Published: January 19, 2021
Review by Greg Smith, Photos Courtesy Bruneau & Co.
CRANSTON, R.I. – A single-owner collection of Fantastic Four comics, rare Hasbro toys that never left Rhode Island, and rising stars in the trading card realm combined to tally $286,400 at Bruneau & Co’s January 9 sale.
It was mostly an online affair, Bruneau’s director of pop culture, Travis Landry, related, though about 12 people were spread across the gallery at any one time on auction day. Some stayed for the comics portion, others for the toys, others for the trading cards. Most were bidding online through four platforms, including Bruneau’s own platform, bidlive.bruneauandco.com, which provides the same buyer’s premium as in-person bidding. Landry related that the firm had over 4,000 registered bidders online with a swarm of them following the sale live.
There were around seven consignors to the sale, including a single-owner collection from Chicago that featured around 80 percent of the comics on offer. “It stole the show for the day,” Landry said. “The silver age comics were king.” Landry related that the consignor was a lifetime collector who really picked up his activity in the 1990s. “He was a lifetime reader, some of the Fantastic Four issues were titles he read in his childhood, and then he traded up and found better examples as he got older.”
Top among them at $16,800 was an issue of Fantastic Four #1, graded CBCS 3.5 with off-white pages. It was a record for that issue in that grade. Behind at $11,400 was Fantastic Four #5 in CGS 5.0 with off-white/white pages. It was also a record for that grade, a steep 43 percent increase from the previous mark, which was set at $7,950. “All the dealers in the audience were blown away by that one,” Landry said.
Interest in the Fantastic Four is high, Landry said. “In the last week of December, Disney had their investor meeting and confirmed they were going to be rebooting the Fantastic Four franchise. It’s the original Marvel superhero team and original Marvel superhero titles. It’s a title that has been undervalued for a long time. A Fantastic Four #1 should be worth more than an Amazing Fantasy #15, yet it’s worth a third of the price. With this reboot, that same issue we just sold, by this time next year that’s going to be a $20/25,000 book.”
While there is nothing confirmed other than a director, the chatter has begun for the Fantastic Four titles. Landry related that the reboots and the cinematic universe have a guiding hand to the comic market, each investor meeting and future intention serving as indicators that boost value. The ultimate boost comes from the release of a series or movie, which drives further interest for new generations.
“A lot of these collectors today buying comic books, many are no longer the guys who were reading them as kids,” Landry said. “They are watching the films with their kids at home, and they have expendable income to buy the originals. Many are alternative investors. People are buying comics and trading cards just like any stock.”
Just a week before Disney+ released WandaVision, a miniseries based on the Marvel Comics characters Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch) and Vision, a copy of X-Men #4, featuring the first appearance of Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Toad and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, sold for $1,750 in a CGC 5.0 with off-white/white pages. It was a record for that grade, rising from $1,380.
Landry then pointed to the $3,960 result for The Incredible Hulk #181, the first full appearance and cover shot of Wolverine, who made his cameo debut an issue earlier. The issue was signed by Stan Lee and Roy Thomas and was graded CBCS 7.0. The issue was originally purchased from Bruneau in 2017 when it sold for $1,800, the market rising in the interim. “Hulk #181 is the Amazing Fantasy #15 of the bronze age,” Landry said. “When you think of bronze age comic books, it’s the top. The first appearance of a major character – and the cover is the best.”
Hasbro toys from two Rhode Island collections included rare examples from company employees. A number of Tonka trucks came from a driver for the Pawtucket, R.I., company. “He was a driver responsible for bringing different production pieces between plants,” Landry said. “He acquired a lot of samples of unproduced things and toys produced only for international markets. For what it was, it sold for really strong money.” Among them was a $510 result for a 1981 Tonka semi-truck salesman’s sample that advertised the company’s “Tonka Tailor” marketing program, where Tonka would print any company’s branding on their toys. This one read “There’s a Tonka Tailor in the trailer.” A believed-to-be-unproduced Tonka Chevron Fuel body truck, circa 1976, would bring $300. The same model, 55010, was repurposed to a number of other produced trucks, including a Shell Oil example, but the firm said they had never seen another Chevron. A number of steel construction vehicle toys that were made in Japan found good buyers. A three-piece set including two excavators and a bulldozer brought $510. A lot of two cranes with boxes brought $450, the same price as another boxed lot featuring a crane and front-end digger.
Rising to $2,040 was a prototype proving model of a Hasbro GI Joe MOBAT Tank from the collection of Bill Araujo, former director of advanced manufacturing engineering at Hasbro. “Prototypes are one of those things – they can be important, but if they don’t look good, that can hurt value,” Landry said. “This thing was not polished, it had glue everywhere, but it was still great.” The model was made with three battery-operated engines instead of the two that it was ultimately produced with. “He said that thing will climb a wall, it screams,” Landry remembered. Araujo recounted that Hasbro had an actual MBT-70 tank delivered to the company parking lot so that the designers could make the model true to form. “It’s just a cool thing you’ll only find in Rhode Island with Hasbro right next door in Pawtucket,” Landry said.
Contemporary trading cards continue their ascent. The sale found its top lot at $18,600 with 31 factory-sealed 1999 Pokémon Base Unlimited trading card packs inside the original booster box with green-wing Charizard art. At $11,400 was a Yu-Gi-Oh! Legend of Blue-Eyes White Dragon, first edition, graded BGS 9 mint. A Yu-Gi-Oh! Metal Raiders first edition factory sealed 24-pack booster box went out at $5,000.
All prices include buyer’s premium. Bruneau & Co has a fine art and antiques auction on January 28 and the firm will present its inaugural Historic Arms & Militaria sale in the spring. For more information, 401-533-9980 or www.bruneauandco.com.
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