This guide is continued from the guide titled; Buying Vintage Star Wars figures on ebayThe best way to check weapons is on rebelscum or sithnet, they have good pictures and the weapons are definitely vintage. When comparing weapons look carefully at the sculpt, is everything in the right place? Is each little detail the right size and shape? Check the colour and what the surface looks like. Look at them from all angles, above and below as well as both sides.
Capes. Repro capes are another way people will blatently rip you off. There are tons of them being banded about on ebay. I am talking about the vinyl ones(obi-wan, princess leia, vader, vinyl jawa, sandpeople, lando calrissian, leia bespin and hoth stormtroopers skirt). I was sold a princess leia with a repro cape, she had also been painted/touched up. She wasn't cheap and I really had my pants pulled down! I was also sold a sandpeople with a repro cape. The real capes are quite sturdy and will hold their shape, the fakes I have are flimsy and too thin. The underside of a genuine vinyl cape has a slightly textured/rough surface you can feel with your nail as opposed to the outside which is smooth. Also the arm holes on real capes are round, quite small and fit snugly around the arm. The leia cape I have has big oddly shaped arm holes. Your genuine capes should have smooth edges as well, I would imagine they were punched with a cookie-cutter type machine, if the edges are at all tatty or sheared it is probably a fake. The best way to check your capes is by comparison to a real one. Check the shape/cut and size. It should be symetrical. When comparing look where the cape comes up to on the figure and where it comes down to near the feet. Check the colour. Vinyl cape jawas; remember the jawa itself is probably worth less than ten quid(unless it's mint) but even loose the genuine capes can go for hundreds in good condition. Apparently the colour of a real one is the same as the jawa. If your after one of these do your homework and maybe look at it in person before you pay. As for cloth capes, skirts and accessories there are probably repros around. I have seen fake cloth jawa capes. Check them against genuine ones.
Other accessories. Hoods, helmets, belts and any other accessories that go with figures are probably harder to fake than weapons but it doesn't mean they don't exist. I have seen repro luke stormtrooper helmets being sold on ebay and you don't want to get done with a fake one of them because it could cost you a lot of money. With other accessories check them against genuine ones.
Stickers. R2D2, R5D4 and power droid have stickers on them. You will see lots of repros for R2 and R5 for sale on ebay. The original stickers are often not in great shape, many of them peel off or turn yellow and deteriorate in some way. Figures with original stickers in really nice condition are a find and can go for a fair bit. It's easy to spot a repro sticker, it will look far too mint and white to be original and the edges will be too perfect. Compare with an original to see if you have fake stickers or your power droid has been tampered with!
Figures. Certain parts of vintage star wars figures are painted. The figure itself is made out of coloured plastic and often the hair, face, arms, hands, legs, feet or logos and other little bits will be painted. Some figures have more painted parts than others and are therefore more prone to paint loss. The painted parts rub off if the figure has been played with/handled. There are many documented variations of some figures with a slightly different sculpt, different coloured hair or skin or clothes etc, you can read about this on rebelscum. There are also minor variations, ever so slightly different shades of the same figure. Some people are painting figures to make them look in better condition than they are so they can sell them for more. I've got a tie fighter pilot who has had his gloves and boots painted, they are too shiny and it's quite obvious up close. Examine your figures to see if they have been painted/restored. Check the hands, feet, hair, face and any bits that protrude. Some people are probably very good at doing this and you wouldn't even realise. In all honesty it's probably not very common but it does go on. I personally don't want repainted figures, I want original paint.
Part 2: Listings
"I'll pay you triple, your throwing away a fortune, don't be a fool!"
There are places to find vintage/repro information but not really anywhere that talks about how people sell things and what to avoid. There are tricks people will use in listings to try to increase the value of their item and I'm going to talk about that. You also get listings where people just don't know what they're talking about so it's more ignorance than done deliberately. Most of this will be obvious to a lot of people but may be helpful to those new to collecting/using ebay. There are certain things within a listing or missing from a listing that instantly make me run a mile. I am writing this from the point of view of someone who wants to buy decent vintage figures with genuine vintage accessories. Remember, don't be afraid to ask questions. If they don't respond or you don't get the answer you are looking for don't buy! Also, there is no law against selling anything on ebay, repro(I hate repro!), restored, custom; whatever, as long as people are honest and tell the truth about what they are selling.
In my opinion a listing for a vintage figure should have as much information as possible about the item being sold and at the very least should have the following; The title/name of the figure, the condition of the figure including any damage/wear, discolouration or loose limbs, whether any weapons/accessories included are vintage or repro and they're condition, a good photograph of the actual figure being sold and preferably a picture of the back too. Other useful information might be; the year the figure was made, what is written on the back of the leg, which variation of the figure it is. I think these are all important things you need to know. If you see listings lacking this basic information be wary. Sometimes it's what people fail to mention that is as much a problem as what they do mention. If a listing has no information, just; vintage star wars figure for sale, with a bad photo, I would never buy it.
If you see a figure listed as "complete" it means absolutely nothing unless it is stated that the accessories are original vintage. If it doesn't say anything about the weapon/accessories ask yourself why? Probably because they are repro. Some sellers know that a complete figure will sell for more and that buyers want them complete but you are wasting your money if you receive repro accessories. I personally would rather buy a figure in mint condition with no accessories(then buy the accessories seperately) than get ripped off and sent one with repro accessories and have to go and buy the genuine accessories anyway!
