View Full Version : My Experience with AFA/Toygrader.com

05-19-2002, 07:07 PM
I'd like to open the floor here to experiences with the AFA/Toygrader.com. They grade figures (for a price), and put them in plastic cases.

The first time I sent my vintage Brown Snake Yoda in I admit I was a little scared...ok terrified, but the product came back and I've since spent plenty getting more graded.

Why did I do it? It stems from my ongoing quest to figure out a better way to display my collection. I also like to keep my special figures safe, and still like to have the best presentation to trade with other collectors. I've found that figures that I've had graded seem to trade alot easier then something I have just 'as is'.

Overall, I think the service rocks, though it can be pricey if you send alot of figures in at once. Right now they have a web deal on AOTC figures. While looking at it I got to wondering about you collectors out there so I thought I'd offer my knowledge about the grading (I've gotten about 20+ figures graded by AFA now with more on the way) and was wondering what experiences you might have had with them if any?

I'd hate to know I was the only person out there doing this. :crazed:

05-20-2002, 09:57 AM
So no one has anything to say about this??

05-20-2002, 10:14 AM
ehh.... so it's worth x amount NOW, what about down the road? What about when the bubble yellows?

05-20-2002, 10:20 AM
Originally posted by SirSteve
ehh.... so it's worth x amount NOW, what about down the road? What about when the bubble yellows?

Exactly. I'd be worried about paying money to have it graded when the status could easily change. But then again, I don't ever expect to sell my collection so I guess I don't worry about value much.:)

05-20-2002, 11:38 AM
Woa, SirSteve appeared! It's an honor to forum with you good sir.:cool:

Uh..yellowing tho? Come on now...Since the beginning of the creation of plastics, many myths have been perpetuated about the longevity of plastics, especially outside in the elements. All plastics come from petroleum and natural gas. Sunlight, especially ultraviolet radiation, has a disastrous effect on most plastics. Some plastics, like polyethylene (PE) milk jugs, degrade quickly in the sun - in a matter of months. PE can easily be recycled. Many children's toys are made from PE and get brittle and crack when left outside.

Acrylic (Plexiglas, Lucite,and Acrylite) comes from natural gas and is completely inert when in solid form. American-made acrylic does NOT yellow in the sunlight. Witness the protective canopies and bubbles in the World War II bombers - they are still clear after 50 years in the sun! There are three other clear plastics that do yellow in the sun and get confused with acrylic - Styrene, PETG, and Polycarbonate. They have their respective qualities that make this an acceptable trade-off. Ask your Ridout Plastics salesperson for information on all of these plastic solutions.

So what's this mean for a Star Wars collector? "For safe, long-term storage, AFA's tamper-evident acrylic case offers the most visually appealing form of protection for action figures known. Our cases block 98% of harmful UV rays."

That's on their site. Without it wouldn't figures just deteriorate and yellow quicker SirSteve?

05-20-2002, 12:07 PM
Well personally I'd never pay someone to grade my stuff, but I don't care about the perceived monetary value of my collection anyway since I don't plan on parting with it. It seems like with today's technology though if you just keep your carded figs out of DIRECT (like, right smack in front of a window, or outside) sunlight they should be ok....

Note: I'm not a carded collector so I may have no idea what I'm talking about.

05-20-2002, 02:12 PM
I have just gotten into getting all of my figures graded and have decided to go with ToyGrader.com - Their pricing is very reasonable, and they are obviously knowledgable collectotrs themselves. And, speaking in monetary terms, a non-graded C9+ card of 77 Boba Fett goes for about $800 - the same figure with the same grade of 9.0 from AFA ToyGrader went yesterday for over $1,500. For those who are planning to use their collection as college money for themselves or the kids in the future, it is well worth the $30 to get DOUBLE what you would without that simple AFA sticker grading.

I just picked up a Vintage Jawa 12-back in a seller-rated C-9.5 condition for $50 (yes, $50 bucks) and I plan on sending that, my Jorg Sacul, UK Yak Face and a few others in.

Some people here look upon this as a beginning stage of scalping. It is not. For one reason. You can't take it all with you.

"If I could take it all down to my grave
God knows I'd save and save"
- DMB - "Seek Up"


05-21-2002, 02:08 PM
Yea, I'll admit it. I don't keep good care of my collection cause I really don't know how!! My collection is MOC now, but the future? I've sent in only my "big dog" figures to the service. It would be way to costly for me to send them all in, but I'd love to.

I should also note that the figures I get graded are for either colleciton purposes or trade only. With all of the fake and custom carded stuff out there, you just can't take chances trading or buying figures you really want. Grading helps people know what they're getting.

I'm just pointing out my experiences with it and would like to hear more like these guys above.

And honestly, I don't know what the heck SirSteve is talking about when he asks about it yellowing in the future. Not all vintage plastic is yellow. There's a reason for that. If cased in a plastic that's 98% UV protected there's nothing to worry about.

