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LEGO set - Value database

princedravenprincedraven Essex, UKMember Posts: 3,768
edited April 2011 in Buying & Selling Topics
Hi,

Is there any form of database of the value of LEGO sets?
I am a comic collector and there is comic book price guides, just wondered if there is something simular to that for LEGO sets?? Seems to be a reasonable idea.

Seen a few sets on eBay that looked decent value and was tempted but had no real way of knowing whether it was a good deal (other than comparing it to other ebay auctions which there wasnt any for this set).

Thoughts?

Comments

  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,568
    The closest thing to a price guide is BrickLink where you see what sets have sold for in the past. But, as others here will tell you, prices on BL are generally higher than on eBay.
  • atkinsaratkinsar Member Posts: 4,272
    I think this is the Holy Grail for many collectors and sellers, knowing how much your collection can be fun but is also important for insurance purposes. For sellers, knowing how to sensibly value your stock and price items for sale must surely be an important part of successful selling.

    As Huw points out, the only option currently that can be extensively data mined is Bricklink. This provides data on highest/lowest/average price sold over the past 6 months, as well as the same data for sets currently on sale. Here's a random example:

    http://www.bricklink.com/catalogPG.asp?S=8097-1

    It is possible to get limited data from ebay on both current sets on sale and complete auctions by using their ebay app on the iPhone (may be available on Android/Windows too but not sure). If you go to the selling tab in the app, you can type in the set number and see a list of current and completed auctions, but you'll need to work out the highest/lowest/average price yourself. If you've got an iPhone, this may be your best bet in terms of ease, but I'd take more notice of what's been sold, rather than what's currently on sale.

    IMO, the best way to accurately value any Lego set would be to combine the average sale price of that set across both ebay and Bricklink over the last 6 months. Unfortunately, apart from the limited method I mention above, it is not possible to data mine ebay's data in that way (certainly not for free anyway).

    I am currently working with someone to develop on online (free) service whereby you will be able value your collection, or get historical price data and trends over time for any set you want, but it is quite a long way off from being ready I'm afraid so not much help for you right now!
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,384
    edited April 2011
    Hi,
    Is there any form of database of the value of LEGO sets?
    I am a comic collector and there is comic book price guides, just wondered if there is something simular to that for LEGO sets?? Seems to be a reasonable idea.

    Seen a few sets on eBay that looked decent value and was tempted but had no real way of knowing whether it was a good deal (other than comparing it to other ebay auctions which there wasnt any for this set).

    Thoughts?
    While I was in the process of tracking down all the LEGO Star Wars sets I adopted quite a scientific approach, following and capturing data from every eBay auction for the items in question (sometimes for months and months) in order to establish how often each item came up, lowest winning auction price, highest winning auction price etc.. Knowing the relative rarity and price range of the sets enabled me to pitch my maximum bids in the most informed way possible, and I suspect that this method saved me a fair bit of money. If you really want to ensure you don't pay over the odds, examining trends in this way would certainly help I think.

  • princedravenprincedraven Essex, UKMember Posts: 3,768
    drdave,
    Slightly off the topic, but as you mention tracking down LEGO Star Wars sets, what would you consider a reasonable price to pay for the Sandcrawler? I have been trying to get one off ebay but most seem to be around £200 which is a bit out of my range at the moment (ironically the last 2 I was watching sold for about £120 which i would be happy with but i was at Legoland and couldnt get signal to bid!!).

    Just wondered if this was a set that you 'tracked'.

    Cheers,

  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,384
    ^ Sorry to rub it in, but I only paid £75.36 for the Sandcrawler - it was bought new from a LEGO brand store during the sales just before the set was retired. I therefore didn't track its value on eBay, and even if I had done the numbers would be a couple of years out of date.

    In terms of current value, I would (unless you're desperate and in an almighty hurry) avoid the 'buy it now' auctions which are asking £200 and above and wait for it to be listed in a standard auction. My gut feeling is that you should be able to pick up a used, boxed example for around £100 if you're patient. Patience is the key - I bought an old Classic Space set from eBay late last night for £8.50 which I've seen sell for £25 or more. Nothing to do with the set condition or anything else, just fewer people bidding. Bide your time and you'll get what you want eventually without going over your limit.
  • wagnerml2wagnerml2 Belleville, IllinoisMember Posts: 1,376
    While I think that tracking the general value of sets and MISB sets is important, I think we need to be careful and take a note from other hobbies. As I posted in another thread, I used to own a sports card shop here in the US. In the mid 80's a magazine called Beckett was produced monthly and was the industry standard on card and set values. It was not uncommon for sellers to get 125% of the guide value on desireable cards in Mint condition. It was supposed to be an average of cards and sets sold across the country. However, as the years passed, the internet opened a whole new marketplace for individuals and sales were being made and much more difficult to track. Combine this with increased production from the manufacturers and limited edition print runs and card values spiraled out of control. Many poeple were not buying the cards because THEY valued them, they bought the cards because the guides told them that OTHERS valued them.

