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Decision time: Collecting or building?

LostInTranslationLostInTranslation UKMember Posts: 5,594
edited March 2012 in Collecting
Since getting back into Lego around a year ago, my main focus has been on buying new additions for my collection, building and displaying them, then packing them away again when I need more space.
In the last couple of months though (since I went to my first Lego event as an adult, and joined Brickish - coincidence?!?), I have wanted to build more of my own creations, and have bought some sets solely for parts purposes, in order to expand my building inventory. I'm not someone who wants to spend ages designing a model in LDD then purchasing the necessary parts, I like to spread a bunch of parts all across my living room floor then make it up as I go along, based on the ideas I have in my head - and I answer the bidding of the voices there too :-)

So far, so good. But my dilemma is now that I want to 'steal' certain parts from my collection sets for MOCing purposes (MMV, Hogwarts and Diagon Alley being some of the prime potential victims), and I have a feeling that if I go down that road, I'll never be able to find all the parts again in the future should I wish to rebuild them. So I've been considering buying a second set of each of the ones I mentioned, just so that I can have the parts to MOC with.

Am I crazy to be considering this, when I already have opened sets lurking in boxes under my bed, essentially sitting idle? I should probably add that I don't have a massive budget, so buying a second of any of these sets would be a big deal for me. I feel I know what I should do from an economic viewpoint but... something inside me rebels...

How do others reconcile both building and collecting? Anyone got any advice for me? Help!!


  • mathewmathew Member Posts: 2,098
    I've been going through the same dilemma. At this point I've decided that certain sets are off limits. These sets include MMV and MVR at this point. These are sets that are expensive (at least for me) and are collectable. I also save the boxes for these sets. For other sets that I have purchased such as the Creator log cabin and light house along with discounted or incomplete sets, they are being absorbed for MOC. I know that the Creator sets will have some long term value, but since they mostly use standard parts I'll be able to rebuild them someday if needed. I also primarily focus on Castle and Space themes so the Creator sets don't really fit.
  • YellowcastleYellowcastle Northern VirginiaAdministrator, Moderator Posts: 5,232
    edited March 2012
    As with most things, I think you'll find your answers in the movies...

    "Why build one when you can have two at twice the price?" :o)

    I imagine that many collectors do indeed buy multiples for this purpose. I myself do this with most of the Creator sets and those random ones that just grab me (Peril in Peru, City of Atlantis, MMV, etc.)
  • SirKevbagsSirKevbags Fairy Land Member Posts: 4,030
    Would it not be possible just to keep a record of what you borrow and from where? I know you don't keep boxes so just a slip of paper into the bag where the set is stored. Kind of an IOU. Then when you take the MOC down the borrowed parts go back in the bag making the set complete again.
  • MinifigsMeMinifigsMe Member Posts: 2,844
    I'm definitely in the same boat. I think I'm gonna bite the bullet with the sets I don't think I'll display again (potc etc...)
  • mathewmathew Member Posts: 2,098
    ^^ That sounds like a lot of work. Better use of the time would be to organize bricks into size and color to make MOC'ing more enjoyable.
  • 4brickmoney4brickmoney Member Posts: 27
    Build would be my answer. I have destroyed many a display searching for just the right color or curve. Sad thing is I often just shove the remains in a tub and dont properly sort it.
  • devilheaddevilhead Member Posts: 282
    Do whatever makes you happy.

    What about buying the specific parts you need seperately?
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    @LIT .. I tend to leave sets I like built and get another set to split, but focus on cheaper ones i.e. those which can be got at good price per piece, especially in the sales, otherwise you might as well get the parts you want off bricklink.

    Interesting that you chose those 3, as MMV and hogwarts are 2 I've purchased just to split - haven't done this with DA as I haven't seen it cheap enough. Mind you, it has better parts than Hogwarts by a mile, so it might be a better bet after all. Real cheapies are good if they have decent parts, i.e. my portal of atlantis just arrived, and I'm very pleased with that for the price as a parts pack.

