How to Sell Die-Cast Cars

By Lisa Barker
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For many collectors and fans, collecting die-cast cars is a hobby spanning decades, encompassing a variety of models and manufacturers. After amassing a collection of die-cast cars that would put real-life car companies to shame, you may decide to slim down your collection and spread the joy to fellow collectors. Knowing how to accurately price your collection and where to sell it will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Critiquing Your Cars

Before you start to think about money, take a look at the condition of your collection. Two of the most immediate factors that lower the value of any die-cast vehicle are a loose car with no packaging, and packaging that has taken a beating over the years.

A loose die-cast car, regardless of condition, will always sell for less than a brand new, never opened die-cast car. Take a close look at the car, paying very close attention to any paint chips, broken parts and general wear and tear as any minor defect will lower the car's value.

If the vehicle is in new condition, you can expect to get a greater valuation; however, the die-cast car must be in its original packaging, whether its in a box or a blister card. If the packaging has any bent corners, tears, water or sun damage, the value will be reduced appropriately. For example, sun damage will always lower the value more significantly than a minor tear in the corner.

After evaluating the condition of the die-cast cars you will be selling, you can now turn your attention to competitive pricing.

Pricing Your Prized Possesions

Searching completed auctions on an auction website like eBay is a great starting point to formulate prices. Try searching for the specific individual vehicle if you plan to sell individual cars; for larger collections search for similar sized lots. In general, selling die-cast cars in individual auctions will always fetch a better price than selling them in one giant lot.

If you aren't able to find a price via eBay or any other auction websites, reach out to fellow collectors on the Hot Wheels subreddit on Reddit, or a traditional collector's forum such as South Texas Diecast Collectors Forum. If there are any hobby stores around you, stop in and have a chat with the owner, who might be able to put you in touch with a knowledgeable source.

Older books such as The Die Cast Price Guide: Post-War: 1946 to Present and various price guides from Beckett will help determine a good starting point for older die-cast vehicles. Unfortunately, as of 2015, there isn't much in the way of physical price guides for cars made in the 21st century.

Keeping it Local

Before turning to the Internet, first explore some local outlets you can use to help sell your collection. For example, consignment shops frequently rent out space to sellers, or you can reach out to your local toy or hobby shop and see if the store buys collections. Using a local store makes it much more convenient for you to get rid of your collection all at once if you are in a hurry to make space, with the added benefit of supporting your local collector community and its businesses. However, don't expect to get as much money as selling the cars yourself: These stores generally will take a cut of the profits or offer you a lower amount since they need to resell the vehicles afterwards.

Your local Craigslist page is another option to explore. Craigslist allows you to reach fellow local collectors directly, and you don't have to haul your collection around until you've reached a deal with a buyer. Safety is always a concern with any online transaction, so proceed with caution when meeting a prospective buyer.

If your collection is more on the niche side, or features many one-of-a-kind, higher priced vehicles, you may not find a local buyer; in these cases, transitioning to a more global market will increase your selling potential.

Selling on a Global Scale

Online auction websites like eBay provide a much larger and more competitive buyer market on a global scale, but with added variables and risk. While the seller does have protection on most auction websites, it is still easy to fall prey to a scam; that risk is compounded by the chance that a package could get lost or damaged during delivery. Always purchase tracking for your packages to give all parties involved documentation of the entire process, and consider using insurance for higher priced or more rare die-cast vehicles.

Online collectors groups and forums also provide a global audience on a more personal scale. Try to find a website or forum dedicated to the specific brand of die-cast car you're selling, as you're likely to get much better results. For example, if you're selling Hot Wheels die-cast cars, the Hot Wheels subreddit frequently hosts trade offers, and traditional fan forums such as the official Hot Wheels Collectors message board provide another means of selling your cars. When selling on forums, only look to sell to established members to minimize the chance of getting ripped off, as you won't have any form of seller protection.

Trade Shows and Conventions

When you have a lot of rare or one-of-a-kind cars, a convention or trade show such as the Annual Hot Wheels Collectors Convention or the Matchbox Collectors International Gathering of Friends is likely your best bet; you have the potential to reach a lot of serious buyers and hardcore collectors without the worry of online scams. Travel expenses and renting a booth have to be accounted for, but you will encounter some serious collectors looking to add more unique cars to their own collections.

Regardless of what outlet(s) you use to sell your diecast car collection, have fun with it, and take pride in passing on your valuable collection to another enthusiastic collector to enjoy for decades.

About the Author

A graduate from Eastern Washington University, Lisa Barker has taken an interest in comics and Hot Wheels from an early age. Her Hot Wheels collection numbers in the thousands, encompassing both common and extremely rare cars.