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    Successful LEGO Investments: Analyzing the Past and Predicting the Future

    What makes a great LEGO investment?  Why do certain sets do better than others?  These are questions that LEGO investors should ask themselves before diving too deep into the world of LEGO investing.

    I realize that rare and limited edition sets (e.g. 41999 Crawler, 21100 Shinkai Submarine,) are some of the best investments, but I will not be covering these types of sets.  With rare or limited edition sets, the most challenging part is finding them. It is not hard to decide if you should buy them or not.

    There are many things that can make a set great, but if we can find the prominent features of winning sets and notice a pattern, then we will be able to make the best choices for LEGO investing.  Because money does not grow on trees, it is essential to make wise choices.

    Some sets, like the 10179 UCS Falcon, are exceptional for their build.  Other sets, like the 6868 Hulk's Helicarrier Breakout, are successful because of the rare minifigures and the theme.  Every once in a while, you will come across a great set with an amazing display value, rare minifigures, and a solid theme.  To predict which sets will be successful in the future, we must find out which sets were successful in the past.

    Successful Sets of the Past

    #1. 10182 Cafe Corner

    The Cafe Corner caused quite a stir in the AFOL community.  This set was a success for two main reasons:

    1.  It has great display value

    2.  It was the first modular to be produced by TLG

    There are always new AFOLs every year, and if they are a fan of modulars and want to complete their collection, then they will have to turn to the secondary market.  As more people buy and open this set, the number of sealed sets will go down, but the value of these sets will go up.  This is a great example of a set that has a fabulous display value with regular minifigures.

    #2.  7888 The Tumbler:  Joker's Ice Cream Surprise

    I really wanted to pick the entire Batman theme for this part.  One night I had a dream about the Batman theme after it had retired.  I went into a toy store and bought every single Batman set that they had!  Then I woke up.  It was really unfortunate that I could never take these sets from my dream and insert them into real life. Anyway, there are three main reasons this set did so well:

    1.  The huge AWESOME tumbler

    2.  The well-done minifigures

    3.  The solid theme to ensure a success

    It is almost impossible to stress the importance of #3 enough.  A solid theme can be a make or break for most of the sets available today, no matter how well designed they are.  The minifigures in this set could be better, but they still capture the likeness of the real characters.  The Tumbler has a excellent display value and great minifigures and has been a huge success.

    #3.  Hulk's Helicarrier Breakout

    This is a recently retired set, and still has lots of room to grow.  Hulk's Helicarrier Breakout has been very successful for two reasons:

    1.  The Hulk

    2.  The solid theme to back it up

    Other than the Hulk, this set is not very impressive.  The display value is not that great, and Loki, Thor, and Hawkeye are all seen in at least one other set.


    As you can see, this set has experienced rapid growth since retirement and I am expecting it to hit the ceiling at about $200 dollars.  This is an example of a set that is successful only because of one minifigure - the Hulk.


    #4.  10179 UCS Millennium Falcon

    Here is the set that every LEGO fan drools over.  The interior of this set is mostly technic and does not offer much playability.  This set is one of most well known sets for three reasons:

    1.  It is absolutely MASSIVE

    2.  It is well designed

    3.  It has serious display value

    Even if you are not a fan of Star Wars, there is no denying that this set is amazing.  It has amazing display value and is huge.  Both of these features helped make this one of the most well known sets in LEGO history.

    Analyzing the Data

    After evaluating these four sets, it is now time to look at what makes a given set successful.

    Minifigure-loaded sets can be found in the Superheroes, LOTR, and Star Wars themes.  Battle packs have had amazing returns and the LOTR Uruk-Hai Army is already appreciating quite nicely, though I do beleive that the best minifigure sets can be found within the Superheroes theme.  Because superheroes are popular at the moment, the minifigures are what fans will want.  Here is another place where it is important to discuss themes.  Licensed minifigures are only successful if the character they are based on is popular.  Therefore, when investing in minifigure-loaded sets, we must be sure that the movie or comic the character comes from is popular.

