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    Brickpicker blog articles on LEGO investing, news, reviews, evaluations, discounts and more...
    • Quacs
      In a scene from the gut-busting movie History of the World, Part 1, Mel Brooks, playing the role of Moses, brings 3 stone tablets received from the hand of God down Mt. Sinai to the people of ancient Israel. As he takes the final steps of his harrowing trip, Moses steps in front of an assembled throng and proclaims in a booming voice, “I PRESENT TO YOU THESE FIFTEEN…”, accidentally drops one of the three tablets he’s holding and quips, “Oy, ten…TEN COMMANDMENTS FOR ALL TO OBEY!” As God himself gave his fifteen laws to Mel Brooks, veteran Brickpicker members have bequeathed their own investing rules to the rest of the Brickpicker faithful. These rules can be found dotted throughout the Discussion forum, Evaluation Corner articles and Investing Blog, and they provide investors with a wide array of plausibly accurate, seemingly tried and true Lego investing truisms intended to help new investors develop their own portfolios. While these axioms usually seem plausible and well-reasoned, as I have progressed as a Lego investor I’ve found most of them needed a thorough assessment to determine their accuracy.
      Let’s dive into the gospel according to Brickpicker members to see what these truisms are, and whether they hold water:
      Commandment #1: Thou shalt buy what you like
      This is probably the number one piece of advice given on this website, and I’m always floored by what bad advice this could potentially be. The logic seems sound: buy what you like so if the set goes belly up in the aftermarket, you can always build the set. From a financial perspective, executing this strategy is suicide for returns from your portfolio. As a simple example, let’s assume I had the following portfolio I wanted to liquidate today:

      click to enlarge
      Portfolio return if you decide to build 8070 is [($167 + $71) – $270] / $270 = -12%. Portfolio return if you decide to sell 8070 at a loss is [($60+$167+$71) - $270] / $270 = +10% From a financial perspective, opening the box and building the set will lead to a loss for this portfolio (assuming it’s not sold as a used set). The smaller collector-investor is especially susceptible since smaller portfolios can’t absorb the loss of entire sets. For people that invest in more than one of a set, this truism poses another issue – who wants to build and display more than one copy of the same set? Buy the sets you like and build them, but keep them separate from your investment portfolio. Also, limiting your portfolio to only certain themes you like not only limits portfolio diversity, but it can limit low risk sources of profit.
      Barring a catastrophic economic collapse, your investment sets will always have some value and profit-driven investors will always try to squeeze as much profit out of each set to protect their portfolio’s return. This commandment is bogus. Invest in profit potential, not sets you would like to build.  

      Commandment #2: Thou shalt purchase trains
      One of my first eye openers after joining BP was learning the popularity of Lego trains. Before Brickpicker, I never knew the depth of the theme: Lego trains appeared as early as 1966, and new sets have been routinely released ever since. As a kid, I always thought these trains were great toys (although I never had my own), but I only learned of their profit potential after tracking the explosive profit of the retired Maersk Train. After perusing the train forum, I was amazed at the confidence members had in recommending trains for future profit potential and decided to dig a little deeper into the performance of the secondary train market.
      Are BP members correct about train returns? Here are all of the retired train sets released since 2002 excluding the recently retired yellow cargo train:

      click to enlarge
      The chart above should leave no question to the merits of this theme: Lego Trains must become at least a part of any serious Lego investor’s portfolio. Almost every train set retired before 2011 has provided incredible returns, and the recently retired sets are already showing nice returns. The only apparent exception, 4534 Lego Express, has a disappointing (yet still acceptable) 25% return, but that’s likely because 4535 Lego Express Deluxe is a better version of this set (with the same cars as 4534) that was released at the same time. This commandment belongs on a Kevlar tablet and should be screamed from the top of Mt. Sinai!
      Commandment #3: Thou shalt not invest in City
      For some reason, Brickpicker members tend to be bearish on the Lego City theme. While most believe the Modular and train sets will be winners, they don’t believe in much of the rest of the theme, citing frequent updates as the primary reason to stay away. In breaking down the City theme, I found four major subthemes: Police, Fire, Vehicles, and a category of rotating subthemes that have included marina, construction, farming, airport and most recently mining. For the most part, fig-sets, vehicles and buildings account for all the sets in each of these subthemes. Within the Police and Fire lines, I did find a few winners:

      click to enlarge

      click to enlarge
      Interestingly, these are the same sets investors have cautioned against investing in because of the frequent updates, yet returns from the sets are solid and fairly consistent across the board. The only outlier is 7208, but this set was just retired late last year and should be given more time to appreciate. While these sets will likely not spike in value immediately after retirement, police and fire stations appear to provide strong and steady gains while adding some diversity to your portfolio.
      Even more enticing are sets from rotating subthemes such as farming, mining, airport and marina sets. Consider the performance of these sets:

      click to enlarge
      Those are some great numbers from sets retired a few short years ago. Keep your eyes open for larger, more striking sets in these rotating sub-theme lines as they have the potential to deliver some sizable returns. This commandment stinks – toss this tablet in the rock pile for pulverizing.
      Commandment #4: Thou shalt buy Star Wars Lego sets
      Commandment #4a: Thou shalt buy Ultimate Collector Series sets
      Since its inception, the Star Wars Lego theme has drawn collectors, and they in turn have drawn investors to the theme. This commandment and its corollary seem like two variations of the same meme. Yet, after reading Ed’s Evaluation Corner article about the bottom 50 performing sets, I was shocked to learn there were some Star Wars sets among the worst losers. After digging a little deeper, I found the entire Star Wars theme sports a CAGR of 9%, just below the 11% theme average CAGR, and not as high as I would expect from the most discussed theme on Brickpicker. While everyone knows how incredible the Ultimate Collectors Series have performed, I began to wonder if the UCS subtheme wasn’t propping up the performance of the entire Star Wars theme. To determine this, I independently calculated the average annual growth rate of the Star Wars UCS subtheme and, unsurprisingly, it was an incredible 29%. For a theme that’s been around 13 years, that is phenomenal annual growth!
      If the UCS subtheme sets were removed from the Star Wars theme, SW’s underwhelming 9% average CAGR would drop even further. The average Star Wars set isn’t performing strongly after retirement, and investors should consider limiting Star Wars purchases for other sets. While there will always be some general Star Wars sets that will return a profit (I expect 7965 to perform well post-EOL), the true stars are Ultimate Collector Series sets. Etch commandment #4a into the tablet, and get rid of commandment #4.
      There is one small note of caution, however. The latest retired UCS set is 10215 Obi-Wan’s Jedi Starfighter, and early returns haven’t been strong. It’s the only UCS set with a negative CAGR and while it while likely grow, it will probably be the worst performing USC set moving forward.
      Commandment #5 – Thou shalt not buy Chima
      I went into depth in an Evaluation Corner article about the potential of the Chima line, so please read it for more specific information. To summarize, now is not the time to add Chima to your investment portfolio because retailers haven’t discounted Chima sets and the television series hasn’t begun in earnest. With the absolute earliest retirement date for the first wave of sets at the end of 2013, there will be plenty of time to purchase Chima sets. With good pre- or post-Christmas discounts, this theme will be ripe for investing if the television show takes off. This commandment remains valid for now, but could be flat-out wrong by Christmas if the TV show maintains its early ratings. Be prepared to invest.
      Commandment #6: Thou shalt only purchase larger sets
      The logic behind this truism is simple: you can gain more profit for less work by selling a few well performing larger sets rather than a large number of small sets. For the small collector-investor, this is especially true since hobby time is usually in shorter supply than work time or family time. The allure of netting big profits from larger sets is also strong - wouldn’t everyone rather hit the Powerball jackpot rather than win a prize from a scratch-off ticket?
      However, there are reasons to consider including small sets in your portfolio. Purchasing a variety of asset classes (or themes in Lego investing) with a variety of set sizes helps to diversify portfolio risk. Also, a higher yielding, smaller set will provide higher rates of return due its smaller cost basis, and it will always be easier to sell for the same reason assuming equivalent demand to the larger set. If you’re worried about a bubble, smaller sets will be easier to liquidate in a bear market. The tribe has spoken: this commandment should be stricken from the tablet.
      Commandment #7: Thou shalt measure “value” with price per piece
      Let’s compare the piece count, MSRP and PPP of two actual Lego sets:
      Set A: 1,344 pieces, $70 MSRP, $.05/piece
      Set B: 1,300 pieces, $150 MSRP, $.12/piece
      Which of the two sets is more valuable? While some would say Set A appears to provide the buyer with more value, the correct response from a seasoned investor would be that it’s impossible to answer the question with the information provided. Here is the post-retirement performance of these same sets:
      Set A: -$23 loss, -5% CAGR
      Set B: $635 profit, 14% CAGR
      As the example illustrates, PPP is a completely meaningless measure of value. Demand drives value; very few consumers, if any, buy a Lego set because it sports a low price per piece.
      I have a feeling there would be almost no Lego investor that would select 5525 Amusement Park, Set A, over 7191 Ultimate Collector Series X-Wing, Set B, to add to their investment portfolio. This commandment is erroneous and not worth the tablet it’s engraved on.
      Commandment #8: Thou shalt invest in licensed themes instead of non-licensed themes
      I have seen this truism sprinkled throughout the Discussion Forum, and was curious if it was actually true. It turns out that among themes with above average CAGR, 6 of 28, or 21%, are licensed, while, 15% of below average themes (8 of 55) are licensed. This 6% difference doesn’t provide a compelling case that licensed themes perform better, so I wouldn’t use it as a rule of thumb. A theme’s secondary market performance will be determined by its demand, not whether it’s licensed. Anyone that invested in Prince of Persia because it was a licensed theme took some real lumps. It’s also telling that 80% of themes with above average CAGR are non-licensed themes. Ninjago, Friends, and Power Miners are all very successful non-licensed themes that beat a majority of licensed themes. This commandment should not be utilized for making investment decisions. Drop that tablet.
      Commandment #9: Thou shalt invest in Lord of the Rings I have noticed the exuberance of many BP members for the first release of the Lord of the Rings theme, and must admit I was excited for last year’s theme release. From an investment perspective, one would think the first wave of a theme based upon the most popular fantasy epic of all time should translate to high sales and high demand, but let’s try to support this opinion through assessing a similar theme’s prior performance. Harry Potter is also theme based upon a highly popular book series, and could be considered the flagship “wizarding” epic, akin to LOTR’s position in the fantasy genre. The first wave of the HP theme was released way back in 2001, and every set performed well post-EOL:

      click to enlarge
      While the table above illustrates the incredible returns from the first year of HP released sets, there is a significant difference between the two themes’ first wave of sets. At the time of Lego’s first HP release in 2001, the Potter craze was still relatively new, and Lego was able to capitalize on the freshness and fervor of Potter-mania. Not so with LOTR: this theme was released after all three movies had already been retired to DVD. While this may temper demand for the first wave of LOTR sets slightly, I still think the large base of LOTR fans will fuel great secondary market sales of all sets of LOTR’s first wave. Additionally, the second wave of LOTR sets includes two awesome, yet-to-be released sets: Pirate Ship Ambush (a ship) and Tower of Orthanc (a mega-build with serious playability and depth). These sets alone should increase the popularity of an already successful theme and ensure the first wave of sets perform well after retirement. Chisel this commandment in stone and put it behind glass!
      Commandment #10: Thou shalt fear a bubble
      Besides Lego’s 50% discount off a certain starship, the possibility of a looming Lego investment bubble is the most hotly debated topic on Brickpicker’s Discussion Forum. I don’t want to rehash whether there may or may not be a bubble, but I do want to discuss how to insulate yourself from the fears of one.
      First, it should go without saying that Lego investors should always consider the RAMIFICATIONS of a bubble before succumbing to the allure of 10179-type profits and plowing a bunch of money into Lego sets. Every investor should ask themselves the following questions:
      What is my appetite for risk? Am I prepared to lose money? Is this a hobby or is this a job? How much time do I want to spend investing? What is my timeline for making profits? Am I in this for quick money, or long term returns? The answer to these questions should tell you the type of investor you are, and shape your investing strategy. If you have a small appetite for risk, are enjoying Lego investing as a hobby with a small time commitment, and want to make quick profits, your portfolio selections will be much different than someone with a high appetite for risk that is willing to tie their money up for a few years. Those that are risk averse, or fear a bubble, should probably keep their portfolios small for a cycle or two until they’re comfortable with how the Lego secondary market performs, and how small should depend upon your disposable income. Regardless of investment type, the happiest investors always invest with a plan tailored to their specific risk tolerance, activity level and sales duration, and adjust their plan as they learn more about the market and about themselves as investors. In the end, that’s really the only commandment that belongs on the tablet.
      As always, invest accordingly.

