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    Brickpicker blog articles on LEGO investing, news, reviews, evaluations, discounts and more...
    • thoroakenfelder
      I'm going to take a detour here and review something that is not a set. It's the only item that I got this week for myself that's LEGO related. I want to talk with you about the book LEGO Star Wars: Small Scenes from a Big Galaxy by Vesa Lehtimaki.
      First, the technical information:
      TITLE: LEGO Star Wars: Small Scenes from a Big Galaxy

      AUTHOR: Vesa Lehtimaki
      FORMAT: Hardcover
      Pages: 176
      LIST PRICE: $24.99
      PUBLISHER: DK
      First, let me say that if you're looking for a reference book of any kind, this is definitely not the book for you. There is no set information, random minifigures are thrown into situations and sets that were not released together by LEGO. The intention of this book is to show you minifigures and LEGO sets as art. As we all know, art is highly subjective, so some people won't perceive the value in this type of book.
      A lot of reviews of this book hit on how dark many of the pictures are and how you're not shown the large number of dark and largely obscured images contained in this book. Initially I agreed that this was a problem. On my second look at this book, I started to see something new. Each of the shots in this book was taken and chosen specifically by the artist. He highlighted exactly what he wanted the viewers to see and obscured the rest. Each was a conscious artistic choice.
      For example, take a look at the Chrome C-3PO portrait that the publishers put on the net. The direct lighting on the upper right of the head creates a look at this figure that many of us have never attempted. This is probably the most well lighted of the portraits. The artist chose to put the spotlight on textures and details that might go unnoticed in better lighting

      He creates his own settings and lighting to provide ambiance. Throughout the book, he provides commentary on the pictures, giving some information on how he achieved the shots or his thought processes behind them.

      The action shots are spectacular, and the way that he uses common household stuff to lend atmosphere is truly inspired

      Apart from bits of commentary throughout the book, he has a large behind the scenes section where he shows off sketches, alternate shots, unedited shots, etc.

      For a fan of Star Wars, you see someone else's take on the sets that you love. I loved shots of 9493, 75049, and 9492 in action.
       

      REACTION:
      The more I think about this book, the more I appreciate it. I might not agree with how obscured some of the shots are, but then again I am not an artist. I desperately wished that I could create pictures that lived, the way that his do. Each time through, I feel inspired to try taking similar pictures. It also really makes me want to play with my own LEGO sets.
      The action shots in this book are dynamic. He creates real motion in a static image. The atmosphere shots are at times hit and miss. Sometimes I felt that as he tried for atmosphere, he just wet a little too far. There's a shot of Boba Fett coming out of the sand, and it looks more like a blurry sand sculpture in the middle of a blurry sandstorm. Sometimes less is more.
      I am more than happy that I got this book. It's definitely going to be one of those books that I pull out from time to time just to immerse myself in this world.
      FINAL THOUGHTS:
      This is the place where I talk about the investment potential of whatever I am reviewing. So let me say off the bat, I don't think it's a wise idea to buy a bunch of these and hope to make money later on. DK is well able to keep this in print until demand wanes, and might be more than willing to do a new print run or publish a new edition if aftermarket demand escalates. I have seen reference books increase in price. When word of mouth gets around and the original printing disappears, the price can escalate quickly. Though investing in new books is probably a slightly worse plan for making money than writing books.
      The true value of this book for investors is what it does to collectors. A collector might look through a book like this and get nostalgic for a set that they missed out on. Most of the sets highlighted in this book are retired now. If enough new collectors pick up this book and see how amazing some of these sets and minifigures look, they'll be more tempted to go ahead and buy those retired sets. If they have those sets, they may want to purchase additional copies to do some of the setups that the artist created.
      I do recommend this book for any fan of LEGO Star Wars sets or minifigures. My kids both loved looking through it, forcing me to lock the door to the room where all of my Star Wars LEGO sets reside.
      Amazon has this book for a very reasonable $13.84 right now. Go buy it on Amazon

    • Deadfraggle
      "Follow the White Rabbit"
      I compare my experience emerging from the LEGO dark ages two years ago to Neo's experience after taking the Red Pill in 1999's The Matrix. I vividly remember the night in early 2014, when I accidentally stumbled across an Amazon listing for a 10185 Green Grocer selling for something like $800. At the same time, I was amazed, shocked, amused, confused and most importantly, hooked. It was literally life-changing. Simply put, I had a whole new perspective on my favorite childhood pastime. Previous to that night, I knew nothing about LEGO brand stores, Lego [email protected], Exclusives, Star Wars UCS, sets with RRPs over $150, AFOLs, Brick Pickers, or the LEGO secondary market. The next day I started a new adventure in my life as a LEGO collector.

      Hoarders, Buried Alive - The Brick Picker Episode
      I like to sell spare LEGO sets here and there for extra cash - who doesn't - but for now, I consider myself more of a collector-investor than a re-seller. This is largely limited by my available free time. I am also what you would consider a hoarder completionist. I've gone from zero to 450+ sets in the past 24 months. Yes, I have to have all the Ninjago sets with the Dragons. The entire Architecture line? Afraid so. All the  Creator modular buildings, absolutely. Can't forget about the LEGO Ideas sets. How about the Creator 3-in-1 buildings, those are kinda cool. Mixels, CMF series, and Winter Village sets are awesome. And then there's the Star Wars UCS collection, the Gold Standard of cool-kid LEGO sets. Besides the sizable storage and display space requirements, the financial commitment required to acquire and maintain a first-class LEGO collection is not insignificant.
        
