Matchbox Collector News: Big Profits at Australian Toy Auctions

Matchbox Lesney Opel Diplomat

For any seasoned Matchbox collector, discovering the value of some of these toy cars may not be a surprise.

But for those toy collectors who aren’t necessarily drawn to collecting Matchbox, you may want to take a second look at these die cast cars.

Based on sales of these toy cars in recent Australian toy auctions, author James Cockington has some good news for Matchbox collectors. In his article posted on the Sydney Morning Herald’s website, Mr. Cockington takes a closer look at the concept of collecting Matchbox cars as a form of investment. You can see the full story here. We’ll take a look at the highlights:

It may surprise some people to learn the die-cast toys they had as a child are now fetching prices that, in exceptional cases, rival what the real thing might fetch. There are now investors – or speculators as they are called within the collectors’ network – buying these toys for potential profit.

Cars and other vehicles made by Corgi and Dinky were the big movers during the previous decade but now the smaller-scale models made by Matchbox have taken off with a bang.
A record Australian price of $6500 (not including buyer’s premium) was achieved in December 2010 by Leonard Joel auctions in Melbourne.

This was for a rare green London bus produced especially for the Australian market in low numbers. Pre-sale estimates were between $4000 and $6000.

The bus was in a used condition, with some chipped paint, but included the original box, essential among serious collectors and, especially, investors. The box can increase the value by as much as 10 times.

Other Matchbox models to do well included a Pickford’s Removals van in a special box (sold for $800) and an ERF road tanker (also $800).

There were amazing results for Dinky as well. A special-edition Mini commercial van sold for $2200, while $2000 was paid for a Vulcan bomber.

These results, all hammer prices, would have had gobsmacked collectors as recently as five years ago.

Matchbox models were the cheaper, smaller toys, produced in England by Lesney throughout the ’60s and early ’70s. At their peak, they sold by the millions before the arrival of Mattel’s Hot Wheels took over the market overnight.

There are still plenty around but it’s the ones in mint, boxed condition, or limited editions like the green London bus, that are fetching big money.

For toy collectors who aren’t adding Matchbox collectible cars to their showcase, maybe it’s worth taking the time to consider venturing out into the world of cross-collecting.

And for the Matchbox collector who already loves these die cast toy cars, knowing their marketplace value is just one more great reason to love them.