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Thread: Opinion Poll: Has AFA's grading become tougher on vintage MOCs recently?

  1. #1
    High Admiral Christian's Avatar
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    Opinion Poll: Has AFA's grading become tougher on vintage MOCs recently?

    Hi Guys,

    I'm just throwing this out there due to a recent batch of MOCs I received back from AFA. Mostly the grades were as expected, however, on a couple that I was convinced were straight 85's, based on previoius experience, they came back as 80's. In my mind I feel as though an AFA 85 is almost getting as hard to achieve as the old AFA 90 of a couple years ago.

    Anyone else feel this way?

    Cheers,
    Christian
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  2. #2
    Rear Admiral
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    Hi Christian, I think the afa graders are literally a mixed bag of nuts, with 12, 20, and 21 backs they are extremely tough. My experience it is very hard to get an 85, I have sent in at least 10 figures I thought were for sure 85's and the came back as an 80 overall because of one category. As 85 grades are very narrow, 80 grades are too broad. When you see an 85, you see only factory flaws at that point, and flaws that do not detract from the overall look.
    Last edited by wend1tah; 01-11-2013 at 05:20 PM.

  3. #3
    Captain Vitiate's Avatar
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    I tend to agree that the AFA 80 seems to be the broadest category across their grading...
    I am a bit bothered about a piece not recieving an 85 i surely felt it was due, especially when comparing with a similar carded figure...
    1) Han Solo vintage esb 31back AFA 85 y ( 80/85/85 ) - has price sticker and punch missing...slight card bend
    2) AT AT Driver vintage esb 41back AFA 80 ( 80/85/85 ) - no sticker or residue, unpunched, no creases, no wear...slight card bend...
    I know the grades are not averaged and all that...but I feel the card, bubble and figure display better on the at at and can't believe it got an 80....
    It was graded much more recently then the han solo...
    peace is a lie, there is only passion

  4. #4
    Fleet Admiral
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    In my opinion the graders now seem to be alot tougher compared with previous years.
    I have even noticed loose figures are receiving lower grades, in previous years they would have been AFA 90 and now only being graded AFA 85.
    This is quite an interesting topic as an AFA 85 graded recently could be of a higher calibre compared with an AFA 90 of previous years.

  5. #5
    Lieutenant Commander
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    Dec 2012

    I have definitely noticed an increase in the toughness of grading here of late.

    I'm honestly at a point where I'm contemplating the legitimacy of the AFA. Why? Because I've seen countless figures with identical subs where the overall grade appeared to be based on the discretion of the grader. This in my mind is no way to run a professional service. Every type of flaw that can be found on a action figure should be based on a point scale. Once the specific flaw is noted, the severity of that flaw will determine the point deduction. Each sub grade would have all relative points tallied up to give an accurate representation of the figures condition confined within a specific range of points. What would yield your overall grade would be the total points from corresponding sub grades. If this is indeed how they do it or some similar method, then why is there such an abundance of under-graded cards? I don't expect them to grade everything favorably, but I do expect a clear cut method of consistency in their grading.

    For people to send their valuable possessions off to the AFA they risk a lot. They've hunted for the item(s), risk potential damage during shipping transit, and spend extra money for a 3rd party grading service. After a month+ of waiting (because the AFA has never met quoted shipping times in my experience) they come to learn that all that risk has yielded little reward because of a questionable grade. Better yet, there is no detailed explanation as to the grade they received. But you do have the option to pay an additional $15 for a graders written opinion, which I've made the mistake of doing once. He basically stated the obvious and rambled for a paragraph, thus providing no real incite into the final grade it received.

    What honestly makes them qualified as professional grading service? Is there a ratemygrader website where I can pick and choose the grader I want? Some of these final grades are so off the wall I can't fathom any so called "professionalism" by what they advertise. They claim 20+ years of experience. I can tell you from first hand that many companies I've worked for love to make that same type of claim. But those with the real experience are usually the ones behind a desk or out in the field marketing. The people who are actually performing your 20+ year professional service have a whopping 2 weeks of training under their belts.

    Luna
    Last edited by aeluna; 02-18-2013 at 08:22 PM.
    HeroSolo likes this.

  6. #6
    High Admiral Ross_C's Avatar
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    I still feel AFA has a vested interest to undergrade, in that more people will submit more figures to try and get more of the elusive highre grades. That said, from my understanding they use a far more objective process than one might assume. I guess that does not mean the objective process can be tweaked over time to produce more undergrades.

    Quote Originally Posted by aeluna View Post
    I have definitely noticed an increase in the toughness of grading here of late.

    I'm honestly at a point where I'm contemplating the legitimacy of the AFA. Why? Because I've seen countless figures with identical subs where the overall grade appeared to be based on the discretion of the grader. This in my mind is no way to run a professional service. Every type of flaw that can be found on a action figure should be based on a point scale. Once the specific flaw is noted, the severity of that flaw will determine the point deduction. Each sub grade would have all relative points tallied up to give an accurate representation of the figures condition confined within a specific range of points. What would yield your overall grade would be the total points from corresponding sub grades. If this is indeed how they do it or some similar method, then why is there such an abundance of under-graded cards? I don't expect them to grade everything favorably, but I do expect a clear cut method of consistency in their grading.

