What is AFA Grading?
Modern Grading Scale
The Modern grading scale is specifically designed to assess the condition of toys produced from 1995 to the present year. This scale serves to better assess miniscule flaws which can differentiate two identical items which are fresh from a case or the store shelves, by including more grade options at the upper end of the grading scale. The Modern scale is based on a 10 point system with additional grade options above 9.0. Case fresh modern items tend to most frequently receive the grades of 8.5 and higher, so by including additional high grade options for our expert graders to choose from, this scale has proven to be quite effective in better evaluating the condition of items produced in the modern era. By using this scale, our graders are able to better assess an items relative condition to that of other similar items with small production and packaging flaws. This is largely due to the fact that our Standard scale is designed to rate condition as it applies to items which can often be decades old with a large range of possible flaws. Years down the road, many expect that by collecting only the highest quality graded examples, a collector can best ensure his items will represent true rarities within the collectible market, thus maximizing the potential of these items to provide a great return on investment. The Modern scale allows for the pursuit of this goal by separating the highest grade examples from simply high grade examples.
Standard, Qualified, and Loose Grading Scales
The Standard, Qualified, and Loose grading scales consist of grades ranging from 10 to 100 which serve to rate an items overall condition. For certain types of packaged items, sub-grades are used to better describe the strongest and weakest aspects of the packaging. Sub-grades are not averaged to determine the overall grade. They are simply additional information which is provided to further define the aspects of the packaging as they relate to the overall grade. Depending on the type of packaged item, sub-grades relate to the packaging aspects as follows:
For Carded Items:
Card refers to the card-back surface, both front and back, Blister refers to the blister (or bubble) sealed to the card which contains the action figure or item, and Figure refers to the actual item(s), all accessories, inserts, stand, and the area behind these items. For Boxed Items (with a plastic window): Box refers to the surface of the box on all sides, Window refers to the plastic window which allows the item to be viewed while still sealed in the packaging, and Figure refers to the actual item(s), all accessories, inserts, stand, and the area behind these items.
For Mailer Items:
Box refers to the mailer box itself, Window refers to the plastic bags or blisters containing the items, and Figure refers to the actual item(s), all accessories, inserts, paperwork and other contents. Depending on the overall numerical grade assigned, items are classified as Gold, Silver, or Bronze level. A generalized explanation of these grade levels is as follows:
The AFA Gold level consists of the grades 100, 95, and 90. When an items condition warrants classification within this level, the smallest of flaws are judged and taken into account to determine the exact grade received. The select few items which receive these grades are among the highest quality in existence. A very small percentage of items submitted to AFA receive a Gold level grade. An items flaws must be very minor, subtle, and can often be difficult to identify with the naked eye. A collector who is extremely condition sensitive should be satisfied with the condition of a Gold level item in the vast majority of instances.
The AFA Silver level consists of the grades 85, 80, and 75. Items which receive
grades within this level range from having small flaws to having relatively significant flaws. Silver level grades represent a much larger range of condition than Gold level grades. The highest grade within this level, an 85, could most often be described as being near case fresh, with the lowest grade within this level, a 75, being somewhat shelf worn but still relatively nice. As a general rule, an item which receives the grade of 85 is a fantastic display piece and can often be right on the edge of Gold level condition. The term 'case fresh' is certainly justifiable, as the average item pulled from a sealed case would grade an 85 due to small flaws which occur when items are packaged or shipped from the factory. An item which receives the grade of 80 represents a nice example with minor to moderate flaws apparent upon close inspection. As a generalization, the average item which has spent time on a store shelf being moved around prior to purchase, but has otherwise been handled with relative care over the years may score an 80. The lowest Silver level grade is a 75 which represents an item with significant flaws which are much more evident than flaws visible on items which receive higher Silver level grades. An item which receives the grade of 75 will most often have significant wear, an inner blister crack, or other moderate to significant wear, but should be free of major flaws which would immediately draw the eye to them at first glance. For most high grade collectors, an 85 will be satisfactory. For most discriminating collectors, an 80 will be satisfactory. A 75 will most often be satisfactory to those who are not overly concerned with light stresses, blister imperfections, and other flaws which do not likely jump out at first glance like the flaws displayed by Bronze level items.
The AFA Bronze level consists of the grades 70 and below. Items which receive these grades typically have damage ranging from simply noticeable upon first glance to extremely significant. Packaging may have significant stressing or creasing and a blister or window may be crushed or cracked. The Bronze level covers the largest range of conditions and the scope of flaws will range considerably. Condition for Bronze level items is determined by how many 'major flaws are present and how severe each flaw is. Bronze level items may have major flaws such as a torn off or cut-out POP or other large paper tears. Bronze level items may not be satisfactory to condition sensitive collectors.