LEGO – not only can you build a complete city, but there’s an entire economy around LEGO in real life. Those little plastic bricks are more valuable than, well, most little things you have in your home – but only if you have the right set. If you’re looking to cash in, add some value to your collection, or want to know if maybe you shouldn’t have that set fading in the sunlight, consider this information the building blocks of your most valuable LEGO sets knowledge. Oh, and your wallet.
There’s some truth to the statement that those pesky LEGO bricks underfoot are more valuable than gold. Sort of. Which is pretty astonishing when you consider that more people have attics, closets, and basements with hundreds of LEGO bricks than people with bricks of gold. The value of LEGO sets is changing over time. Some sets retain value based on vintage, while others skyrocket in price if they’re linked to a franchise. Others climb in value when LEGO ceases production. Grab a flashlight, ignore the spiders, and comb through the sets gathering dust to see what you’ve got.
Star Wars LEGO Sets
Nothing adds dollar signs to anything LEGO related quite like the Star Wars franchise. Round up all those missing pieces with the help of a droid or two.
10195: Republic Dropship With AT-OT Walker
Released to the galaxy in 2009, this LEGO set is part of the popular Star Wars LEGO sets. With over 1,700 pieces in the box, this set cost $250 at its debut. Today, you can sell this for $1,400 new or $600 if it has been well-loved. It’s an interactive set, with the dropship able to lift the walker and other applicable galaxy-defending sets.
10018: Darth Maul
The only Star Wars LEGO bust ever released, it wasn’t available for long. The Darth Maul Bust was only available from 2001 to 2002, making it not only a rare item to purchase with such a limited run, but unique as the only collectible Star Wars LEGO bust. When this was released, you could snag the over 1,800 pieces for $150 in 2001. Now you can sell this new for $1,900 or out of box for $400.
10175: Vader’s TIE Advanced
This Ultimate Collector’s Series adorned LEGO shelves for two years before entering retirement. In 2006, the 1,200-piece set cost $100, and today you can sell Darth Vader’s own starfighter for $900 if you haven’t taken any damage to your shields. Otherwise, for those more battle-heavy Sith Lords, this set will net you around $500.
10143: Death Star II
Cannoning into the galaxy in 2005, the Death Star II is another beloved set of the Ultimate Collector’s Series. Aimed at those with hands that are a little more dexterous, LEGO marketed the set for the 16 and over crowd. At the time, its 3,400+ pieces earned it the qualification of the LEGO set with the most pieces. Today, the Art World Map holds that title with 11,000 pieces. The sibling set, the Ultimate Collector’s Series Millennium Falcon, has a whopping 7,541 pieces. In 2005, the Death Star II set ran at a pricy $270. Today, you can sell your new one for $2,300 or $900 used.
10019: Rebel Blockade Runner
Like the other sets in the Ultimate Collector’s Series, this set is one for the history books. In 2001, this was the very first Rebel Blockade Runner model LEGO would put on the shelves. It’s not for the modest collector either, as the ship measures nearly two feet by a foot, with nearly 1,800 pieces. At release, the set cost $200 but will cost $1,000 new or $550 for a gently used version.
10134: Y-Wing Attack Starfighter
Just before the Death Star II appeared, the Y-Wing Attack Starfighter soared through the LEGO universe in 2004. Like its other counterparts, it’s part of the Ultimate Collector’s Series. With 1,400 pieces, it was a reasonable $120. Today, a used set will sell for $260, and a brand new version around $600. The set comes with a display stand for those who want to bring this out of the darkness and into the light.
10179: Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon
Few sets catch the eye of informed and novice LEGO collectors like this Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon. In 2007, the instruction manual rivaled books on any best sellers list at a whopping 311 pages. And it was necessary. This set has a staggering 5,195 pieces bringing the set to life. Made to scale with Star Wars LEGO minifigures, the Millennium Falcon is nearly three feet by two feet, with an eight-inch clearance. When the set came onto the market, it would cost $500. Now you can resell that hefty investment for $1,800 new or $1,200 used.
