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All posts by J. Lawton Smith

Making Money From Lego

20 Awesome Ways to Make Money With LEGO

usaully sol heWhether you’re an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) looking to fund an expensive LEGO habit, or someone looking for creative ways to boost their income, this guide will give you some ideas about how other people are making money with LEGO bricks, and how you can do the same.

Selling LEGO – Turning Plastic Into Gold!

One of the most obvious ways to make money with LEGO is to sell it. There is a massive demand for both new and used LEGO, and there are a number of ways in which you can take advantage of this. Below we will explore some of the different options and look at their pros and cons.

(1) Selling Sealed Sets Online

Unless you already have a bricks and mortar store, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to purchase LEGO sets at wholesale prices directly from The LEGO Group or from one of their main distributors. As a result, for this method, our stock of sealed sets will be purchased from retailers, preferably at clearance prices.

Although it’s possible to purchase a sealed set on clearance and flip it almost straightaway on eBay for a profit, this method works best when you store your sets, only selling them once they’ve been discontinued.

Every year, The LEGO Group retires a portion of their catalog in order to make room for new designs and themes. After a set has been discontinued, its price on eBay and Amazon can increase dramatically. And this is where you can make money.

After they’ve been discontinued most sealed sets are worth more than their retail price , so it’s hard to lose lots money with this method. However, several factors will affect how much profit you stand to make.

(A) As with all reselling ventures, your purchase price is very important. Try to purchase your sealed LEGO sets at the lowest price possible. Scour online retailers for LEGO sales, check out the sale aisles of your local toy stores. Get to know where LEGO is sold in your local community and drop in on them regularly to find the best bargains. However, don’t just buy any set that’s discounted. Not all LEGO sets are created equal when it comes to resale price, and this brings us to our next point.

(B) Some individual sets and themes have a stronger market after they’ve been discontinued than others. Sets from themes which weren’t very popular with AFOLs, such as the Chima line, haven’t gone up in value as much as other sets retired at the same time. Here are a few pointers. It’s hard not to make a profit with classic Star Wars sets (particularly those containing minifigures exclusive to the set), LEGO train sets, LEGO ships and the Modular Buildings. The trick is to buy the sets which are going to have an evergreen demand, and leave the sets which have had their time.

(C) Condition is important. A buyer of a set described as new and sealed, will expect it to be just that. Any damage to the box, including remnants of price stickers, will reduce its resale price. In order to maximize your profits, you must be able to store your sealed sets in a way that keeps them in mint condition.

Here’s an example of one way of storing sealed LEGO sets.

(D) In the majority of cases, the older the set, the higher the value. It’s possible to sell sets for profit the month after they’ve retired, but the biggest profits can be achieved by waiting a year or two before putting them up for sale. Just make sure you don’t miss the boat. If you wait too long, and LEGO releases a similar set to the one you’re holding on to, prices can be dragged down.

Sealed discontinued sets can be sold via eBay and Amazon. In the past, the highest prices have been achieved by selling though Amazon’s FBA (Fulfilled By Amazon) scheme, but at the time of writing, Amazon is starting to restrict who can sell new LEGO items, so it’s unclear as to whether this platform will be viable option in the future. Sealed sets can also be sold on Bricklink, but, in my experience, they can take a long time to shift.

As with most toys, top prices for sealed LEGO sets can be obtained during the months leading up to Christmas, when demand is highest.

Check out these listings on Amazon to see what can be achieved.

PROS

  • High potential profits with reasonably low risk.
  • No complex storage needs (as are required with other methods, see below)

CONS

  • Your money is tied up in stock as you wait for the sets go up in value.
  • Lots of storage space is required if you intend to store large quantities of sealed sets.

Check out this video by the LEGO YouTuber BrickTsar on the merits of paring out a LEGO set and selling the individual bricks (see below) versus selling it as a sealed set.

(2) Selling Split LEGO Sets

Parting out a LEGO set means to open a set and sort all of the individual bricks and elements ready to add them to your inventory of parts, either to sell or to build with (more about this below). Splitting a LEGO set is a bit different, and much less time consuming.

The simplest way to split a new LEGO set is to open the box, open the bags, and remove the minifigures (or more specifically the parts that go together to build the minifigures). You can then sell the minifigures separately (on eBay or Bricklink), and offload the rest of the set (with instructions, but without minifigures) on eBay. Because their are lots of LEGO minifigure collectors out there who are prepared to pay a premium for the latest characters, but don’t want to have to buy the whole set to get them, and there are lots of LEGO builders who are after parts, but don’t want to pay for minifigures they’ll never use, it’s possible to split a set and sell the different chunks for a combined profit.