      *Graphic image for title came from bricktestament.com

    • Fcbarcelona101
      I was messing around with some of the data in the price guide and came across something I had recognized before but had never really paid much attention to. As most of you probably know from your LEGO investing experience, December is usually recognized as the best single month in which to sell some of your precious investments. More specifically, this trend seems to affect especially hard the modulars, large scale models and the UCS so I will be focusing on those in this first article.
      I selected 18 different and large sets from the themes I mentioned above and that were released before 2010, so most of them have been out of the shelves for around 3 years already. Also, the prices are based on the last 12 months showed on Brickpicker's Price Guide. Let's see some of the results:

      As you can see above, most of the sets that are part of the themes I mentioned above share the same price drop once the December comes around. Even more, some of the sets above actually experience their lowest price of the whole year during the holidays. There are only a couple of exceptions in the table, so I think it is pretty safe to say that this "December effect" is actually more common than I originally thought.
      It is somewhat hard for me to explain this effect other than by checking the number of sold listings over the past 12 months in BP's Price Guide. There is a widespread belief that December is the investor's best bet to maximize profits, so it seems likely that a lot of people just wait to sell during this period and as a consequence increase the supply of the sets. If you actually go ahead a check the number of sold listings, in effect most of the ones in the table present the highest number of sold copies during this month. This is probably one of the major causes for the dip in value most of them experience
      Other than that, when I digged a little deeper I noticed that this seems to be the case only with a small number of the popular themes. Some other themes do in fact present a spike in price around the holidays, making the phenomenon a little harder to understand. Price of the sets may also be a factor as the sets from the themes included in the table tend to be the pricier ones, maybe causing the increase in supply to really manifest itself very sharply.
      What does this mean for the LEGO investor? well, it would seem that sellers of the themes above should really consider getting rid of their inventory at some other point around the year, otherwise the data seems to suggest they will be taking quite a hit by selling when everyone else is as well.
      This short blog article was just a little over the surface kind of analysis, but I felt that it was very important for me to throw it out there and start some level of discussion about the reasons and the validity of this December Effect. I am sure some of you have more insights on this, and I would really like to see your comments.

    • Ed Mack
      I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have missed out on Free shipping from LEGO Online Shop. So many times I have said, "I will place that order tomorrow" only to see it come and go. Then when I finally sit down and place an order, I see a shipping cost of $12+ and I start to curse at myself. Sure, I know that I procrastenate, but at least for the next year or so, I won't have to worry about missing the special. You can see here that they mention it on their site that they have Free Shipping everyday for orders over $75.00. I know they don't always have the best deal, but there are times you need to order directly from them. It's nice to know that I will be able to save on the shipping for the larger price tag items. At least for me, this will make a difference and I won't get mad at myself anymore.
      Here is what they have in their fine print:
      *Free Shipping Every Day offer applies to online and catalog orders only. Qualifying purchase must be equal to or greater than $75 in merchandise only; any applicable taxes or value of gift cards purchased do not apply to merchandise total. Once your order reaches $75 free shipping will automatically be added to your order. Free shipping is via standard ground service; upgrades do not apply. If you choose another shipping option, additional charges will apply. Standard order processing and delivery time is 3-8 days from the date of order. Free shipping valid only in the contiguous United States and Canada. LEGO Group reserves the right to cancel or modify this promotion at any time without advance notice.

