Every year the Northern Advocate runs a toy appeal before Christmas.

But after this week we are starting to wonder if the toys we have been accepting, and then giving away, are worth more than we realise.

You can't put a value on the joy that a toy brings a child, of course.

But we have discovered that rare, potentially valuable toys have turned up amongst the gifts that Northern Advocate readers are leaving under our Christmas tree in our Robert St, Whangarei reception.

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And we suspect that the donors might not have realised the value of the toys they have given us.

This week a visitor to the paper alerted us to a rare 1970s Timpo cowboy and indian toy set under our Christmas tree.

We don't know who handed it in, and we want to contact the donor so we can explain that this plastic set of cowboys and Indians is possibly worth hundreds of dollars.

We are thinking the donor can have the option of retaining the set, or perhaps we help sell it and the money goes to a charity.

Either way, we would love to find the person who dropped off the Timpo set pictured, as well as a Rolls Royce model car.

Timpo toys were manufactured in New Zealand by Prestige Toys in the 1970s.

Prestige Toys ceased making the sets, and the dies or moulds were destroyed and never used again.

It seems a market has developed internationally for the New Zealand-made Timpo set, as they are rare.

We visited a local model/toy expert who immediately raised an interested eyebrow.

And poking around online, it is clear Timpo has a strong following among collectors.

This got us thinking - what else has been dropped off?

We soon discovered a teddy bear worth $300.

The person who dropped off the teddy bear knew of its potential value and donated it with the intention of it becoming a toy for a new owner.

But the Timpo set donor may not know what it is worth.

If it was you, contact me at the Northern Advocate on 021 892 399 or our toy appeal co-ordinator Gayleen Kooge on 09-470-2855.

And thank you to everyone who has donated toys this year - the items we received up until Tuesday were given to the Lions, and anything we have received after that will go to Barnados.

Your generosity is much appreciated.