Buying Lego FAQ
This FAQ covers how to buy new and used LEGO pieces and sets, minifigs, bulk LEGO, and discontinued LEGO sets.
Written and maintained by Kevin R. Wilson. Use the Contacts page to send me questions (preferably with answers!), additions and corrections and I'll add them to the FAQ and credit you.
Click on a question to see the answer:
It depends on what kind of LEGO you're looking for, what your resources are (time and/or money), and where you live, among other things. Check out the more detailed questions and answers below for a more focused answer, and read the linked descriptions of the possible places to get LEGO:
- LEGO Shop-at-Home/LEGO Direct/LEGO Service
- Garage sales / flea markets / car boot sales / jumble sales / thrift stores / charity stores
- Classified ads / free ad paper ads
- Independent toy stores
- Large chain toy stores
- Department stores
- Discount department stores
- Public Internet auction sites
- Independent internet piece auctions
- Independent piece sale internet sites
- Private auctions on RTL or Lugnet
- Private Trades on RTL/Lugnet
- Individuals Web site trade/sale pages
You have several choices.
- Buy bulk bricks from the LEGO company. Most expensive way, but it's convenient. Colors are red, blue, yellow, white, black, grey, dark grey, tan and green. Not all sizes are available in all colors, or at all.
- Buy brick buckets or tubs, or large Classic or Freestyle sets, take the color you want, and sell the rest (cheapest way - you can end up getting the bricks you want AND making money, but it takes time and effort).
- Buy bulk color bricks on eBay or Bricklink (the people selling them have just done the option listed above!). This way you can sometimes get rarer colors like tan, dark grey, or brown.
- Post to an appropriate newsgroup that you're looking. Someone may have just what you need.
- LEGO at http://shop.lego.com sells "bulk" bricks in certain sizes and colors.
- Search Bricklink for the color and size you need.
- Some people sell specific color/size brick lots on eBay. Not cheap, but you don't have to work very hard to find them.
- Buy brick buckets or tubs, or large Classic or Freestyle sets, take the color and size you want, and sell the rest (cheapest way - you can end up getting the bricks you want AND making money, but it takes time and effort).
- Buy plate service packs from LEGO Shop-at-home. These come in black, white, red, yellow, green, grey or blue.
- Search Bricklink for the color and size you need.
- Especially if you want colors other than the above, watch eBay for large lots in a specific color.
These auctions used to happen regularly, but have now been overtaken by the convenience of Bricklink. They sold pieces, usually in small lots of 1 to 100 or so of a specific piece type and color. The most well-kown was Auczilla, whose domain name now points at a X-rated site.
Easiest place to find them is at public auction sites, but you will pay top dollar and you need to be careful to get a good description from the seller so you know what you're getting. If the set is used there may be pieces missing or pieces substituted. Sometimes you can find older sets in smaller independent toystores, or used ones at garage sales or via classified ads. You can also check Bricklink, where people sell sets as well as parts, or ask on LUGNET or rec.toys.lego. There's no easy way: you just have to keep looking.
If you have lost or broken a piece from a set, or if it came with a piece missing, you can call LEGO Consumer Affairs in North America (1-800-422-5346), or LEGO Service in Europe, and they will replace the part, normally at no charge. Usually you need to have the set instructions so you can identify the part by instruction page, step, and part description over the phone. If it's a very old part which is no longer produced, you probably won't be able to get it this way. Ask on the newsgroups, watch eBay and Bricklink, and hope.
For bulk brick sales, see "Can I order bulk pieces from LEGO?"
In N. America, LEGO Shop-at-home sells many sets which are not available to stores. Call S@H and get them to send you a catalog, or check the website. In Europe, almost all those sets are available in stores anyway. There are some sets which are only available in Europe, or only available in N. America, and the best way to get them if you're in the wrong place is to post a message on the LUGNET or rec.toys.lego newsgroups asking for someone in the right place to get one for you. This is much better than buying one for 3 times the price on public auction sites. You can also wait and hope: quite often things released in one area eventually reach other areas, or become available direct from LEGO, but not always.