      I'm still waiting for the BOGO sale on 10179 UCS Millenium Falcons at Amazon
      Unless you had the foresight to start stashing away LEGO sets in 1999, like a doomsday prepper waiting for the Zombie Apocalypse, you've probably missed out on a set or two or twenty. In fact there is a whole thread dedicated to this very topic on Brickpicker. If you've picked up a copy of the Ultimate Guide to Collectible LEGO Sets over on Amazon, you've probably read that some highly desirable LEGO sets are going for big money these days. If you're a serious AFOL, owning a mint copy of the 10179 UCS Millenium Falcon is like showing up to work one day driving a 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California - it brings instant street cred. The whale collectors are going to spend whatever it takes to obtain the sets on their wish list. But what about the rest of us, the ones with budget limitations, a sense of fiscal conservatism, or a desire to get the best deal possible on our purchases, can we make our LEGO dreams come true? Absolutely. If you do your research, set a realistic price goal, and constantly monitor the market for deals, many sets are within reach.
      In the near future, I plan to present a series of articles highlighting topics of particular interest to the budding collector looking for the best ways to expand their collection. I'm also planning a recurring feature showcasing those Brickpickers offering great deals in their Brick Classifieds stores.

      What is this Brick Classifieds you speak of?
      "Tired of paying high commissions on your LEGO set sales?  Tired of inexperienced sellers shipping your valued LEGO sets in brown paper and no outer protective box?  Tired of clueless Mom and Pop LEGO auction sellers describing expensive LEGO sets incorrectly to make a quick sale?  Fearful of unscrupulous “drop shippers” and their illegal activities?
      If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then you might want to take a look at  sellers that are BrickPicker members.  BrickPicker will now give members the chance to post their personal LEGO set and part listings for sale on the new Brick Classifieds website."
      — Ed Mack, founder Brick Classifieds
      Basically, Brick Classifieds is a newish market place, developed by AFOLs, looking to provide great prices on great LEGO sets, outstanding customer service, and a safe, simple shopping experience. Can't I just get that set cheaper on Ebay or Amazon?
      Possibly, but in many cases, probably not. Particularly when it comes to retired, highly collectible sets, Brick Classifieds is emerging as the leading online marketplace in providing outstanding value to it's customers. This is something I've increasingly noticed over the past year, but I wanted to provide up-to-date information to support my observations. This weekend, I conducted a small market research survey to determine which online marketplace is providing the best deals. As you can see below, vendors on Brick Classifieds offered the best pricing on 19 of 30, or 67% of the sets sampled.

      1 All set values were obtained using market data available at brickpicker.com. Click here to research the value of your favorite LEGO set.
      2 All CAGR data obtained on 1/16/2016 from brickpicker.com. Click here for a more in-depth discussion of CAGR.
      3 Ebay comparison data obtained on 1/16/2016 and calculated using U.S. based sellers only and include shipping to zip code 36870. Pricing data comes from the least expensive Buy-it-now option listing for complete, sealed, new in box listings. Prices listed in U.S. dollars.
      4 RRP listed in US dollars.
      Best of Brick Classifieds - Highlighting this week's outstanding deals
      A special shout out to vendors FlipBricks and BrickTop for having multiple listings in this weeks' deals.
       
      Minifigure Mania - $300 Complete set of 16 Collectible Minifigure Series 1 (sealed)
      BrickTop - $165 LEGO Castle Medieval Market Village #10193 (retired exclusive)
      FlipBricks - $340 LEGO Creator Fire Brigade #10197 (retired exclusive)
      Flip Bricks - $139.99 LEGO Creator Pet Shop #10218 (exclusive) 
      FlipBricks - $499 LEGO Creator Town Hall #10224 (retired exclusive) 
      FlipBricks - $224.99 LEGO DC Super Heroes Batman: Arkham Asylum Breakout #10937 (retired exclusive)  FlipBricks - $339.95 LEGO Marvel Super Heroes The SHIELD Helicarrier (exclusive) 
      Collector Bricks - $105 Mixels Complete Series 1 (new, sealed) 
      pnwcollectibles - $373.45 LEGO Monster Fighters Haunted Housed #10228 (retired exclusive) 
      Brickocephalus House - $69 LEGO Ninjago Ice Dragon Attack #2260 
      Couple Few Lego - $625 LEGO Star Wars UCS TIE Interceptor #7181 (retired exclusive) 
      Toy Box Building Bricks - $655 LEGO Star Wars UCS Naboo Starfighter #10026 (retired exclusive) 

      FlipBricks - $1830 LEGO Star Wars UCS Death Star II #10143 (retired exclusive) 
      BrickTop - $535 LEGO Star Wars Death Star #10188 (retired exclusive) 
      FlipBricks - $350 LEGO Star Wars UCS R2-D2 #10225 (retired exclusive) 
      Lego Dominion - $163 LEGO Star Wars Republic Gunship #75021 (retired) 
      FlipBricks - $279.99 LEGO Star Wars UCS Red 5 X-Wing Starfighter #10240 (retiring soon exclusive) 

      Bricks and Blocks Galaxy - $249 LEGO Technic Unimog #8110 (retired) 

    • thoroakenfelder
      The Ultimate Collector Series, or UCS for short, of LEGO sets tends to focus on the Star Wars brand. These UCS sets are the gold standard by which Star Wars sets are judged. They tend to have a much higher piece count and are much more detailed than the standard run of the mill sets. In 2000 the earliest Ultimate Collector Series began with the 7181 TIE Interceptor and the 7191 X-Wing. Like my previous article Brick by Brick, Breaking Down Expensive Lego Sets: 10212 UCS Imperial Shuttle we're going to be taking a look at what makes up one of these sets, in this case, 7181 TIE Interceptor.
      When looking at an old and expensive set that you want to buy, how do you decide if what you are getting is what you really need to complete the set? Did you spot a killer set in a box that you aren't sure that it is what you think it is? I enjoy looking at those bulk lot auctions and seeing what I can figure out is in there. In this second article of my Brick by brick series, I'd first like to show you something that caught my eye recently.
      This particular set is actually what led me to the idea for this series of articles. I found a bulk lot auction that looked like this:

      I initially thought/hoped Vader's TIE Advanced, but looking further at the pictures I realized that it was the TIE Interceptor instead.

