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The action figure hobby has never really had an industry standard source for action figure values unlike other hobbies.

That doesn’t mean there weren’t any publishers out there willing to offer their assessment on the values of action figures.

There used to be a few action figure magazines that came out on a monthly basis which featured a price guide on select figures. 

These were sold at your local comic book stores, major book stores or on the publishers' web site.  You could also subscribe to them and have it mailed directly to you.

Unfortunately one of these magazines ended its publication.

Wizard Toy Fare which had been around for a few years covered most of the more popular action figure lines of the more recent years.  They shut down the magazine in late 2010/early 2011. 

Their publication never provided the source of their values on figures; however I observed several sellers at comic book and toy shows over the past few years using their guide as a basis for their items’ prices and negotiations with collectors and buyers.

Reviewing various forums and other action figure web sites I found this was not just a local occurrence.

Another magazine is Lee’s Toy Review which has been around since the early 1990s and continues today.  The magazine has a price guide as part of its regular features and covers slightly more figures than Toy Fare.  They list that the source of their information originates from a couple of reliable toy sellers and collected feedback from collectors all over averaging out reported sales.

I do find their prices listed on most figures a bit interesting as well as some of their investment picks as they offer a current recommendation on new and sometimes past figures they believe are worth picking up and hanging onto for possible resell in the future.

They too have been well received by sellers and collectors nationally.

They also publish a seasonal magazine/book that is strictly a price guide and contains even more figures not covered in their monthly mag.  There are advertisements in their current magazines to order this.

There are a few books that have been published in the last 20 years which provided a price guide on just about every action figure toy line ever made up to that time.

Tomart which publishes Action Figure Digest published a few price guide books with prices for packaged figures back in the 1990s containing nicely illustrated photos next to each figure product line.  These books however were never updated regularly and became dated.

There have been dedicated theme related action figure price guide books on Star Wars, GI Joe and Transformers figures and accessories, but they too were also never kept up to date.

I will provide you some guidance on both new and older figures later on this page using some of these publications in addition to my recommended research methods to help you find the range of value for any figure.

Although there is information on opened/loose figures available, most of the information found is geared more towards packaged figures. 

I will say in general that opened/loose figures are in the 50% or less price range of its  packaged figure equivalent in most cases - depending on condition.

If both figures are in very poor condition, then the percentages are going to be on the lower side for the loose figure's value.  If both figures are in mint condition, then the percentages are going to be closer to 50% of the packaged figure's value.

Collectors and buyers will dictate these guidelines and some will actually pay more for a opened/loose figure if it's an item they need to have for their collection.

When reviewing the reference information below for packaged items and then applying the same research methods with these percentages will help you arrive at a value for opened/loose items.


The most important aspect of evaluating the value of any action figure is the condition of the item.

Just like any other hobby an item must be graded in order to properly assess its value.

Simply purchasing one of the above books and magazines is not enough.  If the figure you’re trying to find the value on is in poor condition, then the prices you see in these publications will not be applicable.  You’ll have to take a smaller percentage of the prices found in order to help derive at the price.

An example would be if a figure you research is $100, but the figure is in poor condition it’s not unprecedented if the value turns out to be 5% or less.  There’s no real rule here as most price guides do not provide values for all grades. 

Researching and comparing data will help you along.

The following is a summarization of the known grades used for grading action figures that almost all collectors and sellers use.  These are primarily used for packaged figures, but there are references in each grade for opened/loose items. 

Grading opened/loose figures are harder to perform since these have so many more factors to account for like loose (not tight) limbs, missing arms, missing legs, missing pieces, paint issues.

The definitions for both are listed in full detail in the Toy Review magazine and past issues of Toy Fare.  You can also find them described on various web sites.

Here are the grading standards in an overall summary definition:

C10: Mint Condition:  Figures in this grade have no imperfections.  For packaged figures they have absolutely no tears, creases or other damages. 

For loose items the figure cannot have any no discoloration, paint loss, dirt or grime.  They must have tight joints and include all original accessories.

