Shopping at LEGO or Amazon?
Please use our links: LEGO.com
As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
Best for Reselling: Large Sets vs. Small Sets?
Is it better to purchase smaller or larger sets from a resale standpoint? I've thought about this for awhile because there are so many factors that can impact the sets I purchase with the intent of reselling:
1) Required storage space - Recently, I've had to invest in additional storage space as many others have had to do as well. Obviously, smaller sets take less room.
2) Ease of packing - I tend to repack my sets in larger cardboard boxes to help protect the set boxes. A set like the IF fills up 2/3 of a lego shipping box and it can be tricky filling in the remaining empty space within the shipping box (to be more efficient space-wise). It is much easier/efficient packing smaller sets in a larger protective cardboard box than it is with larger sets.
3) Cost to sell per set - It seems like a single larger set would have less fees on average than multiple smaller sets of the same overall value. I'm thinking of eBay fees, Amazon fees, etc., shipping and handling fees, and even time processing/packing and taking to the post office.
4) Cost to purchase per set by reseller - It may be easier to afford smaller sets that are on sale prior to the EOLing of that particular set. Unfortunately it may take more work to find multiple smaller sets that equal one larger set.
5) Rarity of sets (assuming there are less larger sets) - I have no idea on this item. Conventional wisdom would say that larger sets would be rarer due to their higher price. But I guess one also has to take into account how long a given set has been out.
6) Demand of smaller sets vs. larger sets in the aftermarket - Is there a difference? I would assume that the larger sets would be more in demand due to their rarity (with respect to smaller sets)?
7) Affordability for buyer in the aftermarket - Are smaller sets more affordable (relatively speaking) than larger sets after EOL? If the price per piece is constant, then they should be; however, affordability may not be a big aspect if someone is purchasing something they consider to be rare or desirable.
8) Profitability - This is the most important item on the list for the reseller (and me). After everything is considered, which is more profitable: smaller sets, larger sets, or unknown.
9) Etc..... - There may be other factors to be considered regarding the size of sets to purchase with the intent to resell.
It seems like everyone is grabbing larger sets (including me, but I may just be going along with the crowd) such as IF, EN, HP DA, etc. I guess I'm wondering what the sweet spot is (or is there one) for the best-sized set to purchase with the intent to resell assuming everything else is equal (which may also be a bad assumption)? Or is it all a wash?
Shopping at LEGO.com or Amazon?
Please use our links: LEGO.com • Amazon
Recent discussions •
Not saying that smaller sets are the way to go. Just saying I don't automatically dismiss them. If the set will fit in a USPS Priority Mail box it is a big plus to me.
Yup, I have sold a MF for $1,000+ and made a huge profit off of it. But, I was so paranoid about it getting to the buyer in primo condition I double boxed it and insured it with signature. The insurance was pricey and the seller didn't like having to sign for it. It was a bit of a headache. Not complaining, just saying that big boxes have their own set of hassles. Just my take on it.
Personally I sell whatever I think will bring a nice profit. I guess I am one of those that don't put all of my eggs in one basket kinda guys.
I have sold Indiana Jones, Spongebob, Star Wars, Creator, POC. Big and small.
Overall, are the percentage margins (not the real dollars, euros, etc.) about the same for large and small sets? For example, I noticed that the Power Miner Stone Chopper (8956) that originally went for $6 for MISB is now going for close to $20 including S&H. That's about 3X for a small set that was EOL'd a couple years ago. I remember that TRU was dumping them at $2.50 per set shortly after they were EOL'd and I grabbed about 20. So for me the percent margin would be about 5X after fees have been applied. So, do larger sets typically bring in 5X after they are EOL'd? I realize that I would have to sell more smaller sets to equate to a single larger set, and by doing that I might be "flooding the market" and eroding my own margins.
