Most of my collection of 600-odd Dinky Toys are in lightly playworn condition, because that's the way I like them.
Many collectors prefer restored or refurbished Dinkies but to my mind a few chips in the paintwork of an old Dinky adds character. It reminds me that these things were children's toys. They were produced as toys, and were used as toys. A number of modern-day collectors go in for mint-in-box Dinky Toys, but individual boxes did not appear until c1953, so anything prior to that didn't have a box. They were sold to the Dinky stockist in trade boxes of four or six, or whatever number the factory and marketing department decided was appropriate. The exceptions were Gift Sets and the more expensive Supertoys from 1947 onwards. They were always individually packed. Mint-in-Box examples of regular-size Dinky Toys are all post-1953. The next best thing to 1950's and 1960's mint-in-box models are the extremely rare examples of earlier products in untarnished 'mint' condition, i.e. with perfect paintwork as they left the factory.
But few of us ever find mint examples of Dinky Toys from the 1930s and 1940s. As a child I can recall, if we obeyed our mother's instructions to pick those things off the floor at day's end, how we would carelessly toss them back into the toybox. It is little wonder the paintwork got chipped. My elder brother's Dinkies were always 'mint', because he kept them wrapped in cotton wool; and we rougher boys were forbidden to touch them. Most rough and tumble boys really played with our Dinkies and threw them back into the toybox at the end of the day. When I now see a playworn Dinky with chipped paintwork, it reminds me of the joy I derived in playing with such things during my own childhood; and I can imagine the pleasure that toy had given to some kid, somewhere, all those years ago.
Like many other latter day collectors, I did carefully and methodically refurbish and restore used Dinkies at one stage. And returning the toy to something approaching its original glory did give considerable satisfaction. But then I began to realise that much of the toy's character was lost in these restorations. These days I only refurbish a Dinky if it's in a really sad state, or if a previous owner has perhaps already overpainted it badly. Those poor Dinky waifs really do need tender loving care, and even the worst of them can be returned to an acceptable standard. But a lightly playworn example, with but a few chips around the edges, is more likely to find its way on to my own display shelves. I do however admit that some of the Dinkies in my collection would certanly benefit from a repaint, and keep promising that I will do that "one of these days" ('mañana' is such a wondrous word). But I seldom even consider 'restoring' a prewar Dinky. If the thing is as old, or older than I am, it is bound to reflect the ravages of time and bear the scars of age.
Accordingly, a great many of the Dinky Toys shown in my photo gallery are chipped and playworn. And that's the way they're likely to remain.