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What's your approach once you've bought a bulk lot?

mnbvcmnbvc Member Posts: 137
edited February 2012 in Collecting
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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Comments

  • YpresYpres Member Posts: 200
    Well my first and only bulk buy off ebay started out with me kicking myself for the first hour after 50 lbs arrived at my door.

    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.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    The only used Lego I have purchased were complete sets with instructions and usually the box.

    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
  • BustinBustin Member Posts: 286
    I cleaned out a basement after it flooded and ended up getting roughly 30lbs of Lego for free because the owner wanted everything tossed. A week of soaking in dish soap and hot water (changing every day) in the bath tub was my first step. Then I began hand washing the large pieces with a toothbrush by like a couple pounds a day. When it got down to anything 3x1 and smaller I put them in a lingerie garment bag and through it in the washing machine with a load of dishsoap and hot water.

    It came out fine, no broken or damaged Legos, and for free I won't complain. My son was quite happy.
  • moietymoiety Member Posts: 3
    I have a similar approach. I sort everything by color/size, toss any broken bricks or junk (there's always junk and funk to be found), and separate the non-Lego to give away. The non-Lego separation is a pain, but fortunately the quality and coloring is distinct enough that you can spot them pretty quick. The sorting process can take a long time for sure, but it's worth it. I want to know what I have, what's clean/dirty, and what's trash.

    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).
  • littletokilittletoki Member Posts: 519
    I think I've bought around 300 lbs of loose/bulk LEGO from Craigslist in the last year or so.

    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.

    LEGO Sorting

    2. Lay it out to dry. We have a giant fan that dries everything in a matter of hours.

    LEGO Organization Step 1

    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.

    LEGO Organization Step 2

    4. Each bin is then divided down to the element/color.

    Rimax Clear - Small

    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.
  • jocappyjocappy Member Posts: 207
    @littletoki Glad to hear it turned out good. My CL bulk buys have been garbage.
  • FatMattFatMatt USMember Posts: 502
    ^ Picked up a massive collection in November off of Craigslist for $1700.00. I slowly have been selling it as half the lot was already separated sets. Right now am at $6000.00 in returns w/ over 200 lbs of loose Lego left and half a tote left of bagged sets. That could very well be the best deal I ever find in my lifetime.

    In regards to this thread, my answer is soap it, sort it, sell it.
  • jocappyjocappy Member Posts: 207
    ^ nice!
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    edited February 2012


    1. WASH
    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.
    2. DRY
    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.
    3. THROW
    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.
    6. COMPLETE?
    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 [8].
    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.



  • GalidorneveragainGalidorneveragain Member Posts: 89
    I will first start off washing all the pieces, even if they include Megabloks etc
    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
    7894 Airport
    4752 Professor Lupin's Classroom
    4729 Dumbledores Office
  • AvengerDrAvengerDr Member Posts: 453
    What's the price per Kg under which you'd consider buying a lot a worthwhile investment?
  • FatMattFatMatt USMember Posts: 502
    ^I use per lb :), but a simple conversion will answer your question. Generally around $4 per lb. or less is what I go after, but it is all relative to what is in the lot and the condition. If it is not in that great condition I generally won't even mess with it unless I get it dirt cheap. If there are valuable figures and sets in there I have paid close to $10 per lb. and still made a good profit in the past. I once paid $230 shipped for a 25lb lot and upon arrival and sorting found %98 of a USC MF, a BSB, and a variety of other smaller sets.
  • 4brickmoney4brickmoney Member Posts: 27
    If it is a big box my first step is to try to get it in the house without my wife seeing it.
    All_That_Rocks
  • greekmickgreekmick UKMember Posts: 710
    edited May 2012
    Ok, I bought a few kilos of loose lego, washed it and sorted into colours (I know!!), now what??

    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?
  • SupersympaSupersympa SwedenMember Posts: 534
    what I do when i buy a large amount (and if there are instructions) I try to build and complete the sets I really want. once that done, I keep the parts I want for future mocs or other things, and the rest go either to the son's bin so he can play with it, or i sell the it.
  • caperberrycaperberry LondonMember Posts: 2,226
    @greekmick Personally I would just get MOCing but figuring out the sets is an interesting challenge. Your approach sounds good, locate rarer pieces and guess the sets. Bricklink would be good for that.