      The blue was what told me that it was not Vader's TIE.
      The TIE Interceptor, 7181, was released in 2000. The original retail price of this set was $99.99. Used complete sets sell from $250-$350 while New in box sets sell for $625-$700. The box shows a total of 703 pieces.
      The first reason that this set is not one that you could just assemble from all of your kid's loose bricks is because it is pre-2004 pieces. This means that all of the grays are the old gray. These are not the bluish gray found in modern sets. Some of the pieces may be significantly easier to find in the newer colors, but they will not match the pieces that are unique to this set. When purchasing a used set, beware of someone replacing the old grays with the new bluish grays.
      Let's take a look at the pieces that are most common in this set. (apologies that the stock photos do not always reflect the color of the pieces in this set, they are for reference only)
      Since this set is not significantly large, the numbers involved aren't huge, but will most likely still outpace most sellers. For the higher part counts, there are:
      36 black plate 1x8 Element 3460

      20 Blue plate 1x8 Element 3460

      20 black 1x1 tile modified with clip Element 2555

      16 Dark Gray 1x1 plate modified with horizontal clip Element 6019 (only available in 10 sets)

      16 Blue Tile 1x8 Element 4162

      16 Dark Gray Hinge Brick 1x2 with 2 fingers vertical Element 30365

      16 Dark Gray Hinge Brick 1x2 with 1 finger vertical Element 30364

      14 Black Wedge Plate 8x4 Wing Right Element 3934

      14 Black Wedge Plate 8x4 Wing Left Element 3933

      14 Dark Gray Tile 1x2 Modified grill with bottom groove Element 2412b

      13 Dark Gray Plate 1x4 Element 3710

      13 Black Plate 2x3 Element 3021

      12 Dark Gray Panel 1x2x1 Element 4865

      12 Black Tile 1x8 Element 4162

      12 Dark Gray Inverted Slope 2x3 without connection between studs Element 3747a

      12 Blue Tile 1x4 Element 2431

      Out of 143 unique elements (meaning different part and color) 41 are the old Dark Gray consisting of 242 pieces. 15 are the old Light Gray consisting of 30 pieces. This includes elements from the above list as well as the unique and specialty pieces in the second section below. Even though most of these elements are common and cheap, most vendors on Bricklink do not carry the inventory to cover your needs for these pieces. You'd have to make multiple purchases, pushing the average cost of these pieces up, due to all of the shipping and handling charges. Of course your savvy Bricklinker will know to either have multiple wanted lists running, to spread out their costs, but still a lot of pieces means a lot of separate orders.
      Apart from the common pieces, you also have some specialty pieces that make up a set. The specialty pieces are ones that are either unique to the set or in so few sets as to make no difference. The unique and specialty pieces in the sets tend to have values that reflect a large proportion of the total value. This causes some collectors to forego the piece in favor of a cheaper alternative, whether it is the same piece in a different color or completely different pieces that serve a similar function. Unethical resellers will replace these pieces and not tell the end users who may not know to look. In some cases, people have made fakes. Spotting fakes is important, but not the focus of this article.
      You can read more on that topic here Helping to identify reproduction stickers and printed elements 
      For most UCS sets, one of the most expensive pieces is the sticker. The sticker is unique to the set, large and limited in number. Some people require unused sticker, while others are content to have them applied.
      For the TIE/Int there is a single sticker with information about the ship Sticker Sheet

      Unlike later sets, the stickers are not applied to a single large Plate, instead they are applied to 8 of the 1x8 black tile and attached to several 4x8 black tiles. This collection of parts consisting of a used sticker usually runs up to about $50 but may be found in the $20's. A New sticker sheet can be had in the $70-$85 range. I will not discuss the moral ramifications of buying or creating a reproduction sticker for a set that may eventually make it back into the marketplace. I will say that any set with a reproduction sticker should be considered incomplete or even altered if it makes it up for sale.
      For rare elements I want to start with the big daddy. This piece is the major piece that if it's missing, you've just got a big pile of LEGO. This was the first piece that caught my eye in the above auction. Element 2598px is the Cockpit Windscreen 10 x 10 x 4 Canopy Octagonal with TIE Interceptor Pattern. This piece is unique to this set. They created a different piece for the later Vader's TIE Advanced. This piece sells in the $100 range.

      There are 6 Dark Gray Bar 4L Element 30374, the same piece used for lightsabers and wands when molded in different colors. There's 25 different sets with this piece in Dark Gray, but it's used in a lot of early UCS sets, so competition for this piece is high.

      Element 4095 is also exclusive to this set. You need 4 Blue 6.6L Bar with Stop. Each one is going to run you more than $12.50 on average. As of the time of this writing, only a single Vendor on Brickpicker has any, and they only have 2.

      The next piece is 2 Dark Gray Plate, Round 2 x 2 with Rounded Bottom Element 2654 is available in a massive 4 sets including the UCS Rebel Snowspeeder. They can be had for a low cost because they were available in a very inexpensive set 4097 Mini Robots. The total number of sellers on Bricklink is less than 100.

      There is a single Dark Gray Cockpit 10 x 10 x 4 Octagonal with Axle Hole Element 2618 which is also unique to this set. There are currently none available for sale on Bricklink and the last 6 month sales average is just above $21.50, with the highest being $28.

      Next, there are 2 Dark Gray Minifig Utensil Sextant Element 30154that is only available in this and 5976 River Expedition. It's available for less than $1 but the average sale price is closer to $1.50 for a used piece.

      You also need 10 of a fairly common Element 4151 Black Plate Modified 8 x 8 with Grill. This is notable because of the 32 sets with this piece, only this set, Vader's TIE Advance (16) and the Eifel Tower (13) require more than 4. It averages about $.55 each.