C8-9: Near Mint Condition:  Figures in this grade are still very nice with only very minor issues.  For packaged figures they still match that of C-10 with the exceptions of a minor corner curl and only minimal dents are acceptable if barely noticeable.  The bubble may have tiny/minor dents.  Loose figures may have a single joint loose or may be missing one accessory.  As in the C10 grade they cannot have any dirt, discolorations or paint loss.   

C6-7: Fine Condition:  For packaged figures there may be s
ome curling and/or creasing.  There might be minor fraying on the edges and some minor permanent creasing or cracking of the print and/or fraying of the card at the corners.  There may be minor creases.  Small tears are allowed, but less than 1/8 inch.  There may be some yellowing on the bubble, but only slight.  Minor dents are acceptable. 

Loose figures may have some minor wear, discoloration or paint loss.  It typically has some of its accessories missing.

C4-5: Good Condition:  For packaged figures permanent curling or creasing of the card including cracked print or ink is present.  The card may have a lost of its original sheen and brightness.  It may be a flat, dull finish although it will still have color.  The card may have small tears if they are less than 1/2 inch.   Some stains, writing including autographs and some small holes may be present.  The edges may have some minor fraying or separation.  The corner may have a curl that is severe.  There may be permanent creasing or cracking of the print with severe fraying on the corners of the card.  Larger tears are permitted.  The bubble may have discoloring or yellowing, but it should be medium tan and not completely brown.  The bubble should still be primarily attached to the card although it may have detached sections smaller than 1 inch.  There may be other parts of the card front that have tears to the print/ink.  The bubble may have cracks less than 1/4 inch and have pronounced bubble damage such as crushing or large dents without any reformation.

For loose figures they
have excessive wear including clear discoloration, loose joints and paint loss.  The figures can probably be touched up and repaired.

C2-3: Poor Condition:  For packaged figures the card may be almost completely folded over or severely curled or creased including cracked print and/or ink.  The card may be completely faded to a flat, dull finish with the colors severely faded or discolored.   The card may have stains such as water stains or dirt with tears or holes more pronounced.  The edges may have pronounced fraying.  There will be corner curls with severe creasing and/or cracking of print with severe fraying of card corners.   Creases on the card are heavy and are cracking the print or the ink on the card.  The card may almost be completely folded over.  There may be price tag issues and tears.  The bubble has yellowing, but still attached to the card with a couple of areas of detachment. 

or loose figures they are in very bad shape with loose joints, breaks and dings.

C1: Very Poor Condition:  For packaged figures the card may be ripped or curled with heavy creases and one or more holes.  There are stains or marks on different areas.  The edges are heavily frayed, split or separated.  The corners are heavily curled or torn with permanent creasing and or cracking.  The card may have heavy creases.  The bubble is completely discolored and may be crushed or severely damaged. 

For loose figures the
figures will have arms or legs off, major paint loss and other defects.

Using the grading definitions above, you can get a start on grading your figures and given enough practice you will eventually gain the knowledge and be within range of the actual final grade.

You shouldn’t be grading C-10 or C-9 on items that are really C-2 or C-1 if you really look over your items carefully and re-read the definitions.  Always be conservative in your evaluation.  It’s obviously much better on you if you lower your expectations than to over estimate.

There is an organization founded a back in 2000 called AFA (Action Figure Authority).  They were created especially to certify the grading of action figures since so many times unknowing and or knowing sellers would often mis-grade a figure.

This led to a lot of very unhappy and disappointed collectors and buyers. 

The hobby has grown more and more to accept their certified graded items as the industry standard.  There are similar organizations in other hobbies that were created to ensure the integrity of those hobbies.  Action figures are no different.

The AFA has its own grading scale that they assign to each and every figure they grade.  They grade primarily packaged figures, but will grade opened/loose items as well. 

They charge a service fee to grade any figure you send and submit to them.  The service is not cheap, but you will be happy to know that your figure has been graded by them which will go a long way in case you decide to sell your items in the future.

You can read more about their organization and their services on their web site.

