CGC Census Experiment: Time for Observations

by Patrick Bain

CGC-Census-300x157 CGC Census Experiment: Time for ObservationsBOOM!  That crashing sound is the implosion of modern comic prices as CGC census numbers rise!  SCREEEEECCCHHHH!  Hold on a second.  Let’s slow down this natural gas-fueled bus of hyperbole.  The truth is, indications suggest some truth to that statement.  But, it’s not time for modern comic hoarders (see blog) to throw themselves in front of that proverbial bus. Honestly, the first draft of my opening paragraph was so boring even statisticians would have fallen asleep reading it.  So, I had to give it some juice.  Anyway, it’s time to follow up on my article called Tracking CGC Census: An Experiment.   Let’s take time for observations and find out if the principals of supply and demand still live in the COVID comic marketplace.

Quick Reminder of the CGC Census Experiment

Venom-26-Scorpion-Variant-195x300 CGC Census Experiment: Time for ObservationsThe simple plan involved picking out a few modern comics from the Hot List at the time of the experiment.  Then record CGC 9.8 Census numbers for those comics.  And, of course, track the current price.  For current price, we used GoCollect Fair Market Value (FMV).  I picked the top comic for December 9, 2020: Venom 26.  I also grabbed number 100, Tiggomverse 1, along with 3 others in between.  Here are the numbers from when our CGC census experiment began:

Venom #26 – FMV $32 – CGC Census 1,054
Batman #93 Jimenez Variant (9.8) – FMV – $50 – CGC Census 164
Iron Man #1 Ross Variant Edition (9.8) – FMV – $90 – CGC Census 80
Star Wars #6 Christopher Action Figure Variant – FMV – $30 – CGC Census 30
Tiggomverse #1 Venom #7 Crain Edition (9.8) – FMV – $46 – CGC Census 17

Iron-Man-1-Ross-Variant-Edition-195x300 CGC Census Experiment: Time for ObservationsI asked people to track their comic experiments to see if increasing CGC census impacted FMV.  My suspicion: for modern comics where census numbers could change dramatically, especially at high grades, I believed the FMV prices would plateau or even dip as supply increased.  Obviously, I’m making the big assumption that demand remains the same.  Even if that is a bad supposition, decreased demand may correlate to larger census numbers as everyone who wants one already slabbed theirs.

Show Me the Numbers!

Tiggomverse-1-Venom-7-Crain-Variant-196x300 CGC Census Experiment: Time for ObservationsAm I the only one that recorded some numbers?  Share your findings!  For the comics in my trial, I collected all of these numbers on the same day the first week of April.

  • Venom 26 –  FMV change $32 to $36 (+12.5%)  Census change 1054 to 1201 (+13.9%)
  • Batman 93 (Jimenez) – FMV change $50 to $44 (-12.0%)  Census change 164 to 198 (+20.7%)
  • Iron Man 1 (Ross) – FMV change $90 to $60 (-33.3%)  Census change 80 to 134 (+67.5%)
  • Star Wars 6 (Action Figure) – FMV change $30 to $36 (+20%)  Census change 30 to 43 (43.3%)
  • Tiggomverse 1 (Venom 7) – FMV change $46 to $150 (+226.1%)  Census Change 17 to 20 (17.6%)

Let’s focus on the two extremes in terms of FMV change.  Does the sharp price drop of the Alex Ross Iron Man 1 variant really correspond to the huge census increase?  Too many factors cloud the experimental results for me to take Iron Man 1 and say, “see, I told you”.  Is Tiggomverse 1 with the Venom variant cover the greatest investment ever?  After all, an over 200% increase is a spectacular return in any market!    The Tiggomverse 1 comparison has flaws, too.

Digging deeper on Tiggomverse, I found that the December FMV of $46 corresponded to a single December sale.  Don’t forget the small census.  In January, a single sale of $150 is reflected in the current FMV.  Four other Tiggomverse 1 Venom variant sales occurred from August to October of 2020.  Those sales averaged $118.  So, the $46 FMV was a faulty indication of real value.  On the other hand, the incredibly low census could be part of the reason prices have been strong.  Nonetheless, this cautionary tale reminds GoCollect subscribers to take advantage of ALL the info GoCollect makes available!