  • KulshanGirlKulshanGirl Member Posts: 67
    I am in the same boat. I am considering pulling all of the minifigs, rare pieces, printed pieces, and whatever else is difficult to replace and set THAT aside in a ziploc for some sets. And then add all of the more common bits into a general inventory. That way, I have the box, instructions, and important parts for each set and can replace the other things without too much stress if I need to.

    I haven't done this yet, just considering it. I do have a tub of parts from sales and sets I am not attached to. I am only just beginning to MOC, I still prefer just turning pages and building the sets. :)
  • legomyLEGGOlegomyLEGGO Member Posts: 63
    If you went the building route, I would follow the suggestions of sorting by color or parts - whichever is easiest on you. I wouldn't worry about that you are mixing all the sets. You can think of all the "mixed" parts as one giant set. Whenever you need a part, it's essentially the same as when you just open up a box for the first time and sort out all the parts.

    I understand there can be a difference between the collecting and building aspect, but essentially when you're building you end up collecting anyway. In this case, you're collecting more parts to build. If you have limiting factors in your life, such as money, then my main suggesting is, as in life, is to live by your own means. You know you'll still have a blast building with what you have anyway. =)

    But if you can manage, I probably wouldn't try to buy a second set of something if all you want are certain parts, and it's only so many pieces that you end up using. If that is case, I suggest doing the PAB route for these particular pieces, and save yourself the cost of a second set. Heck, you might be lucky enough to find those pieces at the Lego store PAB wall, by using one of those Holiday boxes.

  • mathewmathew Member Posts: 2,098
    Real cheapies are good if they have decent parts, i.e. my portal of atlantis just arrived, and I'm very pleased with that for the price as a parts pack.

    I know that you're in the UK (I'm in the US), but where did you find Portal of Atlantis cheap? The cheapest I can find is $85 shipped.

  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 19,830
    You have opened the box. You are not a collector, but a consumer.

    I learnt that here ...
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,659
    edited March 2012
    ^^ - click the link below :

    Portal of Atlantis
  • KulshanGirlKulshanGirl Member Posts: 67
    See, I think that we are fortunate to collect something that we can play with. :) Every single one of my sets are opened and built. I see myself as a collector as well as a consumer. They may all be open, but they currently have and will have value. Not as much as sealed boxes (adjust glasses) but I think that the building experience/fun + continued future building/fun + $ value of a used set exceeds the money made on a sealed box, for ME. :)
  • legirllegirl Member Posts: 105
    You might be able to pick up a bargain by looking for used sets of hogwarts that aren't complete...they are more likely to be missing minifigs and owls rather than bricks and could be a good price because they are incomplete.
  • littletokilittletoki Member Posts: 519
    I struggle with this decision a lot. Part out sets for use in other builds or keep it together.

    In my experience, I have almost always regretted dividing up a set. I'm currently trying to find all the bits from my Space Police Central #5985 and it's taking me forever. My husband is the opposite - his motto is "if it's in the house somewhere, no problem".

    As other people said, it comes down to what makes you happy! :D

    And I would love to see what you're building from those 3 sets. They're some of my favorites!
  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Brickset's Secret HeadquatersMember Posts: 1,975
    I buy to build but then having limted space and wanting to build again have started bretaking sets down. but what i do ist part it out by colour size etc and put it in to tool boxes and zip lock bags. ill post a picture when my internet is back up (damn you plus net). That way all the parts are easy access and can be returned to a set if you want it to be rebuilt. Being more anal i also sort according to how old parts are but im extreme
  • ThegoThego UKMember Posts: 264
    My collection is my collection and I don't touch that. If I want parts from that to build with, I buy the parts on Bricklink.
  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    edited March 2012
    How do others reconcile both building and collecting? Anyone got any advice for me? Help!!
    All the bricks for all my sets are in my collection somewhere ... most are sorted, so it should be relatively easy to recreate official sets, should I ever want to. I get much more enjoyment out of building MOCs, so the bricks are more 'value' to me if they are in a usable state. I do have a lot of unopened sets, but that's just because I haven't had time to part them out. I know what sets I have from the instructions :-)
  • LostInTranslationLostInTranslation UKMember Posts: 5,594
    Thanks for all the interesting and varied responses!
    I do pick up sets on the cheap specifically for parts and break those up quite happily but it's the big sets, mainly licenced ones, that I'm reluctant to part out.
    I think I am leaning towards separating them out for building. They are all open already, after all.
    Like I said, my methods of building are haphazard and I need to SEE the parts in my storage drawers in order to remember that they exist :D And I'm lazy. Writing out a list of pinched parts sounds beyond tedious.
    I keep thinking, do I buy a second Diagon Alley next week when I go to MK (my local-ish Lego store) or a Town Hall.... There can only be one winner....

