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    Brickpicker blog articles on LEGO investing, news, reviews, evaluations, discounts and more...
    • Ed Mack
      Jabba Desilijic Tiure...AKA...Jabba the Hutt.  The biggest Alien slug this side of Tatooine.  But are the LEGO sets designed around this "festering, mountainous pustule"worth anything on the LEGO secondary market?  Are the older Jabba LEGO sets "sluggish" when financial growth and appreciation are concerned, or are they a worthwhile investment, "prized" by LEGO investors and collectors?  Also, how does the recent Turkish Mosque incident affect the new Jabba the Hutt LEGO sets...if at all?  Let's begin by looking at the first generation Jabba sets.

        I was never a huge Jabba the Hutt fan to be quite honest.  Out of all the STAR WARS characters that played somewhat major roles in the films, Jabba and Jar Jar Binks ran neck and neck in the least likeable category for STAR WARS characters in my opinion.  That being said, as an avid collector of STAR WARS LEGO sets, I did purchase the original four Jabba-related LEGO sets years back and stored them away.  Fast forward a few years and I noticed these rather simple and uninspiring STAR WARS LEGO sets(One can make a case about the Sail Barge being an interesting set) were appreciating very well.  Take a look at the chart below of the four original Jabba LEGO sets:
      Set Name Set # Pieces (MiniFigs) Launch Year MSRP (US$) Current Price (US$) Current ROI (%) High Price (US$) (Date) High ROI (%) CAGR(%)
      Jabba's Message 4475 46(3) 2003 6.99 34.59 394.85 49.85 6/2012 614.59 17.35
      Jabba's Prize 4476 40(2) 2003 6.99 35.86 413.02 49.35 4/2012 606 17.76
      Jabba's Palace 4480 231(4) 2003 29.99 140.48 368.42 209.35 3/2012 598.06 16.7
      Jabba's Sail Barge 6210 781 2006 74.99 326.3 335.12 406.57 5/2012 442.16 23.38 The first three Jabba sets were released in the same year and were meant to work together as a set.  As stated earlier, these sets were very basic and besides a couple interesting minifigures like Bib Fortuna, a half naked Princess Leia, and a fat maxifigure named Jabba, there wasn't much to get LEGO investors and collectors excited.  Yet, these three small sets exploded in growth and averaged around 600% ROI(Return on Investment) at their high water mark.  Maybe it was the uniqueness of the Jabba character or their low cost, whatever the reason, these three sets ended up being quite profitable to those LEGO fans that owned them.  Three years later, the Jabba Sail Barge was released and replicated the Sarlacc monster scene, quite well I may add.  The Sail Barge was realistic and had 800 pieces and 8 minifigures, which is great for a $75 set.  It made for a very nice display set...and play set.  This Jabba set also did very well, exhibiting over 400% ROI at its high point.  The point I am trying to make is that the first version of the Jabba the Hutt sets did quite well in the secondary LEGO market, even being somewhat ordinary.  They have peaked in value from the looks of it, but you cannot scoff at a 600% Return on Investment for three of the four sets and even the Sail Barge returned 400% growth.  Will this translate to the newer remakes of the sets that  are still available today?  And how will the potential early retirement of the new 9516 Jabba's Place affect its future value and the other new Jabba sets?  Let's take a look at the four new Jabba the Hutt-related sets:  
      Set Name Set # Pieces (MiniFigs) Launch Year MSRP (US$) Current Price (US$) ROI One Month (%) ROI Six Month (%) ROI Total (%) CAGR(%) Desert Skiff 9496 213(4) 2013 19.99 26.4 11.25 2.68 5.64 5.64  
        LEGO S@H DESCRIPTION: Escape from the jaws of the Sarlacc aboard the Desert Skiff! Hovering over the deadly Sarlacc Pit, Luke prepares to meet his fate aboard the Desert Skiff. Will he be made to walk the plank and be eaten by the ferocious Sarlacc? Or will his friend Lando Calrissian help him escape the clutches of the renowned bounty hunter, Boba Fett? You decide! Includes 4 minifigures: Luke Skywalker, Lando Calrissian, Boba Fett and Kithaba.  
      Includes 4 minifigures: Luke Skywalker, Lando Calrissian, Boba Fett and Kithaba Features Desert Skiff and Sarlacc Pit Desert Skiff features retractable plank, flick missile and weapons locker Sarlacc Pit features opening mouth large enough to fit a minifigure Also includes 4 blasters, Lightsaber and axe Escape the jaws of the Sarlacc! Overpower Boba Fett and Kithaba! Fire the missile! Desert Skiff measures over 1" (5cm) high and 9" (24cm) long Sarlacc Pit measures over 3" (10cm) high and 3" (9 cm) wide BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: While not a Jabba set per se, the Desert Skiff plays an important role in the Sarlacc Pit scene in the Return of the Jedi, along with Jabba and his sail barge.  Unlike the older 6210 Jabba's Sail Barge, which included the Desert Skiff and Sarlacc monster, these new sets separate the new 75020 Jabba's Sail Barge and Desert Skiff into two distinct sets.  If you want to complete the scene, you need the 9496 Desert Skiff to do so.  As for the set itself, I really like the set.  With over 200 pieces and 4 quality minifigures, the set is a decent deal at $25.  What's even better is this set gets discounted quite frequently around the $17-$20 range, so buy multiples of this set if possible.  It is quite a value and is an excellent LEGO set for the novice LEGO investor or investor with limited funds.  
      Set Name Set # Pieces (MiniFigs) Launch Year MSRP (US$) Current Price (US$) ROI One Month (%) ROI Six Month (%) ROI Total (%) CAGR(%) Rancor Pit 75005 380(4) 2013 59.99 58.14 -10.84 N/A -3.08 -3.08   LEGO S@H DESCRIPTION: Help Luke escape the clutches of the mighty rancor! Build a famous scene from Star Wars™: Episode VI Return of the Jedi™ with this stackable set! Jedi Master Luke Skywalker is trapped in the Rancor™ Pit beneath Jabba the Hutt’s Palace and must escape. Look for a way out before the gate lifts and the mighty rancor makes an entrance! Battle the rancor with the bone before he eats the Gamorrean guard. Then, find the hidden compartment with a secret key or drop the gate on the space beast before it’s too late! Combine with LEGO® Star Wars™ 9516 Jabba’s Palace for a stackable scene with a trapdoor into the Rancor Pit! Includes rancor, skeleton and 3 minifigures: Luke Skywalker, Malakili and Gamorrean Guard.  

      Includes rancor, skeleton and 3 minifigures: Luke Skywalker, Malakili and a Gamorrean guard Features opening gate, secret room and hidden compartment Rancor features movable arms, jaw, hands and fingers Accessories include bone, 2 keys, pitchfork and a bucket Find the hidden key in the secret compartment! Open the gate or smash it down onto the rancor! Collect the first-ever LEGO® Star Wars™ rancor creature! Rancor Pit measures over 6" (16cm) high, 7" (19cm) wide and 7" (20cm) deep Combine with LEGO Star Wars™ 9516 Jabba’s Palace for a stackable scene with trapdoor into the Rancor Pit! Rancor stands over 3" (10cm) tall
        BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: The Rancor Pit is a rather interesting set.  By itself, it almost looks incomplete, but in tandem with the 9516 Jabba's Palace, it makes for a rather unique and wonderful play and display LEGO set(s).  Taking a look at just the Rancor Pit set, one would be rather unimpressed as a whole.  Besides the awesome Rancor monster maxifigure and a somewhat cool Malakili minifigure, the rest of the set is rather uninspiring in my opinion.  With almost 400 pieces, it's not a real value for $59.99 and looks unfinished by itself.  There are some cute features like the skeleton and large gate that slides up and down, but otherwise, it's nothing special...until you match it with the 9516 Jabba's Palace.  Then, the Rancor Pit shines and becomes a must buy.  The combined 75005/9516 is quite an impressive display together...and very playable at the same time.  From an investment standpoint, I consider the Rancor Pit and Jabba's Palace as one unit and plan to market them that way in the future.  For every Jabba's Palace I own, I also own a Rancor Pit.  With all the recent activity with a possible early EOL for the Jabba's Palace, you have to wonder  about the future of this set as well.  Maybe an earlier EOL for this set is a possibility.  Regardless, see if you can pick one up at a discount.  I have seen them in the low $50 range.  Overall, a must have for any STAR WARS LEGO fan or LEGO investor.  
      Set Name Set # Pieces (MiniFigs) Launch Year MSRP (US$) Current Price (US$) ROI One Month (%) ROI Six Month (%) ROI Total (%) CAGR(%)
      Jabba's Palace 9516 717(9) 2012 119.99 86.62 -8.16 -27.34 -27.81 -27.81   LEGO S@H DESCRIPTION: Rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt's desert palace! At Jabba's Palace™ on Tatooine, Princess Leia is disguised as Boushh as she and Chewbacca try to rescue the carbonite-frozen Han Solo. Can she get past the roof-mounted missiles, defense guns and surveillance equipment to reach them? Or will Jabba and his motley band of followers capture the princess and entrap her beneath Jabba's sliding throne? Includes 9 minifigures: Jabba, Salacious Crumb, Bib Fortuna, Gamorrean Guard, Oola, Han Solo, Princess Leia in Boushh outfit, Chewbacca and B'omarr Monk.  
      Includes 9 minifigures: Jabba, Salacious Crumb, Bib Fortuna, Gamorrean Guard, Oola, Han Solo, Princess Leia in Boushh outfit, Chewbacca and B'omarr Monk Features sliding throne with trap door and hidden treasure, entrance gate with movable guns, flick missile on detachable roof and detachable watchtower Also includes Han Solo in carbonite, handcuffs and Jabba's water pipe Weapons include medium blaster, blaster pistol, blaster rifle, thermal detonator, axe and Boushh's lance blade Jabba the Hutt features poseable head, body and arms! Avoid the trap door! Release Han from his carbonite prison! Jabba's Palace™ measures over 9" (25cm) high, 11" (29cm) wide and 7" (19cm) deep
        BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: WOW...What can you say about this set that hasn't been discussed over the recent Turkish Mosque incident?  Let's rewind for a minute and take a look at this set before the recent activity.  The 9516 Jabba's Palace was a remake of the much smaller 4480 Jabba's Palace, that was released in 2003.  Not only was the older Jabba's Palace smaller, it was just very basic and inaccurate, unlike the new 9516 which is a very close replica(Maybe too close...LOL) to the movie structure and characters.  Yet, even with its shortcomings, the 4480 Jabba's Palace appreciated very, very well...exhibiting almost 600% growth from retail to its peak on March of 2012!  In comparison, the new Jabba's Palace is very well done, with accurate and creative minifigures and a structure that is a very close depiction of the movie Jabba's Palace.  So will this set appreciate like the older version?  Who knows?  But I really like the set on numerous levels, even standing alone...and I REALLY like the set when built in combination with the 75005 Rancor Pit.  I like the future of this set(s), even without the most recent rumors of a premature retirement and feel that regardless of the EOL outcome of the set, future growth in the LEGO secondary market will be strong to very strong.  
      Set Name Set # Pieces (MiniFigs) Launch Year MSRP (US$) Current Price (US$) ROI One Month (%) ROI Six Month (%) ROI Total (%) CAGR(%)
      Jabba's Sail Barge 75020 850(6) 2013 119.99 NOT YET RELEASED   LEGO S@H DESCRIPTION: NOT YET RELEASED
      BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: There is not any definitive points I can make on the set yet because it has not been released, but from the looks of the current pictures available, the newer Jabba's Sail Barge looks smaller.  Even though the piece count is higher, it looks like less large brown plates were used to reproduce the ship in the similar manner as the older 6210 Sail Barge, thus using more smaller pieces but a smaller model.  Also missing from the set is the Desert Skiff and Sarlacc Monster from the earlier version, along with a couple of minifigures.  A simple solution to this would be to combine the 9496 Desert Skiff with this set to complete the scene.  As with the new Jabba's Palace and Rancor Pit combo, I feel the combination of the new Jabba's Sail Barge and Desert Skiff is a winner from a build and investment standpoint.  Even though the set looks slightly inferior in some ways, I still see strong future growth for this set.
        You've come a long way, baby...and that's how I feel about the remakes of the Jabba the Hutt LEGO sets.  Taking the whole Turkish Mosque situation out of the Jabba's Palace potential in the secondary LEGO market value, I see a very solid future for this set and the others in the category.  Before the rumors of early EOL, I was already buying multiples of Jabba's Palace and the Rancor Pit to package together for future resale.  I love the remake.  I love the combination of the two.  Just a wonderful display and play set(s).  The new Jabba's Palace is a 99.99% improvement over the original.  The Rancor Pit only sweetens the deal in my opinion.  The Rancor maxifigure is one bad @$$ figure and the combination of the two sets works flawlessly.  Another big plus is the improved Jabba maxifigure, which is leaps and bounds better than the old one.  As for the new Sail Barge, it is probably a push when compared to the older set.  Both are quality sets.  Throw in the Desert Skiff with the new Sail Barge and you have another winning combination that will undoubtedly do well in the future investment market.
        Now throw in the potential early EOL and unique story of the Jabba's Palace and you have the makings of a superb investment.  As of this writing, the set was still in stock at many major retailers, including LEGO S@H and Amazon.com, so you can still buy one at MSRP.  Whether or not you will see $88 prices for this set again, I cannot say, but even at retail prices, these sets, when matched up together, could be very profitable in the future.  You saw the madness on a small scale when the Jabba's Palace was hard to find, imagine what will happen when and if LEGO pulls the proverbial plug on the set.  You also have to take into consideration the future of the Rancor Pit if Jabba's Palace is not there to complete the package.  Does that go to an early grave as well?  At this juncture, it's hard to pinpoint an approximate EOL date besides The LEGO Group's late 2013 notification.  The less time on the primary market, the more valuable the set will eventually become.  My personal opinion on the claim of racial and religious undertones of the set is much ado about nothing.  All LEGO did was reproduce the actual STAR WARS movie structure in a very accurate manner.  If anyone needs to shoulder some blame for insulting Muslims and their religion, maybe George Lucas needs to step forward.  It's really the design and characters of Lucas that is causing a stir, but as I said before, it is a minor issue and I don't believe any harm was meant from any party involved.
        So, any way you slice it, the Jabba the Hutt sets are potential big winners in my book.  Like their earlier versions, these new Jabba sets should do very well when they are eventually retired...maybe even before they are retired as illustrated by the shortages and high eBay auction prices of recent days.  Although Jabba is one unsavory and unattractive character, his LEGO sets are top notch and very attractive as potential investments.  If you haven't bought a Jabba's Palace and Rancor Pit, do so.  You never know when the EOL timer runs out...  

