A few months ago, my mom was asked to clear out two properties and discovered a treasure trove of vintage 1980s Star Wars and Transformers action figures. My mom contacted me to see if I wanted to sell those items, and I said yes because this Generation X dude played with those toys back in the day, plus it sounded like a nice money making opportunity. There is still a part of me that refuses to accept that the action figures I played with are now referred to as ‘vintage’. I was under the impression they were loose action figures, which means they are no longer in their original packaging, are in used condition, but are worth some money. To my surprise, I found out that there were a bunch of Star Wars and Transformers action figures still in their original packaging and unused. Goodbye, debt.
My mom shipped a majority of the items to my house, and I immediately showed my wife what I was to sell. She was thrilled to see some of the old school action figures still in their original packaging, but our enjoyment quickly turned to fear because our children – ages five and two – decided to check out the new toys. My kids were ready to rip those bad boys open and have one awesome night of toy ecstasy. My wife and I shut that nonsense down quickly. The toys were placed in an ultra safe location.
I had a majority of Star Wars – Return of the Jedi era – items to sell, so I did some research regarding their value, and was pleasantly surprised. There were six Transformers from the 1984 to 1985 era that were still in the box to sell, but my research did not provide me with any information about their value. I’ll admit that my Transformers research was not as thorough as my Star Wars effort. I blame my Generation X slacker genes.
The next step was selling the action figures, so I decided to take the Ebay route. Sure, I could have put the items on Craigslist, but we all know that site is a magnet for the Jeffrey Dahmer’s of the world to hunt down new victims. Homey don’t play that. There was some dust on my Ebay account, but I got right back into the game and listed some of the Star Wars action figures first. I put two or three up for auction, and the collectors placed their bids on some wonderful Return of the Jedi era Star Wars action figures. The items sold and I made some money.
I quickly learned the lingo the action figure collectors use when buying and selling. In the case of Star Wars action figures, they are encased in a plastic ‘bubble’, and are placed on what is known as ‘the card’. Collectors want to know certain things when you sell a vintage Star Wars action figure that is on the card and in the bubble. What’s the condition of the bubble? Is the bubble clear or has it yellowed? Does the bubble have any scuffing or dents? Does the card have any imperfections like creases or tears or bends or folds? Is there a price tag on the card? Was the tab punched on the card? One needs to know all of this if they are going to play the Star Wars action figure game. A crease, fold, tear or blemish can decrease the value. Some collectors will overlook a blemish that measures 2 cm, but others will see that as a deal breaker.
After a week of selling Star Wars action figures, I had made some fantastic but knowledgeable contacts. If I had that kind of luck with the Star Wars crowd then I felt it was going to be the same experience with the Transformers crowd. Right? It was time to sell some 1980s Transformers that were unused and still in their original boxes.
Two of the six Transformers sold well on Ebay without any problems. I met a contact via one of the auctions and he provided me with some great advice on how to properly list a Transformers action figure that is still in the box. Transformers can be sold with the original box if they are used or unused. Collectors want to know about the condition of the box, especially the flap crease, which is the top tab. If it is unused then they want to know about the condition of the tape on both sides of the box. Also, Transformers in some cases are placed in a bubble and are mounted on a card.
I continued to sell Star Wars and Transformers on Ebay. Everything was cool in the Star Wars universe, but then the floodgates of foolishness opened in Transformers land. I had one Transformers action figure, which was in the box and unopened, up for bid. Initial bids were slow and near the $100 range, but things went crazy overnight and I woke up the next day to see the bids were over the $600 mark. Wow! I was amazed. This was going to be a big pay day. Right?
The bidder had a zero feedback rating and I was slightly suspicious. New people join Ebay all the time, so maybe I was overreacting. Right? The $600 plus bidder won and within five minutes of winning the auction they deleted their account. Help me out, Fred Willard. I emailed my Transformers contact and he told me that was not unusual. Fake bidders join Ebay and bid up auctions to justify selling their Transformers at inflated prices. Most of the fake bidders have a Brooklyn mailing address and use a disconnected number to sign up. He informed me it was best to set my auction requirements to block zero bidders, and I did, but they somehow infiltrated three more Transformers auctions causing trouble. Who are these rogue douche bags ruining my Ebay auctions?
What’s the point of messing up my auction? The three auctions ruined by zero bidders were deleted, so there is no record of those auctions actually happening to justify their actions. Also, I discovered that there are FAKE Transformers being sold on Ebay. One potential bidder grilled me on the authenticity of one of my Transformers that was still in the box. I had no idea that the world of Transformers had a dark underbelly.
After setting my selling requirements to block zero bidders at Ebay for a fourth or fifth time, I set up my final auction. Things were going well until this morning when TWO zero bidding ding dongs infiltrated my last auction. I had their bids cleared, and all is well for now. It has been fun selling these collectible action figures on Ebay despite the fact that the zero bidders of the Transformers universe are the bane of my existence.
Writers note: While completing this article, I had to closely monitor the results of a Transformers auction. The zero bidders stayed away during the final moments and the action figure was won by a legitimate bidder. All is well.
TonyDoug Wright (aka The T-D-Dubs) is the owner and head writer at Champion City Comics, a webcomics community. He is also a proud father and is married to the coolest and most beautiful girl on the planet.
I had so many bad Ebay experiences selling records. Buying too. I can’t believe how easy it is to ruin a sale without impunity but how hard it is to collect from a bad bidder. I had a PTSD moment reading this but it is a great article for people hitting the net. I’m anti Internet shopping anymore but options are slowly drying up. Unless Legend starts carrying European folk metal vinyl…