Memories of childhood are a strong motivation for collecting, and this is perhaps most evident in the world of collectable toys and models at auction. Typically, we see waves of new buyers beginning to collect in their late 40s or early 50s, and with most looking to collect toys from their childhood this boost the prices of a particular era of toy. One area of collecting popular at the moment, which relies heavily on childhood nostalgia, is that of die-cast toys from the 1960s and 1970s relating to iconic films or television series.
Die-casting was an industrial process developed at the end of the First World War and involved forcing molten alloy into a mould under pressure. It was a technique that resulted in strong toys with precise details creating faithful reproductions of life size vehicles, first employed to make realistic accessories for model railways. Dinky was the first major British firm to begin producing die-cast toys in the 1930s, followed by the likes of Corgi, Matchbox and Britains.
Corgi were the front-runners in producing film and television tie-in toys, their heyday being 1965-1968 when they produced their most popular models such as Batman Batmobiles, James Bond’s Aston Martin and Toyota 2000GT, The Beatles Yellow Submarine and models associated with The Saint and The Green Hornet. Dinky secured the rights to produce models from Gerry Anderson’s series including Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet. The most sought-after models at auction, for which collectors pay a premium, are those in fantastic condition in their original boxes. The delicate cardboard boxes and display packaging was often discarded or badly damaged and indeed those boxes in the best condition are sometimes worth more than the toy themselves. Look out for toys that have all their original accessories, from accompanying figures to missiles, guns and even badges. Prices range from £10’s for playworn unboxed examples to the mid hundreds for those in the most exceptional condition.
As the next generation of collectors enters the market, we are seeing toys from the late 1970s and 1980s gaining in popularity and price at auction, most notably those associated with Star Wars. So if you were a child who stashed away your precious toys, have a rummage through the attic and see what they might be worth today.
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