Collector’s Corner: Top 5 Rarest Archer and Armstrong Comics

Data provided by Martin Ferretti, Greg Holland, and Comichron.com

Archer & Armstrong is a phenomenal series that first launched in 1992 by (then) Valiant Comics. It was created by the legendary Barry Windsor-Smith, Jim Shooter, and Bob Layton, and has existed as a highlight for both classic and modern Valiant having some of the most memorable story arcs and characters to-date, as well as having close ties with Ivar, Timewalker and The Eternal Warrior.

Recently, there also been reports and discussion about film and/or television projects for the series, which makes logical sense as the IP is highly adaptable to film and television.

With the help of both Greg Holland (site owner and manager of ValiantFans.com for more than a decade), and Martin Ferretti (site owner and manager of Valiant Database) as well as historical sales data as provided by Comichron.com, we can list (with some variance) the estimated quantities of these books that are (highly likely) in circulation today.

While there are vastly differing opinions with speculators, investors, collectors, and casual readers, it is a solid bet that the demand for these books (regardless of personal reason) is going to be greater than the supply.

The purpose of this article is to educate collectors about the Top 5 Rarest Archer & Armstrong Comics published and/or distributed.

 

Archer & Armstrong #24 (Guerra 1:20 Variant)

5. Archer & Armstrong #24 (Guerra 1:20 Variant) 

Coming in at No. 5 on this list is the Archer & Armstrong #24 (Guerra 1:20 Variant)Published in September of 2014, Archer & Armstrong #24 had a print run of 6,262 copies (source: Comichron sales data for September of 2014).

This variant was listed at #98 on Greg Holland’s Top 100 Rarest Valiant books 2012-present list, and between both Greg and Martin’s estimates, has a variance of only +/-14 issues which indicates a strong potential that approximately 300 copies exist.

299 copies according to Greg Holland’s Valiant Fans

313 copies according to Martin Ferretti’s Valiant Database

 

 

Archer & Armstrong #5 (Lupacchino 1:50 Variant)

4. Archer & Armstrong #5 (Lupacchino 1:50 Variant) 

No. 4 is the Archer & Armstrong #5 (Lupacchino 1:50 Variant)Published in December of 2012, Archer & Armstrong #5 had a print run of 14,544 copies (source: Comichron sales data for December of 2012).

This variant was listed at #67 on Greg Holland’s Top 100 Rarest Valiant books 2012-present list, and between both Greg and Martin’s estimates, has a variance of only +/-18 issues which indicates a strong potential that approximately 280 copies exist.

272 copies according to Greg Holland’s Valiant Fans

290 copies according to Martin Ferretti’s Valiant Database

 

 

 

Archer & Armstrong #25 (Calafiore 1:20 Variant)

3. Archer & Armstrong #25 (Calafiore 1:20 Variant) 

NO #3 is the Archer & Armstrong #25 (Calafiore 1:20 Variant)Published in October of 2014, Archer & Armstrong #25 had a print run of 6,794 copies (source: Comichron sales data for October of 2014).

This variant was listed at #64 on Greg Holland’s Top 100 Rarest Valiant books 2012-present list, and between both Greg and Martin’s estimates, has a variance of only +/-3 issues which indicates a strong potential that these numbers are 99% accurate.

268 copies according to Greg Holland’s Valiant Fans

271 copies according to Martin Ferretti’s Valiant Database

 

 

 

Archer & Armstrong #10 (Robinson 1:50 Variant)

2. Archer & Armstrong #10 (Robinson 1:50 Variant) 

NO #4 is the Archer & Armstrong #10 (Robinson 1:20 Variant)Published in December of 2012, Archer & Armstrong #5 had a print run of 14,544 copies (source: Comichron sales data for December of 2012).

This variant was listed at #56 on Greg Holland’s Top 100 Rarest Valiant books 2012-present list, and between both Greg and Martin’s estimates, has a variance of only +/-4 issues which indicates a strong potential that approximately these numbers are 99% accurate.

260 copies according to Greg Holland’s Valiant Fans

264 copies according to Martin Ferretti’s Valiant Database

This issue was also part of the Far, Faraway story arc (Archer & Armstrong #10 through #13) that is considered by many Archer & Armstrong readers and fans to be the absolute best of the series!

 

 

Archer & Armstrong #25 (Walsh 1:50 Variant)

1. Archer & Armstrong #25 (Walsh 1:50 Variant) 

NO #1 is the Archer & Armstrong #25 (Walsh 1:50 Variant). Published in October of 2014, Archer & Armstrong #25 had a print run of 6,794 copies (source: Comichron sales data for October of 2014).

This variant was listed at #1 on Greg Holland’s Top 100 Rarest Valiant books 2012-present list, and while both Greg and Martin’s estimates have a variance of +/-27 issues, the significance of the variance does not matter much since even if 135 copies DO exist the book is still the rarest Archer & Armstrong book ever released.

108 copies according to Greg Holland’s Valiant Fans

135 copies according to Martin Ferretti’s Valiant Database

It’s a party.

Once again, this is the RAREST modern Valiant book that is not a promotion like the five Unity #1 (Golden Tickets) or an unintentional error like the the X-O Manowar #15 (Kotaki 1:50 Error). It is, and will likely always be considered a highly sought after grail by Archer & Armstrong collectors (as will most books discussed in this article).

The Archer & Armstrong #25 (Walsh 1:50 Variant)  is included as part (the top spot actually) of Greg Holland’s Insane Five which features the five rarest modern Valiant comics released since the 2012 re-launch.

