I do NOT appraise or offer opinions as to the value of any specific model or variation, and you will have to determine that on your own. I do not respond to e-mail inquiries for values. The following information is provided to assist you in that endeavor. My book page has a fairly complete Matchbox literature bibliography with some price-guides. For general purposes, Charlie Mack's "Encyclopedia of Matchbox® Toys", updated with the 3rd edition in 2002, has fairly complete coverage of all Matchbox toys. On the web check Lewis Miller's website with "Charlie Mack approved" values.
on this page:
- where to look to find out a value
- internet links to other web sites with information on value
- determining value
- elements that affect value
- selling your cars
As indicated below, determining the "real" value of any particular model is difficult at best in most cases. Only if a model is fairly readily available and frequently sold (therefore determining price and value) can a current price be given with comfort. Some caveats are in order:
- Price guides are just that, guides. They do not set the price or mean that you will be able to find a piece wanted or sell a piece you have for the listed price even if the condition etc. is what is listed. Only what a willing buyer and willing seller agree on is the "real" price.
- Price guides are based on "mint" models in "mint" original box/packaging, and deficient items are worth less [but see below in my views on value as to rare items].
- Price guides can become dated very quickly.
- Persons differ in opinions as to value, active collectors or dealers may disagree with another's indicated condition/value/price as too high or low, and not reflecting the "real" value.
- People incorrectly classify items as "mint", "near mint", or "excellent", etc.
- Common item are frequently valued as if they are a "rare" variation even when they are not [persons find a guide and take the highest value shown].
- Persons in different countries/areas differ in their criteria, e.g. Europeans strongly favor mint in box items, while Americans are more willing to disregard the missing box; and different series [e.g. YY or Major Packs) are more or less sought after in some locations.
- Missing or incorrectly "married" parts [putting a box for the correct model with an unboxed model, but which is a box variation that would not have originally sold with the particular model]. Some boxes are rare and costly and may be worth more than the model inside.
- Sellers usually seek the highest price not the real value.
- Particular circumstances may cause a seller to ask a price that seems low, e.g. a widow or former collector trying to dispose of the remainder of a collection, and not correctly reflect value.
- Recent auction [or other sale] prices can cause people to believe a high price is valid. Auctions particularly can result in people overpaying under the pressure and excitement of the moment.
- price guides from various sources, e.g. Charlie Mack has a revised guide in his new book, Encyclopedia of Matchbox Toy, there is at least one listing on the internet (see caveat above).
- ads in clubs newsletters of models for sale
- "Dealer" price lists (see my dealer page). These persons are actively trying to sell, so tend to price to accomplish that. However, some dealers set the initial price high, then reduce it as time goes on if no one "bites". At least some dealers keep careful track of the price and how quickly [thereby gauging demand] they sold a particular model/variation (considering condition, etc.) as a guide of how to price future items they have to offer.
- Individual's list of models they have for sale
- Auction results (see caveat above)
- At times there have been some regularly published price guides, but I am not aware of any currently available
- Dana Johnson
- "Toymart on-line Collectors Price Guide '97", prices for mint/boxed models in pounds sterling, produced by Alan Latham of Canterbury Collectibles and Peter Merrall of P and B Merrall (Toyseekers)
- TOY BOY [Alan Wank] offers appraisal service
- Phillips International Auctioneers & Valuers
- Die Cast Den 12/17/99
- Treasure Hunt Alley Online Price Guide
- Lewis Miller
www.BattleKings.com/ with "Charlie Mack approved" values 4/17/01
- The "pat" (but not particularly helpful) answer to "fair market value" (FMV) of a piece is what a "willing buyer" will pay and a "willing seller" will accept.
- It is crucial to determine "what" (model, variation, condition, etc.) is being valued.
- There are a number of sources listing items for sale of prices for which they have sold from which you can get some idea of what people think particular models are worth:
- club newsletters/magazines ads or sale reports
- collector/dealer sale lists – some of the collectors and collector/dealers publish quite large lists of toys in various conditions for sale.
- a number of auction lists include the prices various models are expected to sell for, as well as list of prices actually realized on auction.
- books (see above caveat on price guides).Charlie Mack has several on each of the regular wheel, Superfast, Universal, etc. and the recently issued Encyclopedia of Matchbox Toys; an excellent yesteryear book was published not too long ago, and I believe it is available from Matchbox Collectibles, MICA (Matchbox International Collectors Association), and several of the collectibles stores.
- Obviously values can change rapidly so you need to be careful with any of these sources, particularly as they age. Find and compare several sources to see patterns and consistency.
- Value is subjective and highly variable, and generally depends on the following factors (and probably others I haven't listed):
- particular variations [see my RW "variations" page];
- condition; and
- the particular buyer or seller.
