Auction Watch #318

I just can’t find my rhythm. I took a little holiday break and starting again has not been smooth. It can only get better – or, at least, smoother. Unless it doesn’t. That could happen too. Whatever.

What happened with our three, nondescript listings from last week?

What happened with those three nondescript listings? They blew my mind.

The board game is a shocker to me, but feels like the emerging M.U.S.C.L.E. collecting norm. Why would someone pay $46 for an incomplete board game? No spinner. Incomplete set of figures. What are they paying $46 for? I think the answer is simply, “the box.” For comparison, the last documented complete board game (not in a lot) sold for $22.50. And the last documented one in a lot, sold for $238.16 (but included two Class A figures: Purple #107 & #138).

I remember some asshole (I genuinely don’t remember, so this isn’t a low-key ‘burn’) bought a single page for $29.50. I bought the entire 1986 run of the magazine it came from (to definitively answer whether the advertisement was in more than one issue) for only $25.

I think new M.U.S.C.L.E. collectors value being able to showoff an item more than they value their money and owning the item. If that explains the single page behavior, then it would explain the $46 behavior too. Why else would you pay $46 for that lot?

The board game wasn’t even the biggest surprise last week. That Hauler sold for $51! I expected $6.05. Ok, maybe not exactly that price – but that was my mindset. Creating a custom M.U.S.C.L.E. Hauler is a much more expensive proposition these days. For me, that means those stickers better be pretty awesome. If I’m going to ruin a $50 Hauler, then I need to know it will look flawless at the end.

What is worth talking about this week in the M.U.S.C.L.E. eBay world? I’ve become a bit nervous as I open eBay. That never used to happen.

The first listing, Action Figures Lot of 19 Muscle, Soma, Battle Beast, Halo & More, assuaged those nerves. Why can’t we have more of these listings?

From a M.U.S.C.L.E. perspective, the lot is garbage nothing particularly special. However, it doesn’t mean that collectors wouldn’t want to buy it. M.U.S.C.L.E. collecting used to be unique. Collectors simply wouldn’t buy overpriced listings. Starting at $0.99 was basically necessary.

“Yeah, but we know more now.”

Do we? The old-school people that cared about learning about M.U.S.C.L.E. figures weren’t concerned with increasing prices. The efforts for discovery and classification were to help stop people from taking advantage of new collectors – especially overcharging. Every “new” iteration of old guides seems more focused on justifying their own sales prices.

Maybe the best warning for new collectors has nothing to do with classifications. In my experience, the only people that want to validate expensive prices are trying to sell over-priced items. Maybe the warning should simply be, “Don’t trust anybody explaining why a M.U.S.C.L.E. item is expensive.”

If the first listing calmed my nerves, then the second listing brought me pure joy – for a few seconds. The second listing, VINTAGE LOT OF 8 MATTEL 1980s M.U.S.C.L.E MUSCLE MEN COLLECTIBLE FIGURES, features a figure I was just reminiscing about in the last SUS.

I asked, “Does anybody have a counterfeit #141 with the eyes filled in? Could this ‘tweak’ actually be a one-of-a-kind counterfeit error?”

I guess the first question doesn’t matter, because this eyes-filled-in #141 clearly exists in the wild.

This is the first one I can remember seeing since Bill originally shared his #141. Of course, there could have been hundreds over the years. It’s at the top of my mind because I was just writing about it. And that’s why my pure joy only lasted a few seconds.

The lot has a $22.99 BIN (plus $10 shipping, for me). I don’t believe any Warp, Tweak, or Counterfeit figure demands that price. And I don’t think Simple Green is going to fix him either. I know I sound like a broken record, but this is why $0.99 are some critical to M.U.S.C.L.E. listings.

I have called, rightfully, Lucas Rage the King of Counterfeit for almost the past ten years. If he doesn’t have this figure, and doesn’t buy it, then the price is even crazier than I’m suggesting.

All this talk about the past and prices probably has some people thinking:

“Dude, things have changed. Stop living in the past. Move on.”

No, they haven’t. The final listing, M.U.S.C.L.E Muscle Men Kinnikuman #68 Octopus Dragon or Red Devil RARE? *READ*, is proof that M.U.S.C.L.E. collecting has many things that stay exactly the same.

Honestly, I’m not sure if this figure is dyed or painted. The way the coloring has come off the hand makes it look painted, but dyeing is much more effective. Plus, as we know, dyeing doesn’t fully penetrate the M.U.S.C.L.E. figure.

I would love to know the collector that suggested this was a Class A figure. Obviously, Red #68 is a Class A figure. But who saw this figure and though it was real for even a second?

Without a shred of evidence, I guarantee this “hero” that told the seller about his “super rare” figure is also currently selling figures.

I was trying to decide which scam-figure this listing felt like to me. It certainly remind me of this fake Purple #153. Both sellers had stupid prices and essentially said, “Hey, this might be fake – but just in case it’s real we’re overcharging.”

It’s like there is a specific playbook when trying to weasel-sell a figure. I think these are the critical components:

  1. Say As Much As Possible – But Say Nothing
    • There always seems to be a fantastic story, which lacks some common-sense details. And if you ask about any details it is answered in the most suppressed manner. But that’s secondary to the actual description. It is usually written in such a way that protects the seller from anyone saying it isn’t the item described. (Remember that.)
  2. Commit to a Stupid Price
    • This might be the easiest to identify red flag. Someone that is clueless just throws up their listing. Somebody with dollar signs in their eyes does enough research to be dangerous and then knows they have a ‘priceless gem.’ Plus nobody pulls a scam for zero money.
  3. Sufficient Pictures
    • There are always pictures. Always. But somehow they still don’t help. That’s no accident. Camera phones are idiot proof. Somehow these sellers always have difficultly taking definitive, useful pictures.
  4. Find a Hero/Supporter (Optional)
    • This one doesn’t always happen, but it’s a bonus for the scammer. At an absolute minimum, they want someone to say, “Well, take a chance. There’s the eBay Money Back Guarantee policy.” But that auction description probably protects the seller. Enough has been said to weasel out of refunding the money.

From $0.99 to scams, this really is an old-school post. Maybe M.U.S.C.L.E. collecting hasn’t changed too much.

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  1. #1 by Orgg on January 21, 2021 - 8:13 pm

    So… How many times DID that ad appear? Did you also check the Go-Bots magazines in a similar fashion?

  2. #2 by Nick on January 22, 2021 - 10:03 pm

    This exact red 68 sold a month ago for around $180.
    I’m sure the person who bought it as a gamble bur lost.
    Then listed it again to get rid of it

  3. #3 by Chad Perry on January 23, 2021 - 1:06 pm

    Do you happen to have a link?

  4. #4 by Larry on January 23, 2021 - 3:14 pm

    It was the same seller:

    I could be wrong, but given the status of the USPS it doesn’t seem like it would have had time to get to the buyer and back to the seller for him to relist. If I had to guess I’d say the original buyer backed out.

    I bought that seller’s other lot (the one the red #68 was originally in) and there were a number of figures that appear to have been dyed red and dark orange. I am putting together a write-up with pics for LRG.

  5. #5 by Chad Perry on January 23, 2021 - 3:40 pm

    Thanks Larry. I grabbed a screen capture for posterity.

    Fake Red 68 Sale

(will not be published)