Some collectors who purchase valuable packaged figures only purchase them if they are certified by the AFA.  Some only purchase opened/loose items that are certified by the AFA as well.

It will come as a premium to whoever buys certified grading figures as the cost involved for the grading and the added credibility behind the given item. 

Most serious collectors will pay the additional premium and sometimes very much so for specific figures in specific higher grades.

I would only recommend using their service if you have a packaged figure from the vintage era (pre early 1980s) and after referencing some of the publications above and doing your research as outlined in the next sections that is valued at or above $150. 

It’s not worth it if you are looking at something of less value.

If you consider purchasing any packaged figure for this amount outright from a seller, I would recommend only figures that have been certified.

Why take chances with non-graded figures above that price regardless of where you buy them from.

New Figures Guidance and Values

Now that you have a grasp on grading it should help you when looking for newer figures and then moving towards ascertaining its current market value.

As mentioned above unless the item is valued at or above $150 which almost all new toys are not, then I would not recommend purchasing any certified graded figures or using that service to submit your possessions for grading.

Newer figures I always suggest waiting when missing out on the initial shipments of a newly released toy line.

They will eventually come back into stores.  You have to be patient.  Toy makers want to keep selling toys and they’ll do their best to get that product out to stores until their sales data shows that no one is buying a particular toy line and by that time the items go on clearance and you have the opportunity to pay less than their original listed price.

An average life span for a toy line is less than a year.  Toys have to make money for a manufacturer and the stores that carry toys before both have to clear them out for other products.

The big ones like Star Wars, GI Joe and Transformers have been re-invented many times and have had to redesign their packaging and product to keep them fresh and new.

Even their various lines will eventually be on the clearance aisles.

Paying double the retail price on any figure when it just came out into stores is not wise.  Most new figures are only going to be worth the retail price and sometimes even less than that a year later.

What you pay for an item and how much they are worth to you is the same thing.  It is you the collector and buyer that will dictate the price and value of any item

By waiting for these newly released items to return to stores you save yourself from overpaying for these items and not over-inflating the market prices.

As time goes by the more prominent and in demand toys will start to separate out from the rest.

Generally one or two action figures in a given series or product line will standout amongst the rest initially because when their toy makers’ development teams and marketing teams discuss and review in constant meetings the next toy line to produce, they will always have one or two in a series that they deem to be the least desirable among buyers-mainly kids. 

Kids account for a majority of a toy’s sales.  Collectors which can include kids make up only a small amount of all sales.  The toy makers know this, but realize that a couple of characters are needed in order to make up the series or product line.  They know there are collectors who will only be interested in that line if one of these characters is produced and hopefully it attracts them to purchase the other figures.

This is the reason why one or two figures tend to be limited in availability and there are those opportunistic buyers who cannot resist in buying these items as they know they’ll be in demand by the many collectors out there.  These buyers will want to turn around and re-sell them or use them as trade for other items.

These limited produced figures for the first few months will typically be listed for sale at 50% to 100% above its original retail price.  That doesn’t mean that they are worth that, but they are listed at that price.

Some will pay that price simply because they feel they may not get another opportunity and there are always going to be impulse/emotional buyers in this world that cannot resist which can be applied to just about anything else.

The shrewd collector knows that these figures will turn up and will bypass these prices. 

In the long run if a character is really in demand these prices will hold for years, but in my experience that is mostly not the case. 

I’ve seen too many short packed figures sell for multiples of retail in the first few months only to see them degrade in price in a year or two.

I’m sure that some will provide an example where a figure continues to hold its rocketed pricing, but for every one of those there are hundreds that do not.

One day new figures will rise in value as they become older figures, but not as much as you would hope. 

Here’s where you can use those periodicals I referenced above on newer figures to do additional research and comparison.

If you have an account on Ebay, I would pull up the confirmed sales on new figures you presently own or you are considering going after.

It is very easy to see the last 15 days worth of sales data for any item using the advanced search feature entering in the name of the figure and completed sales.

This will give you the current market price nationally as best as available to all collectors and sellers.  It will provide you what others are paying which in turn gives you the information you’re presently seeking.

