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Wait. They "GRADE" LEGO?

brickupdatebrickupdate Member Posts: 1,020
edited August 2012 in Collecting
I don't remember seeing this discussed here before, and am not sure why I hadn't thought of it, but people GRADE LEGO? Here's an example of an 8.5 graded Cloud City:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/2004-LEGO-STAR-WARS-CLOUD-CITY-10123-MISB-AFA-8-5-GRADED-/221117626086

I know grading took hold in baseball cards in the 90's and quickly spread to other collectibles, including toys, but I had never considered this for LEGO.

Do any of you care about grading?! Would you pay far more for a highly graded box than a low graded box?

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Comments

  • Lego_Lord_MayorcaLego_Lord_Mayorca H-Town, USAMember Posts: 604
    See the following topic for more details on this procedure, which includes not only a grading, but the sealing of the set in a protective case, and an official letter. Also, the price.

    Dungeon Master's Castle - AFA Graded

    I am now the owner of that particular 6086, and when I negotiated the purchase, I made clear that I had no care for the grading or the case, so I invalidated it by carefully breaking the acrylic case open. I couldn't bear to see it sit in my closet like that any longer!
  • krklintkrklint Member Posts: 502
    I like to open my boxes, so I wouldn't pay for a graded box. I used to buy graded baseball cards, and I can understand for action figures to a point, but the Joy of Lego (for me at least) is in the building. I'd rather look at the actual Lego than the box. I can see the excitement for some people, though... but I also see it as a stratification of the hobby towards an extremist form of collecting... which of course will show up in all forms of collecting at some point.
  • brickupdatebrickupdate Member Posts: 1,020
    My family had a baseball card business in the 80s and early 90s, really just before grading became a thing. I know this will sound like a "jaded old-timer," but the concept of grading seemed to focus MUCH more on the financial side of the hobby, one that pulled things far out of reach of the common collector, and less about the fun side. But I know that perspective is actually kind of silly. That the financial side of the hobby (baseball cards and even LEGO collecting) is actually a driver for involvement. For me anyway.
  • prof1515prof1515 EarthMember Posts: 1,561
    If you're a serious collector then that's an important thing. It's the difference between being a collector and a consumer.
  • mressinmressin Lego City... erm LondonMember Posts: 843
    Lego in a sealed plastic casing, never going to be built? A serious condition indeed!
  • RennyRenny USAMember Posts: 1,145
    That auction is a joke. I'm sorry but grading a cloud city set doesn't magically increase the value by $3000.
  • BeardedCastleGuyBeardedCastleGuy Member Posts: 127
    To paraphrase a line from TV, "They'll grade anything they can make a buck on"...
    Personally I don't put much stock into the whole grading... system/concept/idea but I'm not into things like baseball cards or such. For LEGO sets I feel it misses the whole point, if you don't have at least the POTENTIAL to build a set, why bother? I've got sets that are still new in sealed box but that's mostly because I've never needed/wanted the parts inside. For a couple they've aged enough now that I may be far better off to sell or trade them and buy new sets or parts over what I'll get from the parts inside. But since I tend to rarely sell or trade that may never happen, only time will tell.
  • forumreaderforumreader Member Posts: 97
    prof1515 said:

    It's the difference between being a collector and a consumer.

    Caring about box condition is not the difference between being a collector and a consumer.
  • graphitegraphite USMember Posts: 3,270
    ^ Amen
  • prof1515prof1515 EarthMember Posts: 1,561

    Caring about box condition is not the difference between being a collector and a consumer.

    It is one of the differences. The value of a collection is dependent upon a number of things including the quality of the collection. Consumers buy and use; collectors buy and preserve and hence the condition of the item is a reflection of that preservation.


  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,428
    Grading a LEGO box is ridiculous IMO. It is encased in a Plastic container... never meant to be broken open and played with... Which is the basis for LEGO.. Its kinda like someone encasing a MTG Black Lotus..
    I get that it is rare but I guess it becomes a piece of clunky artwork to hang on a wall or put on a shelf..

    That and the joke of it being an 8.5 graded set does not mean much right now to most LEGO collectors (and I really hope it never catches on IMO).

    Besides with the obvious ability of those being able to carefully remove the seals, empty the parts out, replace with anything else, and reseal, does not really put my trust into a 'graded' system. Imagine some guy paying out $3000 for a 'graded' FB (for example) encased in plastic and breaks the seal, which nulifies the rating and finding out the box is void of LEGO, or has trash in it instead of the set, or parts for another set?
    Unless LEGO decides enough is enough with the crappy seals used on boxes people may start only paying top dollar for opened sets...lol
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,129
    the huge difference between LEGO boxes and things like coming books, trading cards, etc. is that those items being graded ARE the product. With LEGO, that's not the case at all.

