“Why have Marx toys dropped in value?” you ask? Blame Millennials. Well, actually, my generation bears more of the blame for this one. Blame Gen X. The value of vintage toys tends to follow trends, and those trends don’t necessarily pass from generation to generation.
I get the question all the time how to take apart Hot Wheels without a drill. This trick doesn’t work on older cars with metal bases. But you can indeed take apart newer cars with plastic bases without drilling the rivet. The trick is to use a soldering iron to heat up the rivet and the plastic base enough to let you take it apart. So here’s how to open a Hot Wheels car with a soldering iron.
When it comes to old toys, a lot of people forget about lead paint. It’s not a bad idea to be concerned about Tootsietoys and lead paint. That said, we also have to be realistic and reasonable. There’s no reason to be Scaredy Squirrel.
Restoring Tootsietoys can be a fun and satisfying way to enjoy old toy vehicles. Whether you want your childhood toys to look nice again or just enjoy bringing new life to neglected examples, it can be as easy and as affordable as you want it to be.
I’ll talk specifically about Tootsietoys here, but the principles apply to other vintage diecast cars of the same era like Hubley or Midgetoy.
After talking about scale, Andy Tolch, owner of the excellent Andy’s Toys, asked me about the scale of Tootsietoy cars. I don’t have a ton of Tootsietoy cars but was able to identify and measure five of them. The results surprised me.
Years ago, I decided I wanted to take a different approach with my trains. I heard about a guy in Springfield who has a traditional toy train layout with no plastic on it. I wanted to see if I could do something similar.
At the time, information about this approach was rare. So I’ve collected here what I know about tin buildings made prior to 1970 (the approximate end of the postwar era). You won’t find everything you want in pre-1970 buildings, so if you need something more modern to fill in the gaps, see my other post tin buildings for train layouts.
What scale are Hot Wheels cars, you ask? Unfortunately it varies a bit. They tend to be a bit less than 1:64. But scale isn’t Hot Wheels’ objective. Fitting in the package is. That means the size of Hot Wheels cars is between 2.5 and 3 inches, depending on what looks right for the prototype model. That’s when a prototype even exists. So it can take some homework to figure out the actual scale of any given model. Read more
What scale are Matchbox cars, you ask? Unfortunately it varies a bit. Nominally they’re around 1:64 scale. But scale isn’t Matchbox’s objective. Fitting in the package is. That means the size of Matchbox cars is between 2.5 and 3 inches, depending on what looks right for the prototype model. So it can take some homework to figure out the actual scale of any given model.
It’s not uncommon to find model trains with unwanted paint on them, or original paint that’s damaged beyond the point of being able to rehabilitate it. Fortunately, the price is usually low on these trains, and there are numerous household chemicals that can strip the paint off these trains and give them a fresh start.
These tricks also work with other toys and plastic models, but while some of these methods seem to be unknown in the train community, some of them are very well known among collectors who restore vintage plastic model kits. This is an example where knowledge across disciplines can be very valuable, so I hope the car and airplane modelers won’t mind me sharing their secrets.