How to Earn the Most From Consigning With Triple Mountain
Okay, you've decided to consign with Triple Mountain - We've accepted and sent you a Consignment Agreement. What comes next? Well, that depends on your purpose for selling your models. If you just want them out of the house, or you're donating them to our charity account, pack them safely and send them along to us. We'll give you some tips for getting them to us safely. If you want to get the highest value for your models, though, we have some easy recommendations that will help us get top dollar for your models.
"If you want to get toy prices for your models, treat them like toys. If you want to get collectible prices, treat them as collectibles."
The above quote really sums up the difference in pricing between two models that are the same in every other way. Condition is everything when it comes to collectibles: Every single bit of missing paint reduces value. For example, here are two Breyer Proud Arabian Foals from the same release:
The above foal grades as Near Mint. Her only condition defect is a small bit of missing paint (missed at the factory) between her hind legs out of view.
This foal doesn't look bad, right? I mean, she was discontinued in 1980, so what if she's got a little wear? Remembering that Breyer makes tens of thousands of almost every release, collectors have plenty to choose from on the secondary market. Those light rubs on her barrel and hindquarter (and shoulder and hooves) mean we have her priced at less than half what we've priced the top model for. Larger rubs, chips, seam splits, or broken parts can reduce the model's price to between $1 and $5, so "treat them like collectibles."
Even if your models aren't perfect, you'll want to make sure they don't receive any additional damage in transit to us, preserving them at the same condition they were in when they left you. We'll give you tips for safe packing a little further down the page.
Is there anything I can do to increase my models' values before shipping them to you?
Yes! At Triple Mountain, we don't currently offer cleaning or restoration services, due to time and insurance constraints, so there are a couple of very easy things you can do before sending your models to us, and best of all, they don't cost a penny!
1) Give them a gentle bath. A clean horse sells for more than a dirty one! Using room temperature water and gentle dish soap if necessary, gently rinse your model if it's dirty or dusty.
Tips: A clean, soft cloth, sponge, Q-Tip, or a makeup brush can help get dust out of crevices. Sometimes marks will come off if rubbed gently with your finger and some dish soap, then rinsed. If there are marks in an unpainted, white area, gentle use of a Magic Eraser may remove them, but be careful not to use on painted areas, as it will remove paint as well.
2) Let them sunbathe. What? Yes, really! If the white areas on your model look more like ivory or, gulp, yellow like the poor fellow below... The model's value will be quite low, as it will look very unappealing to buyers. However, there is a really easy fix for this! Yellowed plastic can be brightened back up to like-new just by letting the horse stand or lie in a sunny place for a few days. The photos below are of the same model: before and after sunbathing!
This colt and his mom took over three weeks to be fully restored, but he was a severe case. Most horses brighten up in 3-7 days. Turn them over each day so they brighten evenly on all sides.
If you have older windows, you may be able to stand them in a sunny window. Newer windows have Low-E glass, which blocks the UV rays that brighten the plastic, so they could stand there forever and never brighten. In this case, you'll want to lay the models on a soft towel outside in a safe, sunny place. If it's windy, hold the towel corners down with weights so it doesn't blow away, models and all. Models should be laid down so they don't blow or fall over and get damaged.
3) Broken legs and Tails - Don't repair them. That may seem counter-intuitive, but in our experience, repairs almost never survive being shipped by mail. If they're going to be re-broken anyway when they arrive, it's better that they don't have bits of superglue, etc., on them. We'll advertise them photographed with the broken part, letting the buyer know it's included and that we're leaving it detached for safer shipping.
Tip: You don't want it banging around inside the model's bag, causing damage, and you don't want it to be lost on the way, so wrap the detached piece separately in bubble wrap or place it in a small plastic bag, and then attach it to the outside of the model's wrappings.
Odors (Smoke, etc)
Plastic absorbs odors from the air around it, so odors are an automatic refusal for us: If odors are detected in the box or on the models when they arrive, the entire shipment may be refused. If that happens, they'll be quarantined and the consignor given notice that they'll need to pay return shipping or arrange for us to dispose of them. We take odors seriously because they can "infect" other models in our care.
If your home has a wood stove or if anyone in your home smokes (even if they don't smoke in the house), have a non-smoker who doesn't live in the house take a model outside and give it a good sniff. If they detect a musty, smoky, or other odor like perfume or scented cleaning sprays, the odors will need to be treated before shipping to us. We've heard of people having success by standing models up inside a garbage bag with a dish of baking soda, then tying the bag closed and leaving them for a week or so.
Time To Ship!
Alright, your models are clean and ready to head out to new homes while hopefully making you some money along the way. There's only one thing remaining on your to-do list: Packing them to ship to Triple Mountain. We wish we could pick them up ourselves, wrap them in soft towels, and carry them back to Triple Mountain personally, but unless you live close enough to drop them off at our store, they're going to have to go with a carrier. While our drivers on this end are very good about deliveries (they know our business), you should expect your boxes to be handled by "the Samsonite Gorilla" on their way here. They will be tossed, probably dropped, shoved around, have heavy boxes dropped on top of them, and vibrate on a truck for hours and hours.
The box will carry your models, but it's what you put inside the box that will protect them. The BEST protection for your models will take a little effort and cost you a little in bubble wrap and peanuts. The WORST will mean just tossing them into a box with some crumpled up paper shopping bags. Remember: "If you want to get toy prices, treat them like toys. If you want to get collectible prices, treat them as collectibles".
