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Sets with best value per brick (not best collector value)?

JesterPoetJesterPoet Member Posts: 5
edited April 2012 in Collecting
I've looked around, and while I'm sure someone has already asked this, I can't seem to find it. Is there any place out there that has an up to date listing of Lego set values, not based on collector value, but rather getting the most for your money? We're just starting our collection, and I'm interested in having a good, big selection of bricks to work with, but I'm really not sure just what to buy.



  • sidersddsidersdd USAMember Posts: 2,432
    One source:

    It would be nice if Huw could add filters for Year, Theme, Min Piece Count, EOL, etc.
  • sidersddsidersdd USAMember Posts: 2,432
    Also, not sure how open you are to selling, but one option that always works for me is to buy the licensed sets (typically when first released) and sell all the minifigs. You can typically get your price per piece down to $0.02/piece or lower (sometimes the sum of selling individual figs is greater than the set). I've been able to add many sets for free this way.
  • sidersddsidersdd USAMember Posts: 2,432
    Finally, one current set that usually comes to mind for great price per part, and great parts in general, is the 10193 Medieval Market Village (MMV). You can usually find it for $90, and it has 1550+ parts.
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    Also just look for deals, especially in the UK and Europe (it seems rrp in the US is already cheaper so discounts are normally less). There have been some great discounts so far this year at amazon, tesco, asda etc of 75% off. Nor necessarily the sets you want but for parts its not do important.
  • DuchessaDuchessa Member Posts: 287
    Agreed about the deals. Another type of sets with great parts are usually the larger creator houses, including the Winter Village sets. Great for parts, IMO!
  • gifinimgifinim UKMember Posts: 174
    Some of the games can be quite good if you can find them cheap. I picked up a couple of 3842 Lunar Commands for about £9 each (3.5p per brick). With loads of white bricks and a 32x32 baseplate in each box they are fantastic.
  • JesterPoetJesterPoet Member Posts: 5
    Great! Thanks for the comments, folks. My dream is for my son to be able to have the variety (and quantity) of pieces I had (via a friend) when I was young. He's just 4 now, but I figure it's time to get started.
  • ringleheimringleheim Member Posts: 168
    edited April 2012
    If you are looking to establish a big collection of pieces quickly, it's tough to do better than the mega Tower Bridge kit. Nearly 4,300 pieces for $240 US is a pretty darned good deal, especially if you buy it through Lego's VIP Club where you will receive 239 VIP points which is good for $20 off your next purchase.

    So the kit really costs you $220.

    That's about 5.1 cents per piece.
  • Brewer51Brewer51 Member Posts: 248
    In addition to what @ringleheim said, if you're in the EU, Tower Bridge is currently going up and down on (the Spanish amazon). It's currently at 174 euros but I've seen it lower than that, I think I paid 160 euros for it. With shipping it cost me around £140 altogether, so you're looking at around 3 pence per piece.
  • JesterPoetJesterPoet Member Posts: 5
    Is that cheaper than buying bulk on auction sites and stuff?
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,332
    edited April 2012
    Probably about the same???, but you might get chewed pieces and the odd mega block in a bulk lot. However, not all pieces are equal.

    How many of those pieces in Tower Bridge are small, detail pieces in a fairly nuetral colour? Ideal for AFOLs but not really what a 4 year old (or even 10 year old) wants? Sure for piece count thats going to be hard to beat, but for a childs buildability it might not be that useful.

    I would say a bulk lot on ebay would be better for a young child. Another thing to consider is non-licensed second hand sets on Ebay. I got pretty much the entire Aquanauts theme (large base and a number of submarines) for £30, all boxed (if that matters for parts?). Thats about 800-900 pieces, but really reusable pieces (especially if you like a submarine theme) but I'm sure there's a wide range of sets that haven't held their value - the common city sets, fire stations, police stations etc. They'll have a better variety of pieces for a childs creativity (imo) than something like Tower Bridge.
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,129
    if you want just basic blocks in vibrant colors for a child, then your best bets for buying new are going to be the brick boxes and the pick a brick wall.
  • sidersddsidersdd USAMember Posts: 2,432
    Creator sets are typically good on price/parts ratio, and typically have common parts like bricks and plates - not the specialized stuff.
  • JesterPoetJesterPoet Member Posts: 5
    I guess I just want to eventually amass a good variety. Basic blocks will probably be what I want to have the most of, but it's also fun to have a lot of unusual parts.
  • mressinmressin Lego City... erm LondonMember Posts: 843
    Hmm I considered the Death Star good in the parts-ratio category. Alien Defense HQ too, if you get it reduced.
  • noblebricknoblebrick Member Posts: 19
    ^ what mressin said. The ac defense hq is a great set for color and variety. It includes a plane and vehicle ( wheels) and is currently 50% off to boot.
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 833
    Hmm... I once wrote a "Juniorization Analyzer" to determine which sets were the most juniorized-- IE, those that were the best and worst for building. Essentially, it scored low-use detail pieces and POOPs negatively, and basic brick/plate/slope elements extra highly. I wonder if we could apply that logic here and take the Juniorization Ratio and price per piece ratio and combine them to find out what some of the truly best sets for collection building are... Hmmm...