LEGO Modular Buildings Collections
Take a stroll through a utopian LEGO city with the modular building collection, seamlessly connecting building to building to building for the ultimate brick city block. Each set has the same gray, tiled sidewalk, the necessary storm drains, and a street lamp. Oh, and the appropriate LEGO minifigs, obviously. Each set finishes with interlocking pieces to snap the sets together. So as the street grows in size, you can continue to link them together. Who knows, maybe someday the modular building street will see a new restaurant. Pizza and jazz, anyone?
10182: Café Corner
A staggering set with just over 2,000 pieces, the Café Corner was the first modular building LEGO released. In 2007, this set retailed for $140, but it has grown nearly tenfold in value over the years. A brand new Café Corner fetches as much at $1,200, and one that’s seen a lot of business goes for roughly $800. Built to minifigure scale, it’s quite the hotel and coffee house experience and a must-have for the serious collector.
10190: Market Street
On the heels of the Café Corner, the Market Street set has the least amount of pieces, and LEGO reflects that in the original price. It only cost $90 when all the modular sets started at $140 or more. Fewer pieces don’t mean less money today, though. A new Market Street can go for $2,700 with the proper upkeep or $621 if the shops have been busy.
10224: Town Hall
LEGO took a different approach with the Town Hall modular set, aiming instead at the older teens and adults with this build. At its release in 2012 and even now, it is the tallest modular set so far; it comes recommended for those 14 and up, but even then, this is an intricate set with nearly 2,800 pieces and a price tag of $200, making it the third most expensive. Now, that set goes for $700 in new condition or $600 otherwise. You can expect this set to only appreciate in value like the other buildings.
Investing in LEGO Modular Sets
As the modular sets are released and retired, their values will rise over time. So even if those sets haven’t yet doubled in value, down the road, they’ll gain that value quickly. Some will inevitably become rarer and more expensive than others, but they’re a sure bet for any LEGO collection. Take a quick glance at how these modular sets are already appreciating, with the Green Grocer as the oldest set already holding more value than the others, proving modulars are quite the smart investment.
Retired LEGO Sets to Fund Your Retirement
Scour the corners of toy chests, closets, and unceremonious storage tubs for these sets that may have you wondering if retirement, or at least your next vacation, could come a little sooner.
10196: Grand Carousel
With nine minifigures and over 3,000 pieces, that’s not the most notable thing about this colorful and fun set. The Grand Carousel mimics any IRL carousel with motion and sound, the tinkling music an excellent touch for this nostalgic set. Entering the market at $250 in 2009, if your set is still new, it’ll sell for $2,000. If your carousel has been well loved, and who wouldn’t love it, you can still get close to $800.
LEGO released the first Metroliner in 1991; the track itself powers the train for endless afternoons of locomotion and fun, no batteries required. While the power system would eventually change, the new battery-powered LEGO train sets are backwards compatible with this set. However, this train is not compatible with the new tracks. Twenty years after the original release, the company would re-release this train. Unlike other re-releases, such as the Taj Mahal or Eiffel Tower, this hasn’t affected the value of the original Metroliner as drastically. The 1991 set was a staggering $150 then, but now you can cash in on that investment for $900 new or $330 if little hands have enjoyed the set.
6399: Airport Shuttle
A quintessential 1990s LEGO set, the Airport Shuttle comes with nine minifigs, landscape accessories, and the appropriate buildings. Although the Airport Shuttle monorail track isn’t powered, the train itself runs on a motor that drives a gear directly to the center rail, allowing it to climb and descend significant inclines without skidding. It’s a small set in terms of pieces, with just under 750. Like the Metroliner, the set was an expensive $140 in 1990, but today you can find it new for $1,200 or for $900 if it’s taken some travelers to the airport.
