There’s no need to stress about funding for your next cinematographic masterpiece if it’s going to be a LEGO stop motion animation. Forget crowdfunding or hoping someone will give you a good LEGO set for your birthday. Instead, buy potentially valuable LEGO sets at a discount, especially if you can stack coupons or rewards during a sale, store them for a while and then sell them at cost or at a profit.
Is Lego investing worth it?
Absolutely, yes! Search online and you’ll find LEGO investment legends, stories of people who sold sets for twice as much as they’d paid for them, and many stories of smaller victories. It’s possible to do this casually, part-time, and even full-time.
I see it as a fun pastime if you’re going to be buying LEGO anyway.
Zee: “This is Fun, not financial advice”
In the post below, I’m sharing the research I have done. Please note that I’m not an investment expert, LEGO investment expert, or financial advisor, let alone a qualified financial advisor. I can’t and won’t guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information in this post.
You can invest in LEGO Sets
Today I found a set on sale at Target that I’d seen mentioned on a YouTube video about potentially good LEGO investment sets. I don’t even remember which video it was. I bought a $14.99 set for $11.99 with a Target debit card that gave me an additional whopping $0.60 discount.
Will I be able to sell it for $14.99? Will I make more? Only time will tell.
What if I had bought 100 of them online and their value increased?
What if I diversified and also bought 100 Speed Champion sets, say some Ferraris and some Porsches? And Hogwarts Castle (selling for $400.00 at the time of this writing)?
You can invest in LEGO Minifigures: Llama Costume
Before typing “LEGO investing” into the Google Search box, this is what I was thinking: (And remember that, since I’m a filmmaker, and my actors are minifigures, I pay closer attention to them rather than entire sets).
When I bought a “blind bag,” an opaque little bag from Minifigure Collectible Series 20, at Walmart, I paid under $5.00. Granted, I had to fondle the bag and hope I didn’t get one of the little plastic people I didn’t like. It was the pea pod, not the llama.
Today I see the llama on eBay for as much as $14.95. I could get it for less, there and on other sites, like BrickLink, but I’d still have to pay for shipping.
That’s after only a few months since Series 20 was released. What about next year, or three years from now?
What the financial experts Say
In 2015, The Telegraph, a British newspaper, reported that the value of LEGO sets in excellent condition had increased by 12% every year since 2000, compared to 9.6% for gold.
In October of 2019, University of Northumbria researchers showed that “A value-weighted index made up of investable Lego sets available between 1966 and 2018 showed a 1.2 percent inflation-adjusted annual return with low volatility and correlations to other asset classes,” according to Alicia McElhaney, writing for Institutional Investor.
There had been a previous study in April of 2018, this time by researchers at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow, that showed “8 percent average real returns per year.”
How LEGO investing works
Buy, hold for a long time, sell.
1. Buy LEGO for investment
This is where you make your money. Focus on this step, not the selling step.
Strategy for buying LEGO sets
- Use points and rewards when you can. Think in terms of credit card rewards points or gift cards.
- Buy gift cards at a discount (for places like Target, Marshall’s Walmart, Michael’s, Kohl’s).
- Buy during sales.
In a perfect world, do it all at once: Buy LEGO products using your discount and/or points and rewards to buy during sales.
BrickPicker’s Brook Johnson talks about specific discounts he looks for. To him, the gift cards and rewards route is too time-consuming. But then again, he buys and sells at a rate that I can’t even fathom.
Which Lego ets to invest in . . . and avoid as investments
“Buy LEGO sets that you think will increase in value over time,” they say.
I’m rolling my eyes. Easier said than done.
Watch for sets and minifigures that are “special,” like
- Christmas/seasonal one-time sets, like the ship in a bottle
- movies and TV shows, like Harry Potter and Friends
- sets that are about to retire, which means LEGO will stop making them and (in theory) NEVER make them again.
Brook Johnson talks about how he bought very large sets (say, consisting of 2000 pieces or more) and made little to no money on them. He still buys them and trades them for other large sets.
YouTube RebornKing‘s Macarthy explains why he avoids the City theme as an investment. On the one hand, there are multiple police stations, for example, and it’s hard to tell when those sets will be retired. On the other hand, the Harry Potter set with the transparent blue deer will be retired, and there will probably be no other, similar set, since LEGO is working its way through the different scenes of those movies featuring that famous Hogwarts student. Reborn King also reminds you that there are many more City sets than Harry Potter sets, and, remember, we’re hoping to cash in on scarcity.
Everyone has an opinion, and those opinions can be contradictory. Personally, given what I know now, I would start with the Architecture theme and/or the smaller Harry Potter and Friends sets.
As a reminder: I have been researching LEGO investment, but I haven’t done it myself, yet. Even if I had, I still wouldn’t be able to guarantee that you will make money, or not lose money, if you use the information I have gathered here for you.
