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One Note Before We Start: Let’s not get hung up on semantics! It doesn’t matter to me whether you call them LEGO or LEGOs. It’s all the same to me, and you will see it both ways in this post.
The LEGO Security System
Ever though about getting a security system? We did because some of our neighbors had had things stolen out of their garages. So, we debated whether a fancy system with cameras and alarms would be best or whether we should just get a dog. One night, during this decision-making process, I got out of bed to get a drink of water. On my way to the kitchen, I stepped – barefooted mind you – on a LEGO!! I squealed rather loudly and started hopping up and down and around in circles on my good foot while holding the injured foot in my hand.
At that point, I hollered to my husband, “Security problem solved!”
It was a LEGO minifigure of a little policeman holding a gun! I was now literally on the floor laughing through my tears of pain.
Who knew that if I would quit nagging the kids to pick up their LEGO sets, we wouldn’t need to invest in expensive security plans or even dog food??
From now on, we could just leave those nasty little LEGO bricks and minifigs scattered strategically throughout the house at night. Of course, that means wearing steel-toed boots when I get up to go to the kitchen at night. Ha ha!
Needed to Find LEGO at a Discount
Well, those days are long gone around here. Although, I DO still have a large tub full of LEGOs for the Littles to play with. The Littles are LEGO maniacs! They love LEGOs in all shapes, sizes and colors.
A few years ago, I decided to give some DIY travel LEGO sets to all the grandkids for Christmas. It had been many years since I bought LEGO and wasn’t really sure where to look. Let’s face it. . .LEGOs are darn expensive! So, I set out to make my gift-giving dollars stretch as far as possible. Boy, did I learn a lot about how to get LEGOs cheaper by doing just a bit of homework!
Over the past few years, I have discovered a few things to make giving LEGOs and LEGO sets possible without breaking the budget. So whether you are buying for your kids or grandkids, try a few of these tips:
The Good Stuff – Where to Buy LEGOs at a Good Price:
You can either buy new or used from these sites. When you are buying used, $5 per lb or less is a good price on these auction sites – However, stay with reputable buyers on reputable sites. I only suggest checking out bricklink.com and eBay because those are the ones I’ve used. (If you have one that you are comfortable with, go for it, and let the rest of us know in the comments below.)
So what is Brickset.com?
It is a database for keeping track of LEGO sets for sale online from LEGO, eBay and Amazon. They don’t actually sell LEGO from their site, but they are a great place to go and compare pricing – remember, they are just a database. When you find what you want on their site, you can click through to one of those three places and purchase directly from LEGO, eBay or Amazon. Let me show you an example of what you can find.
I just did a random search and found this sweet deal:
I found an extra-large promotional set of LEGOs on Amazon selling for about $188 (1500 pcs.). When I checked on brickset.com, I found the exact same set selling from an eBay seller for $90 (“Buy it Now” price). The set on eBay was brand new in the unopened box. This seller also had a 100% satisfaction rating. It was shipping from California via USPS Priority Mail, and you have to pay for shipping which was just over $14.
So, let’s do the math:
$188 LEGO box (1500 pcs)
+ free shipping
$90 LEGO box (1500 pcs)
Savings: $84!!! (even paying for shipping)
That’s a HUGE savings!! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Amazon (and free shipping)! However, it does pay to shop around especially when it comes to LEGOs. And, Brickset.com gathers all of the info from these three places for you. It’s an awesome resource!
The LEGO store
Here are my favorite tips:
- First off, become a VIP member – it’s free to join and you can accumulate and spend the points online or offline. For every 100 points, you get $5 to spend. Hey, 5 bucks is better than a sharp stick in the eye, right? Might as well get every discount you can! Also, keep an eye out for their double VIP point sales on individual sets. However, they also do double point MONTHS – usually April & October. This way, you only have to spend $50 to get that whopping $5 spending spree! 😉 WooHoo!
- Take advantage of free shipping on orders over $35. (Not too hard to do!)
- Shop the Sale section at LEGO.com – Most items are about 30% off there.
- If you can get to the LEGO (brick and mortar) store, you can buy the bricks & small pieces in bulk. You fill up one of their cups with as many pieces as you can get to fit in there. I had to use my Tetris skills, but I got a TON of the small pieces this way!
