Discover Vintage America - APRIL 2015

'Wild Animal Circus' by Buddy L is in great shape

Q: My mom saved most if not all of the toys I had growing up. This Buddy L "Wild Animal Circus" semi- truck is one that I have always been curious about. The body is in excellent condition with very little wear to the paint and decals. All the moving parts still function and the colors are vivid. I was told that the truck once belonged to my uncle and was passed down to me. Can you confirm the age and please give me a value?

A: How wonderful that your mom had the foresight to save your toys. I still have nightmares over my mom selling all of my Barbie dolls and accessories in a garage sale for $12. We are talking about several of the #1 Barbies, all of her friends and much more.

Enough of my sob story and on to the circus truck. Your Buddy L truck dates to the early 1960s. It is made of pressed steel and I agree with your description, the condition appears to be near new.

I can see the impressed Buddy L name on the front grill. This area is often very scuffed and the stickers show damage from hours of play. It also looks like all of the gates are in place. More often than not the plastic gates are missing from the sides.

One thing that you did not mention and I cannot see in the photograph are the animals that would have come with the truck. The animals most often seen are an elephant, lion and tiger that fit very nicely into the space.

Based on the overall condition of your Buddy L circus semi it would sell for $250-$300 even with the missing animals. At a good toy auction the price could possibly go a bit higher and if by chance you have the animals this would also increase the value.

I hope that you will share more of your childhood toys with us.

Note: All prices given are for sale in a private sale, antique shop or other resale outlet. Price is also dependent upon the geographic area in which you are selling. Auction value, selling to a dealer or pawnshop prices are about half or less of resale value.

Michelle Staley is a Lenexa, KS-based dealer and researcher with 35 years of experience in the antique trade. Send questions with photos to Michelle to Please keep queries to one question; questions without photos of the item may not be answered. Michelle is also available for consulting and extensive research work beyond this column. If you would like an appraisal on an antique or collectible please go to for a one-on-one appraisal.