Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Market Spotlight: There Are Limits!


As loyal Gamers and readers of the blog already know, I've been sending out shipments of trades to CGC for grading each month.  It's a bit of an adventure, because nobody is really doing this outside of myself.  I'm blazing the trail here, and discovering that yes, there are limits.

What have I learned so far?  There is debate in the CGC Towers about what tier to place the trades in.  I tried to do the right thing, by the way, and sent multiple emails to the address given on the CGC website explaining what I was considering and asking for guidance.  I received no response to any of these emails.  Not a "we don't do that sort of thing", not a "I'm not sure, but let me dig into it and get back to you".  Just... nothing.  To be fair, any time I've sent an email requesting info or a correction on an order, I've received a response within 24 hours.  But until they had my money, nobody over there was interested in what I had to say.  Not sure if those two concepts are related or not.  But they might be.  Just maybe.

Under Siege:  Maximum beefiness allowed
I've sent in each of my shipments under the regular "modern" tier of grading, ($17/book) the same tier you'd use to process any comic published after 1980.  The first four times I sent books in for grading, nobody batted an eye.  The fifth shipment, I received an email claiming my books were too big, and that they'd be processed under the "magazine" tier.  (slightly more expensive at $23/book)  Then I got a backtracking email a few hours later stating that there was no problem, and that they'd be happy to slab my books in magazine sized cases for the regular modern price.

I've been experimenting with the sizes of the trades, searching for capacity.  The first batch I sent was mostly super thin stuff that I couldn't imagine anybody objecting too, and have been pushing the thickness barrier up ever since.  I thought for sure I would hit it with Avengers: Under Siege, which is kind of a beast.  They graded that, slabbed it, and sent it back without blanching.

This time, though, they graded Green Lantern: Power of Ion, and then decided they couldn't fit it into a slab.  I know they graded it a 9.6, because I saw it posted on the web site on my order page.  So, if you want to know if your trade is slabbable, just plunk it down next to Power of Ion and you'll have your answer.  Anything thinner than that should be good to go.

It costs to make these mistakes, by the way.  I didn't get a refund for that book, nor would I consider asking for one.  They provided the service, and I sent in a pretty ridiculously sized tome.  I consider it a "buyer beware" situation of my own creation, and just part of the cost of doing business.

I also sent in my best copy of the Spawn Capital Collection, a nice limited piece offered only to specific retailers and signed by Todd McFarlane.  CGC is not really in the signature verification game unless they have their own people peering over the creator's shoulder as its signed, though, so my book says "T McFarlane written in marker on first page".  I don't know why, but I find that adorable.

They're in a tough spot on that one, actually.  Those books are a known commodity, so there's no reason to suspect foul play or a ghost signer.  Everybody understands that Todd signed those books.  If they didn't think it was signed, my book honestly should have been sent back with a green "qualified" label, because it had been written on.  I'm glad they didn't do that, by the way, because that green label is pretty much a death sentence to the perceived value of the book.

I do wish they had stated what color the "T McFarlane" was written in, though.  I have two copies - one is signed in green, the other in red.  It's possible that one of those signatures is significantly more rare than the other, and should probably be reflected on the slab.  I could have asked, I guess, but I didn't.

I think it's more important to note the edition of the book, but the CGC graders do not make those distinctions.  The year of publication is listed, so one could ostensibly determine edition based on that information, provided that the book didn't go to press multiple times within the calendar year.  If I could make one change in the way CGC does things with trades, I'd request they list the print edition on the slab.  On the whole, though?  I'm more than satisfied.

Some of you may be wondering about the speed of these transactions.  The regular modern tier claims a 20 business day turnaround.  That's not been my experience.  It's actually about a two month wait, although things seem to be speeding up a bit lately.  Word on the board is that things bog down during convention season, and that the wheels churn more quickly from October-January.

There's quite a bit of venom to be had on the member forums, almost exclusively directed at CGC for their turnaround times.  Many of them have a legitimate gripe.  Think about this - for books older than 1980, your cheapest option is the value tier.  You can't send in anything that could be expected to trade at more than $150, and you have to send in a minimum of 30 books.  At $23/book, you're sending CGC more than $700 after the shipping costs, and the stated wait is 40 business days.  It is now November 22, and they're just sending out value books they received on July1.  If I sent somebody $700 and had to wait six months for my service....I'd be pissed, too.  Especially when the sign says it's a two month process.

But the thing is...where else you gonna go?  Gonna send those books out to PGX?  No, I didn't think so.  Unless Robert Overstreet wants to set up shop as competition or something, I don't think CGC really has to care what their constituency thinks, because they are The Man.

- Ryan

1 comment:

Funcrusher said...

Interesting, I've never heard about CGCing trades before.

I could be wrong here, but I belive that the new Ninja Turtles Ultimate Collection HC vol. 1 from IDW is going to be worth a metric shit ton when the major retailers sell out. These are the issues people want and the book is beautiful, definitely the definitive edition. It just came, but in the long term...