    Btw @littletoki, nothing started as yet but I have plans for a modular coffee shop named Starbricks (name copyright @Legopants :)
    Currently working on a Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory too, and also got ideas running round my head to do a Sunnydale diorama to sort of tie in with Monster Fighters in the autumn. So lots of plans, need more bricks! (and a bigger house :S)
  • littletokilittletoki Member Posts: 519
    Aaaahh. Starbricks! I love it!! I definitely want to see that.
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,290
    @LostInTranslation: I'm currently working on the chocolate river scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We are displaying scenes from children's books at our library next month and that was one of my favorite book growing up.
  • LostInTranslationLostInTranslation UKMember Posts: 5,594
    @rocao: cool, one of my favourites too. Great minds eh? ;-)
    I'm sure yours will be waaay better than mine, as this is only about my third adult MOC, but for what it's worth here are pics of mine:[email protected]/ (the pics are all in a bit of a jumble I'm afraid!)
    It's still a work in progress but I'd appreciate any feedback for improvements I can make as I go along.
    Sorry to deviate off-topic!
  • littletokilittletoki Member Posts: 519
    Wow. Wow.

    LOVE IT!!

    The Chocolate room is lovely - I especially like the mushrooms! And the nut room - we need to start a petition for squirrel figures.

    And the TV room - with Mike Teevee - brilliant. Please post more photos!!
  • JenniJenni JapanMember Posts: 1,390
    Lucy, that's awesome! Becca was entranced looking at your pictures, and told me what was happening in each scene.

    Our My plan is to break all the sets up and sort them. In theory making them easy to put back together using the inventory page on the instructions. In reality we have yet to take anything apart at all.
  • VenunderVenunder Nottingham, UK.Member Posts: 2,574
    When I have more space I aim to be a builder.
    I do not plan to collect Lego but who knows what the future will bring.
    Currently I open my sets and build them, look at them for a day or two, then to save space I pack them up and store them.
    I guess that once I start MOCing I will break my sets and sort my bricks into colour and size boxes.
  • ErnstErnst Member Posts: 133
    Kind of the same problem here but I have one more "handicap". My 6 year old son loves Lego too and he loves to built the present sets. If was the only Lego fan I would have would have sorted out the bricks already. For now I still "steal" the parts I for my MOC's, the kid was after all my excuse to restart with Lego.
  • LostInTranslationLostInTranslation UKMember Posts: 5,594
    Thanks @littletoki and @jenni for your kind comments. Glad Becca could recognise what was supposed to be going on :) The squirrels are driving me crazy. I've come up with a smaller version now but there really should be a squirrel mould.
    I'll post more pictures when I've made a bit more progress, waiting on an order of parts.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    I have 4 'seperate' collections really ...

    - The parted out stuff, sorted by colour, shape etc
    - Built sets/ Mocs/Mods, stored completed.
    - Sealed boxes
    - A box of 'mixed good stuff' - this is kind-of my 'inbox' of stuff I have yet to sort, but, like @LIT, I like to just mess with bricks to spark ideas. I guess you could call it my 'play brick box'. It fits into an 18L box, any more than that I find too much to rumble through.

