Recently, on the August Swordcast, we discussed the phenomenon of Kinder Egg toys. Made by Ferrero Rocher, these sickly hollow chocolate eggs contain a yellow capsule with a small toy inside. Retailing at around a pound, or slightly more, the chocolate is tasty but the real value lies in the toy inside. As its impossible to gauge whats inside, unless they are specifically branded - Ferrero regularly do girls Barbie themes and boys Hot Wheels or Transformers - it can be a little hit and miss as to what you may find. On the down side, there are a lot of cartoon based or novelty toys and figures, which are popular with collectors, but often the toy will be a miniature model of a vehicle; a plane, a boat, truck or train.
An especially fine series are the little 'N' gauge freight and passengers trains that appeared, mostly in Europe, a couple of years ago. Lots of sellers offer them cheaply on ebay and I have managed to get a complete base set of the main locos.
The detail on the little trains, usually about 3cm long, is impressive and the plastic bodies run on tiny brass coloured bogies. There are a number of continental style diesel shunters, steam locos and a wide assortment of rolling stock.
Some of the wagons put me in mind of the old Triang trains, with the loads of pipes, transformers and ore wagons.
As they are really small, they are ideal for making quick and compact dioramas, with a few found objects and a handful of N gauge accessories such as vintage Lone Star trees and fences.
Collecting the toys is massively popular in Germany and Italy, especially and a dedicated guide is released annually, showing value, variations and how to spot fakes. Interestingly, some of the early car models are based on the Wiking line and the figural soldiers have a lot in common with Britains soldiers and the Swoppet range.