Hey Space Freaks,
I wanted to give you a write up on a transaction that is really one of the highlights of vintage Star Wars collecting in recent history. That transaction being the large scale sale of 130 figures on the Travel Channel Show Toy Hunters on February 19th 2014. Jordan the proprietor of the shop, site and all things Hollywood Heroes is an avid collector who has been able to turn his hobby into a retail career, and now a full length show with nearly three years under its belt. Luckily for vintage collectors there’s plenty of Star Wars and other similar lines featured on the show. The deals are interesting to see go down and the breadth of lines represented is pretty impressive.
Recently we saw what is one of the greatest mother load finds in the history of Vintage Star Wars given its size and scope. Included in the set were 130 vintage mint on card figures, spanning all three movies. The heart of the set was a Boba Fett ESB figure, 2 Sets of 12 Backs and several other high grade SW, ESB and ROTJ figures. Jordan paid a couple that had held onto these for several years $15,000 for the set of figures, which has been the center of some controversy with the deal. Given the span and value of the collection I wanted to take some time and review the transaction and discuss some perspectives on the deal itself as it stands on it’s own in the Vintage community and amongst the deals we’ve seen on the show to date.
Before I go any further I want to say for the record, Toy Hunters is one of my favorite concepts for a show, and I’ve seen every episode to date. Therefore I have nothing against Jordan, or the show itself as it’s TV and there’s editing and magic that’s done to make the show work. Thus I don’t have any issues with the staging aspect of the show as that’s how all reality TV is done these days. However I do feel it’s in both his direct and the overall networks responsibility to be accurate with what is shown (pricing and condition wise) and not to disparage from the fair market value (FMV) of items that are shown and directly priced on the show.
The 12 Back set +3 and the Buyer:
I wanted to talk about the deal specifically, most specifically the purchasing side of the large collection as opposed to the sale of the 15 MOC figures for $25,000. But for sake of giving a few quick background points I did want to touch on it with a few thoughts.
I really don’t see a moral dilemma in the purchase/sale of the 15 MOC figures for $25,000. Could the buyer have gotten that set for a great deal less; yes, but that’s their fault for not spending a few hours over the course of a few weeks on eBay to get that done for $12-14,000. Here’s a few examples from the recent past:
Set of 41 SW and ESB MOC Figures – C7-C9 – $11000 – 41 MOC Figure Collection
Set of 12 Back SW Figures – AFA 80+ – $8995 – 12 Back AFA Set All AFA80+
Set of 12 Back SW Figures – AFA75-85 – $10,000 – 12 Back AFA Set
These sets aren’t apples to apples with what we saw on Toy Hunter, but they give us a realistic view of what a single auction can bring in terms of price for a set of the original 12. I did some digging on the other 3 figures in the purchase as well as what putting a set of 12 backs together has run on average over the past year, and came up with the numbers below as a 2nd reference point for value.
- 12 Back AFA 85 Set – Average Price = $12,400, with it costing more to put together a set piece by piece as opposed to a single purchase of 12.
- 20 Back release Cantina Figures 3 AFA85 – Average Price = $1800
Ultimately people are going to pay a premium for having someone come to their place (boat in this case) and hand deliver a high grade set figures. I don’t doubt there needing to be a premium at all as it’s a different situation from what most collectors deal with. The figures that received 90’s that were included in the set are 85s at the end of the day from a perception factor. If he could have gotten what he stated he could for them, he should have sold them separately and used the other examples of C-3PO and Chewy that were in the other set of 12 back. Ultimately the 90s don’t drive the value of the “set” that much and he would have benefited from selling those as single figures to a focus collector. If the customer paid what they paid, that’s their fault, as to be honest that deal isn’t really that shady from my perspective. The sale is what it was , and although I think it’s a bad way to acquire a set of figures to each their own.
The 130 Figure Purchase – My first challenge.
The grander challenge and main thing I wanted to highlight was the sale of figures as a whole. This is where I start to see some challenges in the transaction and the issues I see are two fold:
- Representation of pricing of the figures both on the front end and the sale.
- The perceived lack of value in the rest of the figures in the deal that weren’t part of the 12 back sets.
If I look at the purchase itself I break it down into components and the value of the components to come up with my challenges on the value of the set vs. what was paid.
12 Backs +3
Given that he took $25,000 just for the set of 12 backs + the 3 Cantina figures, if the $15,000 was just for the one set of 12 backs and the three Cantina figures, he would have broken even on that alone. That would have included his travel, lodging, the $1400 AFA bill (Submitting all as archival with S+H), and $5000 grand in his pocket with ease. Thus there’s no underestimating that this was a massive deal for him, and one that paid off big time just in the scope of what we saw sold on camera in the one scene.
The rest of the 12 Backs
With $5000 in his pocket on the first part of the breakdown we are going to be talking mainly about the size of the pot enlarging from here on in. Given we have another full set of AFA graded 12 backs we can estimate another $9-10,000 in sales from that set. Assuming he submitted this set as archival he would have rung up another $1150 thus bringing his profit total to $13850 on the high side ($5000+$8850).
Given this the profit rate for the sale as a whole is just under 50% which isn’t too far off from where he and other buyers typically try to shoot for when buying toys from individuals. Thus when you look at these 25 figures, what was sold and what we can easily and safely assume the others will sell for you have what can be considered a great and fair find, just amazing unto itself.
Oh, but then there’s just the small detail of the 103 OTHER MOC FIGURES THAT COULD EASILY BE WORTH TWICE WHAT THE 12 BACK SETS WERE!!!!!! Okay I calmed down, I just needed to scream for a second there. I understand that the people “did there research” and priced it appropriate to what they thought it was worth. However I do think when you add the other figures into the equation there is no doubting this wasn’t a good score; it was a steal, and it’s not good for the hobby on a grand scale.
The other 106 figures…..
The perception of value to a large audience is the biggest issue here as it distorts the reality of value of certain items while inflating the values on other items.
I think the only thing that could make this appear better is if we knew the details:
- What was the transaction, i.e. what was the final after they’d received the additional check?
- What figures on what cardbacks?
- What were the grades?
From there you can get a true read on the situation, i.e. are we talking additional profits of $10,000 or $50,000?
However I doubt that will ever be available, so let’s just go with what we see in terms of other figures, and see if we can come up with a baseline of what the rest of the collection was worth.
ESB – Boba Fett, Landox2, Lobot , Leia Hoth, Dengar, Leia Bespin + Variant, Imp Stormtrooper Hoth, IG-88, Cloud Car Pilot, 2-Ugnaughts, Yoda, Bossk, Rebel Commander – $7700
ROTJ Clear – Imp Stormtrooper Hoth, Teebo, 8D8, Klaatu, 2-Pack Madine/Han Trench, Luke Jedi, Squidhead, Gamorrean Guard, B-Wing Pilot – $850
ROTJ Yellow – Teebo , Chief Chirpa, General Madine, Klaatu, At-St Driver, Rebel Commandox2,Weequay, Nikto, Klaatu Skiff – $450
POTF – Luke Stormtrooper – $500
That gives us a grand total of $9500 which I believe is a conservative estimate on eBay in a no reserve auction.
With 36 MOC figures represented here, we can assume that this is a fair representation of the rest of the collection in terms of value and distribution of characters. We can assume this is roughly 1/3 of the value and thus we can estimate the total value of the additional 106 figure to be roughly $28,500 conservatively
That brings the grand total of what I think they could take away on this is roughly $40,000 not a bad hall for some old toys. It’s quite the profit rate and I will leave you to form your own opinion about that, as I don’t think it would be completely out of line if he sent them more after the fact. At the end of the day there’s nothing legally wrong and morals are different person to person so I won’t argue any points on this part of the deal either and leave up to you to form your own thoughts on the profit side of the equation.
Why this is an important topic.
Why do I personally think this is an important topic to discuss? Well the first aspect is perception and the other is perception’s direct impact on our hobby. You will hear me say time and time again on the MarketWatch that I don’t think that value is the key reason to collect, and I don’t think most people think of their collections as assets as much as a hobby. However there is an inherent value to what we collect, and it’s important to understand what that value is and to ensure that it’s represented fairly and consistently amongst other collectors. In this case we have a pretty gross case of variance in actual value between what you could get something for; and what you pay for when something is hand delivered to you. What we didn’t get, and is fairly damning to the hobby is an accurate value of any of the other items, and thus the overall perception that they weren’t worth anything.
I was once told by a one of the VPs in my company that “Perception is Reality”, although I’ve never agreed with that, I did get the thrust of what he was trying to say. That being that what others perceive to be real is real in their-own minds until proven different. Thus perception is one of the core issues that comes up when I think about the deal itself and the effect it may on the hobby in the short or long run.
I do get a bit upset of the selling price of the 12 back set when I think about it in relationship to the perceived value of the rest of the figures, that being $0. It is clear that there is one challenge with Jordan and that is the consistency in which is represents some of his pricing as he’s always one to lowball and dismiss value when on the purchasing side, $15,000 or $115 per figure. However from what we saw on the show prices realized included:
- Teebo Yellow Bubble $150
- Yoda ESB $700
- 3 Cantina Figures $5000
- 12 Back Set $20,000
That averages to be $1520 a figure, thus a bit off from what we saw on the front end of the purchase. Given we’ve already touched on a few comparisons for the 15 figure transaction I won’t rehash those. But here is one name we should remember when we think about this situation, Boba Fett. There was a cherry un-punched ESB Boba Fett that was basically dismissed and thrown in with the other non-Star Wars figures. Another strike as it’s probably the most valuable figure (pre-grading) in the lot. This one just brought up bad memories of the ROTJ Boba Fett on from a few years ago that was listed for $25 when it probably would have pulled $5-650 easily on eBay.
If you’re out of touch with eBay which is FMV then fine, but don’t go stating values like their FMV, say this is worth 50% of what I can get at a convention or in my store. There’s a difference between the two avenues, and eBay and boards like Rebel Scum and Imperial Gunnery are much more suitable and realistic medium for transactions in this day and age. Thus we can use these channels as FMV without issue as the community is setting the price.
Here lies the core issue on this particular side of the two challenges I had with transaction, and where I have somewhat of a personal issue with the deal. That issue being the fact that they had no problem shooting for the moon with their off the cuff appraisal of the $6500 AFA90 Chewy, the $2500 AFA90 C-3PO, or the Hammerhead, Greedo and Snaggletooth that sold for $5000. All of these were really far off the mark and it shows a crazy disparity in terms of pricing. The AFA90s should get a premium, but we’re talking $1500-2500 for Chewy as he brings $800-1000 any month of the year on eBay as an AFA85, on C-3PO similar not too far off at $1500 for an AFA90 as an 85 brings $6-800 consistently. But when it comes to valuing the other items given the overall transaction value, it’s like they have no value, when in fact they were where the majority of the money could have been made. Thus there’s a huge gap between what he’s valuing things at on the front side and where that retail actually ends up at the end of the day. This amplifies the issue of perception more than anything as it shows a disparagement in pricing on a grand level.
So in the end inconsistency in price and perception in value are the two challenges I have with a purchase that has caught a lot of attention in the Vintage community. Nothing more from my perspective on the negative side of the equation, as I don’t want that to overshadow the greatness of the deal in terms of scale and visibility for the hobby. As at the end of the day regardless of details of the transaction it will be perceived as a high point for the hobby and will hopefully lead to other Star Wars items on Toy Hunters over the coming years.