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    Brickpicker blog articles on LEGO investing, news, reviews, evaluations, discounts and more...
    • Veegs
      I thought it would be a great idea to check in on some sets that don't get a lot of press around here to see exactly how they are doing now. I love 'where are they now' editions of TV shows so if nothing else posting this will please me, and perhaps others like me. Also, I think learning from history is better than not learning history, so for new(er) members, these type of posts might be instructive at best or eye-rolling at worst. 

      I was casually checking through my stockroom a few days ago, organizing, moving boxes around, admiring pretty sets, etc., when my eyes fell upon my admittedly small stash of #60026 Town Squares (in all fairness, I admit to only having four). I hadn't checked in on this old fellow for a bit so pulled up some eBay sold listings. I was pleasantly surprised to see the eBay trend price is $218 CAD with a few selling above that number (as of Nov. 12, 2015). This piqued my curiosity because I know I purchased these last year 20% off (plus VIP) from S&H in December 2014. For an eleven month hold I have to admit to being downright jolly about this set's performance. Perhaps it is because I was very conservative in my expectations (say, $200+ CAD 18 months after retirement or so) or maybe I am just happy anytime I 'know' I can sell a set for at least some profit after taxes and fees and such (it definitely placates my significant other as well to show her sale prices over $200 CAD so she knows this set is almost certainly going to make at least some profit). Not every set can be the Zombies or the Town Hall. I believe a solid portfolio should be balanced, and this large City set seems like it would have been a good one to add to any investor's portfolio at a reasonable discount. I know, I know, buy in is always a combative point in the forums, but I think we can mostly almost always 100% of the time agree that City sets can be found at discount at some point in their product cycle. So why has this quiet little (big) set done pretty well in the last eleven months?
      The Good:
      A short production lifespan. Brickset.com lists its availability from Aug 1, 2013 to December 2014. I can't remember the exact day, but it was post Boxing Day 2014. It lasted a bit at 20% off on Shop at Home, but not crazy long (like Kingdom's Joust at 20% off...which considering the derision some heaped on it whilst on sale, it will still eke out profits if sold today). I regret not grabbing a couple more, actually. I think I was entirely too concerned with festive celebrations and not doing due diligence to realize this run was actually well under what I will simply call 'average' (debate what average is to you in your own posts...to me it is around two years, give or take a couple months, so this was a significant difference from MY concept of average). I also was probably so full of holiday cheer that I forgot I had done quite well on 8404 Public Transport. Again, not fireworks, but bought at discount near EOL, held for less than a year and solidly collected cash. Virtual money in your portfolio isn't nearly as sweet as the real cash I got from selling my 8404's and pushing that money right back into other sets.
      Little buzz. I just reread some of the six (yes! all six pages!) of the 60026 discussion. It was a real barn-burner in some sections...scintillating reading, really! I posted in that thread a few times! And if you are reading this, you've already at least partially allowed your brain to think my jibber-jabber is relevant and useful to you! Also, I think if you took out the posts about the initial launch and the flurry of posts when it went on sale on S&H near the end there were possibly only a handful of other posts in the intervening 15 months. Boooo-ring! I think part of this is that (at least in Canada) it was a TRU exclusive and difficult to get with any significant discount. I seem to remember about 20% with some air miles bonuses about the best I could muster. South of the border I'm sure some of you used 'American coupon magic' (that is banned in Canada) to get your buy in crazy low, but I don't recall any massive sales on this set in my parts (which probably accounts for the rather paltry amount of chatter about this set).
      More expensive successor. I think having 60097 City Square come out at a higher MSRP helped 60026. I think one could make a counter-argument or argue that any successor ultimately will limit the growth of 60026 but I tend not to agree with any hypothetical naysayers. I imagine the kind of people buying 60026 over MSRP do so not in lieu of purchasing its 'replacement' (a large City 'scene', if you will) but buy it because they want it in addition to 60097. Higher values of one (at least to me) seem to go hand in hand with higher values for the other.
      City sets are winners! Ha! I know a multitude of BPers will disagree, but no matter! I have made solid, steady and often unremarkable gains on City sets and like it that way. If you look at City's 15.79% CAGR and then throw out the humdrum police and fire sets, you *might* begin to see that some of the more unique sets in this theme seem to do rather well, even though it is an unlicensed theme and whole subthemes are under threat of a refresh at any given time. That does mean a savvy investor has to be always on the lookout for rumors and leaks of future themes/sets so product can be moved when necessary, but that is a risk I'm willing to take. I don't wish I had fifty of these, partly because I don't have that kind of capital to tie up in a single set and partly because even if this set is $250-275 CAD next Christmas I don't know if I could quickly find a home for so many at once (and I rely on regular sales to keep the investing side of the machine running), but I do wish I had about 10-15.
      So, what can we learn by looking at a slow, steady gainer eleven months post-EOL? Hopefully something to help us make better choices going forward. I know I buy much more selectively now than a few years ago, and I try to find a comfortable little niche where I can buy-sell-rinse-repeat enough to keep money coming in and a smile on my face. Perhaps you'd like to join me?
      BigBlueDogBricks (Veegs)

