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Grondorr

Anyone in NYC willing to teach me to self grade games?

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I have a reasonably large collection of sealed GBA games, only of which about 10% are graded (as I bought them pregraded). To date I haven't sent any in for grading. I don't have any near term plans to sell my games, so I am not in a rush to grade them for sale purposes.

My (very) long term plan is to collect a full GBA set and eventually upgrade them all to Mint copies. (Not M/NM, MINT.)

Since my long term goals are to eventually get mint copies of every game, it seems that I should only formally grade copies of games that I believe will grade at 95 or better, or if I am selling a recently upgraded game. (Assuming I learn to grade properly, and factoring in the small variability of individual graders, if I find something that I believe is mint, it should still grade Gold, which isn't the worst outcome, as I'd probably eventually need to grade it to sell it, when I do a condition upgrade.)

For this to work, I believe that I need to learn to assess the grades of my games by a methodology that roughly aligns with VGA's. I need to be able to know if something is bronze, silver or gold, and within gold what numerical grade it would probably get.

Any locals want to teach me? 🙂

P.S. - I don't have a fully fleshed out plan for variants, but I do plan to get both the regular and player's choice variants where they exist.

Edited by Grondorr

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You must understand VGA 95 does not mean near mint. It essentially means pristine which is virtually unattainable unless straight from a case. VGA grades minor imperfections in wrap, something largely out of control of a human, esp on older games.

In fact their scale for near mint begins at low 80s, so I would realign you expectation to get at least Gold level of detail each game (85+) as even that will be a true hurculean task. Wata grants a little more wiggle room as the wrap doesn't factor into the numeric grade so it may be easier, but their NM starts at 90 which translates to about VGA 80, so bear this all in mind

TLDR: Adjust your expectations otherwise you'll burn out before you started.

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3 hours ago, Startyde said:

You must understand VGA 95 does not mean near mint. It essentially means pristine which is virtually unattainable unless straight from a case. VGA grades minor imperfections in wrap, something largely out of control of a human, esp on older games.

In fact their scale for near mint begins at low 80s, so I would realign you expectation to get at least Gold level of detail each game (85+) as even that will be a true hurculean task. Wata grants a little more wiggle room as the wrap doesn't factor into the numeric grade so it may be easier, but their NM starts at 90 which translates to about VGA 80, so bear this all in mind

TLDR: Adjust your expectations otherwise you'll burn out before you started.

As I stated in another post, I expect this to take longer than a single lifetime, and I'm going to first attempt to complete the set in whatever condition I can. (Which is achievable.) I'll add that when I first added graded games to my collection, my thoughts were as you said, "at least Gold".

The lowest bar of a loose+ complete set will probably take less than 5 years. (I hope, but GBA is currently a harder set to complete than NES, because there are some inexpensive rare games that no one is rushing to sell, unlike rare NES games which are constantly hitting auction sites. In addition there are more games in the set.) The idea to upgrade everything to MINT, will keep me occupied for more than a lifetime, and is more of an unattainable goal to constantly work towards. Even just getting everything boxed will be an accomplishment, and just having them all sealed will be near impossible. Who knows, I've only been collecting for about three years, and my goals have changed many times. They may change again.

At the moment I'm going for in parallel the following sets (Although I don't consider GBA video to be part of the main set, I include them in these goals.):
- A complete loose or better GBA set
- A complete boxed GBA set (sealed and graded games count)
- A complete sealed GBA set (graded games count)
- A complete MINT GBA set (I still haven't sorted out how I'm going to handle grading for common $10 sealed games. I'm indefinitely deferring that for now.)
Separately:
- A complete set of GBA NFRs

I expect that any 3rd party graded games in my collection will all be VGA Gold, and if I get an opportunity to upgrade them from an 85+, 90, 95, or 95+ to anything higher, I will.

The key thing I think though is that if I'm going to be collecting so many sealed games, I need to learn to accurately evaluate a game's condition. At the very least, I need to be certain that a game in a certain condition has a chance of grading MINT, and will be certain to grade Gold before even considering sending a game in for a grade.

In the meantime, I am trying to find things to read, and sort out what equipment I'll need, like magnifying lamps, loupes and whatnot.

P.S. - I've had a number of people tell me I'm crazy for collecting GBA, and even crazier for going for a full set. (from serious graded collectors to people who shun sealed games). I understand that it's not financially wise, as the new thing is to hoard multiple copies sealed and graded "key games", but that's not what I want to do. (That seems more like a business than a hobby.)

 

Edited by Grondorr

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There’s not much to say.    If you want 95syou need truly flawless with crystal clear unblemished wrap and razor sharp corners.  Case fresh or better. Good luck. 

