How to be a Thomas Train Collector and Start A Train Collection
Some people collect types of model trains for fun, others for an investment. Either way, it’s a fun hobby that might earn you some money at the same time.
If your got the t-shirt, every train on the Island of Sodor, and of course a Thomas train plate, you might find yourself wondering if it’s worth becoming an official collector.
And there’s no better franchise to collect than Thomas & Friends™. The great classic toy has been around for over 75 years, making it part of everyone’s childhood. It’s likely that your parents loved him growing up too, and might even have some Thomas memorabilia from a bygone era.
In this feature we’ll take a look at which Thomas the train toys are the most valuable, and how much a Thomas the train set worth is. Plus, we’ll also devle into some insider tips on how to become a train collector. So it's time to get your model train collection together, we're going on a journey!
How much are collectable Thomas the train toys worth?
First of all, Thomas & Friends™ items are a great investment, as the much-loved train has a huge following, with no sign of waning.
Toys in general can grow by 30% in value annually (according to thisismoney.com), but there are a number of factors that determine this. In the case of Thomas train merchandise, earlier and rare items are considered the most valuable, along with limited-edition engines. Generally speaking, items that are over 25 years’ old are considered vintage and amongst the most desirable to have in your toy train collection.
A quick look on eBay is a great way to see how much preloved items are worth, noting that merchandise is often as valuable as the trains themselves. For instance an original Thomas mask is today worth £400, while a rare boxed Thomas electronic game from 1984 is going for £320.
How much is a vintage Thomas train set worth?
They always make wonderful beginner model trains, so if you’re wondering how much are Thomas the trains worth, a study suggests that a set of five trains from just 2000 could be worth £200.
Again, collector trains can vary in value depending on their condition and whether they are in original boxing or not. Important points to keep in mind if you are planning to start collecting.
(C) 2022 Gullane (Thomas) Limited
There’s a number of online fan forums and groups where you can get a better evaluation to find out how much your Thomas the train set is worth, including; thomasthetrain.net and ttte.fandom.com, vintagecashcow.com and facebook.com/ThomasTheTankEngineCollectables
How to become a Thomas & Friends™ Collector in Eight Steps…
So, now you know that Thomas train sets are worth a decent amount of money, how do you go about becoming a collector for you or your child.
Here’s eight steps any serious toy collector should note:
1. Invest in merchandise
If you want to become a serious toy train collector, decide what you want to invest in. As we’ve seen Thomas merchandise ages just as well as the trains themselves, so if budgets allow you might want to get the books, Thomas train plates, t-shirts and games, as well as trains themselves.
2. Become an expert
The best way to understand the value of an industry is to simply become an expert yourself. However, the toy market is so vast, that if you choose to be a collector you may want to specialise in a specific field. For instance, if you want to become a train collector, think of the brand you like best and sign up to all its marketing newsletters. For instance, to become a Thomas collector, start signing up to newsletters, buying Thomas magazines, licencing magazines and follow Mattel and Thomas & Friends™ on social media, to discover new and discontinued items in the train collection.
3. Spread the word
If you’re collecting on behalf of a child, tell friends and family and maybe even create an Amazon wish list to help get your child’s train collecting on the map.
4. Look after packaging
Look after toys well, perhaps stash them away so they can’t be played with. And yes, this includes its packaging too, which for some toys, can make the difference between hundreds and thousands in resale value.
5. Consider storage
Find a suitable storage area that is not wet, damp or dusty and out of direct sunlight, or better still - a storage unit facility. If you’re choosing your loft, think about whether that overheats in the summer for instance. I
6. Maintain condition
It's not enough to just buy well, you have to maintain your items as investment pieces. If children’s toys are stored away, be sure to keep them in good condition by dusting regularly, some collectors choose to place them behind glass casing, others in vacuum seals.
7. Get thrifty
As you grow as a train collector, so will your knowledge of where to shop. There's a huge community out there which is very supportive and sharing of information. To start with, shop in market stalls, garage sales and thrift stores for vintage versions, you never know what you might find. There’s also a growing Thomas train Facebook communities and marketplaces which are worth joining to tap into the wider 'trainspotting' community, as we affectionately call ourselves!
8. Personal taste matters!
And finally, perhaps the most important of all – love what you buy. Much like investing in art, since items can go up and down in value there is never any guarantee that your investment will pay off. Therefore, it’s important to trust your instinct and invest in items that appeal to you as much as anything else.
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