    • mikeur86
      As a child, comics were a part of my daily life. I loved everything about them. I often escaped into the shadows with The Bat, learned with the other Mutants at the school for the gifted. I even tried to digest how a pair of glasses disguised an extraordinary man of steel into an everyday Joe. Comic Books will always have a special place in my heart. Now, fast forward I’m a grown man, a father, a husband, a LEGO fan. Do I read comics? No. That time has long since passed. Though comic books are not a part of me anymore, that doesn’t mean that I have tossed the beloved characters aside like yesterday’s garbage. I absolutely fell in love with Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. And Marvel, they have done a fantastic job with their movies starting at Iron-Man 1. I believe in these movies, they have a purpose. It’s not just a bunch of people sitting in a room trying to figure something to make a movie about. They entrance the audience into a world created by Comic Book Gods. Right now the popularity of The Avengers and each one of the super-heroes is incredible. With Iron-Man 3 in the theaters now and Thor in November, Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014 then Avengers 2 and Ant-Man in 2015 this opens up a whole new world of possibilities for The LEGO Group.
      It’s no secret that The Avengers is one of the most successful movies of all time. You can’t argue that even if you loathed the movie. Even though Marvel released two Iron-Man movies, one Thor, Captain America and two Hulk’s we didn’t see the Lego sets roll in until The Avengers. Now we have Iron-Man 3 sets. Marvel has a lot on their plate right now, what they are calling a “Phase 2”. What does this have to do with LEGO, you may be asking yourself. Well, it leaves the door wide open for piles upon piles of new Avengers LEGO merchandise! However, before you start thinking ahead we should take a real hard look at what is currently on the market and how it may affect the sets in the future and see for ourselves the investment opportunities (if any) that can be had.
      In 2003 and 2004 Marvel previously released some Spider-Man sets to go along with the movie. These sets are now valued at four, five and even six times what they originally sold for. From an investment standpoint, waiting ten years to sell the set isn’t ideal. Now Marvel and LEGO are teaming back up with The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man and X-Men to release new waves of sets. Throughout this review we are going to focus only on The Avengers and try and figure out the potential these sets hold for us in the future. In two years The Avengers 2 will be hitting the theaters and a new wave of children are going to be exploring this universe for the very first time. I can tell you right now that 90% of them are going to love that universe! So how does this affect the current sets? Well, in two years these sets are going to be gone from the shelves and only available on the secondary market. Some parents will splurge a little extra to make their “special baby” happy on their birthday, Christmas, Easter, or random Thursday of the year. It doesn’t matter the reason but we can all be sure that for an investor these parents and AFOL are money in our pocket! It sounds harsh, but think about the time and effort and storage you put into these sets, they are simply just paying you a surcharge for all of that plus the original price you paid!
      Currently there are ten sets that feature The Avengers in some way. Either from the solo character itself, like Iron-Man 3 or replicating a scene from The Avengers. Ten sets don’t seem like much considering the billions of dollars Marvel is currently making in the entertainment business. With all of the plans for this next phase I project three times the amount of sets that are currently on the market. The good news is, The Lego Group will have to keep up with the movies. Iron-Man 3 may be popular on the shelves now but in November there may be some Thor sets out. Even if there aren’t, there will surely be some Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy sets out next year. This dramatically affects the shelf life of these current sets on the market. Major retailers like Target and Wal-Mart aren’t interested in carrying “out of date” merchandise on their shelf when the new and better is out.
      The most important bit of information from all of the above is that this first round of Avengers and Iron-Man 3 sets will be expiring soon. I suspect, by the time The Avengers 2 hits the theaters in 2015, these current sets will see a spike in price that it will most definitely make your time, effort and storage of these sets worth it!
      I know what you are thinking right now. “Mike, these sets aren’t really doing that great right now. There is a ton of them on the shelf.” You’re right! Give it a few weeks, maybe a month after Iron-Man 3 is out and I bet we see an increase in Iron-Man 3 LEGO sales. The Avengers is past due, the only “new” buyers will be the ones who were too young to see the movie when it came out last year. Their over-excitement of the movie will lead them to want the merchandise. I project the prices of The Avengers sets will decrease in the upcoming months as they slowly go on clearance. We have already seen some at Wal-Mart already. Recently, I have found Captain America’s Avenging Cycle for around $7.00 at my Wal-Mart. The boxes are all beat to hell of course. But this is what we are going to see for the rest of this year. The sets will slowly trickle away and little by little new ones will come in to replace. Right now you can tell big boxed stores are trying to get rid of their stock by offering bundles. They are trying to move this product now because they know that, when the next round comes, they can’t afford to have these on the shelves. This is a perfect opportunity for us investors. Collect the sets in bundles and if you need to then sell the non-Avengers sets to help lower the cost even further on the bundle. But, remember “The Wolverine” hits the theaters soon with X-Men soon after and currently there is only one Wolverine/X-Men set out.
      Let’s take a quick peek at the current Avengers sets out on the shelves now:  
      Marvel The Avengers Collection
      Set NumberModelSub-ThemePriceAmount of PiecesPrice Per PieceCurrent ValueCAGR6869Quinjet Aerial BattleAvengers$69.99 USD735 Pieces$0.09$49.66 USD-29.05%
      6868Hulk's Helicarrier BreakoutAvengers$49.99 USD389 Pieces$0.12$51.24 USD2.50%
      6867Loki's Cosmic Cube EscapeAvengers$19.99 USD181 Pieces$0.11$16.18 USD-19.06%
      6865Captain America's Avenging CycleAvengers$12.99 USD72 Pieces$0.18$13.82 USD6.39%
      76006Extremis Sea Port BattleIron-Man$19.99 USD195 Pieces$0.10$28.60 USD43.07%
      76007Malibu Mansion AttackIron-Man$39.99 USD364 Pieces$0.10$71.29 USD78.27%   76008Iron Man vs. The Mandarin: Ultimate ShowdownIron-Man$12.99 USD91 Pieces$0.14$22.606.10%   First up is 6865 Captain America’s Avenging Cycle. This set, to be honest, really didn’t catch my eye. Though it’s cheap if you want to get a Captain America figure with shield and motorcycle. It also comes with two aliens and a space-craft that they hover around on. When my son first played with this set we couldn’t keep the alien space craft together. The wings constantly fell apart and those pieces quickly became just another brick in the LEGO bin. The good news for us investors is that it’s the first and currently only set for a Captain America figure. I presume this set will pick up some growth next year when Captain America 2 Winter Soldier comes out. This set comes in a small box and with the right packaging it may be light enough to ship USPS First Class mail which, if you don’t know, is very cheap!   Currently, Wal-Mart has two different bundles with this set. You can purchase it and Doc Ock Ambush online for $34.97. I won’t get into the logistics of that set, but some feel it will do well since it’s a Wal-Mart exclusive here in the US. The second bundle is a Marvel Super Heroes Bundle 4pk which has this set, Hulk’s Helicarrier, Loki’s Cosmic Cube Escape and Wolverine’s Chopper. All of this for $89.97. In three months, these could be cheaper, who knows. Basically what I am saying, is don’t pay full retail for this set. Be patient and check Wal-mart.com daily(takes about a minute) and some other major online retailers. When the time is right, scoop up as many as you want, they should all sell later on.   The next set I want to discuss is Loki’s Cosmic Cube Escape. It features our first Iron-Man mini-figure, Loki and Hawkeye! All for $19.99 MSRP! Something else that is positive about this set is the build of it. It’s actually constructed well and the vehicle holds together nicely. My son Hulk smashed this at least five or six times and all I found myself replacing was the roof and a piece here and there. Not bad! We already know this is bundled up with Wal-Mart with the information I gave above. This seems like a set that will drop to $17.99 on Amazon for a few days here and there but I think we can pick this up for at or around $15.99 if we are patient. With this being the first set of Iron-Man, it could definitely have a price spike in the future. Personally, I’m going to try and pick up at least ten of them when it’s all said and done.   Next up is Hulk’s Helicarrier Breakout. Here we see Hulk and Thor mini-figures. The Hulk figure is really all my son wanted from this set. He loves this mini-figure so much that he incorporates it into every other Lego set. Around our house, Hulk is flying in Luke’s Speeder, putting out Fires with the LEGO City guys and even more recently sitting at the good ole campfire with Tonto. Needless to say kids love the Hulk! I feel that, just because of that, this set is going to do well. Yeah, yeah the movies tanked but that’s just because the Hulk can only do so much smashing before we as an audience get bored. But to a kid, they live for the smashing. The price per piece ratio on this set though was a little high at 13 cents a pop! Even still, I’m projecting this to double quickly after retirement. I’ll be tucking a few of these bad boys aside for when that day comes.   The last of the Avengers line(before we get into Iron-Man 3) is Quinjet Aerial Battle. This is the only set that I do not currently own. But pulling up my good friend Google he/she has assisted me in finding some information about this set. Five mini-figures are included, we see Thor and Loki again. We also see another alien foot-soldier (yay) and we see another Iron-Man this time in a different suit. This was the biggest of the theme with 735 pieces and has a 9 cent PPP ratio. Not bad! It’s no secret that usually the biggest sets of the themes do well. While you don’t want to rely on that every time, I feel like this will be another one of those success stories. Personally, I’ll wait for a bundle or a price drop before I’ll scoop it up.   So before we get into the Iron-Man 3 theme, I just want to clarify something. Looking at the CAGR right now is useless. The prices of pre-EOL is so sporadic that a true value of a set cannot be determined. Consider the value of this full retail. Also, I’d like to point something else out. Most major retailers have a fairly nice return policy. I know Wal-Mart’s is something ridiculous like 90 days if you have the receipt. So save ALL of your receipts (you’ll need them when you receive that 1099K anyways) and try to play everything as “safe” as you can. When it comes to investing it’s hard to be safe, but you can take cautionary measures that make doing what you’re doing less risky. Save money where you can using rewards cards, cash back sites like ebates, cash back credit cards, coupons, holiday discounts, whatever! There are tons of ways to save money and I encourage everyone to do their own research on how to do so.   So, on to Iron-Man 3: The sets have been out for what, a month? The movie has just come out. While I admit a lot of Lego enthusiasts have already grasped their hands on these sets, I still feel like there is going to be an increase of parents buying these for their little ones. It’s hard to say when these sets will die down, but I have a feeling it will be about a year. If LEGO releases some sets for Thor and Captain America, it seems logical that the Iron-Man sets will stay shelved until Guardians of the Galaxy. If GotG has some LEGO sets then we are looking at quite a bit of Marvel Lego sets taking up quite a bit of space. Then again, it could be the plan to leave all of these (minus the current Avengers sets) out until Avengers 2. These could all be building to a new wave of Avengers sets, which if you feel that is the case maybe investing in these Iron-Man 3 sets should be done sometime next year. It seems logical that Disney will sign Downey Jr. for at least one more Avengers movie to complete a trilogy. It also seems logical that there will be a third phase to Marvel’s plan and in that third phase, will we see another Iron-Man movie? Perhaps. If that is the case, then you can surely expect these sets to increase in price around that time. Of course this is all speculation. However, I feel confident that these sets, as cheap as they are will do fine in the secondary market.   The first set I’ll go over is 76008 Iron Man vs. The Mandarin Ultimate Showdown. Currently this is the smallest set in the Iron Man 3 series with 91 pieces and two mini-figures. Two mini-figures come with this set, Iron Man in Mark 17 suit and The Mandarin without his robe. The little vehicle is a neat design but the missile launching part is pretty weak. It didn’t hold together as the rest did. But, for $12.99, it’s cheap and offers something for the young Lego fans to spend their allowance on. This set may have some potential with the mini-figures but I’d hold out until there is a bundled price or a clearance sale.   The next set in the Iron-Man 3 sub-theme is Extremis Sea Port Battle. It has 195 pieces and the MSRP is $19.99. It features three mini-figures: Aldrich Killian with a glow in the dark head, Iron Man in his Mark 42 suit and War Machine. Currently this is the only set that features War Machine and his mini-figure is doing well on eBay right now. All three of these mini-figures are unique(though the Mark 42 Armor can be found in 76007) which is really cool and will help bring value to this set later on. The boat is a really cool build, it holds together well and the missile launching device on this works really well! I feel fairly confident that this set is already priced nicely at $19.99 but there is plenty of time before you will need to scoop them up and there are plenty of opportunities for discounts from now until then.   The third and final set in the Iron-Man 3 sub-theme is the Malibu Mansion Attack. This scene actually occurred in the movie and therefore is more authentic then the Ultimate Showdown. It’s the largest in the sub-theme so far at 364 pieces. The MSRP is $39.99 which is priced fairly. Five mini-figures can be found in this set. An Extremis Soldier, Mark 42 Armor, Pepper Potts, The Mandarin and Tony Stark. All of these mini-figures have some uniqueness to them which will definitely help bring up the value of this set later on after retirement. It’s hard to believe that the largest set in the Iron-Man sub theme is only 364 pieces and it doesn’t seem like there are any plans for larger sets with this year’s calendar. This could be something we may see with Thor and Captain America, three cheaper/smaller sets instead of two lower priced models and a higher priced one.   So, we have taken a look at The Avengers theme and the Iron-Man 3 sub theme and out of the ten sets the most expensive is $69.99. I feel this leaves lots of room for growth to be had. I can’t tell you how you should invest your money but I can tell you that personally I’m going to stock pile this theme like no tomorrow. With the future this franchise has ahead of it expect to see the popularity of this theme to explode. I encourage everyone to implement their own research plan. Take the time it requires to grow your investment in a positive direction instead of trying to make a quick buck. Don’t just run out and buy these sets because I said they may have potential. Take the information I have supplied and combine it with what you find to determine how your investment strategy should be. Also, as stated above it is crucial for you to do everything possible to help save extra money! When I look for deals, I always ask myself, “How can I make this even better?” My wallet is stuffed pack with Rewards Cards. Some people think they are a scam to get more information from you as a buyer. That may be true but I don’t care if a company is tracking my spending habit.   Something else that you should remember is to remain friendly to your local cashiers at all time. Try and visit the same cashier if at all possible. I know every time I go to my Target there is one lady who seems to be working every time. She remembers my son and I and this is a good thing. If there is ever a damaged product and a possible chance of getting a discount (for the damaged box) she will be an advocate on our behalf. Granted, this is more for my son building the set than investment opportunities. You aren’t going to want to purchase sets with damaged boxes. Also, something I have learned from Amazon through a different forum is, if you return too many things back to Amazon, they will flag your account and can possibly ban you altogether. So choose wisely.   With all of that said, be patient and these sets will be discounted soon enough. When that time comes, consider using all of the information above to make the best investment choice for yourself. I don’t foresee these sets depreciating value, if anything they just wont appreciate as fast as I am personally expecting them. So regardless of what the outcome is, I feel safe investing in The Avengers LEGO theme!   So, what do you think about The Avengers theme? Do you think it will be a good investment? Do you think the future of the Franchise will have an impact on the LEGO world? Feel free to share your comments below!

      Album: Gallery for Evaluation of LEGO Avengers
      12 images 0 comments  

    • comicblast
      Ed and I are going to do a trial run at allowing any Brickpicker members to create their very own blog here on the site. This will be a chance for people to post their own opinions, share their LEGO investing stories (good or bad), create their own editorials, etc. Instead of building your own blog and trying to get traffic to it so people can read the masterpiece you just spent so much time on, you will be able to sound off on an established site and allow people to share their thoughts on your thoughts.
      I personally will be using this space to talk about the site including new features, changes and anything else related to the site. Any important announcements will be posted here and of course I will share any great LEGO hunt stories that I have.
      Here are a few simple guidelines:
      Must be LEGO related Hopefully has some substance to it, not just a two words like"Hello World!" We are not looking to turn this into a place to spam advertisements about your sales. It depends on what it is, but we hope its not the only type of posts you do. But we encourage you to talk about your business. This is something we will try to find a happy mix to make it worthwhile for everyone. Please be respectful to your peers Create meaningful titles that truly relate to your posts. Don't copy the blog news stories from the other blog sites. If the content is relevant and you have your own spin on the story, then that is great. But no plagiarism! Posts will be approved by Admins and Mods, especially here at the start so that we can begin to see how the whole thing unfolds. You have the ability to create categories for your personal blog to organize your posts. If you write an outstanding editorial on your own and we feel it can be a main Brickpicker blog, we will feature it and you will get bonus brickpoints. Speaking of Brickpoints, we will give you 250 Brickpoints for starting your community blog. We will also award 10 Brickpoints for every approved entry that you post. If members like your content and start to post comments to your editorial, then you will receive 1 Brickpoint for every comment posted.
      The goal Ed and I are trying to achieve is to create a fun, helpful and interactive community. We want your voice to be heard and we know people learn through sharing experiences. This is not required for anyone, it is there for you use if you wish to use it. This is also a stepping stone to what is coming around the corner and the continued growth and enhancement of Brickpicker.
      So create your blog and start blogging!
      Look for this button below:  
      Just a note. Even though you are free to do reviews, evaluations, etc. These entries do not count towards the current running contest unless you let us know that is what you wrote it for. Write your blog entry and if you feel it's a good fit four our main blog or evaluation corner article, please send Ed and myself a PM so that we can review it. We just want to make it clear that the number of posts you do on your community blog does not have anything to do with the contests unless we are informed that your blog entry is being written for the contest.


