The Atari Lynx is a classic 16-bit handheld game console first released in 1989. As one of the earliest color portable gaming systems with advanced graphics capabilities, the short-lived Lynx has become a sought after collector’s item. But with such a limited production run, how much is a Lynx worth today?
This guide will examine the key factors that determine the current value and price of the Atari Lynx on the secondary collector’s market. We’ll see how elements like condition, included accessories, and production rarities can push prices higher for serious collectors and retro gaming enthusiasts.
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Atari Lynx Value Factors
Determining the fair market value for an Atari Lynx system involves assessing a combination of several variables:
Condition – Cosmetic and functional condition is paramount. Used examples with damaged screens or marred exteriors sell for far less. Verify all buttons and switches are fully functional before assigning premium value.
Model – The original 1989 Lynx I vs the smaller 1991 Lynx II redesign have slightly different collector interest. The Lynx II tends to fetch slightly higher valuations.
Included Extras – Complete in box examples with paperwork, accessories like game cartridges, carry pouches and more bring higher sale prices.
Rarity – Special one-off promotional editions and extremely limited production Lynx variants can command much higher valuations from collectors. We’ll examine these rare finds later.
With these factors in mind, let’s examine the current price range you can reasonably expect across common Lynx models and packages available on the secondary market.
Loose Price Range – Lynx I and Lynx II
Loose refers to just the Lynx system itself without any included games, cables, or other original accessories. Here are typical price ranges:
Lynx I – Expect to pay $80-$150 USD for an original Lynx I handheld in good working and cosmetic condition. Prices dip below $60 for models with damaged shells or screen issues.
Lynx II – The redesigned Lynx II usually fetches slightly higher loose valuations in the $100-$180 range again based heavily on condition. Units unable to power on may only sell for $30-$50 to collectors for repair/restoration.
Keep in mind that availability and prices fluctuate over time, but these offer reasonable ballparks based on recent eBay sales and asking prices at retro gaming stores. The Lynx II tends to pull higher valuations from collectors due to its smaller form factor and improved perceived playability.
With Cables and Accessories
Pricing gets bumped up when the console comes bundled with original cables, accessories, and maybe some game cartridges. Here are typical asking prices in this configuration:
Lynx I – $120-$200 with power supply, headphone jack cable, few common game cartridges like Klax or Gates of Zendocon bundled.
Lynx II – Similarly expect prices around $140-$220 for a Lynx II with cables and a couple common pack in games.
The included games are rarely high value titles, as the truly rare games would be sold separately by savvy collectors rather than bundled with a system. But having a starting library adds appeal for casual retro buyers. The extra accessories also increase the valuation.
Complete in Box (CIB) Examples
For collectors seeking the full nostalgic package, complete in box (CIB) Lynx systems with all original materials command premium pricing:
Lynx I CIB – A CIB Lynx I in collector grade condition can fetch $300+. This needs to include original box, manual, unused warning cards, registration card, and other paperwork. Pristine shape boxes with no crushed corners or tears drive prices higher through the roof.
Lynx II CIB – The Lynx II equivalent bundled with all accessories and box typically ranges from $350 up past $600 for the highest quality CIB models. Boxes are harder to find intact as these were often trashed by ’90s kids.
CIB systems take time and patience to track down, but represent the crowning jewels for Lynx collectors. Even common games CIB like Klax or Rampage bump up to $150+ for just the box and cartridge with instructions.
Rare Special Editions & Prototypes
Beyond standard retail Lynx units, there were some special promotional editions and rare prototypes that surface and command huge premiums from serious collectors including:
1993 Comdex Lynx Gold – Extremely limited gold colored Lynx systems given away at the 1993 Las Vegas Comdex expo. Only about 10 units exist and sales have neared $2500.
Club Lynx Private Test Unit – Early developer prototype Lynx from 1988 with special DIN connector. Extremely scarce, a loose working unit sold for over $3000.
Thedeterministic Unreleased Lynx – A cancelled 1992 hardware revision with brand new case mold. Only a single prototype is known, valued at $4000+.
Ultra Corporation Lynx – A redesigned Lynx that nearly saw release in 1993 from Ultra Corporation, who briefly took over Atari console development. Just 2 exist with $5000+ value.
For the ultimate Lynx collector, tracking down these rare one-of-a-kind systems is the holy grail. Of course, condition and provenance must be extensively validated with such rare items to avoid fakes and replacement parts driving up bidding. But legit examples of these rare Lynx’s command valuations over 10 times standard retail models.
Best Games to Bundle For Higher Value
We’ve covered the major factors on the hardware side that influence an Atari Lynx system’s worth. But for loose systems or bundles, the included games make a difference as well. Here are some of the most valued pack-in titles to pursue:
- Shadow of the Beast: A graphically impressive early Lynx game ported from the Amiga. Loose price alone is $150+.
- Dracula the Undead: Final game released for Lynx. Very hard to find and worth $300+ just cartridge only.
- Xybots: Early pseudo 3D shooter with smooth graphics that commands $100+.
- Raiden: Late shmup release with small production run, fetches $150+ loose nowadays.
- Scrapyard Dog: Another late release and brutal platformer, $140+ for loose cartridge.
Obviously including one of these rare Lynx titles complete in box with a system would drive values even higher. But even loose, bundling a couple mid-tier games like Gates of Zendocon or Electrocop provides extra perceived package value over just the system itself to buyers.
Final Thoughts on Collecting the Lynx
As one of the first color portable gaming systems that pre-dated even Nintendo’s Game Boy Color, the short-lived Atari Lynx holds an important place in video game history. With its relatively small production run that ended by 1996, prices for used hardware, games and accessories continue to climb.
Whether you’re looking to reacquire your childhood Lynx years later, or discover this fascinating console for the first time as a collector, being aware of the key variables around condition and rarity that influence market value is key. Seek out mint examples and special editions to invest in pieces that will continue gaining value over the years.
There are thriving communities of Lynx fans and collectors out there. Joining local retro game trade groups can provide tips on valuing rare Lynx items. And be sure to inspect and fully test systems before purchasing to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth.
Owning an original piece of portable gaming history like the Lynx provides a window into the dawn of advanced graphics and game technologies that paved the way for gaming today. As vintage gaming prices continue rising, the Lynx remains an appealing option for collectors looking to invest in influential hardware.
Atari Lynx Buying and Value FAQs
Q: Do different color Lynx models have different values?
A: Not particularly – the original Lynx I models came in a variety of colors like red, blue, black but there is no major variation in pricing between colors. Minor variances at most.
Q: Are boxed games worth more than loose cartridges?
A: Yes, absolutely – boxed complete games can fetch 2-3X the value of loose cartridges. Especially rare titles in great shape CIB like Shadow of the Beast.
Q: How can you refurbish and clean an old Lynx system?
A: Opening up system to clean internals with compressed air. Gently scrubbing contacts with alcohol and qtips. Replacing screen protector. New silicone button pads to refresh worn out d-pad.
Q: What carrying cases and accessories are handy for the Lynx?
A: Hard transport cases protect the large screen and keep dust out. Carousel cases hold multiple game cartridges. Rechargeable AAs and charger reduce waste. ComLynx cable to link systems.
Q: Does model 1 or 2 have higher collector interest?
A: Generally the Lynx II is more sought after by collectors due to smaller redesign with better portability and optional backlight support. But condition trumps model debates.