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Has Vintage HO Stuff Increased in Price Over the Past Ten Years?

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Has Vintage HO Stuff Increased in Price Over the Past Ten Years?
Posted by Shock Control on Sunday, January 10, 2021 12:28 PM

While I can still occasionally find bargains on the InterBays, I noticed prices inching up at trains shows each year between roughly 2005 and 2019.  I used to be able to find vintage cars in excellent shape for very cheap.  In more recent years at train shows, I have been buying fewer things, but spending more per piece.

I don't know if this is a reflection of prices increasing, or simply that as I've accumulated more, the things I still don't have are pricey.

What is your experience?

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Posted by selector on Sunday, January 10, 2021 12:38 PM

I'm not in that market, but I do see more inquiries here and on other boards about the older products.  I would guess that, during the latest 'upset', people who suddenly find they have a lot of time on their hands, and who wax nostalgic, want to get their hands on things that brought them pleasure in less heady times.  That would raise the prices.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, January 10, 2021 12:48 PM

By vintage, I suppose you mean stuff like old freight car kits?  Wooded building kits? etc.

I'm not in that market either, never have been.

I think Selector nailed it.

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Posted by tin can on Sunday, January 10, 2021 12:50 PM

Could also be a function of supply and demand.  As time passes; vintage in good shape becomes rarer, and thus, more expensive.

 

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Posted by Shock Control on Sunday, January 10, 2021 1:45 PM

selector
I'm not in that market, but I do see more inquiries here and on other boards about the older products.  I would guess that, during the latest 'upset', people who suddenly find they have a lot of time on their hands, and who wax nostalgic, want to get their hands on things that brought them pleasure in less heady times.  That would raise the prices.

Well, there's that, but I was seeing this trend over about 12 or 15 years, pre-pandemic.  

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Posted by Shock Control on Sunday, January 10, 2021 1:48 PM

mbinsewi
By vintage, I suppose you mean stuff like old freight car kits?  Wooded building kits? etc.

Yes, but even things like 1950s yellow-box Athearns, with sprung trucks, and older Mantua Tyco, when they had metal frames, before they became the cheap glossy plastic toys associated with later Tyco. I could find these in excellent shape at one time for $3 a throw, but they became much more expensive in recent years, at least at the shows I've attended.  Granted, there are always bargains, but these seem to be fewer and farther between in my experience.

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Posted by dstarr on Sunday, January 10, 2021 2:25 PM

There was time I could buy low end (Athearn, Mantua, and the like) HO freight cars for $3 apiece at train shows.  Not any more.  They are asking at least $5 and a lot of times $10.  And we are talking about kitbash "project" cars.  Like needing a paint job, decals, some brake rigging underneath, some wire grabs, a load, Kadee couplers, whatever.  I buy them 'cause I like doing kitbash projects, not that I think I am saving money.

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Posted by AntonioFP45 on Sunday, January 10, 2021 3:36 PM

Very interesting points.

Regarding scale models, at least, the definition for the term "Vintage" is age 40 and over. So basically 1970's and before.

I lurk on ebay and I have seen some vintage and slightly newer items increase slightly in opening bid prices, including the 1950's-60's era kits. But not by much.  I  remember seeing some of the older common Athearn BB and Roundhouse freight cars selling in the $3.00 to $8.00 range. Now I see them in the $12 to $15 range, in good condition. Imho, adjusting for inflation and demand that's still not bad. Of course, the kicker comes in with shipping in the $8 to $15 range.

For vintage structures, Tyco and Bachmann kits are still available in the "teens" price range. Amzaingly, some of those old structures are excellent starters for detailing and weathering to realistic levels, without having to empty a wallet.

Respectfully, when an item like a 1960's (shortt) Athearn "rubber band" drive RDC opens at $50, my jaw does drop open because Proto 1000 RDC's, which are more accurate and equipped with a heavier chasiss and much better drive, can be found in that same price range on ebay and at MRR flea markets. I passed one up for $35 that I had considered re-painting(metalizing) to a fictional road name. 

But, overall, it's the old adage of doing your homework while shopping. Decent deals are still available but you have to be willing to spend the additional time hunting for them.  I admit that when it comes to passenger cars, I'll spend a while hunting for Rivs and Walthers units that I'll plan to strip and repaint. My simple approach is to hunt for the type of car I want that's in the least popular paint scheme as it will usually have a low starting bid.  

