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Condition Grading
Throughout the site all models are given a condition grading. The first letter applies to the model and the second to the box or packaging.
  • A+ = Mint
  • As new Condition
  • A = Excellent
  • Only the slightest faults
  • B = Very Good
  • Some signs of wear
  • C = Good
  • With obvious wear
  • D = Fair
  • Possibly parts missing
  • E = Poor
  • Restoration project only
  • NB = Loose
  • No box or packaging
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Your Toy Collection
and how to sell it!

Before you start!

It is almost (though not completely) essential that you produce a photographic inventory and have a good idea of the value of your toy/model collection before you try to sell it.
Once you have this you are then in the driving seat when it comes to obtaining a fair market price for your toys.

Getting Ready

Time and motion

One of the first things to consider is how much labour and effort you are willing to go to, to realize the best price. As a rule of thumb the more time and effort you put into selling your collection the greater the final value achieved will be, but just as you need to value your collection you also need to value your time.

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Preparing Your Collection

As a general rule our advice is to not clean your collection at all.

It is very easy to break small parts like aerials, bonnet emblems and guns etc. Many models also have delicate transfers and Tampo printing which can easily be damaged.

A bit of very light dusting with a soft paint brush is as much as we would recommend.

Photographing Your Collection

If you are selling you toys/models online individually you will need to take pictures of all the items in your collection.

Pictures form the main part of your description and are vitally important when it comes to getting the best price.

The advice in our article at www.toymart.com/toy-collection-photograph.php shows you the main principles required to take a good photograph, however when taking pictures of individual items for an online sales listing a few extra points should be taken into account.

  • Take pictures of all sides and the base.
  • Show all side of any boxes - packaging.
  • Show all paperwork and certificates etc if available.
  • Make particularly sure any defects are clearly visible.
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Describing Your Collection

If you are selling your toy/models individually you should write a careful description to complement your photographs. One thing you must avoid at all costs is over describing your offering. Do not make it sound better than it actually is. This will only result in items being returned and you having wasted your time plus having to refund postage.

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The best descriptions start on a high note with something like...
Lovely complete and original example

And then continue with any defects like...
with only light general wear and some chips to the rear bumper

Finally finish on a high note like...
complete with a great original box.

This gives the potential buyer all the defects but at the same time highlights what a good items it is without over doing it.

Throughout our site all models are given a condition grading. The first letter applies to the model and the second to the box or packaging i.e. A/B.

This enables potential buyer to get a very quick idea as to the condition of the item and reduces the amount of describing required by you. Feel free to use our grading system in your listings.

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A+ = Mint           As new Condition

A = Excellent     Only the slightest faults

B = Very Good   Some signs of wear

C = Good           With obvious wear

D = Fair             Possibly parts missing

E = Poor            Restoration project only

NB = Loose       No box or packaging

If you are selling your collection as a single lot then your description can only be general (unless you have produced a detailed list) and your pictures will be far more important. If however you have produced a detailed list then our condition grading system will be useful and save you a lot of time.

Selling Methods

eBay

eBay is the largest market for collectable toys and models in the world and selling on eBay is a great way to dispose of your collection if you are prepared to put in quite a lot of effort.

You will need to accurately describe and take quality photographs of each item to stand a chance of getting the best price.

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You will also need to answer buyer's questions. Once the item is sold you will then have to pack and despatch the toy and finally you may have to deal with any complaints and returns. A high feedback rating will help greatly with making a sale.

Total platform charges will vary but can be as high as 20% once you take into account listing, final value & PayPal fees.

There are two different methods of selling on eBay. Auction or Buy-it-Now.

eBay Auction

eBay auctions are (like any other auction) a risky business. In order for you to achieve a good price you must have at least two buyers prepared bid against each other and push the price up. In fact eBay make things even more risky by finishing the auctions at a fixed time and thereby stopping buyers from bidding to their full potential. A quick check on completed items will bear this out and show the vast difference between Buy-It-Now and auction values achieved for the same items.

