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    LEGO Friends: Do the Purple and Pink LEGO Boxes Translate to Greenbacks?


    Hi! For those who don’t know me(which is probably almost all of you, possibly even myself) I’ve been dabbling in collectibles for about two years. I have had a fair amount of success in gig posters and licensed movie posters(think Mondo, etc.) and limited edition vinyl records. In the last six months I’ve been really trying to get a foot in the door of the LEGO world. First, I love LEGO bricks. Second, I’m familiar with my post office, eBay and PayPal, and have a ready account to sell with. Third, I want to collect some LEGO sets for my future children (the wife is pregnant with a baby girl) to build, but also make some money with.

    One of the first things any new LEGO investor probably hears is “buy what you love.” If that were the case, I would only have a lot of STAR WARS, Lord of the Rings/Hobbit and cool Modulars. Yes, if things went really badly, I could happily build these sets(although how many Bag Ends does any one man need in his Lord of the Rings/Hobbit MOC?) but it would be a little limiting. Since I found out I am going to be the proud new father of a baby girl, I started looking at Friends. And then I went further, back to Belville, which was one of the earlier girl LEGO themes that preceded Friends. I was drawn to the 7582 Royal Summer Palace and the 7586 Sunshine Home, a couple of the bigger sets from that line that have long since been retired. Not many are for sale, in terms of numbers, but the CAGR(Compound Annual Growth Rate) and ROI(Return on Investment) from retail are solid, at 17%/158% and 11%/71% respectively . I would gladly go back in time several years and scoop up a few of these sets for investment purposes. So...does that mean, despite my personal lack of enthusiasm for Friends LEGO theme, that it will be a solid investment? Let's take a look...

    The current numbers suggest, yes, yes, a million times yes! The first wave of sets from January of 2012 are getting pretty hard to find and are already showing some nice gains. Here is a list of the Top 15 Friends sets based on CAGR. I call them the Friend's Fabulous Fifteen:

     

    Image Set # Set Name Pieces MSRP(US$) Current Price CAGR(%)
    Lego 30102 Olivia's Desk 30102 Olivia's Desk 26 3.97 7.74 94.96
    Emma's Horse Trailer 3186 Emma's Horse Trailer 218 24.99 44.12 76.55
    Stephanie's Mailbox 30105 Stephanie's Mailbox 41 3.99 6.91 73.18
    Heartlake Dog Show 3942 Heartlake Dog Show 183 19.99 33.21 66.13
    Stephanie's Outdoor Bakery 3930 Stephanie's Outdoor Bakery 45 5.99 9.64 60.43
    Heartlake Flying 3063 Heartlake Flying 195 19.99 31.59 58.03
    Emma's Splash Pool 3931 Emma's Splash Pool 43 5.99 9.09 51.75
    Olivia's Tree House 3065 Olivia's Tree House 191 19.99 29.45 47.32
    Emma's Fashion Studio 3936 Emma's Fashion Studio 79 9.99 14.7 47.25
    Olivia's Speedboat 3937 Olivia's Speedboat 65 9.99 14.63 46.45
    Mia's Bedroom 3939 Mia's Bedroom 85 9.99 14.35 43.64
    Andrea's Stage 3932 Andrea's Stage 87 9.99 14.14 41.54
    Camper 3184 Camper 309 29.99 42.06 40.25
    Stephanies's Cool Convertible 3183 Stephanies's Cool Convertible 130 14.99 44.12 38.29

     

     

      There are a few others that have shown really nice gains from this first wave that could become quite sought after in the secondary market for those investors coming late to the game as well as for children who desire(and plead with their parents) to get sets that are unavailable at retail. The nice thing about these smallish sets is that even at double, triple or even quadruple the initial retail price, they still remain affordable to most parents with kids who want to rip open these sets and play with them. My child doesn’t play with Friends LEGO sets(yet) – she is just an embryo, people! – but I think that if a birthday or Christmas were on the horizon and my daughter had sets A, B and C that I would shell out $30 for Emma’s Fashion Studio (reg. Price $9.99) to complete her collection.

      Because most of the sets are small to medium size, I don’t think there are going to be massive monetary gains, even if there are solid CAGR gains. That will keep a lot of investors away. Also, they don’t appeal to (most?) men, perhaps not the majority of AFOLs and not to the majority of young boys, but I think that leaves an opening for the savvy investor who is happy to make a little money here and there. If you can track down the early 2012 sets at retail or the mid-2012 sets at a discount(recent sales have seen some of these sets at quite attractive prices), I would say throw caution to the wind, ignore the advisers who only want you to invest in what you love and instead invest in a hot product with a matching cartoon and solid CAGRs!

    VITAL STATISTICS:
    Brickpicker Alias: Veegs
    Investment to Date: About $5,500
    Sales to Date: $0
    Wife (Currently Pregnant) Anger Level: xx/10: 6.5
    Most Recent Acquisition: 2 Vampyre Castles @$73.50 each  

    “ED”ITOR'S NOTE:

    There has been much discussion on the BrickPicker forums after the recent LEGO Press Release in which illustrated another banner year for The LEGO group. Let's take a look at a portion of that press release....

