Packaging guidelines for MOC/MIB collectable toys.

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As a collector of vintage mint on card (MOC) and mint in box (MIB) collectable toys, I have often times encountered instances of items being damaged during shipping or inadequately packaged, thus risking damage during shipping. This is a simple step by step guide that should help both experienced and inexperienced sellers of vintage toys package up their valuable fragile items with care so that they have a chance of surviving domestic and international shipping in tact.

Following this simple guide can help you avoid a costly return or claim when your buyer receives their long awaited item in a damaged state. This can be avoided in 95% of cases with some care at the packaging stage.

Here is an example of a MOC vintage collectable toy:

What Happens During Shipping?

Having received and sent hundreds upon hundreds of parcels both internationally and domestically there are some very common occurences that your parcel is likely to encounter on it's way to it's destination. Firstly it will be dropped, placed on it's side, layed upside down and it will inevitabley have heavier boxes placed upon it. No matter how expensive the particular form of shipping you have paid for is, the fact remains that it will pass through many hands on it's journey and the primary concern when handling your item will be to get it into or out of a van/plane/cart FAST. This means that it may even be thrown or slid across the ground. Your outer box must be durable and tough enough to handle everything thrown at it during it's trip, whilst your inner packaging needs to ensure that your item is not bouncing around inside the box in two or more now broken pieces.

1. Outer Shipping Box

When selecting a box to ship your collectible in, one must consider size and sturdyness as the two primary concerns. The box should be sturdy enough to withstand a heavy box being placed on top of your box for a long duration without your box crushing at any stress point. The top should remain flat, the corners shoud keep their shape and there should be no bowing of the sides. The size of the box should be roomy enough to allow your item to easily fit inside, without being distorted, squashed or placed at an uneven angle.

2. Bubble Wrap and Padding

Bubble wrap can save so you so much money in the long run, so don't skimp and use the minimum possible amount. Use enough for a full coverage of your item (including ends and corners), ensuring that the sticky tape only comes into contact with the bubblewrap as this can severely damage the surface of a vintage MOC item should it touch the card or outer box.

When working with a MOC or MIB toy, you should take extra care to use either additional bubblewrap folded up, an air bag, foam or alternate padding to even out the surface of your wrapping. This will help alleviate downward pressure on the integrity of the plastic bubble or box window.

Here is a cross section diagram of a MOC toy that illustrates where padding should be placed prior to bubblewrapping.


Remember if you choose to use a wad of bubblewrap that you should not allow sticky tape to come into any contact with a bare card or box. Even a small amount may result in damage! For extra security, you may wish to place one layer of bubblewrap around your card/box prior to placing your padding on the upper part of the card and then finishing off with a second layer of bubblewrap to secure it all in place.

Some shippers will take an extra measure here and use a plastic zip lock bag to place the bubble wrapped card in. This is primarily in the hope of ensuring moisture is kept out of the vicinity of the card and preventing a "worst case scenario" occuring of the box being left in poor weather conditions or condensation build up occuring during transition between climates.

3. Placement, Packaging Peanuts & Air bags

Placing your MOC/MIB item flat in the bottom of your sturdy box, you should find a reasonable amount of room around the card and most certainly above it. This area must be filled out to prevent your outer shipping box from crushing in, or your item from sliding around and becoming damaged due to excessive movement in transit.

Packaging peanuts are one of your best options for gently filling out the space that remains in your shipping box. They are light weight, tough and they will make a major difference to the condition that your item arrives in. Use them generously to fill out that empty box space.

If you find packaging peanuts are unavailable or too messy for your liking, packaging air bags are a wonderful lightweight option used by professional shippers worldwide. Air bags are extremely helpful in packing out difficult shapes or minimizing weight whilst taking up the space around your delicate item.

4. What about Plastic Bags and Newspaper as padding?

Newspaper is truly a last resort. If you have no other padding this would suffice moreso than using nothing. The reason I rate it so poorly is that the print rubs off, it is stiff when balled up and whilst it can conform to the shapes in a general sense it is difficult to fill out all the areas of your shipping box with the preferred density. Never use newspaper if you have not bubble wrapped an item. The print will make a terrible mess of your item by the time it arrives.

Plastic shopping bags are a popular and inexpensive option to use when padding out a large area of box. They can work, however in significant quantities you may find the weight is counter-productive to the cost-effectiveness. If you cannot however, find any of the preferred padding materials then plastic shopping bags would be a suitable replacement.

Please note that some bags are dyed with non-fixed dyes that may color any items they come into contact with. My experience is that "Australia Post" bags are of particular concern and will dye contact items red in a short time frame. In order to avoid this risk, using white bags or bags without vibrant solid colors or significant print. Printed bags should be turned inside-out for similar reasons.

5. Sealing the Outer Shipping Box

In order to strengthen your outer shipping box, a wide sticky tape is very effective. Ensure you make multiple passes both horizontally and vertically so that you know the box will not collapse in from the top, nor have the item fall out when picked up.

In the end, you should be able to pick up your box without detecting any rattling or movement from inside, it should feel sturdy and look presentable. Even if your clients do not notice the effort you go to, should you choose not to ship with care, they certainly will be aware of the lack of effort.

Take the time and spend the extra few dollars now, so that you can save so much time and many more dollars later.

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