    • Strytlr
      J457GQKR7R25 LEGO investing is becoming more and more popular as both LEGO fans and even some more conventional investors begin to realize that there is more to our beloved bricks than just the fun to be had playing with them. With a little bit of effort, they can turn a tidy profit, as well.
      My first experience with selling LEGO sets was when I first discovered eBay. I happened to have a few Castle sets tucked away, and I was delighted to find that I could sell them to eager collectors for an average of three times what I'd originally paid for them. Wow! Now I ask you, how many things have you ever bought that you can say that about? Needless to say, I was very pleased with the outcome.
      Fast forward almost twenty years. I decided to take another look at how those same sets are doing on eBay now, with a vague idea that I might like to reacquire some of them. I was curious to see if they were still selling for a premium, or if enough people had since gotten into the act to make even the old sets commonplace and therefore less valuable. I found that although the prices hadn't gone up much since I sold mine all those years ago, they hadn't decreased either. In other words, they were holding their value in spite of there being a lot more people on eBay these days.
      This inspired me to take a closer look at LEGO investing. I figured, if nothing else, I could justify buying a couple of the new Lord of the Rings sets by telling myself I wasn't really spending lots of money -- I was investing it. In the process I discovered that there are other options available besides buying sets and then waiting several years for them to appreciate in value before reselling them for a profit. What I’ve learned was the inspiration for this article.
      What are your goals?
      Before we get into the different ways you can profit from investing in LEGO, it's important to understand that how you measure your success as a LEGO investor has a lot to do with what your goals are, both as an investor and as a LEGO fan. With that in mind, I want you to ask yourself a few questions:
      Do you want to start a part-time or full-time business? Do you simply want to make enough profit to pay for your LEGO hobby? Do you collect as well as invest? Do you like to build sets according to the instructions, or do you prefer to design and build your own models (MOCs)? There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but answering them honestly for yourself will help you decide which approaches to LEGO investing will fit best with your personality and needs. I think you'll find it helpful to keep this in mind as you continue reading.
      Many people are familiar with buying and selling complete sets. However, that's only one way of making a return on your investment. A second approach is to part out the sets. Let’s look at each one of these methods from an investment standpoint and see if one is superior to the other when it comes to turning a profit.
      Selling complete sets
      This is perhaps the simplest and most straightforward form of LEGO investing. You buy a set at the best price you can find (every dollar you save off retail is another dollar of profit), and then hold on to it for from several months to a few years and wait for it to appreciate.
      Most serious investors keep the sets they buy for investment purposes MISB (mint in sealed box) to reap the maximum profit. That's not to say that you can't also sell sets you've opened and built, but as a rule they won't be worth quite as much as they would be if you kept them pristine. As a compromise, you can buy one set to build and extra sets to store away as an investment. Many use this as a way to make their LEGO hobby self-funding.
      So, what kind of returns can you expect? It varies. Some sets have had exceptional returns (see Table 1), while a few others have actually lost value (see Table 2). Most fall somewhere in between these two extremes.
      Set No.NameYearRetailCurrent Price (new)Current Price (Used)CAGR10179UCS Millennium Falcon2007$499.99$2,549.10$1,779.0331.19%10185Green Grocer2008$149.99$659.40$487.2134.47%10182Café Corner2007$139.99$1,204.27$738.6043.14%Table 1. Examples of sets that have performed exceptionally well. Current prices taken from Brickpicker database on 5/1/2013.Set No.NameYearRetailCurrent Price (new)Current Price (Used)CAGR7573Battle of Alamut2010$79.99$62.17$44.70-8.06%7572Quest Against Time2010$49.99$31.14$16.73-14.60%8078Portal of Atlantis2010$99.99$60.25$42.06-15.54%Table 2. Examples of sets that have delivered poor returns. Current prices taken from Brickpicker database on 5/1/2013.Pros
      This is the simpler form of investing. You buy a set and put it away to appreciate. You have to put some thought into choosing the set(s) most likely to go up in value, but other than that there isn’t a lot of work to do until you get ready to sell it. Even then, one box is easier to deal with than 100 small orders.
      It takes a lot of patience (and storage space) to buy and store away all those sets for months or even years. There’s always the temptation to want to open up and build one, and the worry that something might happen to them. Plus, a lot of the value of the set depends on the condition of the box, and it isn’t always easy to get a perfect box, what with shipping mishaps and the like.
      It's beyond the scope of this article to go into all the ins and outs of choosing the right sets to invest in. Let me just say that even if you're already certain you only want to trade in complete sets, I suggest you continue reading anyway. One way the investment potential of a set is determined is by looking at how many unique parts are in it and what those parts are worth if sold separately. In the next section, we'll take a closer look at that side of the market.
      Parting out & splitting sets
      Dividing up a set and selling off the pieces actually falls into two categories: parting out, and splitting.
      Parting out means listing and selling each part from a set individually. This is usually done through Bricklink.com. Bricklink even has a handy tool that allows you to enter in the set number, and it will list all the parts from that set for you so you don't have to enter each one individually. Parting out is probably the best way to get maximum value from a set, although there are drawbacks to this method, which we will discuss shortly. Bear in mind that the sets which earn the most money from being parted out are the ones with the most useful and/or unique parts, like the modular houses, or any of the other large, adult-oriented sets.
      Splitting a set means dividing it up into its component parts, rather than into individual pieces. For example, you could take the Uruk-Hai Army set (#9471), and list the wall in one eBay auction, the hook shooter in another, the Eomer figure (with or without his horse) in another, and so on. This is less work overall, because you are selling a few chunks of a set rather than hundreds of individual parts.
      Like an old car, the parts in a LEGO set can usually be sold for more than the value of the set as a whole. Also this value can be (theoretically) available right away, instead of having to wait months or even years for the set to go EOL (end of line) and start appreciating in value.
      To see whether this holds true over time, I gathered data on sets that were still in production as of the writing of this article as well as the same retired sets we looked at previously (see Tables 3, 4, and 5). As you can see, some retired sets are actually worth more MISB, though not by much. It's also worth noting that even if a MISB set turns out to be a loser in the secondary market, you can, if you choose to put in the effort, still recoup your investment by parting it out.
      Set No.NameYearRetailCurrent Price (new)Value of Parts9471Uruk-Hai Army2012$29.99$28.34$58.669472Attack on Weathertop2012$59.99$44.43$104.129474Battle of Helm's Deep2012$129.99$112.55$239.109468Vampyre Castle2012$99.99$81.07$179.13Table 3. Sets still in production as of April 2013. Set values taken from Brick Picker database on 5/1/2013. Parts value was determined by "Last 6 months sales average" on Bricklink on 5/1/2013.Set No.NameYearRetailCurrent Price (new)Value of Parts10179UCS Millenium Falcon2007$499.99$2,549.10$3,366.42*10185Green Grocer2007$149.99$659.40$628.5010182Café Corner2008$139.99$1,204.27$922.40Table 4. Set values taken from Brick Picker database on 5/1/2013. Parts value was determined by "Last 6 months sales average" on Bricklink on 5/1/2013.*It's interesting to note that $1,511.38 of this value is in the certificate of authenticity, stickers, instructions, and box.Set No.NameYearRetailCurrent Price (new)Value of Parts7573Battle of Alamut2010$79.99$62.17$131.147572Quest Against Time2010$49.99$31.14$66.188078Portal of Atlantis2010$99.99$60.25$134.78Table 5. Set values taken from Brick Picker database on 5/1/2013. Parts value was determined by "Last 6 months sales average" on Bricklink on 5/1/2013.Cons
      The downside of parting out sets is that it's much more time consuming than selling it whole. You have to sort the pieces and organize them in a way that you can easily find them again when you start getting orders. And each of those orders has to be picked, packed and shipped, plus you have several transactions to keep track of instead of just one. It's also very likely that you won't sell everything immediately, which means it still may take time to turn a profit. And some parts may not sell at all; experienced LEGO sellers report that they usually end up with a lot of "odds and ends" left over. (None of these issues is necessarily a deal-breaker. Just make sure you go into it with your eyes open.)
      Combining collecting with investing
      Some LEGO investors prefer to sell off only part of a set and keep the rest for their own collection.They may, for example, sell the minifigures from a set and keep the rest of the parts. This is often done when they find themselves with duplicate figures which would be redundant in a display, or when they're looking for a less-expensive way to add to their stockpile of parts for building MOCs. Experienced collectors estimate that by doing this, they can recover from 50-75% of the cost of the set -- or even 100% if this technique is combined with buying the set at a discount.Those who like to collect minifigures can do the opposite, buying a set for the figures it contains and then selling off the other pieces to help offset the cost.Either way, this can be a great way to make what is otherwise a rather expensive hobby more or less self-funding.
      Factors to consider
      Choosing which approach to LEGO investing is right for you involves several factors, of which profit is only one (and some would argue not even the most important one). It's a decision each LEGO investor must make for him- or herself. Here is a list of the main factors you'll want to consider when deciding whether to buy and hold complete sets or sell the parts.
      Temperament - Some people enjoy building each set exactly according to the instructions, while others prefer to build MOCs. Which type you are will influence how you feel about splitting up a set versus keeping it intact. There's nothing wrong with taking your own preferences into consideration. This is supposed to be fun, after all, so why force yourself to do something if it makes you uncomfortable? In the long run it isn't worth it for a couple of extra bucks.
      Time - Sorting, storing, listing and then packaging and shipping all those thousands of individual parts can be quite time-consuming compared to selling whole sets, and you have to be able to keep up with the work load so that you get the orders shipped out in a timely fashion. It's a good idea to divide the amount of profit you're making by the number of hours you're working to get a realistic picture of what you're actually earning.
      Timing - If you want to make a profit on a MISB set, you usually have to wait for that set to appreciate in value. If you part it out, you can realize a profit right away (maybe). You'll also want to keep a close eye on the market as a whole to help you determine the best times to sell particular sets.
      Your goals - If you want to invest in and sell LEGO sets as a business and your primary goal is to make money, then you may actually enjoy the work involved with running a store selling parts. A LEGO business certainly sounds like more fun than a lot of other things you might do for a living! On the other hand, if your main goal is to help fund your own LEGO collection, that's another reason to keep an eye on the amount of your free time each method takes up. You don't want to spend so much time on the business that you have none left to build your own sets.
      Space - Many investors prefer to focus on only the large sets because that's where they can make the highest amount of money for the least amount of work. However, you need to remember that you're going to have to store all those big boxes somewhere, perhaps for years. Not only will they be taking up closet space, you'll need to take steps to make sure they're safe from hazards such as water damage, mold, insects, fire, and even curious children. Do you have enough space in your home to store enough product to make the business worthwhile (with "worthwhile" being relative, depending on your goals)? You can always rent space at a storage facility, but the added expense will eat into your profits. If, on the other hand, you plan to part out sets, you'll still need space to store and organize them, as well as workspace for sorting the parts and filling orders.
      Patience - If you choose to hold onto a set, do you have the patience to wait for it to appreciate? How about the self-discipline to resist the urge to open and build the set? If you don't, you may want to look for ways to flip the set more quickly.
      Opportunity cost - Every dollar you have tied up in your LEGO inventory is a dollar that isn't available to spend on something else. Do some research. How long does it take for a set to appreciate compared to how long it takes to sell all the parts of that set? The same principle also applies to time. Every hour you spend sorting parts and picking orders, or worrying about the safety of the sets in your basement, is an hour you aren't spending doing something else.
      Knowledge -- a LEGO business is still a business. How much do you know about how business works? Are you good at managing money? Do you enjoy tasks like record keeping and market research? Answering these questions doesn't necessarily help you determine whether to sell sets or parts, but it's a factor in deciding how large and/or complex you want your business to be -- or whether you really want to turn your hobby into a business at all. ConclusionI hope this article has given you a clearer picture of what your options are as a LEGO investor, and the information you need to make an informed decision based on your own situation.One final thought: Sure, you might be able to make more money with less effort by picking up overtime at work. But isn't life too short to spend it doing something you hate just to make money, when you could be surrounding yourself with LEGO instead?And if you can do both at the same time – jackpot!

