As a child, comics were a part of my daily life. I loved everything about them. I often escaped into the shadows with The Bat, learned with the other Mutants at the school for the gifted. I even tried to digest how a pair of glasses disguised an extraordinary man of steel into an everyday Joe. Comic Books will always have a special place in my heart. Now, fast forward I’m a grown man, a father, a husband, a LEGO fan. Do I read comics? No. That time has long since passed. Though comic books are not a part of me anymore, that doesn’t mean that I have tossed the beloved characters aside like yesterday’s garbage. I absolutely fell in love with Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. And Marvel, they have done a fantastic job with their movies starting at Iron-Man 1. I believe in these movies, they have a purpose. It’s not just a bunch of people sitting in a room trying to figure something to make a movie about. They entrance the audience into a world created by Comic Book Gods. Right now the popularity of The Avengers and each one of the super-heroes is incredible. With Iron-Man 3 in the theaters now and Thor in November, Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014 then Avengers 2 and Ant-Man in 2015 this opens up a whole new world of possibilities for The LEGO Group.
It’s no secret that The Avengers is one of the most successful movies of all time. You can’t argue that even if you loathed the movie. Even though Marvel released two Iron-Man movies, one Thor, Captain America and two Hulk’s we didn’t see the Lego sets roll in until The Avengers. Now we have Iron-Man 3 sets. Marvel has a lot on their plate right now, what they are calling a “Phase 2”. What does this have to do with LEGO, you may be asking yourself. Well, it leaves the door wide open for piles upon piles of new Avengers LEGO merchandise! However, before you start thinking ahead we should take a real hard look at what is currently on the market and how it may affect the sets in the future and see for ourselves the investment opportunities (if any) that can be had.
In 2003 and 2004 Marvel previously released some Spider-Man sets to go along with the movie. These sets are now valued at four, five and even six times what they originally sold for. From an investment standpoint, waiting ten years to sell the set isn’t ideal. Now Marvel and LEGO are teaming back up with The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man and X-Men to release new waves of sets. Throughout this review we are going to focus only on The Avengers and try and figure out the potential these sets hold for us in the future. In two years The Avengers 2 will be hitting the theaters and a new wave of children are going to be exploring this universe for the very first time. I can tell you right now that 90% of them are going to love that universe! So how does this affect the current sets? Well, in two years these sets are going to be gone from the shelves and only available on the secondary market. Some parents will splurge a little extra to make their “special baby” happy on their birthday, Christmas, Easter, or random Thursday of the year. It doesn’t matter the reason but we can all be sure that for an investor these parents and AFOL are money in our pocket! It sounds harsh, but think about the time and effort and storage you put into these sets, they are simply just paying you a surcharge for all of that plus the original price you paid!
Currently there are ten sets that feature The Avengers in some way. Either from the solo character itself, like Iron-Man 3 or replicating a scene from The Avengers. Ten sets don’t seem like much considering the billions of dollars Marvel is currently making in the entertainment business. With all of the plans for this next phase I project three times the amount of sets that are currently on the market. The good news is, The Lego Group will have to keep up with the movies. Iron-Man 3 may be popular on the shelves now but in November there may be some Thor sets out. Even if there aren’t, there will surely be some Captain America and Guardians of the Galaxy sets out next year. This dramatically affects the shelf life of these current sets on the market. Major retailers like Target and Wal-Mart aren’t interested in carrying “out of date” merchandise on their shelf when the new and better is out.
The most important bit of information from all of the above is that this first round of Avengers and Iron-Man 3 sets will be expiring soon. I suspect, by the time The Avengers 2 hits the theaters in 2015, these current sets will see a spike in price that it will most definitely make your time, effort and storage of these sets worth it!
