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Copyright 1996-1999 Eric G. Myers

This guide may not be reproduced without the express written consent of the author.

Version 1.1

In an attempt to impose some consistency within this guide, I offer the following conventions and definitions:


Categories found below are not absolute. An item may have elements of different grades simultaneously (which, in fact, is most often the case). The scale below attempts to evenly partition defects starting from a true mint item down through an item in nearly destroyed condition. The scale is designed to be used as a guide. If the preponderance of defects on an item fall into a particular category, then it is more than likely accurately graded at that level.

On a related note, an item may have multiple defects which, if taken alone or in small clusters, might place the item in a particular grade yet when considered together, the sheer number of defects may serve to lower the overall grade of the item.

Given the collapsed nature of the scale (i.e., combining the middle categories) there is room within each level to make distinctions of grade (except in the highest and lowest level which stand alone). Similarly, a system of pluses and minuses (e.g., C9+, C6-, etc.) could be easily added for boundary cases (though not explicitly discussed here). The more specific the rating, the more useful it will be (e.g., the term "NEAR MINT" will not be as useful as "C8-" which in turn will be less useful than a description of the defects that fall into each particular category).

It is worth noting that some collectors are more tolerant of defects occurring on the backs of carded figures. Many times, defects such as creases are not visible on the card front even though they are quite noticeable on the card back. This guide does not distinguish the location of defects when grading the entire item.

The presence of a price tag or sticker is not deemed to be a flaw in and of itself. However, damage caused by the sticker adhesive, improper removal of the sticker or any related issues may be considered a flaw when grading the entire item. Additionally, price tags and other stickers can actually hide existing damage such as a previous tag removal tear.

Any repair made to a card, bubble or other packaging should be noted as such. This includes (but is not limited to): Tape repair, replacing rusted or missing staples, re-gluing of bubbles or card separations, etc.

Reformation or reshaping of a crushed or dented bubble may not be considered a repair per se but should be noted especially if the damage to the bubble left marks (such as whitening of the plastic) or other evidence of the previous damage.

Repairs are generally considered to bring down the value of an item (though this is certainly not universal). Consider carefully before restoring or repairing an item. Convention holds that the item's *original* condition is the most important factor in determining value and not the item's *restoration* condition.


Many fans collect figures adorned with autographs of related celebrities. While this may radically enhance the value to some, it may radically decrease the value to others. There are several issues you should consider before getting into the autographed figures trade (either as a buyer or a seller). The first issue is authenticity. Autographs are easily forged (one account stated that over half of all autographed baseball memorabilia is forged). And a certificate of authenticity is not an assurance of anything. These days, anyone with a laser printer and half a brain can print phony certificates of authenticity. This is not to say that all certificates of authenticity are fake. On the contrary, some are very real. However, spotting the difference can be tricky (and next to impossible in some cases). If you yourself are acquiring the autographs on the items and you plan to keep your collection forever and ever, then you should have no problem. If, on the other hand, you are collecting autographed figures with the intention to sell them, you might consider going the extra step and getting proof. Many of these items get signed at conventions (such as comic conventions, Star Trek conventions or Star Wars conventions). Additionally, celebrities often charge a small fee for autographs. They may also charge a small fee for photographs. Despite the extra cost, it might be worth your while to try to obtain a picture of the celebrity with the item you had them sign. A good photgraph is worth a thousand certifcates of authenticity. Of course, a poor photograph (i.e., one in which the item is absent, ambiguous, or otherwise obscured) isn't going to help much. Its not easy, but if you can get a good photo, you will be way ahead of the game when it comes to time to prove an autograph's autheticity at the time of sale. Traditionally, the photo is transferred with the item at the time of sale. If you really like the photo, make copies because at least one copy should go to the buyer of the item.

Autographs of unrelated people (even if they are famous) may actually lower the value of your figure (e.g., Patrick Stewart's autograph on a Commander Riker figure). However, the autograph itself may be more valuable on its own if the person is famous enough or is known for his or her reluctance to give out autographs (which is another subject entirely!).

And please be reminded that while an autograph may be immeasurably precious to you, some people consider any markings, even an authentic autograph, to be a flaw and thus reduce the value of the item in question.

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