Buy sets and buckets, keep the parts you want and sell the rest. Apart from that, the cheapest way is to buy used LEGO: next cheapest is buckets and tubs. If you want a specific set, then you simply have to watch the sales for it to go on sale or clearance. Current sets sometimes sell on public auction sites for considerably less than their list price and you can get a good deal that way if you remember to add the shipping into the equation.
In North America, you can only get modern 9v track from S@H: it's "not sold in stores". You can also get it via auctions or on Bricklink but except for curved track it is seldom cheaper than S@H. Older track (4.5v battery track, 12v electric track) is no longer made but you can occasionally find it tucked away in the back of a store. You also see it offered in auctions, or on Bricklink, or you might be able to trade for it.
Don't you know LEGO is completely non violent? LEGO doesn't make weapons. Those swords, revolvers, knives, bombs, spears, axes, rifles, harpoons, pistols, muzzle-loaders, halberds, cannon, lances, space lasers, etc etc are all imaginary.... Seriously, there are several ways to get more weapons. LEGO makes an accessories pack for almost all themes and the appropriate ones include weapons: these are available from S@H or LEGO Service and are the most direct way to get more weapons. You can also find weapons on parts sale sites, by trading for them on the newsgroups, or in larger lots on public auction sites from time to time. There is also at least one place making custom weapons: the Little Armory
No, they don't. You can get bulk Dark Grey and Tan bricks from S@H now though. People who buy sets and split them up advertise less-common brick color lots from time to time, either on eBay, Bricklink or private sale sites.
If you need current minifigs, check Bricklink or look for one of LEGO's minifig packs which includes the figs you want, then sell off the others to recover some of the cost. For older figs, check Bricklink or try offering to trade or buy on the newsgroups.
Where can I buy trees/flowers/bushes/fences
Where can I get more windows
Where can I get more roof bricks
Lego Users Group NETwork the website and news server dedicated to LEGO. Hosts more than 700 newsgroups on every possible aspect of LEGO, the LUGNET Guide and Fibblesnork set databases, Partsref parts database, and much more.
The LEGO company website. Has a searchable catalog (including all current sets, service packs and accessories for Europe, N. America and Asia) which you can now order from, a builders gallery, and more.
Rec.toys.LEGO, (RTL) the international LEGO newsgroup. Not as good a signal-to-noise ratio as the LUGnet newsgroups, but not bad compared to most unmoderated newsgroups. Sometimes contains pornographic spam posts. Check the RTL FAQ.
Bricklink is "The Unofficial Online LEGO® Shopping Mall". It contains multiple stores run by individuals, and allows you to search for pieces across all the stores, and set up a wants list so you're notified whenever the piece you need becoms available. As of 20 Sep 2007 there were 2764 stores and 72,355,888 items available.
A phone, online (http:/shop.lego.com) or mail-in service, which sells accessory packs and spare parts. In N. America, sells sets including most/all of the current line and some discontinued sets, plus "not sold in stores" sets, and publishes a catalog several times a year. To get the catalog, call 1-860-763-4011 in the US or Canada. In Europe most of the sets marked "not sold in stores" in N America are actually sold in stores. All LEGO sets except the very tiniest include a leaflet in the package with numbers and addresses for local countries, along with a mini-catalog.
What kind of LEGO can I find at garage sales / flea markets / car boot sales / jumble sales / thrift stores / charity stores?
Used / secondhand LEGO. It takes a fair bit of searching to find it, since it is usually snapped up early, but if you can find it this is the cheapest way. Condition of what you get varies from almost new to chewed and scratched and sticky! Lots may contain partial models or bits and pieces from many sets with none complete, along with non-LEGO items and clone bricks.
Used / secondhand LEGO, usually a bit more expensive than at garage sales, but still a good deal.
Usually expensive but can have a good range, and sometimes have older stock of discontinued sets.
Large selection of current sets and occasional older sets, may have good prices, may have sales from time to time. May also have clearance sales to get rid of slow-moving stock where you can get very good buys. Sometimes large chains have exclusive or limited edition items.