LEGO Investment Sites
You’re going to have to do some research. I would spend some time here:
- BrickBucks (Lego Investing and Reselling)
- BrickPicker (Lego Investment Guide and Lego Price Guide)
- CamelCamelCamel (Amazon Price Tracker)
- BrickLink (The World’s Largest Lego Marketplace)
- BrickSet (Lego Set guide and community of Lego enthusiasts)
There are plenty of experts online, some with 2 weeks’ experience, some with 20 years’ worth of experience. It’s a plastic rabbit hole, my friend!
2. Hold on to your LEGO investment sets
LEGO Investing means good storage
To get the most money from your investment, the LEGO set box must be perfect. These sets are often given as gifts, and who wants to gift a scratched, dented, or even somewhat crushed box?
You need a space where your LEGO investments will be undisturbed and safe. My first thought was that I would be afraid of mold in Monterey, California, and of heat in Dallas, Texas. Think ahead about the environmental things that could happen in in your area.
Jim of BrickBucks talks about how the Friends theme boxes will lose their integrity when stacked for long periods of time. The Architecture theme is made for adults and looks nicer, with sturdier boxes.
Reseller Alex Nunes has plywood shelving units with a felt lining. He’s been selling LEGO for more than 7 years, and in his years of experience shelf wear on the set boxes is inevitable. That’s why he’s also lined the shelves with felt.
Alex also recommends keeping the boxes away from pets and smoke.
Keep the box sealed
You can still make money on a set from an opened box. However, if I’m buying from you, can I trust that you didn’t replace some of the parts or *gasp and shudder* leave something out? If I’m going to take that risk, I’m going to pay you less.
If you really love the set, or if you want one for your child, buy TWO sets.
You can always resell the used set. (Or trade.) If the value of that set has increased, and since you didn’t pay full price for it anyway, maybe you can still recoup what you originally paid for it. Maybe more.
How long should you hold onto those sets?
That’s the zillion-dollar question, right? You just have to keep monitoring prices. If you bought the set right when it was released into the world, you might have to hold on for at least 2 years if you want to make more money, since many sets don’t retire for at least 2 years.
One YouTuber commenting on an Alex Nunes video on investing briefly describes the tracking system he’s used since 2014, and in his experience, many LEGO sets stop gaining value 4 or 5 years after they are retired. But I bet you’ll find someone who tells you the opposite
I think much depends on the themes you choose to focus on and the strategy you adopt based on how serious you are and how much money you want to invest. Some people will get a part-time job or side hustle just to be able to buy more LEGO inventory.
3. Sell your LEGO Investments Sets
Some options for Selling LEGO Sets
- eBay: sell anything opened or damaged there
- Bricklink: it’s often called “eBay for LEGO,” but there’re no auctions there.
- Sell locally using whatever apps or sites you would ordinarily use.
What if you can’t get the price you want?
Hold on to the set for a while longer. If you still can’t get what you want, then you can always open the box and enjoy the set. It’s yours!
Lego Investment Warnings
You’ll have to pay FEES if you sell your LEGO sets online, for example, eBay, PayPal, Bricklink fees. Those will eat up some of your profit.
You could be investing that money in other things with lower fees that make more sense in terms of taxes, and that don’t take up space in your home or storage unit.
Some sets don’t retire for years and years, and sometimes their value doesn’t increase. You should do your research, but there are no guarantees. Alex Nunes mentions a set he bought for $220 and held for 7 years, then sold it for $200. He lost $20 and whatever amount he could’ve earned had he invested that money in something else.
Watch out for fake LEGO! To avoid knockoffs, it’s best to buy new sets from a store, like the LEGO Store or Target. Avoid the aftermarket.
Timing is everything, and there will be a learning curve.
Don’t confuse this type of investment in sets with reselling individual parts, where you might buy large sandwich bags of random pieces, sight unseen, from a clueless mother and try to sell, say, an light gray inverted slope, for $0.10, hoping someone is making a massive rocky landscape and wants 300 of them. You’d need systems for that, including one for storage.
After all that . . .
Is LEGO worth investing in?
Why not? Especially if you keep it fun and keep good records. Sell enough to
- buy LEGO for your own use (feed that habit!)
- pay for something like your streaming TV service
- save up for something, or
- repeat the steps above to reinvest in more LEGO.
If you bought sets you would’ve liked to have anyway, now you have them, and you bought them at a discount, so it’s a win-win!
Certain LEGO sets grow in value over time, doing better than gold. You can take advantage of LEGO’s popularity and nostalgia by looking at its sets as investments rather than (or as well as) toys.
Do some research and buy at a discount, then store the boxes very carefully, possibly for years, before finally selling them, keeping fees in mind.
It helps to buy sets you yourself would enjoy. That way, if you are unable to sell at a price you would prefer, you can open the box, geek ou, an giggle like a 5-year-old girl. It’s a win-win!