This methods works really well with LEGO Star Wars sets and the LEGO Superheroes lines, as people avidly collect these minifigures. If you can get your hands on some of these sets as soon as they are released, it’s often possible to sell the minifigures individually for more than the cost of the entire set. This means that when you sell the remaining parts, it’s all profit (minus your eBay fees and postage).

More complex set splitting can be done when the set is made up of lots saleable chunks. Set 60097 was a great example of this. Each sealed bag (or combination of sealed bags) of LEGO in the box contained the parts to make a separate element that combined to make the Lego City Square. It was possible to sell the separate elements (the hot dog cart, garage, LEGO store, coffee shop, tram and tram stop etc) for much more than the retail price of the set.

Set selection is key with this method. And so is timing. With sets you’re splitting to list the minifigures, demand for the figures will be highest when the set is first released. From this point, the demand (and price) will wain until the set is discontinued. Once it’s been retired, the price of the minifgures will begin to rise again.

PROS

  • High immediate profit potential.
  • Sealed bags and minifigures are easy to store.

CONS

  • If you miss the selling window, you may have to slash prices or hold onto stock for a while.
  • It can sometimes be hard to sell sets without minifigures.
  • This method only works for certain types of sets, so sourcing stock may be more challenging.

 

(3) Parting Out Sets and Selling Individual Elements

To part out a LEGO set means to separate and sort all of the individual pieces that make up the set. The pieces are then uploaded on to Bricklink or Brick Owl (or both),  ready to be purchased by LEGO builders and those looking to replace lost pieces.

Being successful on Bricklink isn’t easy, but many sellers are managing to make a full-time income from selling LEGO parts.

I’m intending to cover Bricklink in more detail in a future post, but for now, here are a few points to consider.

(A) There are two ways to measure the size of a Bricklink store – variety (the number of different elements in stock) and volume (the number of parts in stock). A wide store will have lots of different elements and a deep store will stock fewer different elements, but will have a greater volume of each of the parts they do supply. In order to be really successful on Bricklink, your store needs to cover both of theses bases. A customer is more likely to shop at your store if you can supply lots of elements from their wanted list and in the quantities they require.

(B) As a Bricklink store owner, you will be processing huge quantities of bricks. Efficiency becomes incredibly important. You must develop systems for parting out sets, storing the parts in a way that allows you to quickly retrieve them once they’ve sold, pulling orders, packing orders and dispatching packages. Even with efficient systems, Bricklink can be very time consuming.

Top tip – It is much more efficient to part out multiple copies of one set, than to part out one copy of multiple different sets.

(C) Bricklink allows the sale of both new and used bricks on its marketplace. Processing bricks taken directly from new LEGO sets is much easier than sorting a bulk lot of used bricks. Even though the profit per piece when you sell a used bricks is massive, most of the larger stores on Bricklink only sell new parts.

(D) Unless you have a large store, you are going to have to price competitively in order to get sales.

(E) Choosing which sets to part out is very important. Buying sets on clearance is a good idea, but only if you can obtain enough copies of each to make it worth your time to part them out. Bricklink has a part out value calculator. This allows you to input and work out how much a set is worth (based on average sold prices over the last 6 months) once it’s been broken down into its individual elements. Obviously, the higher the part out value the better, but this isn’t all you need to look at. Some sets have a high part out value, but contain lots of obscure parts that aren’t used regularly in MOCs and won’t sell very often. The best sets to part out have lots of good building elements (bricks, plates and tiles etc) in usable colors (back, white, gray, tan etc), and desirable minifigures.

(F) Many Bricklink sellers split the minifigures from the sets and list them for sale on eBay, before parting out the other elements into their Bricklink store. If priced sensibly, minifigures tend to sell more quickly on eBay than Bricklink, so this allows the sellers to recoup some of the purchase price of the parted out sets more rapidly.

Some sellers sell individual bricks on eBay. This is more work on the front-end than parting out directly into a Bricklink store, but it can result in larger profits. The eBay market place is much larger than Bricklink’s customer base, and, although there are exceptions, prices for parts tend to be higher.

PROS

  • As soon as sets are parted out and the pieces are listed, they can potentially sell. There is no lag time. No need to store sets waiting for them to retire.
  • Can be a good way to sell off unwanted parts. Many Bricklink stores are run by AFOLs.

CONS

  • Regular sales can be hard to come by if you are a small store.
  • Some of the parts in your inventory will take a long time to sell (if they ever will).
  • A well-organized storage system is really important. This can be expensive to set up, but is essential if you want your store to grow.