    This continued throughaut the 90's with more collectors buying packs of cards in hopes of hitting a goldmine and reselling the high valued cards. As a result, people would race to sell their cards for whatever they could get for them and the values plummeted, even though the guide value stayed the same. Today, if you can get 50% of the guide value, you are doing well. That combined with BECKETT getting into the appraisal business, really called into question the accuracy of the the guide itself.

    What is my rambling point, you may ask? If you see the set for sale at a price and you find that the price is fair and you are willing to spend the money, then that is what the set is worth. A little research on Bricklink, Ebay, Amazon and other outlets will give you a nice spectrum of what a set is going for on the market. I hope that AFOLs don't fall into the same trap as card collectors did. It ruined the hobby for me to the point where I sold all my cards, my shop and got out.
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,384
    If you see the set for sale at a price and you find that the price is fair and you are willing to spend the money, then that is what the set is worth.
    Are you sure ? I sincerely doubt that you'd buy a TV, or a car, or anything else that way. While I might be *willing* to pay the MRSP for something, that doesn't mean I'll just blithely shell out the cash as a result. I'll look to get the item at the best price I can, and a retired LEGO set is no different.

  • wagnerml2wagnerml2 Belleville, IllinoisMember Posts: 1,376
    edited April 2011
    If you see the set for sale at a price and you find that the price is fair and you are willing to spend the money, then that is what the set is worth.
    Are you sure ? I sincerely doubt that you'd buy a TV, or a car, or anything else that way. While I might be *willing* to pay the MRSP for something, that doesn't mean I'll just blithely shell out the cash as a result. I'll look to get the item at the best price I can, and a retired LEGO set is no different.
    Dr. D. I agree in part and disagree in part. As far as cars go, the values in the guides that are used by dealers in what they will give you in trade and what they will sell a car for are heavily regulatd by the government with verified numbers compiled by actuaries who are trained in the industry, at least in the US. You can be sure that the numbers in those guides represent actual sales and trades for similarly situated vehicles, so in that instance I agree with you.

    However, in the instance of other things, I definitely shop around. I just bought a 60 inch plasma TV from a national retailer for $1200. MSRP was $2200, but I was unwilling to spend that, so I waited for it to come down and it reached a level I was comfortable with.

    My point with my sportcard collecting analogy is that the prices in the guides were manipulated because they were not generated by people with enough skill or ethics to be objective. That combined with collectors speculating on cards and sets because of their perceived value, rather than what THEY though the item was worth, ended up destroyuing the marketplace.

    Sometimes collectors see the price guide information as gospel and don't reserach enough on their own. With all of the resources available to all AFOLs, it is not hard to determine what the going rate is for a retired set MISB or otherwise. Whether the individual finds that a fair price and is willing to buy is up to them.

    I don't want a lego "price guide" to cause the lego market to do the same thing the sportcard market did in the late 90's and early 2000's. I came out of my dark times because of that and I would hate to see this beloved hobby suffer because of the same issues. A price guide would need to be well researched and documented and all AFOLs would need to understand how it works, otherwise bad things could happen.
  • wagnerml2wagnerml2 Belleville, IllinoisMember Posts: 1,376
    ^^ After reading this response, it seemed a bit terse and gruff, please know that it is not meant as so. Just healthy debate on what I think is one of the most important issues that AFOLs will deal with over the next 3-5 years. I am just sensative on the matter because I watched it destroy another hobby I loved. No offense, Dr. D!!! :)
  • princedravenprincedraven Essex, UKMember Posts: 3,768
    Guys, really appreciate your responses and can definately appreciate both points of view.
    I would appreciate a price guide so that i knew i wasnt paying way over the odds for something (like i nearly did for the sandcrawler).
    But can also see that it may drive a market of sellers that could create false pricing (although not sure that wouldn't/doesnt happen anyway without the guide).
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,384
    ^ There already is a guide of sorts, @princedraven - as Huw stated earlier in the discussion, you can get an idea of how much sets have been selling for on Bricklink. The problem is that Bricklink valuations are I guess in some ways like the Beckett guide mentioned by @wagnerml2 - often inflated. You therefore need to take the set prices on there with a pinch of salt. In the process of buying well over 100 LEGO Star Wars sets on eBay I seldom resorted to paying 'Bricklink' prices which I think speaks volumes.