    LEGO Friends significantly exceeded expectations
    The best-selling product lines in 2012 were LEGO City and LEGO STAR WARS™, followed by LEGO Ninjago (launched in 2011). The new product line, LEGO Friends, delivered a strategic milestone in 2012, selling much better than expected and becoming the fourth best-selling product line. Even though the LEGO Group more than doubled its production of LEGO Friends versus expectations, it was not possible to deliver all of the products demanded.

    The red highlighted sentence illustrates an amazing point. LEGO doubled production of the Friends-themed sets, yet still couldn't meet demand. Wow! When is the last time you have heard of a LEGO theme being so popular that the LEGO factories couldn't keep pace with demand? I really don't know, but nevertheless, it is a fact that every savvy LEGO investor and reseller needs to pay attention to.

    You would think every LEGO investor and reseller would be rushing out to buy some of those Fabulous Fifteen Friend's sets posted by Veegs. Well, not so fast. There is a large portion of experienced LEGO investors that don't want to touch these LEGO sets with a 10-foot pole. I wonder why? The Friends theme is near the top of the Theme CAGR List, at #2 behind the Monster Fighters. There is a large variety of sets, both large and small, cost effective and expensive and most are well thought out and creative LEGO sets, even though they are designed for little girls. Is that the issue? Quite Possibly. Little girl LEGO sets don't appear to get enough love from the majority male LEGO population. And in the defense of the male population, I can see why. Most LEGO investors are LEGO fans and collectors first and will base their investments on sets they like and would build. Their philosophy is that if the LEGO investment market ever implodes, they can feel better about their investment choice and build the sets. Count me in on this philosophy. But does this philosophy have any legs to stand on, or is it some sort of ridiculous antiquated behavior based on zero common sense?

    The more I deal with LEGO investing, the more I realize that emotion has to be removed from the equation if you truly want to pick the best sets for strong growth. For the longest time I have subscribed to the “I only buy sets that I would want to build” theory and it has worked well for me over the years. But I have started to expand my LEGO investment choices to include sets I will never build. Why? To make money of course. I have ignored LEGO themes in the past as investments because I had no real interest in the sets. Take Harry Potter sets for instance. I could have bought Harry Potter sets years ago, instead I bought hundreds of STAR WARS sets, yet never considered Harry Potter sets as a potential investment...and lost out on some nice gains. I never saw one Harry Potter movie and could really care less, but recently, I started buying the Harry Potter sets because I changed my philosophy and I knew they would appreciate well after EOL. Although the Harry Potter sets are creative and accurate LEGO sets, I realize that I will never build one but I still value them as investments. This is how I view Friends sets.

    Friends themed sets are wonderful. They are colorful, creative, fun, cute and contain many small features that go unnoticed by many, but can be appreciated by every LEGO fan out there. Obviously a huge hit with girls and rightfully so, these sets are having a hard time gaining respect from male LEGO investors. I really like these sets, but as with the Harry Potter sets, I won't buy any Friends sets to build. And I'm OK with that. I'm not buying Friends sets to build, I am buying them at a discount to sell later at a profit. It's as simple as that. I like making money and Friends sets are one of the LEGO themes that can make you a lot of money if invested in properly. I can't really give you any specific Friends sets that will do well after EOL, because they all seem to do well...even before EOL. If I would suggest some Friends-themed sets to potential investors, the larger sets like the 3185 Summer Riding Camp and 3315 Olivia's House would be two I would key on. But many sets, including many polybags and smaller boxed sets, have exploded in growth.

    So all in all, I would suggest even “un”Friendly fans and investors dabble a little in the pink and purple LEGO sets. I know, many of you naysayers are predicting these are just one hit wonders, that in a couple of years, these sets and/or the entire theme will be permanently retired or unpopular. Many male LEGO investors will say that girls just won't get into collecting LEGO sets like boys do and I will counter with Barbie Doll collecting as an example of how women are possibly better collectors than men. The Barbie Doll collectible's market is years ahead of the LEGO collectible's market in time, sales and money. Some Barbie Dolls sell for $20,000.00+++!!! Women make for serious doll collectors and I can see it translating over to the LEGO Friends theme. There will be little girls that want all the Friends sets, even after they are retired. Just like boys who couldn't afford that 10179 Millennium Falcon in 2007 but can buy it now as an adult with extra discretionary income, there will be women who wanted to buy Olivia's House or the Summer Riding Camp as a child and couldn't afford it, but can buy it in the future when money is readily available.

    Also, don't discount the “spoiled child” scenario. Imagine a child who wants every LEGO set and their enabling parents (I speak for myself here...) who will give their kids whatever they want to keep them quiet or see a smile. Any way you slice it, there are some solid reasons to buy Friends LEGO sets as investments, even if investing in Friends sets goes against some tried and true LEGO investment principles. You might not want to build the Friends LEGO sets in the physical sense, but with their current returns on investment and bright future in my opinion, you might want to build up your Brickfolio with the pink and purple sets..