Ideal Model Wrapping:
Each model needs to be wrapped separately to keep them from banging against each other in transit. First place the model inside either a clean, dry plastic shopping bag (keep ink and writing on the outside, away from the model) or a clear storage bag. Then, wrap the model in bubble wrap, at least two layers thick. Use packing or masking tape to tape bubble wrap shut on both ends and in the middle. If you can feel any of the model's "pointy bits," (eartips, tail, mane, hooves, muzzle), you may want to put a strip of tape over the outside of the bubble wrap over them to keep them from working their way out... They'll try!
When we pick up a wrapped model and can't tell which mold is inside, we figure that's a good wrapping job! Below, the first photo is a box of well-wrapped models. Can you tell what they are? No? Then all of their pointy bits are probably safe! Contrast that with the pictures that follow. The models in the other photos all arrived with shipping damage, and you can see why:
|This horse's front feet worked their way out of the bubble wrap that wasn't taped shut in this area.||Wrapping models in paper is like rubbing them against a rough block of wood. This model had scratches all over when he arrived.|
|Poor Justin Morgan! No insulation between him and the box bottom meant the weight of all his friends above him crushed his hind leg when the carrier dropped the box. Peanuts at the bottom, and an extra layer or two of bubble wrap would have provided the cushion that could have saved him.||Another guy who has areas exposed because the wrap wasn't well secured. Black electrical tape will dis-adhere if heated, like in the back of a warm delivery truck, so we advise against it. I wonder where his other hind leg went...|
Packing the Box:
This sounds easy, but it's the part that many people overlook. Remember all that dropping, sitting-on, and vibrating that box has to endure? Air spaces are the enemy that allow boxes to get squashed. Every space between and around models needs to be filled to keep them from getting crushed or from shaking around and getting damaged. We recommend packing peanuts because they best fit into all the little spaces around models. (Yes, we'll re-use them so they don't go to a landfill.)
Layer By Layer: If your box will hold multiple layers of models, we recommend packing one layer, then filling around them with packing materials before adding the next layer. This is how we pack every order to ship, and have had zero shipping damage because of it, so it's worth the effort! Be sure to put the more rugged models on the bottom layer (Clydesdale Mare, Mesteno, Llanarth, Stud Spider, etc), and more fragile ones on top (those with thin legs, thin tails, manes or forelocks that stick out, like Cantering Welsh Ponies, Silver, Strapless, etc).
First, add a layer of packing peanuts to the box bottom, to insulate your bottom models from the shock of the box being tossed around. Choose the hardiest models (heavy, thick legs, no fragile parts sticking out) for the bottom layer and either stand them up or lay them down. Add packing material around all four sides and press it down between each model to fill all air spaces between them. Add a layer of packing peanuts over that layer, then lay the next layer of models down on top of them. Again, fill around, between, and on top of them with peanuts. Additional layers can then be added lying down as space permits, packing each as above. Leave an inch or more above the top layer and fill completely with packing peanuts.
Once the box is full, gently use your fingers to press down on the packing peanuts all over the top to see how much they'll compress. They may compress enough that you'll need to add another inch or more of peanuts on top! This is important, because they will settle in transit, and if not packed pretty tightly at the start, may create one of those deadly air spaces in the box.This consignor had filled this box with peanuts, but hadn't filled all the spaces between models. During shipment, (just like a bag of potato chips) the vibrations allowed all the peanuts to settle into lower air spaces and left this three-inch open space at the top of the box. Every time the box was tipped over, think of all the models inside being flung three inches in a new direction!
Once you're satisfied that the models won't move around, seal the box. Then, if you can, give it a good hearty shake! If you feel movement inside, there are air spaces allowing the models to shift around. You'll probably want to open the box, check them, and add more packing material. It's worth it to insure your models sell for collectible prices, not "body" prices.
Remember to include a full, filled-out copy of the Consignment Agreement inside the top of one box. Please label that box "Agreement Enclosed," as we need to open that one first and have the Agreement in hand before we begin unpacking.
We recommend UPS over the Postal Service, Fedex, or DHL because of their track record for delivering to us safely, but you're welcome to use any carrier you like. Most of our consignors find that UPS gives them a better price for shipping than the US Postal Service, and often gets their models here more quickly.
Shipping Supplies Sources:
People often ask where they can get packing materials. Staples, Walmart, Sam's Club, Home Depot and Lowes all have most of what you'll need, but prices can vary wildly. It pays to check their prices online before purchasing.
We get our bubble wrap from Amazon through their smile.amazon.com site. By using smile.amazon.com, you pay the same price, but they make a donation to the charity of your choice for each purchase you make. Here is a link to the bubble wrap that we use: http://a.co/9wOBH05 It's 12" wide with 3/8" bubbles, and perforated every 12".
They're also a good source for packing peanuts.
Clear 2" packing tape can also be purchased there or at Walmart or Staples. If you only have a few dozen to wrap, you may do fine with a hand-held dispenser. If you will be packing a lot of models, you may find buying a desktop one will save you a lot of time and frustration, since you can hold the wrapped model with one hand and pull off tape with the other.
You can often get boxes for free at a local supermarket if you ask ahead of time. Paper towel boxes and apple boxes are good options. Banana boxes are NOT, as they have big holes in the top and bottom. Wine boxes cannot be shipped by carriers across state lines, so those are out, too.
If you need to purchase boxes, Home Depot Medium Size moving boxes have worked for some consignors. Staples also has boxes in a variety of sizes.
This long article may make it sound like a lot of work to ship your consignments, but really it's not: Simply make sure they're clean, wrap them well, and pack their box tightly, and your models should ride just fine. Once they're here, we'll take care of the rest!
Please note that all of the above tips and techniques have been used successfully by us or our consignors, but each model and situation is different, so always use care when handling and shipping models. Triple Mountain is not responsible for any damage that may occur by following any of the above recommendations.