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    Brickpicker blog articles on LEGO investing, news, reviews, evaluations, discounts and more...
    • Ed Mack
      Legos are an iconic toy. Through my work at www.BrickPicker.com, I have also found out they are valued as an investment vehicle for some very smart collectors out there. Year after year, new sets are released and older sets are discontinued, making those older sets more valuable with each passing year. But an untapped market within the Lego world is now emerging...Custom models and minifigures.  
      With the advent of CAD software for the Lego community, programs such as Ldraw(www.LDraw.org) give the amateur Lego bulider ways to record and document their creation's 'instructions.' For some talented people, this is a pathway to making money from their hobby. On any given day on eBAY, there are 5000+ listings for custom Lego models, instructions and minifigures. Obviously, someone is buying these custom Lego items.  
      As with anything, there are quality custom creations and then there is the garbage. As a Lego collector and fan, I have invested in a lot of these custom creations. Some people have a knack for creating some pretty cool stuff, that they sell on eBAY and make a pretty penny doing it. There is a huge amount of time invested in these creations by the builder. But that time investment is rewarded with numerous sales on eBAY. Let me share some of these custom creations with you...  
      One of my favorite custom Lego companies is ArtiFex Creations. They have a large presence on eBAY with their custom Lego lighting for various large scale models and a Lego 'cleaner.'  
      EBAY LISTING: Lego Brick Lights PRO PLUS Kit
      EBAY LISTING: Brick Duster Kit
      I have seen the lights on their R/C Turbo Tank model and they work great and have purchased the Lego Duster and it does a spectacular job of removing dust from my Lego displays.  
      They also dabble in model 're'creation. One such item is their Star Wars R/C Turbo Tank.  
      EBAY LISTING: Custom R/C Motorized Turbo Tank Instructions & Lights - Lego Star Wars 8098 7261
      Awesome is all that I can say. I have bought and built this monster and it is something any Lego Master Builder would be proud of. Over 4000+ pieces, R/C controller that works multiple functions, lights, working rocket launchers, etc...It is a creation that took a year to make and I can see the love and effort that went into it.  
      Out of those 5000+ custom Lego listings on eBAY, the majority are for custom minifigures and their accessories. It is a huge market. Anything from custom weapons to headgear to entire figures, make up the major part of custom Lego creations. My favorite custom Lego minifigure creator is a gentleman by the name of Haunted Pirate. This guy comes up with some stuff that Lego was afraid to make. LOL. Minifigures replicating famous movie villains is his specialty. Characters such as Chucky from Child's Play...  
      EBAY LISTING: Lego Custom Horror Minifig Minifigure Display Chucky Childs Play
      Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street...
      EBAY LISTING: Custom Lego Minifig Freddy Krueger Halloween Display
      Jason from Friday the 13th
      EBAY LISTING: Lego Custom Minifig Jason Friday the 13th Movie Display
      All in all, some awesome creations in my opinion and not a bad price. For a basic investment of anywhere from $30-$50, you can have a one-of-a-kind minifigure. He even made a couple special ones just for me. Pretty cool.
      Besides custom Lego models and minifigures, there is a large selection of custom instructions that use the LDraw CAD system that are for sale on eBAY. Instructions for Star Wars models such as the Imperial Walker...  
      EBAY LISTING: Custom Star Wars AT AT Imperial Walker are top notch.
      The most popular custom instructions are for the Lego Modular Buildings in the City/Town series. The Modular Buildings line of Legos were based on actual Lego fan's designs that Lego converted into actual sets. These sets can be combined to form an entire town block. Sets included buildings such as grocery stores and pet stores. Lego fans continue to produce new and interesting custom instructions for this Lego line and sell them like hotcakes on eBAY. Instructions like these hospitals...  
      EBAY LISTING: Custom Lego Hospital Instructions CD
      EBAY LISTING: Custom Lego Modular Building Instructions Hospital
      are also top notch custom creations. As you can see from their listings, these designers have numerous types of buildings to compliment the stock Lego sets. So in conclusion, this author can safely say that the custom Lego market is growing year to year. The amount of 'custom Lego' listings continues to rise annually on eBAY and other Lego sites. Custom sets, instructions and minifigures are being created by the average Lego fan and being sold for a profit. Build or make a quality Lego creation and there is money to be made...a lot of it. All you need is a vision, some spare time and of course, some Lego bricks...

