Lionel Centry Club 1- What happened to our investment value?

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Posted by cwburfle on Saturday, October 28, 2017 3:58 PM

 And unless it's really scarce I can't figure out why the Virginia car goes for what it does.  Maybe a hard-core Lionel collector can clue us in.

After getting the rare car wrong I checked a couple of price guides. In the Greenberg one I checked, they openly admit that they don't know why the Virginia car is harder to find and more expensive. They mention that some may have gone to the state of Virginia as a promotion.

I can tell you that there were a lot of people who thought that Lionel would occasionally underproduce some items to create shortages that would fuel the buying frenzy. Preorder or miss out! Did Lionel really do this?...... nobody really knows.

Back in the 1970's there were some mail order dealers advertising Lionel product in either RMC or MR. I don't think I have any of those magazines any longer. If I have some time later I will look.

Any current production items I purchased back then would have been mail order from one of those advertiser.

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Posted by Dave45681 on Wednesday, November 01, 2017 4:59 AM

cwburfle

.......................

I can tell you that there were a lot of people who thought that Lionel would occasionally underproduce some items to create shortages that would fuel the buying frenzy. Preorder or miss out! Did Lionel really do this?...... nobody really knows.
.................

I don't doubt it.  My experiences are more recent over only the last 20 years or so(though I have stories my dad may have shared with me from further back), but the various "buzz words" I've encountered over that time were:

  • "allocated" ("I'm only getting so many from Lionel, so if I get more interest from my customers, I'm out of luck" - though it basically meant horse trading among dealers to try to satisfy customer demand if this happened).  See any "collectible" boxcar, certain engines (Weathered Commodore Vanderbilt as an example?)
  • "Lionel shorted my order" (rare, but happened once or twice at my normally very reliable dealer)  While this was probably a specific example where Lionel produced the item before showing it off, I ordered 3 original Scrooge McDuck Mint cars from my dealer to only receive one.
  • and now the current "Built to Order (BTO)".  (too many to list)

All the same gimmick, just a different name for  a way to claim you need to "act now" to not miss out.  Assuming Lionel survives for another 20 years, it will be interesting to see how all these BTO items do further down the line. 

The deal of not reproducing the same items seems to be happening for some items but not others, sometimes the claim is the tooling is lost/damaged, etc.  Sometimes it might be a "it was cool to do once, but we probably wont' get enough people to bother trying for it a second time".  The Big Boy sems to still attract demand in each new issue (original, then JLC, then Vision), but the Pennsy CC2S (one of the original 4 Vision engines, just a random example) hasn't resurfaced, possibly because it's more of an obscure item.

All IMHO.

-Dave
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Posted by rtraincollector on Wednesday, November 01, 2017 5:18 AM

On the other hand thou, I had a friend who was a dealer and he would complain that he didn't order this or that but Lionel would ( or distribator Would ) Force items and charge him for them. And he couldn't refuse them. ( When Lionel makes way to many of an item ) Some of the Nascar sets back around 2006 or when ever they where. For example. 

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Posted by phrankenstign on Thursday, November 02, 2017 2:52 PM

cwburfle

I've seen many items sold as "Limited Editions" and "Collectable"/"Collectible" that are indeed as described. 

I haven't. Can you give a few specific examples?

I thought it would be easy to find a lot of examples.  However once I started looking, I found the rise in prices were marginal and not worth mentioning for the items I'd been thinking about, when I posted my disagreement.

In many cases, fairly high rises in prices were commanded right after the runs were produced and sold out.  After a few months and in some cases years, the prices had dropped significantly similar to what was recounted by cwburfle about the Century Club prices and the $500 Early Bird boxcar.    The more I looked, the more it appeared to me you were correct!

Thanks for the wise words of wisdom!

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Posted by cwburfle on Friday, November 03, 2017 7:22 AM

I tried to find some 1974-76 magazines to see what the mail order prices were for the bicentenial loco and cars. Unfortunately I have older ones, and I have newer ones, but I have nothing in those years.

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Posted by BigAl 956 on Friday, November 03, 2017 9:53 AM
The Great Recession killed off any investment aspect of this hobby. Judging by what I've seen on Ebay if you could get 75 cents on the dollar you did well. .50 is the norm. Rule of thumb is nothing produced to specifically be collectible is.
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Posted by phrankenstign on Friday, November 03, 2017 1:48 PM

That's quite a drop.  Since I've always been an operator, it hasn't really hurt me.  I have quite a few trains that I've seen the value go up on, but I run mine and I don't have plans to sell them.  Perhaps my son and daughters will someday sell them and see a profit of sorts, but I won't.  The one way it has affected me is I now rarely buy new Lionel products.  Their prices seem too high to me.  I've been a fan of Lionel since I was a toddler, but I can't justify paying what they're asking now.  I tend to buy new old stock or used trains on ebay and Craig's List.  I've gotten some really good deals that way.  I'd like to buy them at train shows also, but they're rarely in my area (south Mississippi).

Earlier today, I was looking at the back cover of Classic Toy Trains (the December issue).  Menards has nearly a full page of items they've priced at less than $40.00.  In fact, the majority of them are $19.99 and $24.99.  How is it they can price so many items that low yet Lionel can't or doesn't?  By charging such high prices, it means people who buy them have trouble getting what they paid from the secondary market.  A buyer will think, "I can buy a brand new Menards car or two for the price of one pre-owned Lionel car.  Hmmmm."  I think the pricing is a big factor in the lower demand for Lionel products on the secondary market.  MTH has traditionally charged lower prices than Lionel also.  The act they offer a full line including locomotives and transformers soften the market even more for pre-owned Lionel.  It's a drag because I'm sure there are many like me who would prefer to buy Lionel products all things being equal.  The Lionel name symbolizes quality and durability.  How many Lionel trains are still running after 20 years.....30 years......50 years.....75 years.....100 years?  My oldest trains are from the 50s.  I have some from every decade since, but even the cheapest quality ones they made that I have still work.  That's what makes me to continue to be a Lionel fan.

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Posted by cwburfle on Friday, November 03, 2017 3:54 PM

 How is it they can price so many items that low yet Lionel can't or doesn't? 

One reason is that Menards is selling the product they have made in their own stores. No middle companies, there aren't multiple layers of businesses needing to make a profit.
Lionel has to cover all their business overhead and make a proft by selling to other businesses who have to do the same. Does Lionel still use Jobbers? If so, then there are at least 3 layers.

Also, one has to compare like products. Where does the Menards merchandise fall in comparison to Lionel?




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Posted by Firelock76 on Friday, November 03, 2017 5:40 PM

Qualitywise?   I've got some Menards rolling stock, they're quite good, but not as good as Lionel or MTH.  I'd say Menards is kind of the Marx of the 21st Century.  And it has been said, Joshua Lionel Cowan made toy trains popular, but Louis Marx made them affordable.

 

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Posted by overall on Sunday, November 05, 2017 6:18 PM

If you want an investment, buy mutual funds. Trains are meant to be run, on a layout, for the fun of it.

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Posted by traindaddy1 on Monday, November 06, 2017 1:32 PM

12/21/06 and still being responded to....interesting! 

Only offer my My 2 Cents

To me, it's a hobby. I invest in trains to "play" with them.

To the person who sold me my trains, it was an inventory investment for future sales.

To the collector it's an investment for the  "pride of possession".

As far as trains as collectibles as monetay investments, I guess that I'd I think of them as any other commodity with the "supply and demand" factors considered.

Thanks for asking.

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