    However, I would be investing in a lot of larger sets if it were not for one problem: the lack of money.  Money does not grow on a tree.  And if you do not have the money to buy bigger sets ... then you simply do not have the money to buy bigger sets!

    My opinion is that it is good to buy a variety.  People investing in larger sets are probably getting larger returns, but they usually have to wait longer.  Minifigure-loaded sets tend to be cheaper than sets with a notable build and display value.  It takes time for a large set to appreciate, while it is quite easy to flip a few minifigure-loaded sets in a short amount of time.  However, it does not take as much work and time to list and ship one large set than to list and ship ten small sets.

    There are pros and cons to both types of sets.  As I said before, it is good to buy a variety.

    Sets of the Future with Potential

    These are some large sets that have great build and display value:

    1.  10223 Kingdoms Joust

    Previous castle sets have done very well in the past.

    2.  10226 Sopwith Camel

    An exclusive set that has rare chrome, dark tan, and dark green pieces with a nice design.

    3.  10937 Arkham Asylum Breakout

    A great set from the Superheroes theme with a good design and lots of great minifigures.

    4.  10237 The Tower of Orthanc

    One of the best sets available with two exclusive minifigures, an ent, and a brilliant design.

    5.  10225 R2-D2

    Brick-built sculptures have also done very well, and because R2-D2 is a popular character, this set will be a success.

    6.  21005 Fallingwater

    There are a lot of sleeper-sets hidden in the Architecture theme, and I believe this will be one of them.

    7.  42009 Mobile Crane MK II

    A great Technic set that is huge and looks great on display.

    Smaller sets that have great minifigures:

    1.  76000 Arctic Batman vs. Mr. Freeze: Aquaman on Ice

    Every single minifigure in this set is exclusive!  This will be a definite winner.

    2.  76006 Iron Man: Extremis Sea Port Battle

    This is currently the only set with War Machine and Killian.  Even though Iron Man is not exclusive, he is popular.

    3.  76004 Spider-Man: Spider-Cycle Chase

    Venom will appear in a Juniors set, but after they are both retired, this set will soar in value.

    4.  97012 Mirkwood Elf Army

    With four elves, two Gundabad orcs, and a brown warg, this set is sure to be a success.

    These are just a few sets that would be good to purchase before they retire.  I know that there are many more, but I hope this gives you enough information to find out for yourself which sets will succeed.

    Summing it Up

    You may be wondering what my own investing strategy is.  If you would look inside my closet, you would find quite a few smaller minifigure-loaded sets.  I am hoping to sell some of them soon and free up some more money to invest in larger sets.  I do have the Battle of Helm's Deep and some Hulk's Helicarrier Breakouts in my closet.  I do not invest in large sets unless they are about to retire.  I am hoping to get rolling with my eBay account soon and get enough money to invest in some larger sets.

    The most important thing that I hope you take away from this article is that it is essential to invest in successful sets.  Minifigure-loaded sets are great to start out with.  After you get some steady income flowing, begin to invest in larger sets.  Even if finances are not a problem, it is still good to invest in a variety.

    I have had a blast writing this and hope that you found this article helpful and have enjoyed reading it.

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    So I see I'm not the only one who has Lego dreams! Nice to be in your company. I like most of the points you made, but I'm a little concerned (not 'the sky is falling!' type of concern, but somewhat) that the Superhero minifig market might be hurt a fair bit from Asian fakes. I'm not overly concerned with the initial listings of 10 minifigs for $12 from Hong Kong, but I am worried when some of the better fakes get mixed in with collections and are then sold individually from North American sellers as the real thing. I can see this flooding the market and lowering prices all around. Perhaps, but perhaps not, but since this theme has quite a few 'minifig-centric' sets with little in the way of brick built awesomeness, it seems they will be the canary in the coal mine over the next year or so to determine what impact fake minifigs will have on the investment world.