I know what you are thinking right now. “Mike, these sets aren’t really doing that great right now. There is a ton of them on the shelf.” You’re right! Give it a few weeks, maybe a month after Iron-Man 3 is out and I bet we see an increase in Iron-Man 3 LEGO sales. The Avengers is past due, the only “new” buyers will be the ones who were too young to see the movie when it came out last year. Their over-excitement of the movie will lead them to want the merchandise. I project the prices of The Avengers sets will decrease in the upcoming months as they slowly go on clearance. We have already seen some at Wal-Mart already. Recently, I have found Captain America’s Avenging Cycle for around $7.00 at my Wal-Mart. The boxes are all beat to hell of course. But this is what we are going to see for the rest of this year. The sets will slowly trickle away and little by little new ones will come in to replace. Right now you can tell big boxed stores are trying to get rid of their stock by offering bundles. They are trying to move this product now because they know that, when the next round comes, they can’t afford to have these on the shelves. This is a perfect opportunity for us investors. Collect the sets in bundles and if you need to then sell the non-Avengers sets to help lower the cost even further on the bundle. But, remember “The Wolverine” hits the theaters soon with X-Men soon after and currently there is only one Wolverine/X-Men set out.
Let’s take a quick peek at the current Avengers sets out on the shelves now:
Marvel The Avengers Collection
Set NumberModelSub-ThemePriceAmount of PiecesPrice Per PieceCurrent ValueCAGR6869Quinjet Aerial BattleAvengers$69.99 USD735 Pieces$0.09$49.66 USD-29.05%
6868Hulk's Helicarrier BreakoutAvengers$49.99 USD389 Pieces$0.12$51.24 USD2.50%
6867Loki's Cosmic Cube EscapeAvengers$19.99 USD181 Pieces$0.11$16.18 USD-19.06%
6865Captain America's Avenging CycleAvengers$12.99 USD72 Pieces$0.18$13.82 USD6.39%
76006Extremis Sea Port BattleIron-Man$19.99 USD195 Pieces$0.10$28.60 USD43.07%
First up is 6865 Captain America’s Avenging Cycle
. This set, to be honest, really didn’t catch my eye. Though it’s cheap if you want to get a Captain America figure with shield and motorcycle. It also comes with two aliens and a space-craft that they hover around on. When my son first played with this set we couldn’t keep the alien space craft together. The wings constantly fell apart and those pieces quickly became just another brick in the LEGO bin. The good news for us investors is that it’s the first and currently only set for a Captain America figure. I presume this set will pick up some growth next year when Captain America 2 Winter Soldier comes out. This set comes in a small box and with the right packaging it may be light enough to ship USPS First Class mail which, if you don’t know, is very cheap!
Currently, Wal-Mart has two different bundles with this set. You can purchase it and Doc Ock Ambush online for $34.97. I won’t get into the logistics of that set, but some feel it will do well since it’s a Wal-Mart exclusive here in the US. The second bundle is a Marvel Super Heroes Bundle 4pk which has this set, Hulk’s Helicarrier, Loki’s Cosmic Cube Escape and Wolverine’s Chopper. All of this for $89.97. In three months, these could be cheaper, who knows. Basically what I am saying, is don’t pay full retail for this set. Be patient and check Wal-mart.com daily(takes about a minute) and some other major online retailers. When the time is right, scoop up as many as you want, they should all sell later on.
The next set I want to discuss is Loki’s Cosmic Cube Escape
. It features our first Iron-Man mini-figure, Loki and Hawkeye! All for $19.99 MSRP! Something else that is positive about this set is the build of it. It’s actually constructed well and the vehicle holds together nicely. My son Hulk smashed this at least five or six times and all I found myself replacing was the roof and a piece here and there. Not bad! We already know this is bundled up with Wal-Mart with the information I gave above. This seems like a set that will drop to $17.99 on Amazon for a few days here and there but I think we can pick this up for at or around $15.99 if we are patient. With this being the first set of Iron-Man, it could definitely have a price spike in the future. Personally, I’m going to try and pick up at least ten of them when it’s all said and done.
Next up is Hulk’s Helicarrier Breakout
. Here we see Hulk and Thor mini-figures. The Hulk figure is really all my son wanted from this set. He loves this mini-figure so much that he incorporates it into every other Lego set. Around our house, Hulk is flying in Luke’s Speeder, putting out Fires with the LEGO City guys and even more recently sitting at the good ole campfire with Tonto. Needless to say kids love the Hulk! I feel that, just because of that, this set is going to do well. Yeah, yeah the movies tanked but that’s just because the Hulk can only do so much smashing before we as an audience get bored. But to a kid, they live for the smashing. The price per piece ratio on this set though was a little high at 13 cents a pop! Even still, I’m projecting this to double quickly after retirement. I’ll be tucking a few of these bad boys aside for when that day comes.