 

 

 

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Posted by Darth Santa Fe on Sunday, January 10, 2021 3:57 PM

Inflation is one part of it.  Some of these sellers need to make more per item than they used to for it to be worth their time to sell it.  Individuals getting rid of a personal collection might still have some freight cars and items in the $3 to $5 range, but anyone doing this as a business can't afford to go too cheap anymore.

A lot of these things that used to be cheap are also becoming more scarce with time, and that also drives prices up.  Keep looking around though, and you can still find some very good deals!

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, January 10, 2021 4:19 PM

I started working in a hobby shop in 1970, when many of the products in question here were still on the "new" market, and some others were not considered that old.

Today it really depends on your interests and modeling style. I have lots of "vintage" HO, and there is a lot of it I would not have on my layout.

I'm selective, I don't "collect" it or maintain its original appearance or condition. I will weather an Athearn metal kit from the 50's just as fast as sometihng made last week.

And I do upgrades and add additional details to many of the older models I find acceptable.

Many I have owned for a long time, others I have aquired along the way, mostly at shows or a few shops I know that deal in that sort of stuff.

I have posted pictures on here of unbuilt 50's and 60's kits that I have. They will be built to my requirements, again with no concern for their "history".

I find prices to be all over the map, and I am someone likely to pay as little more for the more "perfect" pieces.

You will not find me even slowing down for the soda carton full of unboxed freight cars at the train show. If it has been handled/treated like that, I don't want it.

I'm looking for those "practically untouched" pieces, still in their original boxes. Not becuase of any "collector value", just becuase I want stuff in good condition, not messed around with......

So, I pay more, for the best of the best of what was out there in 1950, or 1960, or 1970.

And it runs right along side my brand new RTR this or that, or the resin kits I build, or the high detail kits like Proto, Branchline and Intermountain and the present day "Athearn blue box" grade products. Because not every piece of rolling stock needs to be a museum piece, they just need to be reasonably representitive.

Prices - supply, demand, opportunity and desire to be rid, are always the controling factors.

Sheldon 

 

    

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Posted by PM Railfan on Sunday, January 10, 2021 5:29 PM

Shock Control)

In partial answer to your question, just last night (1/9/2021 - HNY! btw) i took a screenshot of a 'sale' off of one of the 'interbays' of a standard no frills Tyco Ho Train set that is definately of 'Vintage' designation - just because of its price.

To put it in a dollar amount - instead of the IRS sending out those $1200 checks, they could have sent you a 40yr old used train set instead.

I wont explain WHY the price increased, I only answer your question, has it?

 

.... oh [symbols removed by moderator] YEAH it has!

 

Green Lights!

PMR

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Posted by Shock Control on Sunday, January 10, 2021 7:01 PM

Thanks all for the replies!  

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Posted by rrebell on Sunday, January 10, 2021 7:43 PM

A  lot of stuff is much cheaper now. Prices of kits has gone way down, brass is way down, some RTR cars vare way up. So it really depends on the item. I have never been able to buy FSM kits for the prices I can pay everyday for. I see a lot of people confuse what is being offered and sold prices. Also there are those that will pay too much or get a steal.

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Posted by PM Railfan on Sunday, January 10, 2021 8:04 PM

PM Railfan

 

 

.... oh [symbols removed by moderator] YEAH it has!

 


 

 

At first, i thought this was Laugh because since when did Warner Brothers themed charactors for bad words become bad words themselves so much so someone had to spray paint over them.

Then I thought, wait a minute, this makes it look worse, like i said something really bad. Gee thanks, it meant less my way. Have to rethink my next Ka-Boom! or Ka-Blam! before i just whip them out there! LaughLaugh

I promise i will be more Eeyore than Yosemite Sam from now on.

 

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Posted by dknelson on Monday, January 11, 2021 10:17 AM

I think it is partly a generational thing.  As entire eras of modelers leave the hobby for whatever reason (death being just one of them), stuff from each era gets more or less dumped onto the used market.  That's how, when I first got into HO, I had a bunch of paper sided freight cars from 20 and more years earlier, and some "first generation" metal Mantua steamers.  Over time this stuff gets thinned out as more of it gets tossed rather than resold.   

