Welcome to "Jango's Jargon",
This week's debut topic is the wonderful world of action figure
grading and the services of A.F.A. Now, I'm not talking about the Air
Force Association, the Association of Flight Attendants, or the Anal-retentive
Nope. This weeks focus is on figure gradin' extraordinaires,
the Action Figure Authority faction at www.toygrader.com.
In a nutshell, A.F.A. is a collector service who offers
professional condition grading of your action figures, large and small. The
grade is based on a number of things, including card condition, bubble
setting, and the overall appearance of the action figure itself. A service like
this will set you back only $16.00, with a 30 day maximum turn around.
Express services are available at a slightly higher cost of
$28 (3 business days). Grades run from AFA 10 (Why even send
it in?) to AFA U-100, which means the figure grades gem mint,
and was Uncirculated, i.e. sent to A.F.A. in a factory sealed
case. Below is an example of their label, which gives you the
skinny on the figure itself.
Now for the burning question? Why grade action figures? As
most collectors will tell you, the loose collectors anyway, these things were
meant to be enjoyed out of the package. Then there are those of us who are
fans of nostalgia and packaged toys in a whole. The primary purpose of
A.F.A's services is to offer carded collectors peace of mind when they
toys "investments". A little hard to swallow for
those who are toy collectors for the sake of fun, and not profit, but it still happens.
It's a all too well known fact that figures, no matter how common, that have
been graded by A.F.A., will see an increase in value up to
atleast 3x their original retail price. Exclusives such as Jorg Sacul and the
2002 NY Toyfair "Bling Bling Vader" can command a $250+ price tag on
the secondary market.
Alot of collectors place the blame for the flooded
"graded" market, as well as lack of un-graded exclusive figures, on A.F.A. themselves.
I have come to learn that A.F.A. has been made the scapegoat in this case.
Collectors are the ones driving up the demands for these "professionally
graded" pieces of plastic. A.F.A. are just the ones offering the service.
The fact that so called "collectors", mail in their
figures for the sole purpose of resale at higher prices, has reared it's ugly head
more and more as of late. What we must understand is that graded figures are
a hot commodity! There are collectors out there who wish to have
absolute mint figures. This is where the glorious gift of free will comes
into play. Although we may not agree with the practices of AFA, and those
who abuse it, we must respect it as fellow collectors. AFA vs
Non-AFA, carded vs loose. We're all collectors in the end, and we all collect in
whatever way makes us happy. The same principle should be applied here.
Not to show A.F.A. in a negative light, (or play the Devil's
Advocate to some of you), there are some great advantages to their services.
1) Graded figures are returned with a beautiful hard acrylic
case, which insures the figures condiiton for years to come.
2) Insurance companies who enlist professional appraisers will
more than likely recognize Action Figure Authority as a licensed
collectibles apparaiser, ultimately meaning you can insure your
collection/figure for more than it's retail value.
Aside from those two, should you need to sell your collection
(god forbid, right?), given todays demand for graded figures, you'll most
definately be able to sell said figure for a good bit more than you paid.
This would probably be the only time I'd condone such a method of resale.
When it's all said and done kids, A.F.A. is somewhat of a
blessing and a curse. it will always have it's enthusiasts and it's nay-sayers.
Insert the old collecting adage. "If you don't like it, don't buy
To A.F.A, or not to A.F.A. That is the question. However, the
answer lies in and only in your own personal interests.
Until next week,
Cory H. aka Jango Fettish