Condition [after rarity] is of paramount importance in determining value. A "90% mint" model may only bring a fraction of mint value (e.g. 50% or less), & a $100 mint toy might only sell for $10 in even "moderately" played with condition, EXCEPT, rare (hard to get) models may bring close to mint prices even in substantially less than mint condition.
- subjective – any rating system is subjective.
- no guides [that I am aware of] exist for how to arrive at a specific rating [e.g., deduct .5 for each large pin head size chip, & .25 for each pin point size chip, etc.].
- criteria – I rate on how "obvious" or "noticeable" any flaws or marks are, how hard you have to "look" to see a piece is not "mint", & how it "displays".
- parts & packaging Inclusion of original parts (including e.g., being on the plastic "tree" were attached to), & the box ("packaging") (as well as is the condition of parts/packaging) are important in determining value. In fact, some rare boxes are worth more than the toy inside.
rating Scale – 5-10 [or "mint", "very near mint", near mint", "excellent", "fair", "poor" & "VERY poor"]
- scale of 5-10 is often used (less than C5 is rarely used).
- ask/clarify I inquire/provide more specific description [or an image] before buying/ selling an item (e.g., "Please describe any nicks, chips, scratches, rubs or other marks, factory paint or casting flaws. What is the overall look of the piece, (the "shine" of the paint, dirty/dusty, etc.), e.g., some technically "mint" pieces just do not look it.")
- eye appeal I view ratings as an indicator of condition generally & typically note significant flaws, so the overall "look" or "eye appeal" [see criteria, above] is very important in how I personally apply C5-10 ratings. An otherwise "new" looking piece with a substantial defect [e.g., large chip] that is not especially noticeable due to its nature or its location, may rate higher compared to a piece that has no large & a few smaller defects, but which appears dull or otherwise not attractive.
- additional descriptor I usually give an indication of why a piece is not mint [e.g., a few nicks/chips, 1SC, etc.].
- factory flaws I view this system as a comparison as to how it left the factory, so I do not necessarily lower the condition rating for a factory defect (rough casting, thinly applied, rough, or "tacky" paint, etc.), but do disclose it separately.
- defects because I view ratings as applying to "general" condition, I separately note defects/flaws & apply the rating without consideration or in spite of the defect, e.g., "missing tow hook [or patient, or dog etc.], otherwise C9", which to me seems to provide a clearer picture of condition while disclosing any defects. [it is important how you say it, e.g., "except for broken hook" [i.e., NOT considering the mentioned item] rather than "considering it has been played with" which could mean "in spite of being played with it is still [truly] e.g., near mint", or that "it has been played with" qualifies the given description & it is not what such condition normally is accepted to represent]
- definitions – [I made these up]
- "nick" – pin point size missing paint ("VERY" small);
- "very small chip" ("VSC") – a "lot" smaller than a pin head, 1/128"-1/64" & [.2-.4mm;]
- "small chip" ("SC") 1/32"-1/64" [.4-.8mm]
- "chip" 1/32"-1/16" [.8-1.5mm]
- "big chip" 1/16"-1/8" [1.5-3mm]
- "large chip" 1/8"-3/16" [3-4.5mm]
- "very large chip" 3/16"-1/4" [4.5mm & 6mm]
"10" or "Mint" ("mint without box"), or MIB ("mint in box') or MIMB ("mint in mint box") is truly "perfect", never played with condition, with NO flaws or marks (including no tire wear, & any small parts originally included with the model are there). Such toys are difficult to obtain. Most toys are only "near mint" at best, having a small nick, chip or box rub, or other blemish etc. These are the only clear ratings. Any defect [except factory flaw, see above] calls for a lower number (or clear disclosure), & the farther from 10 a piece is, the more subjective & unreliable the rating becomes.