This is another great way to get lots of LEGOs at a better price than in a branded set (like Star Wars or Ninjago). These are just large boxes of bricks and some accessory pieces – they usually have hundreds of pieces in them! Personally, I think that this is so much better than getting the little character or special vehicle sets. After they build those sets, they’re done! But the creativity continues with a large amount of non-specialty pieces. Then you can get a LEGO idea book. (I have a little review on 3 of the best ones later in this post.)
Brick boxes can be found anywhere you buy LEGO. You can expect to pay anywhere from $0.05 – $0.12 per piece in these sets. If the price is more than that, check other sources to see if you can find it cheaper. This compares to $0.25 – $0.50 per piece in the specialty sets!
And. . .here’s a Bonus: You don’t have to worry about getting the wrong thing! When I know my Littles want a Star Wars set, I’m left looking at the choices wondering if they have this one or that one already. With a brick box, they can add to their existing sets and build lots more!
Local Yard Sales, Facebook Yard Sale Pages, Local Classifieds
You can usually find used sets or specialty sets this way at really great prices. Just make sure you check over everything and clean the LEGOs really well. (See the tips below for cleaning your LEGOs.)
Ask friends whose kids have grown – find someone going off to college or getting married – they are often good candidates to want to get rid of childhood items.
Re-gift the Old LEGOs
Re-package and re-gift those old LEGOs from when your kids were young. However, my boys have not wanted to give up their LEGOs. They have each taken some of their special sets and have left me a tub full of the extra stuff. I keep those around for the Littles.
Goodwill online (https://www.shopgoodwill.com/) is a really good one. You can get some really good deals at thrift stores. Here is an example from Goodwill:
23+ lbs. of assorted LEGOs for $11.00!!!! Wow! (As a point of reference, bulk LEGOs like this are selling on eBay for about $6 and up per pound.)
The one caveat here is that you usually aren’t getting complete sets or any specialty pieces at all.
Bricks and Minifigs
This is a chain store that sells LEGO exclusively. Now, there are over 40 stores around the US. This store is a great way to get bulk LEGOs if you don’t live near an actual LEGO store. Often, you can buy all kinds of pieces at good prices. They usually have a pretty good selection of specialty or hard-to-find sets as well. Most of these are used so you can get them at a discount over their original price (or MSRP).
This is a marketplace where individuals sell sets, parts and minifigs – yes, like eBay. If you are looking for a very specific set, this is the place to be. They often have inventory on used pieces and sets. The site has a pricing guide that helps you understand when you are getting a good deal.
Shop Sales at brick and mortar stores
Okay, so I said 10 ways and there are actually 11 here, but this one is kind of obvious. Watch the sale papers around Black Friday, Christmas flyers (any holiday really), and sale papers during other times of the year also. Target often has their coupon book that comes in the mail before the Christmas season – they will sometimes have coupons in there that you can use for LEGOs. Watch the sale papers though. Sometimes, they will advertise LEGO sets among other sales, but the LEGOs are not actually on sale.
Smaller or specialty toy stores will often have good sales for the Christmas season and other strategic times throughout the year. Shop early for best selections and sales! And. . .watch for the FREE shipping and price matching deals!
Note: Before you begin looking around, know the MSRP on what you’re buying. I know we all hate homework, but you won’t know if you’re getting a good deal or not if you don’t understand the original selling price. Unfortunately, there are people who would just LOVE to take advantage of you if you don’t know what you’re looking for. So, buyer beware (especially if you’re buying used)!
DIY Packaging for Gift Giving:
When I gave my Littles LEGOs for Christmas a few years ago, I made these little travel sets in fun character lunchboxes that I got from Amazon. Here are a few suggestions:
- Lunchboxes (pic of lunchbox gift set) – This was one and this was another one. They have a
lot of others on there as well. Just look around and compare pricing.
- Clear Pail-type containers w/lids (These are only quart size for smaller amounts of LEGOs)
- Pencil boxes w/snap lids
- Decorated cardboard boxes or you could do plain ones and decorate them yourself
- Small toy car case (you fill the little compartments with the LEGO pieces – This vinyl one rolls up nicely and hangs.
