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  • Chima Series Part 1: Ignore Chima if You Like Kicking Yourself


    Lego Chima is a very interesting theme to say the absolute least. When the them first came out, I think my collective thoughts on each set were "What the hell is that?". To a certain extent I still ask myself that, so I had always had a pretty negative view of Chima along with many other posters on the forum. I see some people prop up a few individual sets, but they are certainly not called out as targets for big time investing. In fact, I think that even the lowly Lone Ranger theme (I say lowly in a tentative manner obviously) gets a lot more love than the Chima theme. I am a victim of this myself - I look at these sets and see "little kids toys" and a bunch of random Asian influenced anime-type characters and just don't see the same thing I see when I look at a Modular or a UCS Star Wars set. You could probably go back and quote me just a month or two ago saying that I wanted to "Wait and see on this theme".

    However, a few things weighed on me and started to change my mind.

    I wanted to share them and see if they changed anyone else's mind. My first thoughts into it actually came with a post Ed Mack (co site-creator) said several months ago. I can not find the original post, but it was to the effect of "There are 100's of Lego Sets that are winners that are not even mentioned once on this site". A lot has been made of investment sets like the Fire Brigade and the Fun House, the Orc Forge, etc. being stockpiled and diminishing their value. To me, I saw Ed's statement as meaning "If you want to stay ahead of the game, you have to find the hidden fruit." Think about this: The set that had one of the highest CAGR's since its release and probably won the award for it last year is The Zombies - a small 40$ Monster Fighters Set. Yes, it had a very short production run, but how many people had really seen a ton of investment value in this set. Furthermore, how many times was it actually mentioned on this site?

    So I have lately started looking for the "Gems" in the investment world. I started looking at the smaller, less talked about Ninjago sets. I also took another piece of Ed's advice and picked up some different Hero Factory sets he had written blogs about; 30% CAGR later I am feeling good about those. But as I kept playing around with these different sleeper sets, I still didn't know what to think of Chima. Its still unproven, I still don't really know what it is, and there are SO many sets around to really choose from.

    About a month or so ago, I went to the Lego store and it was freaking packed. I hate when places are so packed with people you can't move, so I wanted to get in and get out. As I was looking around I overheard some small children pointing out Chima Lego sets that they wanted. They were going on about Birdmen, "wolf guys", "bird ships", and more that made no sense. I sort of laughed it off, but it suddenly dawned on me: Not only was I discounting this theme because I didn't know what it is (a big time no-no for any investor), I was thinking that actually had some baring on the sets investment values. Sure, they have to have memorable names and a story behind it - this is really what the show is designed to do - but all the kids cared about were that the sets were cool. They wanted them.

    So I asked myself - what really makes this theme different than Ninjago? With Ninjago, everyone says its popular because "kids like Ninjas and dragons". However, Destiny's Bounty has done great. The Rattlecopter is seeing solid gains. And we all know Spinners are Winners. In all seriousness, its not. And Ninjago was discounted by tons of people when it came out too when it came to investment value.

    At this point, I hadn't really written or solidified my thoughts on the theme yet (I really like to write down or type out thins as it legitimizes them for me). Luckily, one of our esteemed members, Quacs, PM'd me and asked me about my thoughts on the Chima Series. I wrote a pretty long paragraph cataloging a lot of the points I am going to make below and in the coming sets of Blogs. Quacs replied he totally agreed and he wont be caught without these sets either when the proverbial clock strikes midnight.

    So why am I convinced this theme is a winner?

    The are done the "Lego" way - the right way.