People incorrectly classify items or confusingly qualify their description [does "excellent condition for a played with piece" mean "even though" it was in fact played with it still is in fact "excellent", or that it is "excellent considering the fact that it was played with by a small child" ?]. The following item appeared on E-bay described as "Excellent condition except for some paint flecks". I rate this piece "obviously played with but paint mostly still there" or C6.
I rate items with one to possibly a few (2-3 depending on size & effect [visibility and/or location]) very small flaws [e.g. a couple of nicks or pin point size chips, a box rub, very small scratch, some wear on high spots such as lines cast as door outlines, etc.as 10- or 9+ or 9, depending on the number, character, & overall effect of the defects [C10- (and maybe 9+) being "very near mint", & (maybe 9+ and) 9 being "near mint".
More/worse defects just lower the number to where 9-, 8+, & 8 show some obvious but not excessive marks or wear [the piece should still display nicely], & 5 to 6 is a VERY obviously played with piece ["poor"]. Pieces with severe wear, e.g., a substantial amount of paint is gone, decals missing, etc., call for a more specific description rather than a rating [except perhaps "VERY poor"]. That leaves "C7"ish pieces to be called "fair".
"Between" or "combination" grades such as "C6-7", are "wishy-washy" (more so than "C7-" or "C6.5", particularly in the "mid" grades C6-C8) – in other words, If I can not decide I often rate a piece as "between" two grades, I use "C6-7" rather than e.g., C7- or C6+ (or C6.5).
Decals & labels (often per centages or more specific description rather the "C9", e.g., "decals 90%", or "small tear out of 'M' in 'Matchbox"), as well as boxes or other packaging (often C10-5) are often given a separate condition number in additional to condition rating of the model itself.
[restated from above – all assuming all pieces are there & missing or broken pieces & factory paint or casting flaws, etc. are identified]:
- MIB, "mint in box", or MIMB, "mint in mint box": as fresh from the factory with NO flaws or blemishes including all accessories & packaging
- C10, "mint": same as MIB, but without the box
- C10-, "VNM" or "very near mint" [sometimes e.g., C10-IB as "near mint in box"] (almost but "not quite" mint): one to possibly a few (2 or possibly 3 depending on size & effect, e.g., visibility or obviousness) VERY small flaws (e.g. a couple of nicks or pin point size chips, a box rub, or VERY small scratch, or some SLIGHT wear on high spots such as lines cast as door outlines, etc.)
- C9, "NM" or "near mint" (requires some inspection to determine not mint): looks very good, but has one significant or several smaller non-obvious marks, etc.
- C8, "excellent" (displays nicely but obvious just looking at piece it is not mint), with one larger or a number of small but noticeable marks, etc.
- C7, "good":still displays acceptably, but has obvious & larger marks or defects & an obviously played with piece
- C6, "fair": obviously played with quite a bit, but paint "mostly" all there
- C5, "poor":VERY obviously played with a LOT, & has significant paint loss, marks etc.
other's descriptions of condition rating:
The Reeded Edge's UNIVERSAL Guide to Grading Die Cast Toys
"Rob Lehmann's insightful article on grading scales for toys" [click on "grading scales for toys" on page link below] 10/31/00 11/29/01
Peter Seaman 3/22/00
- MIB = mint model in original box, C10
- MOC = mint model on card or blister pack, C10
- M = mint, no chips or damage, C10
- NM = near mint, a few very minor chips, C9-C9++
- EXC-NM = between excellent and near mint, small number of chips, C8+
- EXC = excellent, a number of minor chips, or small number of larger chips, C8
- VG = very good, chips now noticeable, but very displayable, C7
- G = good, many noticeable chips, gap filler, C6
- F = fair, complete model but many large noticeable chips, gap filler, C5
- NR = needs replacement, could be broken, very pre-loved, C2-5
- GR = good restoration, condition ranking as above, but not original paint and/or decals.
