My kids, like so many others, are Lego fanatics. As it goes every year, they each received a few Lego sets from Santa and others this Christmas. If you’ve never worked on a Lego set, you’re missing out and most probably live in an alternate plane of existence. These Lego toys are essentially interlocking plastic bricks that come together to form 3D, pixelated designs.
Even as an adult, Lego is a magical toy. I’ve come to appreciate the incredible engineering and artistic input that goes into these Lego sets. The quality is outstanding. The tolerances of each piece are incredibly tight, fitting perfectly among the others. And we have never experienced a box with a missing piece (at least not to the fault of The Lego Group). Every year, the sets get more and more extravagant. Many sets have mechanical and electronic movements that add to the fun. The attention that these Lego designers give to detail is impressive.
Well, you get what you pay for, as they say. Lego ain’t cheap. And apparently they hold their value. An article in The Guardian shows that the market for secondhand Lego rose in value by 11% annually! That rivals the rate of return of gold which has been in that same range measured over the last 5 years.
On brixinvest.net, which compiles information on top Lego sets, you can see the top 10 retired Lego sets that sell for the highest price when kept new-in-box.
The Grand Carousel, originally released in 2009 at a retail price of $249, has an average asking price of $3,826. That’s a 1,436% increase over the initial price over a period of 12 years!
And the Café Corner, originally released in 2007 at a retail price of $139, has an average asking price of $3,329. That’s a 2,295% increase over the initial price over a period of 14 years!
Used Lego sets in good condition are typically worth between 50% to 75% of retail prices while they are still available in stores. But once the sets are removed, their value usually catches up with the original retail price, and can even increase in value if they are in high demand.
Lego’s remarkable store of value most likely can be attributed to the scarcity of sets. Lego set designs are typically released once for a period of time and then discontinued, replaced with new designs. Lego also puts out limited quantities of special collections dedicated to iconic films, books, etc. (for example, the Star Wars Boba Fett helmet is available to purchase now.)
The Lego Group shows no signs of slowing down. The Danish firm plans to open a $1 billion factory in Vietnam. This will be its second Asian factory after it opened one in China in 2016.
It seems the Lego leadership is going to play along with the “net-zero carbon emissions” game, of which almost all large corporations are now preaching. The Vietnam factory will apparently be Lego's first carbon-neutral facility. And Lego has pledged to replace its oil-based plastic bricks with ones made from sustainable materials by 2030.
Perhaps these corporations truly believe that carbon dioxide is pollution and maybe they really have an altruistic motive to achieve this “zero-emissions” goal. But I, for one, don’t buy it. I think the majority of these large corporations are simply blowing with the perceived cultural winds and perhaps are backed into these goals through political and tax implications. But this is a larger story for another day. The bottom line is that the “net-zero” goal will only make Lego products more expensive. Let’s hope the quality isn’t sacrificed along the way.