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What's your approach once you've bought a bulk lot?
So, you've come across the bargain of the century at a car boot / yard sale / on Craigslist / on eBay etc, and you're now the proud owner of a 20 litre tub of mixed Lego.
What do *you* do next?
This has been my approach:
1) Fish out any non-Lego and give it away.
2) Take out the baseplates.
3) Take out the minifigures, animals (e.g. snakes, owls, parrots etc) and obvious accessories.
4) Separate the bricks by size and/or colour.
5) Wash anything grubby.
...next, I need to retr0bright anything that's discoloured...but then, I'm not too sure which approach to take.
Do you attempt to work out which sets the previous owner had and try and build them? If so, what do you work from - minifigures? Certain unusual pieces?
Do you catalogue what's in your bulk lot and then see what you can build? If so, which programmes do you use to catalogue your bricks?
Do you simply drop your bricks into your MOC stash and free build with them, not caring which sets they originally came from?
And how do you identify certain bricks? I know there's an identify thread on this forum, but what's everyone's technique? Is it just random knowledge and years around a collection? I know I could spot things out of my childhood sets with ease - is that the case for most people, or does anyone have any tips and tricks for working out what pieces might be? Are there any keywords that are particularly useful on Bricklink et al for searching for pictures that might match your bricks?
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Recent discussions •
I had two great big garbage bags dumped out on my floor for more than six months... so yeah, dust and spiders were the least of my worries. Piece for piece $200 dollars doesn't seem like a bad deal, but the time it takes for sorting isn't a very good use of my time. I got tired very quickly of both the smell and "quality" of someone elses Lego and didn't know how to even begin sorting it. So after leaving it to rot on my floor for a while I eventually took a carpet rake and swept all the parts into giant rubber bins.
Don't even get me started on having to sort "non-Lego"... the thought makes me sick to my stomach. If anything, collectors should be warning each other NOT to purchase bulk lots so carelessly. You need a lot of TIME and pre-existing space/organizational containers.
You're right about "grubby", the worst was an older Duplo set that had not been cleaned, should have asked on that one, so we washed it and left it outside to dry... Just fine once clean, but a pain in the you-know-what. :)
The other used sets, mostly Star Wars sets, have been very nice. My favorite was 10030 that I bought used, clearly from an OCD person who had it all bagged into about 30 separate zip-lock bags by part and color, it was clearly very well sorted and in the end I had every single part, plus some extras. It was almost easier than a "new" set because the parts were heavily sorted, so it was very easy to find everything.
Other used sets have not been sorted as well, I recently purchased a used 10181 that is all in 4 very large zip lock bags, boy that is going to be interesting... Sheesh!
But random Lego bricks by the lb? Sheesh, that sounds like WORK! :P
It came out fine, no broken or damaged Legos, and for free I won't complain. My son was quite happy.
If I come across any unusual pieces, I'll look them up on Bricklink to see what sets they come from. I can usually figure out the set, but I'm not piecing them out right now. But it's good to know that I might have most (if not all) of the parts and could potentially rebuild them. I keep track of those sets for future reference. One bin I went through recently had Yellow Castle (375) parts, which was pretty exciting for me (as it was a little before my Lego years and thus never owned it).
We've got it down to a science now.
1. Hand wash the LEGO - several soaping and rinsing cycles. Doesn't matter what the condition is, I wash everything that's not new in box. This is also where we pick out the non-LEGO and any bricks that are too scratched or have bite marks.
2. Lay it out to dry. We have a giant fan that dries everything in a matter of hours.
3. Stage 1 sorting - bricks, plate, round things etc. Very general categories. We have the bins in the middle of the table for easy access.
4. Each bin is then divided down to the element/color.
5. We identify sets based on unique pieces using Bricklink and have completed at least 40+ sets mostly Star Wars, including complete Jabba's Sail Barge and Palace, Federation MTT, 6211 Star Destroyer, the Venator, 6208 B-Wing Fighter, 7675 AT-TE Walker, and 7261 Clone Turbo Tank.
Once we've identified and completed sets, they are stored separately and entered into our Excel spreadsheet and Brickset. Everything else goes into our loose inventory.
We've spent countless hours doing this and for the most part, we really enjoy it. Part of the fun is discovering new sets that we've previously missed out on.
Just picked up another 40lbs a few days ago. Great condition and it contains a lot of the earlier Harry Potter sets, like Dumbledore's Office and Shrieking Shack and some from odd stuff like 6418 Country Club (that little pony is like $10 on bricklink wth?) and a bunch of other sets from the early to mid 90's.
In regards to this thread, my answer is soap it, sort it, sell it.
If it's duplo I do a quick pass for small bricks and printed bricks, then bung the rest in the washing machine. The small and printed stuff gets hand washed. Normal Lego, I hand-wash it all, or maybe put it in mesh bags in the dishwasher first if it's properly smelly.
I lay it out on tables to dry, sometimes on towels, much like @Littletoki does. If there's a lot I put the dehumidifier next to them.
Anything non-Lego gets immediately thrown away.
4. DECIDE THE 'TYPE'
I try and get an idea which sets are in there. At this point its usually fairly clear if this
is a bunch of very mixed Lego, or someone who's bought a few sets which happen to be mixed up. If it's the former, I'll do a quick scan, but if it's the latter I'll probably try and build every set.
