Over the years I have collected many things besides vintage GIJoes. When I was really young I collected United States postage stamps, United States coins and even baseball cards. I discovered early on in those hobbies that there was value in just about everything I collected. If you wanted to collect and gather complete sets you would have to somehow try and find a place to buy the missing pieces to finish a collection. I call this desire to collect complete sets "the collectors gene".

I also soon discovered that the cost of buying the missing pieces depended greatly on the condition of those needed pieces. Depending on the condition or grade of the coin, stamp or baseball card I wanted to buy the prices varied drastically. For example, if you wanted to get the Nolan Ryan card from the 1972 Topps baseball set the price could be anywhere between $10 and $500. Each of those hobbies worked the same way. If you wanted one 1931 penny to help fill the little Penny collecting book you had to pay a couple of bucks for a well worn penny. If you wanted a pristine fresh out of the mint 1931 penny then it would cost 30 to 100 times more. I found out even as a young kid that every hobby had a grading scale. I was told by the dealers and other collectors that "condition was everything". It is a mantra that I have carried with me most of my life and in most of the hobbies that I have been involved with.

Strangely enough, the vintage GIJoe hobby has NO such grading standard. The only standard grading scale that exists in the GIJoe hobby is a very vague Doll grading scale used by Cotswold Collectibles in Washington state. When I first starting collecting vintage GIJoe in the mid 1990's, Cotswold was a great source to buy vintage items. I became very familiar with their grading scale which used to be printed in their monthly catalog. Here is Cotswold's full grading scale in their exact words:

I actually spoke on the phone with Tina, the founder of Cotswold specifically about their grading scale. She informed me that they adopted it from the Doll collecting community in the early 1990's and started printing it in their monthly newsletters/catalogs shortly thereafter. She felt it was a good starting point and was helpful since a lot of their business was done by mail order and by phone. I always felt that their grading scale was a bit too vague, especially considering all of the other grading scales in my other hobbies.

In my early days of collecting vintage GIJoe I bought every book ever written. I saw many references to pricing and some references to mint and near mint but no actual grading scale in print. I was absolutely shocked that nobody in the GIJoe hobby had actually tied value to condition. It is such a basic function of collecting valuable items, surely someone would attempt it. Even worse, there has never ever been a book or website which listed one of everything ever made. How can you complete a collection if you don't know how many were made? I have now waited almost 20 years for a grading scale to be made and so I am taking on the task myself.

The grading scales for any hobby other than vintage GIJoe I have seen are very specific. A sports card grading scale speaks specifically to details of the card; corner sharpness, clarity of the photo, brightness of color, etc. Coins and stamps worldwide are given very specific grades by professional graders given the very specific grading scales adopted by those hobbies. A whole grading industry has popped up over comic books, sports and comic cards, coins, stamps, Hot Wheels and even carded 3-3/4" GIJoes. Values are assigned for each grade from high to low on almost every single item graded. Hundreds of magazines and books gave been published giving values for just about anything collectable. So I ask again, why has nobody come up with a formal system for vintage GIJoe?

Cotswold's grading scale is very vague and gives no specific details of ANY kind. This is not helpful to buyers and sellers of vintage GIJoe at all. There are a lot more details about vintage GIJoe items that need to be taken into consideration than coins, stamps or sports cards. Therefore a vintage GIJoe grading scale should be a lot more specific when it comes to assigning a grade to each item. Most GIJoe collectors want to know about the item they are considering buying in detail before they decide if the seller is offering the item at a fair price. Myself and many of my collecting friends are near mint or dead mint collectors. We will not even consider adding any item, regardless of price, to our collections unless they meet the standards we have set for our own collections. Having a very specific grading scale should help not only the mint collector but all collectors at some point.

With most buying and selling of vintage GIJoe being done online the past 15 years it is even more important to come up with a formal grading scale. Photographs have been helpful but details are even more important when buying something you can't look at with your own eyes. A vintage GIJoe grading scale should be detailed enough to encompass all of the items a collector of vintage GIJoe is likely to encounter. Therefore a proper vintage GIJoe grading scale should be broken down in detail to 4 specific groupings of vintage GIJoe items; (1)Boxes and Packages, (2) Figures, (3) Clothing and (4) Accessories. Every collector has different objectives when they start collecting and separating vintage items into 4 basic categories will help bring some order to the very chaotic hobby of collecting vintage GIJoe.

Each category has different details that a collector is looking for and therefore needs a specific set of requirements to meet any particular grade. To simplify matters in the beginning, all grades under C7 will be considered simply LOW GRADE. If my concept of this vintage GIJoe grading scale is accepted within the vintage GIJoe community then I am sure we will have an opportunity to assign lower grades sometime in the future.

It has been a long time in coming to the vintage GIJoe world so I would like to offer my refined C grading scale that applies specifically to vintage GIJoe items. I will have a separate page for each grading scale and the links are below. The grading details below are very specific. Many other important hobbies have very specific grading scales and it is about time that the vintage GIJoe hobby has one as well.