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  • 'Turbo'flipping LEGO sets: Lightning Fast Profits


    Original Idea by rcdb1984

    "Turboflipping is an original term coined by rcdb1984"

    Whether you are new to the LEGO investing game or a seasoned pro, there is one thing that will always remain constant: a desire for fast and "easy" profits. As you probably know, however, most of the time to earn significant amounts of money you will need to hold your investments for a relatively long period of time depending on your target return, but there are some instances where you can take advantage of market shortages and make a generate some quick capital.

    You may be wondering, understandably as it is a completely new term, what is Turboflipping. Odds are a lot of you had already done it in the past, as it only involves purchasing newly released sets and listing them for sale at a markup as soon as humanly possible in order to secure a profit. For example, let's take the newly released Maersk Triple E 10241:

    The newest iteration of the Maersk container ship has a MSRP of $ 149.99. Having said that, being a newly released exclusive the only place you could really order the set from is LEGO [email protected] or by visiting your local LEGO B&M store, where available. Furthermore, if you were paying attention on the day the set was officially released to the public, [email protected] sold out in a matter of a couple hours with a expected ship date of almost a month later, giving those who were quick to order a somewhat comfortable window to sell theirs at a higher price. Want some hard data that backs up this claim? Let's take a look at the 5 latest Sold listings on eBay at the moment:    

    As you can see, there is a clear opportunity to make some money on the set from people who for X reason can not wait to get their hands on what is, in my opinion, one of the better looking sets released by TLG in the past couple of years. Now that we got the basics out of the way, let's figure out how to make this process work for you. From my point of view, there are a number of ways to set up a tactic and make money on new releases:


    1- Setting up pre-orders: You have probably seen a number of listings for to be released sets around a month in advance to their official release. Obviously, the sellers expect to sell desirable sets without having them in hand and either ordering them at midnight the day of release or waking up really early to be at a B&M location to pick them up. Let's examine the pros and cons:



    - Might maximize your profits by setting higher prices, as not many sellers are comfortable with this system.

    - Gives you a chance to gauge demand and set up two or more "waves" of sales. Get your first buyer's orders first and then take advantage of the post-release window of opportunity.


    - Not being able to secure enough sets to meet all of your orders can result in significant damage to your seller account as a result of negative feedback. Keep in mind that the only reason buyers bought from you is to get the set ASAP.

    - There is a good probability that some of your buyers don't read the listing terms and assume you will be shipping their set in a couple days. As above, this opens you to negative feedback.

    - You will need to forfeit the Top Rated discount (if applicable) as a result of the inability to upload tracking in 1 business day and offering returns on items you don't currently have.
    Summary This is by far the most risky and probably worst method to put in practice. While some of the benefits look good on paper, the odds that you will run into some of the issues described on the "Cons" sections are substantially high (based purely on observation).

    We all know a number of eBay buyers seem to avoid reading anything before making a purchase, and this type of listing relies completely on them doing precisely that to be satisfied.

    2- Ordering online at midnight on release day: This method entails waiting until the set is officially released and as soon as it is available purchase as many copies as the limit allows. As said before, some very desirable sets go out of stock in a very short time and usually take a long time to be re-stocked, giving you the opportunity to capitalize on the shortage. Also, and only if you are comfortable, you can set up the listing on eBay a couple days before the set is released and just drop ship it once it goes up for sale.



    - Avoids most of the problems related to pre-order type listings

    - May allow you to qualify for Top Rated discount

    - May save you some money by drop shipping instead of self-fulfilling

    -Collect VIP points

    - It is a better way to ensure you can meet your customer purchases on time


    - Risk of missing out on the profits as window of opportunity closes

    - Loss of potential free promotional items

    - More planning and perfect execution needed to have multiple orders shipped to different buyers

    - Less interest in your listings, as the costumers themselves will be able to do exactly what you did on the release date
    Summary A close second from the bottom up, this method saves you from what I consider to be the major problems of pre-order listings while increasing the time needed to execute it efficiently. Basically, you are lowering your risk significantly, but at the same time your reward just as much.

    3- "Opening" a B&M location: It's 8:00 am and you are eagerly waking up to drive for half an hour to get to your local store and pick up as many newly released sets as you possibly can (bringing all of your kid's friends to help you as a cover). You grab several sets, pay and just as you leave the store you open up the eBay Mobile app and list all of your purchases for sale at a substantial mark-up. Turboflipping at its best.



    - You know 100% how many sets you have available for selling

    - Gives you the possibility to keep promotional items/VIP points that you can sell or keep for yourself

    - Again, you are able to qualify for Top Rated discounts

    - Opens the possibility of purchasing sets over the online limits

    - May allow you to qualify for Top Rated discount

    - May save you some money by drop shipping instead of self-fulfilling

    - It is a better way to ensure you can meet your customer purchases on time


    - Increased competition from other sellers

    - Less quantity of sets offered to B&M compared to S&H

    - Only available to those with B&M stores at relatively close distance
    Summary This is, by far, the best method to safely turboflip LEGO sets. No need to worry about meeting pre-set shipping deadlines, in-hand inventory and the possibility of acquiring promotional items are the main benefits that make this your best choice if you want to take advantage of the newly released sets' potential.

    Furthermore, if you are sure you will be at the store well in advance, you can even set up the listing a day or two before to jump ahead some of the people that will be flipping the sets.

    There you have the 3 generic tactics you can use in order to flip newly released sets. Which one you use is completely up to you! Graphical representation of prices for to-be-released and newly released sets based on BP Data:




    Having read the article up to this point, you may think doing this all the time with every set makes sense; thinking this way is a sure way to be disappointed. Take a look at some sold listings for the Sidney Opera House during its first couple of weeks:

    While at first sight it may look that the sellers were able to make some money, assuming they purchased this set at MSRP and ignoring taxes leads us to the conclusion that very little profit, if any, was earned from this venture. When you are talking about a $300+ set, earning less than $30 (and even this is low by my standards) can only be cataloged as sub-par.

    This example only points out something that everyone interested in LEGO selling should have clear by now: there is no such thing as 100% easy money. Even flipping this way involves some research both about the sets to be sold as well as the most efficient method to complete the sales. While trying to flip larger and iconic sets may seem as a great idea, sometimes you can maximize your profits by flipping several of the smaller, easy to ship sets like the DeLorean or Minecraft.

    Notable turboflips of 2013


    Mr. Gold
    41999 Crawler

    Interesting to note is the case of 10227 B-Wing, as it gave sellers a 2nd opportunity at flipping it immediately after the May the 4th discounts. What does the future hold? No one can really tell what the next successful new release will be, but if I had to guess I would put my money on the rumored UCS Sandcrawler and Slave 1. Both of those ships are SW fan favorites and would be appearing on the UCS lineup for the very first time. I really don't see how you would not be able to sell these for a substantial mark-up during the first couple of weeks of their release, as they will for sure sell out very fast. The re-hash of the Mos Eisley Cantina may also be a nice choice.

    I really hope you find this article useful or at least interesting to read, and I would like to thank rcdb1984 once again for suggesting this article and his help developing it.

    Thanks for reading!  

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