05-21-2002, 02:13 PM
Yellowing was just an example. I know advances have been made but it still is possible. Here is another... R2-D2 FX that has batteries in it. What happens in 10 years when they start leaking? Or what about card warping due to heat? All you are doing is getting what Toy Grader thinks it's worth. What expertise in Star Wars do they have? Don't get me wrong, the idea is good but I just don't think it will succeed in the Star Wars universe, perhaps the entire toy collecting universe. It's not like a coin or stamp....

05-21-2002, 02:22 PM
Heh heh...have you guys actually been to their site lately? They are making money folks, not just with Star Wars.

Steve said "all you are doing is getting what Toy Grader thinks it's worth." Well, yea, but that's not the point. This isn't about getting a grade to get a higher payout by scalping on Ebay. It's about a 3rd party validating the figure as a recgonized source so everyone across the board will know what you have.

If you had a vintage boba fett (something I am actually looking for) I'd rather buy one that was graded by them then buying one you just hand me. Why? Because how do I really know that it's a fake or custom job?

Toygrader.com is becoming pretty big in the world of collecting, not just for Star Wars, but GI Joe, Starting Line up, and others. I'm just relaying my experiences.

What expertise in Star Wars do they have? What expertise in Star Wars does anyone really have?

05-22-2002, 01:38 PM

If you're skeptical, just check it out, then make your own decisions.

05-22-2002, 02:00 PM
I have a very vocal and loud opinion regarding grading.

Okay, not so loud, but I am very opinionated.

Grading = crap!

Crap crap crap crap crappity crap crap.

It is a genious idea to make money off of some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. Collectors. I just wish I came up with it first.

For the last several years now, I have watched the "grading" industry destory the sports card collectiong market. They have turned what WAS a fun hobby, into nothing BUT a lottery. I can't tell you how often I see adults and kids alike opening packs of sports cards at 5.00 a piece, searching for the elusive "autographed, game worn material, only 100 produced, super insert card". They open the pack, don't get it, and then drop the rest into the trash. IN THE TRASH! No, wow, I got Giambi, or even keeping them at all. Damn, no 500$ card, oh well, *toss*.

Now, there are virtually no collectors of sports cards. They are all sellers. People only collect to sell now, or to hold on it because of the value. And, besides that, now a card has no value unless it is graded. A card that is supposedly worth 10 dollars. But noone will buy it, because it is not graded. So, graded, the card is worth 25 dollars in supreme ultra impossible mint condition. And you pay 15 dollars to get it graded, no matter the results. So, whern you get your card back, non mint, it is still worth only 10 dollars. So, you paid 15 dollars to get a card graded, that is only worth what it was before. But now you can sell it for 10, and be 5 dollars in the hole, plus what you paid to get the pack the card came in.
This isn't every scenario. However, it is an example of MOST. I have seen it happen too many times.

I also credit the destruction of the card market on price guides as well. In the late 80's price guides started becoming prominent. And there started the decline. If toy graders get that kind of stranglehold on the market, well, i fear the worst.

Feel free to mock me.

05-22-2002, 02:24 PM
I won't mock ya Long Dong. You bring up some excellent points.

Here is what toygrader.com terms their "grading benefits" I'll comment on each one in "()".

Increased value
There is no denying the fact that professionally 3rd party graded items sell for much more money than ungraded items. The hobby recognizes truly hard to find conditions and the buyers are willing to pay.

(Sadly, this is the worst part of grading, but it will happen.)

Expert counterfeit and tampering detection
AFA has the experience and expertise to identify counterfeit or altered figures. We will not assign a grade and encase a carded figure which bears evidence of any form of tampering (restoration, resealing, re-coloring, trimming, etc.) or are of questionable authenticity.

(This on the other hand is one reason I've gotten figures graded. I've seen some pretty good fakes out there and I'd rather not get dupped if it's an older vintage figure I really want)

Peace of mind and Confidence
No more hesitation or guesswork when purchasing your collectible figures. When you buy an AFA graded figure you know exactly what to expect. When AFA says its mint, its MINT!

(This is loosy goosy advertising here. Buying AFA is going to mean paying alot more, but if it's what you want, you know more about it right off)

Establish grading standard
Our professional grading experts are committed to assign accurate and impartial grades to each figure submitted. AFA will remain consistent establishing the grading standard for figures that you can trust.

(Their website lists statistics about figures submitted and what types of grades they are giving across the board. AFA is becoming huge and it's a recognized name in collector rings.)

Long term storage/display
For safe, long-term storage, AFA's tamper-evident acrylic case offers the most visually appealing form of protection for action figures known. Our cases block 98% of harmful UV rays.

(And here's the big one for me. Acrylic cases by themselves cost almost as much as the AFA graded versions. Why not just do it and save yourself the headache later. I also like to showcase my collection but want adequate protection for them.)

Grading isn't for everyone but for lots of people it does make sense. The fact of the matter is it's only going to grow, and grading can create more interest in the market. I understand how some might not like it, but it's a fact of the hobby and something we all should think about.

05-22-2002, 02:45 PM
Well, personally I don't care for it, and I hope it doesn't get big in the Star Wars community at all.

My friend is a huge sports card collector. Long Dong has it right in some aspects, but my friend does actually buy packs and keep the cards. And many times he collects cards that may be valuable or may not, but he keeps them because he collects specific players as well.