    Currently my 'play box' has the parts from MMV, QAR, GE, portal of atlantis, hogwarts, and a few games. I keep primary coloured sets away from it - I like the fact that it has a distinct 'earthy' palette, so it's not just a completely random selection of bricks.
  • legirllegirl Member Posts: 105
    wow, your MOCs are amazing! @LostInTranslation
  • JenniJenni JapanMember Posts: 1,390
    @lostintranslation While sorting through the tub of LEGO acquired today she then asked me to pick out all the pieces for the chocolate river. When oh when will I learn not to show her these things? :)
  • sidersddsidersdd USAMember Posts: 2,432
    I'm organized a bit like Si -
    (1) parted out stuff, sorted into containers of various shapes and sizes
    (2) built sets / mocs / mods, on display, with boxes/instructions stored elsewhere
    (3) Sealed boxes - in the queue for building
    (4) Sealed boxes - for resale
    (5) Bins of minifigs - for resale
    (6) Bins of unsorted parts - need to be sorted, but can be good piles for playing/exploring parts
    (7) Opened boxes of sets which have parts but no minifigs
    (8) Piles of Bricklink orders - which need to be sorted

    I don't borrow from my built sets, nor sets which are to be built later. If I want those parts for MOCing then I buy a 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) set. And I typically just sell the figs and whatever parts I don't think I'll want/need (BURPs, castle walls, raised baseplates, etc., etc., - yes, I'm *that* guy). I just counted around 75 opened boxes (mostly Star Wars and Super Heroes) which have no minifigs and have mostly bagged parts which need to be sorted for MOCing later (or deposited into Jambalaya boxes...)

    Similar to LIT, I'm not very good at planning ahead, specing out exactly what I need, and ordering from Bricklink. I'll get on Bricklink and browse for long periods of time, finding interesting parts and either place them on Wanted lists or buy em up for later. That's a lot of the (8) above - orders of stuff I think I'll want to MOC with later.
  • samiam391samiam391 A log cabin in PA, United StatesMember Posts: 4,385
    I got my Maersk Train in the maill today, and am now deciding whether to keep it sealed in it's box, or build it. Any thoughts on what I should do? If it's a nice display piece, I'm intrigued to build it. If people think it may shoot up in value after a soon discontinuation, I want to keep it sealed. Thoughts?
  • LegobrandonCPLegobrandonCP CanadaMember Posts: 1,918
    ^ I personally love the Maersk train. When I first saw photographs of it I instantly said to myself I must get it. Its a classic in the years to come. But who knows if LEGO will re-release this set or not? They did that with the Maersk Ship. But with that said, IMO I think it will also go up in value over time. So it is your decision, build it or keep it sealed.
  • LostInTranslationLostInTranslation UKMember Posts: 5,594
    ^^ I don't wish to be rude, but your question isn't really on the topic I had in mind for this thread. My dilemma is more whether to part out already opened sets or keep them together, because of my own weird logic and attitude to collecting, rather than due to any consideration as to future value.
    I think there is already a thread about whether or not to open sealed sets. Maybe you could ask your question there?

  • samiam391samiam391 A log cabin in PA, United StatesMember Posts: 4,385
    ^^ I don't wish to be rude, but your question isn't really on the topic I had in mind for this thread. My dilemma is more whether to part out already opened sets or keep them together, because of my own weird logic and attitude to collecting, rather than due to any consideration as to future value.
    I think there is already a thread about whether or not to open sealed sets. Maybe you could ask your question there?

    My apologies. I saw the thread name "collecting or building" and this seemed to be spot on topic. However, if it's not what you are looking for, I won't say anything more on that topic.

  • mr_bennmr_benn United KingdomMember Posts: 898
    I used to be paranoid about breaking up sets for the exact same reason that has been stated above by a number of people - i.e. never being able to put them back together again. However, particularly since boming on brickset and starting to get some really good deals, I'm less worried about it now - I've just raided two Hogwarts Expresses and the Fire Temple for parts for my Cafe Corner for example, as I know that I'm never actually going to assemble them - my layout is city focused so the Fire Temple will never exist in its official state anyway.

    I think that the 'buy two, keep one complete' concept is understandable... but you have to really like the set. I can for example see why you might purchase two Grand Emporiums - one to keep built because it looks nice, one to get for all the nice bricks within - but I definitely wouldn't do the same with Portal of Atlantis, because there's not actually any real reason I'd particularly want to build it, now or in the future (though I do have two anyway for some of the nice parts!) :)

    I think that once you start on the path of borrowing a bit here, and a bit there, you won't worry so much :)
  • LostInTranslationLostInTranslation UKMember Posts: 5,594
    Cheers @Mr_benn.