    • Ed Mack
      A new category in our Brickvesting Blog, BRICK BRATS: The Teenage LEGO Investor's Blog, will share some of the thoughts and words of some of our younger BrickPicker members. It will be a feature that we will share from time to time with the entire community. LEGO investing is a growing phenomenon that crosses all walks of life and different generations as well. The younger crowd might be able to teach some of us old dogs, some new tricks...
      Our inaugural set of articles are combined into one big release. They were written by Darth LEGO and Comicblast. I hope you enjoy them and please feel free to comment on them afterwards...
      TOYS R' US: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly...
      By Darth LEGO
      You walk into a Toys R' Us(TRU) one day and you see Jabba’s Palace, set 9516, on the shelf. You then look at the price. Your eyes nearly pop out of your head...$164.88! You then look at the other sets and almost all of them are overpriced. Why would a retail store do such a thing? Well, I’m going to try to explain why Toys R' Us would do such a thing and discuss some of TRU's other sales practices and whether they are good, bad or even downright ugly!
      The Good
      BOGO 50% off!!! I know many members on the BrickPicker site like TRU's Buy One Get One(BOGO) policy. It makes paying prices over retail a little bit easier to swallow. TRU consistently run specials of BOGO 40-50% off.
      Here is Popalzai’s comment from a thread...
      “For me TRU BOGO rocks...Especially when you live near NYC...Because in the NYC TRU stores they have BOGO on all the sets, including large sets like Death Star...SSD...Tower Bridge ETC...What I have noticed is that they did not hike the prices on large sets…SSD and DS were at $399...I even saw a Haunted House for $169.99 and BOGO...I think with BOGO and retail price, nothing else matches TRU!!” (Link to post: Click Here)
      Here is Hxckid88’s post...
      “BEST DAY EVER….Got Helms Deep for $90.00. I didn't have to argue with them at all...they price matched. I also got 6 Minecraft sets. They didn’t even check the ad. I simply stated I can get this set cheaper somewhere else and they said OK. One can only speculate what a dishonest person would have done. I then went to the other TRU where I had the exact opposite situation as the manager was difficult to deal with. That’s the ever brief Cliff Notes version of my find, as I’m too lazy to type everything that transpired, but it was quite a day. ALWAYS talk to a manager, you never know what they may do for you. Just hone your approach, have a game plan and be polite.” (Link to post: Click Here)
      Popalzai’s comment brings up another great point. Toys R' Us has larger sets for sale than other retail large brick and mortar stores(not online), like Walmart or Target. This fact makes the BOGO deal even sweeter for us LEGO investors and collectors. This is also convenient for people who don’t live near LEGO stores(...which usually carries the larger sets). I think you can find some good deals during BOGO, especially on higher priced items that are close in price, which enables you to maximize discounts. Now we will get into the bad sales practices that Toys R' Us exhibits.
      The Bad
      Item is damaged during shipping.
      I’ve ordered only once from Toys R' Us and it was from their website. The box came so beat up the actual Lego box had a gaping hole. It was absolutely horrible and they even wanted me to pay to ship it back. I ended up returning it at a store. I know this can be a problem anytime you ship something from anywhere, but I paid $15 dollars to ship it and they put only one thin layer of bubble wrap around the set.
      Here is Talon’s comment about an order not nearly as bad as mine, but still wasn’t satisfactory.
      “So today I received the two 7965 Millenium Falcons that I had ordered from TRU (@$99) and NO shipping damage. But, and a BIG BUT, one of them has a hole poked in the front about the size of a finger. It obviously occurred before shipping. It was sent from a fulfillment center in OH. Now I need to decide if I am going to build that one or not. I had no plans to build one in the near future but you never know. Unfortunately, I have to decide now because I will have a limited time to return it. Gotta love TRU!” (Link to post: Click Here)
      This is another example of bad practices during the fulfillment of online orders. The only way to avoid this problem is to go to a store and pick out the perfect box, which for many people is not possible. Also, brick and mortar stores don't carry every LEGO set. Like I stated earlier, Toys R' Us is not alone with poor packaging techniques. Amazon, eBay sellers and even LEGO itself messes up occasion, but TRU's customer service is the weakest of all major LEGO retailers, so a simple return becomes a major hassle.
      Poor Customer Service (Not receiving conformation emails or reward points.)
      This is just poor management from the executives on down. They should care enough about their customers and give them at least okay customer service. When customers don’t receive their order conformation emails, they are left to wonder if they will even get what they ordered.
      TheDarkness had this problem...
      “…I have placed 2 orders for TRU under their latest deal. My credit card has been charged, yet I haven’t received a confirmation email for either. Neither order show up on my account. I have sent off an email, but have heard that TRU are useless with their customer service…”
      This is a major problem for people. Sometimes TRU might just cancel your order out of the blue without giving you any reason why they did so. Another problem is people not receiving their reward points after purchasing from TRU.
      Stackables had this issue.
      “I have to get this off my chest. I have made 2 purchases over the last 2 weeks and have not received any reward points. TRU is also running a promotion where you get 10% back and double reward points if you use the TRU credit card.
      I called them 6 days ago to report the issue. Of course the person I talked to couldn’t do anything and forwarded everything to corporate. She told me to wait 5 days. 5 days have passed and in the meantime, I placed another order. Which, of course, I didn’t receive rewards for that order either.
      That brings us to today. I called, gave them my reference number and told them about my new order problem. The ordeal sent me to 5 different TRU customer service people, 5!!!! Nobody could really help me. Finally the 5th person I talked to said she was going to send the report to the “Rewards” people or something and wait another 5 days. I assume this was probably already done. Absolutely pathetic. I better get something more out of this fiasco.
      I have no clue why I keep dealing with them.”(Link to post: Click Here)
      This shows their customer service is a wreck. You shouldn’t have to call them five times to get something done about a problem. Amazon would fix any problem with their transactions almost immediately. TRU needs to step up their game big time if they want happy customers.
      The Ugly
      This is probably one of the worst stories I’ve heard about rude employees.
      Let’s look at Mushedroom’s incident...
      “So...I was on the hunt for G.I. Joe Kre-O figs and then got swooped up by some LEGO sets that I hadn’t seen in my local TRU. The Hawthorne location was a store that had a lot of what I was looking for. BUT…What I didn’t realize or know was that there is a caveat with shopping at the Hawthorne location…they are an experimental “bump up” store, where they actually charge more for EVERYTHING! So everything I had purchased was marked up!
      I didn’t understand why this was the case and immediately I was greeted by a supervisor with a really bad attitude. I inquired about why the prices were different and I even produced a receipt from a different TRU displaying the differences in prices for the minifigs, various small LEGO sets and Kre-O items that I bought at 2 other TRU’s before coming to this store and then asked for price adjustments for all of the items I was buying. One of them was a sealed case of minifigs. They grabbed me one and this woman opened it, even after I requested her to not do so, and then half-yelled at me saying she needed to count each out. I told her there were 60 in each sealed case. She even had an opened case on the counter…with all the info she needed but she was being a jerk and opened 1 side of the box, until the supervisor told her to use the already opened one. Then I asked for the empty factory shipping box and she practically threw it at me and all the while she had this vibe about her like I was some kind of badgering/bickering parent and she was a pissed off teen filled with angst…
      After she disrespectfully threw the box at me I got upset and firmly called her attention and asked her flat out, “Are you having a bad day?” She responded with, “No, I'm fine. I don’t know what you mean.” And I fired back with, “Because this...ALL OF THIS…“I can’t be bothered with” attitude isn’t working for me and I don’t appreciate your attitude. I'm about to spend over $300 here and you’re acting like my business is unwanted here. Is this the case?” That’s when a supervisor came over and said, “I'm so sorry. Do you want another case of minfigures? I can get you one.” He started to call the back. I told him no, it's OK, but that I was looking for Walking Dead figures, so he took me to a section in the back and I found some. While in the back I asked him what her problem was and then I laughed because she was a supervisor. He told me that he was her supervisor and apologized for her behavior and then told me to call him whenever I needed anything. I grabbed up about 12 figures and walked back to this woman. Meanwhile she had been price adjusting everything and then began to apologize for her behavior.
      I'm not one to kick a dead horse so I let it go, but I was seriously shocked at how POORLY this person acted and she is supposed to be the example of what this corporation is trying to achieve in GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE. At the end of it all, she had price adjusted everything and again apologized for her attitude. So all in all, I got what I came for, received discounts and price adjusting and even got more items than I was expecting.
      Bottom line…
      DON’T TAKE ANY KIND OF ABUSE FROM TRU EMPLOYEES. But at the same time, DON’T OVERREACT emotionally. Handling a situation with reserve and poise serves to be a better counterattack.” (Link to post: Click Here)
      This is pretty sad. If TRU ever really wants loyal customers, they have to start with the employees that directly deal with the customers. Maybe the supervisor was having a bad day, I really don't know, but these stories are far too common to ignore. The customer will probably not come back if you treat them like the lady did.
      At least he ended up getting what he wanted. I truly believe this is one of the ugliest things about Toys R Us.
      The main ugly issue I have with Toys R' Us is price gouging. They do it because they can hide it with their BOGO offers. Many LEGO sets are marked up 20% or higher over LEGO MSRPs. But if you can find a location with some large sets close to MSRP, then the BOGO can be an effective way to save some money.
      In conclusion, TRU is generally thought as a bad place to shop. However, many of us shop there for the BOGOs. Many of us LEGO investors are on the fence about buying from Toys R Us. I am in that boat as well and I’ll tell you why. They make the slightly overpriced sets worth it and you can get the bigger sets like the modular and USC Star Wars Sets. They also have nice deals during their BOGOs. I believe I would have a better experience from TRU if I went to a store and I’m willing to give them another shot. Let me know about your Toys R Us experience in the comments below. Good luck investing Brickpickers! – Darth Lego
      “Ed”itor's Notes: I have to say that I agree with a lot of points that Darth LEGO made about Toys R' Us and its business practices. Their customer service is weak at best and their prices are usually MSRP or higher. That being said, you can find a very good deal with patience and some research. I bought two 10188 Death Stars a year back on a BOGO 50% off deal. Basically, I paid $300 each for the $400 sets. Not a bad deal. Let's take a look at Darth LEGO's second article..
      The Magic Number: Investing in LEGO Sets on Sale
      By Darth LEGO
      We have all probably had this experience. Waiting and waiting for a good deal on a LEGO set and then before you know it, poof...it's sold out. Now you are left without that set you wanted to invest in and few options other than paying more than the retail price from the LEGO secondary market. I'll try to lay out some tips on when to buy a set and at what price(and % off) when there is a sale...
      *** Please note that these tips vary from situation to situation and set to set.***
      0-20% OFF: Only get a couple if you are certain it will retire in about the next 6 months or it is in the process of being retired or EOL(End of Line).
      *** Monster Sets other than the Haunted House might fall into this range if it EOLs this Summer. ***
      11-30% OFF: Once you start getting higher in this range, most LEGO sets are good buys. Just be sure that you won't be able to get it cheaper later.
      *** Amazon Lego deals are usually in this range. ***
      31-50% OFF: Any LEGO set is basically solid as far as investing goes. Don't wait too long so you don't miss out on the deals.
      51%+ OFF: Always buy. You can't go wrong at this % and higher.
      So what's the Magic Number(% off) so you won't be left empty handed or buy it too early before the real deals are enacted? I would say 30%. It's not too low so it leaves you more margin for profit, yet it won't probably sell out too fast, enabling you to get at least a couple of them. Themes like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings are going to be more popular, thus making some great deals, harder to find. Some City and Creator sets are more likely to have better deals. How well certain sets sell can vary from store to store which can affect deals on different themes. For example, my local stores always sell their Star Wars stock, but they have consistently had clearances on their Harry Potter and Ninjago sets because they just don't sell in my area. Where you live could be a totally different story and that makes a "good deal" sometimes hard to agree on.
      In conclusion, everyone is going to feel different about when to buy a set. I'm just trying to lay out my personal guide and if you guys have any more tips/experiences, please feel free to share them below. Happy investing Brickpickers!
      “Ed”itor's Notes: I usually use our Amazon Discounts Page as a good place to start finding deals. A set will catch my eye at 15% off. Then I really start to pay attention at 20%. I usually buy any and all sets 30% off and more, even if I hate the theme. Now, there are some popular sets like the 10228 Haunted House that will just not get discounted that much, so I will have to pay close to retail for that set. I did buy a few 10228s during LEGO's Black Friday's deal for 10% off plus free shipping, so that was a bonus. Just don't wait too long or within a week of being retired, you will be paying 10% or more on a LEGO set that was just on sale. Last but not least is Comicblast's article. Let's check it out...
      Out of the Mouths of Babes: Teen LEGO Investing
      By Comicblast
      Before a person becomes an investor, he must first ask himself, “What am I interested in?” and “What is going to make me some money?” Common answers would be stocks, precious metals, like gold or silver, or even baseball cards. One day I brought this up with my older brother. I asked him, “Do you think I should invest in LEGO bricks and baseball cards?”
      He replied, “In 20 years, no one will be interested in cards anymore. I think that people will still be interested in LEGO bricks in 20 years. Plus, it doesn’t take as long to make some money.”
      Smart man...
      As many others here on BrickPicker and others throughout the LEGO world, I discovered LEGO bricks upon my 3rd birthday. Now, three might seem like a young age to start playing with LEGO sets, but you see, they weren’t mine. I would grab a brick or two here and there from my older brother’s collection to make my own. At first they started out small, making a “camera” out of a door and window with a flat piece connecting it. Now that I am 13 years old, I have made much more large scale creations and MOCs, one of my proudest being my own version of Jabba’s Palace that I constructed for a contest, but forgot to submit.
      From Building to Collecting…
      I have heard numerous parents complain about LEGO bricks being “pricey” and saying that they don’t buy very many LEGO sets for their children because “once they build it, they take the little people and then put the set to the side, basically wasting my money.” This sounds very similar to the experiences of my family. I started out with small bits and pieces from other peoples' collections and eventually received my own set at the age of 6. This was just a little police car and oversized minifigure(everyone remember those Lego minifigs that have “3 stud butts” as I call them?). I probably played with this set for a couple weeks and then set it aside when I got another one and another and another. Soon the sets weren’t in any particular order and were just lumped together in a couple totes.
      From Collecting to Investing…
      Because parents also have made an “investment” into these sets, they are reluctant to throw them away. You, yourself are reluctant because they bring back memories. This basically leads to massive hoarding of LEGO bricks in the attic, basement, under the bed, and between the seat cushions on the sofa. Just like many of the other children across the world, I played with LEGO bricks at least once every couple months. Sometimes my building area would occupy the living room and kitchen, and other times, it would occupy my room. After awhile though, my LEGO-ing took a different turn.
      Now, 11 years old, I wanted the LEGO sets that I wanted and rarely took “no” as an answer. Spending 5 hours a day, looking at eBay listings, with the search term, “lego star wars,” isn’t exactly the life your parents wish you to have, but they somehow persevered.
      I am not exactly sure if this is how other parents are, but my parents soon began to limit the amount of “screen time” that my siblings and I could spend on a computer for recreational reasons. They were also very picky about my buying. One of the only ways that I could get my parents to give me permission to buy a set was by opening at least 5 different tabs of the last couple sales for that set. Looking at trending patterns of sets allowed my parents to figure out if I was spending my money well. Another way that I persuaded them to allow me to buy was by saying how good of an “investment” it was to buy it at that moment. Then I, of course, didn’t know a thing about investing at all, but I figured it was a big word and I had learned from debate team, that big words make you sound smart, only if you know what that word means. I was learning about supply and demand in Social Studies class, so I included terms like “annual return rate” and “capital gains” into my conversations, which promptly led to me being allowed to buy more freely.
      This past year, we were staying at a hotel and we received a complimentary USA Today newspaper every morning. As most of us know, that was the fateful day that BrickPicker was on the front page of the financial segment of the newspaper. On the front page were the smiling faces of Ed and Jeff Mack. Two days later, I joined the ranks of many new investors of MISB (Mint In Sealed Box) sets.
      The Afterword…
      If you are reading this, you most likely are an AFOL, Adult Fan of Lego. You may be single, married, have kids, etc. Many of you might have forgotten the actual experiences that a child has with LEGO bricks and why a child will keep on buying more sets, since you haven’t been a child in 10+ years! This article’s purpose was to help you get a better understanding of the perspective of a 13 year old and his love for LEGO bricks and his introduction to making money from this love of the little plastic bricks. I hope you enjoyed it.
      “Ed”itor's Notes: I can tell you that I have not forgotten my passion for buying LEGO sets. I was also a very demanding 11 year old. I remember asking for the 375 “Yellow” Castle for Christmas(for the plentiful yellow bricks)....and NOT GETTING IT!!! Oh boy! My mother got me a Technic 951 Bulldozer instead, saying it also had plenty of yellow bricks and that you “can't always get what you want.” Ironically, I also asked for and received the Rolling Stones “Hot Rocks” album that same Chrsitmas, with the song, “You can't always get what you want“ on it so fittingly. LOL.
      I hope that you have enjoyed our first edition of the BRICK BRATS Blog. I will post more articles as they come in. Please contact me with your ideas and articles. Thanks. Ed Mack

