New recruits battled veteran collectors in Old Toy Soldier Auctions’ $254,000 sale of rare military and civilian figures

July 11th, 2011 by

PITTSBURGH – “Terrific!” That’s how Ray Haradin, owner of Old Toy Soldier Auctions, described the interest in his late-spring auction featuring the Don Darnieder collection of military figures. The 1,095-lot sale, which was also bolstered by Part II of the Fred Wehr collection and other select properties, was 100% sold and totaled $254,000.


Britains picture pack counter display box containing 33 figures, hinged front cover, $6,000. Old Toy Soldier Auctions image.

“The Internet was very active, with around 170 bidders. In addition, there were 32 people participating by phone and 120 absentee bidders,” Haradin said. “As it turned out, there were many successful individual bidders – not just a handful of people who bought up big chunks of the sale. There were numerous boxes to be packed and shipped out afterwards, to addresses all over the world.”


The May 21-22 sale’s top lot at $6,000 (all prices include 20% buyer’s premium) was a countertop display for Britain’s high-quality “picture packs.” Haradin explained that display units of the type offered in his auction were designed to showcase an entire range, and are very rare. A European buyer paid three times the high estimate to claim the near-mint item.


Timpo boxed Hopalong Cassidy set, one of only two or three known, $5,040. Old Toy Soldier Auctions image.

Another hot ticket was the Timpo Hopalong Cassidy set estimated at $1,200-$1,500. The set had condition and completeness going for it and was one of only two or three such sets known to exist. It lassoed a winning bid of $5,040, lodged by a U.S. buyer.


Timpo also produced the Big Game Tiger Hunt set offered with a presale estimate of $1,500-$1,800. In “beautiful condition,” the set was claimed by a different American buyer, for $2,650.


Character figures made of lead were in great demand. A boxed Tom Mix set featuring a painted figure of the cowboy film star in white furry chaps with a gun and lariat, paired with his horse Tony, garnered $900. “This set had the added cross-over bonus of a Western theme, so that helped it to make more than twice its high estimate,” Haradin said.


William Hocker 11-piece boxed set, Bengal Horse Artillery in Action, $270. Old Toy Soldier Auctions image.

A trend that Haradin has found particularly pleasing is the unrelenting demand for contemporary productions. “Day two of the sale was devoted exclusively to newer pieces,” Haradin said. “The total from that session accounted for $95,000 of the overall gross.” Enthusiasts paid strong prices for sets made by William Hocker, like the 11-piece wheeled Bengal Horse Artillery in Action set that achieved $270. Other sets that sold for around the $200 mark included examples by Edmunds, Marlborough (specialists in Indian army figures), and King and Country, as well as those depicting Civil War regiments.


“In the world of soldiers, $200 to $300 can buy you a lot,” Haradin said. “I’d say the average lot on day two sold for about $180. These are nice, entry-level collectibles that appeal to every age.”


9-piece set by Trophy, includes steam tractor, wagon, Howitzer and six men, $840. Old Toy Soldier Auctions image.

Other contemporary sets hit a higher bracket that ordinarily might have been reserved for a rare, older set. A 9-piece grouping by Trophy – comprised of a steam tractor, wagon and Howitzer with human figures – sold without its original box for $840 (estimate: $300-$400).


“There’s a lot of speculation as to why toys and collectibles have held up so well when some types of fine antiques haven’t. I don’t have the answer to that, but the numbers speak for themselves. Everything in the auction was sold, and for really good money,” Haradin said.


Britains set #2112, U.S. Marine band in summer dress, 25 pieces, $1,320. Old Toy Soldier Auctions image.

“One thing that can’t be denied is that there are tons of new collectors coming into the hobby – enough so that collections of soldiers and figures being sold by older collectors are having no trouble being absorbed into the marketplace,” Haradin continued. “I would say that at least 50% of what we offered in our May 21-22 auction went to guys who’ve been collecting for less than 10 years.”


Haradin’s Old Toy Soldier Auctions will conduct its next sale on Nov. 19-20, 2011. A large and comprehensive assortment awaits bidders, with the main consignments being the Robert Going collection of primarily pre- and postwar Britains figures, many of them boxed; the third and final installment of the Fred Wehr collection of prewar Britains, and Part II of the Don Darnieder collection of postwar Britains. Additionally, the sale will feature an extensive array of Hocker and King and Country figures.


To contact Ray Haradin, call 412-343-8733 (tollfree: 800-349-8009) or e-mail Visit OTSA online at