Toy train values & current economic pressures?

930 views
23 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    August 2004
  • From: St. Paul, Minnesota
  • 2,110 posts
Toy train values & current economic pressures?
Posted by Boyd on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 1:40 AM

The economy was going fairly strong before the virus hit. Train shows all over have been cancelled. I was thinking of selling some of my mostly Lionel trains in a garage sale later in the summer and I wonder if anyone has seen a lowering in values since March? 

Modeling the "Fargo Area Rapid Transit" in O scale 3 rail.

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 4,475 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 7:59 AM

It's probably too soon to tell, and it depends on what you've got.

It also depends on how much money people have to spend.  If you live in a area that's been hard-hit with COVID-19 caused layoffs people may not have much money to spend, but if they do they may be ready to go on a spending spree if they've been "locked up," for lack of a better term, for months and haven't been able to spend anything. 

It's a crapshoot, really.  Personally, when I do a train show I put the stuff I'm unloading out a blow-away prices, I know I'm not going to make any profit but I'm not there for that anyway. 

I don't know that values have lowered but I'm not sure any walk-ups you get at your garage sale will be willing to pay collectors prices on your Lionels.  

The only trend I've seen is prices on post-wars have been dropping the past few years.

Sorry for the thinking out loud, but I really don't know what to tell you, other than to play it by ear and see what happens.

  • Member since
    April 2005
  • From: South Carolina
  • 9,680 posts
Posted by rtraincollector on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 10:24 AM

I had some on items on eBay at which I thought was already a good price, and items are not really selling, so figure I will wait till late Oct - early November and see if things improve. I have a 6250 NW2 for sale listed for $55, had a guy ask me if I would accept $45 shipped. I answered not a chance. Let's see $45 = $4.50 to eBay, another $1.70 to Paypal. Then shipping somewhere between $10 and $15 so that will leave me just about $23 for an item I offered starting at $55 + Shipping. Offers like that I feel are just rude. 

Life's hard, even harder if your stupid  John Wayne

http://rtssite.shutterfly.com/

  • Member since
    August 2013
  • 49 posts
Posted by Waynestrains on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 1:10 PM

Relative to your story - I do make quite a few offers on ebay. I always try to not insult any seller with a "low ball" offer - Sometimes we agree and other times not but always try to stay within a fair offer. Wayne  I probably should add that I setup and also sell at local train shows so I see it from both sides. With that in mind as to the original question - I do see O gauge selling less with the most activity on N scale followed ny HO

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 4,475 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 3:46 PM

Just an add-on to what I said earlier, if you're putting up signs advertising your garage sale display prominently "Lionel Trains For Sale."  You may attract people that might see your "Garage Sale" signs and would otherwise drive past without a second thought. 

  • Member since
    September 2010
  • From: Parma Heights Ohio
  • 3,434 posts
Posted by Penny Trains on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 6:29 PM

Well, I'll tell ya.  I can't speak for Lionel, Flyer, MTH or any other brand of what we would apply the label "classic" toy trains, but I did sell a fair collection of toys at garage sales over the past 5 years.  The majority were Star Wars toys from the 1990's:

There was also a fair collection of Gundam models and other:

Plus the Tomy Thomas sets, most of which I created by putting pieces together that Tomy never did.

This is what I've learned:

  1. Even a well advertised garage sale won't draw your target demographic.
  2. A garage sale is a BAD place to sell colectibles.
  3. As a rule you'll get no more than 25% of your asking price.

The Star Wars and Gundam are all but gone, the Thomas remains.  Though it has done a bit better since I started having a "display" layout.

Trains, trains, wonderful trains.  The more you get, the more you toot!  Big Smile

  • Member since
    August 2004
  • From: St. Paul, Minnesota
  • 2,110 posts
Posted by Boyd on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 5:22 AM

Minnesota still has some restrictions. I was going to have misc other stuff. I've posted ads on Craigslist for individual Lionel cars and I got calls for people looking for a set. One cheap blow hard wanted a set for his grandchildre. I said I'm only selling cars, not complete sets. He replied well can't you find a transf and track, I need something that runs for my grandchildren for about $40-$50? I said no I'm keeping my track and my transformers are stored in boxes. The guy was so pushy I almost hung up on him. I know that people will ask to see my layout or use the bathroom and the answer is no. I have mostly MPC but I will have some postwar and some Marx. 

Modeling the "Fargo Area Rapid Transit" in O scale 3 rail.

  • Member since
    August 2004
  • From: St. Paul, Minnesota
  • 2,110 posts
Posted by Boyd on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 5:26 AM

It's odd I didn't get email notifications for replies. 

