The Ultimate Lego Selling Guide
Everything you need to know to sell your Lego, including how to tell what your Lego are worth and where to sell them
Do you have boxes or tubs full of Lego? Ever wonder how much your Lego are worth? How about where to sell your Lego? Flipsy.com talked to two Lego experts to bring you the ultimate Lego selling guide. Here, we’ll answer everything you need to know about how to sell your Lego, including:
- What are the most valuable Lego?
- What makes Lego valuable?
- How much are your Lego worth?
- Where can you sell your Lego?
- Lego selling tips
What are the most valuable Lego?
Lego, the same word in both singular and plural form, as Adult Fans of Lego (AFOL) are apt to remind you, might be more valuable than you think. In fact, a 2015 Time article stated Lego collecting is a better investment than gold.
The most expensive individual Lego ever auctioned was a 14-karat gold brick, which sold in a January 2017 Catawiki auction for $19,793. Lego gave 2×4 gold bricks to select business partners between 1979 and 1981, and fewer than ten of the bricks are believed to exist today.
Since they’re incredibly rare, gold bricks might be the most valuable Lego, but they’re not indicative of the value of commercially-sold Lego. Lego gold brick. Source: Catawiki The most valuable Lego set sold to consumers is the Star Wars Millennium Falcon, which originally retailed for around $500 and has since sold on the secondary market for more than $5,600. However, after Lego released a new version of the Millennium Falcon in 2017 (at $800 retail), the value of the original dropped to between $1,000 and $2,500, according to Wayne Hussey, a member of the SEattle Area Lego Users Group (SEALUG) and director of BrickCon, an annual Lego Users Group conference held in Seattle. Hussey says the value of a given Lego is driven by rarity and desire. “The market fluctuates all the time. A really good current example is the Millennium Falcon,” he says. “The original set was a limited edition and quickly sold out on the primary market. The secondary market price went from the $500 to over $1,000, and then up to over $5,000. There were indeed people who sold (and bought) them at that price. This year, a new version of the same set was released at $800. That had an immediate effect on the price of the original $500 set.” Lego Star Wars Millennium Falcon. Source: Ryan Hafer, The Plastic Brick. Ryan Hafer, owner of Perry, Michigan-based The Plastic Brick, the largest retailer of used and out-of-production Lego sets, says Lego values can be directly impacted by the company’s decisions.
“Since the early 2000s, Lego has built in some actual rarity to the Lego collectible market by changing their product lineup on a yearly basis,” says Hafer. “In earlier times, a particular set had a product lifecycle that spanned multiple years, which is now an exception. This means that a more expensive set that has some rare elements or minifigures in it will circulate through the aftermarket less and increase the value.”
And though Lego can create rarity, it can also dilute the market. “When value spikes on something because people are very interested in it, Lego tends to notice and reissue a similar set,” says Hafer. “A good example of this is the Star Wars Republic Gunship (7676). For a time we were selling the set for nearly $500, but then Lego issued the Republic Gunship (75021) and prices immediately started to back down.”
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Lego are sold in four primary categories: collections, sets, parts, and minifigures (which have their own subcategories, like Technic and Scala).
“I don’t think there is a definitive rule on what are the most popular Lego products, but in general I would say the rank goes set, minifigure, then parts,” says Hafer. “In reality, all three of those things are tied together. A set generally comes with a higher price tag, but is greatly affected by any special minifigures it might contain.” Different buyers value Lego differently, and each has their own thematic interests; thus, there is no “holy grail” every collector agrees on.
Some of the most expensive Lego recently sold on Ebay include: Lego collections
|VTG Lego collection||September 2017||$3,100|
|Lego Minifigure collection with Mr. Gold||September 2017||$2,281|
|Lego Minifigure collection series 1 through 16 without Mr. Gold||October 2017||$1,800|
|Lego The Hobbit entire collection||November 2017||$1,200|
|Millennium Falcon 10179||August 2017||$3,799|
|Eiffel Tower 10184||November 2017||$3,750|
|Taj Mahal 10189||September 2017||$3,000|
|Café Corner 10182||October 2017||$2,460|
|Mr. Gold 17001||October 2017||$2,500|
|Marvel Amazing Spider-Man||November 2017||$2,000|
|DC Comics Man of Steel Black Suit||October 2017||$1,525|
|170 lbs. Lego with minifigures||November 2017||$2,000|
|13 lbs. Star Wars minifigures with weapons||November 2017||$1,351|
|400 lbs. Lego mixed parts||November 2017||$1,100|
|75 lbs. Lego Bionicle and Technic parts||September 2017||$1,000|
Your Lego not worth much? Many phones are worth $100+. Find the value of your phone.