      Between 1987 and 2000 Element 3040p01 Black Slope 2 x 1 with 3 Red Lamps, 3 Yellow Buttons, Yellow Border Pattern was released in 8 sets. You only need 1 and it's cheap at about $.25

      Another rare piece that you need is 2 Blue Dish 6 x 6 Inverted (Radar) Webbed - Type 2 Element 4285b. It is included in the more recent 10131 TIE Fighter Collection and as an alternate piece in Central Precinct HQ. They average about $.40 each, probably because the very similar 4285a also runs $.40

      The Light Gray Technic Brick 4x4 Open center 32324 is available in 10 sets including 2 additional UCS sets and the Cloud City. For a used one, the price averages close to $.50

      4 Blue Rigid Hose 3mm D. 20L / 16.0cm Element 75c20 are also required. This piece appears in 4 sets, the most recent of which was 2012's Gungan Sub 9499. The relatively recent availability of this set probably drove the price down.

      Element 3960px4 Dark Gray Dish 4 x 4 Inverted (Radar) with Star Wars TIE Hatch Pattern was available with the TIE Fighter 7146 and the UCS Rebel Blockade Runner 10019. The more common Dark Bluish Gray version is available with 8 sets (Surprise, surprise, all TIE Fighter variants.) The Dark Gray variant is about $.80 on average.

      Another rare piece, the 4 Dark Gray Bar 1x3 (Radio Handle/Phone handset) Element 6190 is available with a total of 4 sets. UCS Rebel Blockade Runner, UCS Snowspeeder, and 6738 Skateboard Challenge. You're probably going to spend close to $.75 each on these.

      Only 8 sets have Element 3039pb014 Light Gray Slope 2 x 2 with Horizon Indicator Screen Pattern. It's only about $.20, but unlikely to be in most people's spare parts.

      Element 3040px2 Dark Gray Slope 2x1 Black Crosshair pattern Green insectoid Pattern is available in 7 sets and averages about $.20.

      The last thing that many collectors consider when purchasing this set and the most obvious thing that you could see in a bulk lot is the instruction book. Instruction book Bricklink shows 3 of these sold in the last 3 months and 3 currently available. The price guide shows that the sold books range from $25-$35.

      As I said earlier, all of the Gray Pieces are the older Grays. 1/3 of the set has not been produced in this color for over a decade. Most people don't have that many older Gray pieces laying around. The rare pieces are truly rare and really expensive for a set that is significantly smaller than most UCS sets. All of the specialty pieces and pieces pulled from a small number of older sets are going to increase the number of bricklink orders that you would need to place. Honestly, if you don't already have a handful of key pieces, you should probably just buy a complete one, unless you really do like a long term project.
      I also feel obliged to mention that this set looks old. Comparing it to UCS TIE Fighter 75095 it looks blocky and primitive. There's a certain charm to the older sets, and since this is the only official TIE Interceptor, UCS Completists will always have a place for it. It's doubtful that the LEGO Group will be remaking it soon, but I wonder if they ever will. The used price of this set isn't terrible, probably due to the size of the set.
      Just for fun I'll throw up the rest of the auction pictures and you can see if you can pick out the key pieces, and can you make out the other large set that's in there?

       
       
       
       
      In the weeks to come, I will be exploring the pieces that make up each of the Top 25 Most Valuable sets, Ultimate Collector Series, and Modulars.
      Images in this article are the property of http://rebrickable.com/, Bricklink and LEGO.

    • Poly 30286
      For as long as I can remember, people have been puzzled by my interest in many things that were “for boys”, and I have been equally puzzled by why toys have a gender at all. As much as I am genetically and physically female, I have never been one to adhere to the likes and behaviors deemed appropriate to my gender. I am a builder and a creator. Both of my parents worked as computer engineers (although I used to think they worked on a train), so my brain and its nurturing were focused heavily on math and science. As a child, I liked toys that were fun to me, and I am thankful that my parents never tried to limit my curiosity and affinity based upon some societal norm. I loved jigsaw puzzles and my father’s vintage erector set, and I built elaborate homes for all of my Barbie dolls using blocks and bricks. I had a little bit of everything (partially because I grew up affluent and spoiled), but if I had to pick a favorite toy, it would be Lego. Sometimes, I did wonder why their were so few girls in my favorite Lego sets, but it never swayed my feelings
      I never expected to be a minority. I grew up white as can be in white suburbia, in a nice town, in a great school system getting average grades. I loved blocks, and ponies, and riding my bike. Nothing about my childhood seemed anything other than typical. It wasn't until college that my being female made me feel any different. I majored in Accounting and minored in Comp Sci at a liberal arts college with a 75% female student body. My business classes were 75% male and I was the only female in a class of 30 in my minor. Growing up, I never heard anyone say “you can’t do that because you're a girl”, so I never felt that way, but it was still a bit odd to be surrounded by men while exploring MY interests. My Lego collection (mostly Pirates, Castle and City) had a similar affliction. Though I did delight at the nuance of the rare female pirate, I never let a silly thing such as whether or not my toys were intended for girls or boys determine what I really liked. I viewed my education and intended career with the same carefree attitude, although I still remember my one female accounting professor enlightening me to the fact that only 10% of CPAs are women.
      Years passed. I finished school. I got a job. I got married. I started a family. I quit working 3 days before the birth of my 4th and final female child (my poor husband is plagued with daughters). At that point, I started to notice all the ways in which I am a minority. As an SAHM, I am part of only 24% of US mothers. The majority work at least part-time. I have more kids than the national average, and as a result, a minuscule net worth. The most important way that I am a minority, is because of my intelligence. According to SAT and GRE scores, I am ranked in the highest 5% of the population (among those who have taken these tests). Needless to say, after the first year at home, I got bored. Hence, I came out of my dark ages, just as my oldest decided she NEEDED the full line of Harry Potter Lego. I never much cared that Lego was "for boys". I just really liked the product. My girls and I are Lego maniacs, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
      Close to a year ago, I registered on BrickPicker. I read the forums, but didn't start posting until a few months ago. I had no idea I had so much to say. It was refreshing to chat with “adults”. As an AFOL, I really liked finding a place to share my thoughts instead of monopolizing the time of my local Lego Store employees. As an AFFOL (the first F stands for female), I started to notice just how very male the Lego reseller market is. As with most things, it doesn't really matter to me, but I do find it a point to ponder. I look forward to sharing with you as I explore the impact of gender on Lego sales and marketing.