    • Veegs
      Hi! For those who don’t know me(which is probably almost all of you, possibly even myself) I’ve been dabbling in collectibles for about two years. I have had a fair amount of success in gig posters and licensed movie posters(think Mondo, etc.) and limited edition vinyl records. In the last six months I’ve been really trying to get a foot in the door of the LEGO world. First, I love LEGO bricks. Second, I’m familiar with my post office, eBay and PayPal, and have a ready account to sell with. Third, I want to collect some LEGO sets for my future children (the wife is pregnant with a baby girl) to build, but also make some money with.
      One of the first things any new LEGO investor probably hears is “buy what you love.” If that were the case, I would only have a lot of STAR WARS, Lord of the Rings/Hobbit and cool Modulars. Yes, if things went really badly, I could happily build these sets(although how many Bag Ends does any one man need in his Lord of the Rings/Hobbit MOC?) but it would be a little limiting. Since I found out I am going to be the proud new father of a baby girl, I started looking at Friends. And then I went further, back to Belville, which was one of the earlier girl LEGO themes that preceded Friends. I was drawn to the 7582 Royal Summer Palace and the 7586 Sunshine Home, a couple of the bigger sets from that line that have long since been retired. Not many are for sale, in terms of numbers, but the CAGR(Compound Annual Growth Rate) and ROI(Return on Investment) from retail are solid, at 17%/158% and 11%/71% respectively . I would gladly go back in time several years and scoop up a few of these sets for investment purposes. So...does that mean, despite my personal lack of enthusiasm for Friends LEGO theme, that it will be a solid investment? Let's take a look...
      The current numbers suggest, yes, yes, a million times yes! The first wave of sets from January of 2012 are getting pretty hard to find and are already showing some nice gains. Here is a list of the Top 15 Friends sets based on CAGR. I call them the Friend's Fabulous Fifteen:
      Image Set # Set Name Pieces MSRP(US$) Current Price CAGR(%) 30102 Olivia's Desk 26 3.97 7.74 94.96 3186 Emma's Horse Trailer 218 24.99 44.12 76.55 30105 Stephanie's Mailbox 41 3.99 6.91 73.18 3942 Heartlake Dog Show 183 19.99 33.21 66.13 3930 Stephanie's Outdoor Bakery 45 5.99 9.64 60.43 3063 Heartlake Flying 195 19.99 31.59 58.03 3931 Emma's Splash Pool 43 5.99 9.09 51.75 3065 Olivia's Tree House 191 19.99 29.45 47.32 3936 Emma's Fashion Studio 79 9.99 14.7 47.25 3937 Olivia's Speedboat 65 9.99 14.63 46.45 3939 Mia's Bedroom 85 9.99 14.35 43.64 3932 Andrea's Stage 87 9.99 14.14 41.54 3184 Camper 309 29.99 42.06 40.25 3183 Stephanies's Cool Convertible 130 14.99 44.12 38.29  
        There are a few others that have shown really nice gains from this first wave that could become quite sought after in the secondary market for those investors coming late to the game as well as for children who desire(and plead with their parents) to get sets that are unavailable at retail. The nice thing about these smallish sets is that even at double, triple or even quadruple the initial retail price, they still remain affordable to most parents with kids who want to rip open these sets and play with them. My child doesn’t play with Friends LEGO sets(yet) – she is just an embryo, people! – but I think that if a birthday or Christmas were on the horizon and my daughter had sets A, B and C that I would shell out $30 for Emma’s Fashion Studio (reg. Price $9.99) to complete her collection.
        Because most of the sets are small to medium size, I don’t think there are going to be massive monetary gains, even if there are solid CAGR gains. That will keep a lot of investors away. Also, they don’t appeal to (most?) men, perhaps not the majority of AFOLs and not to the majority of young boys, but I think that leaves an opening for the savvy investor who is happy to make a little money here and there. If you can track down the early 2012 sets at retail or the mid-2012 sets at a discount(recent sales have seen some of these sets at quite attractive prices), I would say throw caution to the wind, ignore the advisers who only want you to invest in what you love and instead invest in a hot product with a matching cartoon and solid CAGRs!
      Brickpicker Alias: Veegs
      Investment to Date: About $5,500
      Sales to Date: $0
      Wife (Currently Pregnant) Anger Level: xx/10: 6.5
      Most Recent Acquisition: 2 Vampyre Castles @$73.50 each  
      “ED”ITOR'S NOTE:
      There has been much discussion on the BrickPicker forums after the recent LEGO Press Release in which illustrated another banner year for The LEGO group. Let's take a look at a portion of that press release....
      LEGO Friends significantly exceeded expectations
      The best-selling product lines in 2012 were LEGO City and LEGO STAR WARS™, followed by LEGO Ninjago (launched in 2011). The new product line, LEGO Friends, delivered a strategic milestone in 2012, selling much better than expected and becoming the fourth best-selling product line. Even though the LEGO Group more than doubled its production of LEGO Friends versus expectations, it was not possible to deliver all of the products demanded.
      The red highlighted sentence illustrates an amazing point. LEGO doubled production of the Friends-themed sets, yet still couldn't meet demand. Wow! When is the last time you have heard of a LEGO theme being so popular that the LEGO factories couldn't keep pace with demand? I really don't know, but nevertheless, it is a fact that every savvy LEGO investor and reseller needs to pay attention to.
      You would think every LEGO investor and reseller would be rushing out to buy some of those Fabulous Fifteen Friend's sets posted by Veegs. Well, not so fast. There is a large portion of experienced LEGO investors that don't want to touch these LEGO sets with a 10-foot pole. I wonder why? The Friends theme is near the top of the Theme CAGR List, at #2 behind the Monster Fighters. There is a large variety of sets, both large and small, cost effective and expensive and most are well thought out and creative LEGO sets, even though they are designed for little girls. Is that the issue? Quite Possibly. Little girl LEGO sets don't appear to get enough love from the majority male LEGO population. And in the defense of the male population, I can see why. Most LEGO investors are LEGO fans and collectors first and will base their investments on sets they like and would build. Their philosophy is that if the LEGO investment market ever implodes, they can feel better about their investment choice and build the sets. Count me in on this philosophy. But does this philosophy have any legs to stand on, or is it some sort of ridiculous antiquated behavior based on zero common sense?
      The more I deal with LEGO investing, the more I realize that emotion has to be removed from the equation if you truly want to pick the best sets for strong growth. For the longest time I have subscribed to the “I only buy sets that I would want to build” theory and it has worked well for me over the years. But I have started to expand my LEGO investment choices to include sets I will never build. Why? To make money of course. I have ignored LEGO themes in the past as investments because I had no real interest in the sets. Take Harry Potter sets for instance. I could have bought Harry Potter sets years ago, instead I bought hundreds of STAR WARS sets, yet never considered Harry Potter sets as a potential investment...and lost out on some nice gains. I never saw one Harry Potter movie and could really care less, but recently, I started buying the Harry Potter sets because I changed my philosophy and I knew they would appreciate well after EOL. Although the Harry Potter sets are creative and accurate LEGO sets, I realize that I will never build one but I still value them as investments. This is how I view Friends sets.
      Friends themed sets are wonderful. They are colorful, creative, fun, cute and contain many small features that go unnoticed by many, but can be appreciated by every LEGO fan out there. Obviously a huge hit with girls and rightfully so, these sets are having a hard time gaining respect from male LEGO investors. I really like these sets, but as with the Harry Potter sets, I won't buy any Friends sets to build. And I'm OK with that. I'm not buying Friends sets to build, I am buying them at a discount to sell later at a profit. It's as simple as that. I like making money and Friends sets are one of the LEGO themes that can make you a lot of money if invested in properly. I can't really give you any specific Friends sets that will do well after EOL, because they all seem to do well...even before EOL. If I would suggest some Friends-themed sets to potential investors, the larger sets like the 3185 Summer Riding Camp and 3315 Olivia's House would be two I would key on. But many sets, including many polybags and smaller boxed sets, have exploded in growth.
      So all in all, I would suggest even “un”Friendly fans and investors dabble a little in the pink and purple LEGO sets. I know, many of you naysayers are predicting these are just one hit wonders, that in a couple of years, these sets and/or the entire theme will be permanently retired or unpopular. Many male LEGO investors will say that girls just won't get into collecting LEGO sets like boys do and I will counter with Barbie Doll collecting as an example of how women are possibly better collectors than men. The Barbie Doll collectible's market is years ahead of the LEGO collectible's market in time, sales and money. Some Barbie Dolls sell for $20,000.00+++!!! Women make for serious doll collectors and I can see it translating over to the LEGO Friends theme. There will be little girls that want all the Friends sets, even after they are retired. Just like boys who couldn't afford that 10179 Millennium Falcon in 2007 but can buy it now as an adult with extra discretionary income, there will be women who wanted to buy Olivia's House or the Summer Riding Camp as a child and couldn't afford it, but can buy it in the future when money is readily available.
      Also, don't discount the “spoiled child” scenario. Imagine a child who wants every LEGO set and their enabling parents (I speak for myself here...) who will give their kids whatever they want to keep them quiet or see a smile. Any way you slice it, there are some solid reasons to buy Friends LEGO sets as investments, even if investing in Friends sets goes against some tried and true LEGO investment principles. You might not want to build the Friends LEGO sets in the physical sense, but with their current returns on investment and bright future in my opinion, you might want to build up your Brickfolio with the pink and purple sets..

