Over the years I have bought a lot of Legos. I have bought them from stores, online, at garage sales and from friends. I have bought sets, individual pieces and mixes of both. And through it all I have found a simple truth to be pretty much universal: there is no way or place to get Legos cheap. I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen Legos on clearance. Second hand sites such as bricklink.com while amazing and wonderful (especially if you are looking for individual pieces for a specific project or need to replace parts missing from a set), are still not cheap (though they are significantly cheaper than buying parts off Lego's website!). The best deals I have found through the years come from two sources: Pick-a-Brick walls at Lego stores (provided you take the time to really pack the containers tight, it usually takes me a minimum of 45 minutes per container... yes trips to the Lego store with me are incredibly boring for my companions, hence why I usually go alone) and the right kind of eBay sale.
I recently scored a great purchase on eBay which was the inspiration for this entry. Buying Legos on eBay can be a tricky business. Individual sets (especially those that are discontinued) are almost never a good deal, and many of the multiple set lots are priced by people who know the value of what they are selling which also precludes a good deal.
There is, however, a sweet spot so to speak right between these two. What you are looking for is someone who is selling a small collection who has not taken the time to go through and inventory the individual sets. These are usually listed by pound (titled something like boxed 10lbs of Legos or something similar, the key search word is pounds or lbs). These are usually moms who are cleaning out a kid’s closet in preparation for a move or as the kid is getting ready to go to college and is simply looking to free up space, not make money, by getting rid of a now outgrown Lego collection.
The picture below of my recent purchase illustrates exactly the type of listing I am talking about.
I paid $60 for this lot and it contains no less than $400 worth of sets. Some of them are missing pieces but that is easily mended with a few bricklink.com purchases if you are looking for sets and that isn't even necessary if you are, as I was in this case, looking to get a bunch of pieces.
Three quick warnings. First, the great danger of buying unsorted lots such as this is that the mom usually doesn't know anything about Legos. As such they are not (normally) going to be able to tell you what sets are in the collection so you are going to have to identify them yourself from the picture which takes a bit of knowledge (my trained eye could see at least 6 sets from the pictures on this one so I knew I was getting a good deal). The second danger is that if the child to whom the collection belonged was not a purest, the Legos may be mixed with a variety of cheap substitutes such as Megablocks. Look for some sort of statement that they are all Legos or check the picture, large amounts of bricks other than Legos will be obvious by their colors or shapes. Lastly be aware that often these lots do not usually come with any instructions. Lego has digital instructions from sets available in the last few years on their website but if the sets are too old you will need to go to a fan site that has instruction scans such as peeron.com.
Buying Legos at a good deal can be difficult but it is also incredibly rewarding. I love going through a huge box of new pieces and finding all the treasures contained inside. Buying lots by the pound on eBay is a great way to make that happen!
The Lego Chronicler