In this entry of the BrickIndex Spotlight we will be focusing our attention in only the second set from the Architecture theme that has been retired so far (if you don't count the Sears Tower version as an actual retirement). Up to this point, we have really not had any significant amount of data to determine the secondary market success of sets in the Architecture line, and we have been using the only retired set, John Hancock Center, as our only guide. Thankfully, Sungnyemun can now be considered as retired even though you might still find some renegades at your local B&N stores. Let's take a look a closer look at this set.
Sungnyemun 21016 is based on a National Treasure of South Korea located in Seoul. Even though the site can be considered historic and a world landmark, it really does not hold the same international appeal that some of the other ones reproduced in the theme like the Empire State or the White House. The representation is actually quite good, and in my opinion a must have for any Architecture collector. Having said that, I believe that the less known nature of the landmark can really shed some light in just how popular the overall theme can be. In my opinion, if this particular set does well in the secondary market, it should follow that the most famous buildings represented on the theme will do at least as well (Always keeping in mind differences in size, detail, price, etc.)
The following are the graphs based on Brickpicker data about quantity of sets sold and value information:
The first graph shows eBay sales activity over the past 12 months. As you can see, the set has a pretty decent activity level that is even greater than some of the smaller and, one would think, most popular designs. It will be interesting to see if the sales trend continues in the coming months.
Second, and most relevant to us, is the values graph. This graph shows a clear upward trend starting around the month of February that seems to have stabilized a bit between April and May. This type of movement is typical for a recently retired set, but at the same time it helps confirm the investment potential of the Architecture theme as a whole. The set is currently at 80% over retail, still shy of the 180% showcased by the JHC. There are, however, some differences between these two sets that we should keep in mind while doing this analysis. First and foremost, the JHC was a smaller and cheaper set, something that usually translates in larger percentage changes by default if the set ends up being successful. Also, Sungnyemun was on the shelves for a shorter time than the JHC, about a year, something that could help explain is recent rapid growth in value.
My personal take on this set is that it has already gone through most of its rapid growth phase, leaving some room for long term growth. I would imagine that given a shorter production run the set might experience larger returns than most of the other Architecture sets, but then again it has is relatively low popularity to sort of cancel that out, in my opinion. Still, it is pretty early to determine if the set will end up being an investment powerhouse, but for now I would not invest further in the set at its current market value. I would, however, consider selling some as a relatively quick flip, or just hold for a few months to see where it goes.