A Beginner’s Guide To Lego Investing And Collecting
Among the dozens of collectibles worth your time, one stands out by being the most fun and family-friendly collectible hobby. While most collectibles center around sourcing and storing, LEGO offers much more fun.
With LEGO collecting, you are free to open, build with the family, grow your collection, and reminisce about when you played with building blocks in childhood.
LEGO collecting is an increasingly popular hobby, and there are several reasons why you might be interested in starting a LEGO collection starting Lego investing today,
Are you a collector in search of something new worth collecting? Or you’re a fledgling Lego collector looking for more information on your new-found hobby?
Whatever your reasons are, this article is your comprehensive beginner’s guide to LEGO collecting. Let’s get started.
Lego collecting history
Whether you collect LEGOs or not, no one can deny the fact that LEGOs are almost omnipresent. What started as humble wooden toys in 1932 has become one of the world’s most beloved and popular toys. We shall briefly consider LEGO’s history and how it became among the world’s most popular toys.
The LEGO company began as a small shop in Billund, Denmark, in 1932 by Ole Kirk Christiansen, aided by his son Godtfred Kirk Christiansen. They made stepladders, ironing boards and wooden toys such as wooden buses, lorries, airplanes, and pull-along animals.
The LEGO company wasn’t so named until two years after a contest was held to pick the company’s name. The name LEGO is a self-made contraction of the Danish phrase “LEg GOdt”, which means “play well”. We can loosely interpret its Latin meaning as “I put together.”
The company grew exponentially over the next several years and had 50 employees by 1948. Its product lines had also expanded with the addition of plastic balls for babies, wooden blocks, Lego ducks and clothes hangers.
In 1947, the Lego group purchased its first plastic injection molding machine, which could mass produce plastic toys. A truck that could be taken apart and put back together was one of the first modular toys to be built. By 1949, the Lego Group had produced over 200 types of toys.
Birth of the Lego Brick
The LEGO Group obtained samples of interlocking plastic bricks in 1947 and began producing similar bricks, calling them “Automatic Binding Bricks” in 1949. In 1953 the Lego group renamed these bricks Lego Mursten or Lego Bricks. The interlocking principle of Lego bricks was born in 1957.
The bricks stuck together but not so tightly that they could not be pulled apart. This began Lego’s transformation into the famous bricks known and loved today.
By the early 1960s, the LEGO group had gone international, and they sold Lego bricks all around the world.
Lego expands themes and scope
Lego sets were introduced in 1964. Customers could buy these sets, which included several parts and came with instructions for building models.
The Lego Group also introduced themed lines, including Harry Potter, Star Wars, Wester, Pirates, Space, Towns, etc. Human Lego figures with moveable arms and legs were introduced in 1974 in the Lego Family sets. The Expert Series and Expert Builder sets were introduced in 1975.
These sets were geared towards older, more skilled builders. These technical sets permitted the construction of realistic models as they had moving parts such as axles, levers, gears, and differentials.
These introductions and their intricate designs transformed Lego from the children’s building blocks they started as.
After 90 years, LEGOs are much more than just blocks. There are Lego trees, people, animals, ramps, busts, etc. There are even several real-life LEGO worlds in Denmark, England, Florida, and California.
Why collect LEGO?
You should start collecting LEGO sets as part of your collection for numerous reasons. Asides from their decorative functions, LEGO are one of the most collectable items. While LEGO products might have started as toys for children, children ceased being the leading target group for several decades.
They undoubtedly make for enjoyable moments providing numerous health benefits for “true” collectors. However, they make good collectibles because Lego investments provide collectors with significant profits.
A study by Russia’s HSE University of Finance analyzed the performance of Lego sets from 1987 to 2015 and found that the average return over this period was better than that of gold and stocks. Here are a few reasons LEGO are great collectibles.
Lego sets are only produced for a limited time
The foremost reason Lego sets make great collectibles is that they are generally only produced for a limited period. When a set is no longer produced (EOL – End of Life), its demand rises, and so does its price.
These sets are usually available for low prices while on the market. Lego investors who bought these popular sets sell them for higher prices to nostalgic or sentimental fans/collectors. These retired LEGO sets grow in value at a rate of between 20% to 200% per year.
