Vintage Guilt: the Blog
February 1, 2011

Last year AFi forum member, H-Balm, started a thread called “Vintage Guilt.” This was an intriguing title. He made the point that, once a line ends, the amount of existing carded samples of a given figure are now, quite obviously, limited. And each time a collector decides to open one of these, the rarity of carded samples increases. So H-Balm posed the questions: have you ever done this and, if so, did you hesitate and did you felt guilty about it? A good discussion followed.

Many who have opened vintage carded figures did so to fill a gap in an otherwise complete loose collection. Sometimes it is just cheaper or easier to acquire a figure  (in good shape and complete with all its accessories) by purchasing a carded version. In that regard, Jim Abell made this point:

“I think most vintage collectors that buy carded with the intent to open make it a point to hunt for poor condition cards and bubbles both so that they aren’t opening a MOMC piece and so that they aren’t paying a premium price for a mint card when that isn’t what they’re really after.”

Well, that is the ideal scenario. But sometimes even that preferred option doesn’t quite pan out. Hesitancy and guilt? Oh yeah. Recently, my buddy xrmc20 and I both acquired carded versions of figures we, for differing reasons, wanted to release from their cards. We both experienced varying degrees of stomach pain as we contemplated actually going through with the opening ceremony. We both enjoyed watching and were fortified by the video posted on the AFi forums last week of a collector opening a vintage Star Wars POTF Warok in order to complete his loose collection. So this past weekend, xrmc20 and I forged ahead and confronted Vintage Guilt head on.

CantinaDan’s Vintage Guilt

After purchasing Star Wars’ newest incarnation of Wicket the Ewok  I wanted to take an evolution photo of all the 3 3/4" scale Wickets. The shot just wouldn’t be complete (in my mind) without the Ewoks Cartoon version. I discovered that, unless you are Brians’s Toys, this is kind’uv a difficult figure to snag. It was rare to see a loose one, complete with spear, come up on eBay. So I started to nervously peek into the world of available carded versions. Gulp. More than I wanted to spend just to take a photo.

 

Well, I happened to be following one of those freak auctions that somehow flies below the radar and was able to win a carded Wicket for a price much more reasonable that what you see pictured above. Yay! I did not anticipate any feelings of hesitancy or guilt when it came time to open Wicket, but I’ll tell ya, when I got this figure in the mail and pulled it out of the carefully packed box, I did question my cavalier attitude towards opening.

 

Well, when the day and time came I ceremoniously unsheathed a new razor blade and reverently pierced the bubble.

 

As deftly as possible I sliced around the perimeter of the bubble as close to the card as possible.

 

And Wicket was finally free. I decided to leave the coin on the card for now.

 

Check out a new Evolutions blog focusing on our favorite Ewok.

 

xrmc20’s Vintage Guilt

So let’s move on to what is likely to be the more wince-inducing segment of this blog. xrmc20 has a nearly complete loose set of vintage Super Powers figures. Like many, he needed a Cyborg with accessories to fill a gaping hole in his set. I think it goes without saying (on this web site, at least) the particular challenge that can pose.

 

Well, xrmc20 was able to obtain a carded Cyborg for a nice price. It turns out that it was actually a pretty nice carded example. Unpunched. Very little creasing or card damage. The only obvious detraction was a yellowing bubble.

 

With good reason, xrmc20 was more hesitant than I to sink that razor blade. There was definitely some last minute second thoughts. But he eventually gave the go ahead.

 

For a moment before lifting the bubble we considered the possibility that Cyborg himself was yellowed. Not that we had ever heard of that happening, but the yellow tinted bubble really made Cyborg look discolored. We held our breath as we removed the bubble and let out a sigh of relief when we saw this pristine Cyborg.

 

The deed was done. One less carded Cyborg in existence. One more loose collection completed.

 

So did our opening ceremonies produce feelings of Vintage Guilt? Yes. But the desire to open won out in the end. No looking back!

TAGS:
Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann
Action figure anthropologist, Professor Cantina Dan Neumann has been a scholastic contributor to the online community studying the complex world of parumplasticus populus {little plastic people} since the turn of this millenium. His primary focus is the visual cataloging of species exhibits through photo-journalism.
Read other articles by Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann.

 

 

 

26 Comments »

  • jzachery says:

    Oh my GOD!

  • Erik superfriend says:

    In general, I open everything right after I buy it. I still have the SP Delta Probe 1 that I bought MIB a decade ago. For some reason my wife convinced me not to open it. And so it still sits there in the box. Every once in a while it beacons me. But most of the time it is out of sight, out of mind.

  • Jason Geyer says:

    Toys are meant to be played with.

    The end.

  • Shellhead says:

    Man, I don’t even use a blade to pop ‘em open. I just use my fingers. I don’t keep the cards after I’ve read the back once. I simply don’t understand the MOC mindset.
    Gotta agree with Jason on this.

    • xrmc20 says:

      This blog isn’t about the carded/MOC vs loose debate. The point here is that we opened items that are pretty rare and we also instantly reduced the value (which just meant we had to decide if we might want or need to sell the items again sometime soon). In Dan’s case, he got a great deal, and in my case I was paying a premium compared to the price of a loose complete Cyborg. I’m not a MOC collector at all, and I don’t care about packaging or being careful when I open new stuff.

