More often than not, resellers and investors of LEGO bricks are builders first, collecting second, and investors last. Not that investing is a terrible thing to do, but the love of LEGO usually comes before the love of money. One of the worst things about collecting and building is the mess.
A few years back, some relatives came over and saw the LEGO’s piled on the floor, on the former dining room table, and on the chairs. Of course their nieces and nephews loved it, but one of my uncles took me aside and said, “Uhh, sometimes Jordan gets his room all messed up with LEGO’s all over the place. You know what we do? We sort it by color. It makes it a lot easier to find pieces, and we clean everything up too!”. To my 9 year old mind, this was a groundbreaking discovery! I had never thought about organizing my bricks in another fashion besides my set!
So over the next few weeks, primarily during the boring parts of the State of the Union Address, which encompassed majority of the speech, we sorted through a recently acquired lot of LEGO’s. Though it was backbreaking work to sort through about 40 lbs of LEGO’s, we managed to sort it into small bins that held the following colors:
- 2 Bins of gray/black
- 1 Bin of red/blue
- 1 Bin of green/yellow
- 1 bin of white/tan/brown
We never really got around to sorting our other LEGO’s not in the lot, it helped a lot when building. Afterwards, not so much. Like most young kids, taking apart is the painful part of building, and yet the inevitable. I started keeping complete structures in the bins along with the loose pieces, which led to the mixing of the colors and bricks. Of course I didn’t mind, and it wasn’t until recently that I decided to organize my bricks a different way: by size and function.
Here are a few of the steps that I took to sort them into their new categories, as well as throw the MegaBloks and clever fakes that had been mixed in, into a “trash” pile.
Step 1: Throw ‘Em Together
- 1 Large Bin or container, preferably larger than 2 feet in diameter.
This is probably the most fun part of this laborious task, which is just mixing up all the pieces together. It felt really good to see the mixed together, and to hear the clamoring of plastic on plastic. For this task, I chose a small kiddy pool that my family never good around to throwing away. It is 3 feet in diameter, but only 8 inches deep, perfect for spreading around the bricks to see a lot of them.
Step 2: Common Ground
- Your brain.
In this step, you will be looking at your pieces, and try to find major “families” amongst them. A few common ones are flat plates, wings/large plates, regular bricks, and slant pieces. You can even go so far as to sort them into categories like car pieces, Creator pieces, roofing, curved pieces, etc. After determining your main 3-5 categories, you should find bins that you will be able to store your bricks in, large enough to hold all of the bricks in, and a little room if more pieces might find their way there. For this, I used a plastic container 13” x 7” x 4.5”, which were previously used to store the bricks when they were sorted by color.
Step 3: Sorting
- Pencil/Marker/Writing Utensil
- Sharp eyes
It all comes down to this: the actual sorting of your bricks. Tear a full piece of printer paper into quarters, then fold each quarter in half, “hotdog style”, which is the second grader way of saying “the long way”. On one half of the paper, write the category in large bold letters, and place it inside the container, so that one half of the piece of paper is on the bottom of the box, and one is touching the side. If you choose to use a different method of labeling, that is totally fine. This is just a way that I found to be time and economically efficient. Now, take no more than two of the categories and take as many pieces out of your master collection and into your box assuming it meets the criteria. A great way to get to all the pieces if you have a large container is using a “Lazy Susan”, which I use, or if you have a circular container, you can press it against your chest/body, and turn.
Step 4: Sub-Categories
Once you have finished sorting into your main categories, you are left with several types of pieces that probably aren’t so related to each other. These pieces obviously don’t need large containers to store in, so you can use a small plastic shelf/cabinet like the one below, or use a tackle box, which serves a very similar purpose. If you are going the shelf/cabinet route, make sure to label each drawer to save time.
By this time, you should have all your pieces organized, and ready to go! I recommend this type of organization to a more serious builder, because many times, it’s more important to get the piece than the color correct. However, for many, it is just important to get things organized and ready to go instead of heaps and piles everywhere.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and I look forward to seeing pictures of some very organized LEGO collections!!
Below are a few pictures of my collection of loose bricks [during sorting] for your entertainment.