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Thoughts on grading my GBA games?


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So, my sealed GBA collection is starting to reach a point of getting to the long tail of difficult to grow as it's getting kinda crazy expensive, so I'm thinking about circling back and grading some of my games. (I own over 20 graded games, mostly because I was able to buy graded copies for not that much more than a sealed one would cost, but most of my sealed games are ungraded.)  (The full set will almost certainly need to be just a boxed set, which includes a mix of CIB, sealed and graded.)

I can't grade all of my sealed games due to space issues. (I have a very space efficient method of storing sealed/cib games, as 22 games in protectors will fit in a large flat rate priority mail box). It would also cost quite a bit, if I graded them all and there are plenty of $10-20 games that it seems it would be a bit silly to grade, since the cost of grading is a large multiple of the value of the game. (Unless I got a huge bulk discount.) I'm trying to come up with some rules of thumb, and a plan which will help me figure out how many of my games to grade, and help me figure out if it's worth getting a VGA membership.

Yes, VGA. I decided to go with VGA, since almost all of my graded games are VGA, and that seems to be predominant in the GBA grading scene. I'm not doing this to sell off my collection, but even if I was selling off some of my condition upgrades, it seems that the whole Heritage/WATA thing hasn't really embraced GBA, so I'm probably better off with VGA and forums/ebay.  Especially since I personally prefer to collect VGA, as I appreciate the simplicity of their grading system, and greatly prefer the aesthetics of their system.

Here is my plan, please share thoughts.

1) grade any popular games that are regularly selling for more than $100 on ebay
2) grade any rare unpopular games that I think are worth more than $200 (e.g. - Gem Smashers, Ninja 5-O, S&S, TTA:SD, Bee Game, DMQ3)
3) Only grade games that I think will grade silver (75) or better (while making a serious effort to guess what they will grade for before sending them in, and compare and see if I can improve my ability to estimate grades.)
4) If any games come in silver (or heaven forbid lower), prioritize getting a higher graded copy, and once upgraded sell the lower graded copy
5) Generally when I get duplicates, make the lower graded copy available for sale, to raise money to buy games I need
6) Regularly review my collection prices to see if any games now meet the #1 and #2 criteria
7) Consider any 85+ copies mostly good enough, but be open to nicer copies (IE: Upgrading silvers is higher priority than upgrading gold)
8.) Stop upgrading when I get to 95 as it's going to be next to impossible to find 95+ and 100 in GBA
9) Don't grade any CIB games at this time (I think I'd be open to grading CIB games if they were worth a lot, and I had them sealed, and there was a healthy trade of GBA on HA/WATA) IE: I don't care to have WATA GBA games in my personal collection, so it would only be if there was a reason/opportunity to sell them

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I grade WATA, but like the look of VGA more, and if you're not planning on selling (rn) it would really fall on personal preference (maybe a small cost difference).

Also, the one advantage to grading your cheap games is to practice your ability to evaluate good sealed copies. Even though i completely understand what you're saying about it being about 10x the value, it would be hard to see any sealed copies dropping in price, at least. 


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@OP, seems like you’ve put some thought into the hobby since a few months ago? 😉

Some further thoughts for you to ponder:

- VGA95 should be thought of as a bonus and not an aim. Generally for most retro games, 85+ to 90 is a satisfying outcome for the majority of sealed collectors.

- even if it’s a common unpopular game, a VGA95 score would likely sell well. So take each item on their own merit.

- I suggest try sending a few cheaper items for grading first, so you can experience firsthand what you’re setting yourself up for. 

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  • 6 months later...

Just an update. 

I'm up to 19 games that are 95, 95+, or 100.

My total graded games collection is 145 games, of which 102 are GBA. (I've been spreading my wings a bit.)

Some observations.
1) Games below 90/90+, can show quite a bit of variability. 
2) 95 and better is still a worthy goal, but it's really really hard.
3) Grading games definitely hits that endorphin rush from the anticipation and resolution of the actual grade.
4) Despite that I am not sure if I like buying graded games more or getting them graded myself (the long lead times really kinda take a damper out of the whole process.)

I now own 2 WATA graded games. I will probably not bother cross grading them because the process is such a nightmare, and the game in question was hard enough to get that I'd have to potentially wait months for the right grade. IE: I got it at a price I am happy with today and I was buying the game not the case.  That said I can still use an upgrade so who knows, maybe I'll be able to get them VGA after all, and then I can sell the WATA copies.


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