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Why are Diecast Toys Popular to Collect? Plus Buying and Selling Diecast Models at Auction

Debbie Porter

A Dinky Leyland Martian gun tractor with 7.2” howitzer. Image credit:

Here at Potteries Auctions, we’ve seen a whole host of diecast toys and models, including ones from famous brands such as Dinky and Corgi, pass through our salerooms over the years. From vintage toys to modern models made especially for collectors, diecast models cover a wide range of interests – but what makes them so popular to collect? Read on to find out more, as well as how to buy and sell diecast toys at auction.

Older generations reading this might recall playing with Dinky military vehicles, such as the Leyland Martian gun tractor with howitzer. Dinky Leyland Martians are not massively rare, though ones that aren’t play worn to some degree are not especially common, so to find one specifically in good condition is decidedly less easy to accomplish. For collectors, this makes it all the more satisfying when a suitable one is found, although – of course – to find one that is mint-in-box would be the absolute holy grail! Subconsciously, you could argue that there’s an element of one-upmanship in this kind of endeavour – of finding a superior example. For those who can say “I have a mint-in-box such-and-such, and it’s dead rare”, you can certainly imagine there being an expectation of kudos, of owning something that other collectors don’t have.

However, this is not by any means the only reason that someone might get into collectibles like diecast cars – people might do so just for pleasure, to learn more about the objects they collect, to show loyalty to a team, country or hometown, or they might simply form a habit out of interest in a particular area.

Diecast models are a great thing to collect. There are many kinds and a broad array of genres that appeal to different types of collectors, from civilian cars and planes to military aircraft and tanks, or representations of vehicles from popular shows of the time. There ‘ something for everyone.

A lot of boxed Lesney diecast vehicles and buildings

This fantastic lot of boxed Lesney vehicles and buildings sold for £240 in our November 2018 Fine Art sale

Names like Dinky, Lesney, Corgi, and Crescent Toys are likely to evoke memories in those who were young when such items were current. Finding a good condition replacement for a battered toy car you used to have can reconnect you with your childhood, or kindle a newfound appreciation for what you had when you were young. Nostalgia can play a major part to some collectors. You also cannot deny the charm of the style and build quality of diecast models, there’s something oddly satisfying about the weight of one in your hand.

A Hobbymaster 1:72 scale Lockheed F-104 Starfighter

A Hobbymaster 1:72 scale Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. Image credit:

Alternatively, high quality, finely detailed modern models may pique the interest of someone who seeks a representation of something personally meaningful to them, like a car they used to own, or an aircraft they used to work on. Additionally, those have a specific interest in, say, military vehicles and aircraft, can end up collecting examples of their favourite ones. Those who have an interest in creating dioramas may value models of a specific scale and level of accuracy. The sheer ‘displayability’ of high quality diecast models, with their crisp, fine details, can also be a factor.

A complete set of Matchbox Seakings with harbour play set

A complete set of Matchbox Seakings, with harbour play set. Image credit:

Owning an entire range of a particular make can also be a goal of the serious collector. Matchbox alone had a broad variety of ranges over the years, from cars to planes, ships, tanks and military aircraft – even sci-fi vehicles.

Dinky diecast Thunderbird 2 & 4 models

This Dinky Thunderbird 2 & 4 sold for £260 in our December 2021 General sale.

How to Buy or Sell Diecast Toys at Auction

Here at Potteries Auctions, we run regular auctions and attract buyers and sellers from all over the world. We’re based in the heart of the Staffordshire Potteries with two salerooms; the Silverdale Saleroom and the Cobridge Saleroom, so we’re best placed to offer valuations and advice. This is because our experts can assess your diecast models for authenticity and market value.

If you’ve got diecast collectibles to sell, we can identify and provide valuations to tell you how much they’re worth. Please get in touch with usto discuss how we can help you or request a call back if you are looking for an expert evaluation and are seeking to sell your items or add to your collection.