With so many total sets available and #chaos in full effect as predicted by J-Mack, I thought it would be useful for new(er) members to the site and to Lego investing on the whole to take a look at how a short or shorter than expected run can greatly impact the value of a set. Without further adieu...
The Mine 4204 June 1st, 2012 – Nov. 29th 2014 CAGR: 0.05%
I loved 4204 The Mine. It had a lot going for it (at least in my eyes) – cool subtheme, unlikely to be remade, and lots of potential buyers seem to like construction vehicles and sets in non-technic sets. I'm sure they like them in Technic, too, but based on sets released, traditional sets seem more popular and sell more. I got a great deal on a whole bunch of them about one and a half years in, and hoped to see it retire around the two year mark. Sadly, either more sets were produced or not enough folks were buying at MSRP because it lingered for about two and a half years. Unfortunately, the brickset.com dates also only indicate the date at which it became unavailable from Shop at Home, but I can assure you that Toys R Us in Canada still had stock into early 2015. I like a varied portfolio, I'm a big believer in the right CITY sets, but the shelf life hurt 4204 in my opinion. Currently Brickpicker lists its US value at essentially MSRP. Granted, it was a CITY set, so if you didn't get it at a good discount you can only blame yourself, but profit potential seems to have been crimped by availability from 2012 into 2015.
City Cargo Terminal 60022 Aug. 1st, 2013 – Dec. 12th, 2014 CAGR: 15.97%
In comparison, another large CITY set, 60022 Cargo Terminal, was available from Shop at Home for under eighteen months, total. Massive difference for another subtheme I liked and thought was cool. With a current BP value of around $155 USD, plenty of extra room to visit profit land and frolic in piles of solid returns. With CITY sets, I'm not really looking for a set to hit the stratosphere, but I find they can be steady workhorses that reliably net returns – great for mixing it up. That being said, a couple of other sets I want to focus on had even shorter runs than 60022 and have exceeded likely every investors' expectations. (I call BS if investors claim they knew The Zombies was going to break through $200 USD on launch day or even as it started to become a little hard to find)
Logging Truck 60059 Dec 2013 (Jan 1st 2014 wide release) to Dec 15th 2014 CAGR: 67.27%
Cool vehicle from a sometimes overlooked theme. Add approximately one year of availability, stir, and watch the money come in. Enormous ROI%, even at MSRP, but pure gravy for those with the foresight to get some of these at 20% off or more. The size of the set really helps the CAGR percentage, which is great for new investors who are looking for solid short to medium term sets that can really help a small time investor scale up.
Arctic Supply Plane 60064 Aug. 1st, 2014 to Dec 28th 2014 CAGR: 43.63%
Crazy short run from a theme most probably though had at least another twelve if not eighteen months. Just now the last Arctic sets have moved to Sold Out at Shop at Home, so quite a big difference. Even though the plane looks a lot like other planes (at least to me) in other City subthemes – like the plane in the Deep Sea subtheme (another Toys R Us exclusive, at least in Canada), it certainly hasn't caused collectors to NOT want to buy this set, even while its brothers and sisters were widely available. With great scarcity seems to come nice gains, even if the set doesn't seem all that amazing.
Ant-Man Final Battle Jun 1st, 2015 – Oct 15th, 2015 CAGR: 25.66%
Seems to be in a nice initial growth phase. Even with some chatter about this set and investors jumping on the bandwagon, the lack of new supply will likely only keep prices in relative check for a short time. Great minifigs and a very short run, plus upcoming screen time in new movies means a lot of potential. Despite knock off Superhero minifigs being an issue – and many superhero set builds being underwhelming – there is still money to be made on the right sets. Also spoiler alert the 2016 summer Superhero sets look a lot more desirable overall, so perhaps this is a good time to try out this theme (or revisit it, if you've been avoiding it in the post 6866 world). Plus, this is a crazy short shelf life for a set, even if it had issues at launch.
Snowplough & Excavator and Others...
The whole Demolition line seemed available on sale over the holidays, at least around me, but the Excavator seems to be the exception. Brickset lists it being available from Dec. 2nd, 2014, but general release (I believe) was Jan. 1st, 2015. A retail life under a year and from a cool subtheme, I think this might surprise in the next six to twelve months. Toys R Us Canada has them on sale right now, 33% off (Jan 29, 2016) and I tend to think this could be an easy double at this reduction with pending official retirement. The Snowplough is even cooler (at least in my opinion) and I think will be a huge draw next winter in places that get snow. Just around a year of availability and well-reviewed on other Lego sites all point to a nice potential profit in the next twelve months and beyond until it hits a plateau
There are plenty of other sets from other lines, but I have to leave some work for readers to do themselves. I tried to highlight a few I find interesting, but rest assured this isn't a complete list and there are other short-run gems out there to be found. Right now, Hydra Fortresses, Pirates sets and Raptor Escapes are being sought out at retailers. The beauty of the short run sets (or themes...think Castle before and Pirates now...Scooby Doo is my prediction for 2016) is that often online stock dries up quickly and getting more than one or two requires some leg work, stock checking and dragging the kids (or self) to physical stores to mop up the remnants. For me, it is one of the most enjoyable parts of this hobby/business, although I am a self diagnosed masochist who likes the awfulness that retail environments sometimes foster.
Older investors are probably familiar with a lot of these sets, and earlier ones; the lore of the Zombies and Wolverine's Chopper Showdown are the stuff of investing legend, whispered about whenever two or more investors gather. Keeping a watchful eye on the forums here on Brickpicker as well as Shop at Home should give you enough lead time to go on a buying spree when you see a short run hit sold out. Currently, there are so many lines/themes and waves out there that short run sets seem to be happening with more regularity – or I'm just noticing it more – but they present opportunities that a savvy investor can jump on. If you live in a regional area with a lot of competition (from “normals” buying sets from their kids or, worse, rival Pickers) the chances of short run sets surviving long after moving to 'sold out' are slim, so stay sharp out there!