Compare what you see online there with the monthly magazine price guides.  There’s going to be a difference.  One will be higher than the other.  They’re never usually the same on all items.

Average them out and you will see where that item falls in.  This is my suggestion when valuing newer figures. 

You will also see if a given figure does not sell too.  There are a lot of factors for that as not everyone is able to be online to buy all of the time and also the price may not be something that buyers want to pay.  Keep this as a reference should you see a reoccurring trend if a figure continues to be passed over and over.

Prices will fluctuate on new figures as they are volatile in the first year and tend to settle into their true price range afterwards.

Over time normally the more recognizable figures will retain its worth long term while the lesser known items devalue.  If it is an obscure item that completes a collection, then those may hold for a while.

The impulse/emotional buyer will always be around to register that one or two sales a month that gets reported while the majority of us do not fall for that temptation.

The individual seller who may have their own web site or owns a store locally can only know what the prices are for their customer base. 

They cannot account for the many items that trade worldwide 24 hours a day / 7 days a week as what you can find on Ebay unless of course they sell items there too which you are then already using part of their sales data in your research.

I know checking newer figures using this method may take some time, but if you want to ensure that you have the most current information on these items it’s really the most accurate way.

Old Figures Guidance and Values

As I stressed in the grading section, it is really important to understand the action figure grading standards.

When assessing older figure values, it is absolutely imperative to get this down right or you will make errors in evaluating the true value of older figures.

Read the grading definitions over and over and honesty and conservatively examine the old figures you have or are considering to buy.  Once you feel that you are in the range of the true grade, then you can move onto tracking down its worth.

I recommended earlier that if a figure is at or above $150, then it’s a must that the figure be certified.

If you feel very confident that you know what the grade is and it’s not certified ahead of time, then you may feel comfortable in estimating its worth.

I simply want you to be in cautious and feel that certified figures of that price range is the best option in almost all cases.

Figures pre-dating the early 1980s are the ones that tend to hold their value and continue to increase steadily since those were not kept and collected in the quantities as present day items.

They are genuinely scarce and have high demand and will continue to be so especially for the more recognizable characters and figures.

Pre early 1980s was essentially the end of the golden age for action figures.

These older figures are not as volatile in terms of price fluctuations as newer figures since newer items are normally over-inflated due to speculation by sellers and impulse buyers.

Collectors and buyers and sellers get caught up in those early months in the price frenzy of the new items release.

For older figures collectors have been hunting for some of the vintage items for years like Kenner’s Super Powers from the 1980s, Mego World’s Greatest Super Heroes from the 70s, Star Wars from the 80s, GI Joe from the 60s, Six Million Dollar Man from the 70s, Transformers from the 80s.

There are many books and trade magazines that have been produced which attempted to assess the value of action figures.

I think these publications are a great tool to use when reviewing the value of older figures and give you guidance on a price range.

I realize some of these have not been in print for years with the exception of Toy Review which is a monthly periodical that may not cover all of the vintage figures.  Their dedicated price guide magazine/book tends to include prices for quite a bit of the more older figures in addition to the newer figures.

Armed with your grading knowledge of any figure you may have or are looking at, you can use the above as part of your reference material and then visiting Ebay to research the items specifically and checking the sales history for the last 15 days.

By comparing the sources together you will be able to get a very solid range of prices to ascertain the current market value.

This may take some time for you if you have a lot of older figures to look up, but is the most accurate way that I have found.

You will also see if a given figure does not sell too.  There are a lot of factors for that as not everyone is able to be online to buy all of the time and also the price may not be something that buyers want to pay.  Keep this as a reference should you see a reoccurring trend if a figure continues to be passed over and over.

Remember that if you’re looking at certified figures then you can expect the value to be higher than the non-certified figures since these are a premium due to the cost involved for the grading and the added credibility behind the graded item.

A lot of collectors will gladly pay higher for these items knowing they are purchasing certified figures.  This will not necessarily be reflected in your search for the value, but it is simply an add on.
Happy Collecting!!!
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