    @wagnerml2, I didn't perceive your reponse to be terse or gruff, so no worries and no offence ! In fact it's refreshing to have an online discussion with people willing and able to debate this kind of stuff.
  • atkinsaratkinsar Member Posts: 4,272
    edited April 2011
    ^^ When checking Bricklink, always look at the average price sold over the past 6 months, not the currently on sale average price. The former is always lower and will give you a better feel for the value of the set.
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,384
    ^ Agreed, but the thing is, prices seem to be set by sellers with reference to other similar sets on Bricklink, so the average is artificially dragged up.

    I was once told by one seller that he didn't really want to sell but was just listing some sets in case he got a silly offer. If even just a few people do that (and I can well believe it when I look at the prices being asked), and even worse if a few desperate people actually bite, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see what happens to the averages....
  • atkinsaratkinsar Member Posts: 4,272
    edited April 2011
    ^ DrD, the observation that Bricklink prices are over inflated compared to ebay is not necessarily comparing like for like. Bricklink sales are not auction-based and are the equivalent of ebay's Buy it Now, now if you compared only BIN sales on ebay against Bricklink, my feeling is that the prices would be comparable and in fact I have a feeling ebay would be higher.

    I totally agree though, that 99 times out of a 100 you'll get a better price in an ebay auction than on Bricklink (if you are sensible that is!).
  • RabbitWizzardRabbitWizzard Member Posts: 26
    I think there's a great difference between lego and cards. Cards don't hold a value themselves. It's just a piece of paper thats pretty useless on its own. I can ALWAYS get some money for my lego and if i have to mold it into a bucket. However i wouldn't pay a cent for old tradingcards, as they are only worth something if people think they are.
  • legoDadlegoDad Member Posts: 529
    I think Bricklink is a good gauge. Gives you an average over the past few months. Show's the high sell price, shows the low sell price....I like it. Gives me a feel of what prices are out there and helps me budget.
    Use Bricklink.
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    I think this discussion makes it clear. Brickset needs to add a current valuation guide to the database! We all trust Brickset to be ethical and as accurate as possible, right? :)
  • wagnerml2wagnerml2 Belleville, IllinoisMember Posts: 1,376
    @Rabbitwizzard - I agree with your comment as it pertains to the bricks themselves, but MISB sets such as the UCS Falcon or Cafe Corner are comanding huge premiums on most resale outlets. These premiums have nothing to do with the value of the bricks inside, they have to do with the collectable value of the MISB as a whole, so I think that the comparison is a fair one.

    I agree with you about trading cards, though. I just don't want a similar taste in AFOLs mouths if the market falls apart.
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,288
    I think one of the biggest problems with automating a process to scrape for historic sale data is that, unless they are MISB, there is wide variation in the condition and completeness of the sets that affect the price drastically. Even shipping costs will affect the data as many buyers factor this into the total cost of a set and are willing to pay more for a set when shipping is low, and less when shipping is high.

    If you do a web search, you'll find there are some paid subscription services that purport to have scraped eBay auction results that extend beyond eBay's limited "completed auction" history. Does anyone have experience using these?

  • RabbitWizzardRabbitWizzard Member Posts: 26
    @wagnerml2
    I don't think the market will fall apart because there are some rare sets. And it's not like i buy a hundred 15$ sets because "maybe" there's a Millenium Falcon inside one box ;)
    (I know that argument is stupid, but it's funny thinking about it (for me))

    If i buy a set for building it, i can also buy it used in good condition. Not to many sets should be up 500% from original price.
    If I buy it as a collector item MISB (and "maybe" to resell later), then yes, i have to pay much more for the warm, fuzzy feeling i get looking at it ;)
  • YellowcastleYellowcastle Member Posts: 4,401
    IMO, this thread is why there's a Brickset Forum. Thanks so far for the great insights.
  • wagnerml2wagnerml2 Belleville, IllinoisMember Posts: 1,376
    ^^agreed, @Yellowcastle.

    @RabbitWizzard, I hope you are correct, but run a search of "Lego MISB" and look at some of the ridiculous prices on some very recent oop sets. Not saying that they are selling for those prices, but there is certainly a segment of the collecting population that IS doing some speculating.

    On a side note, BECKETT produced a BRIC collecting guide a few months back. I saw a copy at the checkout aisle at toys r us. Took a flip through it and saw that it included All building toys and not just Lego. It was an interesting attempt, but I found it pretty useless
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,288
    ^ I remember looking through some collectible toy guides at a bookstore a few years ago. With each one, it took but a glance over the values for me to quickly deduce that they didn't have their finger on the pulse of the LEGO collectible market.
  • atkinsaratkinsar Member Posts: 4,272
    ^^ Any book will be out of date the second it rolls off the press, it needs to be online, constantly updated and steer clear of any subjective valuations.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,104
    Well my first post on this Forum...