    • Fcbarcelona101
         The Sandcrawler is without a doubt one of the most iconic vehicles in the entire Star Wars universe. Ever since C-3PO first spotted this gargantuan transport, Star Wars fans have been very attracted to the idea of owning their own version, along with its extremely popular operators, the Jawas.
         Back in 2004 released its own version of the Sandcrawler. That set remains a pretty accurate version of what we originally saw in the movies, and for a long time it was also a very expensive set to acquire in the secondary market. As mentioned before, a big part of its appeal was that, at the time, it was the only set to ever include the Jawa minifigures. 
         As you can see in the graph below, the original 10144 Sandcrawler has experienced a significant decrease in value. A year ago, you could acquire a used version for around $240; that’s $50 more than what it is currently selling for. 

         Of course, it is not hard to explain the reason for this decrease, as LEGO released a much-improved version of the Sandcrawler during the second quarter of 2014. At the time, I have to admit that I didn’t really like the newer model as much as I do now.
         The newer version will hit its 2-year anniversary next year, and while LEGO’s product cycles have changed significantly over the last few years, I figured I would give my opinion about the Sandcrawler’s investment potential. 
         As a personal note, I recently acquired a personal copy of this set for my personal collection, and have to admit that it is a pretty impressive model with really nice minifigures. 

         One of the reasons I am confident this set will perform well once retired is that it includes almost 3,300 pieces, making it one of the largest LEGO sets currently in production. While size is not the only predictor for future growth, it has definitely contributed to the success of other sets beyond the Star Wars theme. In this case, the number of pieces allows for the design of the set to be extremely accurate to its movie counterpart.
         As mentioned before, the minifigure selection is also pretty solid, with the 4 Jawas and Owen Lars as its main highlights. It is important to mention that the release of this newer version has actually hurt the value of the Jawa minifigure in general, as it used to sell for closer to $30 and now hovers slightly over $10.

         Another aspect that I believe will contribute to this set’s future value is the instruction manual. While some of the older Ultimate Collectors Series (UCS) sets had really nice and bulky instructions (Death Star/Super Star Destroyer) the new Sandcrawler is one of the first, if not the first, to include what I consider a more collector oriented manual. Besides giving the builder step by step instructions, it also includes a nice introduction with some images and information about the Sandcrawler itself. A pretty nice touch that LEGO and Star Wars collectors will definitely value in the long run.

         LEGO officially recognized the set as part of the Star Wars’ UCS, making it the first set to be “stamped” with the new UCS seal on the box. While one could really argue the Sandcrawler does not really qualify as a UCS set for a couple of reasons (missing information label and the fact that it is a play-set and not a display piece), official recognition by LEGO is all it takes for it to be sought after by some of the most serious collectors. As we all know, UCS sets appreciate significantly after retirement, and this one should be no exception.

