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Buying in advance - for small child

alaskaguyalaskaguy Member Posts: 335
I had Legos as a child - late 70s Legoland town sets and classic space.  Sadly, most of them are long, long gone almost 40 years later, but I did find a box of pieces and parts around my parent's house and took them when I was there recently.  I looked through my pieces with some nostalgia and then started looking up sets, shocked at what I found (prices for Galaxy Explorer, etc.). It really is too bad that the ones I found are probably only a tenth of what I had as a child. At rate, I will give these Legos to my child when he is old enough to safely play with them.

For some reason, I watched the Lego "Brickumentary" rather out of the blue on Amazon. I learned of the Cuusoo initiative and the Curiosity Rover.  I decided I had to get one of those for my kid.  Now, I didn't realize that the Brickumentary was several years old by the time I watched it - and that the Mars Rover was long since out of stock.  Very disappointed of course, but I was mentally committed to getting one...even though it cost me, $220. Then I noticed the cool Arctic sets, which by that point, had gone into "unavailable" status with the prices that follow.

Determined not to let THAT happen again, I decided to start buying other Legos for my child NOW, so that when he is old enough to play with them, there will be a lot of sets, bought at TODAY's prices, and bought when I (mostly) have the money and can get them on sale (my rule is at least 40% off retail unless I make an exception), rather than "on the spot" for birthdays, Christmases, etc.

Being "down on commercialism" and "child-directed marketing" in general - I'm not buying, nor will I ever buy, movie-themed sets like Star Wars or Marvel Superheros, etc. My goal here is also not "collectability" either...but I also don't want to pay more than I have to. I'm trying to balance availability vs price in a sort of hedging activity.   Anyway - I buy things that I think have real learning value or can be of general interest.  So this means City sets that are science-based or municipality based (police, fire, etc.), automotive-based sets, space-based sets (that are not movie-based), Technic sets, etc.

My question: To what extent am I just throwing away money that could be better spent?  The sets that I am buying will sit unused, in the box, for a LONG time.  My child is only 15 months old as I write this.  Although he is playing with used Duplo blocks now, he will not get even the smallest/simplest Lego sets for another 4 years at least - and the "good" sets could be in the box, sealed, for 10 years or more!

Am I better off putting the cash aside every time I see a set I would actually buy, and then invest that cash over that same time period - and then buy whatever Legos are out at the time?   It is worth pointing out that we're not exactly sacrificing more critical things at the moment to buy Legos.  I have been putting $200/month into his education fund since several months before he was even born (and will increase that as I get some bills paid off).  But I could be putting the Lego money in there too.

As it stands right now, according to my spreadsheet, I've paid close to $2300 for the Lego sets I have bought, since 11/23/2016 (when he was about 9 months old).  By comparison, his education fund is currently sitting at $4500.  Looking through my list, I see sets like this:

  • Saturn V Rocket, Mars Curiosity Rover, Exo Suit
  • City Volcano, City Deep Sea, City Police, City Fire, City Arctic
  • Speed Champions
  • Creator (smaller sets), a few random vehicle sets
  • A few smaller Technic sets
  • Lego Maze Building Kit
I know I have gotten a little out of control (that was driven by a few good sales where I bought multiple copies of a few things, just to get the brick pile going). The PACE will certainly be slowing down - but I am wondering about the advisability of "buying now" at all.  I mean, the kid is probably not going to care that maybe he COULD have some cool set if I had bought it 10 or 12 years earlier.

What do you guys think?



  • Toc13Toc13 Member Posts: 1,150
    City Police & Fire will be remade every year so don't worry about getting those.
    Speed Champions - the cars will change by the time he plays with them. Again don't worry on these.

    The Saturn rocket & similar I think are good buys as they show space exploration history. Any similar sets that come out would be worth getting.

    Technic can wait, there'll always be more.

    Creator 3 in 1, if you find them cheap are generally worth getting. They'll be around later  in some form  but I think the multiple builds make these about the most cost-effective. There seems to be a Dinosaur, Boat, Plane, Car cycle going on.

    Volcano/Arctic/Jungle - much of a muchness in terms of playing with. Jungle may be the more interesting because of the big cats, otherwise it's a bunch of 'scientists' 'lab' & other appropriate vehicle. Pick one you like, don't worry about getting the others
  • tamamahmtamamahm Member Posts: 1,987
    I have three kids. I am on this site first as a means to understand what is coming down the pipe, what sales are out there and what is retiring. Then I am on here as an AFOL.

    A few things...
    - Your kiddo may hit Lego earlier than you anticipate. Mine started building at 3, and first large set at 4. He truly loved the Atlantis sets. At 5, though, is a slightly more typical range I have seen kids start to build. Point. There is a range and it may be a bit earlier than anticipated.

