Examining a Collectible before You Bid on eBay
By studying what a collectibles expert looks for in a specialty collectible, you can get a good idea of what to ask an eBay seller before purchasing whatever it is that you collect.
For example, Bill Swoger, an expert collector, looks for specific traits when he buys his very collectible G.I. Joe figures. Although his checklist is specific to the G.I. Joe from 1964 to 1969, the information here can help you determine your maximum bid on other collectibles (or whether an item is even worth bidding on) before an auction begins. The more you know before you place a bid, the happier you’re likely to be when you win. Bill’s checklist can save you considerable hassle:
Find out the item’s overall condition. For G.I. Joe, look at the painted hair and eyebrows. Expect some wear, but overall, a collectible worth bidding on should look good.
Be sure the item’s working parts are indeed working. Most G.I. Joe action figures from this period have cracks on the legs and arms, but the joints should move, and any cracks should not be so deep that the legs and arms fall apart easily.
Ask if the item has its original parts. Because you can’t really examine items in detail before buying, e-mail the seller with specific questions relating to original or replacement parts. Many G.I. Joe action figures are rebuilt from parts that are not from 1964 to 1969. Sometimes the figures even have two left or right hands or feet! If you make it clear to the seller before you buy that you want a toy with only original parts, you’ll be able to make a good case for a refund if the item arrives rebuilt as the Six Million Dollar Man.
Ask if the item has original accessories. A G.I. Joe from 1964 to 1969 should have his original dog tags, boots, and uniform. If any of these items are missing, you will have to pay around $25 to replace each missing item. If you’re looking to bid on any other collectible, know in advance what accessories came as standard equipment with the item, or you’ll be paying extra just to bring it back to its original version.
Know an item’s value before you bid. A 1964 to 1969 vintage G.I. Joe in decent shape, with all its parts, sells for $300 to $400 without its original box. (Mint-in-box Joes can sell for thousands of dollars.) If you’re bidding on a G.I. Joe action figure on eBay and you’re in this price range, you’re okay. If you get the item for less than $300, congratulations — you’ve nabbed a bargain.