Modeling the "Fargo Area Rapid Transit" in O scale 3 rail.

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 4,475 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 8:54 AM

Boyd
The guy was so pushy I almost hung up on him.

Next time hang up on him.  Life's too short and there's enough good people out there for you to deal with so there's no point wasting time with a butthead.

If there is a next time.  Hopefully there won't be.

  • Member since
    April 2005
  • From: South Carolina
  • 9,680 posts
Posted by rtraincollector on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 9:26 AM

that's one of the reasons I don't use craigslist. There's to many idiots out there, the first thing I would have said have fun trying to find a whole set for $50 try around $100.

 

Life's hard, even harder if your stupid  John Wayne

http://rtssite.shutterfly.com/

  • Member since
    March 2013
  • 475 posts
Posted by BigAl 956 on Wednesday, June 17, 2020 3:04 PM

Garage Sales and Craigslist are absolutely the worst venue to sell trains. The typical garage sale customer is looking for an engine and cars for thier sick child and has a budget of under $50. Craigslist and meets are mostly frequented by collectors in the same boat as you, looking to downsize. Unless you have something rare or mint the market is very bad right now. The odds of someone driving up to your sale and paying top $$ for trains is 1 in a 100.

My advice is to arrange your cars, engines, track, and transformer in sets. Put them on an ebay auction starting in October with a low starting bid. Be realistic, if you can get .50 on the book value dollar before fees, take it as a win.

  • Member since
    January 2006
  • From: Florida
  • 2,181 posts
Posted by traindaddy1 on Thursday, June 18, 2020 7:32 AM

Interesting thread.

Weekly Garage Sales in this area have been discontinued due to the virus and don't know when they will resume.

Past experiences have not been successful when it comes to trains. The few and far-between items have been priced beyond reason.

As mentioned, (even though there are anti opinions at times on this forum) I think that Ebay might be a reasonable choice. They offer a "reserve not met" option should you decide that the auction isn't going your way.

Wish you well.

PS - Been there, done that! Do you "really" want to give them up?

 

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 4,475 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, June 18, 2020 9:09 AM

traindaddy1
PS - Been there, done that! Do you "really" want to give them up?

Read Bob Keller's "Think About It Before You Purge" blog for some interesting thoughts on the subject, not just Bob's but mine and other peoples.  

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Chicagoland
  • 462 posts
Posted by cbq9911a on Thursday, June 18, 2020 9:53 AM

Prices have gone down for lower grade items before Covid-19.  Train shows are beginning to start up again, but the only sellers I'd expect are the people who have to sell.

  • Member since
    October 2009
  • From: Sylmar CA.
  • 3,363 posts
Posted by V8Vega on Thursday, June 18, 2020 10:27 AM

A garage sale seems like a poor place to try to sell trains. most all of the population don't care at all. A train show where the people there are interested in trains seems like a lot better place.

Dennis  San Fernando Valley CA.  Joined August 2009

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 4,475 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Thursday, June 18, 2020 10:55 AM

Well, if Boyd's having a garage sale anyway it certainly wouldn't hurt to put the trains out.  You never know unless you try.

  • Member since
    November 2007
  • 236 posts
Posted by stuartmit on Thursday, June 18, 2020 2:09 PM

On the subject of low ball offers, it depends on awareness of the buyer and his reason for interest. Some of us don't know (or care) that an item which attracts our attention is a desirable piece; that may not matter to the buyer--he may merely say--I need another 3 boxcars for my line and a 6464 is a 6464, no matter what the markings. This am i made an offer on a super O uncplr listed at 9.00 plus shipping. I offered 5.00 and was rejected right away. To me, that unit is just not worth 9.00 plus--its just an electromagnet. Gonna use with Gargraves track. But instead I bought some 6019 magnets (only) and will  cut into my gargraves track and install. I paid 2.50 ea for 6, plus shipping, and my labor when they arrive as I need them. AN outlet has  or had a 2340 on sale on ebay with a doctored eunit (no lever) for about $250.00. Having been altered, its collector value is destroyed, and to work as originally designed, you needed a new e unit, restore the cutout which had been closed over, and labor to wire in the new e unit.  I offered 100.00. Is that a low ball? To me, not a collector, but a"runner",  the unit carried a lot of aggravation to get back to operational shape as originally designed. So sometimes, the seller has one thing in mind, but the buyer another. And  thats ok--not an insult to the seller.

