Archive for Collectibles

“I finally found what I need to be happy and it’s not friends, it’s things.” – Fry

As published in Comics Buyer’s Guide
Steve Mortensen, columnist since 2004
www.cbgxtra.com

I’ve been collecting for almost 30 years and always enjoy buying back issues from comics stores. While eBay is great and I’m a huge CGC fan, it’s a lot of fun to find older, ungraded comics in stock at local stores. Unfortunately, more and more stores are carrying fewer back issues. I think they’re either placing them in their own eBay stores or are just not investing in them.

It’s hard to find a good deal on vintage ungraded comics at a store or show. Since many dealers are sending their best stuff to CGC and then selling the items on eBay, the selection of NM books in stores and shows is dwindling. One store I visited today had a nice selection of Strange Tales, including #147 (Aug 66). I was hoping to pick it up because it was marked “Near Mint,” but, on closer inspection, the issue was in Very Fine- condition. Collectors who prefer collecting loose issues might consider buying lower-grade CGC-graded comics and taking the copy out of the case rather than buying loose comics through a dealer. CGC’s restoration detection is great and, in most cases, it has higher grading standards than dealers, which is why CGC-graded comics often bring a premium. In the case of the Strange Tales #147, the issue sells for about $300 in CGC 9.8, $69 in CGC 9.4, and $25 or less in CGC 7.5. The copy I saw at the store was priced at $45 and was about a CGC 7.5, so I think I made the right choice not buying it.

Here are this month’s picks:

Futurama back issues. Futurama has been a great cult favorite, both on and off TV. It has been a great year for Futurama back issues. Issue #1 in CGC 9.8 last sold for $110; #3 last sold in CGC 9.8 for $70; #8 last sold in CGC 9.8 for $80; #10 last sold in CGC 9.8 for $70; #11 last sold in CGC 9.8 for $70. Before this year, the average price for a common early issue (except #1) was $15 to $25. Now, collectors are finding that these are hard to come by in high grade; even low-grade “reader” copies are hard to find. Futurama back issues in CGC 9.8 have surpassed Simpsons Comics in price. Even Simpsons Comics #1 (1993) in CGC 9.8 at $70 sells for less than Futurama #1 (2000).

I, Vampire #1. DC is giving I, Vampire its own series with the relaunch of its titles. “I, Vampire” first appeared in House of Mystery #289 (Feb 81), which has no recorded sales in CGC 9.8, and only two copies have been graded in CGC 9.8. “I, Vampire” ran for 24 issues between 1981 and 1983, and collectors may start looking for these back issues once the new series comes out.

Uncanny X-Men #544. This is the final issue of Uncanny X-Men. Marvel does not appear to be offering variants for this issue, which is good from a collecting point of view. This has been such a key series since the 1960s that picking up a few of these might be a good idea. Sometimes, final issues have smaller print runs and, over time, sell for more than a common earlier issue.

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Steve Mortensen owns Miracle Comics and Micurio.com, a free online community for sharing all your collectibles. When not selling comics, Steve works as creative director for Santa Clara, CA based biotech firm Affymetrix. He can be reached at steve@stevemortensen.com.

Research data provided by GPAnalysis.com.

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“What if he doesn’t survive? He’s worth a lot to me.” – Boba Fett

As published in Comics Buyer’s Guide
Steve Mortensen, columnist since 2004
www.cbgxtra.com

Star Wars will always hold a special place in my heart, since it was the first movie that I went to see in the theater. I loved the movie, loved the toys, and love the comics. My cousin and I responded to a Craigslist ad a few weeks ago and were able to pick up some vintage 12-inch figures at a bargain price. My favorite 12-inch figure is Boba Fett. He comes with his jet pack, cape, gun, and Wookie scalp (hard to find). Boba Fett made his first appearance in Marvel Comics Super Special #16, the Empire Strikes Back movie adaptation. Strangely, I couldn’t find any past sales of graded copies, and the only copies for sale on eBay were ungraded. It wasn’t until I did a little research that I realized that this issue contained Boba Fett’s first comic-book appearance. Perhaps, as that becomes better known, the issue will appreciate in value. More popular is the first Boba Fett comic-book cover, Star Wars #42. This sells for around $100 in CGC 9.8.

