I want to preface this article by stressing that this is only one way of shipping vintage Star Wars cards. Other sellers use other methods and have a high success rate. This is the method I use for shipping Vintage Star Wars MOCs and ask for from those who ship to me.
Let’s face it, nobody 40 years ago expected us to have carded Star Wars figures totalling in their tens of thousands and that we’d be shipping them all over the world. The shelf-life of these toys expired a generation and more ago and what we have is clinging preciously to what little life is left. It’s for this reason that each time a carded figure is shipped we hold our breath in hope and we pray that we’ve done all we can to protect it. Personally, I think we are at the point where miscarded trilogo cards (due to their incredibly thin and fragile bubbles) and POTF cards (due to their yellowing and brittleness) are too great a risk to ship.
Here are some examples of poor packaging and what can happen to our cards and I am aware of many others over the last month or so.
This method uses what I consider the best of the Star Case and double boxing techniques which have been around for a number of years. Note – this is not my trilogo Jawa so please don’t contact me asking about it although I enjoyed the short time we had together!
This is a beautiful, difficult to obtain and expensive card. I want to do all I can to protect this. I know some collectors wrap these in clingfilm first but I’ve never done this as I’m worried that pealing the film away at a later date could lift some of the colours away. If a buyer asks me to then I’m more than happy to do it.
Here I’ve made a snug but not too tight bubble protector. It is firm cardboard that has been cut and taped to protect the bubble from the force of the figure rattling around inside. Equally, any pressure from the outside has another layer to get though. Don’t tape this to the card!
What I’ve done here is fill a Star Case with packing peanuts. I’m aware some sellers don’t like to do this but I believe the peanuts act as good shock absorbers and can dissipate the impact energy. Using a cardboard bubble protector minimises the chance of a bubble being knocked clean off.
Now I’ve protected the whole Star Case in layers of bubble wrap. Again, designed to cushion any impact.
I have a good size strong box here which I am filling with more peanuts. If I put the padded Star Case in here it is going to rattle around so…
I put a smaller box inside. Our padded Star Case goes inside the small box which then goes inside the larger box. The double box gives extra protection from drops or external damage.
We then generously fill all gaps with packing peanuts across both boxes. We need to ensure that the impact is cushioned from every direction.
I’ve now sealed the inside box
Then I’ve filled every available space with peanuts, bubble wrap, corrugated cardboard, whatever I have lying around.
I can then seal it up and take it down to the Post Office.
I’m sure some of you are asking about time and costs to do this for one carded figure. Well, the trilogo Jawa is worth at least £2000 – in this instance I definitely want to spend a little money on it. But to be honest, it’s not the value that is the driving force as I would do the same if it was a £50 MOC. It’s far more important that as a custodian of the hobby we protect all MOCs as much as we reasonably can.
Timewise I’d say this took about 20 minutes. Oh I just love it when I’m asked to pick up lots from Vectis when there are a several carded figures in one lot!
As for cost, well not a huge deal. I kept the boxes from items I purchased in the past along with the peanuts, bubble wrap probably cost around 50p, a little bit of tape, recycled Star Cases… and to post it fully insured and tracked it came to around £11.50. Think about that for a second when you’re buying from eBay or other online sources and you’re quoted £8 or more for shipping. Do you receive a box that’s protected so well? Is it worth scrimping on postage or taking a gamble? Without insurance I sent 3 carded figures in a box in a similar fashion for around £5 on the same day. I’m pleased to say all boxes arrived safe and sound.
When buying in future it pays to ask the seller how they plan on shipping. By all means send them a link to this article or many of the other excellent guides on the Internet. As a seller it’s not worth getting a neg due to poor packaging such as we see at the top of this page. Often sellers don’t realise what a gamble they are taking and just need a little nudging.
Sending MOCs through the post in jiffy bags is clearly an obvious no (although we’ve all received them and sometimes undamaged!) but some swear by shipping in single boxes padded with newspaper or similar only. Over time this is going to become less of a reliable technique, will lead to more tragedies and in most cases this can be avoided.