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Hubley: Tips to Identify Fakes from Real

With Hubley being one of the more desirable vintage toys to collect, it is no wonder they are being reproduced. These reproductions typically target the pre-1940 toys. Reason being that these toys were made of cast iron - some were aluminum - and are easily reproduced. The toys post-1940 were primarily manufactured out of die-cast zinc alloy.

Making it even harder to distinguish the new from the old, the new items are well cast with paint that is very similar to the original Hubleys.

The attention paid to marks on reproductions also makes it extremely hard to distinguish the differences. The Hubley name on repros will appear in raised letters - most often in the same place(s) as the original. You are likely to find that this is also true for the mold and/or parts numbers.

Looking to chipped paint for authentication is a risky test. The paint on the repros is applied so thickly that it mimics the deep, irregular chips that you might see on an original.

So how can you tell a repro? You must look at the details and know the characteristics of the originals. This includes:

  • Length of toy - Know the sizes of original toys. It was not uncommon for Hubley to have manufactured a toy in more than one length. Knowing the original length can often tell you if a toy is a reproduction or the real deal. These differences in length can be as small as 1/4 inch.

  • Materials used: - Metal, rubber tires, paint. Become familiar with each original toy's components that you are looking to buy.

  • Tires - Does it have rubber tires? If so, were they black or white.

  • Hubs - Did the wheels have hubs? If so, were they metal or wooden.

  • Paint - Does it have any painted parts?

  • Plated - Is the cast iron plated? Nickel plating was used on some toys.

  • Figures - Does the toy come with a driver? Passengers?

Checking for these details calls for a sharp eye and requires you inspect not only the topside but also the underside of the toy. Look for dents and flat spots - especially on the axles of repros. The old toys will be smooth. Use magnification to check the paint chips. Look to see if the paint chips show uniform scrapes or surface scratches. This is a sign of artificial wear. For more information on how to detect fake cast iron toys, visit this link.

The bottom line is to educate yourself and be prepared when shopping by taking along a magnet, magnifying glass or loupe and a good reference book. Our favorite book for Hubley is O'Brien's Collecting Toy Cars & Trucks.


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