    • Jeff Mack
      Could it be possible that the LEGO Creator Ferrari F40 is already on it's way out the door?  I am sure that most of you would say no.  I would say no?  How could it be, its been out for only a few months?  Maybe it's an error on the LEGO Shop at Home website or maybe its a bad seller and LEGO didn't make a huge run.  I doubt we will even know.  If you do a quick query of 'retired' sets on LEGO [email protected], you will see both the Ferrari F40 and the Mini Cooper listed there among the rest of the sets that are already retired.

      The Mini Cooper is no surprise, but the Ferrari would be if this is accurate.  Of course it can just be bugs in their system, but why would that show up with the rest of those and not some keychains.  Both are still available.  The Ferrari F40 has a limit of 2 per order while the Cooper has a limit of 5 per order.  If you haven't picked one up, now might be a good chance to at least grab at least one.  
       

    • Veegs
      A happy belated New Year to all my readers, all nine of you. May this coming year bring you discounted exclusives, 80% clearance finds in out of the way stores on long retired merchandise and superb buyer feedback in 2016. I'd also like to quickly take a sentence to remind readers that the Mack's, a.k.a. The Founders, a.k.a. The Collectors, a.k.a. The Guys Who Made Me Take the Blue Pill, are still raising money for St. Paul's and it would be a darn shame not to support such a great cause. I could cite a boatload of research that supports the notion that giving money away makes the giver undeniably happier, or could chastise those that read content (including this rubbish) but don't want to give back in any way, but I'd rather give a polite reminder that time is running out to buy tickets and the sets up for grabs could easily be the centerpiece of a budding collection. At the minimum, there should be lots of great stockroom photo sharing when these sets find new homes, and hopefully some education for little Macks.
      Back to business. What is BigBlueDogBricks targeting for 2016 in terms of exclusives? I'm sure everyone is waiting with bated breath to see what Ol' Blue is favoring, but I'll give a little background in case you are new to my flow. This will be my fourth year dabbling in Brickvesting (yeah, I'm starting to feel a little bro-ish using that term...might have to coin something new) and I am now confident classifying myself as a solid middle tier investor. I see lots of new members posting in various forums and can only assume you might want to hear a little advice on what kind of buying someone who was once like you is preparing to do.
      Side anecdote: Just before Christmas I was contacted by a fellow in the Greater Toronto Area who wanted to buy a couple of large sets. We chatted back and forth and he correctly assumed that because I had so many listings I was doing this as more than a casual hobby (like someone 'accidentally' has hundreds of Lego sets for sale at the same time?) and he asked a few questions about Lego investing and such. Yeah, not much of an anecdote yet...Anyway, he tells me that along with his brother they are getting into Lego and think investing is cool. They opt not to buy any of my sets (although they were underpriced from ebay sales around 20-25%, and I sold a couple of the sets they were interested in within a week for more than what they thought was too steep) but he did end with an interesting question – so you're buying tons of Pet Shops and Tower Bridges now, right? I chuckled, because I think people often get drawn to Brickpicker and think the big shiny sets are the easiest way to get started. I am a prophet preaching Anything But Modulars now, though, as I believe there are quite a few better strategies to be successful that are faster and provide a greater overall return than simply picking the current oldest modular and throwing money at it. Worst. Strategy. Ever.
      So, if you are relatively new or just don't have a lot of capital to invest what should you buy from the exclusives? Well, I've ordered my 2016 picks chosen from all the sets under the 'Hard to Find' label on Shop at Home (Canada), along with a quick rundown of why it deserves that ranking. I'll be back soon to talk about large (but not exclusive) sets that are on my buy list, and finish up with a smaller sets hit list. Fun!
      BigBlueDogToys Anything But Modulars Buy List Order, Winter 2016, Exclusives

      Ewok Village 10236
      Current Amazon.com sales rank: 149 in building sets
      I'm sure plenty of other investors have this at or near the top of their list. It is the oldest Star Wars large (not officially a UCS) set and, in case you don't know, Star Wars is totally a thing with people. They by and large seem to love it, if box office results indicate anything. It was listed as 'check back in February' for a few months (but was always available to buy at other retailers, at least in Canada) and is now listed as temporarily out of stock. Rumors have maybe three or four large Star Wars sets in the pipeline, so something seemingly has to give. I'm not advocating going crazy for a small to mid-sized investor (I have four from a flash sale from Walmart Canada) but it will probably be the first set I buy during the next double VIP + promo event. If you want to read a lot of Ewok love (or conversely a lot of Ewok hate) the dedicated thread is long and I can summarize: opinion seems divided, not much in the middle. I'm a lover, not a fighter, so these furballs are alright with me. Despite a good sales rank, it hasn't been around nearly as long as the modulars on my dishonorable mentions list so I'll let its current relative popularity slide.

      The S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier 76042
      Current Amazon.com sales rank: 344 in Building Sets
      A couple of whispers from far off places (Singapore, if you don't care to read the retiring soon thread religiously) have this retiring sooner rather than later. Limit is 1 from Shop at Home. It is massive. Ewoks are running circles around it according to sales rank. So why buy? Unlikely to ever be remade, I'd say, or at least not anytime soon. Difficult for small and medium-sized investors to hoard a set this large and expensive. Marvel fatigue might be setting in a bit (perhaps more of a Superheroes malaise, really) although I think the core fan base will still buy. Hasn't been around that long, but I'd still rather use double VIP to get a couple in the spring and then reevaluate.