         Even if you were to completely dismiss the set as part of the UCS line, the performance of the original Sandcrawler over the 8 years before this new release was pretty outstanding. While the investment landscape has changed, the size and price don’t necessarily make this one easy to hoard for the average investor. 
         I put this set in the same category as I do the Death Star and Ewok Village, not really UCS but not solely play sets either; more of a mixed breed that I am encouraged to see LEGO is willing to produce more often, as evidenced with the upcoming Hoth Rebel Base. It will definitely be interesting to see how these "sub-line" behaves once retired.
         Finally, it is my personal opinion that the Sandcrawler will retire at some point in 2016, probably by the end of the year. I will shoot to have at least 4 or 5 of these before July of next year, and invite every investor to consider it as part of their strategy as well.
      Thanks for reading.

    • thoroakenfelder
      A short time ago in a toy store not too far away . . . I was looking at this set on Force Friday and wondering if this set was worth getting. I haven't seen Star Wars the Force Awakens yet, so I don't know if this is Poe's primary fighter, or if he loses it 20 minutes in, like Obi-Wan and Anakin in Revenge of the Sith. It's $20 more than the previous X-Wing 9493, which I felt portrayed the X-Wing adequately. I knew I was likely to get this eventually when it went on sale, but I fear I fell to the dark side.
      As a countdown to the Force Awakens, I will be writing at least one Star Wars review each week.
      Set #: 75102
      Name: Poe's X-Wing Fighter
      Theme: Star Wars
      Parts: 717
      Price: $79.99
      Before we get to the build, let’s talk value. At $79.99 the price per piece works out to a bit over $.11 each. This seems to be on the low average side of pricing for a licensed set. There are 4 minifigures, of which 3 are unique. (I am counting the tiny BB-8 as a minifigure. It is the only reused figure)
      Some people may wind up picking up a set that is open box or, want to verify the box contents before beginning a build. For this set, there are 5 numbered baggies, a sticker sheet, and an instruction book. The instruction book is nice and thick. It's square bound: The stickers are plentiful and in some cases small, which will make some collectors unhappy.
      There are some new elements in this set. I will focus on the most obvious ones. First are the helmets. The new helmets are nice. They've got plenty of decoration and the pilot helmet has an interior piece that is transparent yellow. Now, your pilots don't need a weird orange stripe on their heads to look like they have a visor.

      The other new piece that I want to focus on is the cockpit canopy. This canopy has been the focus of a lot of discussion, because a production run of this set had a defective canopy. This caused a recall that created a shortage of this set initially. This part is a beautiful piece. It fits the design aesthetic of the X-Wing better than the part 30372 that has been used since set 7140 back in 1999.

      Bag 1 creates the utility sled, a movable ladder and the base for the X-Wing. The little cart reminds me of the larger cart that was part of the 7140 build. Neither one is integral to the overall build of the X-Wing, but add a little bit of background details for displays or dioramas. The ladder is very simple, and a great element for displays. Until now, X-Wing pilots had to either stand on other people's heads or force jump to get into their craft.

      Bag 2 continues to elongate the body, filling it out and developing its shape. So far, there's not a lot of difference from what I recall of the 9493 build.
      Bag 3 has the most pieces so far. the body is fully developed now. Long and sleek and black and orange. The pins sticking out of the back are for later, attachment points for the wings.

      Bag 4 we create 2 of the 4 wings. Disappointingly, the wings are not front/back like they appear in the trailers for Star Wars, they are slightly offset top/bottom. A lot has been made about the use of blue bands instead of white. For me, white would be just as jarring, red might blend in better, or black. But, honestly, I don't care about the color of that particular element

      Bag 5, maybe as many pieces as bag 3. You create 2 more wings, engines for all 4 and laser cannons. The interesting thing is that the 4 wings are built in different orders. In order to not seem too cookie cutter, the designers took pretty much the same pieces and had you arrange them in a different sequence to get pretty much the same result. It's amusing that they put that much effort into it. I know that each of the wings is a unique build, in like previous X-Wings that would have had 2 separate builds for offside wings, but the sections of these wings that are the same read differently.

      There were a lot of small extra parts, nothing really interesting, just the pieces you would probably expect.
      Well, it certainly is X-Wing like. I was happy that my set didn't have the defective canopy. It's a nice set, the detailing is good, and the minifigures look great.