Here are this month’s picks:

Justice League of America #1 (Nov 11). The big news in comics is that DC is restarting all its flagship series with first issues. I hate it when they do that. I love the sequential numbering and the historical ties to the old numbering system. Although I’m not a fan of the concept, I’m a big fan of some new series coming out. Justice League is fresh again with Geoff Johns and Jim Lee at the helm — basically, DC’s power team. It should be great and I hope it will ignite this new DC restart. The Justice League of America first appeared in The Brave and the Bold #28 (Mar 60). A CGC 9.0 recently sold in February for $21,510. A CGC 9.4 copy sold for $60,375 back in 2004. According to the CGC census, the CGC 9.4 is the highest-graded copy and the only one in existence.

All-Star Western #1 (Nov 11). I’m a huge Jonah Hex fan. The current series written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti is one of my favorites. I’m not sure at this point if the new All-Star Western is replacing the Jonah Hex series, but Gray and Palmiotti are writing ASW. Jonah Hex first appeared in All-Star Western (2nd series) #10 (Mar 72). A CGC 9.8 copy sold in 2009 for $10,400. Issue #11 features the first Jonah Hex cover and it last sold in CGC 9.8 for $998: a steal, I think. It’s a wonderful cover by Tony DeZuniga (one of my all-time favorite comic covers, actually), and I can’t see the price staying at a tenth of the price of #10, since it’s the first Hex cover.

Action Comics #1 (Nov 11). DC is also relaunching Action Comics from #1. How could I not mention that one in my picks? There are lots of great new titles coming out, and I’m guessing that this one might be on the top of the list of the ones to be graded. Who wouldn’t want to own an Action Comics #1 in CGC 9.8 or better?

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Steve Mortensen owns Miracle Comics and Micurio.com, a free online community for sharing all your collectibles. When not selling comics, Steve works as creative director for Santa Clara, CA based biotech firm Affymetrix. He can be reached at steve@stevemortensen.com.

Research data provided by GPAnalysis.com.

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Giggity, gittity!

As published in September 2011 Comics Buyer’s Guide (issue #1681)
Steve Mortensen, columnist since 2004
www.cbgxtra.com

Family Guy is coming back to comics, brought to you by little-known publisher Titan Comics – Giggity, gittity! The first Family Guy comic was published in 2006 by Devil’s Due. I couldn’t find any sales data on issue #1 although I have a copy of it. I’ll send it in for grading and see what happens.

I don’t devote much time to the statue market, but Bowen Designs is coming out with a really cool Thor statue designed by Randy Bowen himself. The retail price is $250—a hefty sum—but some Bowen statues have done quite well. A rare Bowen chrome Silver Surfer recently sold for $600. A full size Thanos statue in box recently sold for $500. Bowen’s Classic Green Hulk statue sells steadily at $500-550. Picking the right statue to buy is not easy. I purchased 10 copies of Gentle Giant’s Saruman back in the Lord of the Rings days thinking I would make a killing, but instead lost money. Anyway, I learned it’s best to stick to what I know.

Here are this month’s picks:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (IDW) – IDW is launching a new TMNT series this summer written by Kevin Eastman, one of the creators of the TMNT back in the early 1980s. The Turtles have a great cult following and many fans including myself are looking for a return to their original glory. I remember buying issue #2 off the shelf. That comic now sells for $250-350 in CGC 9.8. Issue #1 of the original series in first print is extremely hard to find in any grade since very few were printed. A CGC 9.6 sold for $7,000 in February 2010. The NECA TMNT figures have also been a hot commodity on eBay. I sold a set of the four Turtles for over $250. I think I paid about $12 per figure when they first came out. They’re really nice with many points of articulation – probably the best action figures produced of the characters to date.

Superman Beyond #0 – A former animated series character, this incarnation of Superman gets his own series. Following the success of Adam Beechan’s Batman Beyond series, Superman Beyond may make a fan base with the future generation of comic collectors hoping for a new spin on Superman. Personally I’ve been drawn to the future Batman and Superman characters because they offer a fresh take on the characters. The earliest graded copy I could find of Batman Beyond was in 1999 with issue #1. It sold in CGC 9.8 for $36 in July 2010.

