Published: January 16, 2001
By Kelly S. Mittleman
This week’s vintage toy highlights appear on the Internet, and without the Lines and Bare Shelves of Christmas Past to haunt you, paying a few hundred (and then some) dollars for these treasured trinkets seems like child’s play.
Over the years collecting toys has become a wildly competitive sport. Fans of rare rdf_Descriptions search the auction hotspots for Barbies in original boxes and Star Trek’s Spock, like zealots. Just about anyone searching for dolls, trains and other toy memorabilia will have a field day cruising the vintage wares available online at sites such as sothebys.com.
Some toys are truly one-of-a-kind, and it’s this uniqueness that makes the toy not only coveted, but pricey. One toy at sothebys.com, a “Clown on Stilts,” circa 1950s, with a windup mechanism that allows the figure to play the violin, had a $200/250 estimate.
For a few other limited edition lots, superheroes reigned supreme. A porcelain statuette (one of 3,900) of Robin, The Boy Wonder of the Batman TV series carried a $750/900 estimate, and the description for a whimsical Superman costume, with its original $2 price tag (est. $300/500), boasts, “this may be the only one of this kind.”
The novice may wish to proceed with great caution, noting that there is a system for toys that determines their value. There are many reference works available to aid the buying process. According to the Toys and Prices 1997 (fourth edition) by Krause Publishing, for example, a rating scale determines what a toy is worth:
MIB,MIP,MOMC – Mint in Box, Mint in Package, Mint on Mint Card. This is a system that means just like new, in the original package, preferably still sealed. The box may be opened, but any packages inside remain unopened. Toys in boxes that remain factory sealed command higher prices.
MNP, MNB – Mint no Package, Mint no Box. This would be a toy in mint condition but not in its original box.
NM – Near Mint. A toy that looks like new, with minor wear and does not have the original box.
EX – Excellent. A toy that is complete and has been played with. The toy however is clean and well-maintained.
VG – Very Good. A toy that shows general wear overall-paint chipping and rust may be evident.
GD – Good. A toy with evidence of heavy play, may be missing parts, etc.
All of these factors are assigned a point value, with 10 representing “mint” and 1 as “good.”
So, whether it’s a “Bozo the Clown 1964 Metal Lunch Box” (est.$450/575), or a “LifeSaver Yo-Yo” (est.$100/150), you might want to break out those piggy banks to find something that’s going to take you back to your childhood days and bring a smile to your face at the same time.
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