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  • LEGO Trains: An On-Track Investment or an Investment Derailment?


    Ed Mack

    As I was sitting on my couch one day watching Robert Zemeckis's, The Polar Express, with my two-and-a-half-year-old son, I got to thinking about trains.  The Polar Express is my son's favorite movie and he knew how to say “choo-choo” before he could say “Daddy.”  What is it about trains that cause children(and some adults...LOL) to run around the house and yell, “choo-choo, choo-choo” before they can say their own name?  And does this same passion for trains cross over into other hobbies and worlds, say LEGO train sets and accessories?  I decided to take a look and see how much interest there was in LEGO train sets and accessories and if there was any investment value in them.  
     

    Lego train sets go back as far as 1966, with sets like the Small Train Set(114) and Motorized Train Set(113).  While these sets were early examples of Lego train sets, the newer versions(and the versions we will be discussing in this article) are quite a bit more complex a   nd definitely more accurate in appearance to actual full-sized trains.  The subtheme of LEGO trains that most resemble full-sized trains are the '9V' variety, which stands for 9 'volts.'  They can either be standalone models of  train engines and cars, or used together with multiple train models and tracks to make complete and operational train sets.  These 9V LEGO trains have been in existence since 1991 and some run off of 9-volt track setups that have a speed regulator, train motor and electrified track(K4548-Train Accessory Collection) to make them “mobile” if so desired.  Other LEGO 9V train sets can be made mobile through the use of LEGO Power Functions motors.  
     

    I find that the Lego 9V trains are very accurate in appearance and are some of the best designed Lego sets.  Sometimes, I have a hard time telling if the sets are models made from LEGO bricks or are they actually Lionel Trains?  There is also a huge variety of 'custom' train instructions and models on EBAY that can enable the train fan to use their own LEGO collections to build complete working train sets with multiple engines and cars.  Like real toy trains, complete worlds can be created with LEGO bricks, with towns, bridges, people, modular homes, landscaping, etc... making up fantastic displays...  
     

    One of the best features of LEGO trains in my opinion is their appreciation potential.  Here are some LEGO 9V trains that are appreciating nicely from their original MSRP...  
     

     

    IMAGE SET YEAR MSRP CURRENT VALUE % INCREASE
    10194: EMERALD NIGHT 2009 $100.00 $161.00 66%
    10183: HOBBY TRAINS 2007 $100.00 $167.00 67%
    10173: HOLIDAY TRAIN 2006 $90.00 $338.00 276%
    10170: TTX INTERMODAL DOUBLE STACK CAR 2005 $40.00 $125.00 213%
    10133: BURLINGTON NORTHERN SANTE FE LOCOMOTIVE 2004 $40.00 $212.00 432%
    10025: SANTA FE CARS-SET I 2002 $35.00 $189.00 441%
    10022: SANTA FE CARS-SET II 2002 $35.00 $247.00 606%
    10020: SANTA FE SUPER CHIEF 2002 $40.00 $223.00 458%


    So, as the reader can see, the LEGO 9V trains are not only interesting and accurate in appearance, they are 'on track' with their appreciation as well.  Several of these sets sold for as little as $35 less than ten years ago, are bringing back hundreds of dollars consistently on auction sites.  Newer sets like the 10194 Emerald Night are increasing in value nicely, even after just a year or two of being discontinued.  Look for similar new LEGO 9V trains, such as the 10219 Maersk Train, to continue the trend of accurate and appreciating LEGO sets.
     



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