      The Fairground Mixer 10244
      Current Amazon.com sales rank: 840 in Building Sets
      Overall the worst sales rank of the sets I've chosen to focus on today, which makes me happy. Almost swapped this with the Helicarrier...consider it a toss up for me. A poor seller in a crowded Lego release schedule seems very likely to get the axe sooner rather than later. I have a couple now but would actually be quite happy to aim for double digits here. I think it is a unique kind of set and is priced well for Canada! I was happy to grab Maersk EEEs when they were sitting with the retiring soon label for months and others were buying (presumably) modulars. I've sold some of those EEEs while those that invested in other large sets are potentially still sitting on them, and I've got cash profits to put into another hidden gem. It will be interesting to see if a third carnival type set gets released this summer, or if the Friends rollercoaster (heavily rumored) and other fairground sets are released in its stead. This summer the set will turn two, it isn't a great seller at the moment and doesn't get a ton of chatter on Brickpicker. I am going to throw a little money down on this one. Or a lot.

      The Simpsons House 71006
      Current Amazon.com sales rank: 229 in Building Sets
      I loved this set a couple months ago, and still love it now. Solid seller, not as flashy in sales numbers as a few other very large sets. Read more here: 


      Sandcrawler 75059
      Current Amazon.com sales rank: 285
      Second oldest Star Wars UCS-type set after Ewok Village. Reasoning is largely the same as Ewok Village, as I think this won't make it to 2017, comes from a hugely popular line and looks ballin'. I nod to EV first as I am afraid the Ewoks might not make it until Q4 (a.k.a. Retirement season) but I'm willing to gamble the Sandcrawler will. Also use some Helicarrier reasoning here: massive set, big price tag and big box keeps a lot of smaller and even mid-sized investors from going too deep on it (at least most of them).
      There you have it – this is a shopping list of what I'd like to nab during the spring double VIP. I'm not going to panic and grab them earlier as I am reasonably confident the sets on this list will not suddenly become unavailable permanently in February, and every percent discount or promo makes me more competitive in a crowded marketplace. I'm not going to order more than one or two of each, and not in quick succession or anything crazy that would merit a ban hammer, but will spread them over a week or two as I've done every promo period in the last couple years.
      Honorable Mentions
      Volkswagen T1 – Sales rank 385. Sales number indicates perhaps (finally) a little buyer fatigue? It has been out for seemingly forever and the new box design in 2015 virtually guaranteed (at least to me) that there would still be more time in 2016 to get more (not that I need more). I'll reevaluate in a few months. Those hoping The Lego Group wouldn't want three large car models on the shelves at the same time must be gutted.
      Mini Cooper – Sales rank 495. Slower than the T1, so an argument could be made that it might be retired ahead of the T1, which will become the new Death Star a.k.a. Live Star.
      Sydney Opera House – Sales rank 412. Tower Bridge is 183. Significant difference? As far as I know, the Opera House doesn't have a new box design, while the Tower Bridge does. I'd wager this goes in 2016 and the Tower Bridge stays. Just a hunch. That being said, I personally don't like the Opera House as much as a few of the others on this list, and I don't have enough money to go 5-10 deep on every set. I can't see myself wanting/getting more than 4-5 of these. It has also been discounted in other markets which has generally been linked to sets that are on the way out. If my sales stay strong this might get some love in the next few months.
      Dishonorable Mentions
      Pet Shop – Sales rank 89. 89! That is gross. I think modulars look like easy money and lots of folks are drawn in by them, but if it keeps selling this well I'm not convinced it will even retire this fall. If you are starting out, no problem grabbing one or two, but I think it is insane to tie up too much capital here. Plenty of other sets out there that should/could retire sooner and give a cash return faster.
      Palace Cinema – Sales rank 145. Also gross! If the Pet Shop didn't retire, then the Cinema HAS TO, right? AMITRITE? Perhaps not. Given sales numbers, why shouldn't the Lego Group have five modulars available at the same time? As long as investors keep stocking them away, I suspect they'll retire slowly.
      The difficulty for me is that in a perfect world, I would have piles and piles of each set, especially exclusives but that isn't realistic. I require stock turnover and sales to drive new investment, and my success (or failure) to move stock dictates approximately what I can spend. The spring double VIP event will be a good time to add a few large sets that I hope/expect/pray will retire at some point in 2016. When each set starts doing the in and out of stock dance, I'll probably squeeze some funds together to buy some from another large retailer, but I like to get at least a couple of each targeted set from Shop at Home in the mid to late cycle of its life. If you think I should be buying more Pet Shops, sound off in the comments section!
      Veegs (BigBlueDogBricks)

    • jaisonline
      No quiet "moo moo" noises being heard regarding the 70810 MetalBeard's Sea Cow set.  It's quite impressive when any set increases over 40% from MSRP ($249.99) within only 2 months of "availability" *.  
      Currently, MISB prices are $350 on average (bricklink, amazon, ebay, brickpicker)
      * note: availability varied by region and retailer.

       
      While most Lego collectors and investments were buying sets such as The Tumbler, Death Star, Pet Shop and UCS X-wing in the closing months of 2015, 70810 was quietly going in and out of stock before disappearing.   Not everyone was ignoring this set or quite by surprise of it's recent performance.  Check-out the forum topic for this set (link below).
       

      So now that it's "retired", why the 40% jump in value in 2 months?  "Supply vs. Demand" in my opinion.
      It appears Lego didn't produce as many 70810s as other Exclusive sets based on reported box tape seal codes. Maybe the set lost it's initial appeal.  The Lego Movie debuted 2 years ago. Many of its features become available in cheaper sets such as 70816 Benny's Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP! and Emmit's 70818 Double-Decker Couch.  There was also a larger version of Metalbeard available (70807 The Movie MetalBeard's Duel) The $250 cost was deemed too expensive. We may never know why this set was ignored by many at retail.   One thing was certain, the majority of online 70810 reviews were  positive. 
      Regarding the long-term aspects, only time will tell if demand continues to make this set rapidly appreciate.  The upcoming Lego The Movie sequel will most help as well as if Metalbeard appears in other Lego movies (Ninjago, Batman, etc...).
       