      This is not an entirely successful representation of the X-Wing from the upcoming movie. Those X-Wings appear to have a truncated, snub nose compared to this much longer one. It seems to me that the designers tried to take a shortcut by starting with the 9493 build and trying to alter it. The wings don't meet in the middle and separate front/back. So, while it was an interesting build and looks good, it is not exactly what I wanted it to be. The places where it succeeds, it really  hits the mark, smoother lines and better details than the 3 year old 9493. The Stud shooters on the sides of this one were slightly more successful proton torpedo launchers than the things hooked onto the side of 9493. More hidden studs should appeal to those who don't want their models to look like they are built from LEGO.

      I frequently compared this set to previous offerings, 7140 and 9493, because some of the design aspects were direct call outs to the previous ones. Collectors have already been calling out the differences and appraising the value of this one versus the previous one. The disparity in retail price will give some pause to consumers. a 33% price hike from a similar set that was still available 1 year ago may give them pause. The price per piece is fine and shouldn't give pause.
      Long term value is a very hazy question. We are standing on a precipice when it comes to Star Wars sets. For 16 years sets have been produced, sometimes to coincide with the release of a film. When each new film was released, the initial offerings were fair to poor representations of the new vehicles. The majority of these sets would later be remade with new techniques and new elements and were generally better sets on subsequent offering. Now, for the foreseeable future, there will be a new Star Wars film every year. Each of those films will call for their own new offerings, whether they are remakes of older sets with different minifigures (the speculation for Rogue One is that there will be Death Star and X-Wing and TIE Fighter sets from the original trilogy time frame) or entirely original designs, there is less space to recreate sets for older movies.
      The Force Awakens features a variety of X-Wing fighters in a variety of colors, so we are likely to see more of the "new design" X-Wings, and if Poe appears in later episodes, he is likely to continue flying an X-Wing, so we'll probably see updates then. Updates/rehashes/re-releases are the death of long term value. The X-Wing set will probably have a huge demand for holiday 2015 with the release of the film only a week before Christmas, and the initial shortages, I can see a run on this set. I cannot see a long term investment value on this set at retail. You have to get discounts, and possibly significant ones if you want to see acceptable returns. With Episode VIII only 2 years away, the turnaround time to realize significant gains could be incredibly slim. If we assume an 18 month life span, it should retire in March 2017. If they have a Force Friday type release in September of that year, you have something like 6 months before I expect to see a new Sequel trilogy X-Wing.
      It's a nice, fun set. Jimmy and Johnny and even AFOLs will want it this holiday, so QFLLs might have a field day in the weeks before Christmas. It looks good with 9493 and will be more in demand as the Star Wars hype reaches fever pitch. The new characters Poe and BB-8 will be fairly popular for at least the short term.
      I decided to take some pictures so that you could see what the 75102 and 9493 look like together. You can see the similarities and the differences.

    • Alpinemaps
      LEGO is running a promotion this weekend, November 13-15, 2015.  Purchase the Temple of Airjitsu (70751), and receive a free Enter the Serpent (70749) set.  Enter the Serpent is $59.99 MSRP.
      This offer is available in US LEGO Stores and online at LEGO Shop @ Home. 
      NOTE:  Although initially available at LEGO Shop @ Home, it appears to now be in-store only.
      Just in case you want to see it, here is the fine print on the offer:
      **70749 Enter the Serpent free gift offer is valid through 11:59pm EST November 15 or while supplies last. Purchase must include 70751 Temple of Airjitzu to qualify. One free gift per qualifying purchase. Cannot be applied to previous purchases or combined with any other discount, offer or free gift. Free gift is available exclusively through this offer. Offer valid only in the United States and Canada. Offer is only valid on shop.LEGO.com and LEGO Stores; not valid at LEGOLAND® Parks or LEGOLAND Discovery Centers. Free gift must be returned with the return of 70751 Temple of Airjitzu or free gift will be deducted from return amount. The LEGO Group reserves the right to cancel or modify this promotion at any time without prior notice.