    • Quacs
      In 2000, the news of Hollywood’s newest power couple, noted playboy Brad Pitt and America’s sweetheart Jennifer Aniston broke. Tabloids proclaimed them “king and queen of Hollywood” and the paparazzi chronicled every step of their relationship. Inevitably, rumors of a split surfaced, and in 2005 Pitt was found palling around with a new bombshell, Angelina Jolie. Every red-blooded US News fan asked themselves, “How could this guy ruin such a good thing? They were perfect together!” As the world turns, The LEGO Group(TLG) now finds itself in a similar love triangle with its two pre-teen flagship lines, Ninjago and Legends of Chima. Ninjago, a wildly successful theme whose popularity was fueled in large part by its television series, has had three subtheme releases since its inception in early 2012, and its retired sets have seen consistent, and sometimes spectacular, gains. However, Ninjago didn’t fit in LEGO’s strategic plan, so it was discontinued for a new, more exotic pre-teen flagship theme, Legends of Chima(LoC).
      Legends of Chima is a newly released LEGO theme that, similar to Ninjago, is targeted to pre-teen boys ages 4-11. Chima’s marketing strategy has followed Ninjago’s, most notably adding an upcoming television series, and a secondary line of non-build toys – Chima’s Speedorz.
      TLG’s plan to kill the Ninjago theme brought some heated complaints from fans, and Chima likely felt some of the pushback from this unpopular decision. This vocal skepticism of the line has been loud, with LEGO Fans and Brickpicker members alike openly questioning Chima’s broad appeal and potential for secondary market gains. This noise has obscured the theme’s fledgling popularity: the first two episodes that aired on January 16 on Cartoon Network garnered viewership of 1.5 million, good for the tenth highest rated show on cable that night. As a follow up, the third episode aired on March 28 with another 1.45 million viewers tuning in, good for the fifth most watched show on cable that night. As a comparison, Ninjago averaged nearly the same number of viewers per show as Chima’s first two episodes in its second season. Investors should not ignore these high ratings for Chima’s first three episodes. The show received these strong ratings despite the benefit of a routine schedule, an established fan base of the theme, or even a significant marketing blitz to kick-off the TV series. These strong ratings numbers really point to the latent popularity of the theme, and as long as LEGO can provide appealing story lines and good characters to their target demo, Chima should be awash in fans by the end of the first season.
      Now that we know Chima’s popularity is potentially in Ninjago’s league, we can use the Ninjago theme as a model to assess the secondary market profitability for Chima. Before dissecting Ninjago, all investors need to know that both the Ninjago and Chima themes are, at their core, play sets intended for their target 4- to 11-year-old boy demographic. They are not display builds or construction sets aimed at TFOLs(Teen Fans of LEGO) and AFOLs(Adult Fans of LEGO). As a result, the gains of retired sets from both Ninjago and Chima will never match the explosive growth of bellwether sets such as 10179 UCS Millennium Falcon and 10189 Taj Mahal, nor should they be judged in that context. There are still plenty of opportunities for secondary growth, and we’ve already seen strong returns from retired sets of the Ninjago line.
      In case you’re new to Brickpicker, or have been attending Fight Club instead of LEGO investing, Ninjago returns have been great. Here is a sampling of some of the better performing build sets from the theme:
      Set Number – NameQ/Y ReleaseMSRPCurrent Market Value$ GainCAGR9441 – Kai’s Blade CycleQ4/2011$15$27$1285%9442 – Jay’s Storm FighterQ4/2011$25$32$730%9446 – Destiny’s BountyQ4/2011$80$118$3848%2260 – Ice Dragon AttackQ1/2011$20$80$60100%2505 – Garmadon’s Dark FortressQ1/2011$70$170$10056%2521 – Lightning Dragon BattleQ3/2011$80$184$10452%A quick review of the entire theme’s retired construction set lineup shows only one loser: 2506 Skull Truck. It retired in Q4 2012, has a secondary market value of $58, slightly under the $60 MSRP, and has seen gains in the secondary market every month since it retired in December. Chances are even 2506 will be net positive in the next few months. All of the other retired build sets have a positive market value, with most returning CAGRs(Compound Annual Growth Rate) between 10%-40%. The positive exception has performance of the dragons. With the exception of the recently retired Fire Temple, every retired dragon set has doubled in value. Also, keep in mind none of the Ninjago sets have been retired for more than a year and a half, so if these market values plateau, their CAGRs will fall.
      Now that we’ve seen the popularity of Ninjago reflected in its secondary market values, we can assess how this may extend to the Legends of Chima’s theme. To start, let’s assess whether there are any parallels between the first releases of the Ninjago and Chima sets:
      NINJAGO play/build sets – released Q1, 2011
      Set Number – NameMSRPPlay Function2258 – Ninja Ambush$7Mini-set2259 – Skull Motor Bike$15Enemy Vehicle2260 – Ice Dragon$20Vehicle (Dragon)2263 – Turbo Shredder$30Enemy Vehicle2504 – Spinjitsu Dojo$50Base2506 – Garmadon’s Dark Fortress$70Enemy Base2516 – Ninja Training Outpost$5Mini-set2518 – Nuckal’s ATV$25Enemy Vehicle2519 – Skeleton Bowling$30Spinner build2520 – Ninja Battle Arena$50Spinner build 
      LEGENDS OF CHIMA play/build sets – released Q1, 2013
      Set Number – NameMSRPPlay Function70000 – Razcal’s Glider$12Enemy Vehicle70001 – Crawley’s Claw Ripper$15Enemy Vehicle70002 – Lenox’ Lion Attack$25Vehicle70003 – Eris’ Eagle Interceptor$35Vehicle70004 – Wakz’ Pack Tracker$30Enemy Vehicle70005 – Laval’s Royal Fighter$40Vehicle70006 – Cragger’s Command Ship$80Enemy Vehicle70011 – Eagle’s Castle$40Speedorz Build70012 – Razar’s Chi Raider$40Enemy Vehicle70013 – Equila’s Ultra Striker$40VehicleComparing the first releases of these two themes is illuminating. First, Ninjago’s Q1 2011 release included a nice mix of mini-sets, vehicles, and bases, while Chima’s first release is almost exclusively vehicles. I think this aspect has turned off LEGO fans outside the target demographic to the theme. Typically, bases and structures are important to a theme because they’re anchor toys, meaning the rest of the released sets are designed to play with the base. Bases are usually larger, and tend to have more playability, details and depth. They also tend to draw the investment interest since they are larger sets and easier to flip or hold for profits. Without a true base among the first release of Chima themes, it’s obvious why there’s been a generally negative reaction to Chima on Brickpicker.
      Interestingly, there are also three brick and mortar exclusive sets in this initial run. I’m not sure whether this has ever been done for the first release of a theme, but this could make for some high returns on the secondary market if any of them go EOL quickly, albeit a rarity for exclusives.
      The next release of Chima sets will include two bases (Lion and Croc), a new animal (Gorilla) vehicle, a combination base/vehicle, and another vehicle. These new sets should broaden the theme significantly and put it on par with Ninjago’s first release. Interestingly, the next release will also include six Hero Factory-type mega-figs for each of the main tribes of Chima: Lion, Eagle and Gorilla as “good guys” and Crocodile, Wolf and Raven as “bad guys”. These new maxi-figs represent a bit of a departure from Ninjago’s marketing, and will broaden the theme’s product line further than Ninjago’s.
      How well will the Chima theme perform post EOL(End of Line)? I believe a lot will depend on the success of the television show. Ninjago’s TV series success was due in large part to the captivating story line, and the sets really captured some of its highlights well. To be successful, Legends of Chima will also need to have a vibrant storyline to drive its popularity since all the other elements appear to be in place: a great setting, deep characters, and a strong backstory. If the writers deliver a compelling, seamless plot that can be woven throughout the season, Legends of Chima will match the popularity of Ninjago. If there is no consistent storyline or quest that strings the episodes together, Chima’s popularity will nose dive and secondary market values will follow it down.
      Assuming Chima’s storyline shines and its popularity approaches Ninjago’s, 70010 Lion Chi Temple is poised to be the strongest performer post-EOL. While it hasn’t even been released yet, there are a few key factors that really put it above all others: it’s a base, it’s the largest set of the theme, and it’s of an iconic location within Chima. I also like 70014 Croc Swamp Hideout, the other base of the theme, and 70006 Cragger’s Command Ship, a boat, to both perform well post-EOL. All three of these have unique colored bricks (the deep yellow/gold of the Lions and the olive green of the Crocs) that aren’t found in any other set in a significant quantity, and both appear to be very well detailed. Here are how the first run of Ninjago bases fared:
      Set Number – NamePiece CountMSRPCurrent Market ValueCAGR2505 – Garmadon’s Dark Fortress518$70$17056%2504 – Spinjitsu Dojo373$50$6615%Both base sets posted very solid gains, and I would expect the trend to continue for 70010 and 70014, with Lion Chi Temple trending toward Garmadon’s Dark Fortress and Croc Swamp Hideout trending toward Spinjitsu Dojo’s more modest gains based upon the price point.
      I think the rest of the vehicle lineup will provide surprisingly good returns similar to Ninjago’s vehicles, typically in the 10-40% CAGR range 1-2 years after retirement. I also really like 70012 Razar’s Chi Raider, and think it has a chance to perform better than most of Chima’s line up. It comes with a mini-set in addition to the vehicle, a rarity for Chima sets, and jet black color scheme and bird-like shaping really gives this vehicle some visual appeal. As mentioned, it’s also a Walmart exclusive in the US so production is smaller than non-exclusives. It also reminds me a little like the Ninjago dragon, although admittedly dragons register much higher than ravens on the “cool scale”. If this vehicle plays a distinct part of the storyline, it could become a real hit, although so far the Ravens have played a bit part in the first two episodes.
      If that’s not enough Chima to consider for investment, LEGO has released LoC Speedorz sets, Chima’s equivalent to Ninjago’s Spinners. Unlike the Spinners, Speedorz are like small “zip” cars that utilize a toothed rip cord to spin the wheel of a single-wheel cart that holds one minifig. Speedorz sets also contain Lego bricks that build challenges for the Speedorz. The Speedorz actually work better than the spinners: they are simpler to operate, give a satisfying “buzz” when spun, and really go a long way on a hard floor. According to Lego S@H, there are four Speedorz sets that are close to retirement: 70101 Target Practice, 70102 CHI Waterfall, 70103 Boulder Bowling and 70113 CHI Battles. Their performance may provide another clue to whether Chima is gaining Ninjago-like traction. Each single Speedorz set is $15, with two Speedorz sets running $20, so it would be easy to pick up one of each of these to speculate on Chima returns. If you intend on making strong, Spinner-like gains, you should plan on holding these until the end of the year. This will give them a chance to become scarce, and the television show will likely be nearing the end of its season to give them a bump in popularity. As always, limited production runs + popular theme = post-retirement profit.
      LEGO has made some curious decisions for its Legends of Chima theme. The first wave of sets is nearly all vehicles, creating an unbalanced lineup. And while the release of the television series was planned to follow the release of the toys by five months, it seems that a television series release closer to the toy release could have provided stronger initial sales to counteract some of the negative reaction to the theme among LEGO faithful.
      With all that said, Legends of Chima is still poised to ramp up its popularity once the television series begins in earnest. Assuming a successful television show fueled by a robust storyline, there’s no reason Chima can’t reach the secondary market heights Ninjago has already seen. In a strange turn, LEGO recently announced Ninjago was returning in 2014 with a new television series and a new wave of sets. Starting in 2014, LEGO will have a love triangle on it hands! While it remains to be seen whether both themes can remain popular while being sold concurrently, Chima has the year to prove its concept and develop a fan base. When considering a future Chima investment, expect solid gains nearing those of Ninjago if the TV show hits, but don’t expect to sell any sets post-EOL before the end of 2014. If the TV show bombs, Chima investors may be in for a repeat of Thelma and Louise. Invest accordingly.  

