Jump to content
  • LEGO SET RETIREMENT: Unlock the Secrets of EOL


    One of the most exciting times for a LEGO investor results from visiting LEGO S@H (LEGO's online storefront), looking for a particular set and suddenly realize there is a tag with the following message: "Retired Product"; Expectation and hope suddenly becomes joy.

    If you are reading this article, odds are you are already familiar with the concept of EOL (End Of Line), but just in case I think it would be appropriate to summarize what it means. LEGO produces different sets along the year, and each design has a planned life cycle that only the company Execs. are aware of. Once this cycle is completed, the set goes out of production to make room for a new design, usually meaning that to acquire the already retired set a prospective buyer will need to go to the secondary market (Us!). As with anything, this decrease in supply will, hopefully, translate into an increase in set value and help the investor get a decent return of his/her investment.   Untitled  

    What is the problem, then? If we know that sets retire after a couple years of being in production why do we even worry about exactly when this will happen?; Well, that's the million dollar question, LEGO is now known for being very secretive AND not really consistent when it comes time to retire a particular set. This means that while an specific modular might retire 2 years after introduced, the next may last 3 or 4 years before it is pulled out of the shelves.

    Having no concrete knowledge of when a set is retiring transforms into a dilemma for almost every single investor. With limited funds and an objective of maximizing profits and turnover, purchasing sets that are as close to retirement as possible becomes the most efficient way to be successful. Of course, this means that, occasionally , some investors will completely miss out on a popular set that retired before they expected OR will be left holding onto sets that will not retire for 2 or 3 more years! Tying their money, and space, for such a long period of time is definitely not the best way to make their business as efficient as possible.

    But, how can we as investors have any clue about when a particular set is to be retired? Well, there is really no clear cut answer. Even though there are some clues and events that may indicate a set is nearing retirement, there is usually an understandable controversy surrounding every single one of the "leading indicators". My point is that, while I tried to collect and summarize some of the possible signs suggesting retirement, none of these should really be taking as the one and only guide when developing an investing strategy. My objective is only to list them and give mostly new investors an idea of some of the things we talk about more deeply in the forums.

    LEADING INDICATORS:

    3d Crisis Chart

    1- Retiring Soon Tag

    Clearly, one of the most telling events in a set's life is when LEGO S@H assigns the tag "Retiring Soon". Even though it may seem that this event pretty much guarantees a sooner than later retirement, the process is definitely not as straightforward. One of the things that may happen is a set with the tag lingering on the shelves and online storefront for months after the tag has been assigned. This could be a way for LEGO to "Clearance" a set without actually lowering the price, basically pushing potential buyers to make a purchase before the set goes away forever. Another thing to consider is that most of the products that retire never even get the tag assigned to them at all. Think of the Haunted House model that according to the majority of the investors is as close to official retirement as it is going to get. The set never had the Retiring Soon tag, it basically went from being In Stock, to Backorder and finally to Sold Out. This is a more common transition, especially with the larger exclusives.

    2- Sudden, and deep, discount in official LEGO outlets

    As above, this is another sign that most of the sets do not ever show. However, opposite to the Retiring Soon tag, once a set experiences a deep discount from LEGO stores and S@H (think 30% or more), it is almost a certainty that it will be retired within the next couple of weeks. As you can imagine, once a set is discounted in this manner it goes to Sold Out status in a matter of days if not hours. [img url="http://community.brickpicker.com/uploads/2014/10/Untitled1.png" cks="responsive"]   The image above shows sets with both the Retiring Soon tag and the "Sale Price" discount.

    3- LEGO Limits

    This is one of the most controversial items on the list, and for good reason. As most of the members in the forums know, LEGO is known by limiting the amount of a same set you can purchase, especially the hard to find exclusives. Most of the time, the limits start at 5 per household and seem to be lowered as a set is nearing retirement, usually to 2 or 1. Having said that, there really is no clear evidence indicating that this pattern actually correlates to going EOL, and several sets a year completely deviate from this perceived pattern.

    4- Time on the Shelves

    Again, a very difficult sign to interpret. It seems that in years past LEGO was a little more predictable when it came to figuring out how long a particular set would be available for. Estimates and comments seem to place the average availability of a set at around 2 years, but as most of you know LEGO seems to have been extending the life of popular sets for 4 or more years!. However, with some exceptions *cough, DS*, once a set has been available for 3 or more years and is sharing shelf space with newer and similar models (think Modulars), it is pretty safe to assume that retirement will come sooner rather than later, making it OK to start stocking up.

    5- Production Run Codes

    For an introduction to Production codes, please go HERE This somewhat recent discovery can also be considered helpful to help determine potential EOL. If we as investors see a set available in 2015 that has been showing some of the other signs of retirement, and discover that the production codes indicate current inventory came from several months ago, it could lead us to believe that LEGO has stopped production of the set and is simply waiting for the last batch to be completely sold out. As with any of the other indicators, tread carefully when using production codes.

    6- Retired Product Tag

    Finally, the Holy Grail of LEGO investing. Once a set is assigned this tag on LEGO S@H, its death is official. This is the tag that generates more joy and excitement among the community members and, other than being able to find the set at other retailers (notably TRU & B&N), it means that any opportunity to acquire this set is pretty much gone.

     

    Finally!

    In the end, the point is that there is no sure way to determine if a set is nearing its retirement. The best we can all do is take a look at all of these signs in aggregate and share our opinions in the forums hoping for that beautiful day when the Retired Product tag shows up in LEGO S@H. Thanks for reading.  

    • Like 3


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments

    Haha! You almost had me there with the DS retirement! I had to double-check for myself. Great article, and it will definitely be a "go-to" for new members speculating retirement. Thanks!

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    I think it's worth mentioning that for investment is one thing but if you really want a set for yourself just buy it and be done with it. If it's an exclusive it's worth paying msrp up front than sitting on your thumbs waiting for some mild discount or promo, missing your window, and then paying aftermarket. I would say the same is true for investment purposes.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    @sadowski: no one here should pay aftermarket unless its for their personal collection from WAY back in the day. if purely investing just move on to to something else.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    I agree wholeheartedly, especially for exclusives. There just aren't that enough discounts for me to "wait" on exclusives. I'll take advantage of standard discounts (points, etc.), but on the big ones, slow and steady wins the race. This is my strategy; take it or leave it.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites
    I agree with both of you. Now that Lego has implemented a "No Discount on Exclusives" policy, it has become harder and harder to find exclusives at a discount price. The best thing to do is to buy some when there are various promotions available, like 2x VIP points and a free set at S@H, or a $30 gift card with the purchase of an exclusive from a retailer. If you want a set for your personally collection, buy it before it shows one of the EOL signs, so that you won't have to pay aftermarket prices for it.

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Good information for me, just starting out.  I've been looking at the charts that show the last year's price patterns on sets, and it would help me get a groove for the pattern if I could know when an old set had retired.  Is there a list of retirement dates for already retired products anywhere?

    Share this comment


    Link to comment
    Share on other sites


    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Guest
    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

    Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...