So, the larger sets are more rare, but the smaller sets are more affordable to the masses (and more plentiful). No secret there. As just stated, getting 5X profit on a $20 item is easier than with a $200 item, and they sell easier. A lot of people put a limit on a gift price. Whether it be $20, $50, $100, or $500. I am sure there are many more $20 limits. Again, probably stating things you already know.
This is coming from the perspective of already owning a separate business. No matter how you rationalize it, this is taking time away from your business, job, family, hobbies, what have you. Bigger sets just make the most sense for these reasons.
Now, if you are making this your business or your job/career responsibilities are minimal its a different story completely. The more you sell, the more you will sell as you drive more traffic to your store.
I suppose I could be interested in the smaller stuff if I ever focus on trying to complete an entire theme, but right now I'm mainly looking at sets that had a RRP at $100+.
I mean every set 200 plus or more always goes up....and worst case scenario you get the retail price. The only small set I would get right now at its rrp is the Dynamic duo since that set will be a 100 dollar set whenever its EOL. Now if you find sets for beyond cheap then thats another thing
The case for large sets:
- Usually better quality/ design, more likely to be iconic/ classics.
- Higher demand: Many kids wont have been able to afford them so will have missed out
- More aspirational: people feel more ready to buy into the dream of a 200% price hike on the Taj Mahal then on a creator Log Cabin
- All other things being equal, with smaller sets you need to sell more to make the same amount of profit, which is more hassle and overall higher postage cost.
The case against large sets:
- It's what everyone else does so is likely to become saturated soon, if not already.
- A pain to store. Personally, I have a lot more problems with the larger sets, as I like to seal them into plastic boxes for full protection, and its harder to get storage boxes large enough - I have to cobble together two joined together.
- They need larger boxes to ship in which also take more space
- They're a pain to take to the post office, and usually need to be taken by car rather than walking.
- Seldom on discount, at least not by as much
- Less likely to be affordable by kids/ parents after any hikes, so youre relying on the (much smaller) AFOL market much of the time.
I get a mixture of both, but now I think about it, I should be going for more middle sized sets.
It really pains me to see ebay auctions of people asking 20£ to ship a parcel that wouldn't take more than 7-8£ using those services.
The smallest sets have the biggest appreciation...
Lego STAR WARS Mini Building Sets
They are small, inexpensive, store easily, mail easily, accurate in appearance, simple to build, fun and bring back a big bang for your investment dollar!
"While the larger STAR WARS sets, such as the Millennium Falcon, set #10179-1, are the 'Belles of the Investment Ball,' the miniature version of the Millennium Falcon, set #4488-1, has more than doubled the 10179's appreciation percentage."
Yes, but you can't fairly make that comparison...
10179 was released in 2007, 4488 was released in 2003, so it is from another time.
In addition, compared to buying and selling a single 10179, to get the same "investment", you would have had to buy 71 of the mini-Falcons, which means you'd have to make 71 separate sales, ship 71 separate packages, etc.
More money, but lots more work...
Not every Lego collector/investor has the money to invest in the large Lego sets. The article was written to tell people that there is money to be made from the smaller sets, if the larger, pricier sets are not an option.
24x16x4" boxes cover a lot of what Lego makes (Battle of Endor for example)
24x20x4" boxes cover the larger stuff (Fire Brigade for example)
These boxes are not that expensive when purchased 25 at at time (less than a dollar each), so if you're serious about buying 5 of this and 10 of that, buy some boxes, you'll find you have less shipping damage, much less hassle when packing, and happier customers. This is a location specific problem... Come to Texas, you have to drive everywhere because if you walked, it would take an hour to go anywhere. :)
I don't use the post office for Lego anyway, I ship it all FedEx Ground, gets there in much better condition for about the same money, or less, and includes insurance and tracking with every sale.
Small Set < $50
Thoughts and comments?
@evileddie1313 If I was 16 I would be all over the poly bags. I get sucked into doing smaller sets and minifigs here and there and quickly realize why I prefer not to every time. They are one way of driving more traffic to your store, however.
I agree but havent seen anywhere that sells them, except some online at £50 each!
