The current state of LEGO is in an interesting spot. LEGO has been one of the world’s most popular toys for decades, but in the last two years the act of being a LEGO enthusiast has shifted immensely. In 2020, many new builders of all ages either came back to the LEGO hobby or got into it for the first time, and that influx of new interest kept store shelves bare for a brief time and gradually rose the price of retired LEGO sets to all-time record highs. For example, a sealed copy of the illusive 2003 Star Wars set 10123 Cloud City rose from an average sales price of $1,100 in 2020 to nearly $6,000 at the time of this writing- quite the jump considering its MSRP of just $99.99 some 20 years ago!
With so much activity in the LEGO collecting and investing hobby, I wanted to give a brief state of the union and talk about what to anticipate in the back half of 2022 (and beyond)
As with many things these days, the prices of LEGO are rising both on the aftermarket and on the shelves of your local toy aisle. LEGO recently announced that come August 1, many of their currently-available LEGO sets will be rising in price between 5-20%. At the time of this writing, we do not know which sets specifically will be affected, but that means that the barrier of entry for a LEGO set with at least two minifigures (the cheapest of which usually starts around $12.99-14.99) could now average around $14.99-19.99. Those aren’t crazy price hikes, but it sets precedent for more expensive LEGO sets, and has made a lot of fans worried for what more expensive sets may end up costing. Imagine the $800 AT-AT now costing $1,000! It could happen, and collectors are definitely weary about what may come.
As for the aftermarket, things aren’t much better if you’re looking to get into the game for the first time. As mentioned with the 2003 Cloud City set, retired sets with desirable builds and/or minifigures are all showing indications of rising in value, which is great if you have some rare ones already, but not so great if you’re just getting started. Even loose minifigures like the original 2002 Jango Fett have gone from $100-200 in value to nearly $600 as of this writing. If you collected LEGO years ago and have gotten out of it, now may be a good time to go in the basement and see if you have any rarities sitting in your LEGO bin!
In 2020, many fans new and old gravitated toward the LEGO hobby as a way to pass time and feel nostalgia while we sat at home waiting for the world to reopen. That surge has brought new interest to the hobby and has allowed for the sprouting of new themes from LEGO, record high attendance at LEGO conventions, and a wider acceptance of LEGO as a hobby for builders of all ages. Much like Star Wars and super hero enthusiasm, things that were once seen as geeky are now accepted by the masses, so there has never been a better time to embrace LEGO and its community to make new friends both in person and online. If you’re interested, there are tons of LEGO content creators (like me!) who you can engage with online, and if you live in or around a sizable city, chances are good that there is an official LEGO User Group (LUG) for your area where you can connect with other local LEGO enthusiasts to share your hobby.
Overall, I feel very optimistic about where LEGO is going as a hobby and as an investment strategy. The fact that LEGO is tied to so many IPs like Star Wars, Marvel, and Disney, along with new licenses like Transformers, Nintendo, and more allows for the brand to piggyback off of existing fanbases (and vice versa.) This will give new sets longevity in terms of mass interest, as well as potential for increased value over time.
Some of the things that concern me with the current state of LEGO are those aforementioned price hikes, which I fear may turn some collectors off entirely if the price raises are too drastic too soon. Furthermore, LEGO is changing their Collectable Minifigure Series packaging from foil baggies to small boxes for environmental reasons, but to collectors, this will remove the ability to feel for the figure before you buy it. With CMF minifigures already retailing for $4.99 each (before a potential price increase is factored in) the removal of one’s ability to feel for what they’re buying may dampen enthusiasm for the minifigures altogether. To me, anything that lessens interest could be a potential detriment to the hobby, so this change does concern me.
Once again, after decades of great decisions from the company and growing enthusiasm from the LEGO enthusiast community, I do feel that bright days are ahead for LEGO as a company and as a hobby, but as with anything, it’s best to keep a pulse on the market and make a decision for yourself what makes the most sense for you and your collection.
Let me know on Instagram what you think of the current state of LEGO, and happy building out there!