The vintage Radio Flyer sled is one of the neatest you will find for sledding down the hills or for collecting. While the originals haven’t been made for many years now, there are some additional options you might want to consider for this classic toboggan. In this article, I would like to share some of the way to put yours to use, some basic information about them, how much you will pay, and where you can shop to find them for the best deals. This is a collector item and like most antiques, it has substantial value that could go up with time.
Whether it was one made for people to toboggan, for dolls, toys, or a miniature for display, the basic construction is generally the same, although the dimensions will obviously be different. All of the vintage Radio Flyer sleds are made of real wood and have metal runners on the sides, similar to ice skates. They are steered by a wooden shaft, which has a rope attached. You can steer with your feet on that shaft and with the rope. The seat or platform is also made of wood slats. All typically have red runners and metal pieces, with the wood being natural.
Types and Uses Of Radio Flyer Vintage Sleds
For Riding: These toboggans were very popular in the 60’s and even earlier and with good reason. Not only were they fast for sliding down the hills, but the real steel and wood construction was solid and durable, unlike the plastic versions of today. You can still ride on them today, if you so choose, but since they are antiques, it might be in your best interest not to. Of course, if you buy one in rough, used condition, it might be more than worth it to take the antique radio flyer sled down the hill and live a little retro, remember the days of your childhood. Vintage toboggans are a lot of fun and pretty fast, especially on icy hills.
For Dolls: Radio flyer vintage sleds were made in miniature form as well. They came in packaging and were a toy that you could use to pull a doll on and play with. You will find many of the mini models for sale on the market, sometimes even getting lucky and finding some that have never been opened for use. These ones are more valuable, since they are in pristine condition.
For Display: This is the most common use these days for classic toboggans. They look great when they are hung up on a wall for display and have a real Americana feel to them. Many people that are selling them and buying them are doing for their decorative looks, more than anything else. If you are into this type of design, they make great decorations and designer pieces that can really catch attention and serve as a conversation piece.
Are They Really Collectible? How Much Are They?
Yes, they are. You will find many collectors that go crazy for authentic vintage sleds by Radio Flyer. They command high prices online and at auctions, antique stores, and even secondhand shops. Full sized versions, even if in relatively rough condition, can go for over $150 without too much trouble. Some people even prefer them to be in rougher shape, complete with a little surface rust, as it adds to the visual appeal. Those that want them in new condition or restored may pay substantially more. Like most antique and collectibles, Radio Flyer sleds are priced according to looks, rarity, and condition. The rough ones you find might be pretty cheap, but it will vary quite a bit.
Of course, if you look at the miniature Radio Flyer toboggans for sale, you will find them much less expensive, even if they are in great condition. These are collectible, buy are simply much cheaper as collectors do not tend to go for them as much. They are out there, but you will have to do a lot of searching to find them.
Beware Of Imitations
You will find there are several makers these days that make a similar product; sort of a retro Radio Flyer sled in looks and design. Some even use a portion of the name to make it sound like the original, but they are not. The newer models, while having very similar looks, are not nearly as valuable or collectible. At first glance, they look the same, but they are simply to be treated as a replica. Do not get duped and purchase a knockoff, or you will not get anywhere near the same level of value out of it.
Best Places to Shop
While you might find them almost anywhere, there are some places that are more likely to yield results.
Classified Ads: Not only sites like Craigslist, but also online classifieds of local newspapers, where someone might have one for sale a yard sale. You will find both places to be a good place to look, with garage sales generally getting the cheapest sales for Radio Flyer vintage sleds. Just keep your eyes open and see what you can find for sale out there.
eBay: There are almost always at least a few of these vintage toboggans for sale on eBay. Since shipping is generally an option for most online auctions, it is a great place to buy, assuming you have good pictures to look at, so you can check the overall condition and look for damage to the unit.
Antique Stores: If you love antiquing, either take a look at the shops in your area or give them a call to see what they might have. Since they are very collectible, many stores will have them. You never know for sure until you do a little digging.
Flea Markets: Flea markets are a great place to find collectibles. If you happen to have one going on your area, take a look to see if they have a vintage Radio Flyer sled for sale and make an offer.