- Condition [after rarity – see my page on condition] is of often of paramount importance in determining value, but is course subjective. "Mint" is truly "perfect", never played with condition (including no tire wear, and presence of any small parts originally included with the model), and such toys are difficult (sometimes seemingly impossible) to obtain. Most toys are only "near mint" at best, having a small nick, chip or box rub, or other blemish etc., which makes them less than "mint", and typically lowers value tremendously. Even a model is "90%" mint may only bring a fraction of mint value (e.g. 50% or less), e.g., a toy that might sell for $100 in mint condition may only sell for $10 in even "moderately" played with condition, EXCEPT, rare (hard to get) models may bring close to mint prices even in substantially less than mint condition.
- subjective – any rating system is subjective.
- no guides [that I am aware of] exist for how to arrive at a specific rating [e.g., deduct .5 for each large pin head size chip, and .25 for each pin point size chip, etc.].
- criteria – I rate on how "obvious" or "noticeable" any flaws or marks are, how hard you have to "look" to see a piece is not "mint", and how it "displays".
- parts and packaging Inclusion of original parts (including e.g., being on the plastic "tree" were attached to), and the box ("packaging") (as well as is the condition of parts/packaging) are important in determining value. In fact, some rare boxes are worth more than the toy inside.
- "play value" and durability [construction] affects how may toys survive and in what condition, e.g. children with the toys played with them a great deal so that they are destroyed or in less than pristine condition even when found, can make finding a mint (or even any) example difficult.
- Variations. Some models are fairly common, but have slight or major variations or differences e.g., color, wheel type/material (metal, gray, black or silver plastic, plastic or rubber on a hub, frictionless etc., including fine or knobby and number of "knobs"), casting variations, presence or lack of windows etc. Some variations are considered important enough to appeal to collectors generally, and other variations are not, so that only some persons value them greatly enough to seek them out and want to collect them. Obviously the number of a particular toy (or variation) produced and the number that still remain affects the ease of locating it for your collection, and the price.
- Construction techniques and materials vary among manufacturers and over time, e.g. as ease of manufacturing or market factors (lower production costs) affect materials used (typically metal vs. plastic) and where the plants are located, which in turn affects the end product. Some collectors actually base their collection on units produced in particular countries. Recently China seems to be manufacturing some particularly high quality finished products. The competition is so fierce that there was been a move in Europe to impose tariffs and or quotas to try and protect local economies and jobs. People seem more attracted to finer quality and detail, although some "cheap" products have their own appeal.
- The particular vehicle being copied affects the class of persons interested in collecting them. Some people collect fire vehicles, emergency vehicles, only Chrysler products, construction vehicles, racing vehicles etc., others like only cars or trucks. The era of the vehicle copied is a factor as it seems people are typically attracted to the vehicles that were a part of their youth, e.g. if you grew up in the 1960's, the new muscle cars from Matchbox Collectibles should be appealing. As a consequence, over time as people age and drop out of the market and new generations enter the market, the type of vehicles active collectors find attractive and the level of demand for various type vehicles and different models changes. In the case of toys, there is a similar effect as people seem to gravitate towards collecting the toys that they played with as children.
- Collecting itself has different factors affecting the hobby. If you follow various letters in club newsletters or posting on BBS or the internet, there are various complaints about how the companies conduct business. Sometimes companies overproduce, and collectors become displeased to find the models they have paid retail for located at a fraction of that at half price stores or flea markets. Recently, it seems that some companies have made minor changes in production toys to make them "limited editions" and raised the price substantially, seemingly without justification. There are numerous complaints among collectors frustrated with difficulty locating "limited" editions for collections, including hoarding and scalping, or "blackmail" by store employees who intercept these models before they reach store displays, or charge for access to the back room when the cases are opened for first choice. Matchbox has generated some comments on certain small promotional runs (e.g. only 250 pieces) that are so scarce as to make it virtually impossible for collectors to obtain one for their collection. Some collectors become so incensed that they are quitting the hobby and selling their collections.
You first need to educate yourself as to what you have to offer for sale. It is difficult to determine what your cars should sell for or to communicate with potential buyers to determine interest and strike a deal otherwise. See notes above on value and condition, and my other pages on regular wheels series and variations listing, and book pages for starters, especially this value page on finding the appropriate price or a price guide, etc.
You next need to determine how much effort you want to go to. The best price is normally obtained by selling a collection item by item to the individuals who are looking for that specific item, but this obviously requires more effort and takes longer. Some "dealers" or "collectors" purchase entire collections, which is quickest and easiest. But, there is usually a substantial discount factored in for a "bulk" or "lot" purchase, as they are acquiring pieces they do not really want and will have to dispose of, or they intend to make a profit, so they pay less than the "going price" (again, see the discussion of value on this page). Generally you can obtain slightly better results if you trade for items they have as there is no cash outlay for them. I have even traded "on account" for future acquisitions from a dealer that I expect will eventually have items I want.
Possible sources to sell your cars are:
- put an ad in one or more Matchbox club newsletters/magazines;
- Internet on-line auction services (access to digital photos helps);
- more traditional auctions which accept consignments.
- your own web page
- internet message boards