Archive for December, 2011

To Sell Or Not To Sell

I’m facing a couple of collecting crossroads questions this week.

The most recent issue, discovered today, is that my newly received limited edition Marvel Universe Archangel X-Force variant action figure is clearing $100 on eBay. I’m torn.

I love Angel/Archangel, real name Warren Worthington III. He’s one of my favorite guilty pleasures as a character. I have a couple of different versions of him from various toy lines, but this one is special.

The X-Force Archangel represents the zenith of anger and rage in a character who started off with every good intention of being a hero. You don’t need a sofa and a psych degree to figure out my personal interest. But dang it, $100 is a $100!

Modern collecting for, well, modern items, is a flash in the pan profit for many pieces. A figure or comic that is brand new will flare up to a nice profit in the short run, or microrun. Animal Man #1 from the DC New 52 comics has already undergone multiple printings, and the book has flared up to $25 in the microrun, but is already lowered to a $12-15 price, with a further bottom possible. Most “rare” collectibles appeal to a rabid but small base, so after the initial maniacs make their purchases, the flippers find an inventory with a sudden lack of buyers. Supply has exceeded demand, and we all know that the subjective pricing of collectibles can fall out quickly.

See: 1980s-1990s Baseball Cards if you need an example.

See: X-Men #1 (all five covers of the Jim Lee launch)

Sometimes though, a truly difficult to obtain rarity can still push a price to a decent investment level.

See: Jetfire Leader Class action figure from Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. This toy is now bouncing below $100 (60-80), but steady and stable given that this is now a few years old, from a 2009 movie and toy line.

But Archangel is sentimental to me. I got this from a limited edition promotion to subscribe to Marvel Digital Comics for a one year period, so it “cost” me $60. The subscription, prorated at $5 a month, is well worth it for every 2 new comics per month that I read online instead of purchasing, so I still consider my “cost” basis as zero dollars; this was something I received for free for a service I was willing to pay for, that is saving me money already.

But $100 is a $100.

I don’t like “flipping”. I’ve gotten into too much trouble buying and flipping toys during the microrun. When X-Men Origins: Wolverine was released, I bought a number of the figures and was able to sell at least half of them at $12-15 each, with a cost of about $7 each. The other half, I sold at or below cost for an average of $5.50 or so, including some lot sales.  I made money, but I was better off buying half the inventory and being content with that initial cash bump.

So I’m sitting here typing, staring at Archangel, and wondering if maybe I should take all my other Angels and Archangels, and sell them, and just keep this one as a reminder to hold onto something really special. Or maybe it’s my ego, flaunting my wealth. Warren Worthington III would agree with both justifications.

X-Force Archangel


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Christmas Shopping

Not much going on recently, lots of price shopping and scouting for books.

I’m planning on the Philly Comicon again in January, more details to come. My strategy is to push a bunch of CGC books as well as dollar books, and putting together some bundles of comics to try to get those sold. Stuff like the old Darkhorse Body Bags limited series, the Catwoman miniseries from the 80s, etc.

I’ll be working on another long update soon. Classes just finished up and I’m almost d0ne with the holiday shopping, so I’ll be able to put something really nice together then.

Stay warm.

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Stanley Leiber is Stan Lee’s real name.

Stan Lee co-created many of Marvel’s characters with the assistance of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.

Spider-Man is hyphenated.

As a collector, reader, and fan, the above facts are ingrained in my five senses. In order to talk shop, do a proper online search, and to win bar trivia at Buffalo Wild Wings and Houlihan’s, these are things I need to know.

Things I SHOULD know.

While sometimes I hiccup on Stan Lee’s real name (Leiber versus, say, Leibowitz or Leiberman) I generally get it right. But I’m not blindsided by the data.

On Sunday, I was selling mostly toys at the Wayne Toy & Collectible show once again. It was my first show this year where I did not have an able-bodied assistant/friend travel with me to work the table, so I spent many hours eavesdropping on the conversations of the buyers and sellers around me, especially the merchants seated across from me. The two men running the table were very gregarious and brought a beautiful pea green Schwinn from 1970 which drew a lot of traffic. They also had a few pieces of memorabilia from football, mostly centered around the Dolphins.

(For those who don’t know, the 1972 Dolphins NFL team went undefeated during the regular season AND won the Super Bowl. The closest any other team has come to replicating this was the 2007 New England Patriots who went 16-0 in the regular season and lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants.)

At their table, these gentlemen had a huge poster of the 1972 Dolphins team, framed, that was signed by every single member of the team. It’s a massive rarity and highly collectible for any football fan. Behind the poster they also had signed footballs from the ’72 team as well as other Dolphins items. On the side of the table, also framed, was a Dan Marino jersey in navy blue and gold.

Now depending on your age, you may remember Dan Marino as a great NFL quarterback. You may also remember him as “that dude in Ace Ventura”, or “the guy from the Isotoner glove commercials”. More recently. you’re aware of him as the guy in the Nutri-System ads or that calmly angry sportscaster who keeps mentioning on a regular basis that his NFL records are/were being broken and/or threatened by Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Drew Brees, and John Elway. You can google these guys yourself if you’re not familiar with them.

If you are familiar with any of these Hall of Fame caliber gentlemen, there’s a good chance you’re a sports or NFL fan, or maybe even a sports collector.  We all know that superfans have a passion about all things involving their hobby, knowing loved and hated icons with intense depth and clarity.

With superfandom comes great responsibility.

A dealer at the show, one I have seen and talked to numerous times who sells a large amount of sports related items, came up and asked who was the player for the signed “Marino” jersey.  The table merchants, ever the cantankerous ones, smugly replied that it was “Dan Marino’s” to the dealer who was wearing an NFL team jersey (which will remain anonymous to protect the innocent…)

“What team is that for?”


“Steelers?”  (The Steelers have worn BLACK and gold since the Spanish Inquisition; this jersey was navy blue…)


Dan Marino, an NFL Hall of Fame Quarterback who is arguably in the top 10 if not top 5 quarterbacks of all time, went to the University of Pittsburgh for college where he went to the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, and twice came in fourth in Heisman Trophy voting. Kind of a big deal.

Many people have varying degrees of fandom for their passions. I know that Speedball’s real name is Robbie Baldwin, but I don’t hold an obscure fact on a very low popularity character over the heads of my fellow fans as a sign of my alpha-nerd status. I have many friends who love comics and characters, but don’t know if Green Lantern is from Marvel or DC.


But if you’re going to be selling sports merchandise at a show on a regular basis while proudly wearing a football jersey, please, for the love of God, learn that Dan Marino went to Pittsburgh. Come on, man.

As a seller, you need only one thing, one thing, to make every sale a success, and that’s being trustworthy. If you can establish trust via conversation, or transferred credibility, or a freaking quiz show, you will have a successful transaction.

I wouldn’t buy a comic from a guy who didn’t know how to spell “Spider-Man”, and I wouldn’t buy sports memorabilia from a guy who didn’t know Dan Marino went to Pittsburgh.

The two nice guys who were actually selling the Dan Marino jersey didn’t make a sale on the uniform, but they sold plenty of other items, including the pea green Schwinn… which was sold to a friend of the seller.

Someone he trusted.

(Disclaimer: many of the pop culture references are meant as just examples of things that the majority of the public may know, but I do not assume like a jerk that comic books are fully integrated into our society; I get it, I’m a nerd. I am totally not judging Joe Average.  But my argument is still valid; an “expert” should be an “expert” on the more common facts within his trade.)

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