Great Finds Antiques & Collectibles: 11/28/98
- C10, M "Mint" Perfect Condition
- C9, NM "Near Mint" One or two chips visible only on close inspection
- C8, E "Excellent" A few chips or light scratches visible on close inspection
- C7, VG "Very Good" Several chips or scratches
- C6, G "Good Chips" & scratches but model is complete & acceptable for display
- C5, F "Fair" Suitable for repainting
- C4, P "Poor" Suitable for repainting
- C3, SD "Some Damage" Suitable for parts
- CBP: chopped blisterpack where button side (or top) has been cut off
- IB: in box (Example: 10-IB means condition C10-in box)
- MBB: mint in blister box
- MBP: mint in blisterpack
- MIB: mint in box or mint in bag
- C10: mint-never played with, no tire wear (possibly a tiny paint chip or two from packaging only
- C9: Near-Mint-very minor wear, a few small paint chips, slight tire wear
- C8: Excellent-minor play wear, fairly regular small paint chips
- C7: Very Good-play wear, regular paint chips
- C6: Good-heavy play wear, 1/3 of paint gone
- C5: Poor-heavy play wear, 1/2 of paint gone
- C1-4: space fillers
- Mint: factory new, never played with, no wear
- C9, C9+: near factory new. May have a small factory paint blemish, minor box rub, minor decal flaw, or a very minor paint chip
- C8, C8+: exhibits light play wear. Includes some paint chipping, & possibly decal wear. Very worthy of display.
Vectis Auctions Ltd 9/6/99
- A+ = as near mint or pristine condition as at the time of issue
- A = virtually mint boxed – any faults of a most minor nature
- B+ = model is near mint – box has slight faults
- B = slight model or box faults – e.g., some chips or box rubs but model & box complete
- C = more obvious model chips & box faults, including tears, but box still complete
- D = same as C, but box has one or more end flaps missing & model may have faded paint as well as chips
- E = model & box have considerable faults
- R = repaint
Phillip Bowdidge ["its difficult to describe less than mint"]:
- A: very slightly chipped
- B: slightly chipped
- C: chipped but good
- D: obvious chips
John Ramsay "Specific Condition" used e.g., by mail order dealers:
- M – Mint
- AM – almost mint
- VSC – very slightly chipped
- C – chipped
- VC – very chipped
John Ramsay "General Condition" used e.g., by auctioneers:
- Mint (M) – complete & as fresh, new & original in appearance as when first received from the manufacturer
- Excellent (E) – almost in mint condition & is only barred from that classification by having a few slight flaws, e.g., slight paintwork chipping in unimportant areas
- Good (G) – complete & original condition & retains an overall collectable appearance despite having a few chips or rubbed paintwork
- Fair (F) – may not be in the original state, having, e.g., a broken bumper, replacement radiator or windscreen, or it may have signs of metal fatigue. The paintwork may be faded, well chipped, retouched or repainted. There may be signs of rust. Unless rare, in barely collectable condition
- Poor (P) damaged, incomplete, repainted, altered, metal fatigued, or have a rusted baseplate or heavily chipped paintwork, etc. Unless rare it has little value to a collector other than as a candidate for complete restoration or use as spares.
- C9 – mint without box
- C8 – hard-to-see very minor wear or flaws
- C7 – visible wear but still clean
- C6 & below – several chips and/or heavy wear
Alan Wank (Toy Boy):
- MB – Mint/Boxed, C10
- M – Mint, loose, C10
- NM – Near Mint, loose, about C9
- ENM – Between excellent & near Mint, C8.5
- E – Excellent, C8
- VGE – Between Very Good & Excellent, C7.5
- VG – Very Good, about C7
- G – Good, C6
Carter's Collectibles 12/5/98
- C10 – Mint, no signs of play wear.
- C9 – Near Mint, hardly any evidence of play wear.
- C8 – Minor play wear shows but still very presentable.
- C7 – Average play wear, includes chipping & paint wear.
- C6 – Heavy play wear, car has excessive chipping but no damage.
- C5 – Trashed, these are for the kids.