They are timeless
The LEGO bricks produced decades ago still seamlessly connect to the ones made today. This drives fans’ interest in vintage LEGO sets, which let you build sets you built 30 years back as a kid.
Hard to destroy
Every collector knows how vital the condition is to the value of an item. While keeping most collectibles in mint condition is challenging, LEGO bricks are nearly indestructible. They are incredibly sturdy and hard to break.
Indeed, several LEGO parts can be easily broken, such as brackets, chain pieces, joints, and connectors. However, LEGO bricks are almost impossible to break. You’d have to disassemble and reassemble the set 37,112 times to break a LEGO brick from usage. It also takes 950 pounds of force to break a LEGO brick.
The issue with most collectibles is that they go out of fashion after a while as demand drops. However, the very nature of LEGO ensures they are always in demand. LEGO has a wide-ranging appeal as you can combine it with other interests or hobbies.
Star Wars fans would ensure the need for Star Wars-themed sets, while Marvel fans would ensure Marvel-themed sets are always in demand, etc. There are LEGO sets for all kinds of hobbies and interests.
Other reasons of collecting LEGOS include:
- Fun to collect and play with. Assemble complete sets and build elaborate sets. Great for developing creative skills, as the possibilities are endless.
Assembled LEGO sets are aesthetically pleasing. They make great centerpieces or decorative items for your home.
What Legos should you collect?
If you’re fascinated by LEGO sets and want to start a collection strictly because of that, you can get started easily. Just purchase a preassembled set of whichever themes you’re interested in and get started. There are several prominent themes, such as Star Wars, Harry Potter, Marvel, Batman, Minecraft, etc. The options are endless.
However, if you want to collect LEGO as an investment, you need to know what’s more likely to give you great returns on your investments.
There are a few ways to collect LEGO if you’re in for a profit. We shall consider four of these strategies.
- Buying new sets of popular themes
- Buying discounted sets
- Buying sets on sales
- Buying retired sets
New sets of best-selling themes
The first way to invest in LEGO is to buy new sets of best-selling themes when they are released. The idea is to buy these new and undamaged sets, properly store them for a while and then sell them off for profits.
This is also a cost-effective way to invest in LEGO, as you wouldn’t have to pay exorbitant prices for these sets. Themed sets are available for purchase on the official Lego store.
Certain themed sets do better than others. While the number of fans a franchise plays a part in the demand for its LEGO-themed set, that isn’t always accurate. Often, sets with the most active fanbases do not make it to the best sellers list.
Here are a few themes consistently ranked top 5 on LEGO best-selling charts for the last six years.
- LEGO City
- Star Wars
- LEGO technic
These are among the best-selling themes and are great options for investors as there are in high demand. Generally, sets linked to films or cartoons have been found to do well. Lego collectors pay a premium for unopened sets of sets in mint condition.
LEGO discounts its sets after one or two years of production. Some of these sets have become popular, and their prices have risen higher than the retail prices. This strategy is a bit of a hit-or-miss, and you require ample knowledge of the LEGO world to avoid buying the wrong sets.
For example, before discounting sets in the United States, Lego first discounts them in Europe. Suppose you’re in the United States and know the sets are about to be discounted. You can prepare to purchase once they are. Just ensure you’re buying the right sets that would keep being popular.
While this is tricky, it helps you save some money and can be incredibly profitable once you get the hang of it. The LEGO price and investment guide website BrickPicker is highly recommended if you wish to invest in LEGO. You can find some other good LEGO communities on EuroBricks, Brickset and Reddit’s Lego subreddit.
Buying LEGO sets on sale
This works almost the same way as buying discounted sets. However, you purchase sets on sale in stores and immediately sell them off online. You should look out for stores offering discounts such as Christmas or Black Friday and other discount deals. This option is safer than buying discounted sets. However, its profit margins are slim.
Buying retired sets
Targeting retired sets and purchasing them in the second-hand market is another route to invest in LEGO. This method offers a more significant reward compared to other strategies. According to research, the prices of retired Lego sets grow at least 11% annually.
This can be as much as 200% for popular sets. While buying retired sets can be rather costly, it reduces how long you must hold onto the LEGO set before selling it for a profit. Brick Picker runs an updated thread on retired LEGO sets, while BrickEconomy shows you sets that will be retired soon.