    • Veegs
      One of the first things that I did when I got my hands on Lego bricks as a child was to build a house.  Generally I liked to renovate quite a bit and keep my minifigures in quality digs.  Also, I had quite a few minifigures and they all needed a place to go in my city.  Where do the ubiquitous police officers and fire fighters go after a long shift?  Back in the late 80’s, there was no easy solution to this problem.   In the last few years, I think The Lego Group has done an exceptional job of providing some really nifty Creator series houses that offer great playability and renovation possibilities to house the previously homeless.  

      In this segment, I would like to highlight the past growth of a few Creator houses to determine the investment potential of recently released and still available sets.  Let's take a look at some of the Creator Houses that have been retired for several years:
      #4954: Model Town Home
      Set Name Set # Pieces (Mini-Figs) Launch Year MSRP(US$) Current Price(US$) ROI One Month(%) ROI Six Month(%) ROI Total(%) CAGR(%) Model Town Home 4954 1147 (0) 2007 69.99 244.03 0 1.44 248.66 23.14   LEGO S@H DESCRIPTION: This detailed set includes instructions for 3 different models, plus all the pieces you'll need to create your own original model! Features a garage that opens and closes to store a sporty car, plus lots of roof pieces, windows and doors. Includes extra elements for light fixtures, chimney, flowers and tons more to create the house of your dreams! Lift off the roof to see inside! Garage door opens and closes! Model Town House stands 9" (23 cm) high! Includes instructions to build 3 different models!  
      A large Creator house set, this has shown some nice gains over the last six years, especially earlier after EOL.  The set has leveled off and plateaued in value.  From a build standpoint, it has an exceptional exterior and no interior detail.  A very good bargain though if you consider its piece count and price...about $0.06 per brick new.  This is really a very attractive looking LEGO set.    
      #4956: House
      Set Name Set # Pieces (Mini-Figs) Launch Year MSRP(US$) Current Price(US$) ROI One Month(%) ROI Six Month(%) ROI Total(%) CAGR(%) House 4956 731 (0) 2007 49.99 84.1 0.9 3.93 145.59 16.15   LEGO S@H DESCRIPTION: Build the house of your dreams with LEGO Creator! This spectacular set includes instructions for 3 different house models, plus all the parts you'll need to design your own original creations. Add a garage, driveway and fence in the yard - the possibilities are endless! Features plenty of pieces for roofs, walls, doors, windows, even trees and gardens! Lift off the roof to see inside! Add a mailbox, porch lights and other realistic details! Includes building instructions for 3 models and inspiration for more!  
      Flashy name...HOUSE!  LOL.  Anyway, a very basic Creator set with a a moderate return and Price Per Brick at around $0.07.  Nothing super special here...Just a solid building set with above average growth.  The CAGR of 16% is well above the average LEGO set, which is around 11%.    
      #4996: Beach House
      Set Name Set # Pieces (Mini-Figs) Launch Year MSRP(US$) Current Price(US$) ROI One Month(%) ROI Six Month(%) ROI Total(%) CAGR(%) Beach House 4996 522 (0) 2008 29.99 79.16 2.33 3.37 163.95 21.42   LEGO S@H DESCRIPTION: Need to get away? Relax in your very own beach house! This colorful building is packed with fun and realistic details, from the big sunlit windows to the barbecue and umbrella. Includes instructions for rebuilding into a cozy café or towering apartment building! Second floor lifts off to see stairs and fireplace on the first floor! Second floor has a balcony and a skylight that opens! Outside there is a patio with table, umbrella and chairs, and even a barbeque grill with chicken! Realistic details include mailbox, doorbell, flowers, walkway, light fixtures, chimney, tree and lots of windows! Beach House stands over 6.5" (17cm) high and includes a 5" (13cm) x 10" (25cm) baseplate Award Winner: iParenting Media's Excellent Products of 2008 2008 Parent's Choice Recommended San Diego Family's Holiday List Option Consummator's 5 Star Rating Oppenheim Toy Portfolio's Gold Seal NAPPA Honors Award iParenting Media's 2008 Excellent Products CTTC's 3 Stars Creative Child Magazine's Preferred Choice Award  
      Radical little house with a decent Price Per Piece of almost $0.07 per brick.  Very solid returns on this set  over the past five years, with a CAGR of over 20%.  Still appreciating nicely.   One of the better performing Creator “houses.”    
      #6754: Family Home
      Set Name Set # Pieces (Mini-Figs) Launch Year MSRP(US$) Current Price(US$) ROI One Month(%) ROI Six Month(%) ROI Total(%) CAGR(%) Family Home 6754 976 (0) 2009 59.99 104.51 5.6 -5.91 74.21 14.89   LEGO S@H DESCRIPTION:3 houses in 1! Build a classic family home filled from wall to wall with great details, including an awning, window shutters, a terrace area and picnic bench, and even a bird bath and duck pond with a buildable duck. When you're done, take it all apart and rebuild it as a charming bungalow or a lovely Mediterranean-style villa -- instructions included for all 3! A cool 3-in-1 building experience! Features great details such as awning, shutters, bird bath, terrace area and picnic bench! Rebuilds into a bungalow or a Mediterranean villa! Family Home measures 10" (26cm) long and 9" (23cm) tall Award Winner: 2009 Parents' Choice Recommended National Parenting Center's Seal of Approval  
      Detailed and cute, another bargain LEGO Creator set at $0.06 Price Per Piece.  The appreciation of this set has been choppy, but a 15% CAGR is nothing to scoff at considering STAR WARS sets have around a 9% CAGR for an entire theme.  One of the better looking Creator “houses” in my opinion.
      I think these are examples of quality sets that offer both high playability as well as investment potential.  Perhaps that is one reason why they have done so well on the secondary market.  For those that purchased these while available from retail outlets, likely on sale or at a discount, these investment picks would have netted impressive returns on investment (ROI).  Even at full retail prices, the growth has been substantial enough to reward investors.  Let’s take a look at a few currently available or recently retired sets:  
      #5891: Apple Tree House
      Set Name Set # Pieces (Mini-Figs) Launch Year MSRP(US$) Current Price(US$) ROI One Month(%) ROI Six Month(%) ROI Total(%) CAGR(%) Apple Tree House 5891 539 (0) 2010 44.99 51.1 -4.4 4.43 13.58 4.34   LEGO S@H DESCRIPTION:Build a 3-in-1 classic family house! This modern country home with an apple tree outside is full of fun and realistic details, including a working mailbox with letters inside, a satellite dish on the roof, a basketball net and lawnmower, opening front and garage doors, a ladder up to the attic and more! Includes 3-in-1 instructions for rebuilding into a tall townhouse or a relaxing summer home.
      Mailbox, lawnmower, outdoor light, water tap in the garden and much more! Lift the roof and play inside! 3 models in 1! Rebuild into a tall townhouse or summer home!  
      This set is still going strong, despite the fact that more recent Creator housing sets have already been retired.  That being said, TRU recently sent around an email that this will be finished shortly and they are getting harder to find in brick and mortar stores.  My wild and possibly inane speculation is that The Lego Group produced a heck of a lot of these after seeing the explosive growth of sets like the Millennium Falcon UCS.  Other than this, I’m not really sure why this set is still available.
      In terms of investment potential, this is a decent pick.  They can still be found under retail if you’re lucky and pretty good at scouring around for deals.  The little bump, close to $60 near Christmas, indicates to me that this set may have some legs post EOL despite its long run.  The lawnmower, basketball net and apple tree go really nicely with two of the iterations of the set, although the third, with the massive roof, doesn’t really display well.  You might not get rich with this set, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it in the $90-100 range within two years.  
      #5766: Log Cabin
      Set Name Set # Pieces (Mini-Figs) Launch Year MSRP(US$) Current Price(US$) ROI One Month(%) ROI Six Month(%) ROI Total(%) CAGR(%) Log Cabin 5766 355 (1) 2011 29.99 32.26 -4.33 18.04 7.57 3.72   LEGO S@H DESCRIPTION:Escape to the LEGO® countryside in this 3-in-1 Log Cabin! Packed with great details, including an open fire with rotisserie, wooden logs, tree and opening doors and windows, this log cabin is an ideal wilderness getaway. Minifigure included and ready for backwoods adventure, with backpack, paddle and canoe. Rebuild into a country retreat or a river hut.
      Includes one minifigure with backpack Features open fire with chicken on rotisserie, wooden logs, tree, opening doors and windows, canoe with paddle, and horn ornament Unique dark red roof Remove the roof and hinging wall section to play inside! The first LEGO® Creator set to include a minifigure! 3 models in 1: Rebuilds into a country retreat and a river hut River Hut features a brook, bridge, outdoor stove and furniture Country Retreat features a garden, street lamp and porch light Cabin measures over 5” (12cm) wide and 5” (12cm) tall.  
      Big things may come in small packages!  Don’t pooh-pooh this little gem – just look at how nicely the 4996 Beach House has fared despite its small stature.  This set was recently (and nicely!) discounted on Amazon.com and I’ve also seen it on sale from other retailers, so now might be the best time to stash a couple away.  I picked up five for $22 and change each, and feel pretty pleased with myself.  With the revival of the Coast Guard sub-theme this year and Forest Police Station last year, who doesn’t want a pretty cool looking log cabin for both play or display purposes?  I have an inkling (which is worth about as much as a Lego store employee telling you that something is definitely going EOL soon) that this set may be one that goes EOL this fall.  Not only would this be near the end of a two-year run, but other Creator sets from this year are drying up in the primary marketplace and the upcoming Tree House set seems like a ‘replacement’ for the Log Cabin.  All good reasons to buy low now.    
      #5770: Lighthouse Island
      Set Name Set # Pieces (Mini-Figs) Launch Year MSRP(US$) Current Price(US$) ROI One Month(%) ROI Six Month(%) ROI Total(%) CAGR(%) Lighthouse Island 5770 442 (1) 2011 39.99 59.05 4.48 53.18 47.66 21.52   LEGO S@H DESCRIPTION:Keep the harbor safe with the 3-in-1 lighthouse! Everything you need for a safe ocean cove is right here! This 3-in-1 lighthouse rebuilds into a sturdy boathouse with a warning light and a cozy seafood restaurant! Use the binoculars as you peer out of the lighthouse for incoming ships! Press the roof to activate the LEGO® light brick and turn the handle to rotate the mirror to warn ships lost in the fog! Open the back of the lighthouse to access the stove and ladder. Once the ships are safe, rebuild into a boathouse to dock your motorboat or change into a seafood restaurant with a light-up oven to offer the sailors a warm meal.  
      Includes minifigure Features jetty with motorboat, LEGO® light brick, binoculars, stove, ladder, grill, 2 buildable seagulls and 2 fish 3 models in 1: lighthouse rebuilds into a boathouse with lifeboat or seafood restaurant with fishing boat Features LEGO® light brick, rotating mirror and removable back for easy access Spin the boat’s propellors! Shine the light to guide passing ships! Launch the boat from the Lifeboat House with the handle! Light the fire in the fish grill of the Seafood Restaurant! Lighthouse measures 10” (25cm) tall and 8” (20cm) wide Boat measures over 4” (10cm) long and 2” (5cm) wide Lifeboat House measures over 8” (21cm) long, 7” (16cm) wide and 5” (12cm) tall Seafood Restaurant measures over 9” (23cm) long, 4” (12cm) wide and 5” (13cm) tall  
      If you’ve ‘missed the boat’ on this delightful set, you’re probably going to have to pay above retail to ****** one.  This is one of the sets that I haven’t actually built yet, although I did get two (at Canadian retail) last month.  Supply of these has been drying up, but I do encourage you to snoop around and try to ****** one at retail somewhere, somehow.  Already the growth has been solid.  The light brick, the pretty cool design and the way it fits in for play and display purposes with other recently released sets makes this a solid pick.  I personally see the ceiling of this set at $90-$100, so even a buy at a little above retail might make sense.  The set is retired, so you likely won’t have to wait long to see a return, although I’d hesitate to buy over $55 or so.    
      #5771: Hillside House
      Set Name Set # Pieces (Mini-Figs) Launch Year MSRP(US$) Current Price(US$) ROI One Month(%) ROI Six Month(%) ROI Total(%) CAGR(%) Hillside House 5771 714 (1) 2011 69.99 74.34 -0.23 -0.76 6.22 3.06 LEGO S@H DESCRIPTION:Build your dream home with 3-in-1 style! No matter what sort of home you dream of, this 3-in-1 hillside house is packed with details to please every style. Ring the sound brick doorbell, hear the dog bark, open the roof to access top floor and walk up the stairs in this two story dwelling. Park the car in the garage or pull up a folding chair as you grill your lunch on the patio! For a change of scenery, rebuild into a smaller home with a greenhouse or create a more contemporary home, sure to impress the whole neighborhood.  
      Includes minifigure, dog and blue car Features a 2 story interior with hinged roof, sound brick, stairs, fireplace, garage, patio with grill, opening windows and balcony Packed with accessories including grilling charcoal, hotdogs, translucent elements, water spout and realistic lights Ring the door bell or hear the dog bark with the LEGO® sound brick! Open the roof to play inside or remove the second floor to play downstairs! 3 models in 1: hillside house rebuilds into smaller house with greenhouse or a modern home Hear the doorbells of the Modern House and the House with Greenhouse! Lift the roof or open the doors to play inside the Modern House and the House with Greenhouse! Measures over 10” (25cm) long, 10” (25cm) wide and 7” (17cm) tall Blue car measures over 3” (7cm) long and 1” (2cm) tall Modern House measures over 10” (25cm) wide, 10” (25cm) long and 7” (19cm) tall House with Greenhouse measures over 10” (25cm) wide, 5” (13cm) long and 5” (14cm) tall  
      I think this might be one of the coolest Creator houses you can get your hands on.  The set is on the larger size relative to other houses at 714, and has pretty cool features in all three iterations.  Probably the most well known feature of the set is the sound brick, which is pretty cool in terms of uniqueness and playability.  The display is also quite nice for those looking to fill out a city.  This set was primarily only available through TRU and S&H, which probably is why it can still be found here and there.  Around Christmas there were some okay sales, but nothing I recall in the 40% off or more category, so perhaps investors purchased where the bigger discounts were.  That might be a good strategy, but I wouldn’t wait too long, as it is listed as a retired product.  The next time you see a decent TRU sale or have a coupon, this might be worth grabbing.  From its size alone, as well as its exclusivity, this might bring returns like the House or Family Home, and I think that is on the conservative end of the spectrum, as neither of those sets has the sound brick.    
      #7346: Seaside House
      Set Name Set # Pieces (Mini-Figs) Launch Year MSRP(US$) Current Price(US$) ROI One Month(%) ROI Six Month(%) ROI Total(%) CAGR(%) Seaside House 7346 415 (1) 2012 49.99 46.03 -13.23 -13.33 -7.92 -7.92   LEGO S@H DESCRIPTION:Build your 3-in-1 dream seaside home! Enjoy life by the sea in your very own 3-in-1 Seaside House – made to minifigure scale! Go surfing on the surfboard, use the outdoor shower and then grill a feast on the beach. Just watch out for the pesky seagull sitting in the palm tree – he's hungry too! This detailed Seaside House also includes an opening roof and removable top floor for easy access. When you're ready for a different seaside building, use the supplied alternative building steps to rebuild it into a house with a beach hut or cute vacation apartment. Includes surfer minifigure.  
      Features 2-story interior with opening roof, removable top floor, double doors, veranda and shower Includes surfer minifigure, seagull, crab and fish Packed with accessories including life ring, surfboard, grill, sand castle and even a wave in the sea! A great 3-in-1 building experience – rebuild into a house with beach hut or vacation apartment! Go surfing! Grill a feast on the beach! Watch out for the hungry seagull! House with beach hut features a stream with bridge, palm tree and drink machine in the hut Vacation apartment features sea jetty, terrace and patio furniture Seaside House measures over 7" (17cm) high, 5" (13cm) wide and 9" (24cm) long House with beach hut measures over 5" (14cm) high, 5" (12cm) wide and 9" (24cm) long Vacation apartment measures over 8" (20cm) high, 5" (13cm) wide and 7" (18cm) long  
      Y’arh!  Even pirates need a beachside home.  This is another great addition to the line, blending display and play very nicely, especially with City-themed sets recently released.  With the 2012 release, these will probably be available for some time yet, but they might be a set to keep an eye on for discounts.  I jumped at a couple of these at $35, and Amazon had them listed at $37 not too long ago, so there are deals to be had.  As a few other sets retire, we should have a better idea of how this will fare post-EOL.
      The downside of Creator house investing is likely the small profits, coupled with the need for more shipping and storage.  Notice that the return on investment may be quite high, but you would likely need to sell two or three sets (or more!) to make the same total profit you could make on a much larger Ultimate Collector's Series STAR WARS type set.  More sales means more trips to the post office, more packaging and generally the possibility of more hassle.  While I wouldn’t characterize these as a ‘grinder’ investment (grinding out a very small total profit on a set, but with a large volume), it certainly isn’t for everyone.  You’ll need ample storage and a familiarity with shipping a few different-sized boxes.  A huge plus is that larger investors may overlook these sets, making the secondary market a little smaller with more room for investors like me (10K and under in terms of portfolio) and possibly investors like you!
      Overall, the trend has been for Creator houses to perform quite well in the secondary market.  While I think the Apple Tree House (5891) may suffer a little from the ‘Millennium Falcon’ syndrome outlined above, the relatively quick run of the Lighthouse Island (5770) and its steady growth since being retired indicates to me that Creator houses possess some of the most solid investment picks out there.  The City theme isn’t going anywhere and houses are always going to remain popular.  The upcoming Tree House (31010) and Family House (31012) look like a strong continuation in this series, and rather than sap investment potential from currently available Creator houses, I think it will actually aid them.  People like to collect and they like variety, so quality sets in 2013 should both encourage the retirement of older sets while raising the visibility of the theme (and the overall growth of the theme).  While the real world may be heading for a housing bubble (or so they say up here in Canada), the LEGO home investment market looks like it has strong growth ahead.