      For more information about this set, please visit the following brickpicker.com page and the original Designer Video.
      http://www.brickpicker.com/bpms/set.cfm?set=70810-1
       
       
       
       

    • thoroakenfelder
      In this series of articles, I would like to take a look at the more expensive, most sought after sets of all time. Instead of reviewing the sets I thought I would address the parts of the sets that make them so rare and valuable.
      New collectors may wonder why they can't just build these popular and expensive sets out of the LEGO pieces scattered throughout their house. Inexperienced buyers may have concerns over what parts might be replaced in used sets that they are buying. People looking into bulk lots might want to know what clues in a lot would indicate that one of these popular sets are present.
      The first set on my list is 10212 the UCS Imperial Shuttle. I know that the Millennium Falcon 10179 is much more popular, but I want to do it justice, so need more time to work on it.
      The Imperial Shuttle, 10212, was released in 2010. The original retail price of this set was $259.99. Used complete sets sell from $400-$500 while New in box sets sell for $550-$650. The box shows a total of 2503 pieces including 5 minifigures.
      New collectors would probably balk at the price tag for this set. It's hard to fathom why a bunch of little plastic bricks that seem so ubiquitous could ever be worth that much. Sadly, that's not really close to top of the mark for sets, and these collectors shouldn't wait too long to have that band aid ripped away.
      The first reason that this set is not one that you could just assemble from all of your kid's loose bricks is because it is 2503 pieces. I guarantee that your kid would notice that many missing pieces. These pieces are not just random, they were selected, designed, and tested to go together to make the best representation of this iconic ship. Some of these LEGO pieces are very common, but you still may not have enough of them to fill in this set.
      Let's take a look at the pieces that are most common in this set. (apologies that the stock photos do not always reflect the color of the pieces in this set, they are for reference only)
      There are:
      133 White 1x1 Technic Brick with hole Element 6541

      133 Black Technic Pin with Friction ridges with center slot Element 2780

      108 Blue Technic Pin 3L with Friction Ridges Element 6558

      106 White Plate 1X1 Element 3024

      82 White Plate 1X2 Element 3023

      58 Light Bluish Gray Technic Pin 1/2 Element 4274

      58 White Brick 1X3 Element 3622

      52 White Brick 1x2x5 Element 2454

      etc.
      As you can see, the volume of some of these elements can be intimidating. Even though most of these elements are common and cheap, most vendors on Bricklink do not carry the inventory to cover your needs for these pieces. You'd have to make multiple purchases, pushing the average cost of these pieces up, due to all of the shipping and handling charges. Of course your savvy Briclinker will know to either have multiple wanted lists running, to spread out their costs, but still a lot of pieces means a lot of separate orders.
      Apart from the Large number of common pieces, you also have some specialty pieces that make up a set. The specialty pieces are ones that are either unique to the set or in so few sets as to make no difference. The unique and specialty pieces in the sets tend to have values that reflect a large proportion of the total value. This causes some collectors to forego the piece in favor of a cheaper alternative, whether it is the same piece in a different color or completely different pieces that serve a similar function. Unethical resellers will replace these pieces and not tell the end users who may not know to look. In some cases, people have made fakes. Spotting fakes is important, but not the focus of this article.
      For most UCS sets, one of the most expensive pieces is the sticker. The sticker is unique to the set, large and limited in number. Some people require unused sticker, while others are content to have them applied.
      For the 10212 Imperial Shuttle, there is one sticker sheet that has a large sticker that describes the vehicle and 5 smaller stickers that represent computer screens. Sticker sheet 

      The stickers for this set sell in the $40-$50 range. Bought separately attached to their elements The large sticker should run about $20-$30 and the individual computer screens $10-$15 each.
      The Large Sticker is attached to Element 90498 Black Tile 8X16 with Bottom Tubes which is only available in 12 sets. Most of those sets are UCS sets. It's a relatively cheap part at around $2, mostly because it is in the Rhino and Sandman Supervillain Teamup, a relatively inexpensive set that many are parting out.

      One of the harder to find elements is 32 White Technic Lift Arm 1X7 Bent Element 32348. It's available in 8 other sets and averages $.50-$.60 each. It's currently available in the Ferris Wheel 10247.

      You also need 8 Light Bluish Gray 40 Tooth Technic Gear Element 3649 which average about $1 each. There's a light Gray version which lazy builders might include, even though it is incorrect, because they don't want to take the time to verify it is correct.

      The windscreen 6267 is only available in Translucent Black in 3 sets. One of those sets is currently available and less than retail LEGO City Train Station 60050. Before that set was released, this element was more than likely fairly expensive, since the other set it was available in was the Grand Emporium.

      There are 4 Trans Clear Technic Gearbox 2x4x3 1/3 that usually costs about $1-$2 each 6588 It's not a terribly uncommon piece (available in 20+ sets) but only the Imperial Shuttle has this many.

      A cheap piece that is only available in 4 sets is the White Windscreen 7x4x2 Round Extended Front Edge 89762. The only reason that I can conceive that this piece is inexpensive is that it was available in a very cheap, common set, Freeco Speeder 8085.

      Element 3046a is also a cheap rare element. It is available in 3 sets. It's a light bluish gray 2x2 double concave slope. It's available in the SpongeBob Squarepants Flying Dutchman 3817 and Sith Fury Class Interceptor 9500. Both of which were clearance in the past couple years.

      My final rare element is the White slope 2x2x3 Double Convex Element 3685 It sells for about $3-$4 and you need 10 of them. It's available in 4 sets including the Imperial Shuttle Tydirium 75094.