The last of the Avengers line(before we get into Iron-Man 3) is Quinjet Aerial Battle
. This is the only set that I do not currently own. But pulling up my good friend Google he/she has assisted me in finding some information about this set. Five mini-figures are included, we see Thor and Loki again. We also see another alien foot-soldier (yay) and we see another Iron-Man this time in a different suit. This was the biggest of the theme with 735 pieces and has a 9 cent PPP ratio. Not bad! It’s no secret that usually the biggest sets of the themes do well. While you don’t want to rely on that every time, I feel like this will be another one of those success stories. Personally, I’ll wait for a bundle or a price drop before I’ll scoop it up.
So before we get into the Iron-Man 3 theme, I just want to clarify something. Looking at the CAGR right now is useless. The prices of pre-EOL is so sporadic that a true value of a set cannot be determined. Consider the value of this full retail. Also, I’d like to point something else out. Most major retailers have a fairly nice return policy. I know Wal-Mart’s is something ridiculous like 90 days if you have the receipt. So save ALL of your receipts (you’ll need them when you receive that 1099K anyways) and try to play everything as “safe” as you can. When it comes to investing it’s hard to be safe, but you can take cautionary measures that make doing what you’re doing less risky. Save money where you can using rewards cards, cash back sites like ebates, cash back credit cards, coupons, holiday discounts, whatever! There are tons of ways to save money and I encourage everyone to do their own research on how to do so.
So, on to Iron-Man 3: The sets have been out for what, a month? The movie has just come out. While I admit a lot of Lego enthusiasts have already grasped their hands on these sets, I still feel like there is going to be an increase of parents buying these for their little ones. It’s hard to say when these sets will die down, but I have a feeling it will be about a year. If LEGO releases some sets for Thor and Captain America, it seems logical that the Iron-Man sets will stay shelved until Guardians of the Galaxy. If GotG has some LEGO sets then we are looking at quite a bit of Marvel Lego sets taking up quite a bit of space. Then again, it could be the plan to leave all of these (minus the current Avengers sets) out until Avengers 2. These could all be building to a new wave of Avengers sets, which if you feel that is the case maybe investing in these Iron-Man 3 sets should be done sometime next year. It seems logical that Disney will sign Downey Jr. for at least one more Avengers movie to complete a trilogy. It also seems logical that there will be a third phase to Marvel’s plan and in that third phase, will we see another Iron-Man movie? Perhaps. If that is the case, then you can surely expect these sets to increase in price around that time. Of course this is all speculation. However, I feel confident that these sets, as cheap as they are will do fine in the secondary market.
The first set I’ll go over is 76008 Iron Man vs. The Mandarin Ultimate Showdown
. Currently this is the smallest set in the Iron Man 3 series with 91 pieces and two mini-figures. Two mini-figures come with this set, Iron Man in Mark 17 suit and The Mandarin without his robe. The little vehicle is a neat design but the missile launching part is pretty weak. It didn’t hold together as the rest did. But, for $12.99, it’s cheap and offers something for the young Lego fans to spend their allowance on. This set may have some potential with the mini-figures but I’d hold out until there is a bundled price or a clearance sale.
The next set in the Iron-Man 3 sub-theme is Extremis Sea Port Battle
. It has 195 pieces and the MSRP is $19.99. It features three mini-figures: Aldrich Killian with a glow in the dark head, Iron Man in his Mark 42 suit and War Machine. Currently this is the only set that features War Machine and his mini-figure is doing well on eBay right now. All three of these mini-figures are unique(though the Mark 42 Armor can be found in 76007) which is really cool and will help bring value to this set later on. The boat is a really cool build, it holds together well and the missile launching device on this works really well! I feel fairly confident that this set is already priced nicely at $19.99 but there is plenty of time before you will need to scoop them up and there are plenty of opportunities for discounts from now until then.
