I have been buying and selling Diecast for some time now, and as most of my sales are Code 3 items, I quite often get asked exactly what that means, and thought this quick guide might be of some use. So the basics, and what exactly are the Codes for diecast, well in a nutshell ...
Code 1. This is any diecast produced by the manufacturer. It could be a mainstream toy or model, or a limited edition or ordered promotional. The important thing is that it has been produced totally by the manufacturer.
Code 2. This is any diecast that has been finished by a second party, with the knowledge and agreement of the manufacturer. Examples could be a batch of plain white or coloured models, that have had their decals added by another company, with the consent of the manufacturer. It could be castings ordered unpainted, that have been finished and presentation boxed under license. At the end of the day, two companies have been involved in the finishing process, where normally there would be one.
Code 3. This is the refinishing or alteration of a model, without the consent of the manufacturer. This description sounds almost dodgy, but Code 3 is now a recognized collectable in it's own right, and there is nothing illegal or unscrupulous in these singular alternative models. Code 3 covers a wide spectrum, and can mean simply swapping the trailers of two different articulated units, to completly changing the colour and look of a model. Basically, any model intentionally altered in appearance from it's origional manufactured look, without the consent of the afore mentioned manufacturer.
There are many different collectors out there, and there are many, many different models to choose from. Some themes such as Police and Fire services, are popular subjects for Code 3 hobbyists, and if you look at the Code 3 catagory in eBay's Diecast section, you will see many examples of their work. Code 3 also exists in other area's such as Corgi and Dinky, the latter which I prefer, and many otherwise scrap models, have found a second life thanks to this growing section of the diecast world.