Collector's Corner: Box clever for a model investment

Toy cars in their original packaging are now a real mini adventure, says Gwyn Jones

For most grown-ups, toy cars are something that used to be fun when they were kids. But a select band of collectors is willing to spend thousands of pounds on top-of-the-range mini-motors. "In the past five years, you'd have seen a much bigger return on your money if it had been in toys than if it was placed with a bank," says Andrew Reed of Vectis Auction, the UK's leading toy specialist. "We have investors spending from a few hundred pounds a month up to £50,000 or £60,000."

Bonhams' toy department has also noticed the long-term upturn in prices. "I still see more people buying and prices going up," says the auction house's Lee Gotch. "In other areas of antiques and collectables, we've seen prices drop."

Even so, collectors are becoming more discerning, says Hugo Marsh of Christie's. "As the market has become more sophisticated, the gap between routine items and the good stuff has widened so that instead of a rarity being worth four times more, it's now worth up to 200 times more.

"The most expensive toy car we've sold recently was a Dinky Bentalls van. In 1994, it would have been worth £500, but we sold it for £11,500 because it was a previously unseen variation. More typically, for something like a Dinky Morris Oxford, a staple 1950s car, you'd pay £60 to £80 for a mint, boxed item."

TV- and film-related items, especially from the Seventies, are very popular. "Two or three years ago, the average price for a Corgi Starsky & Hutch car would have been £50 to £60, if mint and boxed. Now, it's £100 to £150," says Reed.

Corgi, Dinky and Matchbox are the best-known names, but there are thousands of small manufacturers coming to the fore. "We had a taxi made by a small British company, Mercury, that we estimated would go for £30 to £50. It went for more than £2,000," Reed says. "People can't afford the rare items from the big names, so the smaller manufacturers are becoming more popular."

However, Gotch believes the Seventies will prove to have been the last decade to produce collectable cars. "In the past 20 years, children haven't played with toy cars, so it's hard to see where the next lot is coming from," he says.

"Dinky made its last car in 1978, and others, such as Corgi, now make mostly collectors' models. I don't see these going far because people keep them. The old toys are the ones that are solid, steady investments, and prices will keep going up as they get rarer and rarer."

But this is no get-rich-quick scheme; allow five to 10 years to make a serious profit, and buy only toys in the best condition with boxes. At one recent Vectis sale, an Avengers box on its own sold for £300 - far more than the two cars that would have been in it, which might raise £80 or so on their own. Had box and cars been sold together, the toy might have made up to £600.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Quantitative Risk Manager

    Up to £80000: Saxton Leigh: My client, a large commodities broker, is looking ...

    COO / Chief Operating Officer

    £80 - 100k + Bonus: Guru Careers: A COO / Chief Operating Officer is needed to...

    Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

    Market Risk & Control Manager

    Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments