April 2000

First I have a few common comments and clarifications on toy collecting. A box almost always increases the value of a toy a minimum of 25 percent. The boxes can easily double a toy’s value with rarer, older toys. There are no known examples of some toys including a box and to find one of them with a box could possibly even triple its value.

Why is the box so valuable? Obviously, colorful boxes are interesting, but the real reason they’re valuable is because of the use of a box. Think back to when you got a toy. What did you do with the box? Few boxes survive. Remember, most older toys were just that–toys. They weren’t collectibles.

Another thing that can reduce the value of a toy is a missing component or accessory, or an instruction sheet. Older Tipp Mercedes models, such as the ambulance which came with stretchers and patients, no longer have their cargo! Those pesky little attachments always get lost throughout the years they provided entertainment for their owners. Perhaps they were sold or traded for a different toy! The 190S1 models were produced with many variations, and one of the vehicles I looked for was the model with gunners in the rear and a small airplane which hovered above on a small wire protruding from the fender. I looked for that model for years, and found many in good condition, but without the airplane. Models range in price from $200 to $600, but after 10 years I was offered one with the airplane for $1,200. I only paused briefly before making the purchase.

I also collect cars with dogs and I will always pay more for those. Several Mercedes models included dogs and are generally rare. The Germans also made cars with dogs that barked with a tiny bellows driven off the rear wheels. A famous toy collector, Al Marwick, once said, “The fun is in the search.” He also said to me, “I never suffered any remorse over any toy I bought — only the ones I didn’t buy.” So true.

Friction or non-powered models are generally worth more than cable or radio-controlled models. Certainly tin models are the most valuable and generally plastic models have very little value, although they can be quite realistic. Toys “shows” are held all over the world but they aren’t really shows like we think of when we consider car shows. Virtually everyone in attendance at a toy sho is a vendor there to sell or a buyer. The best toys shows are those held in the Northeastern United States. There are an abundance of collectors and toys there.

The best shows include Allentown, Penn., and manyinternational collectors attend antique (including toys) shows in Atlantic City. Those shows are truly a feast for collectors of all types but there are always 20 to 30 really good toy exhibitors in attendance.

There are good shows in Ohio, in the Chicago area, and, to a lesser degree, in California, especially in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, there are no significant shows in the southern states, Texas or the Northwest.

It’s important for a beginning collector to note that there a lot of shows throughout North America for casual or beginning collectors looking for items priced below $200 and modern toys. Rarer toys are not likely to be displayed at local shows, and can only be acquired through private transactions or at larger, regional shows.

One magazine that any serious collector must subscribe to is Antique Toy World (773-772-0633), the unarguable leader worldwide. The predominate magazine in Germany is Spielzeug (02236-322038, Fax 02236-322040). Spielzeug also offers a U.S. subscription which includes English translations for most of the articles.

There are many regional and less successful national or international magazines and newsletters and there is also a Mercedes Benz Model Club, based in Germany, which is active worldwide. Contact information is:

MBMC Reichenhaller StraBe 53 D 70372 Stuttgart. Phone (07 11) 55 82 49 Fax 07 11) 55 82 49.

Many collectors or Mercedes enthusiasts call me looking for models of their driver or favorite model. The best sources are Toys for Collectors (508-695-0588), and Eric Waiter (EWA) (732-424-7811), Exoticar Model Co. (800-348-9159), Sinclair’s (814-838-2274), and Denny’s Diecast (888-919-0777). One of the best sources for out-of-print books on toys or real cars is Blystones (412-371-3511).

Mine is a very diverse hobby. You should be cautious when you’re beginning and try to decide what you want to focus on. When I started, I wanted to own most every die-cast Mercedes, but I quickly decided that it was impossible, both from a financial and display point of view. Moreover, I wasn’t satisfied just having thousands of nondescript models. After I got a few hundred modern die-casts in the late 1980s (which today are still worth less than I paid for them back then), I changed to tin cars, and specialized in open cars. I have drifted since then, as I came across many trucks, military models, and other minor diversions.

Focusing on something you get pleasure from or can relate to will really give you satisfaction during the search and subsequent ownership experience.

Many Mercedes models attract other types of collectors. Ashai made 300s1s in many versions. Some of the rarest and most valuable models have robots in them, which appeals to robot collectors, as well. Some models had clowns, which appeals to circus collectors. Mercedes military models appeal to military collectors, Mercedes trucks appeal to truck collectors such as fire trucks which are widely collected regardless of make. Many people like police cars, of which there are many Mercedes models.

As you move forward from 1940 or so, there are more and more Mercedes toys. Perhaps there were just more cars from which to build models, but clearly Mercedes’ entry into the U.S. with real cars affected the proliferation of toys.

Many toys were made during the era they were introduced, but sometimes they were reproduced later on. 300s1 toys made in the 1950s are worth more than the same model produced today. Obviously, the quantity today dwarfs the numbers made back then, although many models are created today specifically as collectables.

There were many European and Japanese manufacturers of toys. Some of the more famous are Schuco, Tipp, JNF, Bandai, Marklin, and, for HO scale, Wiking. There were a considerable number of trucks made, as well, although old trucks are rare. Of equal importance, however, is the fact that trucks are not as widely collected.

Toy values, to a large degree, track their real life counterparts. Sedans aren’t often reproduced as toys and have a limited following. Racecars, convertibles and coupes, and special interest or limited-production models are popular as toys. Also, the more beautiful the real car, the more likely it is to be a popular toy.