    - I really get going for the educational build aspect. This is why I bought Saturn V for my kids. At the same time... your kiddo is too young to know what they will love. There is something to be said for understanding what sets they will be passionate about. There is also something to be said for not disqualifying licensed sets. What I mean by that. My kids had HP sets. A licensed line, sure... but hours and hoursof sheer imaginative play that occurred in a world they were passionate about... that had so much value. I agree it does not make sense to pick up licensed sets now when you do not know your kids Interest, but you may find down the road you have a kiddo that is enthralled with super heroes and despite the license their is a great amount of imaginative play there.
    Anyway, my point is I agree with not buying licensed for now, because that holds better over the years in terms of generic play, but you may find in the future he gravitates to a specific license.

    - Yes. Slow it way down. I buy sales. I shop sales. This is how I make my money stretch.... BUT, what happens is this... I have X sets stashed and I think I am going to use them for Christmas, but the summer sets that year are these really cool Lego City Area 51 Science Explorers, or Lego City Jungle, etc. and my kids sees those. Those go to the top of his list as a must have Christmas gift he really really really likes and then, I hold my stash for another year. Stashes are great, and I do use my stash, but I have way too much in my stash from buying on sales and I do wish I would have slowed a bit.

    Looking at your list, I would have bought the space sets you listed (I have those, and the women of NASA will also come here), and that maze set. Those are all pretty educational and cool. From there, Most of the others I would have not bought, with the exception... if I can get the big summer Lego city set on sale, I do buy that. This year's volcano set was the exception because my kid had zero interest. I have found that the older he gets that what has the most value and bang for the buck is the large Lego set. 

    So yes... slow it down and save some of the money for a Lego fund, but if you truly see that large set at a good price that you think would be great for play or that really educational set, then consider it. Then as his personality develops and you see what he gravitates to you will have some good non-licensed sets and have a monetary stash to buy themes he gravitated to whether unlicensed or licensed.

  • YodaliciousYodalicious Member Posts: 1,366
    I did much of the same for both of my sons. Actually, I still do. They are almost 5 and almost 2 now and the older one LOVES LEGO. The younger one is already taking a liking to it too.

    The only "issue" I see with your plan is the types of sets you're buying. And let me say, it's not an issue at all because to each his own. But anyway, since you are staying away from the licensed sets, a lot of what you are buying is likely to be repeated. Well, maybe not a lot of it, but the City stuff mostly. Police especially is a common theme and LEGO constantly releases new versions of them. Take #60139 for instance. #60044 was released in 2014 and is very similar. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Other versions were released in prior years as well.

    Even full City sub-themes are redone and put out again from time to time. The upcoming Coast Guard sets for instance. There was a Coast Guard sub-theme only a few years ago and now it's out again.

    It's not an exact science as some of the sub-themes come and are never seen from again or have long timeframes between releases, but others see frequent updates.

    When I bought for my sons early on, it was stuff I didn't think would be released again. Or at least not released for some good time. So that was LotR/Hobbit, modular buildings, harder to find sets, etc. Of course, that also included the last Death Star (basically re-released last year) and a Millenium Falcon (only to have The Force Awakens version to come out a couple of years later, which I earmarked for my younger son, so HEY they each have one now), but it is what it is.

    Since you aren't going the licensed theme route, I'd just look at the sets and the history of what LEGO has produced. Don't jump at a City Police Prisoner Transport for instance unless you really like that specific version because odds are another one is only about 2-3 years away at the most.
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie Member Posts: 1,832
    Welcome to the forum! I also was playing with Lego in the late 70s, just got back into it in 2014. 

    Have you looked at buying used Lego? There are several ads on Craigslist Pittsburgh that I would jump at if they were local. Of course that also runs the risk of getting non-Lego junk mixed in, but a few good used buys can add lots of parts to your collection a lot cheaper than buying at retail.
  • tamamahmtamamahm Member Posts: 1,987
    ^Agree. Definitely do not go for sets that you know will be rehashed.

    The other thing I alluded to, but forgot to mention... even at 3 my son had strong opinions of what he liked to play with. He never looked at the City sets and oohed and aaahed, even when he was little. In fact, the only City set he oohed over with a Police Station, and that was only after watching the megafactory show which showed the Lego factory and that set.

