The Dinky Die-Cast Toy Collection is a Global Phenomenon
The trade in Dinky die-cast toys (made from 1935 to 1979 by the same company that gave us the Meccano and Hornby trains) operates much like any other stock market, except on a smaller scale. Scale 1:48 in most cases.
Last month, in the town of Blackheath, in the Blue Mountains, Trains, Planes and Automobiles (TPA) held its first auction entirely devoted to Dinky products. It has been described as a low-key auction because all of the action has taken place online, although even their regular auctions are not boisterous business. They usually have a dozen living bidders in the local church hall, all well behaved.
Thanks to the internet, Dinky’s collection is now a global phenomenon with surprisingly paid prices. Last month’s top score of $ 650 was for a Dinky Supertoy Foden flatbed truck (code number 903 is important to collectors) in very good to excellent condition. It was sold to a well-known French bidder who is also a dealer. This model came in the original box, which adds significantly to its value, around 50 percent.
Others to go overseas included a Hudson sedan with minor paint defects, which sold for $ 60 to another French buyer. A Plymouth Plaza, with a few scuff marks on the roof, sold for $ 120 in the Netherlands. This one also came in the original box.
A Dinky Supertoys 660 Tank Transporter, in a good box with original packing inserts, sold on lower estimates for $ 100. It was bought by an NSW bidder who said he would have paid double that amount if pushed.
These numbers may seem extraordinary to non-enthusiasts, but are considerably lower than what Dinky and the Diecast Toys reported about 10 years ago. In 2006, a rare item such as a Batmobile TV derivative toy was worth $ 1,000 in “mint box” condition. In the same top-notch category were the James Bond Aston-Martins which sold for over $ 2,000 in Britain, while Thunder birdLady Penelope’s FAB 1 rolls were worth around $ 1,200 in the box.
At that time, this mini-market attracted speculators who invested heavily in die-cast models. Then the dreaded global financial crisis arrived. It is only recently that this market has started showing signs of resurgence.
“They’ve hit rock bottom and now they’re bouncing back,” says TPA’s Keith Mentiplay, though the heady pre-GFC days are unlikely to repeat anytime soon.
The general rule at the time was that “mint, boxed” were the only ones to buy. Now there is interest in cheaper models, including those with minor damage. These can be restored and replacement parts are available, which is why a desirable Jaguar sports car, in great condition except for the windshield damage, sold for $ 130 last month.