What is an “IMP?” – Mark Haspel

IMP stands for Incorrect Married Part. Married Parts and Incorrect Married Parts are different, but to fully understand what an Incorrect Married Part is, we must first begin by exploring what a married part is.

It may surprise you that the below examples happen, but at Wata, we are all about transparency and we want you to know what you are buying when you buy a Wata certified game. Let’s look at some specific collectibles and see how “married” parts are used and dealt with.

 

Say you have a Monopoly board game from 1940 and the contents of the box are in near perfect condition, but the box is in horrible condition. You have another 1940 Monopoly board game where the box is in perfect condition, but it is missing several pieces. Collectors and dealers “marry” these two together to make a higher-grade 1940 Monopoly game that will be more desirable to a collector. Sometimes the “leftovers” can be used to complete more than one incomplete game.

 

 

With Vinyl records, you could have a perfect specimen, but then the record itself gets damaged-dropped, chipped, or cracked. It happens. Collectors don’t just put a damaged record with a perfect sleeve back together. They will find a sleeve that is in worse condition, but the record is flawless, and switch them. The end result is a perfect specimen of what could have been bought at the record store at time of release.

With vintage cars, collectors don’t just junk the car if there is a part that needs to be replaced. They go out and find the exact same part to put in their classic car to make sure it has all original parts.

With comic books, there are comic books missing pages and people find a coverless copy and switch the pages to make it complete. Or they find a cover missing the interior and marry it to a coverless copy.

 

Vintage toys are just like the board games. They have multiple parts and any could be missing. Marrying or even upgrading missing parts is part of what many collectors and dealers do to improve the condition of their collectible vintage toys.

Not every collectible can have a married part. For example, coins, baseball cards and paper currency cannot have married parts as they are only one item.

In all of the above cases, except comic books, married parts cannot be identified by a layman, a dealer, or an expert if it is done with care. It is important to point out that no one is doing anything fraudulent by doing this. As long as the collectible is intact in the same way it could have been bought at the time of release, dealers and collectors look at them with the same desirability as any other complete collectible. They are indistinguishable.

In the case of comic books, there are ways experts can definitively detect marrying since the entire comic book is manufactured together at one time. Many dealers can tell and the certification companies disclose it on the label when it is detected. It does affect its value in the case of comic books. It is not detectable in other collectibles, since board games, for example, are not manufactured as one piece. The board game company makes thousands of the same part and then assembles them together resulting in each piece in the game being totally independent of any other piece. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule…but that’s the difference in a nutshell.

An example of a CGC certified Marvel Premiere #15 with the 7th wrap married. The label indicates this as well as a designation of “MARRIED PAGES”

 

Now what is an Incorrect Married Part?

An IMP would be when a 1950 piece of the monopoly game is married into the 1940 monopoly game AND there is a discernable difference between the 1940 and 1950 version. It is when the original vinyl record is from 1966 and has a copyright date of 1966, but the record used to replace it states 1970, even though it is otherwise identical. It is when a part from a 1963 Ford is replaced with the exact same part, but the replacement part says Chrysler on it. Or the part is from a 1960 Ford and there is a difference between the two even though the functionality is the same. For vintage toys, it is when the married part of the toy has a discernable difference with the original part it was manufactured with. In comics, it can be a replaced back cover that is not for that comic book. All the back covers for Action Comics #1 are the same, but if someone replaces a missing back cover with the back cover for Action Comics #30, that is an incorrect married part.

 

Now onto what this article is really about: CIB video games.

When a store buys thousands of used video games per year, they end up with hundreds of extra parts. Extra manuals, but the cart and box are missing. Carts are there, but no box or manual. Many rental places would rent out the cart and manual, but keep the boxes in storage. Oftentimes these boxes are in high grade and then sold to collectors. Many may end up with near perfect boxes, but no carts or manuals.

Over the years, these collectors found carts and manuals to complete these games. Not everyone is aware of the subtle differences between box variations, cart variants or manual variants. There might be a CIB where the box is from the 2nd edition of the game, the manual is from the 5th edition and the cart is from the 3rd edition. These things can and do happen. No one did it maliciously, it’s just the way the dice fell. With some games, it is inconsequential because the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th edition have the same exact manual. Or maybe there are 3 different manual variations, but any of them can be found in any of the editions. If the parts are correct for the CIB, the Wata label will not state anything is married, because there is no way to tell, and certainly no way to be sure. If Wata discovers through our good faith examination that there are parts present that are incompatible with the remaining parts, that information will be disclosed on the Wata label.

Example of a CIB copy of The Legend of Zelda with an IMP manual — the manual’s code in the top right corner indicates that it is a “-1” manual, which was a revised manual that could not be found in this box, which is a first-print box (indicated by the “TM” next to Entertainment System).

These are the kinds of issues that the Wata graders have expertise in. This is the level of detail Wata certification offers.

Since the box is the only part visible in the holder, the Wata label will always show the cart, manual, or cart & manual as being IMP—not the box. Collectors might ask themselves whether or not a Wata certified game that says IMP on the label is worth collecting. The answer depends on what is within the holder and the grade of the components. Just because a part is married in, doesn’t mean that it is a common part. It could be a rarer cart or manual or box married into something very common. A collector might own a CIB where the box is a 9.2, the cart is a 9.4 and the manual is a 3.0, bringing the overall grade down. He or she can find an IMP with the correct manual in 9.0 and marry it into his CIB he already owns. Maybe a Rad Racer CIB has the rarer “Daytime” variant box, but has a cart and manual from the 4th edition of the game, making it incompatible. A savvy collector would buy that and marry the correct cart and manual into it, making it a truly desirable item.

Pre-grading photos for a CIB Commando that has a “Nintendo Logo Sleeve.” Dust sleeves for all first-party games had the Nintendo logo on them, whereas third-party games such as Commando came packaged with blank dust sleeves, making this an impossible combination during production.

Post-grading photos of the same game indicate the IMP under “Grade Details”

Collectors and dealers may use this information to match and complete rarer CIBs and also to upgrade the components of the CIBs…this is the nature of collecting something of great value and historical importance.

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