  • Member since
    April 2006
  • 6,739 posts
Posted by fifedog on Sunday, June 21, 2020 6:17 AM

Around these parts, folks are probably walking around with less than $50 bucks in their pockets, so you have to bear that in mind.  However, we have a local auction house, that has RR themed events every so often, and that seems to bring out the big bucks.

And if you have a situation where someone is trying to "low ball" you on the price,  just give them a rye smile and slowly shake your head no.  No harm, no foul.

  • Member since
    April 2006
  • 6,739 posts
Posted by fifedog on Sunday, June 21, 2020 6:20 AM

V8Vega - Hey Dennis, if I see a familiar orange and blue box setting out, I'm a-stoppin'...

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 4,475 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, June 21, 2020 10:59 AM

Just a story on prices dropping, for what it's worth, and it may not be worth much.  Wink

Anyway, about 15 years ago I was looking for Lionel's "Spirit of '76" set, for convenience most call it the "Bicentennial Set."  It wasn't really a set per se, it included a GE diesel in the Seaboard "Bicentennial" paint scheme, plus a matching caboose, and thirteen state cars representing the thirteen original colonies / states.  It was never sold as a set, purchasers could buy as few or as many of the components as they wished.

Anyway, I found one at a Greenberg show, the seller wanted $1,100 for it.  Ouch!  I just couldn't afford that, and even if I could I doubt I'd have bought it anyway for that price. 

Then a few years later I saw another one at another show with a $650 price tag.  Better, but still out of reach.

THEN about two years ago I was at a Greenberg show in Chantilly VA and an exhibitor had one for $350.  I was talking with him, admiring the set, and he said he'd let it go for $325.  Bingo!  The locomotive, caboose, and all thirteen cars in the original boxes went home with me that afternoon.

So, that's the story.  Thanks for "listening!"  

  • Member since
    September 2010
  • From: Parma Heights Ohio
  • 3,434 posts
Posted by Penny Trains on Sunday, June 21, 2020 6:16 PM

Hey!  That's next week's puzzle fun!  Wink

Trains, trains, wonderful trains.  The more you get, the more you toot!  Big Smile

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • From: Henrico, VA
  • 4,475 posts
Posted by Flintlock76 on Sunday, June 21, 2020 7:00 PM

Wow.  That's the first time I've ever been first out of the starting gate, and before it was even set up!  

I feel weird...

  • Member since
    January 2014
  • 20 posts
Posted by AFGP9 on Saturday, June 27, 2020 1:29 AM

I have a lot of garage sales experience thanks to my wife. We attended a weekly auction house locally. She for antiques and me for the occasional train piece or pieces to sell on eBay to raise money to support my train buying habit. Train stuff at a small local auction house doesn't attract many bidders so I could usually get nice stuff cheap then resell on eBay. I made a few bucks that way. If there was more than one train piece, the auction house would sometimes put everything in one or two boxes. I ended up with stuff I didn't want. Since some of what she bought was bundled with stuff she didn't want she held garage sales to unload the unwanted stuff and I would sell the extra train stuff and a couple hundred Hot Wheels and Match box. She did fine. I did fine with the cars but not so much with the train stuff. It seemed as if no matter how cheaply I priced the train stuff, I always had somebody argue the price. Things were already at give away prices since I was just trying to get rid of it. I got real tired of people letting a dime make or break a deal. Yes I could have taken their offer but I can be more stubburn than you are an aggresive, cheap jerk.                                                  If you go into a garage sale thinking you are going to at least break even don't bother. I did it to unload stuff I knew, after eBay and Pay Pal charges, I would make little to nothing on. Garage sales can tax your patients if you let it. If selling something to just to get rid of it, then do it. If the object is to sell to make a little money, that's what you will get, especially now with all high unemployment. We just had a town wide garage sale semi-anual event, uusually a big deal. There was hardly any turn out. Because of the coronavirus or unemplyment or both?          No I don't particapate any more. Not in 5 years. I'd wait until fall if a garage is still in your plans. 

  • Member since
    August 2004
  • From: St. Paul, Minnesota
  • 2,110 posts
Posted by Boyd on Sunday, June 28, 2020 2:33 AM

About 2-3 years ago I took apart my Fastrak yard and posted it on Craigslist. It was built from 2005 to 2007. I had a lot of it and through possibly 10 or more buyers I sold it all getting around 2/3rds or more of what I paid for it in 2005-2007. Maybe just a Craigslist sale ad for the trains instead of the gar sale since most of what I have to sell is trains. 

Modeling the "Fargo Area Rapid Transit" in O scale 3 rail.

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Get the Classic Toy Trains newsletter delivered to your inbox twice a month