Butcher Baker Righteous Maker #1 – Like Blue Estate, this is another Image Comic that is selling really well. I have to say that I was surprised by some of the adult material. It seemed to me to be more of an adult title rather than a “Mature Readers” book – just something to keep in mind. The art is great and I can see why people have really taken to it. It combines the blunt and whimsical, which is a hard combination to pull off. As of this writing the comic is selling for about eight dollars ungraded. I haven’t seen any graded copies up for sale.

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Steve Mortensen owns Miracle Comics and Micurio.com, a free online community for sharing all your collectibles. When not selling comics, Steve works as art director for Santa Clara, CA based biotech firm Affymetrix. He can be reached at steve@stevemortensen.com.

Research data provided by GPAnalysis.com.

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A Lucky Find

As published in July 2011 Comics Buyer’s Guide (issue #1679)
Steve Mortensen, columnist since 2004
www.cbgxtra.com

I recently attended a local flea market and picked up a small run of Uncle Scrooge comics, including the 15¢ variant editions released in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1957 of #17-19 and #21-22. Dell was testing the market to see if it could raise its comics prices from 10¢ to 15¢. My copies look to be in mid-grade condition. Recent CGC sales for those variant issues: #17 with no recorded sales; #18 in CGC 7.0 (Fine/Very Fine) sold for $167 in 2007; #19 with no recorded sales; #21 with no recorded sales; and #22 in CGC 6.0 (Fine+) sold for $81 in 2007. It’s fun to come across a flea market find like that. At the time, I had no idea about the existence of price variants — I just bought them because I like Uncle Scrooge. (Many collectors are familiar with Marvel’s price variant issues in the late 1970s; they sell for high prices in nice grades.)

I have also been assembling a collection of the Batman Lego mini-figures, picking them up at flea markets and shows. If you’re not a Lego collector, you might be surprised to learn that they go for about $25 each. The last one I’m missing is Bane. The first appearance of Bane was in Batman: Vengeance of Bane #1 (93). CGC 9.8s of the issue have climbed up to $183 as of March 2011, and a 9.9 sold in 2009 for $305.

Here are this month’s picks:

FF #1 (Jun 11). I mentioned this comic last month and was bitterly disappointed in the copies I received from Diamond. In my case, there was water damage, but the copies I reviewed at this year’s WonderCon in San Francisco also showed significant spine wear. Rather than calling this issue the debut of the new FF, dealers were noting it as the debut of Spider-Man’s white costume. They were selling ungraded copies for $4 and $5 each, but I couldn’t find any gradable copies.

Deadpool #38 and #39 (Sep and Oct 11). These issues feature a Deadpool vs. Hulk battle, which looks to be pretty cool. Traditional Hulk vs. “Somebody” battles — such as Wolverine vs. Hulk battles, Thor vs. Hulk battles, and Thing vs. Hulk battles — have proven to be worthy issues to pick up. Prices for an example of each: Incredible Hulk #181 (Nov 74, vs. Wolverine, admittedly in his first full appearance — which accounts for the price) CGC 9.8 now sells for about $13,000; Defenders #10 (Nov 73, vs. Thor) CGC 9.8 sold for $540 in December 2010; Fantastic Four #112 (Jul 71, vs. Thing) CGC 9.8 sold for $5,100 in January 2011.

Space Warped #1 and #2 (Aug and Sep 11). This is a parody mini-series coming out from Boom! Publishing. It’s in the flavor of Robot Chicken, Family Guy, and other great humor series of recent years. The art is hip and modern and worth a look.

Dark Horse Presents #1 (May 2011). Dark Horse has restarted its anthology series, and the big name in this book is Frank Miller’s Xerxes, the prequel to his 300. Maybe a movie in the future? It might be worth picking up a couple of copies, although the cover price is $8 because it’s an 80-page giant.

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Steve Mortensen owns Miracle Comics and Micurio.com, a free online community for sharing all your collectibles. When not selling comics, Steve works as art director for Santa Clara, CA based biotech firm Affymetrix. He can be reached at steve@stevemortensen.com.

Research data provided by GPAnalysis.com.

