Playing with Fire

Secondary Market


By Michael J. Legeros


So the model you meant to order is now sold out. What's next?

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 retail's cheaper.

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 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 90-minute drive.

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 Apparatus Journal.

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 here.)

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.

Good luck!

A version of this column originally appeared at Code 3 Collectibles.


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Copyright 2017 by Michael J. Legeros