The Hippo


Jul 22, 2019









As an experiment, I bought a batch of 120 minifigures sold out of the back of a Black Chevy SUV in a Manchester parking lot. A Londonderry man was selling five lots of 120 minifigs on Craigslist. He didn’t want to be interviewed for the story. After looking through his selection, I purchased what appeared to be the best lot for $100 and then did some research. While each minifig cost about $.83 on average, the best 40 in the lot were worth about $5 each, based on the lowest eBay prices. If I sold just that third of the lot today, it would be a return of about $200. If I hang onto them, they will likely increase in value. The most valuable minifig in the batch was a Gryffindor Knight Statue from a Harry Potter set. It sells for about $20.

Lucrative LEGO
The business of investing in bricks and minifigures

By Ryan Lessard

It's an exciting time to be a long-time Lego collector. Complete sets are a better investment than gold, and minifigures sold alone in limited release series are now traded like oil futures.

Selling parts and sets
The aftermarket for used or retired Lego sets has always provided sellers with big profit margins bolstered by limited releases, universal popularity and the ability to sell individual pieces or minifigures from a set. But now, with growing retail sales and the recent success of The Lego Movie, the Lego company has joined the top 100 most valuable brands in the world, according to the annual Best Global Brands report released last month.
But the collectible nature of the world's most popular toy (based on revenue and profit, it beat out Mattel last year) means the company isn't the only one who stands to benefit. Fans and collectors can invest in Lego with a reliable return on that investment, assuming it remains sealed and in good condition. 
“I started doing this over 10 years ago,” said Josh Heinzl, the founder and president of Josh's Games and Toys. “You can literally walk into retail stores, buy them on the shelves and hold onto them for a while and they just go up in value. Very collectible in the aftermarket.”
At the time, Heinzl said, he was heavily involved in the FIRST Lego League. The 22-year-old New Hampshire native was the captain of his team, which won the world championship in 2008. Initially, he bought Lego Technic sets to help build his robots.
“I would go to stores, get sets and I'd keep the stuff that I needed and sold the other parts. And it just grew from there,” Heinzl said.
This was his first exposure to buying and selling toys. He was 12 years old and learning about how exceedingly rare parts like a Technic driving ring (used to make a Lego transmission) would cost $20 even though it was just a small piece of plastic. Heinzl began selling a few other toy products online along with Lego, and soon he was making about $250,000 in annual revenue. His first store opened in Nashua in 2008, when he was 15. He now has five stores and is working on opening more in New England (the next one will open in 2016), along with an e-commerce site scheduled to launch in the next few months.
For anyone interested in Lego reselling, there's plenty of money to be made with online sales using sites like eBay and Amazon. Heinzl's advice to Lego buyers is simple.
“Keep the pieces, keep the box, keep the instructions, keep everything,” Heinzl said.
That's advice folks like pmartin101798 have taken to heart. Pmartin is a Nashua resident who is currently selling a wide array of used Lego sets and minifigures on eBay. He spoke to the Hippo on the condition of anonymity.
“The carousel I bought for $229 or $249, and I just got $1,529 for it,” Pmartin said.
A 40-year-old AFOL (adult fan of Lego), Pmartin never actually intended to sell any part of his Lego collection. But his wife has been out of work for about a year, so he decided to start selling them a few months ago to help make ends meet.
“My wife lost her job and I saw that the Legos were selling well on eBay, so I said, 'What the heck, let's start selling off the collection,'” Pmartin said.
He says he regrets not holding on to some sets longer. For example, he bought the Taj Mahal set in 2008 for about $300 and sold it for about the same amount only six months later. Now, that set is pegged at about $5,000.
He says anyone interested in getting into Lego collecting should do a lot of research. Websites like and are useful resources. He says if you own any of the original Star Wars sets, keep them in good condition.
“The older Star Wars stuff is definitely some of the best stuff to have,” Pmartin said.
The 2007 Millennium Falcon set has a compound annual growth rate of 31.86 percent, according to Brickpicker. It originally sold for $500. Its current value is nearly 10 times that.
Pmartin also sells stand-alone minifigures he has collected from the blind bag series Lego releases a few times a year. Each series has about 16 distinct “minifigs,” and Pmartin was determined to collect them all.
“I would go buy 20 when a series came out, then open them up to see what I got,” Pmartin said. “Some of the series, I would end up buying 80 to 100 before I had the last one.”
At the time, the individual minifigs cost about $2.99 each. The new ones retail for $3.99. 
When he started selling his minifigure collection, he would auction off his complete series (1 through 9), which he kept in display cases. They would sell for $79 to $147.50. Even the stand-alone minifigs are showing a return. He sold a Statue of Liberty minifig for about $13 and a guy in a bunny suit for $30.
Heinzl says one of the most valuable minifigs ever, Mr. Gold, was made available in the blind bags during series 10. Lego only made 5,000 of them.
“We actually had a couple of them found in my stores,” Heinzl said.
Now, they're worth $1,520, according to
Used minifigs, like sets, need to be in good condition and complete in order to get the highest profit margins.
Heinzl has some words of caution for anyone thinking of getting into the Lego aftermarket.
“[The aftermarket] is still growing, but there's so many people in it that they're driving the margins down,” Heinzl said.
The best thing the Lego aftermarket has going for it is the scarcity and rarity of limited release products, but the more people start reselling, the bigger the supply. And selling minifigures in particular is very labor intensive, Heinzl said, even though the cost of entry is low.  

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