Ask a LEGO Fan

Collectable Minifigures

Posted in Collecting Bricks & Sets, Marketplace by lfanquestions on January 26, 2010

Kyle writes:


I was wondering if you could answer a few questions about the first round of collectable minifigs that are set to be released in June 2010?

1. Are these exclusive to Lego Stores and/or Lego Shop@Home?

2. Will there be different levels of rarity (i.e. common, uncommon, rare)?

3. Has TLG stated how many bags will be in a case or display?

4. What countries will these be released in?

Some of this info may or may not be available yet, but anything you might have (or be able to uncover) would be great.

Dear Kyle,

Rumor has it that these figures will be available in multiple retail locations.  The display photo indicates 32 packages per case.  Logically these would contain two copies of each 16 different figures.  We do not yet know which countries will receive the sets.

The larger issue will be supply and demand.  Resellers and AFOLs will likely go to stores and buy an entire case.  Hopefully TLG will offer entire cases on Shop at Home or a later “complete set” version for collectors.  This could be similar to offerings from sports card companies.

Sincerely,

LFan

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Winter Toy Shop, Round 2

Posted in Marketplace, Product Quality & Safety by lfanquestions on January 25, 2010

Joe writes:

An update, for the curious… I didn’t see Joanie’s kind suggestion in time and missed my chance to buy from any of the LEGO stores (despite calling several across the country).

I’ve contacted LEGO directly, and they’re not forthcoming with their plans on this set. The set is selling for (on average) $110 on the secondary market — almost twice it’s original price. They’re currently selling the set to Europeans, but not to the US market.

It’s logical to assume that the set may be released again this Christmas, but if that doesn’t happen, the re-sale price will have skyrocketed by that time.

I’m pretty frustrated at the whole thing. The set was available for a matter of weeks, then disappeared without warning. When I received my Holiday catalog with the set on the cover, it had already sold out.

I think it’s pretty disgusting that so many people bought this set in order to re-sell it. Why should the end-buyers (me) lose the chance to buy a great set because re-sellers bought them first? If LEGO plans to re-release the set in the US, what’s the harm in letting us know ahead of time? And why isn’t the set available in the US currently?

Dear Joe,

I do not think you should blame people who bought this set for resale.  Currently only 48 sellers on BrickLink are offering this set.  LEGO was an extremely popular toy for families this year.  They are the ones who kept this set as a top seller and caused it disappear so quickly.  The set offered exclusive minifigures, hard to find elements, and had a very reasonable price per piece ratio.  It could have been sold by LEGO in the $80 USD range.

Fans and brick resellers were both surprised at how quickly this set sold out.  TLG  underestimated the popularity of this set and should have made a larger original run.

TLG is very secretive about future product offerings, even if it involves bringing a product back.  This is done to prevent the competition from producing similar competing products.  The one good thing about high sales is that LEGO will likely sell this set again or a similarly designed set next year.

Sincerely,

LFan

Early Target Clearance?

Posted in Marketplace by lfanquestions on January 20, 2010

Polywen writes:

This past weekend, random Target stores across the country had the entire line of Atlantis sets on sale for 50% off in their clearance section.  This makes little sense to me.  The next nearest Target would have the sets, but at full price.  Do you have any insight as to why Target would do this?  The sets were only released to Target in January.  They’ve barely been out for half a month.  Did someone make a mistake?  These stores must be loosing money on the stock.

Dear Polywen,

This early clearance was likely an internal price mistake.  Several years ago Batman sets were listed with incorrect prices.  This allowed great deals on certain sets and terrible prices on others.  These pricing mistakes are usually isolated and rare.

Sincerely,

LFan

Lego Train Track on Baseplates

Posted in Uncategorized by lfanquestions on January 12, 2010

Frankie writes:

Hi,

Do you have any recommendations on ways to attach Lego train track to the Lego baseplates?  It’s easy enough with the straight pieces, of course, but the curves don’t fit. How do other people solve this problem?

Frankie

Dear Frankie,

Please check out the following resources for information on fan solutions to Lego track layouts:

http://indylug.org/blogs/jkyle/default.aspx

http://www.brickpile.com/track-layout-geometry/

Sincerely,

LFan

Sets in the Attic

Posted in Uncategorized by lfanquestions on January 12, 2010

Andreas writes:

Hi,

As my parents recently cleared their attic I had to take over all of my old lego. The sets are from the late 80’s / early 90’s and most are in their original boxes with the instructions. It is mostly city, castle, pirates, technic and some space. I didn’t realize that there was such a huge market for used lego and I have some question concerning the fundamentals of this.

I haven’t yet decided if I should keep it all or try to sell it off but I’m also considering saving them for a while as an investment. How do you expect the future market for lego to evolve?

Does keeping them in sets make them more valuable? Also, how much does the box and instructions add to the value? Some are in quite good shape while others are crushed and torn. Is it wise to keep the sets apart or can I mix them up for my nephews/nieces to play with for the time being and then sort it out if I decide to sell them in the future?

Andreas

Dear Andreas,

All Lego sets will increase in value over time.  Boxes and instructions add 25% or more to the value of a used set.

My recommendation as a fan is to keep the sets.  Vintage sets are great for relatives to play with.  If you ever have children, it can be rewarding to build with them.

