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eBay Tips: Selling Vintage Britains Toy Soldiers

Updated on February 8, 2015
Britains Afrika Korps Dispatch Rider Motorcycle #9694
Britains Afrika Korps Dispatch Rider Motorcycle #9694

Learning the basics

Although I have sold items on eBay since 2003, selling Britains toy soldiers is a new experience. My father has an extensive collection which he has gathered over a lifetime, and now it is time to down-size.

Britains toy soldiers have been manufactured since the late 1800s after William Britain Jr. invented the process of hollow casting in lead. The quality of the product has changed over the last one hundred years, but boys of all ages around the world still love collecting them. I do not profess to be an expert, or even close, but I will learn a bit over the next few months as I list a small fraction of my father's collection on eBay.

He has decided to keep the most rare and valuable items, many of which he first received when he was a boy in the 1940s. He has trusted me to sell some pieces which he purchased much later as an adult. These are the items which were manufactured in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Many were still made in England at that time. In the late 1990s, Britains was purchased by an American company and most of the manufacturing was moved to China.

Britains Dispatch Rider #9698
Britains Dispatch Rider #9698

Where did my motorcycle go?

Included in my lot to sell were several small motorcycles. I had a very nice Britains Dispatch Rider on a Triumph Motorcycle, in box. I checked the sales history and saw that one (out of box) had sold for around $20. The seller had earlier listed it for around $25 without a sale. Based on this I listed mine as a BIN (Buy It Now) for $29.99. In the description I had listed it as plastic. Realizing that the figure was cast in plastic but the motorcycle was die cast metal, I immediately attempted to edit my ad to correct the description. I could not find my ad! I had only listed it a few minutes ago -- where did it go? Well, I could not see my ad in my current listings because the motorcycle had already sold ! Wow, that was one of the quickest turn-arounds I've ever seen. Of course, my first reaction was a sinking feeling because I assumed I had listed it way below market price. In fact, after further research, I realized that I probably could have sold it for three times what I had asked. Well, it was a good day for a certain eBay buyer! The moral here is always do thorough research before deciding on a price, especially a BIN price.  You will find many figures and sets listed on U.K. auction sites.  Check the final selling price and jump onto Google to convert the British pounds to U.S. dollars for comparison.  Remember, you can always include the "or best offer" option on eBay when selling your item at a fixed price. 

It's all in the deetails

Another lot I am selling is the Britains deetail Combat Weapons series. Most of these were made in the mid 1970s to early 1980s. Most still have the display card which is somewhat rare -- I only saw a few like that on eBay. I decided to go with auctions and start everything at $9.99. Of course an auction will take longer (I usually do 7-day auctions) but the advantage is that there is no limit to how high the price can go. For this series, the sales history suggested that they might go for around $25 each. Not bad, considering that they sold in stores for less than $1.99 back in their day! It is still early in the auctions to know the outcome. I will try to write another hub in a few weeks after some sales to share what I have learned.



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    • Plastic Soldier profile image

      Plastic Soldier 6 years ago from Cheshire England

      Great hub on a topic close to my heart I sell some of my painted figures via Ebay its so easy, but the fees can be a killer, still it gives you a world wide market. I've sold all over europe ,Australia ,US and even Brazil

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 7 years ago from England

      Hi, I would love to sell on e-bay but I am not allowed to because I don't have a landline phone, just a mobile phone! I signed up, took my pictures and then, boom! sorry you can't blah blah blah etc, but it's a great idea if you can do it, I sell on Amazon, just books but it brings a bit of money in, cheers nell