  • caperberrycaperberry LondonMember Posts: 2,226
    I'd agree on the PAB wall - if you live near enough a LEGO store of course! The selection is not great, often a third or even half the pieces available are just 2x4 bricks, but for a 4 year old that's perfect.

    If you can spend the time stacking the pieces into the cup, you can fit about a third extra in the cup. Depending on the piece size, I'd estimate price per piece between 0.5p and 1.5p.

    Grab Bags are often even better value if they have them.
  • CurvedRoadPlateCurvedRoadPlate Member Posts: 257
    The "value" of a set with regards to piece count as well as types of pieces is hard to determine. A question you have to ask yourself is what do you like to build? If you are into castles a basic set with a lot of bright color may not have as many useful parts for you. Someone building sculptures may find such a set a better solution. I would say variety is good for anyone's collection of parts. Watch the clearance and buy sets based on what you like to build.
  • JesterPoetJesterPoet Member Posts: 5
    Well, I guess the simple answer is that I want my son to have a crapload of variety so that he can build anything he can think of. That doesn't really simplify things though, does it?

    I am lucky in that I live within walking distance of the Mall of America, where there's a pretty good Lego store, or at least, what I would assume to be a good one.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 7,018
    > It would be nice if Huw could add filters for Year, Theme, Min Piece Count, EOL, etc.

    I'm working on a 'query builder' that will enable this sort of complex query to be constructed, saved, and shared with others.
  • caperberrycaperberry LondonMember Posts: 2,226
    @JesterPoet Your store might be listed on Brickbuildr, which anyone can update with the latest PAB wall offering.

    Some good stacking techniques are posted amongst this thread on Eurobricks.
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    Also keep in mind the type of bricks you're looking for. Creator Houses are good for 1x? bricks, Bulk Bricks offer good 2x?, Architecture Series (Also Mini-Modular) gives nice amount of plates & tiles in 1x?, 2x?. Modular buildings will give you a nice variety of pieces for buildings like doors, windows, slopes, etc. Star Wars sets are good for the color Gray.
  • sidersddsidersdd USAMember Posts: 2,432
    ^^ Awesome. Let me know if you need someone to test it out.
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 7,018
    ^ OK, will do. Don't expect to see any progress for a few weeks, though!
  • andyscouseandyscouse Western MAMember Posts: 365
    For generic bricks, there always seems to be a set out that's relatively cheap, and great for "multiplying" - used to be Beach House, now it's Log Cabin ... have got several of each, intending to make a bigger build ... cheap and decent parts/price ratio.

    I don't like the tubs, for I generally have no use for 2x?.
  • caperberrycaperberry LondonMember Posts: 2,226
    It seems I had nothing better to do with my life in the last 2 hours than to examine some data :O)

    Given @JesterPoet wants a good PPP and good value regardless of collector or individual piece value I figured this could be approached numerically. Attached is a table of all US Amazon sets that are currently at least 15% discounted, AND the PPP is less than 10¢.

    I couldn't figure out how to render a table in the comments, but FYI here are the sets in the attachment, listed by biggest to smallest discount.

    US: PPP = 10¢
    2506: SKULL TRUCK
    4194: WHITECAP BAY
    4183: THE MILL

    And since I found it interesting, here is the same for UK and ES Amazon; PPP at the equivalent of US10¢ but at a higher minimum discount threshold of 25%

    UK: PPP = 6.3p
    3221: LEGO CITY TRUCK 
    3856: NINJAGO 
    7978: ANGLER ATTACK 
    8071: BUCKET TRUCK 
    5866: ROTOR RESCUE 

    ES: PPP = 7.66¢

    3856 NINJAGO
    5766 LOG CABIN
    8070 SUPER CAR
    4209 FIRE PLANE
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    edited April 2012
    @Huw, that would be a great filter, the current 'cheapest price per piece' isn't very useful as it's all 1970s sets, and since these can't be bought at RRP it's pretty much irrelevant. Doing it for currently available sets only would be a good quick fix though.

    @Caperberry - nice analysis! Love how you've used the real prices, since that's what actually matters anyway. I've been buying those Log Cabins from as parts packs, they're great! (Especially if you're building a container ship that needs dark red slopes and have a cafe corner middle floor that used up all your brown beams) :)

    Really though, not every brick is created equal, e.g. all the tiny bits in technics sets are worth way less than the average, so although this list is a great 'pick list', I wouldn't go out and buy one of each, I'd be selective based on the type of bricks, and colours. My picks from those lists, using those 'human filters' would pull out:

    5766 LOG CABIN
    4194: WHITECAP BAY
    4183: THE MILL
  • caperberrycaperberry LondonMember Posts: 2,226
    Thanks! Agreed re part value, I was approaching this from the perspective of Jester's current desire to just start an affordable collection for a young 'un. Of course there may be many sets that have a better PPP that aren't on the list because the set is not currently discounted; the theory there being that Jester has the time to wait to see if they become discounted in the future.

