Grading toys. AFA, UKG, IS THIS WORTH MY MONEY?

0

So, grading your precious toys….

Worth the money? Or absolute waste of it?

Most likely a matter of oppinions.  But like everything else, this has pro’s and con’s.

To many collectors it just looks cool, displays great and keeps the toy clean and protected. There is a uv protective case available as well.

That is about the only positive review i can give on grading toys.

But grading is mainly to get an expert to look at your toy, authenticate it and its accesories if they have any. Afterwards the expert will give it a grade (for instance 85%) and case the item.

What does this expert do with my toy?

A question asked a lot in the collector world.

But long story short, he looks at the figure how its casted (with or without flaws) if it is original and period correct, if the paintwork is in good conditiin or not (playwear, factory flaws etc.) and if the accesoiries such as blasters and capes are original and in what shape they are.

So, basically they do what a die hard collector also does? 

Well, yes! But to be honest i think a true and experienced collector has a way better view on this!

Just to have an example, how many star wars toy toni’s have been graded in the past? (Toy toni are original figures, original cards and bubbles but assembled later by a scamming prick who bought old leftover factory stock cards and bubbles and added some minty figures wich he bought online himself). Did the graders notice this? NO! Collectors discovered the scam by wrong bubbles on the cards they never came out on. Graders just graded these fakes. Because thats what they are. Fakes!

And then the cases where a repro weapon has been graded as original…..

Yes, its human work. Humans make mistakes… NO, NO, NO!!

If you provide a service like this, you should have a insanely low error margin. Wich is not the case! Far from it.

There is even talk of graders replacing the toy weapons with good looking reproductions, wich can obviously never be put through any tests because they are cased up! But this is a not confirmed rumour.

Anyway, lets look at some more facts….

What is the price for grading a toy like lets say a vintage star wars figure.

Startingprice is around €15 for the basics.

So how long does a grader have to grade a figure? Probably not that long. Because take in mind, this is a company with overhead (building to rent, cases to have produced, insurance, staff to pay etc etc). Do the math what those 15 euro’s will be after expense and taxes etc. Not much!

So the grader can never take half an hour to process this toy for grading. Otherwise it will cost money! And they are busy, like actually really busy! And its not vollunteer work, thats for sure!

Just read into forums, or catch up on facebook groups like echo base or the imperial commissary, just to see how long it takes sometime to authenticate a lightsaber for a luke farmboy.

A simple float or drop test does not suffice anymore. Thats is a basic way of telling if its worth further investigation or not. If a bespin blaster sinks and does not surface anymore its a definite repro. But a floater is not by definition original!

But they are telling me, a grading company can authenticate your items within minutes, still have time to closely examine the figure and paint, place a label in the case with all info about the figure type, case it up and archive it for only 15 euro after all expense mentioned before? Are you shitting me!?!?!

If you want to know how authentic your toy is, find experts! Real experts! 

And just buy a couple of those cases to put your figures in. Because any experienced collector can see how good a figure really is. Its not that a grading company has the time to have 3 people look at a toy and get to a unanimous aggreement what grade it is.

Therefore you are left to the personal oppinion of the person handling your toy! What he or she thinks is an 85 another can see it as an 80. How fair is that?

Then how come graded toys go for twice or more then a loose minty looking figure?

Because people got scared of repro and have put their faith in a higher power such as graders.

If you just like the casings and what casings do. I would say go buy a bunch of them and place your toys in there to display.

All the rest to me is a big case of deep fried air, with no extra value or meaning to it.

Furthermore, you are boss of your collection. You should find a figure that looks good to you, not to someone sticking it in a case with a label.

I have seen 85% grades with a big smudge on the crispy white cape. To me that is a definite no go! And far from what a collector should desire. 85 is about the main thing collectors are after (90 grades are better ofcourse but are mostly insanely priced. And still theres 90 grades not looking a tad better then the same figure in 85)

And my personal experience with graders….

Some years back i bought a graded sealed box darth vaders star destroyer. Very cool! Looked amazing and i needed to have it.

When i found out the cases items waa not my thing, i sold it locally to a collector. There was one major issue, the collector did not want the graded item case on it. Just the item.

He did not trust this cases up thing at all (grading was not a well known thing where i live back then) and he collected sealed box items to open them, believe it or not. He had a tick with being the first person to hold it after all those years being new in the box.

So, he put his money on the table to buy it. And wanted the case removed and the box opened. Saccriligeon to me but hey, its your cash and item now…

And since it was graded i had a lot of confidence it was a brand new item in that box.
Yeah…. guess again. It was a graded block of wood! Wood!

And ofcourse i ended up with just a nice empty box, not getting payed and firewood.

And ofcourse the graders did not want to hear this story and did not want to communicate about it.

Since then, grading? Never mind. I know tons of people who can authenticate things a lot better and actually take time to look at items.
So to conclude my story…

Great idea, but no thank you!

Vintage Star Wars Toys

1

So, what is all the fuss about vintage Star Wars toys?

Vintage Star Wars,

Toys were released in the late 1970’s when the first, or actually fourth movie hit the big screen. A new hope was there!

