You may be under the impression that Lego is a toy, played with by kids and mainly found scattered across bedrooms and playrooms to be stepped on whilst wearing no shoes (ouch). You would be wrong to think this. A growing number of people see Lego as an investment, to be bought and sold like stocks and shares. There’s money to be made from Lego, and here we show you how.
Anyone with a child of a certain age will know that Lego regularly releases sets that are tied to popular movies and TV shows, including Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As well as the more traditional sets that resemble haunted houses, police stations, knights’ castles and a line designed especially to appeal to girls with pink and pastel-coloured bricks. The Lego brand now also extends to video games and cartoons. It’s big business.
It’s the way in which Lego controls the release of its new sets that creates an opportunity for investors. The sets are often produced and sold for a couple of years and then ‘retired’. This means they are no longer sold in the traditional outlets; toy shops and supermarkets. Instead, consumers desperate for a discontinued set must buy it from eBay or Amazon. This has created an opportunity for canny investors who can command high prices for in-demand sets.
As with any investment, it’s essential that an investor knows the market. Certain genres and sets do better than others. No buyer knows when (or if) Lego will ‘retire’ the set, so it’s not known if the set can be sold later at a higher price.
But how to choose sets and minifigures that will appreciate the most and give the best returns? To get started, there are several specialist websites dedicated to buying and selling Lego. It’s definitely worth checking these out before you start investing. Brickpicker has lots of advice for the budding investor. It also has plenty of analysis on price trends which it claims enables its members to make intelligent and informed Lego purchases.
Lego is under no obligation to ‘retire’ sets, so it is always a risk that the sets you have chosen to invest in carry on being sold (and therefore do not appreciate in value).
Brick for brick, the sets linked to films or cartoons tend to be more expensive. It’s definitely worth calculating the price per brick of the sets on offer, and then buying up a set when there is a special offer on. The resale value of the Star Wars sets has done well in the past, but past success is not an indicator that these will be good buys for the future!
It is absolutely essential that you sell the Lego set in pristine condition. This means the box must be unopened and stored correctly away from anyone who might be tempted to open it and play with its contents!
There are investors in the US who lease climate-controlled facilities so that their Lego investments are stored in optimum conditions. However these are investors who have bought 3,000 boxed sets. If your operation is smaller, you need to ensure the boxes will not get damaged.
Your returns will depend on whether or not the sets you have chosen to invest in are in demand. There are investors in the US who claim to make a 10-15% return on their investments. However some think that this is a ‘bubble’ and the prices will soon crash. Again, like any investment, you should understand the risks before you invest.
- Be patient. It is unlikely that you will instantly make a profit with your set. The profit arises from making a smart purchase, sitting on it a while and waiting for the price to rise. Like any commodity, the price may fall before it rises. It may also never rise.
- If you intend to sell the Lego on eBay, read our How to Make Money on eBay article.
- Familiarise yourself with the market as much as you can. Brickpicker has useful information for the budding investor including lots of price research.
- When buying the Lego, look out for deals in the various retailers. If you buy your set at a low price, there is more potential for profit later one when (or if) the set has been retired by Lego.
- There is also a market for minifigures. This is definitely worth investigating as they may become collectible in later years.