    I like your shortlist. I'd throw in Battle of Hoth too, they are my kind of pieces and the game is quite good, but I'm waiting for bigger discounts before I get multiples.

    Looking forward to Huw's advanced search, I agree that a Currently Available filter or a combination with the existing Amazon % discounted filter would be valuable. Combined with the existing Price Guide graphs this will prove a superpower set search!
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    ^ Fair enough - dont know much about SW as I dont collect it and always assume the £/piece is bumped up to pay for the licence, but yes, Im sure there are one or two SW bargains are to be had for parts.

    I guess my best recommendation for a newbie is to buy any building from the creator series which is on discount, and start from there, since they tend to use 'proper' bricks and have a great price/ part (as well as having 3 builds per set if you fancy it).
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    ^ Yup, going with the Creator line is a good general rule of thumb.
  • ParkGradesParkGrades Member Posts: 106
    If you're after unique pieces, get the smallest sets in each line (where you can find them on sale, especially) - that way, you'll have a variety.
  • ThezoofoxThezoofox United Kingdom - EastMember Posts: 188
    I just got the creator log cabin today. Brilliant value for money and a good choice of bricks. Good place to start i think.
  • andyscouseandyscouse Western MAMember Posts: 365
    I just got the creator log cabin today. Brilliant value for money and a good choice of bricks. Good place to start i think.
    Yes, that's a great start! Several of these and you'll have a good, useable bank of parts ...

  • meyerc13meyerc13 Member Posts: 227
    Everyone is making this so complicated. If you want to start a good collection for a kid, it's relatively easy. Acquire sets from here:

    If you focus on the 2011 and 2012 sets, you'll still be able to find them in stores, and the price per piece and selection are just what a young builder will need to get started.

    For example, if you want wheels 4635 Fun with Vehicles is a great value with lots of wheels in different sizes. If you want to build a plane, 5933 Airport building set is great. For castle parts, 5929 Knight and Castle Building set is great.

    The newer brick buckets have also been great, not as many 2x bricks and lots of useful parts like slopes and inverted slopes.

    I'd start with sets from this line, aimed at the 4+ year old crowd.

    As others have pointed out, watch for other sets to go on clearance and instead of looking at the completed set, look closer at the pieces used in the set. You'll start to see things you want more of (slopes, clips, etc.) and when you can pick up the sets at 30-50% off you can't go wrong. I've gone from no LEGO to 70,000 bricks in the past three years by following this formula (be careful, it's an addiction).
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 833
    There's a few interesting tidbits here:

    1) What's a useful "core" element, and what sets come with good "core" elements-- like 1x4 bricks, 1x6 plates, 45-degree slopes, etc. Those are almost assuredly "core" elements, and a good foundation to build on.

    2) What's a useful "detail" piece? Things like onion domes, rope bridge pieces, BURPs, etc. are *limited* in their uses. That's not to say they have NO uses, but they're not as useful as other non-core pieces like 1x1 headlight bricks, 1x2 plates with attached bar, 1x1 cones, etc.

    3) What are useful colors? The "Bricks and More" and Creator lines typically have great elements, but typically feature the bright, vibrant colors, and have fewer of the "realistic" tones like gray, brown, tan, sand blue, etc.

    4) Which building system are you looking for? Technic constructions require a much different set of "core" elements than "System" stuff. You could also argue that there are other systems like DUPLO, Quatro, Clikits, Modulex, ZNAP, Primo, Scala-- and other *quasi* systems like Bionicle/Hero Factory (which is an offshoot of Technic) or Belville (an offshoot of System) .

    5) What's a good value for the price you pay? What's currently on sale, and what's full retail, and where are you located to make those purchases?

    6) What's current? Something from 1987 might have great elements, but you'll have to actually pay MORE for it. And something from 2009 or 2010 is... iffy. Did it sell out fast, or is it still lingering around in stores?

    It'd be interesting to have some analysis of each set in those terms to help people figure out which sets were really useful... Hmmm...

  • caperberrycaperberry LondonMember Posts: 2,226
    edited April 2012
    Re 1) & 3); My first post Dark Age set was Fallingwater which gave me a great collection of tan plates and trans 1x2s. I built loads of buildings from that set and decorated them with the dinky little trees. *sigh*

    Re 2); Interesting question. I use lots of 1x2 plates with rail because of their unusual "1.5" width; lots of jumpers of course; and grille tiles which I think must be my favourite LEGO piece because of its ability to represent many different things plus the textures created by having a different colour brick underneath.
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