    My UNOFFICIAL LEGO SETS/PARTS COLLECTORS GUIDE (1949-80s) on CD has a 380 page Insurance Guide with 10,157 different prices in it (in either US Dollars or EUROs). Unfortunately it's only for the early LEGO years right now... but I'm coming out with a VERSION 2, and taking pre-orders right now in my USA Bricklink Store (Gary Istok's Rare Bricks). The Version 1 CD (2,200 pages will be included into all pre-order Version 2 CD (1980-90s). And the combined CD will have over 3,000 pages (over 2,500 pictures) and lots and lots of Insurance Price Guide valuations... for the standard 4 grades use in the Toy Collectibles Industry.... Very Good, Excellent, Mint in Box, and MISB.

    The combined guide is only $29.95 (shipping $1.55 North America, $2.55 rest of world).

    Ask anyone who owns my LEGO CD.... they all seem to love it. I did have help from the LEGO Collections and Archive in Billund, as well as having a 50 year history of collecting LEGO. I'm the only AFOL mentioned in the 1985 WORLD OF LEGO TOYS book (page 30).

    Cheers,
    Gary Istok
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,384
    edited April 2011
    ^ A pity that your first ever post on the forum is blatant advertising, Gary, but given the relevance to the discussion thanks for the info ;-)

    How would you respond to @atkinsar's comment above about any book (or in your case CD) being out of date the second it rolls off the press ?

    [Sorry, editing this post to clarify that I'm referring to the valuations of sets being quickly out of date]


  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,568
    edited April 2011
    I have a copy of Gary's volume one and it is indeed very good. It would be much nicer in printed form, though, but I guess 3,000 pages would make quite a thick book.

    Gary and I have been in discussions about online fulfilment of the CD via Brickset but I've been too busy to do anything about it. Maybe if that comes to pass future versions of the CD would be available as upgrades thus enabling owners to keep up to date.
  • atkinsaratkinsar Member Posts: 4,272
    ...and lots and lots of Insurance Price Guide valuations... for the standard 4 grades use in the Toy Collectibles Industry.... Very Good, Excellent, Mint in Box, and MISB.
    I'd be interested to know how you arrive at your valuations. Not asking you give away any trade secrets (well, unless you want to), but general methods used e.g. subjective based on experience, historical sale data etc.

  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    has a 380 page Insurance Guide with 10,157 different prices in it (in either US Dollars or EUROs).
    When were the prices complied? Not only does the value of items change over time with fluctuation in market demand, there is also the issue of inflation.
  • IstokgIstokg MichiganMember Posts: 2,104
    edited April 2011
    The prices were updated in 2009, when I made a EURO version as well as the existing price guide. Part of the problem is that there are the currency fluctuations.

    In many instances where a set has never been sold... the best one can do is what antique dealers do... use price comparables.

    Since this was intended as an "Insurance Price List"... I tended to stay on the high side, value wise, which I guess can now be used as a Price Guide, rather than an Insurance Guide.

    A very rare and very expensive example...

    698 1:87 12 Car Multi-Pack (1965-66)...
    VG - $800-$900 EX - $900-$1000 MIB - $1200-$1500 MISB - $2000+

    This of course assumes the box and instructions are included. With many old LEGO sets, boxes/instructions can exceed 90% of the total value.

    Probably the most extreme case is the very rare 321 Clown Set of 1965-66, which was only sold in Denmark and Japan. You could build these models (3 clowns) with common parts today.... since none of the parts are at all rare. So in this extreme case... the box/instructions are about 99% of the total value.... which in this rare set can exceed $1000.

    And then there is the #236/#1236 Garage set of 1955-70. It came in 8 different box designs during that long production run. It came in a flat box style (with a 1:87 VW Bus and all the parts nicely held in place by box inserts)... and a rectangular box version with loose parts in a box, but no 1:87 VW Bus. A mint example of the flat box version would probably exceed $1000. A mint version of the loose box type probably won't exceed $100-$200. Ironically in Britain, Australia, and about 8 continental European countries it came in a flat box version. In Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands, it came in the loose box variety.

  • CrankinCrankin Member Posts: 17
    I track values on my iPhone on eBay. I Simply "watch" the items until they sell. Ignore buy it now auctions and only pay attention to real auctions with bids on them. Sometimes people ask crazy prices but no one bids on those.

    Every week I do a search for Lego with a filter for only auctions. Then I filter it for price plus shipping highest first. I go through the whole list down to about $75 in value and watch each one.

    This seems to be a good way for me to determine current trends in value.
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