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Understanding the Lifecycle of Sets

lieslgeelieslgee Member Posts: 17
edited March 2014 in Collecting
Hi, everyone! I'm new here so bear with me. :-)

I am just getting into lego sets at my advanced age, and I am concerned about sets I want maybe retiring/disappearing. I know I want to do the modular series as well as the Winter Village, and I see older sets on ebay and they're really expensive.

Here's the question -- should I worry about getting the ones that are available at amazon/lego in their age order so they don't disappear on me? Do they run out of them generally, or is the availability where I don't need to worry. How often do they introduce new sets so maybe I don't have to worry about the older ones?

Just trying to focus since I have only so much money to spread around on this.

Thanks for your advice!



  • DoubleDDoubleD Member Posts: 488
    edited March 2014
    They repeat sets all the time but so far the winter sets only stay in the store for 2 years then they are gone, the modular buildings seem to be out for a couple of years but then they remove them.
    I haven't seen them repeat many bigger sets, but smaller sets get repeated.
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 Member Posts: 11,454
    They "rehash" sets and have re released popular sets from the past, but these sets are different in some ways.

    As far as the Winter Village Series and the Modular Series, I don't see TLG reproducing these sets ever again. Once they are gone...they are gone.

    The Winter Village Series usually stays around for 2 Holiday seasons, but now it is a crap shoot. The first few sets stayed around for at least 2 years, but now it seems only 2 Holiday Seasons which may only amount to a little over a year. The Series has grown in popularity and now they seem to sell out as soon as they are released.

    You have more time for the Modulars as they have been staying out a lot longer than the first few that were initially released. I would definitely go in order of release date. You may still be able to find a Fire Brigade at a reasonable price, but I would act fast. You should grab the Grand Emporium, Pet Shop, Town Hall, Palace Cinema and Parisian Restaurant in that order. Although, I there are rumors that say that Town Hall may go early.
  • GeRo3139GeRo3139 Member Posts: 3
    I'd pick up Grand Emporium (10211) now at as it has gone End Of Life (EOL) in the US/Canada already, I'm assuming you're in the UK when I say this.
    From my limited experience Modular sets last about 4 years which is where 10211 is now. Prices do seem to go up after EOL, just look at the Fire Station £99.99 in store when available in Nov 2013; up to £200 now.
    As to winter sets, buy them when you see them. They last just months but don't appreciate as much as modular.
  • binaryeyebinaryeye Member Posts: 1,831
    lieslgee said:

    Here's the question -- should I worry about getting the ones that are available at amazon/lego in their age order so they don't disappear on me?

    Generally, yes. #10211 Grand Emporium, for example, has been available for four years. If you want this one, I suggest getting it now.
    lieslgee said:

    Do they run out of them generally, or is the availability where I don't need to worry.

    What do you mean by "run out"? Sets occasionally become sold out at various points in their lifetime but come back into availability. But once a set is retired, it's generally gone for good.
    lieslgee said:

    How often do they introduce new sets so maybe I don't have to worry about the older ones?

    Winter Village sets are introduced every year. The current trend seems to be that the set from the previous year is available during the run-up to the holidays, but may be retired shortly after the holidays. So to make sure you get the Winter Village set you want, it's best to buy it either when it is first released or before Christmas of the year following its release.

    Modulars are also introduced every year. Recently, these have been available for longer than the Winter Village series. #10197 Fire Brigade, which recently retired, was available since 2009. If you want any of the currently available modulars, it's probably best to buy the oldest first.

    With some exceptions, most "normal" (i.e. not promotional) sets are available for at least nine months to a year beyond first release.
  • binaryeyebinaryeye Member Posts: 1,831
    GeRo3139 said:

    I'd pick up Grand Emporium (10211) now at as it has gone End Of Life (EOL) in the US/Canada already, I'm assuming you're in the UK when I say this.

    Grand Emporium is only out of stock in the US. The expected ship date is in early April.
  • lieslgeelieslgee Member Posts: 17
    This is great information. Thanks, guys!
  • HokieJoe99HokieJoe99 Member Posts: 351
    If you do end up buying Fire Brigade or any older, retired modular, l would suggest you open them immediately if you want to build them. I bought the Green Grocer right at the end of its life, and by the time I got around to building it, I could not bring myself to open it because of the increase in what it was worth.
  • lordzaraklordzarak Member Posts: 329
    If you are serious about collecting Winter Village and the Modulars and want to buy them from Lego direct, it is extremely worthwhile to join their VIP program. You earn 5% of what you spend in rewards dollars. So say you spend $150 on the Emporium. You immediately earn $5 towards a future purchase and halfway there to another $5 reward. Also, next month is Double VIP which only happens twice a year.
  • lieslgeelieslgee Member Posts: 17
    I did join the VIP so I'm happy to hear about double points!