    • Ed Mack
      As I sift daily through the various LEGO forums and blogs to keep informed on the latest developments in the LEGO world, one particular phrase commonly appears in a majority of the topics...MINI FIGURES.  LEGO fans love mini figures.  LEGO mini figures are a driving force to the popularity and longevity of the brand.  It got me thinking about what LEGO sets have the most mini figures in them.  Think about it, most LEGO sets that have even a single mini figure are more valuable and/or more popular than LEGO sets without them(...of course there are exceptions, such as the Sculpture, Large Scale Model and Ultimate Collector Series STAR WARS sets).  So if one mini figure makes a LEGO set a more intriguing purchase, how about a LEGO set with multiple mini figures?  They have to be more valuable, right?  Which LEGO sets/themes have the most mini figures in them?  The LEGO “Chess” sets.  Let's take a closer look at them...
        Not including this years 853373-1: LEGO Kingdoms Chess Set, there have been 5 Chess sets released since 2005.  Here is the LEGO.com description and some key points about the five LEGO Chess sets:
        Knight's Kingdom Chess Set(G678):
        Play an exciting game of chess with real LEGO Knights! Choose your color and you're ready to begin. Will you checkmate your opponent's king and win, or will you go down in defeat? It's a game of skill and strategy that's fun for chess fans and LEGO fans too! Includes full-size chess board (measures 10 x 10 inches/ 25.4 x 25.4 cm) with sturdy storage case featuring leather handle & bindings and snap closure. Chess board is held inside carrying case with touch fasteners -- play at home or on the go! Total of 32 chess pieces, including 24 mini figures! Storage case includes compartments to hold them all!
          Viking's Chess Set(G577): Pillage your opponent in this exciting game of skill and strategy! This exclusive LEGO Vikings Chess set includes a total of 32 chess pieces, featuring 24 minifigures. Just choose your color and you're ready to begin! One-piece chess board measures 10" x 10" (25.4 x 25.4 cm). Includes sturdy carrying case with leather handle, snap closures, touch fastener for holding board in place and storage compartments for each piece. 32 chess pieces include 24 LEGO Vikings minifigures! Available exclusively from LEGO!  
          Castle Chess Set(852001): Battle your opponent in this exciting game of skill and strategy! This exclusive LEGO Castle Chess Set includes a total of 32 chess pieces, featuring 24 minifigures. Just choose your side and you're ready to play! One-piece chess board measures 10" x 10" (25 cm x 25 cm)! Includes 32 chess pieces featuring 24 LEGO minifigures including knights, skeletons, wizard, king and princess! Includes sturdy carrying case with leather handle, snap closures and storage compartments for each piece!  
          Castle GIANT Chess Set(852293): There's never been a chess set like this one before! Now you can build the biggest and best LEGO chess board of all time, covered in incredible LEGO Castle details and complete with a dungeon, armory, and decorative dragon heads'¦and that's just the board itself! Pieces include king, queen, good and evil wizards, witch, knights, dwarves, trolls, skeleton warriors and horses, castle turrets, rolling siege towers, and more. It's the ultimate LEGO set for any chess player, collector, or LEGO Castle fan! Includes 31 minifigures, 2 giant trolls, 2 horses, 2 skeleton horses and 2 dragon heads! Minifigures are ready for battle with armor, swords, shields, and other cool accessories! It's a battle of good dwarves and knights vs. evil trolls and skeletons! Build the 4 realms in the corners of the chess board - the skeleton realm, troll realm, dwarf realm and castle realm! Measures 17" (43cm) squared! Complete with a giant storage case, measuring over 24" (61cm) high, 20" (50cm) wide and 7" (17cm) deep.
        Pirate's Chess Set(852751):
      * No LEGO description available
        Well, from the above descriptions, you can see that the LEGO Chess Sets as a whole come with a substantial amount of mini figures.  Each set comes with at least 24 and the Castle Giant Chess Set comes with 33, but how does this translate into value when the Chess sets hit the secondary LEGO market?  Take a look at the below chart which illustrates the amount the 5 main LEGO Chess sets released since 2005 have appreciated in value:    
      Set Name Set Number Year Released MSRP Current Value % Increase Knight's Kingdom Chess Set G678 2005 $49.99 $131.00 162.00% Viking's Chess Set G577 2006 $49.99 $124.00 148.00% Castle Chess Set 852001 2007 $49.99 $108.00 116.00% Castle Giant Chess Set 852293 2008 $199.99 $523.00 161.00% Pirates Chess Set 852751 2009 $49.99 $141.00 182.00%  
          Overall, LEGO Chess Sets have posted quite solid returns over the past 7 years.  While they might not be the investment juggernauts of STAR WARS and Modular Buildings sets, the Chess sets are no slouches either.  With % 'increases' of 116% to 182%, the Chess sets make a worthwhile addition to any LEGO collection.  Each set contains a minimum of 24 mini figures and that in itself is a valuable commodity.  New Chess sets like the 853373-1: LEGO Kingdoms Chess Set, could be quite a value at $49.99(US) for 28 mini figures.  What other set can you find 28 LEGO mini figures for less than $50?  I don't know of many, if any.  On a personal note, The Castle Giant Chess Set (852293) is a "work of art" in my opinion and I would highly recommend this set to any serious LEGO investor/collector.  The set is a bit steep in the secondary market, but it has been making a steady move upward in value and I see room to grow.  Also, I am waiting for LEGO to release a STAR WARS LEGO Chess Set (known as 'Holochess' to all you STAR WARS fans) that was being played  by Chewbacca and R2-D2 in The New Hope.  That would be a LEGO Chess set that might rival the 10179 Millennium Falcon...