Take a quick look, there must be something similar in the UK
I do however think that somewhere down the line a small/medium set will catch a lot of people out and perform really well on the secondary market due to lack of supply. Having said that, some of you crazy people seem to have 10+ copies of every single set in existence!
@gmpirate or @LegoFanTexas,
I would be fascinated to know of any sets you have specifically avoided from the popular lines!
I finally just sold my last Tie Crawler last week at RRP. I only bought them originally to flip quickly before they became widely available (which I don't do anymore). I would never recommend sets like the current T-6 Shuttle, Gunship Geonosian Starship or Cane Bane's Speeder although I did pick them up at 50% or less. These kinds of sets just don't appreciate -- RRP at best. Sometimes the minifigs make them somewhat viable like Commander Cody in the Geonosian :P You can sell off the minifigs and keep the ship for some great parts on the cheap ;)
Off topic maybe, but there's a lot of sets to buy where you can just sell off some elements and keep the rest for free or for very little. Thinking the Batcave elements might be great for some Star Wars Base Moc someday I parted out a bunch of sets. Wound up with a bunch of free or close-to-free batcaves. Costs me time, true, but sometimes such ventures amuse me :P
The exception to the sets you mention there, for me at least, would be the Cad Bane Speeder. It wasn't that widely available, and the minifigs are great, so I think that might do ok. Agreed on the others. I actually only bought the T-6 Shuttle because it was so heavily discounted recently in the UK (£25), there is something a tad boring about it.
Or anyone else for that matter?
If anyone hears about any sales on 7965, please post....
I have always said that the smart investors don't invest in wall street, stock market, mutual funds, 401k, or any of that crap that can also loose you money. The smart invester buy Lego sets, hold onto them for a few years, then sell them at like 500% profit. A MUCH better return on your investment that you will never see in any stocks or bonds. =D
Removed Signature Block:YC 2/13/12
stocks can and do see 500% increases in relatively short periods of time.
401k usually allows "free money" in that you often get some % company match...it would be silly not to take advantage of that.
Using the UCS MF as an example on why to invest in Lego is like using AAPL as an example to put ALL your money in tech stocks...speaking of which If you put $400 in AAPL 5 yrs ago it would be worth apprx $2000 today, same as the UCS except without the giant box in your closet and no worries about selling to a shady buyer and losing a large % of your profit for 5 years "work".
If you want to invest in Lego, just use some "fun" money, not your life savings or retirement funds. Lastly, this should be common sense nowadays, but diversify your investments.
So, one consideration is - out difficult is it to pick a winner? Is it easier to pick a winning small set or large set? Because, that is a very important aspect.
I will say this, although I buy and sell both large and small. I think it is easier to pick a winner from the larger sets. They tend to be more iconic and/or unique. And, since minifigs are a draw now days they tend to have more minis. What do you all think?
Selecting a good set (large or small) to provide a nice return is more risky for a lot of reasons. The appreciation of sets is based more on emotion than logic (i.e., somebody can't live without that set), and it is more difficult to gauge the future emotions regarding a specific set. I realize that some stock are driven up based on emotions too, but I think those who pay over RRP for a set always have some degree of their emotions involved. I mean...we're talking about molded pieces of plastic...it's a toy.
While lego sets can be a great investment, one should always try to keep one's perspective. From a sellers point of view, it is important that a prospective buyer be as emotional as possible. At the same time, it is important that the seller be as unemotional as possible.
I paid 97 cents each for 24x20x4 and a bit less for 24x16x4 boxes two weeks before Christmas, and that included shipping, but I have an older account that gets free shipping over $300 orders, they don't do that for new accounts anymore.
Her likes and dislikes are a clue to me as to what may jump...
She also likes the Lighthouse, that one is also on my invest list...
the large sets where the money is these will skyrocket
GE since its a corner and will always be important
then the camper will do well just like the beetle. Even though I like the more expensive sets to hold.