Although we buy a whole lot of trains, you may be surprised to hear that there are some train collections that don’t make sense for us to buy. If we are not interested in buying your collection, we will try to be helpful by providing tips and information on other ways to sell your trains. Some of these tips can be found in our archives of our Selling Your Trains Newsletter. If you would like to receive a monthly email containing train buying stories and tips on how to sell your collectible trains, go ahead and subscribe to our free newsletter with no obligation and no strings attached.
Yes! Although Trains are our bread and butter, the Trainz Buying Team purchases Star Wars collectibles, promo cars, and a smattering of other collectibles such as die-cast toys and plastic model kits. Please see our Buying Guidelines for more detail.
We purchase model train collections and other collectibles across the continental United States and Canada. We can do mail-in deals from Alaska, Hawaii or other US territories like Puerto Rico. Typically, we do not buy from outside of North America. If you have a large collection, please Contact Us. There’s a first time for everything!!
A good rule of thumb is that Trainz will typically offer to purchase collections only if we can offer at least $1,000.
No! There is no collection too large for Trainz. Over the years, we have purchased many collections valued at $500,000 or more, and several collections worth over $1 million. We’d love to talk to you about purchasing your collection!
We've bought and sold toy and model trains of every scale and manufacturer, and sometimes purchase die-cast toys, model kits, and other collectibles. Our bread and butter is O Scale Trains (Lionel in particular), but we also buy a ton of G Scale, Standard Gauge and Brass, and a fair bit of S, HO, N and Z Scale trains.
Just to name a few manufacturers, we regularly buy: Lionel, MTH, K-Line, LGB, Marklin, American Flyer, Atlas, Weaver, Williams, Aristo-Craft, Bachmann, Marx, USA Trains, Athearn, Walthers, Plasticville, Life Like, Kato, Industrial Rail, Roco, Pola, Rivarossi, Model Power, Proto 2000, KMT, Gargraves, Roundhouse, MicroTrains, MRC, 3rd Rail, Con-Cor, IHC, AHM, S-Helper, American Models, Fleischmann, Spectrum, Delton, Crown, InterMountain, McCoy, Mantua, Ives, Tyco, RMT, Overland, Lima, Piko, Pride Lines, and many more!
If you have a train collection that you are considering selling to Trainz within the next 12 months, you can provide an inventory list, and if the collection meets our Buying Guidelines, we will value the collection in order to make a Cash Offer. Except for Estate Planning and Estate Sales we typically do not provide appraisals as a service.
For Estate Planning and Estate Sales, we will inventory and appraise medium to large collections for a fee when the estate is considering selling the collection to Trainz. If the estate ends up selling Trainz the collection, we will refund the appraisal fee.
Yes, it makes sense for Trainz to assist with an Estate Sales or Estate Planning if there is a substantial and valuable train collection. Trainz is experienced in working with an Estate at this most difficult of times and will handle the sale of a train collection with the appropriate sensitivity and discretion. Please Contact our Buying Team to learn more. Also feel free check out our Estate Planning Guide for Train Collectors.
Market value is what a collection will fetch at auction or via another sales method that turns it into cash quickly, without months or years of holding the inventory. Depending on the terms of the consignment contract we may list some of your items at fixed price. However, we have a markdown process that discounts them by as much as 60% and flips them to eBay Auction when they don’t sell. As a result we must be conservative when setting market values - basing them on prices that we are confident we can achieve.
We typically pay 50% to 60% of the current Market Value, depending on what is in the collection. We use our sales history and historical sales prices on various sites including eBay to value a collection.
When selling to a dealer like Trainz, you are selling it for a wholesale price, since the dealer reselling your collection incurs all the costs of labor. This includes traveling to train shows, and/or cleaning and/or repairing damaged items, photographing, copywriting, selling, and packing it for shipment. Additional costs include storing the inventory, advertising, and paying associated fees. As a result, dealer prices are typically about 50%-60% of the Market Value of an item.
Even the best Price Guides quickly become inaccurate due to collectible prices fluctuating constantly.
