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  • Confessions of a LEGO Junkie


    Hello. My name is Elaine, and I am a Lego addict. I have often said this in jest, but I’ve started to realize that it is not a joke. I woke up this morning, and the first thing I did was check Brick Picker for the deals buzz. As soon as I had put the kids on the bus, I started planning my buy of the day. Since I went to see “The Force Awakens” (again) last night, I was feeling like I needed some more Star Wars sets. I took to the web, and made a plan to go to TRU (since it was Thursday) to buy a First Order Tie Fighter, using the Walmart price (20% off) plus another 10% through TRUTH and 8% back in rewards. It was only 9 am. I spent the next hour itching to buy as my local Toys R Us opens at 10 am. I even considered settling for price match plus 5% off using my Red Card at Target because they were already open. I didn't used to be like this…

    I am a collector. I still have 90% of the sets from my youth, and I started collecting again around 2010ish. For several years it was buying a modular for my birthday and lots of sets for the kids. It wasn't until a snafu with the Town Hall that things started to turn ugly. It was October 22nd, 2014. I had a lovely birthday dinner and decided that I would buy a Town Hall as my present. I already had a Fire Brigade, Grand Emporium, and a Pet Shop. I had briefly flirted with the idea of buying a Green Grocer long after it went EOL, but decided that $500 for NISB was too much to spend. (This was some time before the Town Hall incident, but it was what first enlightened me to the existence of the Lego reseller market.) Needless to say, when I went to my local Lego Store that day, I was dealt a crushing blow. I could not understand. I was buying each modular in order, I should have had plenty of time to buy the Town Hall, but it was gone. I was heartbroken. I was devastated. I was desperate. At first, I was ready to scrap the whole idea of my Lego city. It seemed pointless to not have all of them (or at least all of the ones released since I had started collecting modulars). I was still secretly pining for a Green Grocer, and to miss out on the Town Hall too was too much to bear. Within a couple of weeks of calling and searching stores and coming up empty, I bought one on eBay for 50% over RRP. I justified it saying that if I did find one in the wild for RRP, I could always resell that one to break even or better. For a little while, I was content, but it didn't last...

    Fast forward to March of 2015. It was my anniversary. There was an hour wait at the restaurant, so we went to the Lego Store. It was double VIP and I was determined not to let another modular pass me by, so I bought myself current, and had a lovely dinner. The next day, I was feeling guilty about spending so much, and I came up with the perfect plan. I would buy two of every Lego set I liked, build one, sell the other when it hit 2x RRP. Perfect! I immediately pulled $2k out of a never-touched savings account (because bank interest is a joke anyway) and had the most satisfying Lego spree I had ever experienced. I felt so powerful and successful with every package that arrived. It was incredible. I wish I could have stayed up there forever…

    Within a few months, (but just over 90 days), the reality of what I had done started to sink in. After that first $2k, I spent at least another $1k acquiring discontinued sets via eBay and craigslist, and probably $1k buying new releases because I was still flying high and I had 5,000+ VIP points to burn. For those of you who roll big, I will put this in perspective for you: $2000 is my entire monthly spending budget for utilities, food, etc. I spent 2 months of my household budget on toys. I panicked. I couldn't return anything. I couldn't break even through selling because everything was still readily available. I watched my stocks drop at sickening rates. I wanted to take it all back, but I had gone too far. All I could do was wait and see…

    It was the release of Lego Dimensions that brought me to the Brick Picker forums. My stocks were still junk (TB, ToO, EV, PS, PC, Simpson House…), but my buying had calmed down some. I started watching the Daily Deals. I started hiding purchases from my family. I started getting carried away again. I started bargaining with myself. If I didn't buy a coffee for a week or if I put off a haircut or if I returned some other nonessential item, how much could I spend on Lego instead? I started exchanging my “investment” sets for things I wanted to build. The lowest point was when I returned some sets that I had bought at discount, for full exchange value, to get my husband a Red Five for Christmas. I took a few weeks off after that...

    I used to have other interests. I used to have a modest savings account. I still have a roof over my head and my kids are well fed, but all I see are Lego. I want to know why I got this way. I can rationalize any purchase. “It helps me relax” “I had a coupon” “I had extra money this month” “But I need to have ALL of them!” (I tell my husband that I would have been a great Pokemon trainer). Sometimes I get mad at TLG. Sometimes I blame the QFLL. Sometimes I blame the AFOL trying to reclaim a happy childhood build. The truth is, I can only blame myself for getting so caught up in a hobby that I really can't afford…

    This morning, while I was planning my hunt, I came upon the “why did you start?” thread. The story is slightly different, but it's really all the same. “One time_____ and then I was hooked”. I can't decide if it's genius or predatory, either way, Lego is like a drug, and we are all pushers or addicts. I have 2 Tumblers in my trunk...

