"Where do you buy all your LEGO from?" - One of the other common questions I get.
While a large amount of my LEGO is leftover from my childhood, I need to buy a fair bit of it both new and second hand.
New – from retail
Buying new LEGO is usually best done waiting for sales at big retailers, or catching bargains when you can.
As you probably know, you can buy LEGO from almost any store that sells toys. Here in Australia this ranges from Kmart, Target and Big-w through to Toys R Us, Myer, David Jones and Toyworld on the larger scale. Smaller retailers stock LEGO too, with some dedicated LEGO stores available in selected locations in Australia. These stores usually have consistent pricing at recommended retail price (RRP). But often there is a sale on of some kind, particularly mid-year sales which sometimes see great discounts.
In Canberra I often go to Little Sprout (which my friends have taken to calling my dealer).
Smaller retailers sometimes have great prices on some items but not always on all of them. Smaller retails do usually get in the harder to find sets and some import sets that are not normally available in Australia. I recommend getting to know your local dealer well, as you never know when you might get heads up on a special deal or delivery.
Unfortunately there are no LEGO branded stores in Australia, so buying directly from the LEGO website can prove costly because of postage if your order is below a limit. Most people save up and do one or two big orders a year when there is free postage or other promotions.
Second Hand or preowned sets
Buying complete sets second hand is a delicate game. To work out if something is for sale at a good price it is best to check brickset. This site lists items original prices and provides a benchmark on the current price based on recent sales. This is a good way to see if you are getting a bargain or getting ripped off.
Second hand sets are often available for sale on eBay, Gumtree or local classifieds. If the set is offered Brand New in Box (BNIB) then it will usually be considerably more expensive than buying a set “built once and never played with”. Even guarantees that a set is complete can mean nothing until you get the set yourself, especially if it has been dismantled and packed away in bags or a box of other sets.
It is also common for sets to be sold without the Minifigures, this is due to them attracting a considerable price on their own.
Be cautious of buying sets on eBay as many clone brands masquerade as LEGO, not even advertising themselves as “LEGO Compatible”; which is the clue to their fakeness.
Second hand – Loose LEGO
Often you will see boxes or bags of loose LEGO for sale, sometimes with a weight of the items listed. It is hard to measure the value of LEGO without looking at it, a 1kg tub of Minifigs and mostly complete sets has greater value than a 1kg tub of loose bricks – depending on the bricks!
If buying loose LEGO in bulk I recommend comparing the contents against prices on Brickset, especially if it is likely to contain lots of mostly complete sets. Likewise any Minifigs can be valued.
Bulk LEGO can be a bargain or it can be a rip off! But it can also be a great way to start a collection of loose bricks.
The other source for loose LEGO is from Bricklink. Bricklink is an eBay like site which has an extensive catalogue of all LEGO elements and their availability. You can use this site to build up a shopping list of specific bricks that you want and then trawl sellers throughout the world for what they have available.
You are limited to what any store has, so you may be unlikely to get all you need from one spot. Postage, especially to Down Under, can be prohibitive and often delayed. However if you need a specific quantity of some specific bricks then Bricklink is the place to go. eBay used to be a good source but it is now full of clone brands and “LEGO compatible”.
If you have any other tips or ideas please let me know. I hope this can offer some help.