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My LEGO set (6086) back from AFA.

OdinduskOdindusk Member Posts: 763
edited March 2012 in Collecting
Hey all. I wanted to share some (terrible) pics I took of something dear to my LEGO heart.

I bought this particular 6086 back in the dark ages of eBay (c. 1996). It came from a toy shop owner in Italy with crazy kindness who actually shipped this to me before I paid him. I have documentation somewhere, but I believe I paid ~$180 USD at the time.

At that point I already had my own copy of the set that I had built and displayed since a couple of years prior. It quickly become my favorite LEGO castle set ever, and the collector in me wanted to get a second, sealed set before the price got too much more out of hand.

It sat in storage and suffered a few moves with me over the next 15 years. It became tiresome trying to protect it, while still busting it out to look at it every now and then. What I really wanted was a way to display it safely. I had the idea in my head for some time to get an acrylic case for it, but couldn't quite bring myself to pull the trigger on the project. I didn't have the right tools to do it, and I'd never done anything like that before which meant a high probability that I'd mess up and have to redo it, etc.

Then one day I was scanning eBay for random crap that I most definitely didn't need, and came across some Transformers that had been graded and encased in an acrylic shell. They looked well-done to me, so I went to the AFA (Action Figure Authority) website to research costs.

Turns out that AFA is a sub-division of CGA (Collectible Grading Authority), who also has CDA (Collectible Doll Authority), DCA (Die-Cast Authority), and VGA (Video Game Authority). They are in the business of "professionally grading" your item, and securing it in acrylic. I can only imagine that this company started up because of the insane success that a similar company provided the comic book collecting hobby, which had since been completely transformed in the wake of the concept of comic books being independently graded by a third party.

Anyway, I wasn't terribly interested in having my 6086 graded, as I knew it was in decent shape and didn't really need anyone else to tell me that, and I had no plans to ever sell it. And while the cost wasn't cheap, I decided to get it done knowing (hoping?) that it would be in the hands of someone that would do it well, and leave me with with a final product that I was happy with.

I'm very happy with it and their service. When I pick up the case, there's no wiggle room in there. The box is secured within the outer shell by some smaller, acrylic "wall" strips which I tried to showcase in one of these pics. The label is large and easy to read.

My cost breakdown on the invoice was as such:

1) the grading service and construction of a custom size acrylic case using their best acrylic, which they call "archival" (no U/V penetration): $160

2) I opted to have them "gently clean" the box of anything they could find on it: $3

3) return shipping: $25

4) mandatory insurance: $6

total: $194

At face value, that may seem outrageous. I mean, that's the cost of a freaking Town Hall. But it was something that I wanted to have done for awhile, and was important to me. I'm sure there had to be a couple of hours of labor involved in this, so the price feels perfectly fair. I also found it nice that they included a "grader's report", which I've attached.

Some other thoughts/clarifications:

~Yes, this case is permanent! Since it's a graded product, you cannot access the item inside ever again. I mean, I could obviously break it open but that would void the grade. I know it seems blasphemous to do this to a LEGO set, but like I said, I already have another 6086 that I do actually build and enjoy. The collector side of me wanted to have a sealed copy.

~Aside from my terrible cell phone camera, the pics may also look extra-fuzzy because the case itself is wrapped in a fairly thick, protective poly bag. It was so perfectly wrapped and taped that I haven't bothered to ever remove it. Keeps it from getting scratched. The bag also has some fold lines which you can see on the top-edge pic. The case itself is very smooth and seamless.