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    " ...  I immediately pulled $2k out of a never-touched savings account (because bank interest is a joke anyway) and had the most satisfying Lego spree I had ever experienced. I felt so powerful and successful with every package that arrived. It was incredible. I wish I could have stayed up there forever… "

    Awesome!! Yes, same here. I think we all try to keep that feeling going. We all can keep it up as much as our budget, or credit card limits :) Will allow :) 

    We all have our financing strategies and I think many of us have some interesting ways that we use some sort of commitment device to limit our purchases. I know mine are funny .... 

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    Guest brickcrazyhouse

    Posted

    hello Elaine.

     Admitting you have a problem is the first step.  Usually I say this as a joke, but all jokes aside addiction can take any form.  I have my own set of monkeys on my back, and gf has had hoarding issues in the past.  Needless to say we watch our Lego spending very closely.  All sets (not on display) for our personal collection must fit with in the storage containers.  Any money spent on investments comes from previous sales.  Started with selling some childhood minifigs, then bought SW polys worked up to minifig lots, then sealed sets.  

    Funny how you chose "Poly" for your user name.  TLG uses these  as "the first time is free" to get you hooked.

     

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    9 minutes ago, thoroakenfelder said:

    If you find yourself in the LEGO store begging for "just a taste" you need a program. ;) 

    That's partly why I haven't missed a monthly mini build in over three years. Even when I'm out of cash, I can still score a handful NEW bricks on first Tuesday of every month. 

     

    Also, if I ever talked about Lego in therapy I wouldn't have time for anything else

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    Yeah....you know when I was young...like preteen....I always wanted the big lego sets and my parents just couldn't afford the darn things back then. Now that I'm older it's almost as if I'm overcompensating for those days. Back then I might have had about twenty small to medium sets. Now I have sixty...most of them large. There's really not enough room to display them all but I make do.

    And then this year with the release of new UCS sets it could go up to 61 or 62.

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    How about concentrate on only hunting for deals 50% off or more and then sell them on craigslist to fuel this expensive hobby?

    Pros are:

    1. You should have a very low chance to worry about a lost

    2. It automatically limit your spend on Lego

    3. It is more fun

    Cons is:

    1. You might become very itching to buy....

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    Yes, I could see myself go the same way, but circumstances were a little different here. But in the end it sounds as if you already did the most important step: you can look at yourself and see and judge what you do.

    Maybe at some point you can get those initial savings back into the bank and still have all the Lego - the current investment and your own. That's what I've set as my goal, anyway.

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    I"m not sure I understand the ultimate end goal with this article.  Are you wanting to get out of investing/collecting but cant because you feel you are addicted like a heroin addict? I definitely get getting caught up in purchasing too many themes, and then getting caught up in having more than is rational.  I'm just a small time investor/collector, but when I look at it all, i'm sitting on over a few hundred mint sets, then have a lot of opened sets spread out over many themes.  I fluctuate with this quite a bit.  I started with the Architecture line, and it's steamrolled out from there.  Last year, I let my son open two themes that I sort of think I should have let as strictly investments and that is JW and Scooby Doo.  They now look like fads because he barely plays with them.  He does play with LOTR and Star Wars a lot and he likes mixels.  So, i've decided this year to only stick with SW, and i'll let him get one complete set of mixels in a theme, but quit with the "gotta have them all" concept.  I'm pretty much bowing out of minifigure line too this year  Even though my son occasionally wants things like Minecrap, a city set, and wants to get a lot of minifigures, and especially those poorly designed ones from kinetix like mario, sponge bob etc I don't give in anymore to this, because there's just too much out there that it's not feasible to "have them all" unless you want to buy a warehouse for a lego room.

    There are way too many themes to get caught up into.  Sometimes you may need to pull back and rethink about all that you have and there is a point where it goes from collecting to just hoarding for the sake of. 

    Maybe you should just refocus on going back to just getting your modular fix, and staying with that.  And selling off the other stuff.  Cut your losses even if you spent a little extra on a town hall.  Because, now you spent way more than that acquiring more sets that you probably aren't 100% interested in.  Instead of 200, you spent 2000....   We all do it!  But, if it's starting to cause you financial hardship then this stuff is not worth going deep into a hole over.  So, start to sell a lot of it off, recoup your costs (it's lego, unless you were buying the wrong sets, you should be able to do that).. and just refocus on a single theme.  Modulars are cool in that there's only one a year.  You can get by spending about 150 to 200 a year on lego that way, and that's not really that much when you think about it.  I know many that blow that much in alcohol in a week. I think scaling down is a decent move if you are just looking to refocus, but  keep engaged with the hobby.  And really that's all you should look at lego as - a HOBBY! Not a drug.  But just as a way to relax and have some fun.

