Have you ever wondered what determines the value of a diecast toy cars like Matchbox and Hot Wheels? Some might think that a book, because its published by a well known collector or company, determines the value of each car. There are many books, magazines, and websites with prices predetermined for each piece. I’ve been collecting, buying, and selling these model toy cars for over 30 years and no book or website has ever been correct in determining the value of them.
Prices fluctuate on a monthly, weekly and yes even on a daily basis. Like any type of collectible, the price is determined by the demand of a specific model car and the supply available for it. I’ve sold a certain Matchbox toy car for $70 one week, then 3 to 4 weeks later the demand for it had dropped and the supply in the “open market” for it had increased, so the value and by that I mean the amount I could sell it for dropped to less than $40.
So you can see how older redline Hot Wheels or Matchbox cars, with the lower supply in the market have sell for higher amounts. The demand is high but the supply of existing models is minimal. Unlike diecast toy cars produced in the 1990’s or later, which by then more people were collecting cars and the supply of them are many. Condition of the model car are more important in newer models than they are in older ones. An older Matchbox car may be so rare that the condition may not play a big role if only a hand full of them exist. The fact that they still exist and are available is rare enough and play the biggest role in determining the value.
With newer models, the supply is plenty compared to pre-1970 cars. Think about it, if you where going to add a specific Hot Wheels car to your collection and you found 20 of them on the internet for sale ranging from $10-$25, wouldn’t you choose the car in the best condition, such as in its blister pack rather than the lowest priced one? This is where condition plays a larger role, when the supply is high.
I’ve read so many articles and books trying to explain prices, but in the end it comes down to the basics…supply and demand. Online auction sites like eBay have created a worldwide market for collectors to sell toy cars and thus set the prices for them. This is the perfect place to see what makes a diecast toy car valuable. For example do a search for a Matchbox Collectible Model of Yesteryear, pick a model and do another search for that specific model. You may get 2-10 item for sale. Make a note of the highest and lowest price. Do the same search a few weeks later. If the number of items for sale are less than before, the prices will be higher. If the number of items for sale are higher, the prices will be lower. In the end, this is what determines the price of a diecast toy.