Certain old sets are worth hundreds of dollars and include very rare elements.  Research prices of large sets at www.bricklink.com and www.ebay.com.  You may want to build these valuable sets and store them separately from the main collection.

Sincerely,

LFan

Lego Set Investments 2.0

Posted in Uncategorized by lfanquestions on January 12, 2010

Ilene writes:

Hi Lego Fan,

I am interested in purchasing Lego sets as an investment and perhaps selling discontinued sets for a premium at a later date.  I’d love your advice on how to learn early about which sets/themes will be discontinued and when to buy at the best price for an investment?  Thanks so much.

Ilene

Dear Ilene,

Retail chains (Walmart, Target, Toys R Us, etc) constantly want new Lego products to sell.  Most sets will not be available longer than two years.  The best deals are often found when a line is phased out and sets are on clearance.

Extremely popular and profitable lines such as Star Wars are rarely on clearance.  It is better to look for retail sales such as 25% off or “buy two get one free”  for long-term toy lines.

Demand for Lego set is very high now.  It may not be as high in a few years.  The sellers who stockpiled Lego several years ago when it was extremely affordable are now reaping the benefits.  It may be more difficult today to find deals and turn a high profit in the future.

Sincerely,

LFan

Lego Set Investments

Posted in Collecting Bricks & Sets, Marketplace by lfanquestions on January 8, 2010

Bobby writes:

I’ve been collecting LEGO for a few years, and I’ve noticed a surprising trend. More often than not, AS SOON as a set is retired it doubles and sometimes triples or quadruples in value on the aftermarket.


I’ve noticed this has happened on many licensed sets (Batman was insane, a mere 2 weeks after “sold out” set #7884 had gone from $11 to an average asking price of $60) I’ve also noticed that creator set prices sky rocket, as well as many others shortly after retirement. The most recent example is cafe corner.


What do you feel determines this? It’s pretty much across the board, once a set is retired it goes up in value, but it seems like the norm is for the jump in value to be extreme. Why? How?

ALSO, second part to this question… What current/ upcoming sets do you feel will be the most valuable once retired? Will Toy Story be the next batman? What about the upcoming Prince of Persia sets? Creator apple tree house? Will that be the next #4954? Will #6754 be the next #4954?


I am convinced that Green Grocer will sky rocket in price once retired, as well as many of the Indiana Jones sets. What are your thoughts?

Dear Bobby,

The sets you describe fall into two categories.  First there are licensed sets.  These sets have a Lego collectors market and a licensed theme collectors market (Batman, Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc).  New movies, books, and videogames increase demand for these discontinued products.

The second type of set are Direct to Consumer exclusive sets sold at Shop at Home, Lego Brand Stores, and a few retail stores (Toys R Us, FAO, etc).  These sets are designed for the AFOL collector.  Often collectors want a complete group of sets such as all UCS Star Wars sets, all famous buildings (Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Taj Mahal).   Exclusive sets often have unique elements and minifigures which prohibit assembling the pieces and building the set from scratch.  They are also produced in smaller quantities than regular play theme lines.

In terms of an investment, most licensed lines with minifigures will gain value over time.  Some lines like Batman will gain value immediately while others like Harry Potter and Spiderman will take more time.  Any current set with an exclusive minifigure (Mola Ram, Admiral Ackbar, etc) is a safe investment.

New licensed lines such as Prince of Persia will be more risky.  They do not have the same huge established fan base as Star Wars or Indiana Jones.  Basic creator sets such as the Apple Tree House will have value.  But larger “Medieval Market Village” type exclusives are a better investment.

Savvy buyers can easily buy two copies of these sets and sell one later.  It should cover most costs of the original set that a fan keeps.

Sincerely,

LFan

Poor selection vs High Prices

Posted in Marketplace by lfanquestions on January 6, 2010

Riley writes:

I’ve noticed that for a good year or so Toys R Us has been getting certain Lego models out on their shelves sooner than other retailers like Wal-Mart and Target. I’m interested in some of the Toy Story sets and I don’t feel inclined to pay the extra cost that Toys R Us is charging, particularly an extra $10 for Woody’s Roundup. Last week the local Toys R Us had most of the Toy Story sets but as of today Target’s and Wal-Mart’s Lego shelves are nearly empty.

I know I can mail order these, but on most sets it costs a little more to have them shipped than the sales tax. I don’t really mind waiting, just wondering why.

Thanks for you time.

Dear Riley,

Toys R Us exclusively sells toys and not general items that people need on a daily basic such as food, clothing, personal care items, etc.  Their higher than suggested retail prices are necessary to keep the company profitable.  In addition, many consumers will pay more because they can browse a wide selection of Lego in person.

The downturn in the economy has been beneficial to TLG.  Parents are looking for high quality and long lasting toys.  Demand spiked at the same time wary retailers cut back their inventories.  Stores like Walmart may only have ordered six to eight copies of Woody’s Roundup.

Eventually stores will notice how well LEGO sets are being sold and order large quantities.  Inevitably at some future point their will be a surplus of sets which will lead to sales.  This may not happen for several years.  Popularity of certain toy brands seem to be cyclical.

Sincerely,

LFan