A Tale of Three Edgars: New Lows At ebaY or How To Get ‘Zapped’ In A Live Auction

Music ‘Lucifer’ by The Alan Parsons Project

Out of boredom I checked out FeeBay the other day and what did I find? 

Consider the following auction at FeeBay 7549008602: 

$599.00 Men In Black MIB Zap Em Ken Thorley Wardrobe Costume (ended – seller is Star Wares Collectibles) 

Oh and I am also aware of these (both available at Reel Clothes): 

$600.00 MIB007: Ken Thorley ‘Zap-Em Exterminator Outfit” http://test.reelclothes.com/product.asp?id=MIB007 (no damage or teching i.e. what is done to a costume to make it look worn, torn, dirty, bullet riddled, etc. on screen) 

and 

$500.00 MIB008: Ken Thorley ‘Zap-Em Exterminator Outfit” http://test.reelclothes.com/product.asp?id=MIB008 (torn shirt) 

So what about this auction at Heritage Galleries? 

20353: Men In Black Exterminator Costume 

“Men In Black” Exterminator Costume. Green pants, hat, and shirt with “Zap ‘Em” pest exterminator logo, worn by actor Ken Thorley, all in great condition.

Only $1.00 opening bid?! What gives? 

Well what gives is FeeBay and Heritage Galleries engaged in some slightly shady auction practices. 

This is what the FeeBay auction listing REALLY should say (and if you did the sleuthing I have done, you would in fact know ACTUALLY is): 

Lot 20353:“Men In Black” Exterminator Costume. Green pants, hat, and shirt with “Zap ‘Em” pest exterminator logo, worn by actor Ken Thorley, all in great condition. Estimate: $800 – up. 

Reserve Amount $800.00 (with Buyer’s Premium $956.00) 

http://www.heritagegalleries.com/common/view_item.php?Sale_No=616&Lot_No=20352&src=pr 

I saw these when they first launched at ebaY and heritagegalleries.com — back then it was a NO RESERVE listings on ebaY and a ‘reserve to be determined’ listing on heritagegalleries.com. They got changed over the weekend to RESERVE auctions (not that the ebaY listing says that clearly though — at least the Heritage software is crystal clear on that point) and all bids placed before the reserves were posted were cancelled. 

Oh and there’s another gotcha at FeeBaY: Buyer’s Premium = 24.5%. 

Math problem time: $800.00 x 24.5% + $800.00 = $996.00 

So riddle me this: Why is the same Zap-Em suit $996.00 at ebaY and $956.00 at Heritage? That’s right, Heritage is passing on *its* ebaY fees to the hapless ebaY bidder. If you know better (and now you do), you sign up to bid on the same lot at heritagegalleries.com and pay only a 19.5% bidders premium. 

FeeBay is hot to attract more upscale (upmarket for you UK folks) bidders. They need sellers with more big ticket lots. So they do all kinds of things to accommodate the high end sellers (at the expense of ebaY bidders of course, because they’re FeeBay. They’re all about their stock prices, baby.) 

So what about Star Wares and Reel Clothes (both of whom also list items at ebaY but not in the ‘live auction’ format and neither charges any buyers premiums)? While they are selling the same caliber of goods,  FeeBay isn’t as hot to deal with them because online *live* auctions generate more FeeBay fees than regular old online auctions. 

Now for the VDO related part: 

Search on the following lot at heritagegalleries.com: 20352

http://www.heritagegalleries.com/common/view_item.php?Sale_No=616&Lot_No=20352&src=pr 

And at ebaY: 6566013134 

Yes, it’s a Farmer Edgar costume from ‘Men In Black’. 

Is it real? Probably. Was it screen used? Possibly. 

How the heck would I know?

I already own a complete Edgar transformation costume. I also own a complete Edgar ‘hero’ costume (ie the one VDO wears in every scene but the one where Edgar becomes a big ole bug). My costumes both have multiple wardrobe tags. 

Only as of October 5th has anyone at Heritage bothered to return my phone calls and emails as to whether their bug suit comes with a wardrobe tag. Here is an exerpt from an email via an ebaY submitted question [my comments in brackets]: 

“There are no studio or wardrobe company tags in the [Edgar transformation] outfit. The costume does show some evidence of cutting down the back and across the back right shoulder — sorry no photos are available [well not in the worthless FeeBay auction anyway. One lousy blurry pic and it’s of the front of the costume where there is *no* teching]. Though we usually do not reveal consignor information, this particular consignor has given us permission to relay this information to you. The costume was consigned to us by Star Wares Collectibles based in California and comes with a COA from Star Wares”.   

Anybody wanna guess where the Heritage / FeeBay Zap-Em costume also came from?!? 

Oh and if you noticed the minimum bid at heritagegalleries.com, it’s not going to a new home for less than $2000 (well actually $2390 with buyers premium at Heritage or $2490 with buyers premium at FeeBay) 

Here’s another zinger: I paid less than half either number for my Edgar transformation costume from Reel Clothes. And I still paid less than either number for the ‘hero’ costume (which came to me from a private collector who bought it straight from Reel Clothes). No buyers premiums, no outrageous shipping fees, no half-assed clueless answers from the sellers, plus I got more complete costumes (I even got size 13D footwear with both my costumes and unbelieveably a pair of socks came with the ‘hero’ costume). 

So this is what I meant when I said in an earlier entry that you should stick around here and learn something. And, heck no, I’m not bidding on this Edgar transformation costume (besides three different versions of the same costume in one collection would be a little, um, ‘excessive’). 

Oh and right now the high bidder on the Zap-Em costume (as of 10/05)? It’s Startifacts, a notorious seller of mutilated costume bits, 1″ square, attractively matted & framed and sold for like $60 each. This guy can afford to get zapped for $2K, because he’ll turn around and zap dozens of unsuspecting fans for $60 each. 

Collecting can be a rough business. 

UPDATE: Neither MIB costume sold (no big surprise to me). Star Wares periodically relists the Zap Em costume at ebaY and the Edgar suit was listed at heritagegalleries.com at a fixed price of $2000 + $390 buyers premium but did not sell.

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