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Pin Trading at Disneyland

by Dawn Mortensen, Director of Marketing for Online Collectibles Community Micurio.com

Last week my kids experienced their first trip to Disneyland. In-between getting the kids’ pics with their favorite characters, I looked around for what was going on in the world of Disneyland collecting. The most obvious collecting fad in the Disneyland Resort today is Pin Trading. It’s not that pins or pin trading are a new thing, but the promotion of this hobby by Disney merchandising and the wearing of a lanyard are new to my last Disneyland experience 13 years ago.

Disneyland vendors sell Pin Trading “Starter Packs” that contain a lanyard with 4 or 5 of the same pin, with the idea that you’ll have extras of that pin to trade for new ones. I wonder whether this works…what if too many people buy the same Starter Pack and already have the pin that you want to trade?

I saw a lot of people wearing lanyards covered with pins, and some with wristbands or buttons that specifically called out that they were a “Pin Trader.” I hear that there are special Disney Pin Trader events and meet-ups. I even got my own lanyard and collectible Tinkerbell pin as part of the vacation package I purchased from AAA Vacations. But I have to admit that I didn’t actually get any offers to trade for my pin or see anyone around me trading pins. It left me wondering whether much trading really goes on, or if it’s just Disney’s hook to get people buying more pins.

Either way, as marketing gal for Micurio, I love anything that promotes collecting. Most of the Disneyland and California Adventure shops have a wide variety of pins showing every favorite character from Disney’s classic Mickey, Goofy and Donald, to Pixar characters like Woody, Sully and Boo. Seeing that I could even get a pin of the giant mushroom from the Electrical Parade (but I restrained myself), I realized there were pins for every Disney interest.

Averaging about $8, Disney pins are are a relatively affordable souvenir. But if you’re one of the fans that has a lanyard full of them, you’ve spent quite a bundle. I saw both kid and adult pin traders at Disneyland, but after my experience of how often my six year old almost lost her AAA Tinkerbell pin when the special Mickey-shaped plastic backing fell off, I’m less likely to bankroll the hobby for anyone in my family. The fact that you can buy an extra little bag full of Mickey-shaped backings at Disney vendor stands in the park should be a clue that hanging your collectible pins from a lanyard is not the safest way to protect them–especially if you’re going on rides.

It’s easy to find online resources for those who really want to get into Disney Pin Trading, including an article by About.com’s Collectibles Guide Barbara Crews and of course the official Disney Pin Trading web site where you can also buy pins online (but what’s the fun of that?!). Catch a couple other blogs on Disney Pin Trading at http://disney.families.com/blog/disney-pin-trading, http://brokehoedown.wordpress.com/category/disney-pin-trading/ or http://33disneyrox33.wordpress.com/2008/02/12/collectable-pins/.

You can share your own Disney pins or any type of collectible at Micurio.com, the free online community for sharing all your collections. See other Disney collections on Micurio or visit one of my own personal collections: mini buttons (more akin to my budget at $0-$2 each).

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The Holy Grail of Indiana Jones Collectibles

By George Colon, Resident Collector for online collectibles community Micurio.com

For many of us, the countdown started as soon as the release date was announced. Now it’s finally “right around the corner” – Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is in our sights. Indy fans have waited almost 19 years to the day (Last Crusade was released on May 24th 1989), we’ve waded through rumors, been tantalized by fan films, and had our hopes dashed at the last minute, but we’re being rewarded for our patience and our faith.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was an outstanding exit for our hero. A fourth film is really icing on the cake, but while we’re on the subject of Last Crusade, let’s discuss “The Holy Grail” – not the Holy Grail that Indy was in search of in Last Crusade, but the Holy Grail of Indiana Jones Collectibles! This title of “Holy Grail” is of course open to interpretation, and as with many collectibles, once you acquire one, another takes its place. In interest of fairness I’ll cover a few items, and let you come to your own conclusions.

Ever since the release of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981, Indy collectibles have been available, and coveted. The first line of figures was a success, in part to the 3 ¾ craze that Star Wars created, but mostly because Raiders was such a fun and memorable movie. These figures are of course quite desirable now, especially carded, because in 1981 we played with our toys.

Both Kenner and LJN produced figures, vehicles, and playsets for the Indy franchise, but unlike Star Wars, the lines quickly died after hype for the movies dropped. The Playsets and Vehicles generally garner more desire from collectors, but there is one major exception. The “Holy Grail” of 3 ¾ Indiana Jones figures is a Mint On Card (MOC) Belloq in Ceremonial Robe (see one at toymania.com). It’s said that around 10 of these are known to exist, an exceedingly low number considering that this is a figure that actually did make it into production.

