BRIO Wooden Railway Blog

Sometimes, condition doesn't matter

Normally I only buy BRIO that's in good condition or better, but there's only so much you can expect from vintage toys and as a general rule the older it is the more compromises you are going to have to make. I think the same can be said about exceptionally rare items, too, even the ones that aren't really that old. Case in point, I recently acquired this #33429 Blue Steam Engine:

Yeah, it's in bad shape. The edges are tattered, some of those paint chips are really gouges in the wood, and even the sticker is worn. But here's the thing: in the 14+ years I've been hunting for BRIO (off and on) I've seen exactly three of these engines, including this one. And none of them have been in what I'd consider to be good shape.

Sometimes condition just doesn't matter. Sometimes you are lucky to find the thing at all.

Posted in Commentary.3 comments

Reader Comments

  • Rob Alexander

    Hi John, that's a real find. Are you planning a similar restoration to the excellent job you did with the oil tanker truck (#33523 I think?) I've never taken anything like that on out of fear of messing it up! The other side of it is some of the vintage pieces I have collected also have a certain charm when they've between "well loved". Now, talking of rare, if you ever see a #33580 helicopter, you have my email! Your one looks to be in great condition.
  • John M

    I have thought about restoring it, but it's a tougher challenge than the tanker because the wheel bases are also blue. That means everything has to be painted so that it's all the same color afterwards, too, but since the single-axle wheel assemblies are not removable there's the problem of getting the bases painted without messing up the wheels. I'd probably also need to use some wood putty to build up and sand the tattered edges, or it would just look sloppy when it was finished. All of that assumes, of course, that I can find a blue lacquer that is close to the BRIO blue (both Tamiya and Testors have candidates that look promising but I haven't tried them out yet). You can typically find one or two of the #33580 Helicopters for sale on eBay at any given time. I see three up for sale right now, though only two may be options for you. I wouldn't pay more than $100 US for one in good condition loose, or $125 for one with a box. I know a couple of collectors that are a lot more shrewd than I and they would probably not even pay that much. Patience is key.
  • John M

    Now that I have found a blue that is a good match, I am working on restoring this engine. I've started sanding down the paint, gently, to smooth out the chips. So far, the spots that looked like they might have had wood damage have turned out not to, so all it may need is sanding and painting. The real challenges will be preserving the sticker-- I may not be able to-- and dealing with the wheel bases. I actually have a repair kit for single-axel wheel assemblies and can replace them if need be, but if the paint is close enough (and it may be) I can get away with leaving them as is.

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