Just be sure to source locally for these retired sets. Never buy retired sets online unless you’re ready for a long hold or you’re pretty convinced there’s an imminent price surge. You could also target sets about to be retired and buy them at their retail prices for cheap just before they are retired.
Some sets that were retired as recently as last year are already worth 5X their retail prices. You can find these retired sets on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or garage sales.
Ultimately, collecting LEGOs follows the same principle as all other collectibles – Buy Low, Hold Long, Sell High. The website BrickEconomy is dedicated to the current and projected price of Lego sets.
Where to buy Lego sets and pieces
The primary method of purchasing Lego include the following:
Lego.com – This is Lego’s official online store. There are several perks to purchasing from here, such as its free VIP program, where you can access several cool bonuses. However, you cannot find retired sets in the Lego official store.
Local retailers – This includes retailers like Walmart, Target, Best Buy,
Barnes & Noble’s etc. Your local toy and comic store also fall under this category.
eBay – While you can find hard-to-find and retired sets on eBay, their prices are almost always relatively high. However, you can still catch the occasional good deal if you know where to look. Make sure to read the descriptions carefully before making an eBay purchase.
Dedicated Lego online markets – Several online markets are dedicated to selling LEGO sets. These include Bricklink, Brick Owl, and Brick & Minifigs. While most of the prices on these marketplaces are almost as high as eBay, you can find the occasional good deal if you dig long enough.
Local sales – include conventions, Craigslist, garage sales, Facebook marketplace, yard sales, swap meets, thrift stores and relocating neighbors. The prices here are the best you can expect, and you can immediately sell it online for a profit.
There are also options such as selling Lego on stockX.
Lego storage ideas and organization
Properly storing your purchased Lego sets are almost as important as the set you buy. As with all collectibles, buyers would pay premium prices for LEGO sets in mint condition.
Also, storing your Lego bricks ensures they stay organized, and you never lose a piece. We shall consider how to store unopened boxes and how to store used Lego bricks.
How to store used Lego bricks
Drawer Cabinets – This is the most popular way to store extensive Lego collections. They are cheap, durable, and can store tons of bricks. Some cabinets can be wall-mounted, which is excellent for people with children or limited space.
Lego storage box with large drawers with divided compartments – are great for properly organizing an extensive collection. Lego storage drawers are perfect for storing pieces by element.
Tackle boxes – These are a trendy choice for Lego enthusiasts. These containers come with divided compartments and a tight-fitting lid. The size of each compartment can be adjusted using plastic dividers. They are very portable and great for moving your Lego bricks to a convention or sale.
Plastic bags – are one of the least expensive ways to store your Lego bricks. However, ensure you purchase premium bags with sliding zippers designed to stand up when placed on the ground. This makes it great to store Lego bricks.
Lego storage bins – Although they take up a lot of space, open-front bins are great for storing large quantities of Lego bricks. Storage bins are best used with other storage options, such as mesh and ziplock bags. Put each set in the zip lock bag before storing them in the bin.
There is no one-size-fits-all method to store your used bricks. The best option for you depends on your budget, space, and collection size.
How to store built Lego sets
As a collector, there are several reasons why you should store built sets, especially if that’s how you purchased them. While you can disassemble and store the sets, it increases the risk of losing several pieces.
More extensive sets are best stored assembled as most buyers might ask for proof that it is complete. Rebuilding such sets can take days, even for professional builders. Additionally, you can ask for higher prices for assembled sets.
While cardboard boxes are good options for storing your Lego sets, we recommend using plastic bins. While cardboard boxes are cheaper, plastic containers are stackable, which is excellent when working with limited space.
- Step 1 – Wrap in bubble wrap.
While you could put your built Lego set in a plastic bin, several issues can arise. The right way is to carefully wrap each set in bubble wrap before putting it in the plastic bin. Tightly wind the plastic cling wrap around the LEGO set as tightly as possible without causing damage.
This keeps any piece that breaks off from falling out of the bubble wrap. You’ll require a lot of bubble wrap as you must wrap the sets in several layers to keep them safe and secure. Once your sets are wrapped in bubble wraps, you can put them in the plastic bin.
