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Obviously, a used set will almost never sell for more than a NISB version. I say "almost never" because I'm sure it has happened. People do crazy things sometimes.
You also have to factor in selling fees and shipping. You may sell a used set for more than it originally sold for retail, but what was your net after all the fees?
You're focusing on trains here, and I get that because this started with the TLR train, but we blew past that with the blanket (and argued as being very incorrect) statement that old used stuff reliably retains its value compared to MSRP. Anyway, let's stick with trains for a minute. It's a solid segment for speculation with a good overall track record, but I think the TLR train will have a rough climb for a used set. It's sweet, but it's not accurate at all - half toy/half adult and all that. Also, you also state that the Toy Story train is "very close." Looking at ebay used sold listings, I'm seeing $50-60. That's a far cry from MSRP of $80. And to echo @CCC, even if it were to reach $84 in 5 more long years, 1.05x RRP is far different from a value that actually means anything.
Suffice to say if we're talking strictly about value and resale, many sets won't appreciate even as MISB, and far fewer will do so used. If it's used by children as a toy (I know, weird right?), then it firmly barges into "kiss your chance goodbye" land, and it instead becomes a beloved toy for a while before it gets assimilated into the plastic tubs with all the rest.
Of course Lego train sets have a good track record ;)
For instance, if we correctly identify that shipping costs are going to limit how much smaller sets appreciate, we can avoid them altogether. So, for this exercise, let's decide to invest in only sets with MSRP above $30.
If we would have done that with 2008 sets (most retired in 2010), we are in year 4 of their retirement. How did they do?
Of the 72 sets, according to Brickpicker data:
~60 are selling used for more than their MSRP
~10 are selling for less than their MSRP
Death Star hasn't retired yet :P
And if we were shrewd enough to stay away from Bionicle, it's more like 5 of 72 sets aren't beating MSRP.
...or have no idea what this is.
At some point this discussion was whether or not the OP should build a set or leave it unopened for profit. The claim was that he could build it, and still eventually sell it as used for profit. I would expect the owner in that situation to keep the set in good shape. Additional claims have been added about purchasing used job lots in general. In that case, I am expecting the reseller to exercise some amount of judgement to not buy sets in horrible condition if the aim is to resell them. I think those are both fair expectations to ensure condition wouldn't submarine the Brickpicker data used for analysis here.
Slow day at work, and since you won't allow me to exclude sets like Tiny Turbo racers (even though common reselling sense would) I expanded the analysis to include all sets from 2008 with MSRP $1+. Here is the query: http://brickset.com/sets/query-1675
186 sets, and according to BrickPicker:
~163 sets are selling in used condition above MSRP
~22 sets are selling in used condition below MSRP
and a Death Star in a pear tree
I'm still not seeing the hopeless minefield of duds that you're asserting.
I wonder if 2008 was just too early in the number of resellers growth period, so used sets have done reasonably well if new ones were not hoarded as much as now. I don't know if the cut-off year(s) for large number of stocked sets can be pinpointed exactly, but I think the game has changed since 2008.
Have you figured out how much those sets are selling for in Hungrystan? ;)
Then I would just give away all my extra LEGO to FairyBricks. :)
I agree that a good majority of sets sold will never fetch more than MSRP once opened. Its a small number, say 15-20% of sets sold will fetch more than MSRP after three years. That is because the most popular sets sold are redone every few years. However, I can flip that number around and claim that only 15% of the new sets I invest in don't double what I paid in two years. After three years the used ones are double my paid price. Most winners are obvious to the AFOL.
P.S. I need to go hide my pile of #9467 Ghost Train.
Jingle all the way.
The numbers I used were from Brickpicker. The value presented is an average, so yes, any given transaction will deviate a bit. But from my overall experience, the number is quite a good approximation. You're welcome to pull a set from the list and demonstrate how wildly inaccurate the data is, though.
Oh, right, you don't have the slightest bit of interest to invest the time to provide your own data, right?
Well, being my ever-accommodating self, I tried it for you. I skipped over the sets I thought that you might dismiss as one of the "few collectible sets" and settled upon 7734 Cargo Plane, which is just a plane in the ho-hum City line, and there's even been a newer Cargo plane introduced since to threaten its aftermarket value.
MSRP was $49.99
Brickpicker is showing a used value of $84.47
Bricklink has a historical average of $78.16
And here is a link to the raw data of eBay sold listings of used sets: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_sacat=0&_from=R40&LH_ItemCondition=4&LH_Complete=1&LH_Sold=1&_nkw=lego+7734&_sop=16
There are 20 listings that are 100% with instructions. The cheapest one went for $53.01. The others all went for higher, with the highest one being $104.
By the way, for well over half the sets I checked, the amount of appreciation was very high (50%+), and should easily outstrip any margin of error in Brickpicker's algorithm. Moreover, for the sets that were not above MSRP the margin it fell short was much smaller (-20% or less).
I like bets though, so how about we go by your statement of 10% of used sets appreciating beyond MSRP, and kissing money goodbye with the other 90%?
I pick 10 sets that have just retired, and in three years time, if one (10%) or none are selling for more than MSRP in used condition, you win. If two or more are, I win. Let me know how much you'd like to wager and we can set up escrow. I'd recommend at least the cost of a milkshake if you want to make a date out of it.
I just took a cursory glance at all sets from 2010 that are retired and are $100+ (I left off 7939 and 7938 since they just retired this month).
14 sets total:
11 sets selling used above MSRP
3 sets selling below MSRP
Those three are #8078 Portal of Atlantis, #8404 Public Transport , and #10215 Obi-Wan Jedi Starfighter, which any reseller worth their salt or even just a casual follower of this forum should know were widely available for 35%-50% off, so it isn't a surprise that these don't measure up.
I welcome any one else doing a more in-depth analysis if they don't like mine.
Licenced sets generally sell more "used" than what their RRP was while still in production. A good portion of non licenced themes can sell for more than their RRP. The Constitution Train may very well sell for more than it was at full retail price, even though it was heavily discounted. How much more; we will see in 3 years :)