 

(4) Selling LEGO on Instagram

I’ve only seen this done a few times in the LEGO community, but it is quite common to see action figure collectors and dealers post pictures on Instagram of some of the stock they have for sale with their prices in the comments. Their followers can then claim the items, and a deal is worked out through Instagram’s Direct Messaging system. Payments are made through PayPal.

This is a good way of selling directly to customers, saving on eBay and Bricklink fees. It would work really well with minifigures.

Here are some examples of this method done well.

 

Sealed Droid Escape – $37 shipped in the USA

A post shared by Mike’s Vintage Toys LLC (@mikesvintage) on

 

(5) Selling LEGO at Toy Fairs, LEGO Shows and Christmas Markets

This is another great way of selling LEGO stock directly to the brick-loving public.

Selling at a toy fair or LEGO convention will require some planning and there are some upfront costs, but people at these events are ready to buy and big profits can be made.

Minfigures, sealed sets, bagged parts and custom builds can all sell well at LEGO shows, and you can charge higher prices than you would on eBay and Bricklink.

Your expenses will include the vendor’s fee, transportation for you and your stock to and from the venue, display units, banners, business cards, food and possibly accommodation. You must also consider what forms of payment you are going to accept. Are you going to be able to take card transactions?

Don’t ignore local opportunities to sell LEGO directly to the local public. Selling LEGO from a table at school fetes, Christmas events and  other community events can be very lucrative. Minifigures and bagged minifigure accessory and weapon packs always go down well.

(6) Selling Small-Scale LEGO Builds on eBay and Etsy

Many eBay LEGO sellers on eBay and Etsy make a good profit selling simple custom builds. These mini-builds are usually things that people can add to a LEGO city, and include park benches, street lights, toilets, traffic bollards and fire hydrants.

These are usually sold disassembled, and because the builds are so straight forwards, they usually don’t require instructions as they can be put together by looking at the photos in the listing.

Often, the builds have appeared in official LEGO sets.

The park bench from Set 60134, for example, can be found for sale on eBay in variety of different colors.

The parts for mini-builds are often very common, and hey can be purchased on Bricklink for pennies.

 

(7) Making Custom LEGO Jewelry to Sell

(8) Selling Large-Scale MOCs on eBay

(9) Design and Sell Custom LEGO Sets to Sell Via Your Own Website

(10) Manufacture Your Own Custom LEGO Minifigures

(11) Design and Sell Custom LEGO Instructions

(12) Invest in LEGO

Other Ways to Make Money With LEGO

(13) Start a LEGO YouTube Channel

The LEGO YouTube community is growing by the day, and several individuals are making good money from their channels.

Here are a few examples.

Bamidele O. Shangobunmi, the man behind JANGBRiCKS was on his channel full-time. He has more than 3000 videos, more than 750,000 subscribers and he’s racked up in excess of 600,000,000 video views. Check out his profile on Social Blade to get a very rough estimate of what he is earning from his channel.

The content on JANGBRiCKS is mostly made up of reviews of LEGO sets, but JANG also films updates on the progress of the LEGO city he’s building, and records haul videos, showing some of the new parts he’s purchased from Bricklink.

The ZaziNombies has over 1.1 million subscribers, and features LEGO replicas of videogame and movie weaponry. According to Social Blade the channel has received more than 300,000,000 views, an average of more than 600,000 per video.

MlCHAELHICKOXFilms is a brickfilm channel. He posts funny LEGO stop-motion animations. His channel has more than 900,000 subscribers and more than 650,000,000 video views.

The channels above are making really good money, but there are lots of other LEGO-related channels out there making significant monthly incomes.

Check out these channels for more inspiration: MADABOUTLEGO, Pinoytoygeek, Brick Vault and just2good.

If you’re passionate about LEGO and enjoy the process of recording and editing videos, there is no reason why you can’t make money as a LEGO YouTuber.

This video from BrickUltra rounding-up the highest earning LEGO YouTube channels was made in 2104, but it serves to illustrate the potential of this method of generating income from your LEGO hobby.

(14) Submit a Design to LEGO Ideas

LEGO Ideas 1% of net sales.

Interview with Tom Poulson designer of the Birds set (Daily Mail).

(15) Start a LEGO Website

(16) Become a LEGO Illustrator

(17) Set Up and Run Your Own LEGO-Themed Subscription Box Service

(18) Set Up a LEGO Club for School Children

(19) Start a LEGO Show, Convention or Display In Your Local Area

(20) Grow a LEGO Instagram Following and Monetize the Traffic

(21) Get a Job Working for The LEGO Group