    For people to send their valuable possessions off to the AFA they risk a lot. They've hunted for the item(s), risk potential damage during shipping transit, and spend extra money for a 3rd party grading service. After a month+ of waiting (because the AFA has never met quoted shipping times in my experience) they come to learn that all that risk has yielded little reward because of a questionable grade. Better yet, there is no detailed explanation as to the grade they received. But you do have the option to pay an additional $15 for a graders written opinion, which I've made the mistake of doing once. He basically stated the obvious and rambled for a paragraph, thus providing no real incite into the final grade it received.

    What honestly makes them qualified as professional grading service? Is there a ratemygrader website where I can pick and choose the grader I want? Some of these final grades are so off the wall I can't fathom any so called "professionalism" by what they advertise. They claim 20+ years of experience. I can tell you from first hand that many companies I've worked for love to make that same type of claim. But those with the real experience are usually the ones behind a desk or out in the field marketing. The people who are actually performing your 20+ year professional service have a whopping 2 weeks of training under their belts.

    Luna
    I seek Yoda. Collect him I must. Sell to me your production and preproduction Yoda items you will. Vintage it is, yes yes. Mmm hehehe.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ross_C View Post
    I still feel AFA has a vested interest to undergrade, in that more people will submit more figures to try and get more of the elusive highre grades. That said, from my understanding they use a far more objective process than one might assume. I guess that does not mean the objective process can be tweaked over time to produce more undergrades.
    The AFA's possible vested interest to undergrade has had the opposite effect with me. Personally I think its a safer route to purchase figures in a graded state rather than try and hunt for ungraded. If your in this game for profit, then ungraded would be the ideal route to make some money but at the same time your assuming more risks.

    I just received the grades back from a batch I sent off. I meticulously went over every figure I sent off with a direct comparison to graded figures I have in stock. I assigned overall and sub grades that I thought were fair. I was excited to see how accurately I performed the duties of an AFA grader. After receiving the grades via e-mail, I was almost 100% spot on with the exception of 3 items. 2 of which were a playset and a vehicle. These were the only 2 larger items I sent in because I was almost certain that they would score 85's. Unfortunately, both received 80's. Looking back at their condition I am totally speechless as to how that was possible. These things were CLEAN! Still sealed, clear tape, no holes, very very minor scuffs, crisp corners, etc. The only explanation I can think of was they sustained damage during transit thus the condition I sent them in was altered during transit. I can tell you right now that will be the last time I ever send a larger item into the AFA. Its simply too costly and doesn't provide the profit margin like the figures do.

    The other figure I was incorrect on was a ESB 4-lom where I was certain of AFA85 condition. Subs were 80/85/85. My estimate was AFA85 85/85/85. The grader felt an overall of 80 served adequately...

    And I don't just send in figures I feel are going to get 85's. I've sent in items I know will only manage an AFA80 and I'm ok with that. Its just so disconcerting when your feel absolutely positive of a grade with direct comparisons to figures that look worse yet still managed 85's and your wrong. Its like turning in a paper for a class that you feel confident about. Your like, "this is the best damn paper I've ever written!" Yet due to the particulars of your teacher, he gives you an F with no explanation, no corrections, nothing.

    Luna
    Last edited by aeluna; 02-19-2013 at 08:26 AM.

  8. #8
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    Jan 2010

    While I understand your sentiment, I think there's a bit of an over-exageration going on with the comparisons. It's like turning in a great paper to a teacher, expecting a B or better, and getting a C+ or a B-. It still sucks to have your expectations let down, especially when grading it always slightly subjective, but you're not getting an F here.

    With more exposure to more collectibles over time, standards are going to go up. Sadly, this is hard to reflect in grading where a number is meant to be objectively useful over a long period of time. Let's all be honest, though, an AFA 85 that has a bubble that yellows after grading may never get re-graded to reflect the change in condition. All these grades are realistically good for is judging the condition of an item at the time it was graded. It's a reasonable marker of an item's condition history. If the considerations for what a grade reflects evolve over time (as I think they should), then it might be worth suggesting to AFA that they include the grading date on the label.

    Frankly, the best solution to all of this is that AFA provide some sort of reduced price regrade for figures that have been graded before a revolving date. Give it, say, a five year window. Any figure graded five years before today's date may be resubmitted for an updated grade for 20% off, or some such method. Then collectors interested in valuable figures have both a way to verify the grades they have/intend to purchase, and it's a solid way to generate more business for AFA.

  9. #9
    High Admiral SF1138's Avatar
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    Jul 2011

    AFA has kicked my butt lately. I had three 12 backs that were near perfect, but got 80's. I had a worse ESB fig that got a solid 85 (with a crease along side of bubble) when I expected an 80. It seems they are more tough on 12 backs and rares, but fairly generous on newer pieces. It sucks that there is no consistent standard. However on a mid grade scale for 12 backs 4 figs I expected 70-75's on, all got weak 80's. I think the big issue is that people don't tend to notice a high 80 or a low 80, just an 80. Just my two cents...

  10. #10
    High Admiral IoN_Cannon's Avatar
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    They have historically been tough on 12-backs IMO. I don't think it is much different. I don't know if it is just one particular grader that deals with them who may not be as lenient as the others or what but they are hard on them compared to other card backs, at least to me.
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