Time To Bust Out Those Old Legos -- You Could Be Sitting On A Gold Mine

by Karen Johnson
Originally Published: 
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I can still recall the first Lego set to enter our home. My son had just turned four, and was a very calm child who enjoyed reading, playing games, and, well, building things. (I wouldn’t learn until his hyper, couch-jumping brother arrived years later just how lucky I was at the time.) So on that birthday, Legos were the next logical step. He’d played with blocks and K’nex and Magnet Tiles and even the larger Duplo Legos already, and loved them all. So when he received his first real “big kid” Lego kit—a tiny fire truck—it made sense. He was ready.

Except I had no idea what I was in for.

I could never have anticipated, despite having a kid who loved to quietly assemble things and play board games at the kitchen table, that in a few short years he’d have amassed a Lego collection that required a separate room for storage. That on his sixth birthday, and on Christmas that year, just two short years later, all of his gifts would be Lego sets. And that some of them would be thousands of pieces. THOUSANDS OF PIECES.

I had no idea on that day in November, when my little guy turned four, that we were beginning our journey as a Lego family. I didn’t realize that over time my kitchen would get smaller and smaller as Lego creations would take over my table, counters, and shelves. That I’d eventually need large storage bins and small storage bins and drawers with dividers, and that I’d spend hours upon hours trying to help him find “that tiny gray grabber thing” so he could complete a Star Wars AT-AT Walker.

But here we are, six years later. He’s now 10 and Legos take up a full room in our basement. (Thankfully I have my kitchen back.) We have drawers stacked upon drawers and bins overflowing into other bins. Star Wars, Harry Potter, superheroes, Minecraft, and Lego Friends sets cover shelf after shelf and dresser after dresser around my home.

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Does this sound like your house too? Do you have to spend 10 minutes clearing Lego bricks and Lego wheels and Lego mini-figures off the table before every meal? Do you often feel the searing pain of stepping on one of those little things before your first sip of coffee at 6 a.m.? Did you plastic storage bins solely for Legos?

Well, parents, I have good news! According to an article on Vox, it’s all worth it. Because apparently when you accidentally sit on Elsa’s Lego ice castle, you actually might be sitting on a GOLD MINE.

Assistant professor Victoria Dobrynskaya, who published a study entitled “The Toy of Smart Investors,” studied 2,000 Lego sets released between 1980 and 2014 and then compared their values in the secondhand market. If you’re a Lego parent and know how much old Lego sets can run, it may not surprise you to learn that they appreciate in value. (Which is why my son will never build the discontinued Star Wars Death Star II, as it’s now retailing for a meager $2,600.)

Like it or not, Legos sell for big bucks on the open market, and some of them are truly cash cows. Dobrynskaya’s study, conducted by Russia’s Higher School of Economics, reports that while many Lego sets yielded a return rate of 11 percent, others could be flipped at—get this—613 percent.

But the article explains there is another big reason Lego sets appreciate as well. It’s because unlike lots of kids’ toys that adults have no interest in, or even hate with a fiery passion (I’m looking at you, slime kits), Legos are different. Adults love them just as much as kids. And adults have money.

The Danish toy company knows it’s a powerhouse, and is, of course, capitalizing on that. From the Lego movie franchise (which, if you haven’t seen them, you should—they are hysterical) to LegoLand where you can drop hundreds of dollars to let your kids play, eat, and sleep in a literal Lego world, there’s no shortage of Legopportunities (see what I did there?) for your family to enjoy the magic of Legos and drain your bank account simultaneously.

So why not recoup some of that cash, especially when you have to someday send your little Lego lovers off to college to “build” a life of their own? Turns out, maybe you can.

However, your chances of scoring a profit are greater if your kids never tore open the box of their new Lego Eiffel Tower kit or Millennium Falcon. But, we know they did. Because they’re kids. So now you’re like me, and you’re left to round up all 961 pieces and pray none of them got sucked up in the vacuum if you have any hope of scoring big on ebay.

In the end, you could just someday sell your kids’ entire Lego collection, even if it’s all thrown into a giant bin, for a lump sum as you try to finance college tuition or take that dream cruise to the Bahamas. But maybe ask them first? I mean, they are Legos after all. Legos that your kids spent their childhoods dreaming with, creating with, snapping together, and pulling apart to make whatever creation was in their minds come to life.

Our early Lego building days are some of my favorite memories—before we were busy four nights a week in youth sports and had three loud kids tearing through the house, so I can’t imagine parting with ours. Legos take me back to my early years of motherhood—when it was just my first child and me, or maybe him, me, and his baby sister toddling around in a diaper. When we barely left the house and survived from nap time to nap time. When the days were long and the years were short. I was his “finder” and he was the builder as we created towers and cars and houses and castles between PB&Js and sippy cups of juice. And I hold those memories dear to my heart.

Now my kids build their Legos downstairs, usually without me, between video game binges and Nerf gun battles. But most days they are still strewn about the floor, mid-build, reminding me that we are still very much in Lego world. If, however, we do someday grow out of the tiny plastic treasures and sell some off, I hope they’ll go to a home like ours—a home full of wild, creative kids who cover their dining room table and search endlessly for just the right “grabber” and add the perfect mini-figure to drive the train.

Because you know what? Legos really are worth more than gold.

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