Collecting Slot Cars has gotten completly out of hand lately, thanks to Greedy, collect-for-profit dealers using the Internet Auction sites. This article will hopefully give you an insight as to what alot of this equipment is actually worth, and the "precautions" you should take to avoid becomming one of the many "victims" of these people.
Over the last few years, the price of older Slot Cars and related equipment has sky rocketed. This is mainly due to the internet, as before this marvel, most people could not sell older equipment for face value. Also Dealers who know how to say the right words, and try to pass themselves off as "last word" experts.
The "auction" site has become the place to go to obtain these items, and the rest is history. However, one thing many people do not understand: Just because it's old, does Not mean it's valuable. It also does not matter who's name is on the product, as Mass-Production, and the Internet, has made it very easy to come across many older items. With the net, an item that was once considered "rare" on the west coast, is now avaible with the use of a "keyboard" from people on the other side of the United States, or the World for that matter.
Example: The Revell Dune Buggy, avaible from any raceway that wants to order it. Retaill price this year is $15.99, yet I see dealers on auction sites pass them off at $24.95 and up. It's packed in a plain white box that says "Revell REV 3823 EMPI Dune Buggy. Home set car". The most common color is Orange, though the Green and Red ones are very easy to come by. They all share the same, poor handling plastic chassis-motor combonation. Well over 500,000 of them were made.
Another example of this is parts. The most common, and least valuable of these are old sponge tires. Made by the hundreds of millions, these are the single most common item to find. They are also the most useless. I say this, because they are only good for "static" restoration. While most may "feel" soft and "pliable", the compound that makes them work on a track is long gone, a product of time, and their is NO way to "restore" them for actual use. No matter how much "glue" or traction compound you use, they are just old tires that have no real usable life in them. Many newer tires go "dry" just sitting on a shelf, in new air-tight tubes after only a couple of years after being made, do you really think "older" packaging methods are better?. Another fact, only an expert (and many times even they can't) can tell if the tire is made by any one company from that era, and there were only a handfull of compaines that actually made the rims and rubber, just packaged in the respective company's package with name for sale.
These tires are from the 1970's, and sold for about $6.00 for the box. They feel "soft, but have No traction, their only use is for "static" display. Since they were produced in very high numbers, their "desirablity" is not much, and therefor neither is their value, although the plastic box is good for parts storage.
Another point, most people, including collectors, cannot tell the differance just to look at an item. Oh sure, it looks nice sitting on a shelf, but does that make it worth more than when it was new?. The truth is NO.
The term "displays well", "Hard to Find", and many other "catch" phrases, are used by dealers, and opertuniast's, who want to create the illiusion that an item is worth their "opening bid" or asking price, and they rely on these tools, and the ignorance of most buyers, to turn a pile of junk into cash.
Another "ploy", is to mis-represent the item's title such as "Not such and such/and such". Using the names of a popular item in the description means the ad will "pop-up" on a search, so more people may see it and look. Again, people are mis-led to belive an old item is valuable.
Cox gears, which were made by the Hundred of Millions, are often the reason a "seller" will list an item as being made by them, when it is usually a Parma or Champion from the late 1990's. Same with Guide flags. They see the name Cox, and assume the entire car is made by them.
Alot of cars thru the 80's used a Cox guide flag , so the seller lists it as being made by Cox, instead of disclosing the fact that he or she really doesn't know what it is, or that they are hoping for an ignorant buyer.
I know lots of "collectors", who offer practicly nothing for an item they find in a store, or at a garage sale, and there reasons, when they buy it are true. Because it is a "very" common item. Then they list it for auction, many times with a high opening bid or reserve, and watch the money come rolling in, thanks to buyers who don't know what the item in question is, or what it is worth.
Many cars and parts have been reproduced, alot of them very well, (Monogram/Revell, AMT, and others have "re-released" many of the old model kits from the 60's and 70's, with the same Art work on the box and tooling for the original parts, the Monogram Chaparral Coupe still says 1966, it was re-released in 1998, it costs money to change tooling, which aids the sellers who are out to de-fraud) and while the person making the item may sell it as a "repro", the dealers soon list it as an Original when it winds up on an auction site.
If your talking about a car like the Cox 2E, then you see how a reproduction $60.00 car can sell for over $2,000.00 if the buyer does not know what he is getting. One other note, it is rummored that Cox destroyed about 130,000 of the 2E kits, of the 230,000 or so that were produced. It seems that some of the employee's had other ideas, and many of those cars never made it to the dump, but wound up in garages (Cox didn't care where they went, they only wanted to get rid of them, so alot of people (employee's and their friends) got them for free).
Another entrant to the game, the "speculator". These folks play the slot car game like a commodity, speculating that the price will go up, and they make an attempt to buy as many of the "desirable" items as they can, or simply put, to "hoard" it, to cut the supply, so in the future, if one is desperate enough, they will have to "pay the price", or do without.
Cars like the Manta Ray by Classic, were produced to over 1 million, plus parts for another million or so. It's this fact that makes the actual car worth slightly more than when it was new 30 + years ago. Another ploy, is leading people to belive that they are "making an investment", that it will increase in value down the line. If you belive that, I have a couple of real nice bridges I'd like to sell you, cheap.
Controllers like this one (which is just like a modern Parma Sebring) are also very common. The Parma Tiger (the sticker of the Spider) means it was sold After Parma took over Russkit, the company that made it. Later, Parma changed the "R" on the handle to "Parma". It is only worth about 5 bucks, New in the box. The reason is, most often, the resistor and wires need to be replaced before you can use it. By the time you do all that, and include the price of the controller, it's cheaper to buy a new one. Aside from the point that over a million were made with the "R", which is why they are not worth much.
The truth is, their are only a handfull of items in this field that have any real "investment" potential, and most all of those are already in collectors hands, tucked away. They are "proto-types". The Original item before being mass-produced. In many cases, only a proto was made, so naturally it's worth more than a production unit.
Names like Cox, Classic, Monogram, Revell, and others, seem to make people think it's instantly worth money. They don't realize that thanks to Mass-Production, these items are so plentyfull it boggles the mind. Yes, some of the "complete", Mint-In-The-box cars are worth some money (and that is the "only" way they are), but the rest are just common leftovers . There is a surplus, because 30 years ago nobody wanted it, and it's no better now, no matter how much you pay for it.
It now appears that alot of the older cars have been "cloned", so of course the value of the actual articl is now going to drop even further.
Thank the sellers who had to flood the market.
Trains by Tyco are another example of over-priced collecting. When they were new, most train enthuiast's would not buy them, as their quality was not what is considered "hobby quality". Oh they look good, but don't preform very well. Production numbers are un-avaible, but it's safe to assume they'll be enough of them to last a few life times. They are just common Toy Trains that were made Very Cheaply .
People's own Greed, and ignorance, are why old Slot Cars and other "toys" are going higher in price. Don't you think, in the time the Internet has been around, that if these items were really "rare", the supply would now be exausted?
For that matter, don't you think the sellers would "hold on" to the items, so they might gain more value with time.
Ask any "insider" that was around with Revell or Cox, and you'll find that they left the business because it was very un-stable, and they wanted to cut their losses, and start making a product that would generate money.
The last item of note is the new cars from Fly, MRRC and the other New compaines. These cars are produced much like "Beanie-Baby's, in small quanitys, which will no doubt drive up the price in the future. A story on newer cars will be added shortly.
The bottom line is this: The longer people are willing to "play the game", and "pay the price", the longer the maddness will continue. Wake up, it's the year 2000.