  • The_Brick_BuilderThe_Brick_Builder Member Posts: 658
    Damn! What a beauty!
  • LegobrandonCPLegobrandonCP CanadaMember Posts: 1,917
    Interesting. First time seeing this type of collectible case and a grading of a LEGO product.
  • StuBoyStuBoy New ZealandMember Posts: 623
    I too have this set, and it is probably my favourite castle. Awesome that you have gone to this trouble to protect the MISB one. Do you have it on display or stored away?
  • OdinduskOdindusk Member Posts: 763
    I have it sitting on the top shelf of my office desk. I went through all of this so I wouldn't have to keep it stored away any longer. =)

  • LegobrandonCPLegobrandonCP CanadaMember Posts: 1,917
    At least you can now display it without worrying about any dust. When I first saw the title of the thread I was expecting a built 6086 in an acrylic box, but I was surprised to only see the regular box from the set.
  • OdinduskOdindusk Member Posts: 763
    edited March 2012
    Interesting. First time seeing this type of collectible case and a grading of a LEGO product.
    I've seen a few AFA LEGO pop up on eBay in the past, but I don't expect many sane people will do this to their LEGO sets. The appeal of having collectibles graded is the hope that a high grade will result in a dramatically-increased value. Comic books had their entire industry transformed because of this.

    For some reason I just don't think this practice would ever catch on with LEGO. I don't think the LEGO MISB community is large enough to support it. I mean, would anyone really pay $5000 for a 6086 that was graded AFA 100 (gem mint)? I doubt it.

    The grade was just a side-effect of having this cased, for me. It's nice I guess that someone thought my set was in good shape, but it doesn't really mean much to me.
  • Lego_Lord_MayorcaLego_Lord_Mayorca H-Town, USAMember Posts: 594
    Ah man, I would pay handsomely for a MISB copy of this set...I've been looking for one for ages, but the only one that ever pops up on eBay nowadays is well over $1000. It's nice to read how much this particular set means to you. I feel the same way about my sealed 6542 Launch and Load Seaport, though someday, I definitely do want to sit down and build it.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,101
    Hmmm, I have a MISB Lego Sail n' Fly Marina that just sits in my closet as I found one on eBay long after I ordered the one MISB, and just have not had the heart to open this one. Not sure I'd have it permanently encased in plastic though (as I would guess that most people would want to open a LEGO set eventually)
    Thanks for the information though as it is good to know if someone ever wants to do something like this.
  • Bosstone100Bosstone100 USAMember Posts: 1,434
    That's pretty cool. Not sure I'd ever do that myself but I like the look.

    One thing I know from all the grading services for baseball cards is that prices will skyrocket for those MISB sets but will also hurt open sets and damaged boxes.
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,290
    Pretty cool... thanks for sharing!
    I like the ability to flip open the lids of my vintage MISB sets so I don't think I would do this, but I can definitely appreciate the desire to protect them as you've done.
  • OdinduskOdindusk Member Posts: 763
    ^ that exact reason (aside from cost) was the major factor in me almost deciding against this. I love taking a peek inside those old set box lids.
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,290
    I suppose you could have really splurged and had a display case built with the flap open :P
  • jocappyjocappy Member Posts: 207
    First Lego product I've seen graded and sealed. Quiet popular in video games. Cool story!
  • 4brickmoney4brickmoney Member Posts: 27
    Now I have a way to store my Galidor sets. Just kidding I was wondering though about moisture i have seen some cases collect it. Just curios.
  • OdinduskOdindusk Member Posts: 763
    ^ good question.

    Why is the AFA case sealed everywhere except the back?

    "The acrylic case is sealed on all sides except for a slight opening at the back of the case at the bottom. We do not seal this edge to allow for air circulation inside the case. If we did not allow for this air circulation, the case would be subject to a "Terrarium" effect. In other words, depending on the temperature, the inside of the case could start to sweat. The unsealed edge alleviates this possibility. The acrylic cases are still considered sealed and the contents cannot be tampered with without being broken open."
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 19,645
    edited March 2012
    Maybe I'll get my Han Solo encased in carbonite brick encased in acrylic. Just to be doubly sure he doesn't escape.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,101
    ^- HAH
  • OdinduskOdindusk Member Posts: 763
    Looks like it would only cost you about $20! =P

    "standard" column, row 1 (A-LS-3)
  • OdinduskOdindusk Member Posts: 763
    Hey, where'd my pics go?
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