Here's the problem. He's told me about one of the larger card grading companies getting cards in, and then sending out a different, lower grade version back to the customer. He's seen it first hand. Now how would you like this place to take your C9 Boba Fett or 12-back Stormie and send you back a C7 or C8 version. You'd be quite upset.

Besides that, these graders only create a larger scalping group and destroy the actual fun of collecting. I myself will be getting ALL the saga figures, vehicles, and beasts. Not for value, but for personal collecting. Sure I have some of the rare ones including variations (all 3 versions of R2). But mostly its for the personal fun.

05-22-2002, 03:06 PM
If I ever find out the AFA was giving me back lower graded figures I'd take a road trip up there and take out their entire operation "yoda style"

I agree that would suck. I take digital pictures of everything I have and keep track of numbers for my collection. So far they've sent me all my original figures back. I think the AFA is a different breed of grading establishment tho. Seriously, it's good to hear these comments tho.

Although it seems like I may be the only person using the service at the moment. =P

05-22-2002, 04:17 PM
Yes, I have heard about many card companies swapping out cards. Also, I have heard of them giving generous grades to shops and frequent customers. Sad sad sad. I hope they all go under.

05-22-2002, 04:20 PM
Grading is crap plain and simple.

05-23-2002, 09:53 AM
I'd say if you have a problem you should give them a call and let them know! Maybe with enough feedback the situation can improve.

"Screaming about it won't help you" - C3PO, A New Hope

05-23-2002, 11:22 AM
Well, me calling them and telling them that I think the way they make money sucks is pointless. What I want is for them to stop doing what they are doing. Me telling them to do so isn't going to help, I wish it would. I am taking the most pro-active approach I can to it. By not using their services, informing others what the drawbacks of their services are, and by not buying/selling anything that has been a part of their service. It may be futile in the long run, but it is really all that CAN be done.

Rogue II
05-23-2002, 11:43 AM
I'm with ya Quite-Long Dong. I'm not a big fan of Graded sports cards and even less of a fan of it for toys.


Besides, most of the new Star Wars toys being released not going to be worth great amounts of money that the toys of the 70s and 80s. Back then, most people actually took them out and played with them, so getting one now in its packaging is more rare. The new figures are mostly collected by adult collectors, so packaged figures are much more common.

Just remember, even with price guides, figures are only worth what people will pay for them.

05-23-2002, 12:12 PM
Grading is only growing and does help collecting hobbies in ways by leveling the playing field. In short, it's just not going away.

As far as Rogue's quote, any material object is only worth what people are willing to pay for it.

I only have my "special" figures graded for protection, and possible trading later for something I want. Now say I do that. Why would someone just trust me saying something was a C8 when there's a recognized source that says something else?

05-23-2002, 12:25 PM
I know it isn't going to go away. And that saddens me.

05-23-2002, 12:46 PM
I guess all I can say is here's their blurb and reason they are doing what they're doing. On that point. I agree.


"Today's collector has seen a huge growth in sight-unseen purchases. The purchase of action figures through the Internet, mail and phone have opened the door to greater selection and prices never before available to collectors.

On the other hand, it is impossible to know exactly what you are getting until it arrives. Often a lot of money and time has been wasted.

Unfortunately, counterfeiters exist in any collectible market where money is involved. The carded action figure market is no exception. These crooks attempt to deliberately alter or counterfeit items for monetary gain. While it is not always easy to spot their forgeries or tampering, the graders at AFA are experts at identifying them.

With today's advanced technology in computers, printing presses, etc. counterfeiters now have the advanced tools to successfully mislead the collector. They can actually create reproduction card backs and can even remove blister bubbles and reapply them without anyone knowing!

Figures graded by AFA gives you the confidence and peace of mind to know that the figure is authentic and has been properly graded by a professional. Sellers will enjoy higher prices and faster sales with AFA graded figures. Buyers will enjoy the peace of mind and security of knowing exactly what they are getting.


I should also add that every exact figure I've sent in has come back just fine.

05-25-2002, 01:06 PM
For the most part I think getting figures graded is a waste (expensive)- the huge distribution numbers of 95% of the figures since 1995 guarantees a large number of carded figures will be in existence for quite some time. That being said, if I came across a 21 back carded boba fett in my attic I would probably get the guy graded, especially if I wanted to sell him. I have seen the numbers on ebay and they do not lie. Graded figures sell for more than their ungraded counterparts. I have nothing of significant monetary value, and I have never sold any of my figures anyway, so I have no use for AFA.

If I were ever in the market to buy vintage figures on their cards, I would have to think long and hard on whether to pay possibly double for a graded figure. I would do it mainly to ensure I was not getting a re-seal or being ripped off in some other way. But that means I would be using a professional grade as a form of insurance- Paying double for peace of mind is a rather high premium.

I think I would rather rely on the benevolence of my fellow collector.

05-25-2002, 01:08 PM
I agree. Virtually nothing post 1995 is going to be worth much at all, if anything. Unless everyone opens them. Which most collectors, sadly don't.