Q & A with Harry Rinker: Fireball Island Game, Game Commission Duck Prints
The box for Fireball Island. It’s in pretty good condition, which adds to the value.
QUESTION: I collect and play adventure, electronic, and board games from the 1980s; the period when I was a youngster. Fireball Island was one of my favorites. When I searched the internet, I found asking prices ranging from $100 to $200. Further, many of the examples being offered were not complete and the box was in poor or worse condition. Why is the asking price so high? What advice do you have assuming that I am going to acquire a copy of Fireball Island in the near future?
– S.A., State College, Penn.
ANSWER: Fireball Island, first released by Milton Bradley, was designed by Chuck Kennedy and Bruce Lund. It was geared to youngsters ages 7 and older. The description of the game on Board Game Geek reads:
“A plastic tiki idol is placed in the raised middle of a molded, 3D board, where it can rotate freely. Players move their explorer pawns up the sides of the mountain along paths and through caves, trying to reach the top of the mountain, retrieve the idol’s giant ruby, and take it down the other side to the waiting boat. However, both the idol and volcanic vents throughout the board periodically spill out ‘fireball’ marbles, which physically roll down the mountain, either plowing through explorer pawns in their path, or toppling triggered bridges as they pass under them.”
In addition to an American edition, the game also was released in Canadian (1986), Dutch (Vuurbal Eiland, MB spellen, 1989), French (L’Ile Infernale, MB Jeux, 1987) and Italian (L’isola di fuoco, MB Giochi, 1986) editions.
If a youngster was 10 in 1986, he/she is now either 36 or 37. Adults begin buying back their childhood games and toys around age 35. Prices accelerate until they reach a peak around age 45. Given this, Fireball Island is nearing the height of its secondary market collectability. If you plan on buying an example in the next 12 to 24 months, be prepared to pay top dollar.
The three-dimensional nature of the game board is not conducive to the game box surviving in fine or better condition. The large piece count—48 cards, rule book, two- piece totem head, red jewel, four game piece explorers (blue orange, pink and red), four black jewel holders, two (2) two-piece black bridges, one red and white die, and five red fireball marbles—also favors some pieces being lost.
Do not consider buying several incomplete games in anticipation of assembling one complete game. You will spend more money with less than satisfactory results than if you wait and purchase a complete unit.
Patience is a virtue. The game appears regularly on eBay. The standard approach is to buy the “fifth” example. The assumption is that those willing to pay whatever it takes to acquire the game will have acquired an example and withdrawn from the market. Hence, you pay less. The theory does not apply in this instance.
Fireball Island is a nostalgia buy. The buyers are individuals who remember the game, decide they want to own a copy, and want immediate gratification in terms of acquiring one. Hence, they are in and out of the secondary market in a week or two. The good news is there are weeks when these buyers are totally absent. When you see this happening, buy.
Set a price with which you can live. My suggestion is between $125 and $150, which includes shipping cost. Buy a game that is complete (all pieces) and with a box in very good or better condition.
Finally, how much is your time worth? Is saving an extra $10 to $25 worth several extra weeks of tracking the market? If you follow the above advice, you will know when the “right time” to buy is. Good luck.
QUESTION: My mother-in-law has six signed and numbered Pennsylvania Game Commission Duck prints (1983, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988), one New Jersey print, and one Canadian print. She also has a “Pennsylvania Print Evaluation for Insurance Purposes” sheet prepared by Sport’em Art of Sullivan, Illinois. She would like to sell them. What approach do you recommend?
– M.P., Hamburg, Penn., via e-mail
An example of a game commission duck print.
ANSWER: Do not believe the values found on the Sport’em list. These supposed “insurance values” are inflated. This valuation is a sales gimmick used by sellers/dealers to convince buyers the object they are buying is worth more than they are paying. It is the most common sales ploy in the jewelry industry.
