When I first joined this site it seemed like there were a lot of people here talking about investing in Legos by buying sets and storing them until they are worth a lot more money. Basically a long-term investment. When I hear the word “investment” that is normally what I think of; buying or tying up capital in something and then waiting until it is worth more money than you paid for it.
After a while though, I saw people who were mentioning how they make money on Lego by using the quick flip. This would be where you purchase something, be it an exclusive, a pre-order item, an item not available everywhere, or something just on sale and then immediately (or fairly shortly after) try to sell it for more than you paid for it. It is not a tremendously complicated idea, though the mechanics can cause you some problems.
So I wanted to alert some people to a good way of utilizing the quick flip that everyone can do fairly easily. This is the “no box” quick flip. It is fairly simple and I have done it quite a bit using Ebay and their search functions.
Basically, we all know that without a box, a set is worth less – whether it is used or new. But by how much? Well, it depends on what people's definition of “new” and “used” are for the particular item. With a Lego set, because it has inner bags, most people consider a set still new if the Lego bags themselves are still sealed. This is definitely unique from most other things you buy. So a set could have no box at all – just be a pile of Lego bags – and still be considered new to most Lego fans.
Thinking about other toys you may have purchased, if you had a toy and the box was severally damaged or torn up, you would probably just throw it away if you didn't know what it was worth. This happens every day with people that buy Lego sets. They may decide to sell the new set later, and think that because it has no box – it is worth a lot less money.
However, this is not the case. Because Lego is so popular, a lot of people that open Lego sets don't necessarily even throw the box away in that situation. Others that part the set out to make money also keep the boxes. A lot of these people then decide to sell the boxes by themselves on websites like Ebay, and most of all, bricklink.com. Because these boxes are so readily available, if a set's bags are still sealed, it can be put into someone else's box and resold as New (not sealed). If you have read some of the articles and forum posts on this site about box condition, you will know that It matters little to the people buying the set.
So the idea becomes very simple – if you can find a set on Ebay that has sealed bags, but no box and is quite a bit less expensive than the sets current market price, you can make a lot of money. Basically, with a quick check to www.bricklink.com, you can find how much a box would cost you and total up your price right there to make a set brand new again.
Here are a couple of my personal examples:
- Right around the time the 9500 Sith Fury-CLass Interceptor came out, I found someone selling one without the box on Ebay for $50. I bought it, purchased a box for ~$5.00 after shipping and resold the set for $85 all within a few days.
- A few days ago, I found a tower Bridge 10214 on Ebay with no box for $169.99. I purchased it and have since purchased a box for $7.00 with shipping. I have not decided yet what I would like to do with it – but obviously do have some room to make money there.
As well, recently FCBarcelona – one of my fellow Blog writers that I look up to for my articles - purchased a 10030 Imperial Star Destroyer for $280 without the box. If he purchased a box, he could resell this set for over $1000!
So why would people sell a set without a box?
- The box was damaged when they purchased it or in storage and they want to get rid of it.
- Water damage to the box.
- To make the set easier to ship (This is a random one but it definitely happens to people who buy big sets, decide to sell them, and don't want to use a huge shipping box).
- Open it, discard the box, and then never build the set.
If people sell the set for way less without the box, this is just your gain! So how do you find these sets on Ebay?
Using the search function, you can set up some good searches that will help you easily find the boxless sets that you can quickly flip with a fresh box. If you are not familiar with Ebay's search function, I would suggest reading my blog on that here: http://www.brickpicker.com/forum/index.php/blog/28/entry-269-ive-been-searching-for-a-set-like-you-ebay-searching-tips-and-strategies/
A few notes before I give you a couple of searching examples from this: I always only search for Buy It Now items. You can do auction if you would like, and you can sometimes score good deals this way, but most of the time these sets go for more because people like us know what they are worth and are bidding against you. Also, don't only search for new sets. Some people consider these sets used if the box is gone. If so, they will list the condition as “used”. If you filter these out, you are going to filter out the best deals.
Here are some search examples I use:
lego <theme or set> “no box” - For this one, insert the theme or set you would like to search for and the phrase “no box”.
lego set <theme> (“sealed bags”, “open”, “loose”) - This one searches for sets that have the phrase “sealed bags”, “open”, or “loose” in theme.
lego set “no box” (“sealed bags”, “open”, “loose”) - This one searches for sets that have the phrase “sealed bags”, “open”, or “loose” in theme, but only if they also have “no box”.
These are just a few examples, as you can get really creative with it. The more creative with the searches you get, the better sets you will find (those listings that seem to get stuck out in the middle of nowhere).
Here are a couple of tips while searching for what to look for and be aware of:
- There is not really a general rule of what price to buy at to make you money – it depends on the set. For me, I usually take about 20% off the BrickPicker price and that's what my target is (assuming I may be able to get a little more depending on my listing). If you can sell local in a big Craigslist market, obviously this makes it easier.
- Make sure whatever you are buying has pictures of the set, or is low enough you are willing to take a chance. Also be careful you read through the whole listing. It does happen sometimes that you will receive a set that has had more damage than just whatever may have happened to the box.
- Always check the Bricklink price for the box. Some boxes are worth WAY more than others. Do not ever buy a set and then look at the price – or you will wonder why you just bought the Death Star 2 for $100 off when the box is $75.
- Check your local stores for boxes less and damaged box sets as well. A lot of places will severely discount these. Also, ask a manager if they can give you any more off. Most will give you some king of discount to just get the set out the door. You can make big bucks this way.
- Be careful of sets that say they have had water damage. These are mostly alright, but if the Legos were touched and it did get in the bags, it is a risk. Like anything, I usually have to see the right deal to jump on these.
That is my quick flip method for the day. Give it a try and report what you find!
Note: All of the information here are my own opinions and are pulled from my experiences. You may or may not have success with these methods.