There is currently an eBay listing for a video game called The Great Giana Sisters, a platform romp released in the late 1980s by Rainbow Arts for the Commodore Amiga. The ‘Buy It Now’ price is £1,199.99. Now this game is not necessarily representative of its era* but there are plenty of other Amiga games for sale on that same auction site at hilariously high prices.
Are you after the old arcade shoot ‘em up, Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins? That’ll be £199 please. Mindscape’s knights and dragons epic, Moonstone? It’s yours for £439.99. The Psygnosis sideways scroller, Shadow of the Beast? A snip at £599.99. System’s 3’s ‘rare’ Putty Squad? Let’s call it a nice round £1,500.
Assuming any of these games ever do find buyers, the new owners will receive a cardboard box containing an instruction manual and a floppy disk or two – which may or may not work after all these years. As there are far cheaper ways to play far more advanced video games than those old ‘classics’ it can only mean that the buyers and sellers are collectors.
It’s easy to boo collectors, particularly since Toy Story 2 (boo!) but who else will preserve the output of our pop culture for future generations to marvel and sneer at?
There is already a collector’s market for vintage sex toys (though sadly I was unable to find any examples of those Victorian steam-driven units which were designed to treat women with ‘hysteria’ on eBay) but which mass produced models will be worth preserving, unused in their packaging, in the hope of a big payday in 30 years’ time?
I took a look back through the ETO archive and selected these 20 examples from the first decade of the millennium (up to 2010) which could be worth hanging on to…
The Cone by Twisted Products:
One of the most talked about products of 2006, The Cone was unlike anything that had gone before it – or since, come to think of it. It retailed at £50 and delivered very punchy vibrations, and its design meant it could be used hands-free by either gender. Jonathan Ross liked it too.
Delight by Fun Factory:
According to Fun Factory, Delight was designed to “combine internal and external stimulation in an innovative way”. The award-winning creation looked very different to anything else on the market, plus it was rechargeable and came with its own case – almost standard now, but not in 2008.
Earth Angel by Caden Enterprises:
It might not have looked particularly swish but Earth Angel was made from recyclable parts, came in recyclable packaging and it was powered by the user. Yes, it was the world’s first wind-up vibrator. A range of sleeves were promised for 2009 but sadly the project never got the backing it deserved.
The Great American Challenge by Doc Johnson:
It might sound like a special at a burger bar but when it was launched in 2004 this 15” tall beast was the industry’s biggest ever vibe. Supplied in patriotic red, white and blue packaging, it is something of an industry icon and is still available. Not recommended for beginners.
Hand Sex Machine by Som:
This 2007 male masturbation device sits between the user’s legs and gives him a robotic hand job. It came with a wired remote control, to adjust the speed of the strokes (up to an impressive 180 strokes per minute). A blow job version was also available.
Hello Kitty Massager by Sanrio:
The legend goes that after the firm which licensed Hello Kitty learned that ‘shoulder massagers’ could be used for other purposes, they tried to stop them being sold. Only to reverse this decision a few years later. They can still be bought online though, in this form and in a keychain version.
Horny Hopper by Crown Designs:
It sounded like an inspired idea: reviving the Space Hopper, which appears in every ‘I Love the ‘70s’ nostalgifest, and adding a dildo to it. Another sex toy that was showcased by Jonathan Ross in 2007, the Horny Hopper also appeared in adult feature films from Dreamlight Studios.
I Rub My Duckie by Big Teaze Toys:
The iconic vibrating duck heralded a revolution in sex toy packaging and non-phallic vibrators, and it still looks contemporary, despite being launched back in the early noughties. There have been many variations on this theme, some limited editions, so a complete collection would be most desirable.
Intimate Massagers by Philips:
The consumer electronics giant shocked us all in 2008 when it unveiled a range of three sex toys aimed at couples. Selling for up to £90, High Street stockists including Boots and Selfridges took them on, but Philips seemed to shy away from promoting the devices. And they quietly vanished.
Phoenix by Magma Toys:
Out of the box, Phoenix was just a conventional looking phallic vibe but with a rather flaccid shaft filled with liquid. Inside this was a silver disc and when it was clicked it set off a chemical reaction that crystallised, hardened and heated the liquid – similar to hikers’ hand warmers.
Rock-Chick by Rocks-Off:
It’s 2003 and a new product has been launched by a new UK firm. It looks unlike anything else on the market, it’s packaged unlike anything else on the market, and it works unlike anything else on the market. A still-sealed example of the toy that launched a company must be worth keeping hold of.
Sasi by Je Joue:
One of the stars of Venus Berlin 2008, Sasi was claimed to be the world’s first intelligent vibrator. It featured a smooth massaging ball which moved randomly under a soft silicone skin until the user hit the ‘don’t stop’ button – the device then stored that pattern for future use as a ‘favourite’.
Solar Sensations by California Exotic Novelties:
Solar Sensations was claimed to be the world’s first solar powered sex toy back in 2004. The solar cell, once fully charged, offered up to two and a half hours of power (at low speed) for the supplied micro bullet. With the march of the green movement, why wasn’t this more successful?
Throbbing Hearts by Doc Johnson:
Throbbing Hearts was a conventional looking rabbit but it boasted a shaft that expanded outwards and contracted again at three different speeds, making a novel putt-putt noise in the process in a no doubt unintentional nod to those early steam-driven contraptions.
VibraExciter by Vibrafun Products:
It looked a little like a Samsung phone, which was no coincidence as its bullet vibe was designed to be activated when the user received a text message. This was cutting edge stuff for 2004: so much so that Jonathan Ross featured it quite extensively on a Friday Night with… BBC1 programme.
VibraPhone by California Exotic Novelties:
It’s 2005 and firms are starting to bring out ‘discreet’ vibrators, which won’t embarrass their owner if they drop out of a handbag. This was a great example of the trend, with the vibrations delivered through the nub-like aerial. It offered three levels of power and ran off a single AAA battery.
Vibrating Hair Brush by Pipedream:
This raised the bar for a ‘discreet’ sex toy back in 2007 as it not only looked like a hair brush it also functioned as one too. However, a quick twist of the slightly phallic-shaped handle was enough to set this brush a-buzzin’. One of many Pipedream novelties worth hanging on to.
Vido by Infinite Business:
Vido was one of the first rechargeable vibes when it emerged in 2004 but its main claim to fame was its use of two motors, one in each end, which ran in opposite directions. The silicone shaft then throbbed, rather than vibrated, and this was said to be “in tune with the body’s electrical system”.
Waver by Orion:
Back in 2007 this was state of the art technology. Apparently a German engineering graduate approached Orion with his idea, which was originally designed to be a new drive mechanism for cars, and the firm lost no time in turning the unique ‘rippling’ movement he developed into a sex toy.
We-Vibe by Standard Innovation:
The product that raised the bar for couples’ toys to a whole new level back in 2008, We-Vibe has become an industry icon. Although the later versions are far more advanced, I think the collector of tomorrow will value the original – with its lavish big box packaging – over its predecessors.
* The Great Giana Sisters was withdrawn from sale, allegedly due to pressure from Nintendo, who considered it a direct rip off of Super Mario Brothers. Which it pretty much was (and to be fair, Rainbow Arts didn’t exactly help themselves here, opting to go with a coverline of ‘The Brothers Are History’).