    • Jeff Mack
      Below is a screenshot of Black Friday deal that Toys R Us is offering this year.  Nothing wrong with getting 30% off any set. I personally like the Ultra Agents theme.  The 70173: Ultra Agents Ocean HQ is a really slick looking boat and if you can grab that for $70, not a bad considering it is sold out right now on LEGO S@H. 

    • Alpinemaps
      Toys R Us will be holding a building event for kids.  Build and take home a mini LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens Poe's X-Wing Fighter. This event will be held on Saturday, November 14 from 12-2pm. This X-Wing is Poe Dameron’s version and is slightly different from previous X-Wings we’ve seen from Toys R Us. 

      (Credit to exciter1 for the original post)

    • Jeff Mack
      Even though this set has had some controversy surrounding it, there is no doubt #75827 Ghostbusters Firehouse Headquarters that it is a beautifully designed set.  This is no small set!  Coming in at 4,634 pieces and 12 minifigures (that I can see so far), you will get a lot of set, but it does have a steep price tag of £274.99 / $349.99. All I know is that your Ecto-1 will look great parked out in front of it.  Take a look at the photos that have been released and get a good look of how they designed the inside of it.

    • Jeff Mack
      The holiday season is here and the end of 2015 is nearing.  What does this mean?  They need to make room for 2016 sets!!!  Right now the stock tracker is keeping close tabs on nearly 30 sets that have an opportunity of saying goodbye for good, or may be hard to get due to demand.  Since I started tracking the alerts that are sent out back in August, we have sent out more than 350,000 SMS messages trying to tell you that something is in stock.  I just added the following sets to the tracker.
      42008-1: Service Truck 42009-1: Mobile Crane MK II 42030-1: Volvo L350F Wheel Loader 75052-1: Mos Eisley Cantina 75054-1: AT-AT 75055-1: Imperial Star Destroyer 75097-1: Star Wars Advent Calendar Feel free to leave other sets that you are think may be hot holiday items or at risk of disappearing and we can add them to tracker.  If you have not started using the tracker and having a hard time ordering sets from online retailers, start using it now.

      In case you don't know what the tracker is, here is a little bit about it.
      It is a service that pings the major LEGO retailers such as LEGO Shop @ Home (in many global markets, not just USA), Target, Walmart, Toys R US and Global Amazon Sites You can sign up to be alerted by Text Message Alerts, Email and Desktop Notifications You need to be a Brickpicker Member. Sign Up Now! It's Fast (sometimes too fast) and it's Free to Use (text message fees may apply to you depending on your contract)!

    • Jeff Mack
      At 7:28 AM EST, member 8lackmagic from the United Kingdom registered on our site and became our 50,000th activated member!!!! Brickpicker is also celebrating it's 4th year in existence which is exciting in itself. To know that we have been able to register 50,000 members in those four years is an accomplishment that I didn't think would honestly ever happened if you asked me a few years back.  
      It's been amazing to see all the things that have happened over these past four years... 50k members, a book that has been published and just released with a second one in the works and we finally released our marketplace Brick Classifieds that offers ZERO selling fees and continues to gain traction more and more on a daily basis. 
      Ed and I may not get everything right, but we do keep trying to bring new features to the LEGO community.  We try to be a little different than the rest of the LEGO communities.  This year, the #1 task will be to bring you major enhancements to the Brickfolio feature, something that has been long overdue. We also have a few other features that you will hear about in the not so distant future that can be a major impact for the members of this site and their shopping habits.
      In the end Ed and I would just like to say thank you for all your support of the site.  We really love the community that Brickpicker has become and look forward to seeing where it will go!!

    • Alpinemaps
      Last week, we reported on the first LEGO Nexo Knights polybag to be revealed, 30371 Knight's Cycle.  A image of a second polybag has appeared, 30372 Robin's Mini Fortrex.  No details have been released on the availability of this polybag either. As mentioned last week, Nexo Knights has not received the warmest of receptions, so it remains to be seen whether these two polybags will be a hit or a miss.


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