The third and final set in the Iron-Man 3 sub-theme is the Malibu Mansion Attack
. This scene actually occurred in the movie and therefore is more authentic then the Ultimate Showdown. It’s the largest in the sub-theme so far at 364 pieces. The MSRP is $39.99 which is priced fairly. Five mini-figures can be found in this set. An Extremis Soldier, Mark 42 Armor, Pepper Potts, The Mandarin and Tony Stark. All of these mini-figures have some uniqueness to them which will definitely help bring up the value of this set later on after retirement. It’s hard to believe that the largest set in the Iron-Man sub theme is only 364 pieces and it doesn’t seem like there are any plans for larger sets with this year’s calendar. This could be something we may see with Thor and Captain America, three cheaper/smaller sets instead of two lower priced models and a higher priced one.
So, we have taken a look at The Avengers theme and the Iron-Man 3 sub theme and out of the ten sets the most expensive is $69.99. I feel this leaves lots of room for growth to be had. I can’t tell you how you should invest your money but I can tell you that personally I’m going to stock pile this theme like no tomorrow. With the future this franchise has ahead of it expect to see the popularity of this theme to explode. I encourage everyone to implement their own research plan. Take the time it requires to grow your investment in a positive direction instead of trying to make a quick buck. Don’t just run out and buy these sets because I said they may have potential. Take the information I have supplied and combine it with what you find to determine how your investment strategy should be. Also, as stated above it is crucial for you to do everything possible to help save extra money! When I look for deals, I always ask myself, “How can I make this even better?” My wallet is stuffed pack with Rewards Cards. Some people think they are a scam to get more information from you as a buyer. That may be true but I don’t care if a company is tracking my spending habit.
Something else that you should remember is to remain friendly to your local cashiers at all time. Try and visit the same cashier if at all possible. I know every time I go to my Target there is one lady who seems to be working every time. She remembers my son and I and this is a good thing. If there is ever a damaged product and a possible chance of getting a discount (for the damaged box) she will be an advocate on our behalf. Granted, this is more for my son building the set than investment opportunities. You aren’t going to want to purchase sets with damaged boxes. Also, something I have learned from Amazon through a different forum is, if you return too many things back to Amazon, they will flag your account and can possibly ban you altogether. So choose wisely.
With all of that said, be patient and these sets will be discounted soon enough. When that time comes, consider using all of the information above to make the best investment choice for yourself. I don’t foresee these sets depreciating value, if anything they just wont appreciate as fast as I am personally expecting them. So regardless of what the outcome is, I feel safe investing in The Avengers LEGO theme!
So, what do you think about The Avengers theme? Do you think it will be a good investment? Do you think the future of the Franchise will have an impact on the LEGO world? Feel free to share your comments below!
“ED”itor's Notes: I sit on the proverbial “fence” when I think about The Avengers LEGO sets as an investment. While I enjoyed the movies based on the theme and appreciate the minifigures based on those movies, I have to wonder about the true investment potential of the theme. While I agree with Mike that they should show positive growth in comparison to many other LEGO sets and themes, I have to wonder if my money is best spent elsewhere. Unlike many of the other “Superhero” themed sets, like the Batman sets, there are no large or iconic sets that stand out. The 6869 Quinjet Aerial Battle is the largest of the bunch at 735 pieces. That's half the size of some of the larger Batman LEGO sets that have been released.
I realize that these Avengers sets are only a small portion of the entire Marvel/DC theme, but the true money with these sets are the fantastic minifigures, not the sets themselves. The minifigures are a lot more interesting and collectible than the actual sets in my opinion. But, I guess in order to get the minifigures, you have to buy the sets, so there lies the basic dilemma. Maybe it's my own personal lack of interest in this theme that makes me question its viability as an investment. Maybe I am just a “Super Party Pooper” when discussing these sets with any real enthusiasm. Maybe it's the year upon year Superhero movies that have tainted me and have made me want something fresh and different.
Overall, I would suggest buying these sets, but I would not go overboard. I wish there were some large and “iconic” sets available to The Avengers sub-theme, but the larger and more memorable sets are saved for Batman. As I stated earlier, these LEGO sets might have more value in their minifigures and parting out the sets, than your typical LEGO set. Regardless, collect the entire theme if possible to obtain all the minifigures, but don't invest in dozens of each set. Your money might be best spent on the Bat.