There are several internet websites that specialize in the sale of Duck stamps and prints. Cornett’s is an example. Cornett’s currently is offering an example of the 1984 Canada Goose Pennsylvania Duck Stamp print by artist James Killen for $125. The Sport’em list values it at $360. Cornett’s values are top-dollar prices. When I checked Cornett’s website recently, it had 11 Pennsylvania duck stamp prints available.
Contacting Cornett or another of the Internet duck print sellers is an option. If one of these dealers expresses a buying interest, an offer between 20 and 30 cents on the retail dollar is fair. These prints are not easy sells and likely to remain in inventory for an extended period of time.
Your next option is to locate a regional auction house that conducts one or more firearms auctions per year. Hunting and fishing related material is sold along with firearms. Alderfer Auction & Appraisal in Hatfield, Penn., is a possibility.
Cabelas has a store located in Hamburg. The company sells used firearms and other hunting and sporting memorabilia. Drive over and talk with their buyer. Although I have had no experience dealing with Cabelas, I am a strong advocate of the “it never hurts to ask” philosophy. What is the worst that can happen? The buyer says no.
My final recommendation is to approach a local merchant who specializes in the sale of hunting and fishing equipment. Ask if it is possible to work out a consignment arrangement, where the store owner receives a commission (usually 30 to 40 percent) for selling them on your behalf.
The good news is that you have a number of options available. The not so good news is that you will not, nor should you expect, to receive full retail, replacement value.
QUESTION: I have a two-blade, commemorative pocket knife issued for the 1953 Coronation of Queen Elizabeth. The white pearl-like body of the knife features a full-color decal of a waist-high portrait of the Queen in her Coronation robe wearing the crown and holding the orb and scepter. “Queen Elizabeth II” is in a red shield below the picture. “Coronation / 1953” is in black letters on the white ground beneath the shield. What is it worth?
– D., Clinton, Wis.
ANSWER: Queen Elizabeth ascended to the throne following the death of her father King George VI on February 6, 1952. Her coronation was not held until June 2, 1953, a practice based upon the concept that a suitable period of mourning must first follow the death of a monarch before the coronation can occur.
The period also allows for the production of countless souvenirs and other memorabilia associated with the event. At least two different two-blade coronation pocket knives were issued, the first featuring an actual photograph of the queen and the second a sketch of the same view.
Both pocket knives survive in quantity. The standard selling price on eBay is between $35 and $50 for a knife in very good or better condition, meaning no signs of rust or loss of decal or detail.
A Fisher Price Barky pull toy. Barky is a black and white Boston terrier.
QUESTION: I have a Fisher Price Barky pull toy. Barky is a black and white Boston terrier. Barky has plastic ears. What is its value?
– R., Navasota, Texas
ANSWER: According to a listing on WorthPoint, Barky, Fisher Price #462, was introduced during the 1958 Easter season and remained in the Fisher Price line for only three years. The wooden body has applied lithograph paper. The collar is red with yellow circles with “BARKY” in yellow letters inserted within the collar on the two sides. The ears and tongue are vinyl. The toy has red wheels. When it is pulled, the eyes rotate and it makes a “barky” sound.
Examples in played with condition (very minor paper loss and scuffing) sell between $10 and $15. Examples in very good and better condition start at $40. The toy is commonly found. A buyer with patience can acquire an example at the lower end of the price range.
Barky the Boston Terrier is not to be confused with ‘Barky Buddy,” Fisher Price #150. Toy Town Museum created a 2,500-reproduction run of the 1934 version of this toy in 2007. An amazon.com seller is asking $174.99 for the reproduction.
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Harry L. Rinker welcomes questions from readers about collectibles, those mass-produced items from the 20th century. Selected queries will be answered on this site. Harry cannot provide personal answers. Send your questions to: Rinker on Collectibles, 5955 Mill Pond Court SE, Kentwood, MI 49512. You can e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Only e-mails containing a full name and mailing address will be considered. Please indicate that these are questions for WorthPoint.
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