Thor 5 Variants in the CGC Census Experiment

Thor-5-3rd-Printing-195x300 CGC Census Experiment: Time for ObservationsNext, I captured numbers for five variants of Thor 5.  By limiting to a single title, perhaps some of the other factors affecting price will be removed.  And supply can then be the focus for changes.

  • 1st Printing (basic) – FMV down 20.8% as supply increased 20.3% from 1362 to 1639.
  • 1st Printing (Ribic) – FMV down 25% as supply increased 28.9% from 266 to 343.
  • 2nd Printing (Virgin) – FMV down 60% as supply increased 16.5% from 91 to 106.
  • 3rd Printing – FMV up 11.8% as supply increased 32.5% from 634 to 840.
  • 3rd Printing (Virgin) – FMV down 30% as supply increased 83.3% from 84 to 154.

Clearly, there is one oddball, the 3rd Printing.  Is Loki messing with me or something?  Now, the actual FMV only changed from $34 to $38.  Still, I was hoping for a clean sweep showing increased supply impacting price.  But I think it’s fair to say rising CGC census should create wary investors, experiment or not.

Background on Venom #26

Venom-26-Unknown-Comics-Virgin-195x300 CGC Census Experiment: Time for ObservationsLet’s go back to Venom #26 briefly.  The basic cover in the experiment showed a positive gain of $4.  Because the comic is relatively low priced considering the cost of slabbing, this change could be in the noise.  However, FMV gained in our experiment despite the census increase of nearly a hundred and fifty comics in CGC 9.8.

Venom-26-Frankies-Virgin-Sketch-Variant-204x300 CGC Census Experiment: Time for ObservationsIn fact, for Venom #26 to even maintain flat is significant considering GoCollect identifies 22 variants for the comic.  Add to that 4 later printings.  Now, before being too positive, Frankie’s Virgin Sketch had the highest FMV when I started this article last week.  It has dropped $10 since then.  Further, that comic shows a downtrend of 19.6% using the GoCollect Analyzer.  And, for the standard version in this study, GoCollect shows a current downtrend of 22.6% on 90 sales.  I caution collectors from obsessing about a single analyzer trend value since it is broken down by grade.  It’s best to look at the grades as a whole to see if a pattern is emerging.

Bottom-line on the CGC Census Experiment

At first glance, increased CGC census impacts price, but not as extremely as one expects.  When digging deeper and looking at price trends, collectors should be wary of speculating on comics with a rapidly growing high-grade census.  The variant and second printing explosion make it tough to be a completist.  And tougher still to track the big picture of supply for your favorite comics.  Consider Golden Age comics to manage supply concerns.  Follow my blog series on the Golden Age Journey for some ideas.

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Nick Begin April 22, 2021 - 10:43 am

Interesting experiment. Is the modern market moving too quickly and erratically to get accurate trends? Seems like news (and rumors) with FOMO move the needle most of the time. I expect most seasoned speculators use hard data to base their decisions and look at trends, but too much (stimulus?) money is being thrown around and skewing the results.

Do you have a similar experiment in mind for Golden Age books? Or trends you want to look at? If you want to work on that together, let me know.

Patrick Bain April 22, 2021 - 6:07 pm

The great thing about the Golden Age books is that you don’t have to worry about huge increases in census. In terms of articles, I plan to read the first 8 to 10 Batman in Detective Comics issues. I’ll put some notes together of what interests me and run them by you.

Nick Begin April 22, 2021 - 6:10 pm

Sounds like a plan!

Steph Thecomicguy April 24, 2021 - 10:50 am

Yeah. That FOMO phenomenon is going to mess eith your experiment. I think you have to separate the seed from the chaff. The highly spec’d issues will fall off rapidly as interest wanes. Assuming that demand stays constant isn’t wise.

Patrick Bain April 24, 2021 - 2:21 pm

yes, I guess the trick is to figure out which issues have been driven up simply by speculation and which ones have more organic long term appeal. Your mention of “demand stays constant” is good because it means you were reading carefully. For purposes of analysis I treated supply as the only factor affecting price, but obviously demand is critical. I think in some ways if price goes down as supply goes up, one could argue that supply and demand are NOT independent factors. In fact, I wonder if the increased supply simply reflects the market is satisfied, thus reducing demand. good comment.


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