We do not use price guide books, especially for modern-era trains because we have found that most modern-era items will not bring "book" price. Unfortunately, buying most modern era trains new is like buying a new car; they depreciate as soon as you drive them off the lot, and Modern Era prices are declining in general. We also know that many clean prewar and postwar items will bring prices higher than what is listed in a price guide because the prices for some clean postwar items are rising.
When comparing sale prices or valuations for collectibles, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Relatively minor differences in color or manufacturing date can result in wide differences in prices, especially in Postwar or Vintage trains. For example, a postwar Lionel 3464 ATSF Operating Boxcar in a rare color that we recently sold went for approximately $1,200, whereas these normally sell for around $10 to $30. Minor differences in variation or color can cause dramatic swings in price.
Trainz.com is the largest buyer and seller of Collectible Toy Trains in the United States and has a detailed Sales History that goes back more than a decade, containing thousands of sales of these minor variations. As a result, we are experts at estimating the value of a model train collection..
If you travel to Train Shows to sell your items and sell through your personal network of model train enthusiasts, you can get close to 100% of the Market Value of your trains. It will take you months or years, and cost hundreds or thousands of dollars in train show fees. Although it might be fun, it is a long road, and depending on the size of your collection, it may require an epic amount of labor for a single person or a family. At the end of the process you will have to sell the remaining items at fire-sale prices to get rid of them, and you may end up throwing out track, magazines and other lower value inventory.
It is a ton of work, but if you really want to maximize your return, you could also list your small collection via an Online Auction site such as eBay. Depending on how you list your items, you will typically pay about 14-20% of the sale price in payment processing, listing and final value fees, leaving you with approximately 80-86% of the selling price. The great thing about eBay is that if you use auction listings and set the reserve to 99 cents, nearly all marketable items will sell when the auction ends, making this a great liquidation strategy. The bad news when you auction is that you will typically make 35-50 percent of the Market Value in aggregate (depending on the quality of your items). If you choose to sell on eBay you will be responsible for all of the following:
- Unpack, inspect and grade each item
- Lightly clean certain items, as appropriate.
- Test certain items, as appropriate.
- Repair certain items, or sell them as-is.
- Combine certain items into lots, as appropriate.
- Take photographs of each item or lot.
- Attribute and describe each item.
- Determine the starting price and listing type for each item.
- Write accurate titles and descriptions for each item.
- Create eBay Listings for each Item.
- Monitor your eBay Listings to see what is working.
- Regularly lower the prices or flip the items to Auction when they don't sell.
- Store the items until sold.
- Collect payment from the buyer.
- Register disputes with eBay when the buyer does not pay.
- Pick, pack, and ship items to the buyer using USPS or courier.
- Answer customer service calls and emails related to items.
- Process returns, chargebacks and refunds as necessary.
- Deal with unhappy buyers.
The easiest and best way to kick off the Cash Offer process is to fill out our Get a Quote web form. This will qualify your collection, letting you know if it is something we are interested in and will facilitate getting the Quote process started.
Yes! Photos are a great way for us to get an idea of what you have in your collection, and usually one of the first things we ask for. Don't worry about getting super-detailed photos of every single piece, we just need a few photos to give us an idea of the type and number of items. The easiest way for us to get your photos is for you to send us digital photos over email, but you can also mail in hardcopy photographs if you prefer.
Yes! Once we have determined that we are interested in your collection (typically via our Get a Quote web form or by looking at photos you have sent us), we will ask you to provide us with an Inventory List of your collection. We provide an Inventory List template that shows the information we need to accurately price the collection (primarily Quantity, Manufacturer and Model Number), but we also accept (but do not encourage!) hand-written lists. You can download the Inventory List template in Excel format (for filling out on your computer) or PDF format (for filling out on your computer with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader or printing and filling out by hand).
If you cannot provide an inventory list, we can help with one of the following options.
Yes, we will draft a Purchase Agreement contract when you accept a Cash Offer, and ask you to sign it prior to shipping or picking-up your collection.