If I Buy LEGO Used, There Might Not Be Instructions. . .
LEGO is taking care of you! They have instructions to all their sets online. If you just put in the number of the set you are looking for, it will come up in a PDF. Then you can just use it online or print it out.
Let Your Kids/Grandkids Get Their Creative On!
There are several books out there that give instructions for building all kinds of LEGO creations from miscellaneous pieces. These LEGO books are some of our personal favorites around here:
LEGO Ideas Book – This book is a hit with my Littles! This isn’t just a “follow the instructions” type of manual. Instead, it gives ideas on how to build basic things and then stirs the imagination to build on those concepts. There are pro tips from Master Builders and even tips for simplifying your creation if you don’t have all the parts. (Yeah, and we all know there is always that ONE part missing that we need. Right?)
I LOVE organization, and this book is organized by type of creation so you can find things easily – transportation, buildings, space, kingdoms, adventure, and useful makes. The pictures are big and colorful! I give this one two thumbs up!!
Awesome Ideas Book – We haven’t used this book, but it truly looks. . .well, Awesome! It has 4 ½ stars on Amazon and looks like one that we may have to try next. Of course, there are cool, colorful pics and complete step-by-step instructions.
What really caught my attention about this book is the idea that you can build complete “worlds” and play with the sets afterwards. It claims to be able to inspire LEGO maniacs of all skill levels from beginners to accomplished builders.
365 Things to Do with Lego Bricks – This book is a true boredom buster! There is literally one project for each day of the year. It comes with an electric activity selector and timer. You can use the timer to see how long it takes you to build a project or use it for some of the games that you can build. Yes. . .I said you could build actual games to play!
The one downside is that you may need specialized pieces to build some of the projects, but you can usually find those pieces at independent sellers’ brick and mortar stores (like Bricks and Minifigs) or online sites. At any rate, it’s all great fun that runs solely on imagination power!
Cleaning Used LEGO
Here’s what brickblogger.com has to say about washing LEGO:
WASHING: In most cases, you can just wash the dirt right off with warm water and a mild soap or detergent. Make sure the water is not too hot (no more than 104 Fahrenheit or 40 Celsius) as this can damage plastic. If the water hurts your hand, it is too hot! This is the safest way to clean LEGO, and it is not difficult to do.
WARNING! Do not wash electric LEGO parts in water!
SOAKING: if pieces are very dirty, you can first soak them in the soapy solution overnight (or even longer) to loosen up the dirt and grime stuck to them. Then later use an old toothbrush to gently clean the little nooks between the studs, and crevices on the bottom where dirt can still hide.
RINSING: make sure you rinse off all LEGO pieces well so there is no residue left on the bricks from the cleaning solutions you used. Using a colander can really help in the process!
USING BLEACH: if you want to disinfect dirty LEGO parts you can ad a LITTLE bleach into the water solution. 1TBSP/gallon of water is safe and shouldn’t damage your LEGO bricks. Make sure you rinse them well!
USING ALCOHOL: for extremely dirty LEGO bricks you can use a bit of rubbing alcohol to wipe off grime. Keep the exposure to the alcohol brief (as longer exposure can fade the plastic), and make sure you rinse the pieces off fully when you’re done.
USING A DISHWASHER OR WASHING MACHINE: if you have lots of second-hand LEGO to clean, you may consider using a dishwasher or washing machine. Place you LEGO in a mesh-bag used for laundry delicates, and use the gentlest setting (otherwise you can seriously damage parts). If you are using a dishwasher, only use the top rack! Make sure the water is not too hot!
WARNING! Do not use a clothes dryer or your dishwasher’s dry setting for LEGO as the heat can seriously warp them!
WARNING! Do not place electric LEGO parts, parts with batteries, or LEGO tires in the washing machine or dishwasher!
DRYING: Once your LEGO is clean spread them out well on a towel. Placing parts on their sides also helps so they don’t hold water. You may use an electric cooling fan to speed up the drying time. It may take a day or two for all your LEGO to fully dry.
So whether you are buying LEGOs for kids, grandkids or . . . even husbands, don’t pay full retail price! Happy hunting!!
- Lunchboxes (pic of lunchbox gift set) – This was one and this was another one. They have a
Cookies & Milk for Everyone!