Zelda Prototype Sells For $55,000 (Apparently) & My Thoughts On The State Of Collecting, VGA, Etc.

So, last week I posted about the Massively Overpriced NES Zelda Prototype which as of now has sold for $55,000. The commenting went on to dissolve into nothing even remotely resembling coherent discussion with personal attacks galore.

While I did not venture into the murky water myself, I do feel I need to address a few things said in this post and many others lately. This may ramble quite a bit, but hopefully it comes through.

While The Buyer Is An Idiot, I Have Deep Respect For The Seller.

We need to realize a few things about collecting these days, things that people (myself included) who have been collecting for well over a decade (closing in on two here) have trouble admitting. There are a lot of collectors out there now with deep pockets. People who can pound out a complete NES set in under a year, or a N64 set in a matter of months. People who I have heard say things like “I probably overpaid by a thousand or so, but I didn’t want to wait for another one to come around”. These people exist. Some people think they’re ruining the hobby, other’s think they’re legitimizing it. Realistically, your view will depend on what you’ve got in you bank and how deep your existing collection already is. But they’re out there, and the amount of them is growing.

I do think the buyer is an idiot. I can’t help that, but I recognize that it’s my personal opinion. At the end of the day though, if he paid that kind of cash and is ultimately happy with his purchase, who care? Most people don’t care at all about prototypes so the sale doesn’t really affect you. Best case scenario a sale of this magnitude brings unknown protos out of the woodwork and we end up with some previously unreleased games that hopefully get dumped or reproduced. Worst case, proto prices skyrocket and 99% of all collectors are not affected.

Realistically, protos have been undervalued for years. The easy with which you can get a good game for a hundred bucks or so has always astonished me. Proto collecting as a whole has never interested me, but I do like having a few which are early copies of games I actually love.

As for the seller, he bought this and flipped it for a massive profit. In the hobby in general, a lot of people frown upon this. Resellers, price gougers, etc. At the end of the day though, it’s guy a guy (or girl), who has a mortgage to pay, kids to feed, collage to plan for etc. If there are people stupid enough to spend this kind of cash, I can never blame the seller for taking advantage of it.

How many of us who hate VGA are guilty of considering to grade something purely based on the fact you know the game would fetch a multiple in price once it was slabbed?

Listing Unique Items For Insane Values Does Work

The whole “10K MONIES” auctions do work. High prices bring more exposure and often solicit legitimate offers. I understand while people say that a overpriced auction is showing off, or just trying to gain wider exposure to their items because, well, it’s true. But time and time again over the years I have seen this work.

Mentioning VGA on gameSniped is promoting is NOT legitimizing VGA.

I hear the converse mentioned a lot, and it’s bullcrap. Guys, I hate to break it to you, but it’s too late. VGA is already legitimized.

Personally, I don’t like the VGA. It’s not because of the “a game should be played not slabbed mentality”, it’s more about VGA’s methodology and lack of disclosure.

I can think offhand of five people who I would trust without question on validating a seal. I could probably bring that up to ten if I though about it for more than a second and could easily bring it up to twenty or thirty if I included people who I trust for their knowledge on a specific system or region.

I firmly believe that grading does have a place in collecting, but I want to know why I should trust a company. Is that wrong? I know it makes sense not to release their complete grading process from a business perspective, but shouldn’t you at least tell me why I should trust you? I know they apparently consulted some high profile collectors, but nothing was ever published on who grades these games and why they have the experience to do so.

The realistic thing is that VGA capitalized off thier existing grading services and authenticity, especially AFA, their Action Figure Grading arm. However despite being the first and most well-known company to offer this grading – it’s been proved they have made and continue to make mistakes.

As an example AFA has and continues to grade licensed 1990s Chinese Generation 1 Transformers consistently as the original 1980s US and European versions because the packaging is almost identical.

Here’s a quote form the TF Wiki:

Among the Transformers fan communities, much controversy exists over AFA-graded toys. While some collectors appreciate the service for preserving their MISB toys and assigning grades to their toys, other collectors take issue with AFA for various reasons, including what they observe to be inconsistent grading, the aforementioned flubs, the high prices, or simply because they believe toys were meant to be opened and played with, not sealed away forever in an acrylic “prison”.

Sound familiar? It’s basically the same scenario for Video Game grading.

That’s my issues, but let’s take a look at the reality.

Look through the most recent VGA Nitnendo sales: Earthbound $2,000, Super Mario $1,500, Chrono Trigger $1,000, plus many more.

Consistently, most of the highest sale prices every week, in anything in the video game category, go to VGA items. They’re listed and they’re selling. By that virtue alone, they’ve been legitimized. When anyone new comes to the hobby, they see this and will never question their authenticity. It’s only us old birds, of which many comment here, that will ever address any concern about the source of their authority.

Price Manipulation Does Exist

Retro game collecting is a multi million dollar industry. If you question that, I’ll dig up some data to confirm it. With the dollars up for grabs it is making some people rich and others very well off.

To assume there is no one taking advantage of this is naive. When you can make thousands of dollars more based on using existing sales as proof of your asking price, people will find a way to manipulate the system.

For every one of us that see a sale and says “There is no way that is legit”, there is another who says “Wow, that is worth more than I thought”.

I’m not pointing to this or any specific auction with this, but it is something which has been throw around recently.


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Treasure Trove of lost King’s Field PlayStation Production Artwork

VGA Graded NES Prototype – *SIGH*