    If you logged all your pieces and uploaded the file to Rebrickable, it should hopefully give you some 100% results on sets
  • cynthilinacynthilina Member Posts: 188
    I have wanted to buy lots from eBay and craigslist but I noticed that the vast majority want at least 9-10 bucks a pound. Is this becoming the normal price for per pound Lego or is it that people think they are worth that much?
  • HobHob My Lego houseMember Posts: 223
    I've had a few good finds of large lots. Normally i sit down and take any "other" bits out and store them away in the bin. I then try and ID any bits that may belong to sets. Look up on peeron or blicklink and make a note of the set numbers then sort out in to colours then try and piece toghther the sets if i can. Normally takes ages and at present am going through 2 boxes of stuff. Found some good bits and aload of Harry Potter castle bits.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,062
    edited May 2012
    I believe there is another thread discussing this as well.

    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.
  • DiggydoesDiggydoes Cologne/GermanyMember Posts: 1,079
    I've just bought a small lot on Ebay with some Spongebob stuff (i was after a few parts the pics were showing). When i receieved the Box i was so happy to see that there was also the Light-Bluish Grey Door as used in CC inside,BUT besides a lot of Megabloks(?)that were not stated in the auction i also found a child-tooth!!! Man this is the nastiest thing that ever happened to me! I don't even want to touch the pieces no more! Sorry for getting a little off-topic but i had to share this!
  • starfire2starfire2 Phoenix AZMember Posts: 1,329
    ^ EWWW! I wouldn't want to either!!! But good find on the door!!
  • cynthilinacynthilina Member Posts: 188
    I would leave a really negative comment on this one.
  • DiggydoesDiggydoes Cologne/GermanyMember Posts: 1,079
    I wrote the person that this was REALLY nasty! She replied that her 12yr old son packed everything (she was busy or some)! I'm feeling bad leaving negative feedback because the door is worth double than what i've paid for the lot!
  • cynthilinacynthilina Member Posts: 188
    I wouldn't feel bad. You got a rather unwelcome surprise.
  • starfire2starfire2 Phoenix AZMember Posts: 1,329
    You could leave a neutral, saying " Quick shipping, but had lots of Megabloks and other debri."
  • DiggydoesDiggydoes Cologne/GermanyMember Posts: 1,079
    Hmm i know i just don't like leaving neg.Feedback! But maybe it's necessary even for other Ebay-users considering buying from that person!
  • mrseatlemrseatle Member Posts: 410
    Awesome! I've only bought a couple shoebox size mixed lots off ebay so far. But after reading this i'm off to search for a real bulk deal. There is one on craigslist right now; 200 lbs for $1200. Not ready for that one, but it looks like a good deal, since it comes with dozens of plastic storage boxes too.
  • red237red237 Member Posts: 300
    edited May 2012
    Hi all. I am newer to the forum, so sorry if this is already posted somewhere but I can't find it.

    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!
  • soundczarsoundczar Member Posts: 21
    Your process is similar to mine. Once I wash and sort out the junk, I use Minifigs and unique pieces to assemble any sets that are there. Any left over pieces go to my MOC bins. The sets I want, I keep, those I don't I sell, or recently I have been donating them to fundraising auctions at my school, and take the tax write-off at full value. The kids go crazy when they see Lego in the school auctions!
  • fyrmedhattfyrmedhatt Member Posts: 128
    Awesome! I've only bought a couple shoebox size mixed lots off ebay so far. But after reading this i'm off to search for a real bulk deal. There is one on craigslist right now; 200 lbs for $1200. Not ready for that one, but it looks like a good deal, since it comes with dozens of plastic storage boxes too.
    I saw that one too, and it looked like a good lot. The lack of instruction manuals kind of scares me though, as I feel the care taken in preserving the instruction manuals is probably reflective of the condition of the rest of the Lego. The $6/lb is good though, and the lot is probably not a bad catch for whoever buys it is the sets shown in the photos are reasonably intact.

  • GothamConstructionCoGothamConstructionCo Colchester UKMember Posts: 778
    I've just bought a small lot on Ebay with some Spongebob stuff (i was after a few parts the pics were showing). When i receieved the Box i was so happy to see that there was also the Light-Bluish Grey Door as used in CC inside,BUT besides a lot of Megabloks(?)that were not stated in the auction i also found a child-tooth!!! Man this is the nastiest thing that ever happened to me! I don't even want to touch the pieces no more! Sorry for getting a little off-topic but i had to share this!
    You could even make a return on the tooth if you try putting it under your pillow ;o)
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,062
    I've just bought a small lot on Ebay with some Spongebob stuff (i was after a few parts the pics were showing). When i receieved the Box i was so happy to see that there was also the Light-Bluish Grey Door as used in CC inside,BUT besides a lot of Megabloks(?)that were not stated in the auction i also found a child-tooth!!! Man this is the nastiest thing that ever happened to me! I don't even want to touch the pieces no more! Sorry for getting a little off-topic but i had to share this!
    I have found worse in eBay lots (man I really hope that was chocolate or dirt)... but then again thats why Soap was invented.
    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.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,062
    Hi all. I am newer to the forum, so sorry if this is already posted somewhere but I can't find it.

