Model trains have been a beloved pastime for generations, and many people are surprised to learn that they can be worth thousands of dollars if they are in good working condition and the original box is still intact. But what makes model trains collectible? In this article, we'll explore the factors that determine the value of model trains and provide tips for collectors. First, it's important to remember that model train collecting is a family activity. Companies like Lionel have long emphasized that people of all ages can enjoy collecting model trains.
Second, it's important to do some research to develop a basic understanding of what you own. Keep in mind that price is directly linked to demand, and this demand is largely modified by conditions and scarcity. Most toy trains were manufactured in large quantities, so not all vintage trains are necessarily scarce or sought after by collectors. However, almost everything has some value, even if only in its parts.
In reality, most collectors of model trains do so simply out of the love of collecting and not because of the value of the items. Rarity sometimes helps determine the value of a train, but not always. Some items are rare, but because collectors aren't really interested in them, they don't have much market value. Train collectors, perhaps more than any other type of collector, have a definite set of likes and dislikes that help establish the value of the items they collect.
Model train designs, buildings, scenography, and other model train accessories can also have surprisingly high prices. Therefore, you can check the width of the track gauge of your model train as a way to get an idea of how old the train could have been built. The Train Collectors Association (TCA) has adopted standards to help guide collectors of toys and model trains and encourage the use of common terminology when describing things such as the categories and conditions of items. At one point in model train history, it was often necessary to build from scratch to achieve the right degree of realism sought by model train enthusiasts.
However, many adults are so-called railway models who faithfully collect and build scale models of real trains that exist and create intricate environments for them known as designs. The most popular types of model trains for sale include brands such as Airfix, Bachmann, Bassett-Lowke, Dapol, Golden Age, Hornby, K'sleeds, Lima, Rivarossi, Tri-ang, Slaters, Mainline and Wrenn. Fortunately, it's usually very easy to see which of these brands you might have since companies used to print or paint their names on train cars - as in the case of Lionel trains from the early 20th century with their name printed on the train cars in orange letters. The magazine Model Railroader began to publish and the differentiation between toy trains and the more demanding construction and collection of scale model trains began to become more pronounced. If you've been a toy train enthusiast for some time you probably know all the differences between toy trains and model trains. Collectors also prefer certain types of trains to others such as O Gauge model trains which were manufactured in the 1950s and are always in high demand. Toy trains (including train models) come in different sizes reflecting the different calibers of the rails - the distance between the main track rails - and scales. However for insurance purposes for example you should forego a home appraisal and go to an appraiser with experience in old and antique trains.