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Hi everyone- I know this topic has been discussed in the past, not sure where, please forgive me if so. But can you all tell me a bit about your thoughts on box condition and its importance? It seems that more and more, I read so many comments about the importance of box condition to so many AFOLs, and it is starting to concern me a bit. Being new to the hobby in the past year and seeing so many new AFOLs lately, I can't help but wonder if this box condition thing is becoming a bigger and bigger issue of late. I fear that the Lego hobby may someday (if it isn't already to some degree) going the way of baseball cards, license plates, and so many other collectibles where more people getting into the hobby>condition becomes a bigger issue>items not in perfect condition have little value. You get into the hobby late, and you thought your collection is awesome, only to find out that your items arent' perfect and seasoned collectors turn up their nose at it. Now with baseball cards etc, I can see this as the value of the item is only in its display value- but of course Lego is a totally different animal in that respect. Which is what I have thought is so great about the Lego hobby- it isn't and can't become all about "mint condition" anymore as it isn't about display value, but the contents inside, hence insulating the collector/reseller from a great deal of the downside risk of collecting. As long as you have all the bricks, and the box is sealed, you're good to go, right? Or so I thought until recently...
Is it my imagination, or is this box thing starting get out of hand? Is this starting to be a bigger deal with Lego, or has it always been this way, where you have just a small subset of collectors who get worked up about box condition? Show of hands- how many people on this board are like me and care very little about box condition? I care to some degree (insofar as it affects my resale value), but I can't imagine, for instance, not ordering from Amazon if it's a great deal because I'm afraid the box won't be perfect. What are all of your thoughts? I would especially like to hear from some folks like myself, just to make sure they do exist! Or am I in the minority here?
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If there are two sets on the shelf at the same price and one has obviously been dropped and the other one looks perfect, which do you take? Damaged boxes can mean damaged manuals, damaged sticker sheets and so on. It shows the set has not been cared for. Mint boxes do not necessarily mean the opposite, but you have a better chance of getting a cared for set. Thus even if I am going to build it, I will go for the better box.
Then there is the collectability. Some people want the set not to build it, but to collect it and preserve it in as best condition possible. Why buy a damaged box set when you can get perfect at the same price? Thus there is a price premium for mint boxes (or a price loss for damaged ones). And, by the way, some people do display their boxes.
Obviously this is going to vary considerably depending on whether you are talking about current production sets vs. retired sets still sealed. In the case of the latter, a higher percentage of buyers (but still a vocal minority in my experience) do care more about box condition.
That said, I don't use subjective terms like MISB or Mint, as it can only lead to trouble.
Where was your psychology in the decision?
I've done both, but the sets I really wanted for a while...I've gotten the "bow with" vs the "sans box"
You could think of it as an antique. Condition always matters. You have to draw the line somewhere with condition of a box or product; obviously no one wants a box with a huge tear in it just like no one would want an antique sign that is bent in half, torn, etc.
If there is an issue with selling your sets because of the box condition, just make sure to describe it's condition in complete detail. And after that, let potential buyers know that you can answer any questions about the box's condition via more descriptions or pictures.
And just to add: box condition isn't a huge deal to me. Heck, I can't even open the boxes without ruining them half the time. But if a buyer is looking for something, I assure you there will be a seller trying to fulfill that need.
I list my sets as new and in excellent condition with the disclaimer that some minor shelf wear may be present. While people who list their sets as MISB may have a different experience, I would still suggest that the vast majority of people buying "MISB" listed sets really don't care all that much about minor scuff marks, though obviously those that do, *REALLY* do. Also, as you say, this largely will be dependent on the "paying a premium" component you point out. If something is listed as MISB but is priced at a highly competitive price, than most buyers wouldn't care since they are going to "consume" the product. if the item is indeed marked up as a premium, it is logically going to be targeted to and purchased by collectors, who would care, so I would agree with you on that point.
What I mean by that is if one day, maybe a long time from now, I have to sell for what ever reason. I know that having the box, and the better condition the box and contents are in, the higher price I will potentially get. Just look at prices of any collectable and you will see that condition maters.
Last year when I brought my SW Imperial Shuttle, the box got pretty badly water damaged in transit, at the time I was a little annoyed but as I planned to build it I was not overly concerned. A while later Amazon had them on sale and I decided to order another and sell my damaged set. This was purely because I thought to myself that I most likely was not going to build it for a long time (due to not having display space yet) and if I needed to sell it for what ever reason down the track I will not get as much for the one with the damaged box.
As a seller I will not list box condition of current sets, unless it is squashed, torn or badly creased, I also just use stock photos from Lego. For older, more expensive sets I will list condition and take clear and detailed photos of the box. I haven't had any problems selling this way, I am pretty sure most people who buy from me don't care about the box.
With that said, I do not generally sell the retired sets for as much as they would go as if they were mint. I do not want to bear the liability of delivering something as prestige condition, but the bottom line takes a hit because of it.
That being said, my definition of MISB is that the object (i.e. the contents) is Mint In a Sealed Box. This doesn't imply that the box is mint.
It's certainly proper to list something as MISB even if the box its slightly scuffed, as long as you denote that it's "slightly scuffed" or has "minor shelf wear." Any significant dings or dents should be denoted as well.
You get to list it as MISB, anyone who doesn't care about the box will be happy and those that do care about the box will be informed as to the actual condition of the box. Buyers totally appreciate this and it will save you headaches, really it will.
Having said that, I'm all in favour of describing the real condition of the set precisely and accurately and having clear pictures. I dislike what auctions just say "you get what is in the picture" and then there is a fuzzy photo with bad color that tells me nothing about what is missing. So I appreciate the folks who describe the condition of the box and the pieces because it gives me more info about what to expect.