A guide to collecting Dinky Toys

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In the world of old toys and collectibles, Dinky Toys is one of the most famous names, and is a name that still inspires thousands of collectors, long after the company ceased to produce any die-cast models.

In the interwar period model railways and construction toys were extremely popular, and the leading company was Meccano. The company was most famous for the production of their Hornby Railways, but Frank Hornby, the owner of Meccano was looking to expand their range of railway accessories. Hornby is often thought to have been worried about the competition being put forward by American models and sought to monopolise the British market. The first Meccano toys were produced in 1931 and these had die-cast bodies, rubber wheels and tin plate bases. It was though a further three years before the Meccano Dinky Toys range was launched.

When it comes to collecting Dinky Toys price is based on what a collector is prepared to buy an item for. There are a number of good price guides available to provide an estimate of prices, including the Model Price Guide from the Model Collector magazine. Good condition unboxed items can still be brought for a few pounds, but rare models can go for thousands of pounds. Super toys and especially commercials go for large sums; the most expensive though was an early delivery van from 1937 that sold for ten thousand pounds in 1994.

With thousands of different Dinky Toys to collect it is virtually impossible to even think about collecting the whole range. Most collectors like to focus on one particular area, be it planes, military, TV collectibles or sports cars. The growth of the internet and auction sites has certainly made it easier to locate items, although mint and boxed items still go for premium amounts. Many Dinky Toy collectors though still prefer the swapmeets that allow a close examination of models to be made before purchasing. The passage of time has meant that models have deteriorated, boxes have been reprinted and models have been repainted. Quality though is all important and whilst occasionally a collector may have to settle for a non-perfect example the highest prices are still paid for those rare, mint and boxed examples.

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