    He has always gravitated to cool alien creatures. That is just him and personality. Atlantis, PowerMiners, Alien Conquest and Galaxy Squad. He truly loved all the non-licensed Creature/alien sets. If I would have simply stashed City, most of my money would have gone to waste, simply because that is not the theme he loves. Now, plenty of other kids are the flip, where they would adore City, but have zero interest in aliens or creatures, but at 15 months it is impossible to tell with your kiddo yet. 
  • VenunderVenunder Member Posts: 2,668
    Do what you feel is right,
    Buy some lego now, but saving some money in a Lego fund will allow you to buy the cool new Lego that will be available in 5 years time. It also gives you a rainy day fund if something unexpected happens. 

    Also remember that generally the cost of everything roughly doubles every 10 years. Although there have been some exceptions to that rule of thumb.
    If education costs 50K now, in 10 years it will probably cost 100K in 15 years 150K. 
  • monkey_roomonkey_roo Member Posts: 1,411
    It's a tough one. I have three kids and have done that. I have elf, freinds and Disney sets put away, Star Wars, nijago and a few other inbetween. And while it is a good idea to put sets aside the reality is new sets always come along and you have no idea what a 9 month old will be into when they are 5+

    for or example I bought almost all the Disney Cars sets thinking my then 1 year old would love them when hie was 4 or 5, turns out he couldn't care less and only wants Nexo Knights... A theme I hadn't even concidered, so now I have a cupboard full of cars sets and my son a growing Nexo collection, same with Star Wars, much to my distress he blows hot and cold.

    another thing to remember is that as the years roll on a set May amass such an after market value that selling it becomes a better option. I bought a few kingdoms sets for my son but by the time he was the right age he didn't want them and the price was such I could sell and by different sets.

    i guess I am saying planing ahead is a good thing, but there are also unforeseen risks in that approach... Now I'm off to build around 20 cars sets :)
  • catwranglercatwrangler Member Posts: 1,895
    Yeah, I think if you're going to put anything aside, go with Creator as someone suggested above. It's very versatile, both within a set as many of them have instructions for 3 models, and in terms of the pieces. So if your kid likes to build at all, at least with Creator they'll have plenty of the raw materials - for a lot of kids it ends up being the big pile of mixed-up elements that is more appealing than the pictures on the box, anyway. 
  • alaskaguyalaskaguy Member Posts: 335
    edited June 2017


    Thank you for taking the time to comment – it is appreciated.

    With respect to police & fire – good points.  I have not bought much of either – what little I do have were 40% off – that’s what spurred me.

    Saturn V I would have bought no matter what...the only question is “how many?” (:

    As for Technic waiting...I thought that was an interesting comment. There will always be more – but will they be as good? Maybe...maybe not.  I can tell you that if I had the cash to blow, I would have bought ALL of the recent construction vehicles.  I REALLY wanted that mobile crane for him.

    I wasn’t sure what “much of a muchness” means.  But I can tell you that volcano/arctic/jungle reflect my own interests, which of course, I am interested in trying to pass on (but not force on) if possible. They are things I can relate to at least (unlike, say, the Bionicle stuff).

    As for not disqualifying the “licensed” (child-marketed) sets....I know that not everyone will agree...but it is something my wife and I feel pretty strongly about.  It carries over into a lot of areas, but overall it amounts to avoiding mass media across the board (movies, tv, related clothing, etc.). Yeah...that comes with certain issues – but that’s just the strategy we’re taking.  The Christmas list is a good’s just not something I believe in – keeping a list of things you want for someone to give you and then expect them to fulfill it. Just not how we’re going to do things.

    I WOULD have bought that “women of NASA” set, had it not been so politically motivated and so blatant.  I wanted to like it. I truly did. If they would have done a really good 1000 piece Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin, Hypatia of Alexandria, or other such set that had some kind of actual science going on, that would have been one thing.  But a paleontologist, astronomer and chemist sharing a small lab?  What is their project?  Trying to determine if the fossil chemical composition of the dinosaur is a good match for whatever the other one is looking at in the telescope?  At the end of the day – I just couldn’t justify supporting the politics by buying a copy of that set.

    I’d like to buy the modular buildings for him...but at those prices...very hard to swallow, compared to other options.

    On buying used Lego...sure, I’d buy used Lego. But so much of what people are selling are the licensed sets that I’m not interested in. But yeah, if the right thing pops up on Craigslist at the right price, I’d be all over it. But I’m not buying anything on EBay or whatever. Just burned too many times buying stuff from random people on-line, regardless of their “feedback”.  On that note – over the weekend, I walked into a thrift store because I happened to be walking by – and I walked out with a HUGE tub of Legos for $106 (with tax).  I have not weighed it yet – I am sorting through and seeing what is there (a lot of Bionicle stuff, Ninjago, etc.) – but there are a lot of Technic types of pieces, which I am happy about.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this stuff is 40 pounds or more. There are a LOT of pieces.  I’ll write more about it after I’ve sorted through.  And yeah, I’m finding some Megablock pieces – which I promptly toss in the trash – but  not many.