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    I have seen these Chinese fakes lurking around eBay. I think that either TLG, Marvel, or DC will sue them before the whole thing gets too out of hand. I honestly do not know how much these fakes will impact minifigure value. Everyone has their own opinion. Some think that these fakes will take over the world and the real minifigures will plummet in value. Others think that the damage done by the fake minifigures will not be as severe. No matter which way this whole fiasco goes, the value of the sealed sets will remain. Asian companies have a long way to go before they will be able to copy the real LEGO set. Even if they had the technology to do this, TLG would notice that and put a stop to it. Overall, there is a huge demand for superhero sets, and no matter how many fakes are produced, the sets will keep their value. The people these fakes will affect (if anybody) are the people who part sets out. I hope this is dealt with soon, but I do not see fakes affecting sets in the long run. Asian companies have a long way to go before they reach the large quantity of minifigures TLG has produced. It will be a long time before they will be able to flood the market.

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    The Kenner Star Wars figures from the 80's has experienced something similar: fake guns and weapons. It hasn't really hurt the market for these things though (check eBay) for prices on one little gun. In many cases they are actually worth more Than the figures, and there are a ton of fakes out there. Most collectors will know the difference between the real ones and the fakes and bid/buy accordingly. Yes, some parents looking to buy a certain figure for their kids will probably just buy the cheapest available, but really they are not the market. They won't care what color pants hulk is wearing, so they'll just buy the new set with purple pants. The buyers looking for that Deadpool figure will most likely be knowledgable and will pay a premium for authentic. One thing that might be affected is that people will by more factory sealed sets, KNOWING they are getting authentic figures.

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    I also believe in sets from LOTR and The Hobbit, of course the Tower of Orthanc but also: - Pirate Ambush (79008): it's a ship, it has cool exclusive minifigs. - Unexpected Gathering (79003): it appears in both trilogy and display is nice. - Orc Forge (9476): nice, exclusive, has a light bick. - VW Van (10220): awesome, detailed, good value for money IMHO so it will be "ok" to buy it twice the price once it will be retired. You can expect 50% rise very quickly (two years) - Haunted Mansion (10228): cool to have it along with the other modular buildings (first to Halloween, then forever...) - etc. But I highly believe in the potentiel of the new Parisian Restaurant (10243). I showed my sets to my mother, she disliked mainly everything (she's not in lego stuff) except my Queen Anne's Revenge (4195) that looks nice, and the Parisian Restaurant. She was so much impressed, I thought she would say "...ok, I want one, it's so cute !" This is for me the highest proof of the potentiel of this set in the coming years (as soon as it's retired)

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    Yes, all the sets you mentioned are very good investments. I even thought of mentioning some of those, but I figured I had already mentioned enough sets. If I had it to do over again, I would have mentioned Pirate Ambush and Unexpected Gathering. Those both have lots of display value along with the great minifigures, and it is possible that they will retire soon. Thanks for your input.

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    Thanks, this helps a lot, but I would like to question the sop with camel. Now that we have the Mini Cooper some of the similar rare green elements appear in both sets. Will this still be as a good as of an investment as before?

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    Sorry I also forgot another question, if ebay buyers wanted the hulk, why not just buy the hulk for 30$ instead of the whole set for an estimated $200?

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    The Sopwith Camel will not be affected much if at all by the new Mini Cooper. I feel that most people will be buying this one for its design - the rare parts are just a bonus. Also, the Mini Cooper has lots of the dark green parts, but not the same ones that come with the Sopwith. The Mini comes with more detailed, intricate pieces, while the Sopwith comes with the dark green plates. There are still the dark tan and silver pieces that come with the Sopwith. As for your second question, there will be eBay buyers that just want the Hulk and so they will buy him separately. However, because he comes in the set, it just adds a substantial amount of value to the set. Chinese fakes can also come into play here. The price of the Hulk significantly dropped when the fake version was released by a rip-off company. Lots of people want to know that they have the real LEGO version of the Hulk and will pay extra to know. Hope this answered your questions!

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