Edited by Bronty

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Like bronty said, the corners are the best place to start, they need to be pointy and also not poking through the cellophane.

you want to light check the cellophane for scuffs, scratches and blemishes, the light check is a good time to check for box dings/dents and creases aswell.

you should check to see the cellophane is making contact with the box an all 6 sides, any spots not in contact often indicate box damage some minor box stress may not be totally obvious but you will notice the front/back is concave.

look for sticker glue residue aswell.

the more you inspect sealed games the more you will pick up on damages.

there is no way to be certain of a grade it will get in vga but you should be able to distinguish between low tier and gold grade very easily.

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@OP, Just to clarify, when you say “MINT”, do you mean mint box? Or mint box AND seal?

VGA focuses on both the quality of the box and the quality of the seal and puts it into one score. So even in a VGA80, with seal damage, it’s still possible to have a MINT box.

WATA gives their main score regarding the box condition and a separate grade for the seal condition. If you don’t care as much about the seal quality (eg. minor scuffs or very small tears), then it seems more easier to obtain a mint box via WATA grading. 

On the other hand, if you genuinely want VGA95 condition for all games, my advice is that you should really understand VGA/WATA grading first before you jump headfirst into those cluster of graded scores. Also look around on eBay search and see how common VGA95’s are, and this should give you a rough idea how gigantic (and possibly delusional) of a task you’re setting yourself up for.

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6 minutes ago, GPX said:

@OP, Just to clarify, when you say “MINT”, do you mean mint box? Or mint box AND seal?

VGA focuses on both the quality of the box and the quality of the seal and puts it into one score. So even in a VGA80, with seal damage, it’s still possible to have a MINT box.

WATA gives their main score regarding the box condition and a separate grade for the seal condition. If you don’t care as much about the seal quality (eg. minor scuffs or very small tears), then it seems more easier to obtain a mint box via WATA grading. 

On the other hand, if you genuinely want VGA95 condition for all games, my advice is that you should really understand VGA/WATA grading first before you jump headfirst into those cluster of graded scores. Also look around on eBay search and see how common VGA95’s are, and this should give you a rough idea how gigantic (and possibly delusional) of a task you’re setting yourself up for.

From what I've learned, it's probably not difficult to recognize a mint game with good lighting and patience. It's knowing how perceived imperfections will impact the score and distinguishing between the various NM grades, that I am finding the most challenging. 

I wouldn't get too hung up on me saying "will grade at 95 or better" and call me delusional while ignoring my statements like "I expect this to take longer than a single lifetime", and "is more of an unattainable goal to constantly work towards". 🙂 For context, I currently own 23 graded GBA games, and only one has a clean mint score (95), but the rest are all Gold (85+ or higher).

The way I look at is that, I'm trying to complete a GBA set, which I expect/hope to do within the next 5 years. Once I've completed the set, I don't want to be done collecting for my favorite console, and plan to continue collecting for the console by upgrading games in my collection when I can. There is no limit to "what is good enough", because I don't ever want to be done collecting GBA games.

Another way to say my goal would be to say it is "I am working on a full GBA set, but plan to continually upgrade the condition of individual titles over time, with no real goal to ever stop upgrading them." As I said before, I don't even think a full sealed set of GBA games is likely possible today, so please don't read to much into this.

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On 11/17/2019 at 8:30 AM, Grondorr said:

From what I've learned, it's probably not difficult to recognize a mint game with good lighting and patience. It's knowing how perceived imperfections will impact the score and distinguishing between the various NM grades, that I am finding the most challenging. 

I wouldn't get too hung up on me saying "will grade at 95 or better" and call me delusional while ignoring my statements like "I expect this to take longer than a single lifetime", and "is more of an unattainable goal to constantly work towards". 🙂 For context, I currently own 23 graded GBA games, and only one has a clean mint score (95), but the rest are all Gold (85+ or higher).

The way I look at is that, I'm trying to complete a GBA set, which I expect/hope to do within the next 5 years. Once I've completed the set, I don't want to be done collecting for my favorite console, and plan to continue collecting for the console by upgrading games in my collection when I can. There is no limit to "what is good enough", because I don't ever want to be done collecting GBA games.

Another way to say my goal would be to say it is "I am working on a full GBA set, but plan to continually upgrade the condition of individual titles over time, with no real goal to ever stop upgrading them." As I said before, I don't even think a full sealed set of GBA games is likely possible today, so please don't read to much into this.

I don’t mean to call you “delusional”, but with the aim for a full mint VGA95 GBA collection is possibly realistically unachievable. I don’t collect specifically sealed GBA except for a few titles, so I don’t really know the challenges involved. Just going according to personally knowing how hard it is to complete a full sealed set of anything is already a tough ask. Then aiming for VGA95 level across the entire board seems quite daunting!

Good luck with the endeavours in any case!

 

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