So the model you meant to order is now sold out. What's
The first stop on the secondary market should be eBay. Search
the site using such keywords as "Code 3 Columbus Sutphen"
or "Code 3 FDNY Mack." Or look under the eBay
category Toys & Hobbies and the subcategory Diecast,
Toy Vehicles. Then search the subcategory by Brand
to display only Code 3. And if you find what you're looking
for, don't bid or buy it right away. You may find it cheaper
elsewhere. More on that in a moment. Also take a look at the
completed auctions, to gauge the "going rate" for
that particular piece. Sometimes eBay's cheaper, sometimes
After eBay, check with one or more dealers. The Code 3
Collectibles site has a list of
dealers that includes Pastime Hobbies, Marilyn & Gil's
Fire Station, and Westchester Collectibles. You can also
locate dealers by using your favorite Internet search site,
such as Google.
Try such keyword combinations as "Code 3 dealer,"
"Code 3 Collectibles dealer," and "Die-cast
fire dealer." And remember to check both toy / hobby
shops and firefighting memorabilia outlets. There might even
be one located in your city! Don't forget that pre-Internet
relic, the phone book.
In addition to dealers, there are least a couple of retail
establishments that still stock Code 3 Collectibles. Meijer
stores, located in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and
Kentucky, still carry Code 3 Collectibles. As do K*B Toys
outlet stores, though their stock is typically limited to
"liquidation items." (In the "old days,"
you could buy Our Favorite Fire Trucks at places like Target,
Toys 'R' Us, and J.C. Penney's.)
Next up are the bulletin boards. If you still can't find
someone with a model to sell, post a message to the Code 3 Collectibles forum
(registration is required, but free), the fireengines.net
forum, and on the ATEV board. State what you're looking for
and, optionally, what you're willing to pay. Also consider
offering one or more items for trade, such as another sold-out
or hard-to-find model. Horse-trading works.
Additionally, these online forums are useful for locating
dealers who don't have a Web presence. Ask your fellow
collectors. They may also know of dealers who no longer sell
Code 3, but still have "old stock" sitting on their
shelf. Who knows what might be found with a mere 30 or 60 or
Other places to check are toy and hobby shows, or other
events where die-cast collectors (and sellers) congregate.
These can include model train shows, fire apparatus musters,
or the great Sunday flea market at the yearly Firehouse
Magazine Expo. Check local listings for such events. Also,
again search the Web and remember to check print media, such
as the magazines Toy Truck & Contractor and Fire
And while we're at it, do a general Web search on the model
itself. You might find one at an errant dealer site or on a
private collector's page of "for sale" items. (Google's new
Froogle feature, which searches shopping sites, is worth a try
Last but not necessarily least, consider contacting one or
more private collectors. If you know someone who collects Code
3 Collectibles, you can always ask if they have one for sale.
You may be surprised.
A version of this column originally appeared at
Code 3 Collectibles.
Copyright 2017 by Michael J. Legeros