Saturday, June 7, 2014

Shop BrickCreator!

BrickCreator now has a store where YOU can buy LEGO parts, sets, and minifigures! It is hosted through the third-party website Bricklink under the name 'Brick Farmer'. Shipping is fast, easy, and affordable and we offer a wide selection of parts. Don't see anything you like? Check back often as we will be periodically adding new items to the store. Click the banner above or the store tab at the top to start shopping! All you need is a Bricklink and PayPal account. Must be 18 or older to purchase online.

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Brick Buyer’s Guide Volume IV: Brand Retail

The Official LEGO Store is the place to go for the literal Holy Grail of LEGO, the Pick-A-Brick Wall. If you have not heard of this amazing offer, you just fell off the turnip truck. As many of you remember, there used to be a deal that was absolutely so unimaginable words just can’t describe it. It was simply known as ‘The Brick Grab Bag’. This was a bag filled with random pieces from busted sets, pick a brick clean ups, and LEGO table paraphernalia. Yeah, they were sometimes a little dirty, nothing a run through the dishwasher couldn’t fix, but that fact was easily over looked when you saw the price: $7.99. This was basically the same price as a small pick a brick cup, put you got on average two to three times as many bricks for the same price.

It was the only reason I would go to the LEGO store, except for the pick a brick wall. Sadly, in September 2012, the Grab Bag was pulled from the market. Rumor has it that there was a complaint, LEGO got scared, and the product ceased to exist. I won’t speculate on the exact cause of the action, but I will say I am extremely disappointed with LEGO’s decision and am saddened at their action. Obviously they have to protect themselves, but the grab bag was obviously a money maker, otherwise it wouldn’t have been sold. I can’t wait until there is a replacement of similar value for this product.
Now, about the Pick-A-Brick Cup: This is what really separates the official LEGO Brand Retail stores apart from other big box or toy stores. For those of you who are not familiar with this amazing deal, the store offers two different sizes of plastic cups that you can fill with any pieces available on their pick a brick wall. This is basically a large wall, usually at the back of the store, with large bins filled with all different kinds of pieces. Most of the pieces are pretty basic, but sometimes you can run across some gems, such as foliage. The stock is constantly rotating and no two pick a brick walls are alike. This makes going to the LEGO store a real adventure. The small size cup is about 16 ounces and retails for $7.99 and the large cup is about 32 ounces and retails for $14.99. You can usually get 25 cents off a small cup and 50 cents off a large if you reuse the cups, but getting new ones every time is a better deal since they are very sturdy and make great storage containers.

There have been many studies done on to which is a better deal. See our study here: The short answer is that the smaller one is a better deal, if only slightly. Unless you need those 1x16 beams for your Stark Tower, stick to the small cups. With time and patience, it is possible to get an astonishing number of bricks in the cups. I was able to get 432 pieces in a small cup, and no, it wasn’t all crack filler (1x1 rounds). The cup was so heavy; it felt like I was holding a brick of lead. Well, not that heavy, but it was still pretty heavy. It took me a half an hour to fill, but it was worth it. If I had more time, I would have filled four of them, but alas, I was not the only member of my shopping party. If you need one tip to follow, avoid 2x4 bricks. I have shopped at many LEGO stores, and some like to fill their walls with mainly 2x4’s. You can at most fit 164 of these in a small cup. Basically, they are only good for large sculptures and are basically a waste of space. The Mall of America store in Minnesota seems to be a frequent contributor of this action. As I said before, all stores have a different selection, so try and get as many bricks as possible in your cup. Stacking certainly helps, but the bricks are no longer considered new, so this may not be feasible if you are planning on flipping the bricks, a potential gold mine.

The LEGO store will occasionally have other deals at 20% or 50% off MSRP. Black Friday and the end of January are examples of these occasions. It also stocks some exclusive items such as key chains and polybags. The main reason for shopping at the LEGO store is the experience. No LEGO fan will ever forget their first experience in a Brand Store. I personally have no complaints about these retail stores. I have been to four different stores across the country and have never run into a disgruntled ‘brick specialist’, as its employees are called. True, they are not in every state, but their saturation is growing quite rapidly with about 4 stores opening across the country each year. So get to one whenever you can; you will rarely be disappointed.

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Brick Buyer’s Guide Volume III: The Big 5

Amazon - As said before, I absolutely love Amazon. They seem to have the lowest prices among all online retailers, except on a few LEGO exclusives. I have also found that they match other retailer’s online prices, such as Target, within 24 hours. The fact that they throw in free shipping over $35 makes them my preferred online retailer. After all, I never spend less than $40 at a time on LEGO so I usually get free shipping from Amazon.

Target - Target’s online store isn’t quite as nice as Amazon’s and can sometime be frustrating to navigate at peak travel times. I just don’t like the ease of use. Unless they offer free shipping, I rarely shop here. Besides that, my items have always arrived in great condition. There ship to store works great except for their disclaimers. I once got 79109 Colby City Showdown for $31.99 online and chose in store pick up. The next day I get an email saying I have to pick it up by the end of the day. The order slip said I had until the end of the week, so I wasn’t happy about that. Anyway, I ended up getting to my local store in time and I got the set. It was in perfect condition except for TWO stickers, one being a security seal? Anyway, I got them off fine and the box is in perfect condition.

Wal-Mart – Wal-Mart online is hit or miss with many sets. I have heard so many bad things about their shipping service concerning damaged boxes, so I always choose site to store. The shipping ends up being free and I get the item undamaged. I haven’t used this service regularly, so I can’t say how often items get damaged in transit. They rarely have many deals online but do stock a few exclusives.

ToysRUs – ToysRUs is one of the largest toy retailers in the United States. This may seem like the ideal place to shop for LEGO, a toy store. However, everything is never as it seems. ToysRUs will usually mark up almost all LEGO sets about 20% above MSRP. Due to this fact, they are usually not the primer choice when brick shopping. They will, however, run interesting specials that actually make the LEGO a good deal. Examples include spend $75 get $20 off or BOGO 50% off all sets. The main strategy with this e-tailer is to make sure you can get your purchase for below MSRP at the very least.

Shop@Home - Finally, we have Shop@Home, the official LEGO online shop. For obvious reasons discussed above, I tend not to shop too much at Shop@Home. The only items I get are exclusives like CUUSOO items that are the same price everywhere else and power functions that aren’t sold officially anywhere else. I always make sure I order more than $75 worth to get free shipping and usually wait until a month with a free offer such as an exclusive polybag. I got a kick out of the September 2013 VW Camper Van polybag. In addition, VIP points are only redeemable here. LEGOLAND offers a flat 10% discount just for mentioning the program since they are owned 70% by Merlin Entertainments Group. This helps offset the cost of full priced sets. The only thing that drives me up the wall is when I order 16 Collectible Minifigures for $47.84 and only get 32 VIP points. $2.99 = 2 points: See my point?

Our next installment will discuss in store shopping at The LEGO Store.