    • Ed Mack
      I have to admit, I am addicted to Lego store displays. I love them. I scour eBay and Bricklink for any sort of Lego display. From Agents to Star Wars, they are awesome in my opinion. But what are they really worth and are they a good investment?
      Lego store displays are rare for the most part. These plexiglass covered, Lego dioramas can be found at any local Toy R' US or Target. The thing that makes them rare is that they are not for sale to the public from Lego or any department store. Rumor has it that they are supposed to be destroyed or returned to Lego when they are done being displayed, yet somehow, some find their way onto eBay and similar auction sites.
      Displays can range in size and shape. I have seen tiny minifigure displays from the San Diego Comic Con to large, 4 foot cases with 4-5 complete sets inside. Most Lego displays are glued together from Lego and cannot be taken apart. Some are lighted, some have movement, some have sound or a combination of all three. In short, there is a display for most of the major Lego categories and most Lego fans favorite set types.
      But the question remains, are they worth anything? And if they are worth something, how do they compare to a regular Lego set that is new or a used one that is complete? Let's take a look at a variety of Lego displays.
      The Lego Collector displays from the San Diego Comic Con or similar Lego expositions probably are the safest bets when investing in displays.

      A display similar to the above General Grievous display is a numbered set from Lego and is limited in it's production. Most sold in the $25-$50 range at the show, yet on eBay, these displays bring back double that amount. The Lego store displays are a little trickier when it comes to figuring out investment value. As I stated earlier, it's really up to an individual buyer to set a price for an item. A large, 4 foot display can run anywhere from $100-$500 on eBay. One thing is certain, displays containing STAR WARS sets(such as the one below), bring in more money than a similar sized non STAR WARS display(similar to the Agents display below).

      Both sets are the same size and contain about the same amount of sets, yet STAR WARS Legos almost always bring back more money in auctions. Another consideration is the size of a display. These 4 foot store displays make an awesome impression in person, but they are huge to be honest. Lego seems to be downsizing some displays so that they are attractive in appearance, yet don't take up too much shelf space.

      The smaller size decreases the value of the display slightly, but it seems that there is more interest in the mid sized displays, because people can actually fit them in an office or bedroom. Most 2 foot displays can go for anywhere from $75-$250 and some of the more expensive STAR WARS displays can hit $400 or more. Last, but not least are the Lego displays not based on actual sets. Stores such as Toys R' Us and Target have had custom designed displays that fetch big time money. Toys R' Us displays that are 18-20 inch plastic replicas of Lego minifigures(see below) have consistently brought in $500-$1000+ on eBay.

      Target displays of R2-D2 and Yoda have brought back over $500.

      As you can see, these rare displays can bring in big bucks, but unfortunately, they are very hard to come by.
      So what's the bottom line? Are Lego displays worth anything and will they increase in value? It's this author's opinion that Lego displays will continue to increase in value. This is based on the fact that the large, vintage minigure replicas of the 80's and 90's have reached exorbitant levels. The current plexiglass Lego dioramas that are being produced are relatively new to the scene.
      Although there are some dioramas that were produced in the early 00's, most have been made over the last 4-5 years. As with most collectibles, VINTAGE MEANS MONEY and Legos are no different. As the years go past and more and more of these displays get trashed or destroyed, the remaining ones will become more valuable. At least that's what I'm hoping for(because I have an office full of Lego displays .
      As with anything, it's all about the "eye of the beholder". Some, like myself, love these miniature plastic worlds and don't mind paying top dollar for them. Others think they are a waste of space and would rather invest their money in a 'new in box' STAR WARS set. For the investor who really wants a bang for their buck, Lego displays are not the way to go. Vintage, 'new in box' sets are the more consistent investment over the long haul. But at least you can view a completed Lego set in a display. I mean, what fun is it looking at a sealed box? LOL.
      Any questions or comments are welcome. Thanks.

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