Varies wildly: may have good or poor selection, may have only current or some older sets, may be expensive, may have sales from time to time.
e.g. Target, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Zellers, etc
Varies: may have good or poor selection, often have good prices on current sets, may sometimes have leftover older sets. Often have clearance sales periodically. Often the best place to find bulk brick buckets or tubs. Some large "superstores" also have LEGO and can be good places to buy current sets.
e.g. eBay, Yahoo.
These sites allow anyone to register with them and list items to sell. They can be the easiest place to find old or rare sets, but you pay a premium for them. Especially eBay is so big that eventually you can always find what you're looking for. Whether you can afford to buy it is another matter. Yahoo has less in the way of LEGO auctions but can be cheaper than eBay. You can also find parts on eBay - windows and bulk bricks are especially common. Used parts are often sold here: buyer beware as condition varies from good to terrible and the seller's description may not be accurate.
This section is outdated as independent auctions are now very rare. But, for historical interest...
e.g. Auczilla, Modern Auction These auction sites sell pieces, usually in small lots of 1 to 100 or so of a specific piece type and color. They run one large auction with multiple lots to completion then stop while everything from that auction is paid for, packed and mailed, then start another large auction. Prices vary - you can pay a lot for very popular pieces, or you can get some very cheap deals. The most well-kown was Auczilla, whose domain name now points at a X-rated site.
Sell specific pieces and colors as a straight sale not an auction, usually you specify the quantity you want and that's what you get. The #1 place to go for piece sales is Bricklink where thousands of people have separate "stores" to sell parts and sets. Just to give you an idea of the scope, as of 20 Sep 2007 there were 2764 stores and 72,355,888 items available. You can search for pieces across all stores, set up a Wanted list which tells you when something you need is listed for sale, and much more. Other independent piece sale sites include BAYLIT. Prices vary from one store to another, as do shipping costs and whether the store will ship outside its home country.
This section is outdated as private auctions are now very rare. But, for historical interest...
Individuals sometimes run auctions by hand, advertising them on the newsgroups and publishing updates there and to a mailing list of interested parties. To find these you need to read the newsgroups. Sometimes they are piece auctions, sometimes for sets, often older ones, often used. Prices vary from low to high.
People sometimes publish their wants lists or for-trade lists on the newsgroups. If you have parts to trade, this is a great way of getting what you want.
Many LEGO fans have LEGO pages on their websites, and sometimes include trade or sale items there. Sometimes they will post an announcement to the newsgroups, otherwise, just surf the LEGO webring and the Everything LEGO links page to find sites, then look for trade pages.
This applies to anyone you're buying Lego from who you don't already know, whether it's an eBay or Bricklink seller or someone who sells Lego from their website. Here are some good questions you might want answers to:
- Are the pieces new or used? (Most sellers will specify, but if they don't, ask).
- Do you or anyone in your household smoke? (Smoke smell clings to Lego).
- Do you have pets? (Cat or dog dander or hair in with the Lego might give you trouble if you're allergic).
- Did the lot belong to an adult collector or a child? (Makes a difference in condition of the pieces)
- How playworn or discolored are the pieces (for used bricks. Can mean anything from slightly scratched to heavily chewed: some colors change with sunlight and age)
Buying Lego from someone in a country other than your own can give you access to sets or pieces you can't get any other way. Almost all international transactions go off without incident, but there are things you should ask beforehand, either of the seller or yourself:
- What are the shipping charges going to be?
- Can you insure the package? If you do and it gets lost, how would a claim be handled? (be warned that insurance may not pay out for international shipments).
- How long will shipping take?
- Can shipping be tracked?
- How do you want to be paid? In what currency?
- Are there any extra charges attached to the payment method?
- What will you be putting on the customs declaration form? (Note: please don't assume a seller will be willing to lie on the customs form in order to save you paying duty or taxes at your end).
- What is my liability for customs duty or taxes when the package arrives? (You may have to find this out for yourself, since it is specific to your own country and the seller may not know).
Last Updated Tuesday, 14-Dec-2010 21:11:23 PST.