    I would suggest the vast majority of LEGO sets being sold on the secondary market are sold with the intent of the buyer opening the box, rendering the whole grading idea moot for the largest section of the buying base.

    New/Sealed or Not Sealed (Used) is a far far more important determinant of LEGO set value than box condition. If those collectors who actually keep these things sealed away unopened for the future want to pay trumped up values for the pristine boxes, more power to them. But if they ever want to cash in, their selling to a very small population of people, since most buyers will gravitate toward the lower priced item with a non-graded box.
  • mrseatlemrseatle Member Posts: 410
    There could be a highly graded box with a totally wrinkled and damaged instruction book inside!
  • meyerc13meyerc13 Member Posts: 227
    There could be? If my experience is typical, I'd say there is likely to be.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,446
    The only thing that I can see being graded is a minifigure. I would maybe part with a few extra bucks to have a graded Cloud City Boba Fett. At least you can display it.

    This is funny, because I was just telling someone that I grade my own minifigures according to a scale that I made up. I only sell collectible grade minifigures. Unless it is a highly sought after minifigure (like Cloud City Boba Fett, Jango or Watto) I won't list a minifigure with noticible scratches, faded or worn printing, pits and small cracks.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,446
    If the box is sealed, but it's in rough shape. Let's say it's crushed or mangled, the Legos inside and instructions may be damaged. I would say there could be 3 grades. New Sealed, New Sealed Damaged, New Opened Box.
  • richoricho Member Posts: 3,830
    There is huge debate on grading (mainly around AFA), on the rebel scum forums, as essentially the grading of toy figures, in particular star wars vintage figures, is a key area of grading. Some collectors love it, some totally the opposite.
    I think it's slightly different with lego, and do question the size of the grading market. As many have said, a true collector of action figures is highly unlikely to ever open that figure or remove it from the card, so grading makes a bit more sense. You can also clearly view the figure and get enjoyment without 'consuming' the product. (ripping it off the card)
    A boxed lego item is different in my view specifically as collectors (not all, but many) might like the option to open the set at some point, even if they generally collect sealed boxes.
    I, like many on this forum, have some sealed sets, but my intention is to build the vast majority, if not all of them at some point, I just don't seem to have the time at the moment, either due to work, family, or because I actually enjoy moc creation even more than building the official sets.

    This is a bit rambling, but I i hope it makes sense.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,446
    ^Perfect sense.
  • Lego_Lord_MayorcaLego_Lord_Mayorca H-Town, USAMember Posts: 604
    mrseatle said:

    There could be a highly graded box with a totally wrinkled and damaged instruction book inside!

    It's funny you mention that. When I liberated my 6086 from its AFA case, I opened the sealed box to check out the contents. After almost two decades, shifting of the bags and manuals in the box had not only caused one of the sealed bags to burst (no pieces spilled out), but also the instruction manual had been torn in three places along the right edge of the cover page. Nothing serious to me, mind you. The set is still new and in impeccable condition, never built. But to some hardcore collector who really wants to go through all this for a Lego set, they may want to consider evaluating whether the process is truly an accurate barometer of Lego value.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,446
    I agree. If anything, the box should be viewed separate from the Lego pieces and instructions. Reading through the Forums I have gathered that most people value the instructions more than the box. If the instructions are damaged inside the box, what good is it to have a perfect box? The box should be considered as advertisement for the Lego set itself and if there is any value to the box, that should be graded separately because you have no idea what the contents look like inside.
  • LegoDad42LegoDad42 EarthMember Posts: 83
    When they grade and don't open the box, how do they know all the parts are inside. People can be clever and take out figs with expert precision. This has been done so much in the past.
    These sealed/grading things are so flawed. I experience this in the comic book world with CGC sealed books. The graders have to go through each page just in case there are tears or like Silver age Marvel books have had stamps inside that have been torn out.
    If you don't open the box, you could've paid to grade a really pretty box with rocks inside.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,446
    Well yeah...that's what I was saying :) It's pretty much the same with anything in a package. People have taken a vintage Jawa and expertly cut Obi Wans vinyl cape and resealed the figure back inside the "bubble". People have opened packs of vintage Baseball Cards and took out the good cards and replaced them with "duds" I have heard this done with Topps Mickey Mantle rookie cards. If you buy a Lego set sealed, and you have no intention of opening it, you have no idea what's inside. That's why I don't think it should be that big of a deal that the seal is broken on a box. At least you can inspect the contents.
  • RennyRenny USAMember Posts: 1,145
    Looks like the same seller is doing the same thing for a ton of Lego including loose mini figures. Although he messed this one up big time by sealing it and having Vader's head turned sideways. You'd think the "graders" would be more careful with how the figures look in display (almost like the last few seconds before getting frozen in carbonite).

