Showing posts with label LEGO shopping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label LEGO shopping. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pick A Brick Tips: The Bottom

Watch our latest YouTube video to find out the best way to fill the bottom gap in the small Pick A Brick cup from the LEGO Store.

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.

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Brick Buyer’s Guide Volume II: Online Shopping


Once you gathered your materials, you’re ready to start shopping. You have two paths to choose. Shop online or in store. Both of these offer perks and drawbacks, so it basically comes down to your skills and lifestyle. In store shopping is a great way to go if you can provide your own transportation. Besides, some stores will occasionally offer outrageous deals. I once ran into LEGO at Wal-Mart for 75% off! No, it wasn’t a mistake, but I’ve never seen it since. If you are willing to put the effort into checking your local stores daily, in store shopping is the way to go. If you live far away from a shopping center or any big box stores, then you will want to shop online. Online shopping can be risky and there are several drawbacks, but the only effort you need to put into it is time and research skills.

The #1 rule with online shopping: If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. An easy way to protect yourself from drop shipping or other funny business, is to only buy from established sellers or mega online stores. eBay can be great, but drop shipping is a serious problem. You may find yourself easily swindled if you stray too far from reputable websites.

The other drawback is my biggest pet peeve with online shopping and the word that makes me cringe: SHIPPING! Ahh! Why should I pay more money for shipping? Duh, it’s because I don’t have to do any work besides sit in front of a computer and move my fingers. I avoid shipping costs whenever possible. This is why I love Amazon. There is free shipping on their items over $35, formally $25. In addition, Shop@Home now offers free shipping on $75, not hard to get too when you’re buying bricks at full price. 

If you can get free shipping, online shopping offers some great deals. You can regularly find sets for 25% off or more. I personally prefer online shopping because there tends to be better deals than in store. I tend to buy from Amazon, Target, Wal-Mart, and Shop@Home. I have never received a damaged item from Shop@Home or Target, but I have received a damaged book from Amazon and a beat up box from Wal-Mart. I was willing to forego the Wal-Mart issue since I got the set for 60% off. The offer was a mistake, but my savings were real. Some of you may remember the $39.97 City Mine from Wal-Mart in 2012. I was satisfied, although it was a hassle to try and get the set. Please note that I am not affiliated with any of these companies, but I have found several ones that have made some my favorites.

Our next installment will focus on several major e-tailers.

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Brick Buyer’s Guide Volume I: The Essentials


How to get the best deal possible on LEGO; it has long been the pinnacle of questions every LEGO fan asks his or her self. Do I buy for investment purposes, resale value, or personal preference? Do I buy before it’s out of stock or do I pull an all-nighter on eBay? Well, I personally try to do a little bit of everything to get the best deal possible. By varying my purchasing habits across themes and always looking for deals, I end up being a pretty happy LEGO fan.

What you need: 

* Credit Card – This basically is the only way to go if you plan on purchasing online, which you will be doing. The only problem is you have to be 18, at least in the states. If you’re under 18, ask your parents if you can use theirs with the promise you can pay them by cash or check.

* VIP Card – This is the official LEGO rewards program. Every $100 USD you spend, you get a $5 store credit. This basically works out to a 5% discount if you use it regularly. Occasionally there are even double and triple VIP points during special events. LEGO also offers many other perks to VIP members. So get one. It’s free and there’s no reason not to.

* A solid job – As you will quickly find, LEGO is expensive. There is no ifs, ands, or buts about it. If you don’t have a significant nest egg ear marked for LEGO, you can quickly find yourself in debt and therefore in trouble. If purchasing with a credit card, now your limit and set a budget. Taking these precautions will ensure a successful trip through the LEGO retail world.

* Vigilance and Time – Finding LEGO for 50% off or more is not an easy task. It takes time and patience to find these deals hidden in the bowels of the internet. This might mean staying up all night to place the final bid in EBAY. The bottom line is that if you are committed to this job, you will succeed. If you fail to remain committed throughout the entire process, you will be unsuccessful in your endeavors.

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Brick Buyer's Guide

This new series will help you become the best LEGO shopper possible. Learn the tips and tricks all LEGO buyers should know to make the most of your shopping excursions. Find out some of our favorite retailers and e-tailers to shop with. You will hear a few of the mistakes we have made and how to avoid them. We will focus on both in store and online shopping so you will have plenty of choices. Check back for a new edition on every other Friday starting on March 21, 2014. Reading this series will keep you enlightened and informed about all aspects of LEGO buying. Stay tuned for more awesome series in the future!