If you see the word "rare" don't be sucked in by this either. Only a few vintage figures can really be classed as rare, maybe the vinyl cape jawa, blue snaggletooth and a couple of rare variations of some figures. The last seventeen figures made sell for more because there were less of them made but even they are not that rare(it's actually only the last fifteen that were released only on power of the force cards, lumat and paploo were also released on return of the jedi cards). None of the first eighty two figures released under Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi are at all rare. There are tons of them. For information about variations check the websites and then you can make up your own mind about what is rare or not. A variation does not necessarily make a figure worth loads/more, it's just a variation made in a different place or a part of it is painted a different colour or it has a slightly different sculpt.
If you see a listing with really poor photos I wouldn't bother because you can't see what your getting. The photo/s should be nice and bright/well exposed, not dark. They should be sharp/in focus and quite close up, not a tiny little dot in the middle of the frame. If the figure is in really good condition or high value it should have really good photos and one of the back too. If someone can't be bothered to put good photos on their listing they obviously don't really care about the sale or you as a potential buyer. If it says you may not get the figure pictured definitely don't bother because no doubt the one in the picture is lovely but the one you get will be crap. If they're claiming to have too much listed to photograph everything I would smell a rat. In my opinion they should invest in a decent camera and photograph everything if they are selling loads of stuff. Also, when you receive the figure look at the listing again and compare to see if it's the same one, people may not always send what was in the photo they listed.
Condition of figures is a tricky one. There is no standard, it is very much a matter of opinion. There are people like the AFA who do of course have a standard grading system but I am talking about buying loose figures, not graded figures. People use C this and that but to me it means nothing unless they explain what their C scale relates to eg; C9.5=mint, C9=near mint etc. Some people will say figures are "mint" or "near mint", this makes more sense to me but even then one persons idea of mint is different to anothers. For me a figure listed as mint should be totally flawless as if unopened and a figure listed as near mint should be almost flawless with only a couple of minor marks/paint rubs or imperfections. Again this is all down to opinion. A lot of figures listed as mint are probably not mint. I think your better off looking at the photos and seeing how the seller describes the condition and any wear/flaws. Some sellers will have their own grading system listed which can be helpful. Also see if it is mentioned whether the limbs are tight or loose. Some figures will have really loose rattley limbs through playwear and some are more prone to this than others.
You will see listings that are actually innaccurate in some way. Maybe the wrong weapon with a figure or the right weapon in the wrong colour etc. Sometimes the figure will be named wrong or the wrong year will be stated or whatever. The best thing to do is educate yourself by looking on rebelscum and then you will know what goes with what, who everyone is and what you are looking at. Always check the photo, it may not tie up with the text and if in doubt just ask the seller. You may see listings that have tons and tons of spiel about the seller and how great they are and about discounts, packaging, delivery, returns, with nice graphics and everything under the sun but nothing about the figure/item they are selling. If you see that, all the other info may be useful but it doesn't make the figure any good.
If you receive a figure and something is not right don't be afraid to challenge the seller. There is a little part on the right of listings which says; the seller assumes all responsibility for listing this item. This is very true. Selling you a fake non original item as being genuine/original is fraud at the end of the day. You may get a reply pleading ignorance or flatly disagreeing with your complaint, if this happens it is up to you what action you take. It is also up to you what to do regarding disputes and feedback. I personally think that if someone blatently fools you, lies in their listing or fails to mention important details/damage you are perfectly entitled to leave negative feedback. I'm not going to talk about value of figures because again this is a matter of opinion and at the end of the day a figure is worth what you are willing to pay for it. I normally decide the maximum I am willing to pay for an item and stick to it. Having said that I have paid a lot, maybe too much for a figure if I wanted it badly. There are guide books that give advice about value. Watch out for people bumping up the price with another ebay account, you may see an unusually high amount of bids or private auctions which I think is a bit fishy. Some characters and variations are worth more than others or sell for more due to popularity, rarity, having more accessories or being more prone to wear/damage.
I hope you like my guide and it has been helpful in some way, if so please vote yes at the bottom. Sorry if it's a bit long but collecting this stuff is a complex business! If it upsets some people/sellers, oh well... unlucky! If you are being honest and have nothing to hide then what's the problem? I just want to be able to enjoy collecting without being robbed. I also want to help other collectors/star wars fans and discourage the idiots. Remember that a lot of people selling vintage star wars on ebay are honest and they are not trying to rip you off. I have bought some good stuff and there are bargains to be had. Don't be cynical, just be vigilant and educate yourself. It is your choice to bid or buy. With relation to anything other than loose figures; vehicles, playsets, creatures, boxed stuff, carded figures and graded figures etc that is a whole other world which I'm not even getting started on. This guide may be updated or added to in the future and I might do one about vehicles and other items at some point. Lastly a quick recap of important points:
Use rebelscum and sithnet for reference and educate yourself
Look for listings that have plenty of detail about the figure/item, describe the condition and have good photos
Check if any weapons/accessories included are stated as vintage/repro and whether the figure has been painted/restored
Make sure that what you receive is exactly as described in the listing and that it's the same figure/item as in the photo
Ignore all the spiel and bumfluffery and concentrate on the facts about the item you are considering buying
If you are ripped off, don't let them get away with it, take action and collecting will become better for everyone
May the force be with you on your next purchase!! Ha ha. Be cool, laters comrades