    • Ed Mack
      We here at BrickPicker have often been accused of being too pro-LEGO investor.  There are some Bearish LEGO collectors out there and they have let me know on several occasions that we never post about the negatives of LEGO investing.  While many of you know that we are not shills for LEGO, there is still a silent minority of LEGO collectors and investors that think we promote the little ABS plastic bricks too much.  Well, today, that changes.  I am here to talk about the WORST PERFORMING LEGO SETS over the past six months...let's call them the Bottom 50.
        Basically, the “Bottom 50” is the BrickIndex, but in reverse.  The BrickIndex shows the top performing LEGO sets based on CAGR values over the past six months.  The chart below shows the worst performing LEGO sets based on CAGR values of all sets in our database.  Let's take a look at the CAGR Cellar Dwellers...
      Set # Set Name Year CAGR(-%) Theme 7591 ConstrucT-A-ZURG 2010 -26.21 Toy Story 8075 Neptune Carrier 2010 -19.33 Atlantis 10192 Space Skulls 2008 -17.6 Factory 7598 Pizza Planet Truck Rescue 2010 -15.83 Toy Story 8494 Ring of Fire 2008 -15.24 Racers 8060 Typhoon Turbo Sub 2010 -14.85 Atlantis 8863 Blizzard's Peak 2010 -14.83 World Racers 7572 Quest Against Time 2010 -14.59 Prince of Persia 8078 Portal of Atlantis 2010 -13.92 Atlantis 8197 Highway Chaos 2010 -13.15 Racers 8899 Gator Swamp 2010 -13.11 World Racers 7570 The Ostrich Race 2010 -12.46 Prince of Persia 8864 Desert of Destruction 2010 -12.03 World Racers 8160 Cruncher Block & Racer X 2008 -11.94 Racers 8184 Magna Mech 2010 -11.45 Power Miners 8061 Gateway of the Squid 2010 -11.38 Atlantis 853176 Skeleton Mummy Pack 2011 -11.2 Pharaoh's Quest 7325 Cursed Cobra Statue 2011 -10.97 Pharaoh's Quest 8897 Jagged Jaws Reef 2010 -10.86 World Racers 7789 Lotso's Dump Truck 2010 -10.79 Toy Story 8085 Freeco Speeder 2010 -10.69 Star Wars 8077 Atlantis Exploration HQ 2010 -10.62 Atlantis 7147 XPlode 2010 -10.51 Hero Factory 8898 Wrecking Road 2010 -10.38 World Racers 7754 Home 1 Mon Calimari Cruiser 2009 -10.29 Star Wars 7573 Battle of Alamut 2010 -10.02 Prince of Persia 7326 Rise of the Sphinx 2011 -9.76 Pharaoh's Quest 8196 Chopper Jump 2010 -9.5 Racers 8128 Cade Bane's Speeder 2010 -8.51 Star Wars 8895 Thornatus V9 2009 -8.31 Bionicle 5974 Galactic Explorer 2009 -7.97 Space 7596 Trash Compactor Escape 2010 -7.9 Toy Story 8080 Undersea Explorer 2010 -7.91 Atlantis 8926 Toa Undersea Attack 2007 -7.68 Bionicle 8866 Train Motor 2009 -7.6 City 5865 Mini Dumper 2010 -7.57 Creator 7156 Corroder 2010 -7.53 Hero Factory 7571 The Fight for the Dagger 2010 -7.52 Prince of Persia 8099 Midi scale Star Destroyer 2010 -7.47 Star Wars 5982 Smash 'n' Grab 2010 -7.25 Space 8186 Street Extreme 2009 -7.23 Racers 8199 Security Smash 2010 -7.17 Racers 8943 Axalara T9 2008 -7.09 Bionicle 8124 Ice Rally 2009 -6.76 Racers 8198 Ramp Crash 2010 -6.71 Racers 8146 Nitro Muscle 2007 -6.46 Racers 8076 Deep Sea Striker 2010 -6.31 Atlantis 7848 Toys R Us City Truck 2010 -6.31 City 7593 Buzz's Command Spaceship 2010 -5.92 Toy Story 8411 Chromastone 2010 -5.83 Ben 10  
        As the reader can see, there is quite a variety of sets and themes that make up the Bottom 50.  From Atlantis sets to World Racers, there is a mix of small and large, low and high priced sets.  The one definitive theme that looks extremely weak is the Racers theme.  Even worse is the World Racers theme.  This theme can be considered the ultimate investment loser in my book.  Fifteen out of the Bottom 50 LEGO sets, or 30%, are made up with these four wheeled wastes of your LEGO investment dollar.  While they might be somewhat popular among kids, they certainly have no value in the secondary LEGO market.  Avoid them like the plague!  As for the other remaining 35 LEGO sets in the Bottom 50, the Atlantis, Pharaoh's Quest, Toy Story, Prince of Persia, Bionicle and STAR WARS themes make up the majority of what's left.  The Bionicle and STAR WARS themes, while present in the Bottom 50, shouldn't be considered bad investments by any means.  With their sheer number of sets, there was destined to be a couple of poor performers in the bunch.  That leaves the unpopular Atlantis, Toy Story and Prince of Persia themes to stink up the joint.
        So why are these sets so unpopular in the secondary LEGO market?  Well, the Racers for one have been around for 10+ years, so obviously they have quite a following and were popular at retail, so why are they poor investments?  Well, not all Racer sets are poor investments to start.  The 8653 Enzo Ferrari and 8461 Williams F1 Team Racer have appreciated into the $400 range, which is not chump change.  There are many other positive examples in the Racers theme.  I guess it boils down to lack of minifigures and many small, repetitive and uninteresting sets.  That's my guess.  I can't say that about the Atlantis and Pharaoh's Quest themes.  They have some of the coolest minifigures and sets on the planet in my opinion.  Sharkmen, flying mummies, giant squids, scorpions and crabs, submarines, ancient ruins...all creative and fun stuff.  Same goes for the Toy Story sets.  I love the minifgures and the sets are all very well done and do a great job of portraying the actual iconic movies.  Prince of Persia, on the other hand, have decent LEGO sets, but the actual movie was so bad that it affected set popularity.  Even a successful Prince of Persia video game line couldn't counteract the negative effects of the awful movie.  The one thing I don't understand with the Prince of Persia sets is how “can't” the LEGO theme be successful?  I mean each LEGO box has a picture of Jake Gyllenhaal on it.  That has to account for some increase in value...right?  LOL.