Also, when Athearn walked away from the Blue Box line there was so much of it out there -- new and unsold on hobby shop shelves, new and unbuilt on modeler railroader's shelves  -- not only did prices remain cheap (because the stuff had been cheap when new) but the selection was nearly as broad as it always had been.  There was a glut.  That glut has been chipped away at now.  And DCC played a role in the glut as well.

A third factor is access to swap meets, train shows, and hobby shops with shelves of "previously enjoyed" model trains.  Go to enough of those and even if you are uninterested in the stuff you get a pretty clear notion about what the going rate is or can be for stuff.  But many of our colleagues on this Forum say there are no swap meets, train shows, or train stores where they are.  Who's to say what's cheap or too expensive in that situation.

I do know that a buddy who is very adept at and familiar with Ebay is often asked to help sell off estate collections in return for a % of the take.  Even after all these years he is amazed at the results -- whether really nice stuff selling for low prices, or broken and damaged stuff he was willing to nearly give away creating a bidding war and selling for way too much money.  Auctions whether live or online create their own psychology.

Dave Nelson

 

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Posted by doctorwayne on Monday, January 11, 2021 10:45 AM

While we didn't have any train shows in this area last year due to the virus situation, there have always been large amounts of that "vintage" stuff at pretty well all of the shows I've attended in the past.

A lot of it is "new", but at prices considerably above what they would have been when they were manufactured. 
There's usually a lot of the same stuff, but "used" - some is junk, and some is in almost new condition, and some of it has been upgraded, perhaps with better details or maybe custom paint and lettering.  The prices are all over the place, as the sellers are often a friend or relative of the original owner, who has passed away.  Some have a good idea of the true value, others seem to think that if it's old, it must be the equivalent of an antique, and worth a bundle.
 
I usually take a look at this sort of stuff, but if it's not a reasonable price for what's offered, I simply walk away.
I already have a great deal of that so-called "vintage" stuff on my layout, most of it with improved details and custom paint and lettering.
 
I also have a full inventory of my locos and rolling stock, all with suggested prices spelled-out for a couple of good friends who have agreed to sell it after I've "left the building".  Both say that the prices are too low (they get to pick what they want for free), but I've pointed out to both that the idea is to get rid of the stuff, more than it is to make money.

Whatever's left can be donated or simply dumped...it will make no difference to me.

I have a few items from the '50s in-use on my layout, and a few more such items in a box that just don't fit in.  I'd give them away rather than rip-off someone who has no idea of their value...which is little.

Wayne

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Posted by rrebell on Monday, January 11, 2021 11:31 AM

Trouble with e-bay now is too many people putting higher vstart prices, used to be if you started less than $1 you got a big break in fees, not any longer.

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Posted by slammin on Thursday, January 28, 2021 7:55 AM

The used model railroad market is hard to figure out. I've been selling off most of my "vintage" stuff for years. In my experience, most of the buyers for vintage stuff are like me, OLD. They aren't adding to their collection. Many are leaving for that big layout in the sky, causing a glut of the old items on the market. The younger generation doesn't want to devote the time to build the old kits. My wife and I found the same situation in our antique and collectable business. Items that were very saleable now are destined for the thirft store or the dumpster.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, January 28, 2021 8:06 AM

I don't know the answer to the OP's question, and one would have to track a good sized sample yearly over the past ten years.  Unless you do that, you won't get an answer worth taking seriously.

But my impression is that the worth of vintage items can be fickle, and only as much as someone is willing to pay.  You may see some vintage items sell for relatively high prices, but that could be an artifact of something ephemeral.

Certainly if one is gambling on making money off of vintage items, you could very well be disappointed.  Or you might get lucky.  Are you feeling lucky?  (voice of Dirty Harry).  Well are you?

But seriously, yes, the pandemic may be affecting fleabay prices for "now" as many have too much time isloating at home and browse the web for stuff to buy. I expect in time that may change.

But I've noticed over the past ten years at train shows vintage models and kits have been plenty abundant as many bought them years ago and never had time or motivation to build them, and later dumped them on the secondary market.  That is probably the real long term trend and would tend to devalue those things, in general.

