibles, they are given limited runs that people compete for. The price is usually around $10 a sticker, and once the run is printed it is discontinued. That means a wily collector should keep an eye on the site and make sure they order those rare treasures that most catch their eye.
Below are twenty of the most valuable original Garbage Pail Kids cards.
1985's Nasty Nick, Estimated Mint Value: $7,500
Nasty Nick is a nasty little vampire about to bite a little New Wave doll. He was also the top most card on the sheet so many are printed off center.
1985's Adam Bomb, Estimated Mint Value: $4,000
Adam Bomb was the cover image on the original Garbage Pail packets and is the most well-known of the original cards. It's also an eerily perfect summary of the Cold War 1980s: a yuppie holding the button on nuclear winter.
1985's Evil Eddie, Estimated Mint Value: $2,200
Kinda looks like Nasty Nick, huh? This is because for the first series, there are 41 "a" and "b" cards, for a total of 82 cards where the only difference between the "a" and "b" cards is the name of the character that was portrayed.
That also means that the cards have different backs.
1985 Schizo Fran, Estimated Mint Value: $1,000
Another fan favorite, Schizo Fran (a pun on "schizophrenia" that was later changed for sensitivity issues) so it was rereleased as "FranFran." The original is quite collectible.
1985 Junky Jeff, Estimated Mint Value: $1,000
Ah Junkie Jeff. Just a little kid whose brain is filled with trash. Much like the average Garbage Pail Kid collector.
1985 Jay Decay, Estimated (Checklist Back) Mint Value: $900
Jay Decay has two different variations: a checklist and a mock award. The checklist is the more rare and valuable one.
1985 Nerdy Norm, Estimated Mint Value: $900
Nerdy Ned, and his counterpart Nervous Rex, seems less nerdy and more nervous. The coffee and cigarettes probably don't help.
1985 Blasted Billy, Estimated Mint Value: $850
Blasted Billy comes from the same set as Adam Bomb but sells for significantly less. Maybe people thought Adam Bomb was a better name.
1985 Brutal Brad, Estimated Mint Value: $750
Another favorite alongside his twin Hairy Gary, Brutal Brad showcases a disgusting little goblin dragging a cavewoman back to his cave.
1985 Slobby Robbie, Estimated Mint Value: $750
Jokes about the morbidly obese were a big part of 80s humor, which made Slobby Robbie a favorite of GPK collectors.
1985 Leaky Lou, Estimated Mint Value: $700
What's Leaky Lou's story? Was he a little boy made of Swiss cheese? Was he the victim of a botched mob hit? Who knows, but he sure seems to be enjoying his water.
1985 Mean Gene, Estimated Mint Value: $700
Mean Gene (not the announcer) is a violent little fella that recalls 80s action movies like Commando and Predator crossed with the kink-punk apocalypses of Mad Max.
1985 Electric Bill, Estimated Mint Value: $700
Oh man, this one pissed parents off. Garbage Pail Kids were designed to appeal to the gross out kid and to shock a parent, but this one really took the cake. Electric Bill and Fryin' Brian featured a chubby little boy getting electrocuted. It looks painful and little X's cross his eyes.
1985 Sumo Sid, Estimated Value: $650
The final card in the series was also printed last so many of the most collectible are off-center. That and their relative rarity compared to the rest of the set means that our soft sumo wrestler will have very valuable.
1985 Bad Breath Seth, Estimated Mint Value: $600
Even in the 80s, we were aware of the effect of pollution on the environment. Look at the poor dead flower and the smoke roiling off his mouth.
Pretty apocalyptic, no?
1985 GuilloTINA, Estimated Mint Value: $500
The morbidity of the Garbage Pail Kids is one of its biggest selling points. Kids have a mean streak, so they love stuff like this. Hey, maybe Guillotina is trying to get a-HEAD in her life.
Foreign Cards, Varies
The most sought-after GPK cards for collectors are the Japanese GPK cards, called the Bukimi Kun. Four single cards, with their wrapper, sold for $1,592.89 on eBay in February. There are also cards from Israel, Peru, Mexico and Spain.
Sealed Packs, Varies
Remember when these packs cost a quarter? Remember when anything cost a quarter? Well, now a sealed pack can run for hundreds of dollars and an unopened box can run for thousands.