How do we sort & value a construction toy collection?
August 10, 2015 8:49 AM   Subscribe

How do we catalog & value a large die-cast construction toy collection for eventual sale?

A family friend's husband collected die-cast models of construction equipment (mainly Caterpillar stuff). He passed away a few years ago and she'd now like to sell the collection, but doesn't know its value and her husband didn't keep records. The task of figuring it out is overwhelming to her. Her children aren't interested in helping, and she doesn't trust a lot of people, so we offered to help. We're now sitting on several storage tubs of toys with only a vague idea of where to begin. She's not looking to get rich, but nobody knows what a fair price might be.

- Are there good programs, paid or free, for handling something like this? Or does one roll up a custom spreadsheet?
- What information should we note about each piece?
- What resources exist for setting a price on these things?
posted by Monster_Zero to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Spreadsheet is not worth it, there's lots of home inventory programs for desktop or mobile device. If she has a smartphone, or tablet, she can use that, and it would make it simple to attach pictures to the record. You should be able to export the records as a CSV so that it can be brought into other programs.

For photographing, a lighting kit like this may be worthwhile.

Looks like this would be a good place to start for learning about the market.
posted by Sophont at 9:22 AM on August 10, 2015

I've found that Facebook has groups dedicated to most types of collectibles. I've found great advice and information there.
posted by smelvis at 9:31 AM on August 10, 2015

Best answer: Most of the value in collectibles lies not in the raw material but in the labour involved in researching prices, assessing condition, photographing and listing on-line or otherwise making them easily available to purchase from a trusted vendor, etc.

Unless somebody wants to temporarily re-purpose themselves into a dealer of these things, I'd look around for local dealers of such things, and solicit offers.

EBay lets you view completed listings -- where you can see what things actually sold for -- use that to assess retail value; asking prices for items not yet sold are largely meaningless. But if you use this as a metric for the value of the collection to a dealer, remember that there is quite a lot of work between "sells for $X" and actually completing a sale for $X. You will be offered a relatively small percentage of X.

You would want to ID all the items -- year of manufacture, name given by the manufacturer to that particular item, basic description, and notes on any damage/wear (be picky; collectors are very picky). If anything has the original box it came with or even a pamphlet that came in the box, that's a thing to note.

Collector-specific forums would be a good place to make inquiries to dealers, and possible sales -- still with the caveat that selling involves a lot of labour; this will be many hours of work with all the risk on your end (for example, when you sell X and are not familiar with X yourself, you may overlook important things about condition etc, and end up with irate buyers) rather than your friend's if you undertake it yourself.
posted by kmennie at 10:30 AM on August 10, 2015

Seconding everything kmennie said.
posted by clorox at 10:30 PM on August 13, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks all! Definitely appreciated the candor of the advice.
posted by Monster_Zero at 8:14 AM on September 15, 2015

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