Little could people know that the whole Star Wars franchise would still be alive and kicking 40 years later! Toys and merchandise became highly collectible, the original trilogy has been widely expanded and none other then Disney is captaining the Star Wars fleet.
For those who are lucky enough to have played with the Star Wars toys ‘back in the day’, the feeling of holding a Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker toy in your hand is mostly an instant reminder of their childhood.

My own childhood was also highly influenced by Star Wars toys. I started collecting them in the Late 80’s and early 90’s. Way before the craze started. I started collecting mostly out of boredom, visiting tons of flea markets, swap meets and yard sales with my parrents who were in the antiques trade. I always got some spending money on these markets to keep me busy (and probably to get into the trade). I spent almost every cent i got on Star Wars toys. From loose actiom figures to sealed in the box playsets. All of this was still for grabs back then at bargain prices. How would you feel if you would visit a store today and found a carded yak face figure in a sales bin for €0.40 / £0.35 / $0.50 ? Well there were at least 25 of these available in every toy store or warehouse with a toy department. Nobody wanted yakface or Amanaman. So i bought mine back in the day for 1 Dutch gulden. And i still have the carded figure today.

Now a days Star Wars toys are highly sought after and still provide lots of pleasure to 70’s and 80’s kids and even a new generation of collectors. It always makes me feel good to see a young person collecting the toys we used to play with.

Why did our childhood toys become so valuable!?

A question, asked a lot! But are they realy worth that much?

Ofcourse there will be exceptions, but the majority of the figures and playsets have been used and abused for years and years, througout a whole generation and beyond.

So the chance of finding figures in near mint condition decreased with every year. And to me that is where the real value is. Ofcourse there are carded figures and sealed in box vehicles and playsets with much more value, and finding those is much and much harder. To me its about childhood memories and being able to hold these in my hand without a plastic bubble or cardboard box being in between. Ofcourse to each its own. I still collected the carded figures and boxed sets, but my loose run always made me most happy!

The marketvalue has increased with lightspeed.Some say this is because of the release of the newer movies, and some believe a lot of “collectors” are stockpiling Star Wars toys for the value they hold. Is there a definitive answer? Probably not.

As always this starts with losing the tiny blasters and lightsabers, chewing on those lightsaber tips and breaking or painting vibro axes. There are more accesoiries then figures, so a complete figure with little to no play and paintwear is always a great find! 

Throughout the years many have tried to fill this gap by producing reproduction accesoiries for our beloved childhood toys. This has had a great deal of impact on the collectors market and the value of the toys in question. Now a days it has almost become a sport to find a stormtrooper with a non repro blaster. The value of original toys took a giant leap and scammers are always on the prowl trying to sell these fakes to the collectors.

I believe Supply and Demand is the main answer to the question.

Repro….. 

Repro is bad mmmmkay…..

Other then that, why would you have repro in your collection? To have spotwarmers untill you find an original? Just because the originals are too darn expensive? Because you do not consider yourself a purist collector and just want to have a displaypiece?

Anyway, its all in the eye of the beholder i guess. To me the modern reproductions are a waste of time and money. I would rather save up for a year to buy something near mint and original then buying a repro instantly. The same goes for beater figures. Its a less expensive way to start a collection, but in the long run it is cheaper to buy a nice example straight away then upgrading your beater figure ten times. Collecting should never be a race or pissing contest! Period.

Collecting should be fun and exiting. The chase is better then the catch.

A fairly new battle against reproductions is the grading of figures and other toys.

Grading toys. AFA? UKG? Why to do this or why not to do this?

Again something that is in the eye of the beholder.

A graded figure in a nice acrylic case van be cool to display. Protection from dust and sunlight damage. Tons of pro’s, but are there cons?

How trustworthy are these graders? Can they tell repro from original? Do they actually have the time to examine items properly?

Topic for a new blog? Most likely!

Back to Star Wars…..

With all the negativity about insane prices and reproduction fakes would you still want to collect Star Wars toys?

Why not? If this makes you happy you definatly should!

Together with other collectors you are keeping this new hope alive!

And what is more exiting to a fan then finding out what is still to come…

Looking for rare variations of toys, finding a holy grail item on a yard sale, discussing the stuff you love with fellow collectors. Just make the best out of this whole deal for yourself.

Collector? Passionate about Star Wars? Want to share your knowledge or show your collection among others?

For those who have access to facebook my reccomendations would be;

Vintage toy addicts BE/NL

https://www.facebook.com/groups/vintagetoyaddicts/

Echo Base Benelux vintage Trading

https://www.facebook.com/groups/echobasebenelux/
Echo Base UK vintage Trading

 https://www.facebook.com/groups/679883255411947/
Echo Base USA vintage Trading

https://www.facebook.com/groups/EchoBaseWorldwideVintageStarWars/

The Imperial Commissary

 https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheImperialCommissary/
And for our internet users

 www.imperialgunnery.com

Ofcourse there are a lot more websites and forums. These are a few of the trustworthy groups and forums i would reccomend.
Feel free to comment, follow and share!
May the force be with you.