What makes Lego valuable?Before you can determine how much your Lego are worth, it’s good to understand what makes Lego valuable. As mentioned, buyers have various reasons for why they’re interested in a particular Lego.
“Most of the adults I have met went through what is called a ‘dark age’, the time between playing with Lego as a child and growing up enough to be slightly embarrassed by such activity or having other, more teenaged interests,” says Hussey. “The end of the dark age comes when the person makes a conscious decision to build again, usually when they are adults.”
That dark age creates a gap in an adult builder’s history in which new Lego sets were sold but not purchased. Lego Statue of Liberty. Source: Ryan Hafer, The Plastic Brick. “I believe a big part of the allure is that there is a knowledge of past items that people didn’t get, and now they want to fill that gap,” says Hussey. “Along that line, there are individual parts and minifigures that are sought by people who, for whatever reason, do not have them. As with anything, rarity versus desire sets value.”
Hussey adds that the primary value-builders are rarity, age, and condition. Typically, the older the set, the higher its secondary price. “They do reach a point of plateau, and some sets never increase,” he says. “Some have decreased below original shelf price, but this is not the common condition.” Aside from rarity and desire, Lego values are influenced by:
ConditionLego are either new or used, and there are variations of a “new” designation, like “sealed in box”, or “sealed in damaged box”, says Hussey. A set can only be considered new if it has never been put together. Other factors that affect condition include:
- Play-wear and scratches
- Stress marks from bending
- Loose hinges
- Frayed fabric
- Stretched rubber bands
- Deteriorated stickers
- Teeth marks and other damage
- If the parts are clean or dirty
- Debris, such as pieces of Crayons, Hot Wheels, buttons, or other non-building toys mixed in with a collection
CompletenessA set can be incomplete even if it’s considered new. A complete set should include all the original parts, as well as the box, instructions, parts bags, stickers and sticker sheets, and minifigures. Interestingly, you might be able to make more money by separating minifigures before you sell.
“Missing minifigures are the primary reason for incompleteness,” says Hussey. “The secondary market has shown that a set price can be recovered by selling only the minifigures inside the set.
Many sellers will separate the minifigures, sell them, and then sell the remainder of the set at a large discount. Often, this increases the amount of money a seller can obtain for a particular set, as compared to just selling the sealed set. It also provides a way to acquire the non-fig pieces at a lesser cost.” Hafer concurs: “Missing parts erode the value of a set, but not as much as a missing figure can erode the value. A single missing figure can cost as much to replace as the whole set, in certain cases.”
Theme or franchiseMany collectors are interested in Lego featuring specific themes, or those from certain franchises. Star Wars Lego are among the most collectible, as are famous landmarks like the Taj Mahal and the Statue of Liberty.
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Distribution and productionDistribution and production contribute to rarity, which influences value. Hafer says Lego can be grouped into three categories: mass distributed, Lego exclusive distributed, and limited production. General price ranges based on distribution and production (aftermarket values)
|Mass distributed||$3 to $500|
|Lego exclusive distributed||$100 to $4,000|
Part typeWhile sets are easy to identify, individual parts can prove more difficult – and knowing what you have is critical to understanding its value.
“The difficulty with Lego parts is twofold: identifying if a part is a Lego part, and identifying which Lego part it is,” says Hussey. Hussey explains that 90 percent of all Lego parts include the Lego logo on the studs, or knobs (the bumps that connect the parts); as well as a four- or five-digit mold number and Lego copyright imprint on the surface (often inside the part). If you can read the mold number, you can identify the part.
Lego also include other numbers, usually paired two-digit numbers, that identify which mold position the parts are from. Instructions can be helpful in part identification; since 2008, Lego has included an inventory of parts in its instruction booklets. The inventories feature an image of the part above a part number, which encodes the part mold and color, and can be searched on a site like BrickLink.
