Ask a LEGO Fan

AFOL Percent of Sales

Posted in Marketplace by lfanquestions on February 24, 2010

Russell writes:

I’ve only recently rediscovered the joys of Lego after a 35 year hiatus, prompted in large part by finally visiting Billund as I promised myself in 1968.  Since then I’ve been amazed by the extent of the AFOL community, and the size of some of the collections.

Do you know if anyone, TLG or external, has done any research on just how much of TLG’s revenue comes from AFOLs compared to “toy” sales?  Given the variety of methods by which AFOLs source their kits, it would be very difficult, but I suspect the percentage is very high.



Dear Russell,

It is difficult to find out the percentage of sales that are for AFOLs instead of parents buying for their children.  TLG tends to think we are a small portion of their sales (5-10%) while the community believes we buy a large amount (30%) of product.  The truth is likely somewhere in between these numbers.




SAH Phone Sales and Deals

Posted in Marketplace by lfanquestions on February 22, 2010

Michael writes:

Dear LFan….

Kick A.. Blog, I wish you got more questions simply so I could learn more… so I thought I would try it.

How do the Lego Shop@Home Phone Deals work?

I see these posted to “members only” portions of lego community sites such as FBTB.

What are these, can anyone get them, and how do I find out what the weekly DL is?

Dear Michael,

LEGO Shop at Home uses their weekly phone sales to clear out small amounts of inventory.  Usually these items are sold out at online Shop at Home.

In the USA, a new week’s specials begin at 8AM Eastern Time every Wednesday.

Call 1-800-835-4386 and press 4 for the deals recording.

Websites such as and post lists of these sets later in the day.  By that time, most of the good sets will be purchased by BrickLink and eBay resellers.  Calling in at 8AM is the best method to get the sets.

After you have listened to the recording, speak to a SAH representative and place your order.  I like to have open on my computer to check out images and original MSRP of the sets.

Make sure to check the online sales and deals page.  Sometimes those discounts are better for a set than the phone special discount.



Starting A New Community

Posted in LUGs (LEGO Users Groups), Online Fan Communities by lfanquestions on February 22, 2010

Alex writes:

What advice/resources can you suggest for new communities? Are there any guidelines or tips? Does Lego provide any resources on this matter (other than sets for contests & co)?

Dear Alex,

First check and see if there is a LEGO Users Group in your area:

You may need to start a new LUG if other groups are too far away.  Check out websites of current lugs above to see how they handle meetings and events.  You will need a meeting place and a website to promote your club.

TLG has supported lugs in the past by donating small amounts of brick for displays and catalogs, posters, etc to give to the public at events.

Online communities are formed by like minded fans without the support of TLG.  Find other fans at existing community sites.  Discover the people that are interested in starting a new site.  Check out the major theme and community sites to see how they organize their forum, set archives, article sections, events, etc.

From time to time TLG donates new sets for contests on major theme sites such as Classic-Castle,, etc.  Thanks TLG!

In the past certain Lego resource sites have been assisted financially by TLG until they became self sufficient.  Currently it is unlikely that a new fan site would have this level of support.



Fire Brigade Discount?

Posted in Collecting Bricks & Sets, Marketplace by lfanquestions on February 18, 2010

Kyle writes:

Hi Lfan,

I’ve heard that every time a new building/set is released in the Cafe Corner style, the previous set is marked down for a limited time on Shop @ Home. I witnessed this happen with Green Grocer when Fire Brigade was released, but only heard that the same thing had happened to Cafe Corner when Green Grocer was released. My questions are as follows:

– Has this trend happened consistently in the past?
– Has there been any word that Fire Brigade will be marked down when Grand Emporium launches in March?
– How deep is the discount on Fire Brigade likely to be, based on previous trends?

Thanks in advance,

Dear Kyle,

This Shop at Home discount occurred when the Green Grocer and Fire Brigade sets were released.  I do not believe there was a discount when the Market Street was released.

We do not know if the Fire Brigade will have a similar discount.  The set should still be available when the Grand Emporium is released.  Waiting to purchase the Fire Brigade could be a wise decision.

