Since its original introduction more than a decade ago, the Star Wars LEGO theme has been the single most successful line of products in TLG portfolio. The fan base is just huge and the same goes for the content itself: hundreds of books, toys, 6 films (soon to be 9), miniseries, etc.
To tap even more into the SWs market, back in 2009 the company decided to offer a little something extra to those Star Wars LEGO fans as part of the May the 4th promotions, and that was the beginning of a series of promotional give outs that, along with the discounts, would be the center of attention and discussion with LEGO fans for several weeks before the even. Let's take a quick look at all of the May the 4th promos that have been released so far:
Comments: As mentioned before, this was the promo that started it all. A very nice and collectable poster showcasing most of the SW LEGO minifigs that had been released up to that point. I have had a really hard time finding any listings of this item for sale on eBay, something that is not unexpected given it has been around 4 years already and posters are definitely not in the same league as minifigs, they get easily damaged or lost. I assume that this particular one would go for a decent amount of money (for a poster), as it would be very popular with some collectors.
Comments: In this second May the 4th promotion LEGO went one step further when it came to the exclusiveness of the promotion. Even though all qualifying orders got an exclusive sticker sheet with several Star Wars characters, the main incentive of the whole event was the chance to get one of the only 2 Bronze Boba Fett you see pictured above. Basically, only one person would randomly get this desirable minifig. I could not find anything about a sale regarding this particular one, but if Mr.Gold (5000 copies and made of cheap plastic) is selling consistently for $600, then you can only imagine how much this guy here would go for.
Comments: In 2010 LEGO decided to do better than a poster and also go with something more widespread than just 1 minifigure in the entire world as a promotion: a LEGO Shadow ARF Trooper minifig was given away for free with qualifying SW orders.
This was actually the beginning of a tradition that has been going on for the past 4 years, LEGO SW minifigs given out as a free item on the May the 4th events. This particular one forms part of the Clone Wars universe, even though from what I read it is not an actual character that is mentioned anywhere, just a twist on the regular ARF Trooper. The minifigure is currently selling at around $ 25 on eBay, and that is pretty good for something that cost you nothing.
Comments: 2012 brought us the silver counterpart to C-3PO, the TC-14 minifig. This particular minifig was, in my opinion, a very good choice for LEGO to produce as their May the 4th exclusive, as it is a character that we do not often see and will retain more value as a result. The figure is currently selling for around $ 22 on eBay, so once again a pretty good performer in the year or so since its release.
Comments: This year's offering turned out to be another Hoth variation of the popular Han Solo, and a major disappointment for a lot of people as well. Opposite to the previous 2 minifigs, this is a character that has been done time and time again in several different variations, including Hoth, and as such it is a lot more widespread and common. Again, getting it for free is always good, but if you take a look at eBay the last bunch have been selling for around $10 already indicating that this one may not be as popular as some of the others (something that was said a lot in the forums). We will have to wait and see for how much this one goes in the next months to a year to accurately say it was really a flop.
As you can see, the May the 4th promotional items that were originally posters or a special give away have changed into the release of an exclusive minifigure for the 1 or 2 days of the event. For investors, the inclusion of this extras gives an extra incentive to purchase at the LEGO stores and S@H during those days, especially when coupled with what sometimes are great discounts on expensive sets, like it happened this year with the 50% B-Wing or a couple years ago with the 25% 10179 MF.
These promotional items can serve 2 different purposes depending on the investor. One, they can be quickly flipped the same or a couple days after the event for a decent amount of money in a way to reduce even more the costs of some of the investments purchased on the day. In order to maximize your earnings you should expect to make your purchases in the store and as early as possible, as this will give you some time to list the promo immediately and get the most money possible before there is a flood of them in the market, something that usually happens as more people get their online orders and get back home from the stores.
Two, investors can decide to hold to the minifigures as an investment as well. It seems that the other 2 May the 4th minifigures that have been released are consistently going for over $20 after they have been out for at least a year, so one would hope most of the others that are released in the future will achieve the same kind of value. Having said that, this will also depend on how popular and really exclusive the minifigure is, as I don't think Han Solo (Hoth) will be getting the same amount of money as a never seen before TC-14. Something else to consider in this scenario are the opportunity costs. Even if the minifigure sells for $25 a year from today, you have to believe there are better ways to invest that money today that will guarantee you a more substantial profit.
Let me wrap up with a couple of important, if sometimes obvious, points:
- On the day of the event, and if you have a LEGO store near you, try to be at the store as early as possible. The faster you get the promotional items, the faster you will be able to list them for and get a higher dollar amount.
- Break your orders into several smaller ones. Say this past May the 4th you had planned to buy 3 B-Wings at 50%, it would have made sense to make three different purchases of one each to get three copies of Han Solo.
- Evaluate the appeal of the minifig since its announcement. You can usually tell how really exclusive or interesting a minifigure is as soon as it is announced, and this two points are the most important determinants of value in this cases. Never seen before characters (TC-14) will probably do a lot better than variations of common ones (Han Solo)
- Take into account the opportunity costs of holding the minifigure as an investment. Those $30 you MIGHT get next year may be worth less than the $20 you can get today.
Thanks for reading!