3450: Statue of Liberty
Part of the Sculpture theme sets, the Statue of Liberty has held its value over the years, unlike the Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower, which have seen their values decrease as LEGO releases more sculpture sets or second versions of those sculptures. At 2,882 pieces, the set was listed for $200 in 2000. Today, that set is worth more than 14 times its original value, going for $2,800 new or $1,400 for a set that’s out of the box. That’s cause for a firework celebration.
10210: Imperial Flagship
It’s a life of adventure and treasure if you have this set in your possession. With 1,664 pieces, the British ship floated onto shelves at a cost of $180 in 2010, prepared to fight pirate scallywags. Nine minifgures form the crew of this ship, complete with billowing sails to send it floating across oceans. A new version will net $900, but there’s no need to lose sleep if your set is used, as it could still add $760 to your treasure trove.
Tips for Selling and Buying the Most Valuable LEGO Sets
Like any collectible item, the value of a LEGO set will increase and decrease based on the collection the set belongs to and the availability of that theme, if the set is retired, and perhaps most surprisingly, the time of year.
- It’s best to buy and sell through reputable sources, such as BrickSet, and using other secondary market websites such as BrickEconomy and BrickLink to make sure you enter any deal informed and prepared.
- eBay and Facebook Marketplace both have LEGO sets to buy and sell, but be an informed buyer and seller to capitalize on any sale or purchase. Often, people buying or selling several sets at once are happy to negotiate a price for all the sets.
- Expect to sell sets for a higher value (and buy them at a premium price) around the holidays. If you know what you want, keep an eye out and wait for a slower time on the market to buy, or list your set around the holidays at a higher price than you would in the summer.
- Some older, vintage sets will lose value as LEGO has started, and continues, to tap into the adult market, bringing more sets to the marketplace with adult LEGO builders in mind. So keeping track of LEGO releases can you help you offload your sets at their highest value – or hold onto them longer.
What Makes a LEGO Set Valuable?
Not all LEGO sets are worth a ton, so it’s important to look for certain characteristics that will increase a set’s value.
Limited Releases and Short Runs
Sets that are initially overlooked upon release and those with a shorter run can often err towards the side of being more valuable down the line. Of course, you’ll have some that will flop at the start and after retirement, but the sets that have been popular over time or are limited editions will continue to hold their value and grow. The UCS Millennium Falcon left many fans with sticker shock at $500 a pop, but with so few purchased and fans criticizing the lack of a typical polished LEGO appearance, LEGO quickly took it off the shelves. Now it’s a collector’s item that goes for much more.
It isn’t just the sculpture sets, like the Taj Mahal and Eiffel Tower, that take a hit when LEGO releases newer versions. The King’s Castle and other similar sets have had a marked decrease over the years, due in part to LEGO reissuing castle sets, which are a medley and ode to retired sets.
Don’t forget the small players in the LEGO world. Minifigures, especially those released with limited-run sets or marketed as collections on their own, will fetch a high value. They may not go for as much as the sets with several thousand pieces, but compared to their original retail price, you can expect to pocket a nice chunk of change for a rare or unique minifig.
Errors on the Box
If a set has an error in spelling or images on the box, the price of the set with the box included and unopened can go for a nice amount.
Rare or off the Market
After LEGO partnered with Star Wars in the early 200s, the brand exploded again in popularity with kids that were already eager to build LEGO and adults who grew up with LEGO and Star Wars. Now, LEGO has started to embrace the adult market, driving up the value of rare or out-of-market LEGO sets more and more. And with it? A booming secondary LEGO market as people acquire sets that were beyond their reach as children.
Bricks of Gold
The clinking sound of raining plastic may as well be the sound of coins depositing themselves into your bank account. Worth more than their weight in gold, the amount of valuable LEGO sets continues to grow each year. Armed with the knowledge of those colorful bricks, you can cushion your own finances or grow your well-curated collection.
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