    One of the reasons I was attracted to the architecture line was it was a small hobby (at first).  It was basically 3 sets a year, so it wasn't anything more than an occasional buy. That was until my son started liking legos, then things went a little crazy, because I started buying him a lot of stuff, and then got into the investment side of things too, and then spiraled out into star wars, LOTR, modulars, UCS and other themes. .  I do have an exit plan though.... and I think everyone should.

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    35 minutes ago, bigreen said:

    How about concentrate on only hunting for deals 50% off or more and then sell them on craigslist to fuel this expensive hobby?

    Pros are:

    1. You should have a very low chance to worry about a lost

    2. It automatically limit your spend on Lego

    3. It is more fun

    Cons is:

    1. You might become very itching to buy....

    I find the hunting part the most addictive of all (that, and watching my listings on ebay like a hawk :) ). Every box without a shelf tag becomes a prime suspect ..... And every day you wonder "did they perhaps start discounting?". Have to force myself to shut it out of my mind. Luckily I set out to do parting out, which means I have a simple calculation to perform on every set I see - no matter how much it has been discounted. And I try to steer clear of heavy-on-the-minifig sets ... still haven't cracked my way into that business,  my one attempt with the minifigs from Riddler's Chase has so far netted nothing (but I still haven't given up hope).

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    25 minutes ago, Phil B said:

    I find the hunting part the most addictive of all (that, and watching my listings on ebay like a hawk :) ). Every box without a shelf tag becomes a prime suspect ..... And every day you wonder "did they perhaps start discounting?". Have to force myself to shut it out of my mind. Luckily I set out to do parting out, which means I have a simple calculation to perform on every set I see - no matter how much it has been discounted. And I try to steer clear of heavy-on-the-minifig sets ... still haven't cracked my way into that business,  my one attempt with the minifigs from Riddler's Chase has so far netted nothing (but I still haven't given up hope).

    Minifigures are where I start when parting out. Will the minifigs equal or surpass the cost of the set? Will the rest of the set be saleable for a worthwhile amount.

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    7 hours ago, Poly 30286 said:

    I used to have other interests. I used to have a modest savings account. I still have a roof over my head and my kids are well fed, but all I see are Lego. I want to know why I got this way. I can rationalize any purchase. “It helps me relax” “I had a coupon” “I had extra money this month” “But I need to have ALL of them!” (I tell my husband that I would have been a great Pokemon trainer). Sometimes I get mad at TLG. Sometimes I blame the QFLL. Sometimes I blame the AFOL trying to reclaim a happy childhood build. The truth is, I can only blame myself for getting so caught up in a hobby that I really can't afford…

    Yeah, LEGO can become rather draining on the funds and time devoted. Still for a product most had long considered as little more than 'a simple toy' has made great strides showing otherwise. It is the one 'addiction' I am grateful to have. Haha. Who needs another $60 video game for another 'soon-to-be-outdated-and-replaced' couple hundred dollar console when I could buy enough for an epic LEGO cityscape.
     

    7 hours ago, Poly 30286 said:

    Lego is like a drug, and we are all pushers or addicts.

    While some of us happen to be both a peddler and the addict. :smoke::senile:
     

    7 hours ago, Poly 30286 said:

    I have 2 Tumblers in my trunk...

    I may not be good with predictions but I do know those Tumblers will be anything but junk. :derisive:

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    If you're worried about exceeding your monthly budget, you can do what I do. Donate plasma. As much as you can. Easily pays for a couple exclusives a month. And your saving lives.

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    Another great idea is to take advantage of local recycling programs. I simply take a shopping cart from my local grocery store and patrol the streets searching for cans. Also, don't forget to check the recycling cans on garbage pickup day. Be sure to learn the pickup schedules in order to maximize efficiency. Then simply take the returns to the bank. The Lego bank!

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    Poly and others, sometimes hard changes are needed when addiction is present whether acknowledged or not. 

    Limit yourself from buying. e.g. Sell 2 sets in order to buy 1.  Take a slight loss if needed. Bottom line is to limit the sets and more importantly cash devoted toward Lego. Get your collection and yourself in total control. i know this is harder said than done.