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However do not totally discount the eBay auction because it is a quick method of selling and on the right day with the right buyers good prices can be achieved.

Advantages

Quick sale and can sometimes get good prices on rare items.

Disadvantages

Lots of work involved and generally low prices achieved.

Suitable Collection Types

Best suited to selling low value items individually, or job lots.

High value items can be sold with this method but probably wise to use a reserve price if you are of a nervous disposition.

eBay Auction Tips

  • Make your listings smart with quality pictures and keep your descriptions accurate, succinct, professional and friendly.
    There are many free eBay listing templates available to make your offering look more professional.
  • Start your auction prices as low as you dare. This encourages bids and bids encourage even more bids.
  • Finish your auctions on a weekend, preferably Sunday evening when collectors have time to study your offerings and time their bids.
  • Even better finish your auctions on a weekend just after pay day at the end of the month.
  • Stagger your finish times so that buyers have time to bid on more than one of your items.

eBay Buy-It-Now

With fixed price listings (Buy-it-Now) you are basically running an online shop.

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You decide what price you want for your items and wait for the right buyer to come along. From a buyers perspective this is also an attractive format as they can see exactly what they have to pay and they can have it straight away without the inconvenience of having to wait for an auction to finish, and maybe not win. In this day and age more and more people want things instantly.

The main benefit of Buy-it-Now is that you will get the best price. The downside is that you may have to wait a long time before the buyer prepared to pay this price comes along.
It is not uncommon for an item to sit on eBay at a fixed price for over a year before it sells.

Advantages

Top prices can be achieved.

Disadvantages

You must know where to set your price and sales can be very slow.

Lots of work involved.

Suitable Collection Types

Best suited to high and low value items being sold individually.

eBay Buy-it-Now Tips

  • Start your listings at the full collectors value or check eBay past sales and use the highest price recently achieved. If the highest price was by auction add another 20%. Remember, you can always reduce your prices if an item does not sell but you can never increase your price after it has sold!
  • Make your listings smart with quality pictures and keep your descriptions accurate, succinct, professional and friendly. There are many free eBay listing templates available to make your offering look more professional.
  • On higher value items include local shipping in the price. (buyers love free shipping).
  • For larger collections open an eBay shop. This will save on listing fees and automatically relist expired items.
  • Run eBay promotions like discounts and Buy One Get One 10% off etc.
  • Run promotions at the weekends or at the end of the month near pay day.

Other Online Markets

There are other online markets and auction sites like Mad Bid and Gumtree etc.

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However the reality is that these other markets just do not have anywhere near the customer base that eBay has. So whilst it is easy to be drawn in by offers of low commission and listing fees etc. at the end of the day the lack of buyer will result in lower prices achieved or no sale at all.

Advantages

Cheap.

Disadvantages

Limited customer database so low prices achieved or slow sales.

Lots of work involved.

Suitable Collection Types

Low value individual items or job lots.

Specialist Toy Auction Houses

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Specialist auction houses will have a good customer database consisting of a mixture of trade buyers and collectors. They will be able to achieve on average a fair price for your toys and will do all the work even down to picking up the collection from your home. However the process can sometimes be slow and the service comes at a price. You must take into account that most auctions will charge the buyer and the seller a commission and you will therefore in reality be paying in the region of 33% to 45% for the service. It is possible to negotiate the commission on larger collections particularly if the individual items are of high value as it is no more labour to process an item for worth £500 than it is for one worth £100.

This method is trouble free and low labour with reasonable returns but can sometimes be a little slow.

Advantages

They do all the work and can get reasonable prices.

Disadvantages

High commission fees and a lot of the sales are made to the trade. On a bad day you may be disappointed with the financial return.

Suitable Collection Types

Large collections of high or low value.

Specialist Auction Tips

  • Check recently achieved sale prices against your valuations.
  • Be sure to ask what they are charging the buyer as well as you the seller. In reality you are paying both of these fees as buyers just pay less to offset their costs.
  • Beware of additional charges like insurance and photographing etc.
  • Negotiate on the commission!