        Besides the repetitive and uncreative nature of the Racers and World Racers theme, the other themes and sets don't really have any main characteristics that will designate them as “losers.”  They are a mix of all types of sets and themes, some with minifigures, some without minifigures.  Some sets are from licensed themes, others are not.  Some sets are based on classic movies, others are based on forgettable ones, while others are based on no movies at all.  Some are large sets, others small.  Of the Bottom 50 LEGO sets, there are seven sets that made me want to further examine the sets to see why they are in that position.  Here they are...The Sucky Seven...
      Year Released Pieces/ Minifigures MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR
      7591 CONSTRUCT-A-ZURG 2010 118/1 24.99 10.24 -17.02 -59.92 -26.21 -37.2 LEGO.COM DESCRIPTION: The Evil Emperor Zurg is out to conquer the galaxy! BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: The Toy Story theme is one of the worst of all LEGO themes and it's really hard to figure why.  The Toy Story(s) movie was a classic and the LEGO sets did the movie justice, with accurate looking sets that matched movie scenes and characters very closely.  The minifigures are awesome in my opinion.  Take this set, the Construct-A-ZURG for instance.  It looks exactly like the movie character...right down to the ball shooter.  The purple color is refreshing and mixes well with the red.  A real pleasure to look at and to build(Yes, I have one.)  The playability is also fantastic.  This set DOES NOT deserve to be the worst of the worst.  The one negative was the MSRP, which was high, but now you can probably buy one cheap.  Makes an excellent display set as well.    
      Year Released Pieces/ Minifigures MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR
      8078 PORTAL OF ATLANTIS 2010 1007/7 99.99 63.78 -5.69 -36.21 -13.92 -24.91 LEGO.COM DESCRIPTION: The portal to the lost city of Atlantis has been discovered! Getting through it will be the diver’s greatest challenge yet! The divers must get past hidden traps, shark guardian statues that come alive, Squid and Shark Warriors, and the Portal Emperor before unlocking the portal with the five Atlantis treasure keys. Includes 7 minifigures: 3 divers, 1 Portal Emperor, 1 Squid Warrior, 1 Shark Warrior, 1 skeletonFeatures all 5 Atlantis treasure keys -- green, blue, yellow, red and orange Divers must beware of the hidden traps! Turn a treasure key into the keystone to open the portal to Atlantis! Shark castle measures 18" (46cm) wide and over 12” (32cm) tall BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: Atlantis sets, like their desert relatives, the Pharaoh's Quest sets, just don't get any love and this amazes me.  The sets are colorful and creative, the minifigures are some of the coolest I've encountered, the sets are a good mix of buildings, vehicles and creatures.  Earlier versions of the Atlantis theme, like Aquaraiders and Aquazone, haven't fared any better over time.  I guess LEGO fans just don't like water or underwater themes(or desert themes for that matter).  Too bad really.  The Atlantis sets have a lot to offer.  This set in particular, offers over 1000 pieces, a radical shark building/temple and some nasty little minifigures.  The trick with these sets was never to pay retail prices for them.  Discounts are/were always available on these sets and if you start(ed) at a lower buy in price, you can make some money off of these sets.  Atlantis just doesn't deserve being one of the worst themes in my opinion, but I guess I am in the minority.    
      Year Released Pieces/ Minifigures MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR
      7754 HOME ONE MON CALIMARI CRUISE 2009 789/6 109.99 71.23 -1.37 -35.24 -10.29 -21.28 LEGO.COM DESCRIPTION: Aboard the Mon Calamari Star Cruiser Home One , the Rebel Alliance plans its final assault against the Empire's second Death Star. Voted for by fans to celebrate the 10th anniversary of LEGO Star Wars , the famous Rebel flagship features a command center and briefing room with Death Star 'œhologram,' a launch and repair hangar, a Green Squadron A-wing starfighter with removable engine and firing flick-missiles, and the first-ever LEGO minifigures of Admiral Ackbar, Rebel leader Mon Mothma, General Lando Calrissian, General Madine, a Mon Calamari officer and a Green Squadron A-wing pilot. Move the levers and gears to prepare the A-wing for takeoff or to rotate Admiral Ackbar's command chair! Includes 6 minifigures: Admiral Ackbar, MonMothma, General Lando Calrissian, General Madine, a Mon Calamari officer and a Green Squadron A-wing pilot! Set features Mon Calamari command center, repair hangar and an A-wing starfighter! Command center and repair hanger measure a combined 17" (43cm) long and 9" (23cm) wide BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: The set with the longest name and not much else...LOL.  Only kidding.  I never liked the name of this set.  Hard to remember.  Maybe that's why people don't care for it.  A Toys R Us “exclusive.”  So much for exclusives.  This set is just an outright disappointment.  Maybe on the pricey side for the piece count, but nothing too high.  Six minifigures.  STAR WARS set.  Interesting display set with a lot of playability.  Not the greatest set, but it shouldn't be in the Bottom 50 in my opinion.  I've seen much, much worse.  I guess Admiral Ackbar and Mon Mothma are not winning any popularity contests.    
      Year Released Pieces/ Minifigures MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR
      7573 BATTLE OF ALUMUT 2010 821/7 79.99 58.28 -3.4 -27.14 -10.02 -21.01 LEGO.COM DESCRIPTION: Battle in, on and around the mighty Alamut Castle! BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: The iconic Prince of Persia theme...LOL.  Well, maybe not iconic.  Anyway...this is the largest(...and largest usually means a good investment with LEGO sets) of the Prince of Persia theme and has a decent amount of pieces and minifigures.  While this is no Harry Potter set, or even Pirates of the Caribbean set for that matter, it's really not worthy of being so unloved in my opinion.  This set was readily available well below MSRP for the longest time.  You can still find some good deals on this set, even if you just want to part it out.  Maybe now is the time to buy one of these sets.  It went up 1.67% last month.  Maybe it is a late bloomer.   Don't forget, the LEGO box art is hot with Jake Gyllenhaal on it!!!  ;-)    
      Year Released Pieces/ Minifigures MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR
      5974 GALACTIC ENFORCER 2009 825/7 99.99 71.72 14.92 -28.27 -7.97 -18.96 LEGO.COM DESCRIPTION: Intergalactic emergency broadcast! The sinister Slizer has stolen the statue of the first LEGO Space astronaut'¦and he's planning to break Kranxx out of galactic jail, too! Blast off in the mighty Galactic Enforcer and use its incredible five-way split function to protect the blast-away quad prison pods and capture the space-crooks. Includes 'statue' of 1st LEGO Space astronaut plus 5 minifigures: Slizer, Kranxx and 3 Space Police Officers Also includes Space Police mini quad, alien strikecraft and minifigure accessories Galactic Enforcer splits to reveal smaller space vehicles Lift hinged door and play inside the forensic lab and questioning area Alien strikecraft, including fire trail, measures 8" (20cm) long and features shooting function Galactic Enforcer measures an impressive 19" (48cm) long with a 12" (31cm) wingspan BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: Another one of my favorite sets in the Bottom 50.  Oh well.  This one has hope though.  It increased 5.97% last month, so maybe it is making a move up.  This set reminds me of the old Space theme, my first and all-time favorite LEGO theme.  The Space Police sets all have some rather interesting minifigures and this set has seven of them.  The set itself is quite large, with over 800 pieces, and impressive, with a ton of features and playability.  I'm rather surprised that a large set such as this has done so poorly over the last several years, but it looks like this set has seen its lows and might even be a worthy investment from this point on into the future.    
      Year Released Pieces/ Minifigures MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR
      8943 AXALARA T9 2008 693 79.99 55.39 8.65 -30.75 -7.09 -18.08 LEGO.COM DESCRIPTION: Lewa Nuva is ready for battle in this massively powerful battlecruiser! With dual Midak Skyblasters and tri-arms featuring lasers and force field generators, its mission is to smash the Brotherhood of Makuta while there's still time to save the universe! Includes special-edition Lewa Nuva figure! Raise and lower the landing gear! Sides open to reveal the dual Midak Skyblasters that really fire! Turn the gear on the side to open and close the tri-arms! Hold the handle underneath to fly the Axalara T9! Lewa Nuva stands 7½" (19cm) tall! Measures over 20" (50cm) long and 13" (33cm) high! BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: One of the largest of the popular and classic Bionicle themed sets, this is another large set that has underperformed.  Usually, the largest sets of a LEGO theme are the best in terms of investments, but once again, the largest set shows the smallest gains...or no gains in this case.  This set has shown some solid growth recently and I hope to see it continue, because I have one.  The set itself is damn cool.  It shoots rockets  that pop out of opening doors, has wings that contract and expand and other neat features.     A fantastic display set, it offers a lot of playability .  A set that doesn't deserve the Bottom 50 designation, it looks to be making some solid gains recently to maybe move it out of the CAGR cellar very soon.  Maybe you can pick up a cheap one and make some money here.    
      Year Released Pieces/ Minifigures MSRP (US$) Current Value(US$) % Return Last Year % Return From MSRP CAGR(%) Over/Under Mean CAGR
      7848 TOYS R US CITY TRUCK 2010 356/3 49.99 41.11 24.09 -17.76 -6.31 -17.3 LEGO.COM DESCRIPTION: Toys R Us Exclusive set! BRICKPICKER ANALYSIS: Exclusives aren't always money makers in the LEGO world, especially Toys R Us exclusives.  This is a prime example.  The CITY theme is a solid producer and I still have hope for this set, but for whatever reason, this set hasn't really interested LEGO investors to this point.  Maybe the original MSRP was too high for the set.  I bought these sets at buy 2, get one FREE and to me, it's a solid investment.  But at $50, the starting point was too high.  I like the set though, just not at $50.     As the reader can see, there aren't really any definite characteristics of a LEGO set that is unpopular and/or one that under-performs in the secondary LEGO market.  Besides the Racers and World Racers themes, there is quite a variety of poorly performing sets.  The Atlantis, Pharaoh's Quest, Prince of Persia and Toy Story themes find themselves in the Bottom 50 quite a lot, but I cannot honestly see any correlation between these themes or the sets that are in the Bottom 50.  Basically, it's a total crap shoot whether or not a theme will be unpopular, thus poor investments.
        What is funny is that the Brickpicker site is sometimes accused of telling people to “Buy, Buy, Buy,” yet I decided to write an article on the lowest of the low, to show potential investors not all LEGO sets will rise in value.  But there is still a silver lining with many of these poor performers.  Many of these unpopular sets were heavily discounted prior to retirement, so if purchased at the right price, many will have appreciated enough to be a decent investment.  There are several sets within the Bottom 50 that have made some nice gains over the past month.  Maybe the trend will continue and these sets will be a positive to your Brickfolio.
        I'll let you in on a little secret.  The title of this article is “Anatomy of a LEGO Investment Loser.”  Well, many people probably think it's the sets I'm referring to.  LOL.  Sorry to say, it's me I'm writing about.  I own half of these Bottom 50 sets.  HALF.  25 of 50.  While I have done quite well with many other sets and their appreciation over the past five or six years, I still invested in a ton of losers.  Point is, there are no surefire winners and some sets that you think logically should appreciate well, do not.  Emotion and luck play an important role as well.  In conclusion, let me tell you that diversification has helped me water down my losses and has kept me in the green overall.  Mix up your LEGO investments in themes, prices, sizes and styles and you will avoid losing too much money if you pick the wrong set on occasion.  Good luck in your choices and stay away from four-wheeled wastes of ABS plastic....

