Today, we are going back in time to almost three years ago (time flies!) and taking a look at one set that had the forums and the entire LEGO community talking almost non-stop: the LEGO Technic 4x4 Crawler Exclusive Edition.
Unlike the majority of LEGO sets released throughout the years, the Limited Edition Crawler was designed through a fan base contest, with one of the conditions being that the creators utilized the chassis of the 9398 Crawler. The winner model was to be selected and produced as a limited edition of only 20,000 copies.
Even since the winner was announced, investors and collectors were excited about the possibility of getting their hands in what many saw as a highly collectible set. Whether it was for resale, long term holding or just for personal collection reasons, the expectation was that such a unique set was bound to be extremely hard to acquire at retail price ($199.99).
Months after the announcement, on August 1st 2013, the set was finally released to the public on LEGO Shop at Home and brick and mortar locations. As many expected, and worried about, 41999 sold out online the very same day, forcing customers to either hunt the set at retail location or source it from the secondary market.
As one would expect, the hype surrounding the set meant that most brick and mortar locations sold out as soon as they put the set on the shelves. In turn, prices on eBay and other online platforms rose to close to $450, with sets selling within minutes of being listed as collectors worried about it becoming even more expensive, investors hoped for the next $1,000 set and, as some of you might remember, some even attempted to corner the market by acquiring dozens of copies a day.
While I will not get into it, it is also worth mentioning that the circumstances surrounding the set generated a lot of controversy, and ethical/moral discussions popped up almost daily on some of the forum threads.
In theory, it all made sense; LEGO released a set that was not designed by your traditional LEGO design team, limited it to 20,000 copies worldwide and, to top it off, included a number of rare and unique elements that increased collectability (first Technic set to use dark blue, chrome elements and a uniquely numbered license plate). Furthermore, the box and instruction manuals were both higher quality than average and added a little bit of value to the set.
It had all the potential in the world to become an extremely sought after and expensive set in the long term, but as you can see from the chart below, in the end that was not the case.
The set has almost completely stagnated at around $360, the price it finally settled at a couple months after the hype died down at the end of 2013. That’s a close to 0% gain for anyone who has been holding the set for the last 2 or so years!
Clearly, the weeks after release were the most profitable times to sell the Limited Edition 41999. I sold some of these within this timeframe and took advantage of the hype surrounding it, but at the same time thought that the set had a lot of long term potential (as many others did!). Looking back though, the performance of the set has not been anything but a disappointment.
While it is always hard to pinpoint the exact reasons a set is not as popular as expected, I think that there are some generally accepted factors that contributed to the Crawler not doing as well as expected.
Technic has always been a niche market. While there is definitely a following to the theme, its popularity is nowhere near as close to some of the licensed themes, reducing the customer base.
The set on which 41999 was based on, 9398 Crawler, was readily available until 2015. Given the similarities between the two sets, having a much cheaper version in the market could have definitely impacted the performance of the Limited Edition.
The set simply grew too fast, reaching maturity shortly after its release. All the circumstances surrounding the set allowed it to reach its ceiling way faster than the average LEGO set, explaining the lack of growth since.
So, knowing its past, what should we look forward to? Honestly, I don’t see how the trend can be reversed. I would not expect to see any significant growth out of this set, as I believe that if its unique characteristics have not generated any more interest in the past couple of years, there is no reason to believe they will in the future.
Don’t get me wrong, this is still a cool model and a very interesting piece of LEGO history, so there is definitely a value in owning it. But if you are still holding it with the expectation of above average result, I would definitely take a few moments to reconsider and compare it with some of the better options currently available.
Thanks for reading!
Edited by Fcbarcelona101