Quote Originally Posted by LusiferSam View Post
Ok, I'll bite. What's a 'U-grade?'

More on topic, I just got a 3 Position Laser Rifle. I've been looking for one of those on and off for several years now. The seller said it's missing a piece, but can't be the life of me tell what's missing or where. It works, but the motor could use a little help. The only problem is the clip in the front for holding the stock is too loose, so the stock doesn't stay folded. It's definitely not big deal as really won't be playing with.
If you have a carded figure that has a damaged card, but the figure itself is mint and still sealed, then you can send it in to AFA and they will pull the figure off the card and assign the loose figure a U-grade. U stands for uncirculated and it's supposed to mean that the figure has never been touched by human hands (except for the Kenner factory workers and AFA graders of course - but I'm assuming the AFA guys use gloves). U-graded figures look exactly like your average loose AFA-graded figure, but they have the additional "U" in front of the grade. So, an AFA 90 becomes and AFA U90. Supposedly, this additional letter justifies a significantly higher secondary market price than your standard AFA graded figure.

The problem is that a U90 grade is extremely difficult to come by and your average carded figure will only get a U80 or U85. It's the rare gems that get U90 or above. So, of course, that means that many collectors will ONLY accept U90 figures for their collections and I've read reports of guys who literally send in 20-30 vintage carded figures in the hopes of getting just a few U90 grades.

Of course, all of those figures are being pulled off their cards to get this U-grade, thereby reducing the number of vintage MOCs. Making it much more difficult for other collectors to find MOCs for their collection and making it extremely difficult for new collectors jumping into the hobby.

In fact, this has been going on so long that there might be carded figure variations that have been completely obliterated from existence and we would never know it because those figures were pulled off of their cards.

It's become such a widespread problem that there is even a website dedicating to educating collectors on the harmful effects of U-grading on our hobby:
http://powerofthetoys.com/afa