I have a confession, I just do not understand the obsession with minifigures that has taken hold in the last 10 years. Before Star Wars came on the scene in 1999 minifigures were what I still consider them to be: necessary utilities. A plane needs a pilot, a castle needs guards and a pirate ship must have a crew of scalawags, these are the roles and purposes of minifigures. Necessary, absolutely, but the reason you bought a set, not a chance. That is still my mindset which makes the concept of a minifigure being the primary reason one buys a set, or as of late even a collectors item, impossible for me to grasp.
Lego has taken full advantage of this craze. As Star Wars led to more and more licensed themes more and more figures patterned after famous characters, and then each of those characters in specific scenes, emerged. Lego realized as time went on that people were buying these sets as much for the figures as the ships or locales. The phenomenon has slowly bled out into the non licensed themes and therefore now pervades essentially all of Legos product line. The end result is that sets are more expensive then similar sized models from just a few years ago all because they contain "exclusive" minifigures. For those of us who do not get caught up in a euphoric experience upon finally having that elusive figure in our hands swallowing some of the new prices can be a difficult pill.
Recently however, I found a way for a collector like me who really doesn't care all that much about minifigures to take advantage of the craze. I found on Bricklink.com a seller who purchases brand new sets, removes the figures and weapons and then sells them and the rest of the set separately. Since he can sell each figure at a price anywhere from $5 to $20 based on their "exclusivity", and the market is all abuzz for figures, he in turn can sell the rest of the set for upwards of 50%-%60 off MSRP. For a person like me who already has more than enough figures to make up the difference this is a fantastic opportunity. I picked up 7189 Mill Village Raid for $30.00 and the discontinued 7097 Troll's Mountain Fortress for $45.00. Brand new together those would have cost $170.00 and I picked them up for $75.00. Now this would not work for someone looking to start building a collection but if yours is well established it can be a great opportunity!
I fully recognize that for many collecting minifigures is a joyful part of their Lego experience. If that is you fantastic no condemnation here. In this department I am squarely old school and it just doesn't do anything for me. To each their own! But as long as the craze continues I will happily buy brand new sets at greatly reduced prices and populate them with some of my many smily faced minifigures!
The Lego Chronicler