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    Building Temptations: The True Cost of Opening and Building LEGO Sets


      If like me you’ve ever struggled with the temptation that having a closet or room stuffed with shiny new Lego sets for investment presents in terms of building and playing or displaying them, this short blog may help! Rarely have I succumbed to this temptation.  I tend to try and keep my collecting hobby side of the Lego game separate from the investing side.  There is occasion where I have dipped in to the investment pool to provide a last minute gift for a young lad or lass, or when I really just had to build the Lone Ranger Train. One thing that helps me do this is looking at the decision to open an investment set with a clear approach involving the true cost of doing so. Often I hear talk on the forums of “Buy what you like, so you can open it if investment growth isn’t as strong as you’d hoped” or “I only paid 50% of retail for it so I might just open and build it…”  The decision to open a set should be made with as much information as possible when you are a profit maximising investor. When you open a set the price you paid for it should have almost zero consequence on that decision. This is a very important mind shift for most people.  The trade off you make when opening the set does not relate to the price paid, instead it is: When you open a set the true cost of doing so is the opportunity cost you forgo.  This is mainly related to the current secondary market price minus a few other factors. If you have a set in hand the trade off you make when “consuming” it is the price you could currently sell it for.  This can be approximated using the Brickpicker current market price for new sets, or you can estimate that cost yourself if you could sell it locally for a different amount.  Basically you take what the maximum is you think you could successfully sell it for right now.  Now from that there are a few deductions to take into account:

    • The listing and selling fees if applicable
    • Time to set up the sales listing
    • Packaging and postage
    • Time to post or meet the seller
    • Tax from any profits remaining if applicable

    If you can estimate those costs you’ll have a pretty good idea of the expected gross revenue you would have from selling the set.  This is you opportunity cost.   Now there are a few other things to take into account as well. Firstly when you open a Lego set to build you don’t “consume” it.  A Lego set is not like a candy bar or loaf of bread, after using it you are still left with a tangible asset – the used set.  This used set still has a value.  The used value of sets are tracked by Brickpicker as well and you can estimate just like as above for a new set.  So if you plan on keeping your opened set indefinitely then you can’t discount your opportunity cost by this used set value.  But if you don’t and you just want to have the build experience, take a few photos, and maybe display it for a few weeks you can subtract the used set value to determine what the act of opening has cost you. Things get more complicated if your intentions are to build the set and display it for a longer term, or if you think you’ll keep it forever but change your mind later on and decide to sell it.  To work out the cost here you’ll need two estimates.  The future value of a used set and the future value of the set if it is still new and sealed.  This can obviously be pretty hard to determine.  My advice would be to look at the current prices for similar sets to the one in question.  Check out similar sized sets and sets from the same theme and look for the price difference between a sealed set and a used one.  That should give you a bit of a guide to the future opportunity cost. So in conclusion, if you want to open a set go ahead, but remember the price for doing so is not the cash you paid at the retail counter but the opportunity cost incurred by not being able to sell a new sealed set.

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    I have been able to avoid the temptation to open my investment sets, for the most part, by building lots and lots of sets out of bulk lots. So far I've only opened a Curiosity Rover because it just needed to be done, a Lone Ranger Train so I could motorize it, and a new X-Wing that I got on clearance because in all the bulk that I've gone through I've never seen an X-Wing.

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    I have a different perspective on this issue of contemplating the "cost" or potential "loss of profit" when succumbing to the temptation to actually open a MISB LEGO box, especially if you have a child in your life. In honor and tribute to the 110th birthday of Dr. Seuss. I frequently buy random piles of bricks and blocks & have a room dedicated to sets & MOCS. I spend hours each week sorting these lots & am delighted to find CMF robots. I tenaciously sort, research and build so I can get my eBay "Active Selling" list filled. While frequently stalking every toy clearance isle I find enjoying the adrenaline rush when I see a 50% off sign I load my shopping cart with boxes of this building kit imagining great profit if I can take the time to sit on it. Wondering if these LEGO sets will do well, as we all know, only time will tell. Finding space in my house to store all of this is frequently hindering my marital bliss. I'm wondering how long I can keep doing this! But the moment a child enters this magical place and they have a huge smile upon their face, Im reminded of infinite imagination, pure joy & possibilities. ow does one place a $ value on these??? LEGO literally translates to "play well" The value of play trumps the value of sell.

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    This is easy. I store an sell a lot of stuff I don't want or like personally. The ones that I do, I get an extra one just for myself. That's it.

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    Yes that's a good way to do it, but just remember - the extra one you buy for yourself has a true opportunity cost to you of what you could sell it for, not what you paid for it.

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    LEGO is so evil! :p It makes it easier if you don't have to see your investments every day and you hide them in storage or plant in your brain that you have to sale them and are "off-limits!"

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    I have stuff from my personal collection that dates back to 1978. Almost all of them even have their boxes and most are in good condition. The day will come when I will no longer keep them. At that time, I will either sell them, which will give me a very nice profit even though they will be used, or give them to someone who will truly appreciate them. Kind of like a dad giving their son their collection of baseball cards. The reaction of appreciation and joy that will be with that person is worth more to me then any profit I could make.

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    LOL! Some Technic and Monster sets have been calling to me from the walk-in closet recently... When I DO open an investment set to build, I move that cost in my spreadsheet from the investment to the personal collection page.

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    Can't forget opportunity cost is not always monetary. There is opportunity cost to not opening and building the set. This is in the form of enjoyment of opening, building, displaying, etc. This has value as well. If this opportunity cost is greater than the opportunity cost of lost sales, etc, then there is your decision made. Economics is the study of choices with limited resources.

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