Time on your hands?

25 August 2022
Tips and ideas to help keep your collection under control.

Need a little inspiration for those idle moments or maybe a little something to avoid the DIY? Here are some ideas to fill your collecting ‘downtime’…


I know a number of collectors don’t keep any records of when or where they bought their acquisitions, some don’t even recall the price they paid, but that could be for entirely different reasons!

It’s a good idea to catalogue your collection for several reasons. For one, for insurance purposes. It’s provident to have a written record of your collection and preferably a photographic one too. If you have specialist cover, this would be essential should you need to make a claim. On a lighter note, it’s also a handy reference as to what you have already have in your collection. More than once I’ve heard collectors commenting about purchasing a model only to find a similar one languishing in a drawer once they returned home.

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So, how long has it been since you moved anything on those shelves? Many cabinets are not entirely dust proof and occasionally models need a gentle clean. Now is also a good opportunity to check if any of your models have developed flat tyres. It’s not always older models that can suffer from this malady either.

Whilst it's devoid of models, clean out the cabinet too. It’s not only models on display that need checking on. Anything that has been wrapped up and put into storage can also deteriorate. Not all wrapping paper is acid free and I’ve witnessed bubble wrap wreaking havoc on a model's paintwork whilst packed away.


Now you have everything out, do you really want to reassemble the same display? If you have space, why not compose a diorama or add some petrol pumps and oil bins to break up the scene? Or try putting up some of the miniature tin advertising signs, they make a highly attractive backdrop to vintage models and they’re in scale to boot!

Cabinet meeting

You should also ask yourself if your models are displayed in the right place. Be mindful of where you display your collection too. Avoid putting them above radiators or in direct sunlight. It’s often easy to overlook sunlight as it may only fall on your collection at certain times of the day. The last thing anyone wants is pink fire engines. And if those models are stashed away in a cupboard, bring them out!

Get it sorted

Now could be the time to take stock, maybe literally. I always find it therapeutic to have a good sort through the collection, either to weed out anything that’s not really up to the grade or indeed anything I’ve doubled up on. It may also be time to take a new direction, in which case it might be the right point to move on some of your collection, or at least thin it out. It’s good to routinely evaluate where your collection is heading as it stops things going stale and keeps your enthusiasm up.

Next stop, the shed

Then you may have an odds box. This box can be contain anything from a collection of restoration projects to models you no longer want, but don’t have any real value to move on. So, get restoring or selling. You’ll soon wonder why it took so long to get around to it. Lose yourself in the shed for a few hours, preferably with the radio on and a strong cup of tea.

Code 3 for me?

If you restore or refinish models, now may be the time to try your hand at ‘chops’ or Code 3s, as they’re known. With the advent of Atlas Dinky toys, you can construct all those models you wish had been issued back in the day.

This can open up a whole new thread of collecting and I’ve seen some great examples such as a re-liveried Dinky Bedford car transporter in Vauxhall guise carrying a complement of Cresta saloons. It all takes a certain level of skill, but there is a lot of fun to be had in the journey and a great deal of satisfaction in the finish.

Boxing clever

There are two ideas here if you are computer savvy - you can access lots of repro box templates on-line that can really make a cabinet display. I’ve similarly seen early Matchbox step stand displays posted flat packed for home construction, which are fantastic in the cabinet. The skills needed to construct the boxes can be picked up quickly and the outlay for materials is modest in comparison to the satisfaction and the displays that one can create.

Swotting up

Whilst you’re on the PC, you’ll also know how it’s possible to waste an awful lot of time doing nothing at all. Well, with a bit of time on your hands, why not join and drop into some of the great toy forums and sites. With a little tenacity, it’s possible to track down some great articles and variations listings. Alternatively, go on to Amazon or ebay and track down some of those books you always promised yourself. Good second-hand reading copies can often be bought for very little and as we all know it’s nice to grab a bargain. For something a little more up to date, how about the new edition of Ramsay's Diecast Catalogue? You can order your copy here.

Whatever you decide to do, now is the time to enjoy this great hobby of ours.