      Of the 5 included minifigures, Darth Vader and the Stormtrooper are found in other sets but the following figures are available only in this set:
      Imperial Shuttle Commander

      Imperial Pilot

      Luke Skywalker Jedi Knight with Pupils (although this figure is found with a watch)

      The last thing that many collectors consider when purchasing this set and the most obvious thing that you could see in a bulk lot are the 4 instruction books. These books, as a set, sell for between $40-$75 and are available in the $100 range. If you've got a box, that gets you closer to the upper range of $500 than if it is missing.

      The hard parts of putting this set together are the rare elements and the sheer number of pieces. The average LEGO collector could probably get 25-33% of the way to completing this set. The rest would take a lot of time and money to buy in multiple lots. People who have used Bricklink to build sets like this typically look back and determine that they have spent more than the average sale price to accumulate the pieces of this set.
      Value is a tricky thing. It's hard to explain to someone who is not involved in the hobby, because they just see a lot of plastic bricks. Collectors see the rarity of an old piece that is well constructed and was not common while it was in production and has become less so since then. New collectors come into the hobby every single day, and some that have been collecting for a while have begun stretching out to the more expensive sets. The UCS Imperial Shuttle is in the middle of the pack as far as cost goes in the world of UCS sets.
      Quick quiz: I lifted some pictures from an auction that closed a couple months ago. Could you pick out this set from the photos? Would you know that this was a UCS Imperial Shuttle?

      What if I gave you this picture?

      In the weeks to come, I will be exploring the pieces that make up each of the Top 25 Most Valuable sets, Ultimate Collector Series, and Modulars.
      Images in this article are the property of http://rebrickable.com/, Bricklink and LEGO.
       
      ******************
      Quick note from jaisonline.  As mentioned in the article, the 10212 Imperial Shuttle has been selling for $400-$500 (used) and $550-$650 (new in box).  So how much would the bricks, manuals and sticker cost if we "bricklinked" our own 10212?  Using current used prices on bricklink.com, it would cost $539 (before postage) to purchase everything except the box in used condition.  "2,488 Items in 226 Unique Lots totaling US $538.90 ready to be uploaded into your inventory."  Postage can easily add an addition $100.  Thus, 10212 is an example where it makes sense to buy the set (new or complete) in one transaction.

    • Fcbarcelona101
      Welcome to the second entry of the Top 10 Best Selling LEGO sets as listed by LEGO [email protected]
      Given that this is only the second entry of the series, I wanted to take the time and remind our readers about what they can expect:
      While the LEGO Shop at Home best sellers list is updated weekly, we will be updating it every Wednesday. The list includes only sets. Minifigures, keychains, Pick a Brick and other products are excluded. I will comment only on those sets that are new to the list, or that for whatever reason may stand out on a particular week. For example, if a set has been on the list for 10 weeks in a row, then it may warrant a comment or two. I am keeping an Excel spreadsheet with each set that appears on the list, its weekly placing (if any) and the total number of weeks that it has been on the list. I will try to publish it for the first time in one of the next few entries. For now, this is a US based best sellers list. I am still trying to figure out how to do other regions. Pretty simple!
      Now that we got that out of the way, let's take a look at this week's Top 10.
      Top 10 Best Selling Sets (LEGO [email protected])
      #1: 40201 Valentines Cupid Dog - Previous Week: #3 - Buy Now! 

      #2: 10251 Brick Bank - Previous Week: #1 - Buy Now!

      #3: 75827 Firehouse Headquarters - Previous Week: #2 - Buy Now!

      #4: 75105 Millennium Falcon - Previous Week: #4 - Buy Now!
       

      #5: 75132 First Order Battle Pack - Previous Week: N/A - Buy Now!
      On the previous week's entry, some people were surprised there were not battle packs in the Top 10. The First Order Battle Pack changes that this week and places in the Top 5! Battle packs in general are pretty popular, as they allow builders to acquire a decent number of figures at a decent price. This one in particular is perfect for building up your First Order Army.

      #6: 75099 Rey's Speeder - Previous Week: N/A - Buy Now!
      Another newcomer. This little set is not, in my opinion, one of the most interesting builds of the Force Awakens first wave, but it definitely is a cost effective way to acquire Rey and one of the first ships we got to see in the movie.

      #7: 75102 Poe's X-Wing - Previous Week: #7 - Buy Now!
       

      #8: Doctor Who - Previous Week: #9 - Buy Now!
       

      #9: 21028 New York City - Previous Week: #6 - Buy Now!
       

      #10: 75060 Slave 1 - Previous Week: N/A - Buy Now!
      First UCS set on the list! It is always good to see such expensive sets on the Best Sellers list. Slave 1 has had a pretty big following since the Original Trilogy was released, so it will be interesting to see how often we see it placing in the Top 10.

       
      As always, feel free to leave your views and suggestions in the comments section below!
      Thanks for reading.

    • jaisonline
      In last week's Summer 2016 rumor news, we mentioned that one "insider" thought we would be getting a Vader's Tie Advanced refresh.  It now appears that upcoming 75150 Death Vader TIE Advanced is based on the Rebels television show.  Take a look at the screen grabs below.


      A low resolution image was uploaded to Twitter and imgur.com earlier today.  I do believe the leaked images (if true) are prototype boxes as 3 of the 5 images have 442 listed as the element count.
      The  $99.99 (brickset.com price) set is #75150 and will include an A-Wing plus 4 minifigures. An A-Wing pilot can be seen on the box image as well as Sabine (no helmet).  The image below is most likely a prototype one with 2 or more false minifigures as Darth Vader is missing.  Additionally, the gray minifigure looks like an Inquister (the 5th Brother)  If this set is indeed based on the Rebels season 2, Ahsoka Tano could also be included. 
      "Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future".  Time will time which minifigures will be included in this great looking set.
       

       
       

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