model train set on track

Grading Standards

“Preserving the Integrity of the Hobby”

A hallmark of TCA membership is the observance of ethical and fair practices when engaged in determining and representing the condition of toy train items offered for sale or trade. Such is helpful to persons considering a transaction, and reflects the principles of the Association’s earliest and current leaders.

Several sets of standards have been promulgated, together with guides for their implementation. Members should be familiar with the standards listed below (some are large PDF files, please allow download time).

Condition and Grading Standards, Paper and Box Standards, Restored / Refinished Items Standards, Operational Standards

Contains general requirements for standards. Regarding grading standards applicable to all toy train and related items that have been either restored or refinished, they do not apply to fantasy or customized items since the goal of the standards is to be virtually identical to the original. They were prepared to act as guidance and to encourage usage of common terminology when describing the category of grading condition for specific items.

Our standards are monitored and enforced by the TCA on its members in their dealings, but not on non-member merchants. Standards Committee Members are present at most TCA functions to enforce the rules and regulations pertaining to the proper identification of toy train restorations, reproductions and related items. A large part of a Committee Member’s responsibilities includes instructing the general membership on how to recognize fake and reproduction items.

In addition, certain standards in effect regarding reproductions apply to manufacturers and vendors: