How AFA-Grading Affects the Value of Old Toys

How AFA-Grading Affects the Value of Old Toys
Action Figure Authority Logo

As collectors of Transformers Toys, we often consider how a service, like AFA-Grading, affects the value of our old and used toys. There are several reasons to consider having toys sent off for professional grading services, such as securing the value. When you have a sealed toy with an official grade, you know that it will maintain that value for years to come.

However, is it worth the time and money to send off your toys to a grading service? Does the increase in the sales value supply enough incentive? Do enough people recognize the grade as a legitimate standard?

Before we start reviewing the Action Figure Authority and what their grades provide to you, you should know that we are not affiliated with the Action Figure Authority. We do not supply grading services for toys or any other products. We also have no standing with the Action Figure Authority. However, we do sell toys that have received AFA-grading services. We also happily guide sellers on how to get the best value for their old and used toys.

Sell Your AFA-Graded Toys at Wheeljack's lab

What is the Action Figure Authority?

AFA Grades Chart

When it comes to professional grading services for toys and action figures, none have been doing it longer than the Action Figure Authority. They began their services with the mission to standardize the mint scales for toys and collectibles. Since they have been reviewing toys for years, they have become the authority on mint toys.

Toys sent to the AFA for grading both receive their comprehensive mint grades and become sealed away in a protective acrylic box. Where the grades are the most important service that the AFA provides, the acrylic boxes add to the value of used toys as well. Their acrylic boxes will protect mint toys from further damage from dust and environmental conditions. Unfortunately, even sealed-away toys will have to contend with sun bleaching and shipping damages.

For a comprehensive breakdown of their grades, check out our article here. However, as a quick overview, the gold tier has the most mint and closest to “straight from the factory” quality of toys. From there, the silver tier would be your standard mint-in-box toys. Any toy that lands in the bronze tier are in fair condition, but no longer in mint quality. Overall, they set the standard for how mint your toy is.

The AFA’s practices have even caught the attention of Hasbro in 2007. At that time, the two companies collaborated to release a single comic con toy, an Alternators Rodimus, that Hasbro sold directly with a 9.5 grade. While Hasbro has not collaborated with the AFA to release another toy with AFA-Grading, Hasbro did help cement their prominence in the field.

What other grading services are available for action figures and toys?

Over the years, many more companies have popped up since the Action Figure Authority began grading toys. For instance, a South Carolina-based company, the CSG, for Collector Source Grading, popped up for a time, but it is now defunct. Currently, the Collector Archive Services, CAS, offers a competing grading service to the AFA. Meanwhile, UK collectors can turn to the UK Graders to receive grades on their collectible toys.

We do recommend that you research any company that is offering grading services, especially newer or less known ones. However, toy collectors across the world acknowledge the legitimacy of the ones that we have listed above.

Wheeljack's Lab Buys AFA-Graded Toy Collections

How much does it cost to get an AFA-Grading for my toys?

Before we look over how AFA-Grading affects the final selling price of your collectible toys, you should take time to consider how much money you will pay. Grading services are paid services, and the amount that you pay will detract from your final profit. Overall, you do not want to pay as much as you would receive extra to have your toys graded.

So, we shall assume that the toys that you have are of a standard size, which would fall under their tier 1 category. These toys have a combined length, width, and height of twenty inches or less. Thus, for the most basic of their services, you will pay around two hundred bucks, though it will be a slight bit cheaper depending on the tier you pick. The price may also fluctuate if you opt into their extra services. For our purposes, we will use two hundred dollars as the medium price for current grading on Transformers figures.

Tiers currently closed in 2021

As of researching this article in September 2021, the AFA has closed certain tiers of their services: economy and express. We have no insight as to when these services are reopening. We have heard rumors that the AFA’s parent company is swamped with Pokémon cards, which may have caused the situation.

We can confirm that they have recently added fresh staff due to their backlogs. Still, current customers should carefully review their available tier and expected return time. For instance, their main page is currently projecting an 8 week return time for the available tiers.

How does AFA-Grading improve the selling price of my old toys?

1985 Hasbro Transformers Generation 1 Astrotrain AFA 85-85-85-90

Now that you know how much time and money you will be investing if you decide to have your toys AFA-graded, you need to know what your return will be. After all, the grades are an investment into the quality of your toys. You do not want to lock into an investment with no returns.

For this article, we will be using a MIB G1 Astrotrain for our example piece. Do understand that the exact increase in your toy’s value will fluctuate depending on the desirability and quality of the toy. As such, we cannot, nor will we, conclusively state how much profit you will receive after you grade your toys.

We have sold many loose G1 Astrotrains for a medium price of $58. Meanwhile, our examples of a 100% complete Astrotrain with the box sold for around $75-90, though that those were not sealed. Meanwhile, recently sold sealed Astrotrains have sold for around $600. So, how does that compare to an Astrotrain with an AFA grade? Our AFA-Graded Astrotrain sold for around $1100, which is nearly double the price of the best MIB Astrotrain.

So, once you put the full picture together, while you send a few hundred dollars for a graded toy, you will receive several hundred back in return. Thus, we can confirm that an AFA grade is a worthwhile investment.

Which of my old toys should receive a grading from the AFA?

Hasbro 1985 Transformers Astrotrain MIB

Finally, we would like you to consider the condition your toys are in before you send them to the AFA. We do not want you to waste your time sending in toys that the AFA will reject. This will also prevent backlogs at the grading services from the influx of pointless toys.

The AFA specifically says that they do not grade any item that is not factory sealed. Even something as simple as having double taping on your packaging will disqualify your toys. They check the contents to confirm that they are new and unused before they receive a grade.

So, do not consider having your toys graded if you have opened the box and displayed the figure. There are exceptions to this rule though. Toys can receive grades under a loose figure scale. Also, mail-away toys still receive their standard grades if they arrive at the AFA in their original packaging.

Loose toys

Mint Complete Hasbro 1985 Transformers Astortrain

Once again, please consider the condition of your toy before you send away loose figures for grading services. If you want to have your loose toys graded, they must be complete with all their accessories. Otherwise, any toys that stores had sold in bags must remain sealed in those bags.

If your toys still do not fall under these categories, the AFA does make a few more exceptions for prototypes and extremely rare toys. However, we strongly recommend that you review their submission guidelines before you send in your toys.

How do I get the best value when I sell my graded toys?

If you are looking to sell your toys with AFA-Grading, you should investigate how to get the best value for their sale. So, there are a few key factors to consider when selling your toys.

Shipping liability

Even though your toy is now in a sealed acrylic package, it does not ensure that your toys will not receive damage from shipping. Buyers will be quick to call you out and ask for refunds from shipping damages. So, please carefully consider if you want to be solely responsible for the shipping damages that may occur to your AFA-graded toys.

Fraud, Returns, and Time Investments

Fraudulent activity and buyers fill even the most used services on the internet. So, you will have to consider how much you want to deal with customer service, when available, to handle situations. Buyers can even demand returns on their sales. Are these issues that you want to handle? Do you have the time to invest in dealing with fraud and returns when you sell your toys?

Fees and Offered Prices

This is where you must spend your time considering the best way to sell your toy. Where some services, like eBay, offer the chance for high selling prices, they also carry a hefty fee that will eat away at your profit. A ten percent fee from a thousand-dollar sale is a hundred bucks, which is substantial. Also, some buyers will not even bite unless you cover the shipping costs.

Meanwhile, pawnshops, toy stores, and the like will never offer you a full retail price for the sale of your toys. They will give you the best price for both you and their resales. However, you will have less liability when you choose these options.

So, consider your options thoroughly before you decide where to sell your AFA-graded toys.

Carefully consider which toys you send in for grading

While you may think that a professional grade from the CAS, AFA/CGA, or another service would instantly improve the value of your toys, often that is not the case. Any collector who seriously considers sending in toys for grading needs to understand the actual value of the service. Overall, the only toys that see a significant boost in value receive a score of 85 or higher. Unfortunately, it is very rare to find the ideal toy that will earn this grade.

To get an excellent score, the toy needs to be in pristine condition. Not only does it need to be mint in box, but it also needs to be as close to factory condition as possible. Even time spent on store shelves could cause damage that ruins the eventual score. Every moment that the toy was out in the open, exposed to the elements, or in transit opens up the chance for scratches and damage. Thus, most mint-in-box toys fail to meet the grade to make the effort, money, and time worth it.

Furthermore, most loose toys, even in excellent condition, do not receive a significant boost in value. Many collectors understand the difficulties and risks of loose toys, so they do not command a high price.

Grading services look at the conditions of three parts o the toy: the card or box, the blister or window, and the toy itself. To fully understand what it takes to get a grade over 85, we encourage you to read over our guide here.

Sell your AFA-Graded toys at the best value with Wheeljack’s Lab

AFA grading scale

Rather than deal with the hassle of selling your toys on eBay on your own, turn to a trustworthy and experienced online toy retailer: Wheeljack’s Lab. Once you contact us, we will respond within 25 hours to get your sale started. From there, you will receive expert advice on the sale of your old and used toys.

We have been in business for decades as a family-run store with expertise in the resale of classic, old, and used toys. We know how much collectors love their toys since we love our toy collections. As such, we give you the respect you deserve when you choose to sell your toy collection to us. Better yet, we will pay for your shipping costs when you sell your toys to us.

We also understand how the AFA-grading services affect the sale of used toys. So, we look forward to seeing collections of toys with AFA grades.

Do you have old and used AFA-Graded toys?

If you have a collection of old and used toys, you can turn those toys into cash. There is no reason to let those old toys collect dust. Contact us today to sell your AFA-Graded toy collection.

Our professional, friendly, and expert staff have decades of experience as collectible toy buyers. If you are ready to sell your collection today, fill out the form below or call us at 888-946-2895.

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    Chris Ingledue 


    Bio: I am the founder and owner of Wheeljack’s Lab pop Culture and Toy Shop. My vision has always been to reunite customers with their favorite childhood toys and pop culture, triggering fond memories, and reigniting their imaginations. Every day, I work in the “lab” where it’s Christmas 365 days a year. I scour the internet, like when we had the Sears Catalog of yesteryear, for the next great treasure. Then, I await the arrival of the postman as if he were Santa Claus himself and helping collectors worldwide with their own versions of Christmas. Every day as a vintage toy buyer is an absolute joy!

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