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    Great article Veegs and great comments from Ed. Here's all you need to know...a TRU employee told me "We tried to make an end cap display for Lego Friends but didn't have enough product to do it."

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    Good post, I enjoyed reading it. It won't change most people's minds, but who cares... I'd like to point out the following sentence to everyone here: "The more I deal with LEGO investing, the more I realize that emotion has to be removed from the equation if you truly want to pick the best sets for strong growth." This is the most important thing stated in this post. Emotion must be removed from absolutely every investment you make or it will impact your return. This is why I never listen to stock tips from random people...they're always emotionally driven. Much of the anti-Friends rhetoric we see here is purely emotionally driven. I'd also like to add a couple of things. First, 3186 Emma's Horse Trailer is still available on Target.com, and even though Target says it's not available in stores, it is. Second, the numbers and info. for 3183 are incorrect, please update.

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    One more thing to add...for investment purposes I'd also look at some of the random supplementary items they're making for Friends. Such as 850436, 850437, and 850581 (the Brick Calendar). If LEGO is doubling production it's for a good reason. We could very well see a spike in demand for all Friends items this year, and I suspect these random supplementary items aren't produced in as much volume as the sets. Also, I'm a big believer in having Summer Riding Camp, Olivia's House, and the Dolphin Cruiser on hand for Christmas...

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    Thanks for the article Veegs. @emes...Yes, I agree. In the short term, these miscellaneous items like the Brick Calender and Advent Calender are very collectible.

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    I believe The Lego And Toys R US Exclusive 3185 Summer Riding Camp will always be a must want set when this is Retired as its a big over 1000 set, Next Olivia's House and the Dolphin Cruiser and Heartlake High will also be big winners.

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    Nice article. Something to think about as far as diversifying ones portfolio. All sets have appeal at the right price.

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    Thank you for this article Veegs, and a good follow up from Ed. I have been thinking about getting into the Friends theme, but have struggled to find a place to start. I have been very much in the "invest in what you like" camp up to now - which has been fine as there have been more than enough sets in that category to eat up my investment dollars. But now I want to diversify a little. Having 3 girls under 5 I can tell Friends is a winner, they love it! I do wonder though if the second wave or future waves in this theme will do well. The first wave as pointed out really struggled to meet demand, this has obviously driven up secondary prices. Lego Group will no doubt have factored that in for newer releases, making way bigger production runs.

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    Guest skfdlty

    Posted

    @derickb82-I totally agree. We would see many more large profits instead of 5 small set ones which would be helpful to many investors and collectors. Very helpful, Veegs, I look forward to reading any other articles you are going to write!!!

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    Thanks for all the positive comments! I agree with a couple of the comments regarding future waves: time will tell how many more sets we'll see and how long they'll stay in production. Check emazers upcoming Friends order forms post and note the big sets look like they'll stay in production, which means that some of the smaller EOL or soon to be EOL sets might be a better short term bet. Of course, that is more shipping, more ebay listings and more time put in - certainly not for everyone!

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    Nice little article and love hearing about your girl on the way. I have to say for myself that the more I look at the FRIENDS sets, the more I like them! And I'm a guy! It's the cuteness factor, "I just can't take anymore Captain!" (Insert bad Star Trek pun here.) I'm trying to just say something about the article but now I'm just too excited about your baby girl to! Here's to you & your wife's beautiful child, Veegs! God bless, man.

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    Great article Veegs! I finally just got around to reading it. I too think Friends sets will continue to grow in popular and value in years to come. I can't wait for the new Dolphin Cruiser this summer!!

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    I was in my local Lego store today. I frequent this store often and the staff know I am an avid fan of the "Friends" collection. The sales associate asked myself and several other regular guests if we wanted to venture a guess as to the number 1 (top selling set) for 2012. I immediately said Olivia's Dollhouse. It was the correct answer. I have 3 of them. 1 to build, 1 for parts and 1 for my collection. I do wish they would make some bigger sets and add more of the Friends colors to the Lego online brick shop. I am anxiously awaiting the release of some of the new sets later this month.

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    Blackjack, what other cheaper options? I don't think Barbie is cheaper by a longshot, and I rather buy my daughter (if I had one) a ton of Friends sets over anything on the current market. Besides, it would be something that we both could share.

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    I loved the article. I have been scoping out the "pink row" for these but must be going to the stores at the wrong times. I see plenty of boys on the lego isle but no girls looking at these. Will have to keep an eye out though.

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    Lego finally did things right with Friends.  My wife and I love them.  They make sets that are badly needed for the city (common things like High School, bakery, salon, etc, etc.).  I have no problem as a guy in not only getting them but investing in them.  They fill a much needed market with the girls/females.   

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