    I think Fire Brigade is out of my league, along with Green Grocer. Also the WV Toy shop. The others are doable over time, as long as I have some time before they go away so I can get a couple a month.
  • Steve_J_OMSteve_J_OM Member Posts: 999
    Also, don't take prices you see on the secondary market at face-value. Often, on eBay and the Amazon marketplace, the asking prices for retired sets are far north of their value. Refine searches on eBay to look at completed listings only, and get a feel for what kind of prices the set has been selling at. Also familiarise yourself with
  • joel4motionjoel4motion Member Posts: 959
    Or ask here in the marketplace thread. Most of us hate paying eBay/amazon fees so you're likely to get something at 10-15% less than eBay prices.

    Go for the winter stuff in the summer though... I got a toy shop for £60 last summer on eBay.
  • piratemania7piratemania7 Member Posts: 2,146
    Definitely follow logic here and pick up oldest to newest. It sounds like cash might be somewhat of a hindrance, as is the case for most of us, so in that case go oldest to newest AND listen to your gut. If you like one set over the other scoop it up while you can. The satisfaction later on will be well worth it.
  • CircleKCircleK Member Posts: 1,055
    Another thought is to try and avoid the "gotta have em all" mentality all together. I struggled with this when I first came back as have many others. It seems like the first year or so out of the dark ages is spent tearing through the marketplace threads, eBay, Amazon, etc in a mad rush to get current and/or pick up retired sets before they climb higher. My advice, having been through this myself, is to just... don't. You're already close to 1K behind in just current Modular and Winter Village sets. If you go after retired items that amount will sky rocket fast. In the mean time, new sets will continue to come out that you will want but avoid buying since you're busy buying up older items - it quickly becomes a perpetuating cycle.

    My advice is to just start from where you are now. New Modulars and winter village sets will keep coming each year and trust me - there will never be a lack of new things that you will want. I've been amazed at the number of great sets TLG has cranked out since I've been back. Of course, if there are some older sets that you just can't live without then go after them in age order as the others have suggested. I would pick a couple of themes to concentrate on and stick to them or you will quickly find yourself buying up anything and everything.
  • lieslgeelieslgee Member Posts: 17
    Great advice, everyone. I really appreciate it. You're exactly right about the "gotta have them all" mentality. I'm going to focus on the modulars and WV, and do smaller kits for practice and to fill time. And Falling Water is in my future, too.

    Thanks to the admin for renaming this post what it should be.

  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Member Posts: 10,838
    Fire Brigade can be had for 250 on eBay. Expect it to keep rising. If you are the fence about it buy it now before it goes higher.
  • mnbvcmnbvc Member Posts: 143
    It's hard to resist small bargains in local shops, but I would advise against doing too many smaller kits for practice (unless you have an abundance of cash!).

    I've found my Lego hobby much more satisfying since I focused solely on 'adult' builds - mostly what you've already identified...modulars, Winter Village, Landmarks (e.g. Tower Bridge, Opera House etc) and trains.

    Unless you're buying vehicles/houses to populate a future city layout, I would stay away from smaller sets - the techniques are relatively simple, so I didn't feel that I was learning anything from them, and they're a money drain - £15 here and there soon adds up.

    And CircleK is bang on the money. I think we all come out of our dark ages and buy, buy, buy - but the truth is, Lego sets are getting better all of the time. The completist in all of us would like Cafe Corner, but I think most of us would find it a disappointment in comparison to any of the newer modulars (because techniques are always being refined). Cafe Corner was special due to when it came out, and the rarity of it; not because it's the best Lego build.

    I would suggest getting a couple of the inspiration books, and some random Lego (either a bulk lot or a bunch of PAB cups) - and letting your imagination run riot. The advanced sets will teach you heaps about building techniques, and then you can draw on that with your other bricks. I think that teaches you a whole lot more than the smaller sets. :)
  • tdhbrtdhbr Member Posts: 188
    CircleK said:

    Another thought is to try and avoid the "gotta have em all" mentality all together.

    Absolutely. A few years ago I jumped in with Fire Brigade, Grand Emporium, and Pet Shop all at once, and told myself that I would get every new modular as it came out. Well, the Town Hall cured me of that, since I think it's ugly. Got the Palace Cinema last summer, but undecided about the Parisian Restaurant.

    My advice? If you like it and have the money, get it. If you don't like it, forget about it and move on. If you like it and don't have the money - plan, save, and watch for deals at Amazon, eBay, Target, etc.

    If you're into research, you can look up previous/current sets here on Brickset, and note release and retirement dates. You could then chart that in whatever form you want to look for any patterns in lifecycle.

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