It’s worth noting that, unlike sets, few sellers ever list a part as “new.” “Many people do not call a part ‘new’ even if it’s straight out of the box or bag, just to make sure what they sell will not get poor feedback,” says Hussey. “If a part has ever been connected to another part, it is used.”
If you cannot identify the part number, you can use the gallery feature on BrickLink to attempt to visually identify which part you have. Hussey advises to exercise diligence, however, because there is potential for confusion or human error. “I have parts that, because I know their provenance, could not otherwise be recognized as Lego,” he says. “Old parts, mostly; the earliest parts made, even the 2×4 brick, did not have the Lego logo on the studs. They usually do have the logo on the inside.
Other parts have such unexpected or unusual shapes, or just don’t have any available space for their number identifiers as they are too small or the numbers would affect their function. If you have a part that fits into this category, it is reasonable to assume value – especially if it is apparently old.”
|What Lego Do You Have? Not sure what Lego you have? Here’s how to identify your Lego. 1. Check for the Lego logo on the studs 2. See if you can find a mold number, or use the booklet to find a part number 3. Search for it in the BrickLink catalog 4. If you cannot identify a mold or part number, use the BrickLink gallery (browse the catalog) to make visual identification 5. If in doubt, ask for help – visit Lego communities and forums, or search for a local Lego User Group and ask for assistance|
Type of minifigure (or figure)The type and completeness of a figure or minifigure is important to value. Though the focus here is on minifigures, Hussey says it’s important to recognize there are Lego figures of many different scales and sources, including:
- System (minifigures)
- Friends (minidolls)
Hussey says some are available individually; for example, a torso assembly includes a body, a left arm, a right arm, and two hands. Leg assemblies include a left leg, a right leg, and a hip piece; and each piece is available separately. Some have printing. Some come from Lego with different-colored arms, legs, or hands. Some collectors want the figs as they originated, while others want to create their own. Lego Space Cruiser set with minifigures. Source: Ryan Hafer, The Plastic Brick. “There are hundreds of different variations for each of the sub-parts of figs,” says Hussey. “An individual fig, especially those that have the most value, are ones made to resemble particular characters or actors from movies and other Lego themes. They have a particular costume print on torso and legs, and identifiable faces and hair. The colors and combinations are frequently unique. Therein lies the value.” Some characters, like Han Solo, have been part of multiple Lego sets; so, there are multiple variations of that character.
Some were available in only one set, which could make those figures highly sought-after. Hussey says searching BrickLink for figures can be easy or difficult: if you know who the fig is, search for the character name. If you don’t, try matching in the gallery. “The difficulty is that there are approximately 10,000 unique figs,” he says. “A haystack comes to mind.”
AgeAge can be an important factor, particularly as it pertains to collections. “As a collection ages, it becomes less complete. Parts get lost, damaged, or are sometimes less recognized and disposed of,” says Hussey. “There are many factors to consider. Is it mostly ten years old? Twenty? Thirty? Forty? Yes, a collection can be mostly 40 years old. Obviously, there is a point where age may have a diminishing appeal to collectors. It always depends on the buyer.” Hussey said notable gems include early Space (blue and ‘old grey’) Lego, Castle Lego, and Train Lego – especially the Monorail – as well as other rare pieces.
PurityPurity is a factor in assessing the value of a collection, where purity represents the percentage of true Lego parts to non-Lego parts.
Size of collectionSize largely determines the value of a Lego collection. The following table lists general guidelines for designating the size of a Lego collection.
|Tub||15-gallon Rubbermaid or Sterilite container|
|Small||1 or 2 tubs (15 to 30 gallons)|
|Medium||3 to 8 tubs (40 to 100 gallons)|
|Large||80 to 200 gallons|
|Huge||200 to 400 gallons|
How much are your Lego worth?The most pertinent question, of course, is how much your Lego are worth. Here are some tools you can use to determine the value of your Lego.
