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The Reeded Edge's UNIVERSAL Guide to Grading Die Cast Toys

by Rob Lehmann

The art of grading toys is not an exact science. Trying to apply an objective standard to a subjective matter is difficult, but necessary. In a collectable marketplace, where so much emphasis is put on a piece's condition, and where a slight difference in the condition of an item can mean thousands of dollars, it is important that we have a uniform set of standards to use for both buying and selling.

It is also important to note that toys, were designed to be played with, and most were. The collector needs to be somewhat forgiving when factoring this into the overall equation. It is easy for us, in our pursuit of perfection, to get a bit overly anal about condition. Few children had the foresight to put their toys away, thinking that someday they may become collectable.

The following grading system has been instituted for the use with English Die Cast toys, such as Corgi, Dinky and Matchbox. It is our opinion, however, that this system can be used for virtually ALL toys.


A brief discussion is needed about the use of the word "MINT". Mint, in the context of toys, means literally, how the product left the factory. It is important to stress that MINT does not always equate to perfect. Matchbox, for instance, were manufactured on an assembly line. The manufacturing process was mostly automated. Possibilities for flaws during manufacturing were not only a possibility, but also a probability. Models that were not sprayed with paint properly, or had casting flaws were not unusual. Furthermore, since all of these models ended their production lives by being dropped into large bins to await packaging, factory nicks and scrapes are not at all uncommon. So, technically speaking, a model could be MINT and C-9, because that is a reflection of how that particular piece left the factory.

Grading using a DESCRIPTION

  • MINT-As it left the factory with NO playwear.
  • NEAR MINT- Virtually "as-made" but showing some extremely trivial use.
  • EXCELLENT- A nice near-MINT appearance, but with more obvious signs of use.
  • VERY GOOD- Still a decent appearance, but with obvious playwear. A VERY GOOD toy will not require close examination to see the flaws.
  • GOOD- Obvious and somewhat extensive flaws, although there is no structural damage to the toy. Usually considered the minimum condition for restorations.
  • FAIR- Extensive wear with structural problems (i.e. detached axles, missing parts)
  • POOR- An absolute basket case that is only usable for parts. POOR toys are usually beyond restoration, the exception being great rarities.
  • RESTORED- Any toy that has had some aspect of its originality altered. It is possible to have partially restored or fully restored toys. The most common restoration is repainting, although replacement parts are also fairly prevalent. If a part is replaced with another identical ORIGINAL part, and is done-so in a way that can not be detected, this is NOT considered a restoration.


  • C-10 - Visually PERFECT with no signs of imperfections.
  • C-9.5 - Visually almost PERFECT with no more than 2 imperfections, neither of which should be readily apparent, without close examination.
  • C-9 - Visually very appealing with no more than 4 imperfections. At arm's length, a C-9 model should look virtually PERFECT, but upon closer examination will have some less-than-obvious flaws.
  • C-8.5 - A model with more obvious flaws, such as larger paint chips. Still, a C-8.5 model should be visually appealing. Very seldom will a C-8.5 model be MINT, as most more-obvious flaws, result from playwear, and not manufacturing.
  • C-8 - A model with extensive flaws, but NONE of which are serious. A C-8 model may have 10 or 15 paint chips, but none should be much larger than a pinhead (especially on smaller models, such as Matchbox). A C-8 model is still aesthetically pleasing. This is the lowest grade that a common model should be collected in. Of course, a rare model could still be VERY desirable in C-8 condition.
  • C-7.5 - A model with extensive flaws, and additionally, with one or 2 larger flaws. At this grade, the eye will be drawn to the flaws, as they are much more obvious. A C-7.5 model should still retain about 90% of its original paint in the case of a postwar model, and 80% of its paint in the case of a prewar model. There should be absolutely NO structural damage to a C-7.5 model.
  • C-7 - Extensive paint wear with up to 20% paint loss on a postwar model, and 30% or more on a prewar model. A C-7 model should not be missing any parts, or have any structural damage. However, in the case of a prewar model, a C-7 may show some signs of metal fatigue, or light cracks in the metal.
  • C-6 - Extensive paint wear, with some damage noted to the model. In the case of prewar models, they may display extensive fatigue, with loose or detached parts.
  • C-5 - Extensive paint wear and extensive damage to the model.
  • C-4 - Missing major parts (such as pieces of the frame) of the model. Damage so severe, that replacement or restoration is not an option.
  • C-3 - Clearly identifiable as to the make and model of the toy, but not much more.
  • C-2 - Model is beyond identification. Parts are no longer usable. At this level, all but the rarest of rare toys, should be discarded

Examples of Models at Various Grade Levels

C-10 Mint
C-9.5 Near-Mint/Mint
C-9 Near-Mint
C-8.5 Excellent +
C-8 VG/Excellent


In Conclusion

Both a descriptive and numerical grade in tandem are really necessary to ascertain the condition of a model accurately. When an item is, for example, MINT C-9 vs. near-MINT C-9.5, it is a bit easier to visualize how that piece will look. Where as, just describing the model as C-9 or C-9.5, is not only incomplete, but possibly inaccurate.

It should be noted once again that grading is subjective, and for this reason, that even with a uniform standard, such as the above scale, the system is still open to interpretation and perception. We, at the Reeded Edge, are not striving for perfection but rather an efficient and simple system that can be used easily for the buyer, seller and collector of die cast (or other) toys.