Chances are, you have some model trains lying around in your room or basement. Wherever they might come from, these train models can fetch a reasonable price depending on numerous factors such as rarity, condition, age, and where you sold them. Knowing your choices on where you can sell these models is crucial to getting the most out of your selling efforts.
You can sell model railway items such as train cars, locomotives, buildings, and tracks on numerous marketplaces. Notable among which are eBay, Pawnshops, Auction Houses, Model Train Dealers, and Direct Selling. Each of these options has its set of advantages over the others.
This post will discuss the various places, both offline and online, where you can buy and sell your model trains with their accessories. I will also discuss their advantages and disadvantages over the others and finally, my personal conclusion and recommendation depending on your preferences.
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eBay is one of the best places to sell model trains like Hornby, Marx, or Bachmann.
It is one of the popular sites for these types of sales, and most people get a reasonable price for their items on eBay.
There are many reasons why people can sell a good price on eBay, but the main one is the number of collectors looking for things to buy on the website.
More people means more bids for the items. That’s why it is common to sell rare and vintage model trains for thousands of dollars on the platform.
Another great news is that eBay doesn’t have a big price cut compared to other options. Generally speaking, they only charge about 15% of the sale, including their fees.
However, the disadvantage of eBay is that it requires some knowledge of model trains to sell your products. Furthermore, you need to understand model photography to ensure you have a good picture since people can only see the images you’ve made in the listing.
Another disadvantage of using eBay is that it takes time to get your money from the sale. It usually takes a month to get your money and isn’t an excellent way to get a quick buck.
But what if you need a quick buck and can’t wait a month after the sale for the money? Well, let’s check the other options.
You can visit eBay here: eBay.
Pawnshops can buy model trains, and they are the best ways to get a quick buck as their valuation and payment is fast. In fact, if they have already finished valuing your train, you can get your money in just a single day.
This might be surprising since not everyone knows that pawnshops can buy model trains.
But there are reports of Pawnshops buying model trains from different train brands such as Hornby, Marx Trains, American Flyer, and Lionel. They also purchase train accessories such as Railroad Items, Buildings, and Yard Items.
Selling on Pawnshops is one of the easiest and fastest ways to sell your model train. Provided that they see some value in the ones you are selling.
However, this speed and comfort come with a price. Remember that pawnshops aren’t collectors. So they won’t buy your models for a premium price.
Furthermore, their business model is buying low and selling high, which means they will try to buy your models for as low a price as possible.
Since pawn shops aren’t collectors, the aesthetic of the train models matters the most. So, cleaning and shining your models before selling is a good idea as they will fetch a high price since they look like they’re in peak condition.
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Recommended Read: For a guide on cleaning and shining your models, please check this post: How to shine your models?
3. Auction Houses
Auction houses are a great way to sell your models for a premium since they usually provide experts when valuing your models. However, due to the number of models that are being valued, it takes more than a week to value your product and another month to sell them.
Auction houses are a great way to sell your models for a high price since they usually have a group of collectors waiting for the auction time.
Furthermore, they have a group of experts who manually does valuation on your models. Thus, you can be sure that your models will be sold for a high price regardless if you have knowledge of model trains or not.
Some of these services can also pick up your models, which provides comfort for the seller.
However, this comes with a price. The professional fee of the experts for the valuation and the sales cut is usually the highest on auction houses, and some can even reach up to 40% sales cut.
This means while you can be sure that your model will be sold for a premium price, you will only receive 60% or more of the sold price. Furthermore, it usually takes a long time to receive your payment in cash, with some reaching months.
However, not all auction houses charge that much.
A perfect example is Warwick and Warwick, a famous auction house.
Warwick and Warwick is a famous auction house that sells many models. Their charges aren’t as high as other auction houses since they only charge about 20% of the sold price.
Furthermore, they provide a free valuation from their experts and can collect your models at your home, provided that the model is of high value.
What I like about them is that they also provide transit insurance in case your models break on transit to their auction house.
However, like other auction houses, it takes a long time to receive payment from them, which takes about 30 days after the auction.
4. Train Shows and Conventions
If you want to sell your models in front of real collectors willing to pay a premium for your models, try opening a booth at train shows and conventions.
Many modelers are trying to sell their collection at these events as many people attending these gatherings are ready to spend some money on rare and vintage models.
Thus, people tend to sell their collections for a premium at these events.
However, this might be the hardest one to pull off compared to other choices.
For one, you have to rent and set up your booth, which requires a lot of time and effort on your part.
Furthermore, they require you to have in-depth knowledge of what you are selling since you don’t have any expert advice on pricing, and you can’t simply search for related products like what we can do on auction sites.
This means while this can offer you a very high price for your collections, it requires the most effort compared to other choices.
Regardless, this is one of the best ways to get the highest price for your collection.
5. Model Train Dealers
Model train dealers buy your model train collection for a specific price. Compared to auctions, they pay for your models at a specific price set by their evaluators. In addition, their speed of payment differs as some can pay in cash, while others will pay on a dated check for your models.
Compared to online auctions, model train dealers tend to buy your models directly. They are like pawnshops that are more specialized with model trains and collectibles.
Since they are experts in the field, they tend to pay more for model trains as they appreciate tiny details on your models.
Some would also provide free services such as free valuation and pickup.