    • Yellow
      Anybody who buys LEGO sets and bricks daydreams about a future in which one does not need to go to the store to obtain them. There will be no need to waste a half an hour or more in time and several dollars in gas from the drive going to their destination, not to mention wear and tear on the vehicle. Not only that, but the time wasted being in the store and having to wait in long lines will be saved. In addition, there is a possibility that after all the wasted time, gas and effort, the retailer you are seeking this product from will not have what you seek. What's a consumer to do? Well, the first idea that comes to mind is Amazon.com. This online giant retailer will enable you to order tens of thousands of products from the comfort of your home and have it delivered to your doorstep in one day. But what's a person to do if the product is not available once again or is too expensive to ship or too fragile? I have a better solution...let's take a look.
      Yes, now with the advent of the internet that Al Gore created for us… people can forego those antiquated procedures of trekking to a store and actually conversing with people. The ultimate solution comes straight out of Gene Roddenberry's imagination, into your screen via Star Trek, and what looks to be soon, straight into your home! I am speaking of the Star Trek Replicator...

      The Star Trek Replicator has already become a reality through 3-D Printers. According to the website Wikipedia, a 3-D Printer/Printing is :
      ...a process of making a three-dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. 3D printing is achieved using an additive process, where successive layers of material are laid down in different shapes. 3-D printing is considered distinct from traditional machining techniques which mostly rely on the removal of material by methods such as cutting or drilling (subtractive processes).
      3-D printing is usually performed by a materials printer using digital technology. Since the start of the twenty-first century there has been a large growth in the sales of these machines, and their price has dropped substantially.[2]
      The technology is used in jewelry, footwear, industrial design, architecture, engineering and construction (AEC), automotive, aerospace, dental and medical industries, education, geographic information systems, civil engineering, and many other fields.
      The most well known 3-D Printer that has attracted mainstream media attention over the years is the MakerBot, founded roughly four years ago in 2009 by Adam Mayer, Zach Smith and Bre Pettis.

      While mostly used by hobbyists, a few are trying to make money through producing small goods, like bottle cap openers and other small knickknacks. It is looked at as the beginning of what is to come. The MakerBot produces products in acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polylactic acid (PLA), and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA). ABS plastic is of paramount importance for our discussion because that is what LEGO bricks are made of.
      The newest incarnation from MakerBot goes by the name of The Replicator 2X, the same name used in Star Trek and goes for around $2,800.00. The Replicator 2X can produce objects in two colors and has taken over the 3-D Printing market since competitor 3-D printers, like the Thing-o-Matic, have been been discontinued. An even newer version, the CubeX, can print in three colors and goes for around $4,000.00. Even for those that lack the skill to be able to create their own products, MakerBot has a vast community made up of fellow hobbyists who create and share their designs for others to produce.
      Other 3-D Printers exist and have even been shown on such popular shows such as This Old House. The $70,000 ZPrinter 650, by the Z Corporation, is one such example. To see what the future holds, watch this YouTube video segment from the show...
      Like most revolutionary gadgets, their prices may be high to start and their processes slow, but in the next 10 to 20 years these gadgets should be able to produce detailed goods right in your home, at an affordable price. So what does this mean to LEGO investors and collectors? To the LEGO investor, it could mean that your retired sets will be valued at the level of vinyl records in today's age of digital music. There will still be a value in rare and vintage LEGO sets, but a decrease in your investment is a possibility. Why? Because LEGO fans will be able to easily reproduce an iconic set like the 10179 Millennium Falcon in their own parts, so why buy an old and expensive version...the box? Why buy a new LEGO set if you can reproduce them in your basement? This can lead to a possible demise of The LEGO Group itself.
      Unfortunately for LEGO investors, your plastic brick empire will be the first to fall from the earliest mainstream 3-D Printing boom, compared to normal action figures which will fall in later upgrades, due to their simplistic shape and design. The days of making money off of “parting” brick pieces will be history due to the ease of printing whatever you need on a whim, and great for parents who deem LEGO an expensive toy for little Johnny or Jane! Free sourced data files by like minded tech savvies who deem the product too expensive will do to LEGO what many did to the music industry by sharing songs through file-sharing sites such as Napster founded by Sean Parker, Shawn Fanning, and John Fanning.
      Who will need LEGO to produce bricks when you will be able to produce them cheaply yourself? Bigger sets. More creative sets. Cheaper sets. New colors. How about special bricks that MOCers have wanted LEGO to make for years, but have not had their wish granted? They can make their own “custom” LEGO bricks now. Not only that, the aftermarket MOC instruction business will explode with large and creative models that were only obtainable to a lucky few LEGO Master Builders years earlier. Some of the large CUUSOO models that were not approved because they were too big and pricey will be built by LEGO fans at reasonable prices.
      Companies(...and not just toy companies like LEGO) will try to fight off 3-D Printers by slashing down their prices on their products to no avail. Companies will threaten lawsuits about patent infringement, but how can you stop people producing bricks in basements? Want to build a set from 2013? Want to build an exclusive or a new set from 2023 to 2033? No problem, just go on to one of the many Lego fan sites which will have instruction manuals for the vast majority of sets. The new cost of a LEGO brick will be the cost of the raw materials and some electricity to run the machine. No shipping, no gas, and the ability to have instant gratification! Century old companies will cling to lawsuits for survival and have sites taken down that have their patents. But the internet is too vast to stop the inevitability of these businesses going the way of the dinosaur. Beam me up, Scotty!
      1. "3D Printer Technology — Animation of layering". Create It Real. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
      2. Sherman, Lilli Manolis. "3D Printers Lead Growth of Rapid Prototyping (Plastics Technology, August 2004)". Retrieved 2012-01-31.

    • Talon
      In today's world, there are many swindlers and shysters trying to separate you from your money. This theft and deception even finds its way into the world of LEGO bricks. As a LEGO collector and investor, there are many places to buy LEGO sets. One of the best is eBay. But there is an ever increasing illegal practice that is occurring on the eBay site and similar auction sites and the LEGO fan needs to be aware of it. It's called “drop shipping.”
      Just to be clear...drop shipping, by itself, is not a scam. It is a common method employed by sellers to reduce inventory costs. Basically a seller either has an agreement with a wholesaler or knows of a price cheap enough that he will sell it to you and make a profit. There are many websites on the Internet that sell things they don't have in inventory, even large, brand-name sites do this.
      I have sold things to people via eBay and drop shipped them to their home because I could get it cheaper than they could so I could make a profit. There was a time when the cheapest prices were almost always on eBay but that is certainly not true anymore (I've been on eBay since 1997). Regardless many people only look at eBay to buy something and don’t have the time or inclination to price shop.
      Drop shipping is employed by scammers on eBay because they can use stolen credit card information to purchase an item that is shipped to YOU, so YOU are the first person contacted because of stolen credit card use as YOU received the stolen merchandise and thus benefited from the stolen credit card! If these scammers used a stolen credit card to ship to themselves, they would quickly be caught!
      I have been taken in by scams on eBay, luckily the last time I detected it but not before I had already won the auction. Here is what you should look for to determine if the eBay listing is a scam:
      Look for low feedback scores, under 100. Look for feedback scores on very cheap items (99 cents) on almost all transactions in the last month or two. Probably most are purchases not sales. Look for the eBay account to be suddenly selling a lot of high-priced items they haven't sold before. Look to see if the account is selling duplicates of these items. Look for stock Internet photos likely from Lego. It is better if the photos look original, but don’t rely on this as it is easy to copy pictures from other eBay auctions. The last scam I fell for had original pictures! NOTE: If I see #2 or two of any of the others I never bid on their listings. This is very likely to be a credit card scam and the items will be drop shipped to you.
      All high-priced auctions end at the same time. Also check shipping terms to see if there is any delay in shipping. Some will tell you they only ship once a week or will be on vacation when the auctions end. NOTE: I actually saw one seller whose items all ended at the same minute, over 30 items! This is likely just a straight up scam without any stolen credit cards, the seller is hoping to make off with buyer's money before anyone realizes they won't get their item.
      Look to see if the account has been inactive for a long time - usually more than six months and now has a lot of items for sale. And, even when it was active there was not a lot of activity. NOTE: This is likely someone's eBay account that has been hacked and is now being used in a scam. Someone who has recently been inactive may not notice anything is going on in their account, or they can't access their account for months.
      Is the LEGO set priced BELOW retail(MSRP)? Many drop shippers will give you a great deal to quicken the sales process and sell more items. I mean, it's not their money, right? They are happy giving you a discount if it makes them $100+ a LEGO set. LEGO set has to be available through primary retailers like LEGO, Amazon, Target, etc... so the thief can use the stolen card to send you the set from in stock retailers. Is there FREE SHIPPING involved? Many drop shippers will throw in free shipping as a “bonus” to sweeten the pot. Plus many retailers will give free shipping on higher priced items, so it actually costs the thief nothing. What to do if you won an item and think it's a scam:
      In December of 2012, I won a LEGO 4842 set for $130. I noticed the seller had six for sale and had used the same original picture for all six, which all ended within an hour of each other. I got a bad feeling about the transaction, but it was too late. I looked at the seller’s feedback score of about 90, only to see they were almost all for purchasing 99 cent items and all in the last 6 weeks. My habit has been to pay immediately when I win something. But, I had a bad feeling about this auction so I sent an email to eBay. Then, I waited without paying for three days, at which time I started getting notices from eBay to pay for my item.
      I called eBay to talk with a Customer Service representative on the phone. You can do this if you first get a number code online that is good for 15 minutes and allows you to talk with an actual person.
      I reported what I thought was a scam and she said thank you, but they could not give me any information about their confidential investigations. I asked how long I had to pay for the auction and she said eBay had no set limit. I asked what I could do; she said I had the option of contacting the seller and asking that the transaction be canceled. Only sellers can initiate the transaction cancellation option in eBay.
      I waited four more days and was thinking that even if it was a scam I would eventually get my money back from Paypal; but I was concerned that I might be blacklisted by LEGO or Amazon. I went to the auction and looked at the feedback again and another buyer had said Lego had contacted them about credit card fraud.
      I sent a message to the seller asking that the transaction be canceled and the seller did cancel the transaction. I went back into eBay a week later and there was no registered user with the seller’s ID and I could no longer bring up the transaction I had won.
      I belatedly got an email from eBay telling me that some transactions I was involved with had been canceled and I could take it up with Paypal, if I was out any money.
      So, if you win an item, then discover it is likely a scam, don’t pay(although you will receive annoying reminder emails to pay) and you can always ask the seller to cancel the transaction! I would also suggest that you call or email eBay to ask them to investigate the seller. At the very least, it will be noted by the eBay Customer Service representative in your file and this will help protect you if the case ever gets escalated into a criminal matter. It is true you can go ahead and pay and will probably get your money back, but I’m more afraid of being blacklisted from a site like LEGO or Amazon!
      I have since seen similar sellers and each time they were selling multiple LEGO sets, but the auctions always had under six items available. I think selling six identical LEGO sets(or any item) is under eBay’s radar. Many years ago, I interviewed with eBay for a programming position and they told me at that time they had more than 45,000 active algorithms that review auctions for fraud prevention. So, while I think eBay is very active in trying to prevent fraud (I wonder how many listings we never see?) those algorithms will never be quite as effective as your own brain! Be safe out there!