Typically, we reach out to you via phone to deliver your offer. If we are unable to reach you, we will leave a message. When you accept the offer, we typically:
It depends. For some medium to large collections, especially when Trainz prepares the inventory list, we will pay 100% of the purchase price at pick-up. When there is no opportunity for Trainz to inventory the collection prior to pick-up, we typically pay 50% at pick-up and 50% once the collection has been verified at our warehouse. We very rarely need to make an adjustment, but a few times we have had to reach back out to the seller to increase or decrease our offer based on extra inventory or missing inventory from the list.
Smaller collections that are shipped to Trainz sight-unseen are typically paid for after they have been inventoried. We usually inventory collections within 30 days of arrival at Trainz.
What is our Model Train Consignment Service?
We offer a full-blown Consignment Service. All you have to do is ship your trains to us (or if it is a large collection we can pick it up). Every other aspect of the process is taken care of. We unpack the inventory, then research, photograph, grade, describe, and copywrite each item individually. We have a train expert review everything and unlike a live auction house which sells collections in large boxes or lots, we only lot certain types of low-value items. Once approved, the items are listed on the appropriate platform that will generate the most profit for you. Once an item sells, we ship the item to the buyer (handling returns internally) and pay you via weekly or monthly checks. We send you a full inventory list once the collection has been inventoried at our location, and we send you weekly reports on the sales along with your checks. For more information on how the process works, see the Model Trains Consignment Service section on our How It Works page.
The easiest and best way to get started with our Consignment Service is to fill out our Get a Quote web form. This will qualify your collection, letting you know if it is something we are interested in and will facilitate getting the Consignment process started. After we are in contact, often the first thing we will ask you to do is to send us some digital photos of your collection.
Yes, once we have determined that we are interested in your collection (typically via our Get a Quote web form), we will reach out to you to discuss the Consignment terms and draft a Consignment Agreement contract, and provide it to you for your signature.
Weekly or Monthly (depending on your Consignment Agreement), we compile a report of all the items that were sold in the trailing reporting period, and we make payment on those sales per the Payment Term described in your Consignment Agreement. Please note that if the Consignment Agreement specifies a Pick-fee or Shipping Fee (which will depend upon the size and location of your collection), such a fee will be deducted from the first payment(s) owed to you under the agreement. For more details, see How It Works.
We provide pre-paid FedEx Ground labels, so you can send your collection to our warehouse.
We can also arrange to pick up medium to large sized collections. We're on the road several times a month and typically are never more than a few months away from your area.
In general, we schedule a trip to your area when there are multiple deals in to be picked up in your local vicinity. Depending on your location, we can typically get to you within a few weeks, and almost always within a few months.
While Trainz will sometimes make special accommodations if you have an urgent need to have your collection picked up, this can increase the amount of the shipping allowance we need to charge.
It depends. If Trainz incurred expenses for pick-up or shipping, then usually when we make a Cash Offer, the offer amount includes a reasonable allowance for these expenses. In the case of our Consignment Service we typically deduct this from the first payment(s) we make to you. Either way, this will be spelled out in the Purchase Agreement or Consignment Agreement contract.
|Advantages of a Cash Offer||Disadvantages of a Cash Offer|
|Advantages of Selling to Trainz via an online Consignment Service||Disadvantages of Selling to Trainz via an online Consignment Service|
It depends. If you have a small collection and lots of time, you can do pretty well selling your trains if you travel to train shows or sell your trains through your personal network of train enthusiasts. It will take you months or years, and cost hundreds or thousands of dollars in train show fees. Although it might be fun, it is a long road, and speaking purely financially, this is not a winning strategy for somebody with a medium or large sized collection.
It is a ton of work, but if you really want to maximize your return, you could list your collection on an Online Auction site like eBay. If you go this route, you will be responsible for cleaning and repairing, photographing, copywriting the items, managing the auction listings, keeping track of payments, and packing the items for shipment. If you have unsatisfied customers, you will have to accept returns, often paying for return shipping.
If you list your items on a major online marketplace such as eBay, you will typically pay about 14-20% of the sale price in listing fees, final value fees, and credit card fees.