After Raiders and Temple of Doom were released we had to wait five years for the next Indy film, but collectors had to wait another four more for any collectibles of real substance to be released. That substance collectible would be Williams’ Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure. Indy Pinball was not an item that was easily acquired in 1993 as Pinball Machines were still sold directly to arcades, and priced as such. Now the average Joe or Josephine can purchase Indy Pinball from many sources, as long as you have about $4,000. This machine has retained its desirability, as well as its value, and remains very high on the Holy Grail list of many Indy collectors.

Now, I would be remiss not to mention one set of figures that buffered the 4 years between Last Crusade and Indy Pinball, and those are the atrocious figures released by Star Toys in Spain. These figures, released in conjunction with Last Crusade, were apparently licensed by LucasFilm, but look more like cheap bootlegs than acceptable licensed LucasFilm product. Packaged on simple and non-descript cardboard backing, these figures look like generic “He-Men” with a not-so-Harrison Ford head attached to each body, and a generic animal or tool accessory. Although cheaply made, there is a considerable desire in the market for these figures now, with carded examples demanding some pretty outrageous prices. If Last Crusade taught us anything what’s one man’s trash, is another’s Holy Grail. So maybe I shouldn’t be all that surprised…

1989 also brought Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular to Disney’s MGM Studios in Orlando, and 1995 brought on Disneyland’s Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye in Anaheim. These events reminded the general public that Indy is still amazingly fun, and reminded LucasFilm that Indy merchandise is still marketable, especially when tied with Disney. Since 1989 Disney (and starting in 2001 Tokyo DisneySea) has been producing Indiana Jones Collectibles that are exclusive to its parks. Oddities abound, there are a few Disney Exclusives that continue to elude Indy (and Disney) collectors. Many of the items sold at Tokyo DisneySea were produced in very small numbers, and Indy themed Limited Edition pins are quite rare as well.

When the new millennium hit, Indy Merchandise was essentially off the radar (save for Disney, of course), and this would be to the chagrin of many an Indy collector. In 1999 a small Japanese toy company by the name of Toys McCoy produced and released a 12” Indiana Jones figure that put ALL other 12” figures to shame. Limited to 3,000, the figure’s likeness, clothing, and accessories are all dead on and top notch. The Toys McCoy Indy sold out quickly at retail, and sold only to those collectors who were very much on the ball. Once the average Indy collector caught wind of this figural phenom, prices had already tripled and a new Holy Grail was born.

All of the previously mentioned Grails have been product made with public consumption in mind, so what of those items that are not mass produced? Props, scripts and autographs from all three films still command very high prices, and it’s where many collectors turn when they’ve exhausted the “mass produced” product. Many costumes and props were made in multiples, so the event of one of these items reaching the buying public does occur, just be prepared to blow your life savings if you’re interested. Film-used Indiana Jones products seem to command higher prices than that of most of its movie peers.

With Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’s imminent release new Holy Grails are being presented at an amazing pace, but one stands out in particular. The not-so-new phenomenon of insert cards in trading card packs has been shoved back into the spotlight with the advent of Sketch Cards and Autographed Cards. Topps Indiana Jones Heritage Series is essentially a re-release of their original Raiders of the Lost Ark cards, even going so far as to have gum in each pack! This time, however, Topps has included some amazing surprises. Many of the cards feature photographs of all 3 films never before seen on trading cards. Some insert cards feature photographs never before published! The aforementioned Sketch and Autograph Cards are the real Grails though; Sketch Cards feature art by renowned and up and coming artists and they’re one of a kind – it’s real art, by the real artist, all contained on a regular sized trading card. Autograph Cards feature a picture of the actor (or Director or Producer) with a space beneath signed by the person pictured about – not a laser signature, but an actual hand signed autograph! The prices these cards are commanding are through the roof; I dare say few other Indy Grails would reach some of the prices these cards are reaching.

So many Grails, so little money! As collectors we always have to remember that we can’t take it with us, but damned if it’s not fun to have it while we can. And if you have it, post it on Micurio so we can all see and enjoy it. Whatever your Indy Holy Grail might be, may you be able to find it and afford it!

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