    • RickSilver
      Hi. I’m a new investor/collector/AFOL. One issue I have encountered with my new hobby was how to protect the fragile LEGO set boxes from shelf wear and the interior home elements, such as moisture from possible water leaks, dampness from high humidity areas like basements, dust and smoke. Several years ago, I discovered various brands of storage bags and thought these would be an excellent answer to these issues. These bags are large, very durable, and reusable. They would wear out with constant use, but for items that will sit awhile, like LEGO sets, they are worth looking into. They are also transparent, which would enable the LEGO collector and investor to view what is in the bag while the sets are stacked on shelves or similar storage areas.
      I’ll first describe the features and advantages of using them to store your LEGO investment. Then I’ll list brands, sizes, prices, and sources.
      Provides protection Accurately described as “with their pleated bottom and secure zip seal, they are perfect for storing even your bulkiest items while helping to protect them from moisture, dust and pests.” They also help prevent cigarette smoke from damaging boxes. Makes it easy to move or transport your boxes Most brands have a handle Reusable After selling the LEGO set that was stored in the bag, the reusable bag can be unzipped and used on the next LEGO investment. Transparent Enables the LEGO collector and investor to view what is in the bag, without actually opening the bag up. Inexpensive In the worst case, you’re looking at $1.50 per LARGE Lego box, a small price to pay for extra protection. And remember, they’re reusable. Group similar sets together Put similar or same sets in the same bag. Takes up no extra space in your storage. Unlike some paper products(cardboard), these bags take up little space. There are 3 brands that I have come across. In each case, consider only the XL and XXL sizes.
      1. StorIt

      These are the cheapest and can be found at dollar stores. However, their largest bag will not fit the large Lego sets like the Haunted House.
      For $1, you can get one XXL size 24” x 20” (60.9 cm x 50.8 cm) or two XL bags size 20.5” x 17” (52.1 cm x 43.2 cm)
      They are priced much higher online ($4 at Amazon). Look for them in dollar stores. If you can’t find them, you can order then from Dollar Tree but the minimum purchase is 36 at $36.
      Dollar Tree: http://www.dollartree.com/cleaning-storage-hardware/storage/EZ-Stor-Plastic-Storage-Bags-with-Handles-XX-Large/212c261c261p299576/index.pro
      2. Zip N’ Go

      These are part of the Space Bag series, those bags that let you suck the air out of them with a vacuum to save space. However, no worries. These bags are normal and don’t suck. I have seen them at Linens N Things but cannot find them anywhere online.
      For around $13, you can get two XL size 22” x 22” (55 cm x 55 cm) AND two XXL size 28” x 28” (71 cm x 71 cm). The XXL bag will hold the large Lego sets like the Haunted House. In fact, you can store two large sets comfortably in one bag, making the extra cost just over $1.50 per set.
      3. Ziploc Big Bags

      For $12, you get three XXL size 24” x 32” (60 cm x 82 cm). These would be the most expensive at $4/bag but are the strongest with a double zipper.
      Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Johnson-Ziploc3pk-Bigbag-Closet-Storage/dp/B000V9N1WO (Note: At the time of this writing, I saw them on Diapers.com for $7 with free shipping for orders over $49)
      Here are some actual photos of the storage bags being utilized with LEGO sets:

      All in all, these large transparent storage bags are a LEGO investor and collector's best friend. The storage bags help protect from the dust and moisture that can be found in every house, yet will also protect from major water damage from possible pipe leaks and smoke damage from fires or cigarettes. Also, the prevention of shelf wear, which can reduce the value of any Mint In Sealed Box LEGO set, is another big positive. While not structural in any way like cardboard boxes are, these bags don't take up any valuable space like paper products do. So do yourself a favor and pick up a couple of boxes and start protecting your LEGO sets. In the long run, you won't be disappointed.

    • Doofy McGee
      There has been a flurry of activity with this set within the last couple days, and it seems to be causing a lot of LEGO investors to change their feelings toward it. Amazon had around 550 units for sale on January 9, and Toys R Us was offering it online on January 11. Even the official Minecraft site, www.JINX.com, got in on the fun and offered a small number of these for sale the same day.
      With all these recent offerings, the general feeling of this set seems to have shifted to an unusually negative outlook for a lot of investors. This is understandable. We are talking about a set that started out with a stated production run of only 10,000 units. Then, due to the overwhelming and unexpected popularity of Minecraft as a game, another undisclosed number of these sets became available, and then another, and then another…
      It seems to be a recurring theme these days. Just when people are thinking, "Okay, that has got to be it, right?," another batch of them shows up for sale somewhere. A $34.99 set that very recently commanded over $100 on the secondary market is now quickly becoming something a lot of people are rolling their eyes at. The going rate on eBay and Amazon is $60 on a good day, and will likely drop with all the recent quantities offered.
      The exclusive feel of the Minecraft set is starting to feel… not so exclusive. There are so many of them out there that the value seems to be plunging. A lot of people who ordered them recently are already discussing their plans to hopefully flip them quickly and make a small $20 profit if they're lucky.
      Before people get too hung up in this kind of thinking, there are many aspects of the Minecraft set that should be carefully considered before they make the rash decision of dumping their stock. There is no need to feel this negativity toward a set that we were all so excited about only a few short weeks ago. The value of the Minecraft set is still alive and well, and I am here to tell you why and hopefully put your fears to rest.
      Please consider the following:
      Minecraft has indeed been offered for sale far more times than any of us expected. But it sells out in what is probably record timing EVERY time. The Amazon offering on January 9 was gone in under an hour. That is 550+ units in under 60 minutes! On January 11, I was notified the instant the sets became available on the Toys R Us website. Within 15-20 minutes they were gone. Then another forum poster pointed out that they were available on the Minecraft developer site. Within 10 minutes…you guessed it…gone!
      Does this sound like the makings of a set that has limited or waning interest? Absolutely not! Sure, the number of sets in existence keeps going up, and at a frustratingly unpredictable rate, but they disappear as suddenly as they reappear.
      When people invest in a product to hopefully make a profit on it, it comes as no surprise when they feel frustration at the fact that the value of the product is cut in half in a couple weeks' time. It is easy to jump on board with something that is rapidly soaring in value. Naturally, it is equally easy to lose faith in the same product once that value seems to peak, and then rapidly declines.
      So here we are, watching the value of Minecraft Micro World sink faster than the Titanic. But this is one ship that it would be wise to not jump off of just yet. Keep in mind that there are many sets that we have all collected that were readily available on retail shelves everywhere for over two years that became very profitable once they were retired. The operative word in that sentence being EVERYWHERE. Minecraft has certainly not been available everywhere. When it is available, you miss it if you dare to blink. It has pretty much always been available NOWHERE. The market may currently feel flooded with Minecraft sets, but that is only because we are all used to tripling our investment on it almost immediately. We all know that LEGO investing requires patience above all else, but we are not used to having to exercise that kind of patience with Minecraft. If we give it time, this situation will even itself out.
      If you need to recoup your $35 investment right away and ensure a small profit, go ahead and sell. But the smart money says it is time to start treating this set like we would any other LEGO set; get it while you can, sell it for a lot once it's gone. It just means we need to adjust our thinking and accept the fact that Minecraft is not the dynamite short-term investment it once was.
      When compared to your average STAR WARS or Super Heroes set, Minecraft will still ultimately have much more limited production and availability numbers. As the Minecraft game continues to get more and more popular, the demand and interest for its LEGO equivalent will also go up. And when the game fizzles out, you are still left with a LEGO set that was very underproduced by comparison. Either way, this is a set that is going to be talked about for years to come. Until we are seeing 21102 Minecraft Micro World sets on Walmart and Target retail shelves everywhere, we've got nothing to worry about. So sit tight everyone. Hold on to those Minecraft sets for a while. Give them a chance. You can thank me later.

    • Ed Mack
      In a time, not so long ago, in a place, not so far away, the STAR WARS theme ruled the LEGO investment world. Iconic LEGO sets like the 10179 Millennium Falcon, 7191 X-Wing Fighter and 10030 Star Destroyer yielded fantastic returns on investment. Almost every STAR WARS set had better annual returns than the standard LEGO set and were universally thought of by LEGO collectors and investors as “can't lose” investments. But over the last several months, the LEGO STAR WARS theme has slowly started to decline in overall CAGR, dropping below the average LEGO Theme CAGR. Take a look at the chart below

      As the reader can see, starting in August of 2012, the combined STAR WARS theme average CAGR dropped below the average CAGR for all LEGO sets and themes combined. In other words, your “run of the mill” LEGO set had a CAGR of around 10.47% in August and the once Gold Standard of LEGO investing, the STAR WARS theme, dropped to 9.9% CAGR and has remained below average ever since. What the Hell is going on you may ask? Well for one, the last major STAR WARS movie, STAR WARS III: Revenge of the Sith, was released all the way back in 2005. That is a long time ago in the world of entertainment and keeping people engaged in a movie franchise is rather difficult nowadays, even an iconic franchise like STAR WARS. With an eight-year hiatus in new STAR WARS ideas to base new LEGO sets off of, LEGO has had to base each year's new STAR WARS sets on retreads or previously done or minor vehicles or characters. Basically, LEGO fans and STAR WARS fans in general have lost interest in the stale franchise and remade LEGO sets. The once leader in LEGO investing, the STAR WARS theme, has turned into a below average investment in the world of LEGO investing.
      But fear not my young Jedi, help is on the way and he wears yellow shoes and red shorts. His name is Mickey Mouse and he might just inject some life into this tired franchise and LEGO theme. Back in October, Disney bought Lucasfilm for $4.05 billion in cash and plans to release STAR WARS: Episode VII in 2015, with many other STAR WARS movies to follow. Knowing Disney and their proclivity to make sequels, you can be assured that the STAR WARS franchise will be reborn and live well into the future. Also, George Lucas will be an advisor on the next three films, so you know the quality and creativity will be there with the new movies. This is just fantastic news for the LEGO investor, especially those like myself who have a collection that is heavily based in STAR WARS sets. With the renewed and continued interest in the STAR WARS theme, many of the older STAR WARS LEGO sets might once again find strong growth, which has stagnated over the past several years. Depending on when the next movie will be based(in STAR WARS time that is...), it is quite possible many of the older STAR WARS ships, like the Millennium Falcon, will have new roles in the new movie. Can you imagine what a 10179 Millennium Falcon will appreciate to if it is in the next movie? I can only imagine.
      So, all in all, the news that Disney will be producing new STAR WARS movies is wonderful to say the least. Not only because STAR WARS fans will get to see new movies, but that the once iconic line of LEGO sets will become iconic and relative once again. With new STAR WARS movies every 2 to 3 years, there will be a plethora of new vehicles and characters to immortalize in ABS plastic bricks every couple of years. No more retreads. Also, with the potential of all the new fans being introduced to the STAR WARS series, older characters and vehicles will find new fans as well. Some of these fans will undoubtedly be LEGO fans as well, which makes for a nice combination for the continued growth potential of STAR WARS LEGO sets that exist today. What's funny is that the STAR WARS Ultimate Collector's Series is what brought me out of my Dark Ages of LEGO collecting and has made me some nice paper profits over the years. But the recent downturn of the theme has had me recommending some of the other hot LEGO themes of today...Ninjago, Monster Fighters, Friends, CUUSOO...to name a few. Well, I am here today to tell you that the STAR WARS LEGO theme is back. Maybe not today. Maybe not next year. But when Episode VII hits the big screen in 2 years, lookout...the prudent STAR WARS LEGO investor will be one happy Geonosian...

