How To Buy Cheap, Genuine LEGO

0
24
How To Buy LEGO

My LEGO collection has grown significantly from when I was a child. Most of that started in 2015 when I bought my first LEGO set after a more than 25 year hiatus, and since then, it has quickly, uh, grown.

There are three questions I get routinely asked:

  1. How many LEGO pieces did it take to construct MonoTown? Answer: I don’t know, but probably roughly 100,000.
  2. How many LEGO pieces do I have in total? Answer: I don’t know, but probably something like 4-500,000
  3. How much did all of this cost? Answer: I don’t want to know!

The fourth question has been increasingly asked while live streaming, in comments sent in, or by friends and family who are interested in acquiring some LEGO of their own – what is the best way to buy cheap, genuine LEGO bricks?

I made a YouTube video that covers this topic which you can watch below, or keep reading!

4 Buying Strategies I Use to Buy LEGO

You need to keep two variables in mind when hunting for bargain LEGO: Specificity and Effort.

Put simply the more specific you are in terms of the sets or pieces you want to acquire, the more you’ll pay. Finding better bargains will require more effort, and that should be self explanatory, but it will also require more effort to get the bricks you’ve acquired assimilated into your LEGO collection (for example, they may need to be cleaned, and sorted, and you’ll need to check them for fake bricks).

When you’re thinking about how to buy LEGO, start with these two questions:

  1. Do I really care about a specific set or specific pieces?
  2. How much effort am I willing to invest to get LEGO at a cheaper price?

The answer to those questions will drive your buying strategy.

Bricklink – High Specificity, Low Effort, High Cost

If you’re new to collecting LEGO, you may not have heard of Bricklink, or the smaller but similar site BrickOwl. Both are home to a huge number of independent LEGO shops and both are great ways to look for very specific parts, in the colors you want, and you can even upload the manifest of entire sets and buy exactly what you need. This is also the easiest way to get LEGO assimilated into your collection as the parts will arrive pre-sorted for you, they’re often very clean, and I have yet to get any fakes.

Often stores will provide coupons to repeat customers as well, which is another great way to save on LEGO. I’ve found that you can often find some pretty good deals on Bricklink, but in general, it’s probably the most expensive way to buy LEGO outside of sets. I’ve found discounts here range from no discount at all to maybe 20-40% off of retail. Pretty good, but these are sophisticated buyers and sellers, and it’s a very active marketplace, so you won’t find many amazing deals here.

Retailers – Low Specificity, Medium Effort, Medium Cost

The second strategy is to look for discounts from retailers. There are lots of stores out there that sell LEGO, even stores you wouldn’t necessarily think of, like grocery stores! Many of these stores will discount their inventory because they’re trying to make room for new sets.

Here’s how to find the best deals:

  1. Head over to brickset.com which is a great way to keep your LEGO inventory up to date, and has a massive database of sets for reference. They have a LEGO discount tracker that you can use to keep an eye on discounts available all over the world. You can filter by region, retailer, and theme, and you can also sort by price, discount percentage, date, and more. I have used this to find some absolutely incredible deals on LEGO sets, often more than 50% off! Many of the larger technic sets will show up here with discounts that can range more than a hundred dollars or pounds. If you make a purchase via this discount tracker, it also supports the good folks at brickiest, so it’s a win-win.
  2. Another site (that is Europe only right now) is Brick Watch, and you can subscribe to alerts there.
  3. For American readers, BrickEconomy has a tracker that shows discounts on a variety of retailers and can serve as a rough guide to LEGO values over time.

EBay – Low Specificity, High Effort, Low Cost

Ebay is one of the best ways to get enormous amounts of LEGO at really cheap prices. The trick is to search for the phrase “lego joblot” in the UK or “bulk lego” in the USA. You can normally find some pretty good deals here, but you need to pay attention to the price per pound or kilo, and also make sure that the listing states that this is genuine lego, that way if you end up with a bunch of megablox or other fakes, you can ask for a refund. I normally sort through a reasonable percentage of the purchase, roughly measure how many fakes/off brand bricks there are, and then work out a partial refund with the seller.

I have bought hundreds of kilos of bulk LEGO on eBay this way, and it can be a really nice way to quickly build up your collection. But it’s also a major pain sorting it all out, ditching the inevitable fakes, and cleaning the pieces, which I’d highly recommend. This can take a lot of time, but well, we’re paying much lower prices. Now this is where it gets interesting.

Secret EBay Trick Explained

I’m going to share with you a discovery I made in 2020, which will help you pay much lower prices AND make these huge bulk buys much more easy to assimilate into your collection.

  • In the UK – search for “sorted lego bulk”
  • In the USA / Elsewhere – search for “sorted joblots”

Why? Because AFOLS and lego collectors don’t put any premium on sorted collections! They’re going to wash, sort, and check whatever they buy, and they’re used to it. When you find a sorted collection up for sale, it means you’ve found a first time seller of LEGO, usually a parent selling a child’s collection (or the child selling their own collection, something I’m sure they’ll regret later in life). They will have invested a lot of time in sorting the collection thinking they can get a premium on the price per pound or kilo, and this means two things – it will be much easier for you to ingest the purchase (less sorting!), AND they will have priced their listing higher than normal. Because of the higher than normal price, it won’t sell. Which means they’ve got this collection of lego they slaved over sitting there, annoying them. They probably even had the entire family pitch in over a number of nights. This is the kind of opportunity that LEGO bargain hunters want!

Here’s what you do – lowball them with an offer that is a significant discount off the normal price per pound or kilo in your region. I usually offer about $3-5 bucks per pound. The seller is normally so happy to get any interest at all, they’ll either accept your offer outright, or you’ll get it for $4-5 per pound. You have now just secured a massive amount of LEGO, pre-sorted for you, at a really good price! I have run this play 5 times in the last 6 months and it has worked every time. It’s…worked a little too well! It’s a massive time saver, and an awesome way to get a huge amount of LEGO for cheap.

Yard Sales / Garage Sales / Boot Sales – Low Specificity, High Effort, ? Cost

I don’t personally use this buying strategy because it is significantly more work, but you can definitely find some success with garage sales. These take a lot of time because you need to hunt them down on Facebook or the next-door app or even just see the signs if you’re driving around. You can hit it big on these sales, but it’s very hit or miss. Sometimes you’ll find really rare sets or a lot of older LEGO. Most people just want to get rid of stuff during a yard sale so you should always offer something below the “sticker price”.

Bonus Strategy – Your Friends

If you’re an Adult Fan of LEGO, it can sometimes be tempting to hide your hobby from friends. I get it. But I’ve found that by mentioning you’re into LEGO, you can often find folks who have a bunch of it in storage who will offer it up to you in an attempt to get rid of it. They’ll often give you a deal, or simply give it to you outright, which is always awesome!

Conclusion

Hopefully this helps, let us know if you have any other tips, and if you’d like to build with us live check us out on twitch!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here