Previous discounts were around twenty percent off.  These sets also go on sale with similar discounts during the holiday season on sites such as Amazon.



Wanted Lists, Inventories, and Catalog Management

Posted in Collecting Bricks & Sets, Inventories, Sorting, & Storage by lfanquestions on February 18, 2010

Misha writes:

Hi! Some questions I came up with:

1. I recently started using Wanted Lists – they save so much time
finding parts and sets I need across all the vendors. I’ve since
created a few lists for the stuff I need, such as:

– part-out lists for sets I WTB part by part over time (rare stuff,
overpriced/underrepresented classics)
– sets to buy if the price is right (sets I want with price set to
reasonably low, with email notification)
– parts I need (MOC and missing parts list – most useful for searching
by shop, but needs constant cleanup/adjustment after each order)
– main list (etc., usually empty for some elbow room when organizing lists)

Are there any other good ways of using the wanted lists? Perhaps your
readers will be able to think of more?

2. Are you using any sites for the parts and set management – like
Peeron? Is it really worthwhile? I’d really love to hear about it!

3. Can you offer any advice on how best to take and submit part images
to Bricklink and/or other inventory sites? I also see many rendered
images (i.e. not actual photos) – how are those generated, and why
aren’t they used for everything?


Dear Misha,

You seem to be utilizing most of the benefits of wanted lists on Our readers are free to post other wanted list suggestions.

I am not using Peeron or Lugnet to inventory my parts and sets.  Several of my Lego friends do use these systems.  It is much easier to plan large mocs based on an accurate sorted inventory of bricks.  Taking the time to sort and inventory a giant collection is the main drawback.  Many fans would rather spend this time building.

Check out for information on creating rendered brick images.  Fans map out existing elements in 3D.  New elements, obscure elements, and complicated elements (ie: Elephant) may not be available in LDraw yet.  This is why photographs are used for these elements on Peeron and BrickLink.  Each site has unique requirements for inventory submission.  Please check out these sites:



Lego Set Investments

Posted in Collecting Bricks & Sets, Marketplace by lfanquestions on February 16, 2010

Brian writes:

Thanks for answering all the questions. This is a great avenue for lego fans!  I was wondering what your top five lego purchases would or will be in the next month; based mainly on investment value.  If you do not mind, I would love to know why for each of the five.  Thank you again.  Have a great day.

Dear Brian,

Each fan must decide on the sets they think will be most valuable in the long run.  I would purchase these three sets:

7195 Ambush in Cairo – LEGO Batman taught us the small licensed sets with popular minifigures can increase in value.

10193 Medieval Market Village – This set is a great deal at 99 USD.  A brand new 3739 Blacksmith Shop set is worth more than double  the original set MSRP.  We should expect a similar jump in value with the MMV.

10185 Green Grocer – All Café Corner style buildings are valuable after they are discontinued.  Plus this set has great pieces.



Questions Thread: February 14th-20th, 2010

Posted in General Questions by lfanquestions on February 15, 2010

Please send in your Lego related questions to receive answers.  You may reply to this post or send us an email at  Thanks!

Fan Created Instructions

Posted in Construction Techniques by lfanquestions on February 11, 2010

Brandon writes:

I have a great time looking at all of the great photos on the internet of the various MOC’s created by so many AFOL’s (and the non-adult FOL out there).  But is there a reason why you never see instructions on how to build them yourself or a parts list?  I realize that it would time consuming and a little disruptive in the creation process, but I think it would be great for the builders out there with less imagination or younger ones (like my kids) that see something great that they would like to build.

Does TLC have some policy where people can’t provide this information based on some fear that there will be some confusion or competition with their own official sets?

Dear Brandon,

A small percentage of fans do make instructions for their MOCs using Ldraw.  Check out fan created instructions here:

There was a great online resource, Building Instructions Portal, for finding fan instructions:

Creating high quality instructions is a time consuming process for fans and TLG.  Most fans prefer to spend that additional time building.

LEGO must focus on making instructions for the sets they are currently selling.  The company does not regulate fan instructions or creations in any way.  Fans that create custom sets for sale include a disclaimer that they are not affiliated with TLG.