I was cleaning out an attic of an old house and found an ORIGINAL (not the reproduction) 1936 Model 55 remote controlled airplane. It is in perfect working order, and overall in excellent condition. The plane will need some minor work done to it; best left to an experienced restorer.
My impression from internet searches is that this toy is quite rare. Anyone out there who can give me a very rough idea of its value?
Ebay may be my next step, but I was hoping to first get at least a sense of its value, or at least a better idea of how rare this thing really is. I'm particularly interested in learning more about why there appear to be so few of these items out there. Were only a few produced? Or, were they used hard and thus few survived to the present?
Yes, Joe, your impression is correct. Not a lot of these models appear to have survived down to the present. Since they were rather peripheral to Lionel train sets and the fact that while the trains typically were put away after Christmas (and were thus safely tucked away the rest of the year), the far more compact remote control airplane was likely kept out for the kid''s to play with and were soon worn out.
Many Lionel collectors consult the Greenburg price guides to obtain a "general idea" of an item's value. According to the figures published in my 2000 copy of same, an example of the #55 airplane (1937-39) in "good" condition is valued at $165, while one in excellent condition is cited at $450. These figures are a bit dated, so I'd expect the item to be worth more currently.
Turning on my Lenz system, the loco headlights flashed and the LZV100 LED started flashing at a rate of once per second and the LH90 LED readout stated "OFF". Nothing had changed on the layout since running trains the day before.
Has this happened to anyone else? What was the fix? Is this a common problem?
How could I get Lenz to honour the warranty if I reside in Australia and the US vendor I bought it from has passed away?
Lenz states that their warranty is only a US warranty.
This can happen if you get an electrical short of some kind. Try switching off the system, and then using a different loco with DCC, and see what happens. If you get the same problem, look to see if anything else might be shorting out the system. If not, then the problem is probably in the first loco.
If on the other hand you can find nothing at all causing a short, and there are no locos, coaches, wagons, or anything else at all on the track, and the unit still gives a short, then it's probably time to contact Lenz.
While I'm sure Ray's intent is well meaning, I have to say that outside the TCA (which means the other 99.5% of model railroad hobbyists!) their rating system is likely unknown to and unrecognized by potential buyers on sites such as eBay. Regarless, it is just as seller-subjective as the old Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor...and therein is the problem.
I'd venture to guess that unless you were to approach someone highly versed in Lionel buying and selling, you are unlikely to get a truly objective evaluation of what condition your #55 is really in. Thus, you are probably best off just describing it in detail, along with its obvious faults, in any ad and letting the potential buyer decided how much above the minimum price you set, it is worth to them.
Nevertheless, while not very common, I have seen those "airplane" units go for in excess of $1,200 at York and, I feel fairly certain anyone willing to pay 4 figures or more for a pre-WWII Lionel item is probably a member of TCA, LCCA or similar organizations and will, without personal visual inspection demand or at least be enticed if grading is by TCA standards. If the antiquated "very good" or "excellent" adjectives get a buyer and a good price for the seller, well, then who cares? Buyer and seller have an accord!
But then again, as Barnum said... :)
Nothing wrong if seller "appraises" the grading IAW TCA guidelines.
Could be wrong...but have been at it for over 40 years although only a member of TCA since 1978 and NMRA since 1958 - Life since 1972.
Having the original box which, BTW, has a separate grading system, would really enhance its value...me? Well, my discretionary funds don't permit me such nice extravaganzas. :)
That is strange, I bought my Lenz equipment in the States and still buy my decoders from the States - I live in the UK and Lenz has had no issue with replacing my decoders when I fried a couple. I also asked them to register my equipment at my UK address which, again, they did without question