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, January 28, 2021 8:55 AM

That rational has been used to reason with hobbyists that complain about the present day costs of high detail models to show they aren't really that expensive relative to the costs 30 or 40 years ago.

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Thursday, January 28, 2021 9:09 AM

I have found at train shows prices are all over the place.  One guy is selling a kit for $5 and 2 rows over another has it for $25.  Actually, I don't think the prices have kept up with inflation.  The size of the show also seems to make a difference, small out of the way shows frequently have much better prices.

There does seem to be less NIB old stuff, especially locomotive kits. 

I think as the more cheaply priced items are sold the remaining overpriced items become a bigger share of the market, so it looks like prices have gone up a lot.  But really it's more a case of the $5 kit was sold and the same kit for $25 is still there after years of shows.

Paul

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Posted by BN7150 on Thursday, January 28, 2021 9:43 AM

 I think one of the keys to this topic is the existence of the HO Collector Magazine. When it was first published in 2017, I was worried about who would be interested in AHM and Rivarossi. Today is the fifth year. It means that there are definitely modelers who need this magazine. And the product introduced in an issue of the magazine will become popular.

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Posted by rrebell on Thursday, January 28, 2021 12:16 PM

I have a couple of the hopper cars from MDC with added details. Other point is tracking prices. I have tracked prices for wood craftsman kits for many years. Recall when built up kits by FSM would go for $1000 if done by a pro and the cheapest kits by them was over $100 (except for real early kits that were not as good as later). For years I searched for their pile driver kit and never wanted to pay the freight of up to $200 or more, finally scored mine for around $100 on e-bay. Now I can buy all I want for around the price I paid. Tracked Campbell kits too, their prices are way down and brass also. Brass has been the biggest loser but their are a few that have maintained value in steam. Diesels have lost the most value along with many narrow gauge (I am talking just HO in all of this stuff). The world has changed in brass in that if someone makes it in plastic of great quality, then the brass version goes way down in price. You could see this comming with the hybreds that came out like the Powerhouse models many years ago. With the wood building kits, cheap lazers and CNC machines ect. have changed the game.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, January 28, 2021 4:25 PM

rrebell

I have a couple of the hopper cars from MDC with added details. Other point is tracking prices. I have tracked prices for wood craftsman kits for many years. Recall when built up kits by FSM would go for $1000 if done by a pro and the cheapest kits by them was over $100 (except for real early kits that were not as good as later). For years I searched for their pile driver kit and never wanted to pay the freight of up to $200 or more, finally scored mine for around $100 on e-bay. Now I can buy all I want for around the price I paid. Tracked Campbell kits too, their prices are way down and brass also. Brass has been the biggest loser but their are a few that have maintained value in steam. Diesels have lost the most value along with many narrow gauge (I am talking just HO in all of this stuff). The world has changed in brass in that if someone makes it in plastic of great quality, then the brass version goes way down in price. You could see this comming with the hybreds that came out like the Powerhouse models many years ago. With the wood building kits, cheap lazers and CNC machines ect. have changed the game.

 

Campbell is still in business and you buy any of it right now online:

https://www.campbellscalemodels.com/default.asp

I would be reluctant ot buy some old stock kit that might be missing stuff when I can just buy a new one from the maker. Their prices are reasonable and in line with inflation adjusted values from years ago when I sold them in the hobby shop.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by BigDaddy on Thursday, January 28, 2021 6:05 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
Campbell is still in business

I need to build that Skull Valley Station that I've been hoarding for 30 years. 

Their Saez Sash and Door was named after Andy Saez, the photographer at Southern Pacific.  I met him, when he was a docent at the Durango and Silverton.  He must be in his 80's now but he had a huge picture collection, which he used to sell at local train shows.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

Shenandoah Valley

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Posted by rrebell on Thursday, January 28, 2021 8:51 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

 

 
rrebell

I have a couple of the hopper cars from MDC with added details. Other point is tracking prices. I have tracked prices for wood craftsman kits for many years. Recall when built up kits by FSM would go for $1000 if done by a pro and the cheapest kits by them was over $100 (except for real early kits that were not as good as later). For years I searched for their pile driver kit and never wanted to pay the freight of up to $200 or more, finally scored mine for around $100 on e-bay. Now I can buy all I want for around the price I paid. Tracked Campbell kits too, their prices are way down and brass also. Brass has been the biggest loser but their are a few that have maintained value in steam. Diesels have lost the most value along with many narrow gauge (I am talking just HO in all of this stuff). The world has changed in brass in that if someone makes it in plastic of great quality, then the brass version goes way down in price. You could see this comming with the hybreds that came out like the Powerhouse models many years ago. With the wood building kits, cheap lazers and CNC machines ect. have changed the game.