- Step 2 – Separately store mini figures and parts that stick out
Most Lego sets have problematic parts that easily fall off during wrapping. These are usually mini-figures, such as the wings of a jet. Ensure you separate these parts and wrap them separately before putting them in the storage container. You could also store them in a tackle box if they’re small enough.
- Step 3 – Downsizing large sets.
Most Lego sets are huge models and wouldn’t fit in a storage bin, no matter how big. For sets like this, you should remove parts and wrap them separately. This is different from disassembling the entire set, as you can quickly assemble the set once necessary.
Display Case – A large glass door display case is a great way to store built sets while showing it off. It protects the set from dust while creating an aesthetically pleasing look in your home. This is especially recommended if you have a rare or collector’s edition Lego set.
How to store Lego unopened boxes
Collectors pay a premium for unopened boxes of Lego sets that retain their mint look. While Lego plastic bricks retain this look, the boxes are not as durable. You must adequately store your unopened box to keep them looking their best.
Somewhere dry and dark – Direct sunlight can damage the printing on the box and cause fading. Also, take care to avoid highly humid areas. While moisture won’t affect Lego bricks, it can cause mildew which ruins the boxes.
Inside another cardboard box – It’s highly recommended that you store your Lego boxes inside another cardboard box of the same dimension. This provides sufficient padding and protects your original box from damage, such as dented corners and scuffed edges.
Somewhere high – This keeps your boxes away from pets, water, and other hazardous elements.
Store sealed boxes on their edges – Store your boxes on their edges like in the stores rather than flat. While storing your boxes flat has its benefits, keeping boxes on their edges saves space and prevents you from putting anything on top of them.
Store boxes tightly packed on their edge to eliminate risks of bulging. Storing boxes on their edges lets you easily remove a needed box rather than going through stacks. Do not put anything on your LEGO boxes – This leaves creases on the boxes and ruins their integrity.
If you absolutely must stack your boxes, put smaller boxes on the larger boxes or use a board to ensure the weight is evenly distributed.
Finding the value of your LEGO sets
The most critical question when selling your LEGO collection is how much it is worth. You need to learn about the market so you know when to sell. Here are some tools you can use to find out the current value of your LEGO and its projected value if you keep holding it.
BrickLink – The BrickLink catalog displays historical sales prices and lists how much people currently pay for both new and used LEGO sets. Simply enter the set number and click on “Price Guide.”
BrickSet – You should use this in conjunction with BrickLink to determine the worth of your Lego sets. While BrickLink shows how much the set is presently selling for, BrickSet provides additional information. It lists the MSRP, how much it is sold in various regions in the world, availability and even outlines the rarity of the set.
eBay – This is another way to determine how much a specific Lego set currently sells for. Simply search the Lego by name or part number and filter the search results to “completed listings”.
Review of value
While LEGO sets have become very popular collectibles in recent years, how valuable are there? Let’s look at six of the most valuable LEGO sets today: their retail price, the year they were released and their present value. Go here to check out the most valuable Star Wars Lego sets.
|Lego Set||Retail Price/year||Current value (used)||Present value (new)|
|LEGO Star Wars Cloud City (10123)||$99.99 (2003)||$3,079||$9,300|
|LEGO Ole Kirk’s House*||N/A*||$2,400||$7,700|
|LEGO Trains Steam Engine with Tender (7750)||$75 (1980)||$1,500||$5,500|
|LEGO Black Knight’s Castle (6086)||$84 (1992)||$961||$9,100|
|LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon (75192)||$849.99 (2017)||$1,000||$8,000|
|The LEGOLAND Train (4000014)||N/A*||$2,850||$3,380|
*The LEGO Ole Kirk’s House and LEGOLAND Train sets are exclusive sets given freely to lucky fans/collectors during events. While we considered just two exclusive sets for this list, exclusive sets are almost always valued above other sets.
As this list shows, collecting LEGO sets can be quite valuable. However, ensure you do not open or build your sets, especially when collecting as an investor. New/opened sets are undoubtedly valued more than used/opened sets.
Bottomline of the LEGO investing guide
LEGO sets are fun and profitable collectibles. However, the key to earning reasonable profits is patience. While you can purchase a set at a bargain price and instantly sell it off for huge profits, such occurrences are rare.
The tested and trusted route to making profits here is making intelligent purchases, sitting on your unopened sets for a while and then selling them for profits once the price rises sufficiently.