Over the last several years, The LEGO Group has seen increasing numbers in builders of all ages—with a double-digit growth in sales last year. Compared to the LEGO sets of the early 2000s and earlier, today’s LEGO sets offer something for builders of all ages, from sets aimed at kids like Minecraft, DUPLO and VIDIYO to adult-targeted sets like the LEGO Creator Expert Series cars and buildings or the LEGO Star Wars line’s Ultimate Collectors Series Sets.
In recent years, LEGO has taken intentional steps to invite builders of all ages and backgrounds to join the hobby, but with that comes the ultimate question: Where are the best places to buy LEGO?
Before you pull your wallet out, it’s important to know what type of LEGO set you’re looking for. Here are some quick tips before we get started:
⁃ Big sets cost more and take up more space, while smaller sets can allow you more space at a smaller cost.
⁃ When researching sets, remember that LEGO sets are only available for about two years. Then they “retire,” meaning that no new copies of that given set will be available. It’s best to buy “older” sets first, that way you have more time to save up for “newer” sets.
With that in mind, this guide will be broken up into two sections: the best places to buy NEW LEGO sets and the best places to buy RETIRED LEGO sets.
Shopping directly with LEGO is always my first recommendation for new sets. Signing up for the (free) VIP program entitles you to a wide range of benefits, from access to buying certain sets early to cashing in on promotional offers like free sets/items. It also allows you to rack up those sweet VIP points, too, which can be used on future LEGO.com purchases! This is definitely the best way to order brand new sets, and should you run into any issues, LEGO’s customer service is phenomenal.
If shopping in-person is your preferred method, then Target and Walmart are superb choices for hunting down your wanted LEGO sets. Target is very consistent about keeping LEGO sets in stock, so while you’re rarely going to find something out of the ordinary (like a retired set or a massive bargain) it is a great place to shop and know that they’ll likely always have what you need. Walmart, on the other hand, is a little more inconsistent with their inventory. Walmart stores can be significantly larger or smaller depending on their location, and with that, their toy section can fluctuate in size and consistency of LEGO sets in stock. While Walmart is not as reliable for having the full line of LEGO sets on their shelves, they are a great place to snag an occasional deal, with most sets being marked as much as 20% off at any given time.
- PRO TIP: When shopping at Walmart, be sure to use the Walmart app to scan any sets you may be interested in. Sometimes Walmart has unmarked clearance sales and you can get a great deal that isn’t even advertised! I’ve found many sets 50-75% off over the years using this method.
While you may hear mixed reviews on Zavvi from other people, I can attest that they have always been first-class with me. Their customer service has been very attentive, and my purchases have always arrived within 5-7 of placing an order. The reason Zavvi makes this list is because they are one of the few online LEGO retailers based in Europe that ships worldwide, meaning that when sets release in Europe before North America, Zavvi provides a pathway for people outside of Europe to get those sets “early” without breaking the bank. They’re a great up-and-coming force in the geek culture shopping world, and I highly recommend keeping an eye on them when shopping for LEGO online.
BrickLink is the best resource for scoping out parts, minifigures and sets from any point in LEGO’s history. It can be a little tricky to navigate on your first visit or two, but there’s no doubt that the site offers the best deals on the web for complete, retired LEGO sets. Their site also has a function built in for mapping out what different sets’ value has been over time, which allows you to see if you’re paying a fair price or not. Even if you’re not buying from BrickLink, using their tools for mapping value is a great resource for valuing your current collection or assessing deals you find elsewhere.
eBay: the garage sale of the internet. When it comes to buying retired sets, eBay is my go-to. It’s safe, it’s convenient, and frankly, I find the best online deals there when I put my nose to the ground and hunt hard. I like that eBay allows you to set up notifications for when new products are added; I’ve snagged some great deals using this feature. Using eBay’s “sold” feature is another great tool to compare prices of recently sold products, so all-in-all eBay is a tried and true tool for any collector.
As inconsistent as it can be, I’ve found my best deals ever using Facebook Marketplace. In this scenario, you can often find people who are looking to sell their entire collection at once, or people who are selling more obscure things like promotional displays and original LEGO set boxes—which are hard to ship. The great thing about Marketplace, too, is that being able to see the person’s profile, set a safe place to meet and the ability to pay through the app all allow for safe transactions for both the buyer and the seller. I’ve always enjoyed hunting on Facebook Marketplace, but it requires a lot of dedication, refreshing your page and follow-up compared to the other methods I’ve suggested.
Regardless of how and where you buy your LEGO, I’m glad you’ve read far enough into this article to be taking the hobby seriously. It’s a fun, but expensive hobby, so shop smart and feel free to reach out to me on IG any time you’re looking for advice or guidance in your LEGO journey.