    Another suggestion of many is to forget about buying 2+ of each set.  Be content with 1 set to build and then resell later if you get board of it or need the cash.  

     

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    From an investment perspective it's really quite simple. You just have to decide how much of your total investment portfolio you are going to put in Lego. Say you have a spare 20,000$ laying around, you could decide to put 5,000$ in a savings account, 5,000$ in bonds, 5,000$ in stocks and lastly 5,000$ in Lego. In this case you'd only have 25% of your total investment in Lego. Say you make some profit or somehow get a hold of another 10,000$, you could keep the ratios and invest another 2,500$ in Lego.

    Figure out the ratios based on risk and potential gains. You can make your ratios slightly variable, for example 20-30% in Lego. That way you can use some of your savings account to buy that special set. But only go over the nominal 25% when some extraordinary deal comes up. Keep your savings seperated and if you can, make a seperate savings account for this purpose. And never go over your total 100% obviously.

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    Many different ways to try to keep control. I try to keep within my existing cash pile from sales these days when I buy, so this focusses my attention into getting the best deals. The only time I stray beyond this is when I know I have stock I can sell immediately at an acceptable profit, to repay the "must have" deal.

    In my collector guise, I have built many used modulars, and by this stage I tell myself they're just expensive dolls' houses (don't hate me folks), so of no interest - I feel I can get everything I need about them from looking at their pics online. I tend to only buy Architecture and Technic for myself. At least this cuts me down to 2 themes! I've reached the point where I find it quite satisfying to bricklink some of the retired Architecture sets - those darned resellers pushing up the prices of sealed sets! To me the beauty is you buy all the pieces new, so the standard of the build is equivalent to sealed sets, but because you spread your purchases out to get all the bits to complete a whole set, you get lots of small parcels to satisfy your need to receive & open packages. Technic-wise I have almost reached the point where every time a new flagship set comes out, I can build it from my collection. This is my coping strategy

    Although I do have ~£3k of sealed Architecture investment sets currently in my hallway to tidy to storage before my wife kills me!

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    How did you get 25% off a Death Star in the receipt you're showing.in the title photo? 

    It looks different than say, VIP points usage.

    Also, Welcome to the nuthouse.

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    32 minutes ago, mudcatsfan said:

    How did you get 25% off a Death Star in the receipt you're showing.in the title photo? 

    It looks different than say, VIP points usage.

    Also, Welcome to the nuthouse.

    Nice observation. Damaged box got me 25% off. That was back in 2011.

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    I loved legos as a kid, had somewhat forgotten about them into about 2 years ago when I strolled the lego store. Now I have a ton, so I know your pain. 

     

    Lego = crack. Remember the lego commercial from the 80's "Zach he's a lego maniac" 

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    2 hours ago, Poly 30286 said:

    Nice observation. Damaged box got me 25% off. That was back in 2011.

    Well done! 

    The $100 you got on the Death Star is pretty epic. In my experience they only offered 10% off, and eventually moved to a VIP points situation. Nowadays, you'd only get $50 in VIP points for the DS.

    I remember May the 4th 2013 the XWing 10240 came out. Everyone was in line buying the $100 B-Wing UCS, and nobody noticed there were two Xwing's behind the counter with a big red 10% off sticker for damaged box. I scooped one to buy (and of course 2 Bwings) and was out of there super happy. 

    It must have been shortly after that they stopped offering true discounts on any UCS, and instead went to the VIP points bonus system. In reality, $25 in VIP points is better than the 10% or $19.99 i saved on the Xwing that day, but i felt like I had gotten the best deal ever that morning. Still have that XWing on display as it was the first UCS i ever built.

    Well that's some rambling. Great article!

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    Definitely a cautionary tale.  Thank you for sharing.

    I can certainly relate.  Lots of stress in my life, and I will either eat or buy LEGO.  I've got a growing stack in the garage of things to build; never seem to have time to put them together.  But I constantly want to buy.  Usually, when I feel that way, a polybag or a Mixel will satisfy that urge, though. :)

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    Nice article and I think some people who read this can relate to your struggle, especially when you have interest in Lego as a collector and investor.  Collecting is expensive enough.  Add investing into the mix and the expenses add up quickly unless you can turn the investments into sales along the way.

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    20 hours ago, TheOrcKing said:

     

    While some of us happen to be both a peddler and the addict. :smoke::senile:

    Never get high on your own supply.

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    Guest brickcrazyhouse

    Posted

    10 minutes ago, Migration said:

    Never get high on your own supply.

    that's rule four

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