 

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Archer & Armstrong #0 (Gold Edition)

Archer & Armstrong #0 (Gold Edition) – 5,000 copies. 

After early prototype and/or pre-production testing with Solar Man of the Atom #3 and Solar Man of the Atom #5, Valiant’s “Gold Logo Program” was first presented at the Diamond Sales Seminar June 15th, 1992 via the “Valiant 1992 Marketing Plan” which stated:

“Gold Logo Program – Limited Gold Logo Editions of no more than 5,000 copies will be printed for certain special books – #1’s, #0’s and issues with special cover art, beginning with Archer & Armstrong #0 and Eternal Warrior #1.”

“These bools will not be sold. However, a Gold Logo Edition will be awarded to retailers – and fans – who have been innovative in their support of VALIANT…”

“…To show you what we mean, for attending this presentation, you’ll each receive a Gold Logo Edition of Eternal Warrior #1 GOLD LOGO – a program we plan to continue for years to come, as retailers, and fans alike, create unique and fun ways to support VALIANT.”

Under Valiant’s “Gold Logo Program” the Eternal Warrior #1 (Gold-Flat) had a cover date of August 1992, while Archer & Armstrong #0 (Gold) had a cover date of July 1992. It is likely that Archer & Armstrong #0 (Gold) and Eternal Warrior #1 (Gold-Flat) were either printed at the same time, or that Archer & Armstrong #0 (Gold) was created by Valiant first. Archer & Armstrong #0 (Gold) is considered “Pre-Unity” while Eternal Warrior #1 (Gold-Flat) is “Unity Chapter Two” However, as copies of the Eternal Warrior #1 (Gold-Flat) were intended to be distributed during the 1992 Diamond Sales Seminar, It is likely that Eternal Warrior #1 (Gold-Flat) was the first “Gold Logo Book” as (despite the Eternal Warrior #1 (Gold-Flat) having a later cover date than Archer & Armstrong #0 (Gold)) as it is highly unlikely that Valiant would have released copies of Archer & Armstrong #0 (Gold) prior to their “Valiant 1992 Marketing Plan” announcement, since such action would have defeated the intended purpose of that same announcement. (Note: Archer & Armstrong #0 (Gold) was the last Gold book to have a cover price).

Ronalds 1992 mix-up explanation letter for Eternal Warrior #1

However, a letter from Ronalds printing dated June 4th, 1992 (before the 1992 Diamond Sales Seminar) clearly states that in May of 1992 they inadvertently and/or mistakenly shipped 2,500 copies of the  Eternal Warrior #1 (Gold-Flat) as regular copies of Eternal Warrior #1 to retailers and/or distributors. Because the Eternal Warrior #1 (Gold-Flat) had a listed cover price, and because retailers were not (at that time) aware of Valiant’s “Gold Logo Program” (it had not yet been announced), and also at the time Marvel Comics was producing Gold Books as “second editions” which all together created a perfect storm where those 2,500 copies of Eternal Warrior #1 (Gold-Flat) were sold randomly to whoever wanted a copy for $2.25 a copy.

The Ronalds Printing letter states:

“Dear Comic Retailers and Distributors,

VALIANT had Ronalds print a very limited run of a special gold logo version of Eternal Warrior #1, they were to be used only as a premium to be given free to those who demonstrated extraordinary support for VALIANT. Those books were to debut at the Diamond Retailers Seminar on June 13, 1993 (NOTE: 1993 is clearly a typo in the letter, and should have likely been 1992) and thereafter be judiciously given out based on demonstrations of support.

In May, 1992, Ronalds inadvertently shipped out approximately 2,500 of the gold logo books while filling an order for the regular books. This was an error on Ronalds’ part alone and we don’t want anyone to think that VALIANT had anything to do with this error.

Eternal Warrior #1 (Gold-Flat)

To right the wrong we have caused, we and VALIANT have agreed that the remaining (NOTE: 2,500 books remainedEternal Warrior #1 gold logo editions will not be released and that Ronalds will a limited run (NOTE: 5,000 books were printed for this delux version) of a delux Eternal Warrior #1 gold edition which VALIANT will use as it intended to the original version (NOTE: the delux version was the Eternal Warrior #1 (Gold Embossed) version, which had no cover price to avoid further confusion).

We apologize for any inconvenience that may have cause to VALIANT or any of you.”

It is (and forever will be) debated as to which was created first out of the Eternal Warrior #1 (Gold-Flat) and Archer & Armstrong #0 (Gold). (I believe that Archer & Armstrong #0 (Gold) was produced first, or at the same time as Eternal Warrior #1 (Gold-Flat); however, due to the Ronalds distribution error, the Eternal Warrior #1 (Gold-Flat) was shipped first and therefore in the hands of fans, readers, and collectors earlier). Both books are key, and almost impossible to find in high-grade raw and/or CGC/CBCS 9.8 condition.

Archer & Armstrong #0 (Gold) featured the first appearance of both Archer and (wait for it…) Armstrong. While occasional eBay sales for CGC/CBCS 9.8 copies hover just under $600 (presently) private sales of $750+ have occurred and some believe that this book holds greater long-term growth potential than many other books featured on this list due to the combination of both scarcity and significance if its characters. A lot of collectors ask about Archer & Armstrong #0 (Gold) and where they can get a high-grade copy. Well, that answer has a look to do with both luck and timing. Recent sales have shown an increase in market value between +67% (avg) to +150% (high) above the market value for this issue observed over the past few years.

While the five modern Valiant incentive variants previously listed in this article are far less common, it is important to note that Archer & Armstrong #0 (Gold) is the most significant, and has been a time-tested single issue of the series for more than two decades.

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