If you were an authority on grading, if you had the chance to decide what a sealed Generation 1 Aerialbot Fireflight on card in such gloriously well-preserved condition should be ranked as in terms of the card, the figure and the blister, how would you rate it? Well, I know how many collectors already feel about the AFA (Action Figure Authority) and the grading scene as a whole, but it's polarising and I know good people and healthy collectors from either side of the fence. I know people who collect graded items and are not engaged in a pissing contest over what the AFA has awarded the item. I also know collectors who I respect highly, and they despise the entire process. I want you to put that aside for a moment, and just study this MOSC G1 Fireflight, assessing it as you see fit according to what the AFA judge it against were this item to be sent for grading.
There is an overall grade, and three subgrades. "C" for card grade, "B " for blister grade and "F" for figure grade. To quote from toygrader.com:
"The overall grade is not really an average of the subgrades. In actuality, the subgrades point to where the greatest flaws are, i.e. what has gone into determining the overall grade. Sub-grades are used to better illustrate the overall grade an item receives. They are not averaged to determine the main grade. They are meant to further inform the buyer about the weakest and strongest points of the overall grade. (For example, an AFA 80 item can have sub-grades of C80, B85, F85 showing the card as the weakest point which caused the overall grade to be an 80. An AFA 85 can have the exact same sub-grades, but in this particular case, the card flaws which justify the 80 card grade do not justify an overall grade of 80. They do however show a buyer that the card is lower than average for an 85 and is the weakest of the 3 aspects of the item.)".
You can read their full blurb on how they grade items HERE
With all that in mind, how would you grade this Fireflight using the above and below photographs?
You can see blemishes here and there, and the card is clearly not totally flat despite the fact that the thing is completely sealed and has never been on a store shelf.
What I think I'll do is post this on the TF Square One Facebook page and also the AFA Appreciation Thread on TFW2005 and then update this blog post with some of the more interesting responses I get.
I myself would honestly prefer it if the AFA didn't exist, but I have my own reasons for that viewpoint and I am less vocal about it than some of the naysayers who border on offence. I respect the friends I have who appreciate this service provided regardless of whether I agree with them or not. Some users have reservations about the process and quality of some grades anyway. Let's try to have fun and actually compare how collectors rate (yeah let's use "rate", not "grade", let's keep it unofficial and safe) this particular specimen, keeping it about the quality of the vintage toy in question and only refer to the AFA grading scale as a common measurable scale we can use to give opinions.
So, how would you grade this Fireflight?
Eightieskid (TFW2005) - "Card. My own thought would be that the card has a few issues, you have the usual warping after nearly 30 years, plus the discoloration on the back in the instructions area that you have pointed out. Nevertheless, the card is in good condition, the corners are not frayed or bent, and there are no visible creases, tears or holes. I would hazard a 75 for the card, an 80 on a good day.
Bubble. The bubble appears intact and still attached to the card for now, though as many here can attest, the bubbles often fall off on their own after enough time has passed. The bubble is undamaged, with no denting or cuts. I would think an 80 here.
Figure. The figure appears to be in excellent shape. No issues that seem apparent in the pictures. I would think an 85 here.
So overall, I would think a 75 or 80".
Malach Ra (TFW2005) - "I would say overall strong 85. There's no way it's a 75 IMO. There just isn't enough flaws. The card really isn't warped, the bubble looks flawless, there are no bends or creases. There are some discoloration/rub marks, but not enough to warrant anything less than 85 card grade. I think it could definitely pull an 85 with subgrades c85, b90, f90. Just my opinion here".
SuperQuad7 (TFSquare One Facebook) - "Even after reading the two assessments by the other collectors that I greatly respect there (as I know both of those guys to some degree from TFW2005), I think my rating would fall somewhere in between. C80 B80 F90 Overall SQ7A: 80".
Killa-B-Killed (TFW2005) - " I'll go overall 85. 80/85/90 This prediction is because AFA has lost its way when it comes to grading carded figures. True grades..... Overall 85+ 85/90/95"
Jonnyshaft (TFW2005) - "Dead on the money. Going just by pics Malach Ra is spot on. 85/90/90 overall 85 is my vote. At worst triple 85. In my grading experience a card's waviness has never entered into the grading, maybe because once cased its held flat".
Prime Kiwi (TFW2005) - "From my experience with graded items the biggest determining factor in the overall grade is the bubble followed by card condition. The figures are MOSC, the only way the ever get marked down is if there is an issue with the bubble causing rubbing on the figure. The bubble is looking pretty good, no obvious dents although there is some color break around the edge of it. Not sure if this is marked against the bubble or card, but I would guess bubble since that what is causing it. The card, a little wavy when flat but that is expected. However the killer is the blemish on step 2 of the transformation instructions. Its obvious on the thumbnail image and up close looks a little yellow/green. If you can a blemish 2 meters away you are in trouble. 90 is really 10 out of 10 these days so combined with the other scuff's that's 10 points off.Overall I would be happy if this came back an 80 with subs 80/90/90".
Mazdaspeed7 (TFW2005) - "Maz that should be an 85 from the pics you've put up but carded figures can be a coin toss some days. Ok so the wave in the card won't hurt the grade at all & if the bubble is good with absolutely no dents but a couple of fine scratches the bubble should be an 85 & if its really clear then a 90. The card should be an 85 but the corners may give it the 80 card sub like Killa is predicting. The figure is another tough one with so many stickers for them to take points off. They've been bad for it lately & even giving 80 figure subs. Ok so for my AFA prediction, 85(80-85-90). If I was grading it 85(85-85-90) but I'd need a close look to give the bubble a 90. It would only be a 75 or 80 if they found an issue with the bubble like a dent otherwise its an 85 over all which is all that matters as sub grades can be way off some days. Its all subjective as its been said all through this thread".
All the best