    • Veegs
      Building your eBay Profile
      There are a lot of sketchy sellers on eBay, and one of the best ways to avoid being lumped in with these types is to have a solid eBay profile. For all you new users/investors visiting the site every day, don’t forget that buying the Lego is the fun part, but selling is where you actually make the money. I too love the rush of getting a great deal or discount on a set, but until I’ve taken photos, made the listing, found a buyer, packed it up and shipped it, it is just potential profit. So let’s say you have some sweet sets to sell this upcoming holiday season, but you are relatively new to selling – my advice is to not wait until October to try and build your reputation, but start now!
      If you are really serious about making money, and you are willing to start now, you can try to reach Powerseller status so that when you do sell some sweet Imperial Shuttles you’ve been sitting on, you’ll sell them more easily and keep more of the profit for yourself.
      Becoming a Power Seller
      What is a Power Seller?
      I am aiming to be a global Powerseller. I know a lot of new members are from around the world, and this will probably apply to you. Those looking for strictly the US Powerseller levels will not find them here, although the advice still might be helpful!
      I long for this designation. I’m sure that some of the other members on here have their own experiences to add, but I’ll fill you in on mine. The basics: You need 100 transactions and $3,000 in sales over a twelve-month period. (You can check your progress through the Account - Seller Dashboard) The benefits are sweet: you get a percentage of your fees back – up to 20%. You also get better visibility and a badge by your name, which might give buyers a better reason to bid on your auction compared to similar priced auctions.
      From my Seller’s Dashboard:
      Basic PowerSeller requirements: 12-month rating: (Mar 2012 to Feb 2013)
      Minimum global sales and transactions ($3,000.00 and 100 transactions)
      I mentioned that you can get up to 20% OFF fees from eBay if you are a PowerSeller and/or Top Seller. An eBay Top Seller is another designation in which you can save on eBay fees and gain other perks. Although easier to obtain the Top Seller status, it still requires a plethora of sales and top service to eBay buyers. Both the requirements for Top Sellers and PowerSellers are similar, but PowerSellers require more in the way of transactions and sales...triple the amount in fact. Here is the information on Top Seller status and PowerSeller status directly from eBay:
      Top Seller (Plus):
      To become a Top Rated Seller, you need to meet the following performance requirements:
      Have an eBay account that's been active for at least 90 days. Have a positive Feedback rating of at least 98%. Have at least 100 transactions and $1,000 in sales with US buyers over the most recent 12-month period. Upload tracking to your buyer's My eBay within your promised handling time for at least 90% of your transactions with US buyers in the last 3 months. Details below: Handling time is measured by business days. Weekends and holidaysaren't counted For example, if you specify 1-day handling time and a buyer pays for an item on Tuesday, you have until 11:59:59 PM Pacific Time on Wednesday to upload a tracking number. For a buyer's payment on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday a tracking number must be uploaded by 11:59:59 PM Pacific Time on Monday. If a buyer purchases items from multiple listings, each listing (transaction) must have a tracking number associated with it. This is required even if each of the listings have been combined into a single order for shipment. Note: Sellers are not required to upload tracking for the following scenarios:
      Unpaid items or canceled transactions Transactions using freight or local pick-up as the shipping service Classified Ad format listings Meet the following requirements for detailed seller ratings (DSRs):
      Sellers with 400 or more transactions over the past 3 months are evaluated on their transactions with US buyers from the last 3 calendar months. For all other sellers, the rate is calculated from transactions with US buyers over the last 12 calendar months. To measure your overall performance accurately, we count 1 and 2 ratings only if they come from 2 or more buyers within any given evaluation period. If you have more than 400 transactions, 3 or more buyers must leave low detailed seller ratings before they are counted. Also, if the same buyer accounts for more than 80% of your 1 and 2 ratings in a single category, we will only count one low detailed seller rating from that buyer for each applicable category. Meet the following eBay Buyer Protection and PayPal Buyer Protection cases standards:
      Sellers with 400 or more transactions over the past 3 months are evaluated on their transactions with US buyers from the last 3 calendar months. For all other sellers, the rate is calculated from transactions with US buyers over the last 12 calendar months. To measure your overall performance accurately, we count cases only if they come from 2 or more buyers within any given evaluation period. If you have more than 400 transactions, 3 or more buyers must open cases before they are counted. eBay may, at its sole discretion, temporarily grant Top Rated Seller status to an account even if it does not otherwise meet the requirements at the time of evaluation. This may be as a result of loss of Top Rated Seller status due to eBay or PayPal site outage, natural disaster, postal strike, or for any other reason that eBay may determine makes a temporary status change necessary.
      Top Rated Plus
      To qualify for Top Rated Plus, listings need to meet the following requirements:
      Sellers must meet all of the requirements of a Top Rated Seller listed above. Offer a 14-day or more, money back return policy. Offer 1-day handling. Receiving the greatest benefits on your listings
      By meeting the performance requirements above, a Top Rated Seller will receive some additional exposure in Best Match. In addition, listings from Top Rated Sellers offering a 1-day handling time and a 14-day or more return policy with a money back option will also receive:
      A Top Rated Plus seal on qualified listings The greatest, on average, advantage in Best Match search for fixed-priced listings A 20% final value fee discount on the item's sales price (not including the shipping cost) Listings in the following categories must offer a 1-day handling time to qualify for the 20% final value fee Top Rated Plus discount, but do not have to accept returns:
      Bullion > Silver Bullion > Gold Bullion > Platinum & Palladium Gift Cards Tickets Listings offering a freight shipping service must accept returns, but will not be required to offer a 1-day handling time to qualify for the 20% final value fee Top Rated Plus discount.
      Listings within the Real Estate and Specialty Services categories, as well as listings that offer local pick-up only, aren't eligible for the additional benefits.
      Note: Offering a 1-day handling time or accepting returns is not a requirement of the Top Rated Seller program. However, it is a way to maximize the benefits you receive by qualifying for Top Rated Plus. For any listing to receive the Top Rated Plus seal, both a 1-day handling time and 14-day or more return policy with a money back option must be offered. No exceptions apply.
      Most listings that meet the requirements will show the Top Rated Plus seal within minutes of creating or revising your listing. However, there may be times when it may take up to 3 hours to process. The delay in the seal appearing does not impact your search placement. Top Rated Plus listings will continue to receive, on average, increased search exposure.
      Top Rated Plus best practices
      Follow these best practices to make sure you're prepared to meet buyer expectations for the 2 key services that earn you the top rewards:
      Make sure you can fulfill your orders within the time promised and fulfill orders within 1 day when possible. To help ship items out quickly, you can use free carrier pickup (for Priority or Express Mail) with USPS and save yourself a trip to the post office. Upload tracking on all of your orders. Use eBay label printing to automatically upload tracking to eBay. USPS Delivery Confirmation for First Class Package service is free when you print labels on eBay. Offer a return policy that is 14 days or longer. Learn more about creating your return policy and get tips on how to set a clear return policy. Return policies must allow for "buyer's remorse" returns, although sellers may specify that items must be returned in original condition or charge a restocking fee for items returned opened or used. PowerSeller:
      PowerSellers enjoy special benefits, including:
      Unpaid item protection which offers credit for certain listing upgrade fees on eligible listing formats United States Postal Service (USPS) savings program United Parcel Service (UPS) rate discounts Promotional offers Opportunities to participate in research USPS Commercial Plus Savings for Platinum and Titanium Powersellers Powerseller discussion boards Powerup print and email newsletters Health Insurance solutions What are the requirements?
      To qualify for the PowerSeller program, sellers need to consistently sell a significant volume of items, provide a high level of service to their buyers, maintain a positive Feedback score, and meet the requirements for detailed seller ratings and eBay Buyer Protection and PayPal Buyer Protection case standards. Membership in the program is free.
      You don't need to apply for the PowerSeller program. If you qualify, you'll automatically be included. Just check your Seller Dashboard to see if you've achieved PowerSeller status. PowerSeller levels include Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Titanium depending on the number of items you've sold or the dollar amount of your sales.
      If you're not a PowerSeller yet, you can always work your way up by meeting these requirements:
      Be registered with eBay for at least 90 days. Have an account in good standing. Maintain a positive Feedback of 98% or higher over the past 12 months. Follow all eBay policies. Have a minimum of 100 transactions and $3,000 in sales with US buyers over the past 12 months. Receive at least a 4.60 average from US buyers across all 4 detailed seller ratings (DSRs). For all transactions with US buyers, have no more than 1.00% of transactions with low DSRs (1s or 2s) on item as described, and a maximum of 2.00% of low DSRs on communication, shipping time, and shipping and handling cost. For all transactions with US buyers, have no more than 1.00% of transactions result in opened eBay Buyer Protection and PayPal Buyer Protection cases, and no more than 0.30% of transactions result in closed cases without seller resolution. If your account falls below these requirements, you may lose your PowerSeller status.
      Here are the various levels for the Powerseller status:
      My problem? Plenty of sales, not enough total transactions – this is great for my overall profits per transaction, but I’m missing out on some advantages of being a power seller.
      My solution in theory? Polybags. Well, polybags, small sets and minifigs. My solution in action: I purchased a lot of 10 x 30210 (Frodo’s Cooking Corner) for an average price of just under $3.25 delivered. As soon as they are in my possession, I’ll list them separately and try to build my number of transactions on these smaller polybag auctions. I’ll keep you posted as I head towards becoming a Bronze Power Seller. There is plenty of extra information on Power Selling and such on your eBay dashboard. This is just enough to get you started. If you want to sell big in the future, you need to build a foundation now!
      Most Recent Acquisition: 2x Summer Riding Camp @ $82.50 each
      Wife (Pregnant) Anger Level: 5 – I sold two sweet posters this week on the ‘bay so the wife is pretty pleased to get more poster tubes out of the house. Plus she likes the look of Friends LEGO and is giving me the okay to get some. I can deal with a 5, people!

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