    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!
    Take the 'special' pieces (like stickered printed parts, or like ship masts for example. And go to Bricklink.com. Select 'catalog items' from the drop down and enter what is on the part.. 9 times out of 10 it wil come up with a match.
  • littletokilittletoki Member Posts: 519
    Apparently, my current approach is to let the Lego sit in giant bins for months and months and then add more.

    I'm currently up to 300lbs of Lego that needs to be cleaned, sorted and identified.

    :O
    murphquake
  • cynthilinacynthilina Member Posts: 188
    dont let it sit to long. I did that and the wife said to get rid of it. Blasphemy!!!!!!!!!

  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 19,645
    My approach is to put the kettle on and think "What have I done?"
  • jadedancjadedanc USAMember Posts: 1,303
    @littletoki Need any help down there in sorting :) I ask one pound for every 10 pounds I sort :) Or some of your VAST minifig collection
  • mrseatlemrseatle Member Posts: 410
    A childs tooth? ...gotta be some kind of use for that ;)
  • AFFOL_Shellz_BellzAFFOL_Shellz_Bellz Member Posts: 1,263
    1. Sort out the junk and bricks with major damage.
    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!
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,062
    Apparently, my current approach is to let the Lego sit in giant bins for months and months and then add more.

    I'm currently up to 300lbs of Lego that needs to be cleaned, sorted and identified.

    :O
    I do not do this only because I want to keep the lots separate for rebuilding the sets, and want to ensure the brick I use is from that batch.. It may sound a bit silly, but I believe the color 'tone' for each lot can be somewhat unique to that lot, either way I usually have a good idea of what is in the lots and taking parts that may have been needed to finish a set that was in another lot is a bit counter productive.. of course, this is only if you are building the sets back out of the lot you bought.
  • scratchdeskscratchdesk Member Posts: 155
    My thumb hurts =[

    hate prying apart 1x2s
  • LegobrandonCPLegobrandonCP CanadaMember Posts: 1,917
    My thumb hurts =[

    hate prying apart 1x2s
    Get 2 brick separators! To be honest, I had no idea how to us the brick separator at first, I just bought it at the LEGO store because it looked cool. It was my sister who figured it out. :-D
  • littletokilittletoki Member Posts: 519
    I do not do this only because I want to keep the lots separate for rebuilding the sets, and want to ensure the brick I use is from that batch.
    Yup, all of the lots are in their separate bins. I wash/sort/identify sets based on the individual lot. We're very careful (anal) about mixing lots/batches.

    I may have to take @jadedanc up on her offer to sort. LOL.
  • jadedancjadedanc USAMember Posts: 1,303
    Hey I will be retired medically from the Army in a little bit. And I am not THAT far from ya @littletoki. I am up in Tacoma. Cali aint that far away for a military person lol. Try a flight from Seattle to Iraq lol, that was a plane ride! Well technically we went to Kuwait on the same plane.
  • Bosstone100Bosstone100 USAMember Posts: 1,434
    I bought a brick seperator too. What's the secret?
  • LegobrandonCPLegobrandonCP CanadaMember Posts: 1,917
    If you don't know how to use a brick separator, the ever so talented Jamie Berard has a nice instructional video demonstration that can be seen here: http://creator.lego.com/en-us/Designers/BuildingTips/Extra.aspx#Extra_143153
  • dimefielddimefield Edmonton Alberta CanadaMember Posts: 314
    I got my first brick separator in a bulk lot. Was amazed and astonished... why didnt i have one (or two) of these before!! My childhood bricks would be in much better shape for sure.
  • jadedancjadedanc USAMember Posts: 1,303
    I now have 4 :) there were a few sets I bought recently that came with a brick seperator, so I now have 3 orange & 1 green seperator lol
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 19,645
    ^^^ "Good for your dentist but not good for your teeth." No mention of it is bad for your Lego too!
  • greekmickgreekmick UKMember Posts: 710
    I saw them for sale in the local legostore and thought I needed one even though I had no clue what it was or did. I felt such a fraud looking for a video on how to use the item. Have to say though the best £1.99 I have spent.
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