5, ID SETS
I pick out all the minifigs and look for unusual ones that I recognise from sets. Same for any unusual parts, and of course any books. Any parts which look interesting adn I don't recognise could start off a long bricklink search at this point.
Using rough guesses, I start a pile for each prospective set and see if it looks worth bothering with trying to complete them. If not, then straight to .
7. GATHER PARTS & BUILD
Using the PDF instruction book off Brickset, I try and build the sets. If theres a ton of Lego I might sort first using the blicklink list, but usually I prefer to build and just write down the missing bits.
8. PART OUT THE REST
Into my usual sorting routine and system.
I will usually take the pieces out with a sieve and then store them on a table with kitchen roll underneath.
Now comes the waiting part...
I would come back and take all the pieces which are dried and if a piece is dry on one side then I will flip them over and let it dry on that side.
Once all pieces are dried I will lay them all out and inspect all of them to take all the Megablocks,... etc out.
After that I will sort all the pieces which look similar such as all translucent pieces will be stored with each other,all the wheels will be stored with one another and all the heavily modeled pieces such as rock patterns, base plates, airplane parts will be stored with each other.
If I see any pieces which look interesting I will look them up and see which sets they came from.
I have come across a variety of pieces from sets like:
7783 The Batcave: The Penguin and Mr. Freeze's Invasion
7899 Police Boat
8876 Scorpion Prison Cave
4752 Professor Lupin's Classroom
4729 Dumbledores Office
What is the best way to go about it now. I have no idea if there are any complete sets or not. Is it best to pick out the stranger bricks and work towards which sets they are in and build from there?
I am currently sorting through a large box of lego which had loads of manuals and thats hard enough. Should I just put it down to experience and sell the lot as is?
If you logged all your pieces and uploaded the file to Rebrickable, it should hopefully give you some 100% results on sets
SORT: But I sort by color/remove the chaff (MB, non LEGO stuff, pencils, erasers.. what I hope is a lint ball, or chocolate).
During which I also put aside pieces that need a good wash. I put these into one separate bin for all colors, parts.
I only sort large lots by color, and any pieces left over after sorting back into sets I sort by piece type.
I also separate figs and unique parts (such as printed/stickers parts into their own bin.
WASH (if needed):Once the sorting is finished I take that bin of dirty parts to the sink to wash with a tooth brush, a pain I know but still the best way to get some of this stuff off of pieces. Dry on a towel and then throw back into the respective part bins.
Sort into Sets: Instructions REALLY help, I never buy lots without instructions (partly due to sorting into sets, partly to determine a Lots worth and Partly because the older instruction books, the more expensive) and I have been doing this long enough to know if the instructions shown really match to the parts for those sets. This is also why I separate printed/stickered parts, those will help you id potential sets in your lot.
Retr0Bright process: I will never use this, never. I have seen people selling sets with this done on eBay and the bricks simply do not match with the original tone of the parts.. they either look slightly yellowed still, but worse because of the process (or worse there is a line of yellow on what was a normal looking LEGO part) still OR they are bleached beyond belief and do not match the LEGO brick color tones, which looks horrible IMO. I use BL to try to get those parts if I can, if I cannot I just show what the part is that is bad and let the bidder/buyer decide if they want the set.
I scored a major collection on sale at a thrift shop that contained tons of parts and no booklets....and have been slowly but surely identifying sets and building them with my son by looking up obscure looking piece's numbers on Peeron, and then going through the sets listed and finding the ones we have the parts for and building. Death by a thousand cuts might be faster! I know you might ask so I got it all for only $40, and so far they contain Pirate pieces and some Star Wars sets from the 2005ish time period. :)
Anyway, my questions - is there a faster way to do this anyone can suggest? Also, where can I find a photo that distinguishes the colors like the different greys, browns, etc...that shows them all at once? MdStone, old grey, all of it is making me crazy!
Thanks in advance for anyone's time and help, we appreciate it!
I usually just roll with it, I mean kids WERE playing with these and if they did not say they were recently cleaned then you live and learn to ask that next time.
The only time I complained was when a bunch of parts in the lot picture were not in the lot when I received it. I contacted the Seller and they were very helpful and we resolved the issue.
Being both a seller and buyer on eBay I ALWAYS give a chance to the seller to make them aware of the issues you have and see where that goes.. Just do not extort (ie do not say 'I will leave neg feedback if you do not do 'x')
I HATE people that fly off the handle and leave a neg or neutral without first contacting a seller, that is just not fair to the seller.
Now if they did respond and really did not address your issue then I would go as far as to leave a neutral or neg saying that there was megablock in it (but only if they did not say that in the auction) and other debris, but again only if it was not mentioned in the auction.
I am very hesitant on leaving negative feedback, but usually most sellers I have dealt with make the situation right.
I'm currently up to 300lbs of Lego that needs to be cleaned, sorted and identified.
2. Wash everything in dishwashing detergent with bleach added (no dishwasher, and the front loading washing machine don't work well for washing Lego)
3. Dry on old beach towels (garage in winter, screened room in summer)
4. Sort and swear I'm done buying bulk Lego!
hate prying apart 1x2s
I may have to take @jadedanc up on her offer to sort. LOL.