This is a good option if you want to be sure of getting money since you will only get cash from auctions if the product is sold.
On the other hand, model train dealers will buy your models regardless of whether they sell them or not.
Note: Vintage Cash Cow was once a UK-only Model Train Dealer. However, they started going into the US market in late 2021.
The popular model train dealers in the UK are Vintage Cash Cow and EllisClark Trains. These train dealers are usually looking for Hornby, Aster Live Steam, Accucraft, Trix, Marklin, Roco, Micro-Metakit, DJH, Golden Age Models, Bachmann, Dapol, Graham Farish, and Lee Marsh models.
6. Online Auctions
eBay has a lot of competitors, and you can have more choices on where to buy and sell your model trains on other auction sites such as QDT, Vectis Auction, and Tennants.
For example, QDT or Quality Diecast Toys has been a professional buy and sell company since 1984 and has an annual revenue of 1 million dollars.
QDT acts both as a model train dealer and an auction house. If you choose the dealer, you get faster cash, but you won’t usually make more than placing it in their auction house.
What I like about them is that they are fast in valuing your models, and from experience, it only takes less than 3 days except on holidays when valuing your models.
Furthermore, they don’t charge as much as other auction houses as they only charge about 22.5% commission charges compared to other auction sites, which take a 40% cut.
Vectis auction is also a good choice for online auctions, and they are considered one of the leading toy auctioneers. They also host events such as toy fairs in the UK.
Vectis also has a lot of bidders, which means it is common to see models sold for a high price on this platform.
Lately, another online Auction called Tennants is getting a spotlight as they tend to sell models at record-breaking prices. They are also situated in the UK.
7. Direct Selling
Lastly, if you want to sell your models manually without any help from experts, then try direct selling.
Compared to other options, direct selling lets you keep the total selling price since you will do everything yourself. Furthermore, you can ask your buyer to pay in cash instead of waiting months on other options such as auction houses.
Direct selling offers the highest price for your items, provided that you put in the effort.
Here are some options on how you can do direct selling.
Advertising in Model Railway Press or Local Newspaper
Some people who have valuable model trains tend to sell them directly by advertising in the local press.
In the old times, this was the way to reach as many people as possible, and this is how you could get the most out of your models.
However, the cost of publishing can outweigh your selling price if you aren’t careful.
Advertising on model railway press allows you to access thousands of model train collectors who can bid on your item.
However, I don’t recommend this approach, especially since we now have the internet, which costs nothing.
Gone are the times when you have to publish in the press to advertise your model train collection.
Facebook marketplace is a great place to list your collection, and it will be notified on people who are interested in model trains.
Thus, today, the majority of direct selling comes from Facebook.
For example, there is a group on Facebook called Model Railway Stuff – Buy, Sell, and Exchange, where they are thousands of members looking to buy, sell, or exchange their models.
In there, the only thing you need to do is take a picture, put in a description, and post it in the group.
Furthermore, you can use Facebook Marketplace to increase your reach.
All of this can be done for free thanks to the internet.
Sales are usually made either via meet-up or online payments.
Tip: As much as possible, go for meet-ups or offer to go for meet-ups even if you don’t have to. This is to test the seller since most scammers on direct selling would try their best to avoid meetups. This tip would cut off 80% of the scammers on these marketplaces. It’s better to be careful than sorry.
Selling to Model Train Communities
Facebook isn’t the only marketplace for direct selling. There are lots of online communities where you can sell your collection.
For example, you can try Craigslist or Reddit.
Please note that while direct selling has the highest returns and you can get the cash fast, it requires a lot of effort and knowledge of the market.
Now, you have many options on where to sell your model trains. It can get confusing, so the last section is my recommendations based on your preferences.
Conclusion and Recommendation
I listed many options, and you might get confused about which one to choose.
Honestly, the best one for you depends on your preferences.
If you want a quick buck, then try pawnshops. However, don’t expect to get the best value for your trains since their business model is buying low and selling high.
Expect more money than pawnshops from Auction houses since your models will be handled by experts and sold to a group of collectors. However, note that their fees can reach as high as 40% of the sales, which you might regret when the payment arrives. Furthermore, you can’t expect to get quick cash via this method.
Direct selling, such as Facebook Marketplaces, is an excellent place to sell your models without many sales cuts. In fact, meetups are typical where you will instantly get cash for your collections.
However, be careful since scams are also common here, especially if you’re not knowledgeable about model trains.
Remember that going this route requires you to be knowledgeable about model trains since you won’t have expert help compared to Auction houses.
You will surely get the most value from advertising in the press since the paper will be advertised to many collectors. However, this only works on items that are extremely rare and valuable.
Furthermore, advertising costs a lot of money and might not cover the cost of your sale.
My recommendation is to try eBay. eBay offers you to sell your models for a reasonable price in front of many collectors, who also goes to eBay to buy some vintage or rare train models. In addition, their sales cut isn’t as high as other options and doesn’t require much knowledge on model trains to get a good price for your models.
Although, being knowledgeable about model trains will still give you an advantage when selling on eBay.
What’s Next? Did you know that selling isn’t everything you can do to your old model trains? You can do other things to your extra model trains, such as learning train photography, selling train photographs, and giving to charity. To find more about these options, please check this post: What to do with old Model Trains?