 

 

 

Campbell is still in business and you buy any of it right now online:

https://www.campbellscalemodels.com/default.asp

I would be reluctant ot buy some old stock kit that might be missing stuff when I can just buy a new one from the maker. Their prices are reasonable and in line with inflation adjusted values from years ago when I sold them in the hobby shop.

Sheldon

 

I don't know about that, my average cost was about $15 vs $55 when I last bought one. I rarely pay retail and can get 80% of what I buy at 10 cents on the MRP price

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, January 28, 2021 9:02 PM

rrebell

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL

 

 
rrebell

I have a couple of the hopper cars from MDC with added details. Other point is tracking prices. I have tracked prices for wood craftsman kits for many years. Recall when built up kits by FSM would go for $1000 if done by a pro and the cheapest kits by them was over $100 (except for real early kits that were not as good as later). For years I searched for their pile driver kit and never wanted to pay the freight of up to $200 or more, finally scored mine for around $100 on e-bay. Now I can buy all I want for around the price I paid. Tracked Campbell kits too, their prices are way down and brass also. Brass has been the biggest loser but their are a few that have maintained value in steam. Diesels have lost the most value along with many narrow gauge (I am talking just HO in all of this stuff). The world has changed in brass in that if someone makes it in plastic of great quality, then the brass version goes way down in price. You could see this comming with the hybreds that came out like the Powerhouse models many years ago. With the wood building kits, cheap lazers and CNC machines ect. have changed the game.

 

 

 

Campbell is still in business and you buy any of it right now online:

https://www.campbellscalemodels.com/default.asp

I would be reluctant ot buy some old stock kit that might be missing stuff when I can just buy a new one from the maker. Their prices are reasonable and in line with inflation adjusted values from years ago when I sold them in the hobby shop.

Sheldon

 

 

 

I don't know about that, my average cost was about $15 vs $55 when I last bought one. I rarely pay retail and can get 80% of what I buy at 10 cents on the MRP price

 

 

OK

    

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Posted by BN7150 on Friday, January 29, 2021 4:52 AM

I remembered that in the old days, the situation in the second-hand market was completely different between brass and plastic. For brass, the model shop published an inventory list in a magazine and sent it to customers by mail or fax. The use of the Internet began in the late 1990s.

On the other hand, in order to get plastic products, it was necessary to visit model shops or go to train shows and swap meets. I visited the United States three times for that.

The online auctions, which started around 2000, have become convenient sources of procurement because of the wide variety of items and the fact that we can see the actual items in the photos. At the beginning there were many bulk-listings, and I was able to save on shipping costs to overseas. Around 2010, proxy bidders who send individual successful bids in bulk appeared and began to request them. I feel that today the number of listings is increasing for each indibisual model.

That's why I may have contributed to the soaring price. :P

AHM Flexi-flo covered hoppers

The two Flexi-Flo covered hoppers have been repainted from the AHM. It's cheap! it's fun! it's proud! and it's great! See my blog post.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, January 29, 2021 7:40 AM

Love those Flexi-Flo's.  I have a few I'm working on.  Plano makes a detail kit for them:

http://www.planomodelproducts.com/photos/10930.jpg

http://www.planomodelproducts.com/chopper_scq.html#Flex

Inspired by Sean Steele's work with a Flexi-Flo:

http://www.planomodelproducts.com/steele/s-steele.html

Mike.

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Posted by maxman on Friday, January 29, 2021 11:12 AM

mbinsewi
Inspired by Sean Steele's work with a Flexi-Flo: http://www.planomodelproducts.com/steele/s-steele.html

Thank you for that link.

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