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It's amazing how often you see the term 'rare' applied to a boat, usually when it is for sale on ebay by someone who doesnt know anything about Sutcliffe boats!
Some Sutcliffe boats are rare, and that often makes them desirable, which in turn pushes up the price in line with the principles of supply and demand. However there are a few models which don't seem to fit that model. The Bluebird II is one example. It's not actually all that rare at all but it IS desirable and is often considered a 'must have' for a collection - therefore it commands rather high prices. The 1947 pull along is at the other end of the spectrum; it is extremely rare but it is a rather dull and boring little boat so most collectors can take it or leave it (if they ever find one!)
A very good indictor to the rarity of a boat is the number of images of that boat on the internet - ie if you 'google' Sutcliffe Empress, how many image hits do you get ? (The answer is 0 by the way!) Now try 'Sutcliffe Bluebird II' !!
The classification below uses this simple indictor to assign rarity to some of the rarer boats. If a boat is not on this list, it's either pretty common or I've missed it out! Note that this applies to a boat in any condition; Mint boxed examples of a boat my be considered 'rarer' than shown below. Please let me know if you think I've missed anything or got anything wrong..
Most collectors have never even seen one of these boats 'in the flesh', never mind own one! These boats are very rarely available to buy and most command very high prices in any condition.
1) 1920 8” hot air motorboat
Very old - few made and few survive.
2) All yachts (12”, 16” and 20“).
Few sold and few survive.
3) 20” Empress clockwork Cabin Cruiser.
Expensive - few sold.
4) 20” clockwork speedboat (no name)
Expensive - few sold.
5) 1947 pull along.
Very few made over short production period.
6) 9” racer 1 - type 1 (removable hatch).
Only made for a short period.
EXTREMELY RARE - (0 to 2 images)
VERY RARE - (3 to 10 images)
These boats are a little easier to obtain but still command very high prices. Many collections contain at least 2 or 3 of these boats.
9” racer 1 - type 2 sealed motor (picture right)
12” hot air speedboat
16” hot air battleship
16” clockwork battleship (Nelson)
24” electric speedboat
16” hot air cabin cruiser
12” clockwork speedboat (pre minx, folding screen)
16” clockwork speedboat ‘Meteor’
9” Snappy - sliding lid
16” Cabin Cruiser ‘Commodore’
12" Swallow Cabin Cruiser
Extremely Rare Sutcliffe Yacht - whisper it, but as yachts go, these were not very good!
All remaining pre-war boats are 'rare' (10 - 20 images). This includes the 12" 'hot air' battleship, Grenville destroyer, RACER 1 (oval top), SNAPPY Sub Chaser, Bluebird I, Unda Wunda (deep keel), MINX and ZIP.
See below for the post war boats....
Very Rare - type 2 RACER 1, circa 1933. With motor brake.
Rare Grenville destroyer, circa 1939. Classified as 'Rare' but arguably 'Very Rare' in this condition. Courtesy Vectis Auctions.
Extremely Rare 8" Hot air boat - circa 1920.
The 1957 Sooty boat. 'Scarce'......Not all that rare but highly desirable.
The yellow Sooty boat - an extremely rare colour variation. Also note that the boat is left hand drive, unlike the more common cream/red boat. The Sooty character also speaks with an American accent....
Post War Boats
The section above is mainly concerned with pre-war boats and very early post was boats upto around 1950. Below is a guide to the rarity of the post war boats.
The following boats are considered 'rare' by post war standards. They are not seen for sale alll that often and may comand high prices if they are in good condition.
-12” plastic ‘Commodore’ (Kit).
- Viking Steamer( 50’s edition). They do crop up but it's hard to find a nice one.
- 12” plastic catamaran. Not a great seller and not prduced for very long.
- Sea wolf ('Green Rocket') – red/white with green rocket and conning tower. Very early example and hard to find.
The following boats are not really very rare, but good ones are scarce . So these are 'scare'...
- 9" Sooty boat
- 12” Plastic Meteor (clockwork). Hard to find a good one as there are lots of little bits that can go missing.
- 12” plastic Zodiac (electric)
- 12” Minx (re-run of 1930’s model)
- Racer 1 (red/white). Very early post war boats (1948 to 1952) are in a variety of combinations of red, orange and light blue..
- Sea Wolf - red/white with no bow finial. Red rocket and conning tower.
- Unda Wunda - yellow.
A Sutcliffe VIKING from the mid 50's. Quite scare in this condition.
The following boats are not hard to find - there are normally examples for sale on ebay.
- Bluebird – blue white. Later examples had a plastic bung and a deeper bow pressing.
- Bluebird II – cream, twin front sponsons . Fairly common, but good/boxed examples do command a high price.
- Unda Wunda (grey/red) - these should come in a 2 yellow box with red/black artwork.
The following boats are are easy to obtain - there will always be examples of all of these boats on ebay.
- 9" Jupiter pilot boat
- Comet (blue or yellow)
- Sprite Day Cruiser
- 12” Hawk Speedboat (clcokwork)
- 12” Commodore Cruiser (electric, steel)
- 9” Tiger Speedboat ( blue/white)
- 9” Victor MTB
- Unda Wunda (blue)
- Nautilus submarine - often very over priced! They usually sell for only a small fraction of the price asked...!
- Sea wolf submarine
- Valiant re-issue