    But you guys do strike at part of why I was asking....interest level.  I don’t want to force my interests on him – but I certainly see it as my role to provide exposure...and the science stuff I can at least relate to when playing with him. Stuff like Ninjago and such...not so much.

    If I look at the sets I bought in 2016....there are 28 different sets, with 15 of them being under $10.  So not much “investment” in any particular one of those (a lot of starter sets, and one level up from that sets).   If you just look at the $10-$50 sets, there are 7 of those, and none of them are police/fire. They’re things like Sea Plane, Ocean Explorer, Getaway Racer, Arctic Ice Crawler, Deep Sea Submarine, Exosuit and Deep Sea Helicopter.   That’s mostly space/science/mechanical stuff.   If you look at the $50+ sets, there are only 6 of those.  Two are Deep Sea, one is the Maze, one Mars Rover, one Arctic Truck – and Benny’s Spaceship (a Movie-Exception, yes...but the ship stands on its own as a throwback to Space).  Anyway – more space/science/mechanical stuff. 

    In 2017, there are 19 different sets, but these are all more expensive ones.  Only one under $10, but a bunch under $15.  The Speed Champions sets represent 10/19 sets. Cars are timeless, right?  The only Fire in there is the Fire Engine set, which I got for 40% off, and the police one is Police Pursuit at $18.  So no real investment in police/fire yet. So I will take your advice on those – thanks.

    My main issue is that I am heavily invested in the Deep Sea Operation Base.  I really like that set...and I wanted him to have the option to make a bigger, better, nicer, more realistic and functional base.....and....for that reason....and because of good sales.....well.....I  have a total of seven copies of set 60096.  But man, he is gonna have plenty of yellow bricks to work with!

    I want to get that Volcano Heavy Lift Helicopter for him, to round out that series, but I don’t want to pay more than $90 for it.  If I can get it for that, I’ll go ahead and get one. Waiting for a sale (:

    The City Jungle series has appeal. Any comments on that one?

    Any other 2017 series I should be looking at, given the limits and constraints I have expressed?

    Thank you for your help!


  • tamamahmtamamahm Member Posts: 1,987
    alaskaguy said:


    As for not disqualifying the “licensed” (child-marketed) sets....I know that not everyone will agree...but it is something my wife and I feel pretty strongly about.  It carries over into a lot of areas, but overall it amounts to avoiding mass media across the board (movies, tv, related clothing, etc.). 

    I really do understand, and it is not a matter of agreeing or disagreeing, but just personal philosophy.  My comments were more from after having 3 kids, we found our initial thoughts with my first at 15 months, did morph and change over time for various reasons.  We also had to really consider what is considered licensed... for example, was there a difference for us in something like Cars vs. HP which my kids were obsessed with due to the books and not the movies. Where do in house themes fall and are some considered more licensed than others? They were questions we had not initially fleshed out, because one does not need to at that young an age.

    I WOULD have bought that “women of NASA” set, had it not been so politically motivated and so blatant.  I wanted to like it. I truly did. If they would have done a really good 1000 piece Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin, Hypatia of Alexandria, or other such set that had some kind of actual science going on, that would have been one thing.  But a paleontologist, astronomer and chemist sharing a small lab?  What is their project?  Trying to determine if the fossil chemical composition of the dinosaur is a good match for whatever the other one is looking at in the telescope?  At the end of the day – I just couldn’t justify supporting the politics by buying a copy of that set.

    I think you are mixing two different sets. The Women of NASA set has not come out yet, which the Research Institute is what you are referring to. If, though, you found the other set politically motivated, you may find this one as well. For me, I like some of the potential space related outfits, and scenery items that will go with our space sets, but most importantly vignettes are one of my Fav builds. 

    But you guys do strike at part of why I was asking....interest level.  I don’t want to force my interests on him – but I certainly see it as my role to provide exposure...and the science stuff I can at least relate to when playing with him. Stuff like Ninjago and such...not so much.

    Yes, Lego is a great vehicle for exposure to concepts. Robotics, science, etc. I do think there is a place for both.

    Based on your set description, I woudl really recommend holding off on any more small sets. They are cheap enough you can pick them up later, and the reality is kids outgrow those small sets fast. Cars one would think are timeless, but not necessarily. I had one kid absolutely obsessed with cars...from 2.5 until 3. When he turned 3, it was like a switch, and his interest on cars completely dropped to nil. Many kids really do still like them, but I do happen to have a case that shows cars are not timeless for many kids... oh, and 7 copies of Deep Sea Operation Base?? Wow. Mmm. Maybe scale that back a bit for future buying.