    I've actually started this evening parting out my HP and POTC sets, and it hasn't hurt too much :)
    I'm looking at all the nice bits n pieces I'm adding to my inventory and wondering how I can use them in a MOC. Can't wait to get fully sorted and cracking with the building!
  • princedravenprincedraven Essex, UKMember Posts: 3,768
    @LIT late to the party, and pretty tipsy, but wanted to give my opinion:
    Everyone can build MMV, Diagon Alley, etc, including you after parting them out, but no-one can make your MOC's but you, and the ones so far are awesome! I wish I had your creativity.

    I believe you can put those pieces to amazing use, rather than them sitting in a box.
  • RedbullgivesuwindRedbullgivesuwind Brickset's Secret HeadquatersMember Posts: 1,975
    best bit is MOCing :-D. Here are the pics of how i devide my stuff up. Big base plates in the tool boxes, technic in the biscuit tin and the rest into the nail boxes that way if I want to built it again I can.

    Buying two sets can get really expensive as well. So another reason just to part out one set your not using.

  • MinifigsMeMinifigsMe Member Posts: 2,844
    I've done it! Finally parted out a couple of POTC and POP sets (built once). It's making me realise how limited my part inventory is at the minute. I'm gonna have part out a lot more before I start MOCing. Doing the unbuilt sets is gonna be tough, but I really have no idea what I'd do with the portal of atlantis if I built it.
  • LostInTranslationLostInTranslation UKMember Posts: 5,594
    Thanks @princedraven, good drunken advice and very complimentary too :-)

    I'll post a pic of the carnage of my living room whilst I'm sorting when I've got a decent internet connection ie when I'm at "work".

    @savage_steel: I always build everything once even if it gets dismantled the following day, to see if there are any techniques I can use (i'll even build portal of Atlantis when it arrives :D) Maybe I have too much time on my hands?
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    It's always worth building everything at least once while all the bricks are handily packaged together, can learn some new techniques. Not that I could be bothered to do that with portal of atlantic either.
  • mr_bennmr_benn United KingdomMember Posts: 898
    ^ Agree with Si. Also, putting things together often gives good inspiration for MOCs you can build with the same stuff afterwards, and you won't ever be left wondering what it might have been like to build it!
  • dimefielddimefield Edmonton Alberta CanadaMember Posts: 314
    I build everything once as well just to see the techniques. After that it depends on the set, some get displayed, some get ziplocked and some get parted out. For me the value is in the building not the future assumed value.
  • sidersddsidersdd USAMember Posts: 2,432
    ^ ^^ I agree. That's one reason I have so many parts in opened boxes. I've sold the figs, and want to use the parts for MOCs, but want to build the set first - even if I have no interest in the set. You can always learn something from a build.
  • mathewmathew Member Posts: 2,098
    Poor Portal of Atlantis, she gets little love. Despite the low price on Amazon France, I just cannot will myself to buy it. Maybe it's the color scheme or predominance of robotic looking sharks. What parts are you guys seeing as being so useable? Maybe the plates?
  • snowtygersnowtyger Member Posts: 47
    I tend to buy and not sell or build (I think I like the bargain hunting). I'm running out of floor space! I agree though, its good to build at least once, and then decide whether it looks like any of the pieces (or techniques) inspire you further. In terms of keeping them together or not, I've bought a bunch of bulk lots, and I'm hoping to keep the 'new' pieces separate from the random (I have no idea who's teeth did that) pieces. From everything I read, a ziploc and a sharpie are all I need, and if I decide later to add it in to my bulk, it won't be a problem
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    ^^I parted out the Portal and it was great for MOC of buildings. You'll get 4 red stairs and 1 or 2 black ones, a couple of gate doors. You'll get some black spindle railings, lots of plates and gold bits. Parts are mostly black or dark red, so easy to use. If you can get it for 50% off, it would be nice for that.
  • mathewmathew Member Posts: 2,098
    ^ That's pretty much what I thought. Plates are always good, so are black stairs, and rails. I would be all over it if it just included more bricks. City of Atlantis looks to be a better set in this regard.
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