Frequently Asked Questions
  The following are some of the questions I have been asked. If you have any further questions or comments please send me an email or sign the guest book so I can keep this section as complete as possible.

What should I collect?

This is obviously entirely up to you! If you decide to collect Matchbox Models of Yesteryear there has been a vast number of items produced from 1956 to the present day that you might wish to obtain. Therefore, to make things more manageable, and easier on the pocket, most collectors tend to specialise in one particular area. Specialising also enables some expertise to be built up on your chosen field. For example, as you can see from these pages, I restrict my ‘serious' collecting to all early Yesteryears although some later models do find there way into my display cabinets. Someone else may wish to collect all commercial vehicles whereas fire engines may attract another collector. Many collectors will try to collect as many different items as possible, whereas others are interested in minor casting variations of the same model and look for trends in the manufacturing process. Another collector may wish to collect all newly released models, although so many are being released now by Matchbox Collectibles that even the purchasing of new models may need to be restricted.

The following lists some areas you may like to investigate

  • Models issued in ‘Matchboxes'
  • Models issued before 1972 (before the introduction of ‘hot rod' wheels)
  • Models issued up until 1978 (when the straw coloured box was introduced)
  • Models issued before 1982 (before the take over by Universal Matchbox)
  • Preproduction models
  • Automobiles
  • Commercial vehicles
  • Giftware items
  • Catalogues
  • Code 2 models (Models modified with the permission of Matchbox)
  • Code 3 models (Models modified without the permission of Matchbox)

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Where can I find out more about Yesteryears?

Your first place to visit probably should be the references given in the reference section of these pages. You could also follow some of my Links. A very good place to get information is by talking to other collectors and dealers at swapmeets and toy fairs. Have a wander around several swapmeets to see what is available. Join a local Matchbox collectors club or the Matchbox International Collectors Association (M.I.C.A.).

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Where can I find old Yesteryears?

You could try your loft! If that fails then you really must visit a dealer or a swapmeet. Main dealers often exhibit at swapmeets but so do many collectors. Swapmeets are a great place to find that illusive model and to talk to fellow enthusiasts. There are several large swapmeets in the UK every weekend and many as smaller venues on weekday evenings. A diary of the main swapmeets can be found at the Diecast Model pages.

The occasional model can be found for sale at local markets but these tend to be in poor condition and for sale at a high price. I have found car boot sales totally disappointing when it comes to finding Yesteryears but you might be lucky!

M.I.C.A. produce a bimonthly magazine with a classified advertisement section that is free for members. Many Yesteryears can be seen for sale here and you might just find exactly what you have been looking for. You may also find models for sale from collectors and dealers advertising on the Web.

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How much is this model worth?

The glib answer to this question is however much a collector is willing to pay. However there are some points to bear in mind. The value of a model is governed by two main factors. These are

  • The rarity of a given model
  • The condition of the model and box.

The highest prices are afforded to those models that are in mint boxed condition. That is the models must emerge from their boxes as fresh as the day they were manufactured and the boxes must be pristine and free from fading. Any deviation from this ideal will drastically reduce the value. Unlike Dinky toys, refurbishing a model by touching up chips etc. is a definite no no and renders a model virtually worthless.

If the model no longer has its original box then the value may be reduced by as much as 50% that of a boxed example. This does not hold for particularly rare examples but for standard first series models this can mean that the box is worth over 50!

  • There are several main categories of values to consider.
  • The cost of a model when purchased from a dealer
  • The cost of a model when purchased from another collector or from a swapmeet
  • The cost of a model from an auction
  • The amount a dealer will pay for a model.

Guide books such as the White Book or John Ramsay's price guide give an indication of dealer ‘values' i.e. the amount of money required to purchase the model from a dealer. The values given are for mint boxed examples only. These are values that probably should be used for insurance purposes. A dealer will pay significantly less than the ‘book' price for a model. Remember the dealer must make a profit to pay for his premises and his summer holiday! The Model pages of this site give some indication of the cost of obtaining a model from swapmeets. Swapmeets tend to be the cheapest source of Yesteryears.

There will also be some regional variations in the cost of a model. For example only a few first series models were originally exported from the UK and therefore tend to be scarcer in American and Australian markets.

Please do not email me with requests for valuations.  I get inundated with such requests and do not have the time to answer in a considered way.

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What should I look for when buying a model?

  • Try to look at the model as carefully as you can. Make sure the lighting is good. I try to avoid buying from dark shops or swapmeets where imperfections cannot easily be seen.
  • If you are looking for mint models avoid chips and scratches
  • Check carefully for any discrete restoration. Repaints or even slight touching up severely effects the value of a model.
  • Sometimes the box may be absolutely fresh and mint but this is because it has been stored in a cupboard for years. The model itself may have been on display in a smoky, dusty room and may have suffered.
  • If you come across a colour scheme you are not expecting check for repaints but more importantly check for fading. Look at areas that would not be exposed to sunlight, for example under the seats. The sun can have an extreme effect on the colour of a model, both the plastic components and the metal body work. For example, the usual green of the Y5-1 Bentley can change from the usual British racing green to an alarming shade of blue!
  • Check that the box being sold with the model is the correct one for that issue. For example, a creme Y3-2 Benz was never sold in a pink and yellow window box. In order to avoid a mistake along these lines you really need to obtain a copy of the White Book from M.I.C.A.
  • Unusually coloured plastic components may have been swapped from other models or models from the giftware range.
  • If you come across what you suspect is a rare variation check that the model has not been ‘modified'. For example, I have seen an Opel with a window at the rear of the hood which, on close examination was the result of some skilful scalpel work and I have seen a black seated sidecar of the Y8 Sunbeam which was in fact painted. Admittedly ordinary prices were being charged for these models but it is wise not to get too excited without closer examination!
  • Watch for damaged boxes. The card ‘Matchboxes' have a tendency to dry out slightly and only a few opening and closing operations can be enough to separate the end flaps from the rest of the box. Faded boxes are also undesirable.

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How should I display my models?

Many wall cabinets are now available especially design to display collectibles. These are ideal as the models should be displayed out of the dust. It is amazingly difficult to clean a model once it has experienced the ravages of a dusty, smoky atmosphere. Make sure that the models are displayed out of direct sunlight as the ultra violet can cause the plastics to fade, and the paint to change shade in an alarmingly short period of time. Boxes should also be kept out of sunlight. I keep my boxes made up and stored in a cupboard. However, if you are short of space the boxes can be folded flat but you must be careful to prevent creasing.

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Which is the most valuable Yesteryear model?

The most valuable regular issue Yesteryear produced before 1973 is probably the Y4-2 Shand Mason horse drawn fire engine (>150). As far as rare colour schemes and variations go the most valuable are the Y10-2 Mercedes with black seats (~1200) and the Y12-2 Thomas Flyabout with yellow seats (~900). The scarcest model issued after 1973 is the first issue Y4-4 Duesenburg in white and red with a yellow or black plastic canopy (~1500).

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Mark Robbins Copyright   2001 Back to