  • FlaBat says:

    Wow that was tough, a Super Powers Cyborg. As much as I open all of my figures I still have a few I will never open and while rare, they are worth only a fraction of what that Cyborg is.

    Still they are your figures and you are free to do whatever you want with them without any guilt.

    So enjoy

  • UncleMarsellus says:

    I’m starting to feel guilty about not opening them with as much care as you guys did.

    Nah.

  • Dagger says:

    Man I thought I was bad for leaving my XMC Bobby Drake on card. I can’t believe you opened that Cyborg.

  • stewbacca says:

    I have never had a problem with this– (and have done it myself several times- mostly with Droids figures..)-but have done it with other early 90’s toys that I have recently purchased– (swat kats, Thundars, Herculoids)– some of those are just as rare as some of the vintage but I dont care…)- a
    nd in those situations offered the other collectors- an opportunity to buy it from me to keep it “perserved” – provided that they provide me the pieces I require from the cards– with no offers– not my problem — but I also never understand- as other collectors go– if you already have one- -why do you care if I open mine? in theory it just makes yours that much more valuable.

  • Jim says:

    My opinion. You bought it, you do whatever you want with it. I’ve done it before several times in the past and I’ll do it again. Why? Because that’s how I remember most of those toys and cherish the memories and imaginary adventures that go along with it. My most recent example is when I opened a Mego Joker that was MOC. I couldn’t IT find loose and complete without having repo parts sio I got a bargain on a carded one.

  • JuliusMarx says:

    Woo-hoo! My carded SP Cyborg just went up another $5 in value! Thanks Matt! :)

  • Chip Cataldo says:

    “Toys are meant to be played with. The end.”

    Buy a new one, then. The DCUC Cyborg has more playable value than the SP version, anyway…if you’re looking for a toy to play with.

    If the card is completely and utterly trashed, I can maybe understand it…but those two carded examples? Wow.

    My carded Cyborg also went up another $5 in value, but I mourn the loss of another carded example biting the dust. Not to mention that Wicket…that was a great carded example.

  • Hourman says:

    I take great perverse joy in de-carding vintage action figures. MWAHAHAHAHA!!!

  • Wow, what a great article. I tend to agree as well, open ‘em up and enjoy them as intended. I can understand the hesitation, especially if the owner is always thinking of possible re sale down the road, and that Cyborg is a doozy. But for me, if I’m into a line or character and want to have one for display, I eventually track down a second one and rip it right open. We’re all gonna die, so live a little and move those little plastic limbs!

    • xrmc20 says:

      Yeah, I want a loose SP collection that is complete with all accessories, and I want them to all be in nice shape. That means that about a third of my loose SP collection are figs I bought carded. Most were banged up though–at least more banged up than this Cyborg. :) Oh well, gotta do what you gotta do.

  • zach says:

    …I just fainted.

    The only vintage card I have ever opened, or for that matter ever really owned, was an SP Lex Luthor that I opened for similar purposes. But I got that figure waaaay cheap. Still had a hard time opening it, though. It took me about 2-3 weeks to give it the green light.

    • xrmc20 says:

      Ha! Yeah, I got this one with the intention of opening it, but I second guessed myself a little before I decided to do it. Then I did open it because Dan pressured me into it so he could put it in his blog. :) (just kidding on the last part).

  • HalJordanist says:

    I totally understand the practice and the pain. A big part of toy collecting is the nostalgia factor. There are two parts of that nostalgia: the carded figure as you remember it in the store, and the loose figure you spent all those countless hours playing with.

    So, One of my goals is to have a few pieces of some of my vintage collections carded/boxed in duplicate, while the bulk is loose and playable/displayable. It’s not such a big deal for me with boxed vehicles, etc because most vintage vehicle/playset boxes are about the art, and you can’t see the product inside. So, I open them to have a toy in great condition, AND have the box to display. Double-win!

    And it is true that it’s often difficult to find some loose figures of good quality with original accessories in good condition. My SP collection is coming along slowly (only seven figures or so), and I fear that at some point I may have to resort to a carded figure for quality.

    When it comes down to it, it’s a personal decision. Although, often a painful one.

  • demoncat says:

    me i open every figure i get to display never have been one of those who believe in keeping the thing forever in their packages for its up to the individual collector wheter they get guilt over opening a figure including a rare one like super powers cyborg to complete their collection or not

  • Loose, carded, new, vintage, whatever… That Wicket figure is positively adorable.

    • Danny CantinaDan says:

      Haha, yes, isn’t it! Thanks for saying so, Jon. A piece of me just wanted to open the dang thing so I could play with that figure for a bit. Crazy first wave had only two Ewoks and FOUR ugly Duloks! Bummer.

  • Lightso says:

    There are plenty of rare items that aren’t valuable. Value is relative.

  • Lt. Clutch says:

    It’s two-edged sword, but I usually go with opening. Incidentally, the one carded Cyborg that I found was on a U.S. card which was chewed up on one edge. That took some of the pressure off. But the figure was turning yellow on one side of his chromed torso, so I was happy to free ol’ Victor before his plastic prison did him any more damage. And yeah, that Wicket figure is one cute lil’ critter.

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