- Visit the BrickLink Catalog and select Sets, Parts, or Minifigures
- Enter the set or part number
- Click Price Guide on the results page
- Visit Ebay and search for your Lego by name and/or part number
- In the left column, filter by “sold listings”
- Browse the results to see if any match the Lego you have, and compare how much they have recently sold for
Other databasesYou can additionally consult other Lego databases and price guides, including:
- Brick Picker
- Brick Investing
- Minifigure Price Guide
- Brick Toy Price Guide
- Brick Wars Sets (Star Wars focus)
- Brick Instructions
Ask for helpThere are a lot of online and local Lego collector groups and forums with large communities of Lego enthusiasts who are willing to help.
You shouldn’t expect anyone to do your pricing research for you; however, if you’re having trouble identifying a part it might be a good idea to reach out to your local Lego group or an online forum to request assistance. Online stores and brick and mortar shops that buy Lego can also help.
Still, if you have a large Lego collection to sell the process could prove daunting. “There are some quoting tools online, but in general it’s going to be a tedious effort,” says Hafer. “I don’t know of too many ways to really get a clear understanding of value. Part of The Plastic Brick’s competitive advantage is our proprietary software, which aggregates that information so we can quote sellers easier and faster. Even with special software, we have to spend the hands-on time to inspect all parts for quality and presence. This is where we especially add the extra value to our customers.”
Where to sell LegoThere are many Lego selling options, including:
- Online Lego dealers
- Brick-and-mortar Lego dealers
- Toy stores
- Online classifieds
- Online forums and social media platforms
- Peer-to-peer selling platforms
- Lego events
Lego selling tipsThese tips will help you get the most out of your Lego selling experience.
1. Know what Lego you haveTake the time to research your Lego to understand what you have and what it’s worth. It’s the only way to ensure you’re getting a fair deal.
2. Ask for helpIf you’re struggling to identify your Lego, ask for help. “There are over 200 members of local clubs in the Greater Seattle area alone: SEALUG, PSLTC, ArchLUG, SPSLUG,” says Hussey. “Look them up on the Internet – ‘Lego User Groups, or LUGS’ – and reach out to them. Someone will respond.” You can search Google for Lego User Groups in your area, as Hussey suggests, or check out online LUG directories such as LUGNet, the Lego Community Directory, and Lego User Group links on BrickLink.
3. Set your prioritiesDo you want to make the most money? You’ll need to conduct plenty of research and sell directly to collectors. Do you want a quick and easy sale? You’re better off selling to a buyback company like The Plastic Brick. Do you need cash today? You might want to sell to a local toy store. “You can get the most money if you are willing to do all the work yourself,” says Hafer. “Sort parts to sets, inspect the sets for completeness and quality, list them individually on a marketplace and sell them individually. However, some sets just take time to find the right buyer.”
4. Be safeAlways protect yourself when selling Lego. If you’re meeting offline, take a friend and meet in a safe, well-lit, busy public area. Never hand over your Lego until you have cash in-hand. If you’re selling online, never ship your Lego until you’ve been paid (and the payment has cleared), or if funds have been added to an escrow account moderated by a selling platform. Be sure to vet buyers as much as possible before agreeing to any transaction, and do not give out any unnecessary personal information.
5. Create a great listingMake your Lego more attractive with these listing tips:
- Completely identify all sets and parts; use part numbers if you can find them
- List everything that is included and whether sets are complete; if they’re not, list what’s missing
- Accurately describe the condition of your Lego, which will help you avoid disputes and poor seller ratings
- Include plenty of high-quality color photos from multiple angles to make it easy to understand what you’re selling
- Include payment options, shipping fees, and other policies that will eliminate any surprises that could derail a sale
- Ask a fair price – conduct your research and set your price according to current value; or, price your Lego below market value to encourage a quick sale
- Quickly respond to any questions to facilitate sales
Of course, you should also be sure you’re selling your Lego for the right reasons. As Hafer puts it: “My advice is to keep it, if it’s valuable to you. I think it’s kind of a shame that there are people out there that have a garage full of unopened building block toys with no intention to build them. I don’t think Lego has any value if people do not enjoy the building or play experience. If you know that it will just sit around with no enjoyment, perhaps you are a good candidate to make the money and put it up where someone else can enjoy it. Ultimately, collectibles have to be enjoyable to someone to be valuable.”
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