    • Legodog
      I have played with LEGO bricks since I was young(I am now 34), but never collected them in any way until recently. A couple of years ago, my wife got back into LEGO and started buying sets to build with our nieces and nephews. Before long she was asking for LEGO sets from me for her birthday and Christmas. Well, of course a few of the sets were hard to find so I had to turn to eBay. I was shocked by how much some of the sets were going for and that’s what turned me into a true LEGO investor. Even though I have been doing it for only a short time compared to many, I have learned some very good tricks to getting good discounts on LEGO sets and I thought I would share some of them...
      Credit Cards
      Although I would never suggest anyone sign up for a credit card that they don't need or cannot pay off every month, in certain instances this can save you a lot of money. Before I was even buying LEGO sets I signed up for a Chase Freedom Card. I never had a need for a credit card, but I figured it was safer than using my debit card that was tied directly to my bank account, and if I have to spend the money, I might as well get 1% cash back which the Chase card offers(Many other credit cards, like Discover for instance, also gives 1% cash back). I started using the card to pay my bills and just about anything else I could that I used to use my debit card for. I would pay the card off 2 of 3 times a month(a little over the top I know) to avoid any interest charges. The 1% started adding up quickly since I was putting everything through the card including all of my business expenses, and before I knew it, I had hundreds of dollars in points through the card. The points can then be converted into a check which they will send you in the mail. However, the nice thing about this card is that you can also use those points on Amazon.com and they are as good as cash. Just link your card up through the Chase site and you are all set. After a while of doing this, I was able to spend my points and buy LEGO sets on sale at Amazon. Now, even though this was the same as spending cash, it did save me 1%. Although that doesn’t sound like a lot, I feel that every little bit helps. Also, at times Chase has promotions where you can save up to 5% by shopping at certain stores. This happened to be Amazon.com over Christmas.
      After having an Amazon account for years and years, I finally caved and got an Amazon credit card. It wasn’t the $50 I saved on that order that finally made me pull the trigger but rather the 3% I can save on orders through Amazon.com in the future. I just recently signed up for this and haven’t seen the results yet, but I should be earning 3% cash back that I can use on Amazon.com purchases. So basically, if I need to buy something through Amazon, I use this card. If I buy it elsewhere, I use the Chase card.
      Editor's Note: The Amazon Card deposits 3% of your previous month's "paid bill" into your account, which can be used directly on Amazon purchases. I have used this card for over a year and along with the Amazon Prime service, which gives you FREE Two-Day shipping on most items, makes Amazon a favorite retailer of mine for purchasing LEGO sets.
      That being said, I have perfect credit and pay my card off every month (actually multiple times a month to avoid one large bill) and I would never suggest anyone sign up for a credit card if they cannot do this. If you end up paying any interest at all, then it defeats the whole purpose of the card and costs you more money than it saves.
      Amazon Lightning Deals
      Every day the first thing I do is check Amazon Lightning deals for the day. Usually, there is nothing good but every now and then they will have a popular LEGO set that can be purchased at a huge discount. Lightning deals only last for a certain amount of time and usually only have a certain number available, but when you do find one, you can save a lot. The best place to see LEGO Lightning deals is on the BrickPicker site on the Amazon Discounts Page. This page shows up-to-date deals on LEGO sets that are 10% OFF MSRP or more on the Amazon site.
      Barnes and Noble Membership
      I can't remember offhand what a Barnes and Noble membership costs per year(I think $25) but it pays off if you plan to buy a lot of LEGO sets. Basically you save 10% off of any purchase throughout the year by having the membership. They also frequently send out coupons which can be as much as 30% off. While Barnes and Noble doesn’t have the widest selection of LEGO sets, they do have some that are fairly popular, and they frequently have discounts on certain sets.
      Damaged Box Discounts
      Not sure if everyone knows this or not but a lot of places will give you discounts on damaged boxes. All you have to do is ask. Granted you have to ask the right person and the discounts vary depending on the damage and the set, but at times it can be worth it. A while back my wife and I found set 7208 at Barnes and Noble. It had minor box damage, so we asked if they would give a discount. They offered us 10% off, plus we used our 10% Barnes and Noble membership on top of that for an OK discount. I wouldn’t recommend buying damaged boxes for investing, but if it is for your own personal collection which you plan to build and you don’t mind having a box that isn’t in excellent condition, it can work out on occasion.
      Bottle Returns
      I added this one in because it makes me feel good about my LEGO purchase when I walk out of the store without having to spend a dime. Basically I consider my bottle returns money already spent. Sure I could return them and buy groceries or anything else, but why not make a good LEGO investment with the returns and maybe make a little more money on it. This one doesn’t really save you any money but at least it keeps you from spending “more” money. Of course it only works in states with a bottle deposit and stores like Walmart or Meijer.
      Membership Cards
      My wife has had membership cards at her favorite stores forever, but I am just recently signing up for my own, and I don’t know why I didn’t do it long ago. Most stores have some sort of membership you can join which will give you certain perks. Most times these memberships are free and give you huge benefits. Some just ask for your phone number, but most give you a card you carry around. I found using the Key Ring app on my phone works better so I don’t have 50 cards in my wallet everywhere I go. By having these memberships, you either save right there on the spot or later get reward coupons that can be used as cash or for other discounts. For example, Toys R Us rewards program rewards you by shopping there by sending you $5 coupons. I just recently received $30 in coupons that can be used just like cash in the store. Kmart does something very similar. Also, if you have a Meijer in your area I found this to be one of the best places to save by joining their mPerks membership. The membership is absolutely free and all you do is clip digital coupons that you want to use in the store before you shop. You then just type in your phone number and a pin at the register and it applies those coupons automatically. They also occasionally send out 20% off 1 item coupons.
      This one seems obvious but I can’t tell you how many times I have shopped online or in store only to find a coupon the next day. In most cases it is a trip back to the store to return and then rebuy the item with the coupon, but I have had cases where that didn’t work out because I couldn’t get back to the store before the coupon expires. If you are shopping online, check retailmenot.com before every purchase to see if there is a coupon you can use. In some cases it may just be a free shipping coupon but it still helps. If you are shopping in a brick and mortar store, then make sure you do your homework first. Look at their current flyer online and check if there are any coupons you can print from their site. Also check competitors ads because many stores will price match. Also, when you walk in the door, grab a flyer. Sometimes they contain coupons you can use on your purchase that day.
      Target Red Card
      Recently I went through the checkout line at Target and as usual they asked me if I would like to save X amount on my order by applying for a Target Red card. My response was “No thanks, I don’t want another credit card”. Well, the cashier responded that they also have a debit card version that will work just like a check. I still wasn’t sure I wanted it until she told me that with the card I save 5% on any purchases in store and online, and you also get free shipping on any online purchases. It sounded like a good deal and a way to finally match some of the Amazon.com prices, so I signed up. Basically, the 5% just about covers the tax (6% here in Michigan) and with free shipping it makes some prices on Legos just as good as Amazon. Plus, I have had much better luck on getting undamaged boxes from Target than I have Amazon, so I am now a happy Red Card holder.
      ebates.com pays you money for shopping at online stores such as Amazon, Target, Kmart and more. I just recently started using this site and am very skeptical that I will ever get any money back on my purchases. I have heard both good and bad things about it, but it is definitely worth a try since it is free and takes very little work to first visit their site and then click over to Amazon or another online retailer. Only time will tell on this one.
      Buy from out of state
      Due to the Interstate Commerce Law, many purchases made from retailers located outside the buyer's state are tax free. Although the fine legal print might say differently, many online retail sites do not collect sales tax from buyers if you are from another state. This policy is void if the retailer has a Brick and Mortar store/warehouse in the state the buyer resides.
      Sometimes you can get really great deals on eBay and other times not. What I do is a few different things. A few times a day I search the word "LEGO" by newest listings with a Buy it Now. Although rare, every now and then you can find someone that has just listed something at a really great price. Either they don’t know how valuable the LEGO set is or they want quick cash. In either case, it works out to your benefit. Usually these great deals go fast though. I have been beat out many times doing this. By the time I click the buy-it-now button, I get a message saying the item is already sold so I can say I am not the only one who does this. Another way is to search “LEGO” and view by auction format ending soonest. There are times of the day that very few people are bidding and you can get some great deals on auctions that have 0 bids ending soon. I don’t view Buy it Now listings when doing this because I figure if the item was on eBay for days at a great buy it now price and no one picked it up then it might not be worth it. This is just my opinion though, and you might have luck with buy it now and ending soonest listing. And finally, my favorite thing to do is search for "make an offer" LEGO listings. You would be surprised at what people will really take for an item when they have a real guaranteed offer right in front of them. I have been able to knock up to $20 off of a Buy it Now price just by making a fair offer.
      Don’t Pay Over Retail
      This may sound silly but always check the retail price on brickpicker.com before purchasing. Some stores (you know who you are TRU) will mark LEGO sets way up past retail and then put them on sale or a BOGO(Buy One Get One) 50% off deal. In some cases you are still paying way more than simply buying the set on Amazon. Just make sure you know the “real” price of the set before you jump on it.
      And lastly…. Stalk The Return Line
      Now I have never done this myself, but I have heard of others doing it. Basically, you linger on a busy day of returns in the weeks after Christmas and once a LEGO set that you may want gets returned you jump in line and ask if you can purchase that set. While this almost sounds a little creepy to me, I guess it works out for some. I would imagine maybe you would find a set that is now sold out but I don’t know. I guess instead of “stalking” you could always just go in once a day and ask if any Lego sets were returned that you could purchase. Count me out on this technique.
      Money is tight. That is how the old saying goes. Every penny saved on a LEGO set purchase can go towards investing in new LEGO sets. These are just some tips I thought I would offer to help everyone save on their LEGO purchases. While many are already well known, others might be less known, but nonetheless effective in saving a couple of bucks. Whether it's a couple of dollars or a couple of hundred dollars, every little bit helps. Good luck and happy LEGO purchasing...

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