    Obviously this can be interpreted any way you want looking at old sets and themes, and it certainly doesn't just take this to make a theme a winner, but these are what I would call "top of the line" Lego sets. This means they have everything collectors, investors, and anyone else looks for in a Lego sets. The sets are incredibly detailed and colorful - there really aren't any dull Chima sets that I have seen. The sets have tons of moving parts, flick missles, vehicles and ships. Also, what I think is most important, the theme has an insane amount of variety. The Chi Raider 70012 is a giant Bird Ship. You then have the Chi Temple 70010, which is a castle or sorts. Past that, there is Cragger's Ship 70006 , a classic ship or sorts made to fit the theme. There are tons more as well. Each vehicle or base/hideout is extremely unique which offers more and more to different people to get theme interested in the theme. The more variety in a theme, the more it appeals to everyone. Think about this in terms of the Lone Ranger: Who do those sets appeal to? Western collectors, the cult of people who liked the movie and trains? Obviously Chima has more sets, but that only strengthens the theme in my opinion.

    No Licensing Agreement - This is Lego's Theme

    Ok, before you kill me with the argument that licensed themes do the best (which is right in a lot of ways), look at this from a different angle. Lego has invested a ton of money into this theme (hence the TV show, the wide array of sets, etc.) because they make all the money from it. There are no hands grabbing sections of this as the money train makes its way to TLG. Just like Ninjago and Lego Friends, Lego will work and work to make sure that this theme is known, is popular, and is established.  Commercials have started running for these themes as well. This really works in tandem with everything else, but Chima will be a winner because Lego wont stop until it is during production. And rarely does a theme do well in production and drop off after it.

    The Minifigures

    I have definitely heard some negative things about the minifigures from this series on the forums here. I, again, was skeptical but looking at how well Ninjago figures do, I figured these followed in those same footsteps. If you do not know, I have ran a Lego business on Ebay for about 4 Months now and a big part of that is piecing and parting out sets - especially minifigures. I also buy large minifigure lots and part them out as well. A couple of months ago, I decided to take the leap and grab some Chima sets to part out.

    On one hand, the figures are really hard to part out. But this is a good thing for the secondary market - they are hard to part out because they all have SO MUCH going on with them. Almost every Chima figure is 8-10 pieces including the weapons, wings, helmets, etc. For us, this seems a bit like overdoing it, but for those who know Children well, that word is not in their vocabulary.

    As some "fact" to offer up with this - Chima Figures were just behind Ninjago as my fourth best seller during December (Star Wars and Lord of the Rings being 1 and 2 respectively). However, I offer much less Chima in my store. I sold about 50% of my inventory during December, more than twice that of any other theme. And, it beat out Super Heroes figures surprisingly. This means there is a market out there.

    Sleepers, Sleepers, Sleepers

    There is definitely no way to tell something is a "sleeper". And ina  lot of the ways, if you advertise a set on this site as a sleeper, it immediately becomes "awake" as we saw with the Funhouse. However, no matter how many blogs I write, these sets from this theme are going to be overlooked by the majority of investors. There will be (I will speculate on which ones in upcoming articles) sets, mark my words, that experience staggering secondary market growth and cause 95% of us on here to go "Why the hell didn't I grab that when I walked by an isle of 50 of them". And there will be much more than just one set doing this.

    Furthering this argument, this theme as I had said will be pushed and pushed and pushed by Lego. Maybe the first set of retirees don't jump right at the beginning and a few of us get worried. But IF this theme does take off, the sets you are seeing from this first run that are or will be retiring soon may just become the holy grail. Just like the early Dragons from the Ninjago series, you will see a few sets benefit from the theme becoming huge and these sets becoming sought after because they are so rare (Think the Market Street effect on a smaller stage).

    So what are the downsides? Well, there are risks with everything. The theme is unproven for sure. There are TONS of sets which could make it much harder to pick a winner and also dilute the pool a bit as things may not be as recognizable. The minifigures do have a lot going on and maybe Children love simplicity. Perhaps these are not actually selling well at all and it is only a matter of time before Lego drops the whole theme altogether.

    In conclusion, as a lot of investment risks do, our choices come down to "am I willing to take a leap of faith on this theme based on what we see so far?". I know my answer to that question: I don't want to be kicking myself later.

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