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/2004-LEGO-STAR-WARS-CLOUD-CITY-10123-MINI-FIGURE-SET-AFA-9-0-GRADED-/221117824502?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item337ba63df6
  • wagnerml2wagnerml2 Belleville, IllinoisMember Posts: 1,376
    Look on the bright side, if the baseball card industry is an indicator, the "graded" sets drive the market on the high end and that allows us lowly non grading collector buyers to snap up the non graded sets at a lower price.

    I had a baseball card shop for 15 years. Grading is one of the reasons I sold it. If you are a collector and cannot look at a card without a grade and make an independent assessment of what you think the condition is and what it is worth to you then you shouldn't buy it. The only thing grading was remotely useful for was counterfeits, but they were easy enough to spot on your own with a magnifying glass and that is not a problem in Lego collecting.
  • BanditBandit Member Posts: 890
    Renny said:

    Looks like the same seller is doing the same thing for a ton of Lego including loose mini figures. Although he messed this one up big time by sealing it and having Vader's head turned sideways. You'd think the "graders" would be more careful with how the figures look in display (almost like the last few seconds before getting frozen in carbonite).

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/2004-LEGO-STAR-WARS-CLOUD-CITY-10123-MINI-FIGURE-SET-AFA-9-0-GRADED-/221117824502?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item337ba63df6

    What a terrible way to store/display minifigs. Ugh. It will be fun to watch him lower his buy it now prices over the coning weeks, until they hit normal asking prices. :)
  • BanditBandit Member Posts: 890
    Lol and then he took a $25 white boba fett fig, had it unbagged, put it in plastic, and is asking 8 times what it's worth. He ruined half the value opening it in the first place! This is rich. The world never ceases to amaze!

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/2010-LEGO-STAR-WARS-BOBA-FETT-WHITE-MINI-FIGURE-AFA-9-5-GRADED-/221117824664?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item337ba63e98#ht_3405wt_1016
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,446
    wagnerml2 said:

    Look on the bright side, if the baseball card industry is an indicator, the "graded" sets drive the market on the high end and that allows us lowly non grading collector buyers to snap up the non graded sets at a lower price.

    I had a baseball card shop for 15 years. Grading is one of the reasons I sold it. If you are a collector and cannot look at a card without a grade and make an independent assessment of what you think the condition is and what it is worth to you then you shouldn't buy it. The only thing grading was remotely useful for was counterfeits, but they were easy enough to spot on your own with a magnifying glass and that is not a problem in Lego collecting.

    I agree. I used to deal in Sports Cards in the late 80's and early 90's. You had to deal with people passing fake cards and ones that were trimmed with razor blades to make the card look mint. They were easy to sport under close inspection.

    As far as that Cloud City "graded" set...The presentation looks awful. In my opinion, each figure should be graded separately. Darth Vader, Han, Storm trooper and Han in carbonite are not exclusive to this set. Boba Fett should be the only figure worthy of being graded. I would think if someone was going to fake a minifigures, it would be him.

  • BanditBandit Member Posts: 890
    And he's also selling UCS R2-D2s for under msrp, so I'm just going to go out on a limb and say something's fishy here. :)
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    If theres an idiot with money there'll be a business to exploit them.
  • CrowkillersCrowkillers Member Posts: 757
    Who in the Hell gets a Polybag set graded..?
  • AFFOL_Shellz_BellzAFFOL_Shellz_Bellz Member Posts: 1,263
    Like most of those who have posted before me on this subject, I thing grading an unopened Lego set is useless, but of extreme importance to me IF I were going to buy a graded minifig, I'd be concerned that the grading scale was determined by a panel of Lego experts and that there be a consistent way to evaluate same. Who is to say this seller is grading consistently? Or that he has any specific knowledge about Lego. Any one of us on this forum could do the same thing and no two of us would gade exactly without some guideline.
  • BanditBandit Member Posts: 890
    edited September 2012
    Lol, this is just some elaborate joke, right? He's added a ton more sets now. Now there are 2 cloud city sets. Apparently the difference between a graded 8.5 one and a 9.0 is $1100! Who knew?! And as mentioned above, he now has an actual polybag white boba fett graded and encased in acrylic. (facepalm!) This guy just has no clue at all about the Lego collector market. I hope he loses his shirt paying to get all these things graded for nothing.
  • andheandhe UKMember Posts: 3,656
    I may be missing something here, but if it's in a sealed plastic case how do you know that it's not just full of megablocks?
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    andhe said:

    I may be missing something here, but if it's in a sealed plastic case how do you know that it's not just full of megablocks?

    Yes, this...

    I would think that you would get a 70's era used set, built and displayed set, graded and placed in a case, if anything at all.

    Modern new in the box sets, that is just insane.

    But what do we know? :)
  • samiam391samiam391 A log cabin in PA, United StatesMember Posts: 4,416
    Here is the right forum!