The Toy Dealer

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Going through a Toy Dealer can be an excellent method of selling your collection if you exercise a little care. A dealer needs to work on a margin and this margin will vary according to a number of factors but generally on very high value individual items, the margin may be as little as 20%, but on large quantities of low value items it may be as high as 70%. This variation is due to the simple fact that it is hard work to sell lots of cheap items but relatively easy to sell a few high value items. Remember that dealers regularly need to replace stock and may pay over the odds if they happen to be short. On the other hand if they already have plenty of what you are offering then they will not be nearly so generous.
Dealers are not exactly thick on the ground so you may need to do the transaction remotely after sending your pictures and agreeing a price. The dealer is very unlikely to pay you before they actually get the goods so be sure to use someone with a top reputation.

Advantages

Fast transaction with minimum effort and you can dispose of the entire collection in one go.

Disadvantages

Some negotiating skills may be required to get the best price. Be sure to use a reputable dealer if transacting remotely.

Suitable Collection Types

All types except small low value collections.

Dealer Tips

  • Get an offer from more than one dealer if possible.
  • Negotiate on the price. They can only say no!
  • Be prepared to walk away if you are not happy with the offer.
  • Do the transaction face to face if possible.

Toy Fairs

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Toy Fairs can be approached in two ways. Firstly you can turn up outside at a fair with your collection in the car, then approach dealers inside and ask them to come out and take a look at your wares. Secondly you can rent a table and sell to collectors at the fair. This second method is high risk as even on a good day you will only sell a proportion of your collection and on a bad day you might take home nothing more than your toys and a certain respect for the other sellers who attend fairs on a regular basis. I would recommend the first option in that it makes it easy to meet a number of dealers at the same time. Take care not to organise a situation where more than one dealer is invited out to view your toys simultaneously. That can sometimes be a bit awkward.

Advantages

Good prices can be achieved if taking a table. Good place to find dealers.

Disadvantages

Can be a long and slow process with many visits required to sell a large collection if taking a table.

Suitable Collection Types

Large low value collections.

Toy Fair Tips

  • Visit the larger fairs as this will give you a better chance of finding a buyer.
  • Winter fairs are better than summer ones. Collectors seem to hibernate a bit in the summer for some reason.
  • If renting a table you are almost a dealer and everyone will expect to haggle on your prices.
  • If renting a table be careful you do not actually become a dealer and come home owning more toys that you started with.

Local Auction

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Your local auction should not be forgotten as they can be very useful when disposing of large quantities of low value items. The main advantage is that they are local and so very easy to use. The downside is that they will not have much specialist knowledge of the toy and model collecting business and will therefore not have a good customer base of collectors. The upside is that they will have a lot of antique dealers attending their auctions and these dealers are often happy to purchase job lots of toys and models to put in their shops.

Advantages

Very quick and easy.

Disadvantages

Low values will normally be achieved.

Suitable Collection Types

Low value collections of all sizes.

Local Auction Tips

  • Only put in low value items.
  • Do not expect great prices but sometimes you can get a surprise.

Shipping and packing

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Whether you are selling your toys/models individually online to a collector or as a collection to a dealer you will very likely be using a postal service or carrier. The first thing to consider is the cost and the next is the packing.

Shipping costs can vary enormously and it is worthwhile doing a little research. In the UK small parcels less than 2KG are best sent using royal mail. Anything over this and a carrier is the best option. For getting the best price, sites like parcel to go offer an excellent service by making all the major carriers compete for your business. However it is still worth checking directly with some shippers as great deals can be found.

Packing is very important!

After all your hard work finding a buyer, be it a dealer or a collector the last thing you want is to have your toys returned because they got damaged in the post.

Take a look at our packing advice page at how-to-pack.

Follow these general principles and you will not go far wrong.

Alan Latham

January 2017

 
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