  • tamamahmtamamahm Member Posts: 1,987
    One more thing I forgot.. we hAve really enjoyed picking up 'themes'. 
    We have Christmas, winter, Halloween, Summer. With Halloween, it was fun looking at various sets to see how we could add into that theme even when Lego might not have a Halloween set out. With summer, if you look over a few year period you can start to pick things up. For example, we have a lighthouse, and I just picked up the cabin set with a moose. We had a pirate island base, and we created our own mermaid island. When you pick a theme like that, it does allow you a bit more creativity than just a planned Lego theme. For example, with my winter sets (non-holiday, but winter), we picked up a cabin with a small mountain and then proceeded to add snow to make it feel like a winter scene. For Spring, I took a bunch of Ninjago temples, and we changed some of the trees to bloooming flower trees for the spring, and then we built our own baby dragons to go with the display. 

    As a family, we have had a ton of fun really developing these sort of display and play scenes.  Something like that may be up your alley, because it really is not licensed, but the fun part is you can look across themes for set bases to use and morph to make fit the theme. (Such as a China spider set that we added to a swampy area in our Halloween display).
  • monstblitzmonstblitz Member Posts: 653
    I've had similar dilemmas purchasing Lego for my children.  They are 3 and 5 so it's a different dilemma.  There are some that they can play with and enjoy now, others that just don't pack the bang for the buck.  To your question, and I think others have advised you similarly - If I see something that I know is unique and will be potentially on secondary market, I buy it now, even if they are still too young for it.  Perfect example - Disney Castle.  They aren't old enough to appreciate a set of that size but I don't know how long it will be around for and I know it will be a fun set to build with them someday so I bought it. 

    If you're anything like me, be careful spoiling them with Lego.  When I was a kid I got nothing but generic blocks which probably explains why I have gone overboard with Lego as an adult.  I was determined to not subject my children to the atrocity of Mega Block, but I've created the opposite problem.  I can bring home a $200 Lego set and get zero response.  They don't care.  They have seen me come in with so many boxes of Lego that they don't consider it a gift anymore.  So I've cut way back.  I hide my own purchases, and treat them to Lego only on special occasions.  As they get older they are starting to have more fun with Lego.  I have a huge backlog where I've been able to settle down on the purchases.  I could build a set with them a week and not run out for over a year.  I'm only averaging about 1 a month right now with them so we are set for awhile.  I'm only buying them CMF now and maybe a small present on trips to the Lego store. 
  • MrShinyAndNewMrShinyAndNew Member Posts: 286
    A couple of observations from my own kids:

    1. My daughter was really into Lego until she was 7, then poof, gone. Now she has actually returned Lego birthday presents for store credit. This could happen with any kid and then your backlog becomes... well, not useless, but less useful. For example, I have that Research Institute set, which I had planned to give her, but I think she just wouldn't care about it now.

    2. Judging by the set lists on Rebrickable, my son (7, started building at 3, still loves Lego) has more Lego at his age than I ever had as a child (more than me and my brother combined). So he's a bit spoiled for Lego and doesn't always appreciate it as much. Also, he doesn't play with it much: more often than not he builds with MY Lego, because why wouldn't he, there's so much more of it. This has led me to cut back on the Lego giving, because it's not a good use of money.

    3. Your kids' interests may not align with yours. My son shows very little interest in city things (except trains) and instead prefers Nexo Knights. I prefer Creator, modular buildings, etc. If I had built a backlog of sets to give him, there's a good chance they wouldn't have matched his desires. And actually we've seen this happen, where a set bought on sale after Christmas is already disfavored by his April birthday.

    4. Many sets get rereleased in some form or other. The City sets are constantly being redone, and so are Creator sets. If you miss a particular car or fire station or whatever, another will be along soon and newer sets are often better designed than older sets. There are themes and sub-themes that disappear, like the Arctic theme: missed it, it's gone. Focus on buying unique things that won't be coming back. A good example is basically anything from the Creator Expert line. There aren't many in that category each year and it takes years before one gets rereleased if at all. 

    5. Buy everything designed by Jamie Berard. Save them for your kid or yourself or resell them in 10 years on ebay. 

    6. Trains are a good long-term building project. You can buy one train now to get started, then buy track every so often. Once in a while there's a non-City train, like the Hogwarts Express or the Christmas train or the Creator Express trains. If you like trains and like spending money on Lego, this is the direction to go! It has no bottom. The limits are your wallet.

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