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/2012-LEGO-TOY-FAIR-AFA-9-0-IRONMAN-CAPTAIN-AMERICA-w-LANYARD-121-125-/221118362628?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item337bae7404

    He did the same with this item. What amazes me most is that it already has 3 offers!
  • samiam391samiam391 A log cabin in PA, United StatesMember Posts: 4,416
    And you can buy this for $1,000 on BL.
    Looks like his plan is succeeding.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/221118362539?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649
  • BanditBandit Member Posts: 890
    Why does it amaze you he has 3 offers? I'll offer him $50. :)
  • samiam391samiam391 A log cabin in PA, United StatesMember Posts: 4,416
    ^Because it is so vastly overpriced. I don't see any offers on that $12,500 millennium Falcon. It's all relative.

    I'll offer him $50.01. Best offer wins! ;-)
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,446
    That's why grading "sealed" Lego sets will not work. You don't even know the contents inside are in good shape. The instructions could be creased or wrinkled, there could be misprinted parts, or missing parts. It is rare, but Lego sets have missing parts sometimes. I know there was an issue with Fire Brigade having missing parts. My Grand Carousel had missing 1x2 tan plates. My Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle had a misprinted Peeves...and so on.

    Minifigures should be graded by themselves
    Boxes should be graded by themselves
    Instructions should be graded by themselves

    PERIOD!!!
  • samiam391samiam391 A log cabin in PA, United StatesMember Posts: 4,416
    Pitfall69 said:

    My Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle had a misprinted Peeves...

    You have a misprinted Peeves?! ;O
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,446
    Ok Rubberneck, search your feelings. You know this to be true.
  • samiam391samiam391 A log cabin in PA, United StatesMember Posts: 4,416
    edited September 2012
    Nooooooo! Noooooo!
  • richoricho Member Posts: 3,830
    It's a serious point. They could do with x raying the boxes before grading!
  • monkey_roomonkey_roo Member Posts: 1,411
    Must say this is a little sad to read. As well as Lego I am slowly collecting all 96 original Kenner SW figs, all carded and nice. One of the things that makes this a bit harder and costlier is the grading, people seem determined to seal up figures and then quadruple the price, even worse are those that take a nice carded figure and send it off to be opened and graded and sealed up, drives me mad. I had no idea people did it with Lego, although it is the next step in maximising profits on assets so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.
  • richoricho Member Posts: 3,830
    edited September 2012
    ^ I used to have a few of the original Kenner cards, but I eventually let them go. I never really settled on whether I liked the idea of graded figures or not.

    I just think it's very different with Lego, and that the source material doesn't lend itself to grading in the same way figures do, but will be interesting to see.
  • LegoDad42LegoDad42 EarthMember Posts: 83
    I emailed the guy to ask why not have the sealed polybag (this was for the white Boba Fett) graded since the fig is unbuilt, untouched and would be in it's prestine condition within the poly. But he said that the graders open it up (on his request) and handle the parts with white gloves to check on any damaged bricks or misprints and assemble the figure. He said he has clients that either want the sealed graded poly or the figure by itself graded. I guess there IS a market after all for this.

    Lego's just not that type of hobby imo. Comics I could see the logic in checking all the pages (bent pages inside, written words, tears ,etc) and having it professionally graded (even they aren't ALL accurate graders. Some better than others). For sealed Lego, it doesn't work. But, hey...if he's selling them...there you go.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,446
    I think for the most part we all agree that Lego isn't the type of toy that lends itself to be graded. Like I said before, the individual aspects of a Lego set could be graded, but not a sealed set. Even if you X-Ray a box, you won't be able to see every part because they will be on top of each other. Also, you won't be able to tell if any minifigures were misprinted.
  • prof1515prof1515 EarthMember Posts: 1,561
    You're missing the point of grading and collecting. Since a collector would never dream of opening the box, any production errors in the contents are irrelevant. What matters is that the product is in the original state that it left the factory, ie. sealed, and in the finest physical condition possible.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,446
    No. When I buy a car I expect the car to be in the finest condition possible, but that is not always the case. People collect cars don't they? The person selling the White Boba Fett had it opened to be graded. Isn't opening the polybag ruin the "state that it left the factory, ie. sealed, and in the finest physical condition possible"?
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 2,623
    edited September 2012
    Unfortunately I've had several instances of opening a sealed set where the pieces aren't as they left the factory. Examples, a sealed race set that the box was damaged so I opened it and found that the tires were fused to the plastic parts they were touching and left permanent wheel marks on the plastic, also an as new 7740 where the sickers were jumbled around for years and most of the stickers were stuck to pretty much everything in the box except the sticker sheet. These are just two of more that I have found over the years. So sealed sets don't guarantee anything.
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