LEGO releases hundreds of unique sets each year, and these boxed sets tend to fly off the shelves at an astounding speed. But buyers are often surprised at the high price of each set, begging the question, “Why is LEGO so expensive?”
LEGO is expensive due to its collectability, the presence of licensed characters, and the exceptional manufacturing standards each lego piece must adhere to. LEGO is also one of the most popular toy brands. Consequently, consumers are willing to pay more to own a LEGO set.
This guide will explore the top reasons why LEGO sets and pieces are more expensive than similar toys from Duplo, Mega Bloks, and Playmobil. So the next time you’re shopping for a one-of-a-kind LEGO set, you’ll understand why prices are high.
Here Are the 10 Reasons Why LEGO Sets Are So Expensive:
- LEGO sets are collectible items
- Many LEGO sets feature licensed characters
- Making new LEGO molds is expensive
- LEGO constantly changes its product lineup
- LEGO sets are always in demand
- LEGO bricks are incredibly durable
- Nearly all LEGO pieces are precisely engineered
- Some LEGO sets contain thousands of pieces
- The LEGO brand has been popular for decades
- Used LEGO sets don’t often depreciate
10. Used LEGO Sets Don’t Often Depreciate
Used children’s toys typically sell for insanely low prices. After all, children aren’t always gentle with their toys, and they’re also not prone to washing their hands before playing.
As a result, used children’s toys often exhibit some form of damage, significantly lowering the value of the toys. But secondhand LEGO pieces don’t depreciate like other types of toys. They may be a better long-term investment than gold!
But why are pre-owned LEGO sets so pricey? Well, there are a handful of reasons.
Firstly, LEGO pieces are far more durable than other types of toys. This strength means that LEGO bricks and figures are far less likely to break during playtime. LEGO pieces are also made of nonporous ABS plastic, a material that wipes clean far more easily than toys made of cloth or vinyl.
Secondly, LEGO sets featuring franchise characters have a greater resale value than generic LEGO kits. For example, LEGO sets featuring characters from franchises like Star Wars, Harry Potter, or the Marvel Universe often have a much greater resale value than basic building block sets.
9. The LEGO Brand Has Been Popular for Decades
LEGO was founded in 1932, but it didn’t start producing plastic bricks until 1949. Still, the infamously brightly colored interlocking plastic brick wouldn’t become the brand’s hallmark product wasn’t patented until 1958!
From the 1960s forward, LEGO became a relatively popular toy among children and teenagers, primarily due to the creative nature of making something unique with LEGO pieces. However, adult-oriented kits also hit the shelves, making LEGO an appropriate toy for people of any age.
This widespread appeal helped boost the company’s initial popularity, and this popularity would only grow with the passing decades. Adults who grew up playing with LEGO bricks would give their children LEGO building sets, making the brand a multi-generational icon of childhood.
Thanks to almost a century of growing popularity, the LEGO brand is the go-to choice for people of all ages eager to experiment and play with building blocks. Though other companies have tried (and continue to try) to compete in this niche toy market, none have been able to dethrone LEGO as the ultimate building block brand.
As a result, the LEGO company can raise the prices of their sets and keep them high, as consumers are more than willing to pay a higher price to enjoy the nostalgia and familiarity that LEGO pieces provide.
8. Some LEGO Sets Contain Thousands of Pieces
A single LEGO brick typically costs about $0.10. That might not seem like a lot of money, but it’s crucial to remember that most LEGO sets contain hundreds and sometimes thousands of pieces.
The base price for a LEGO set containing 300 pieces would be about $30. When you add packaging and shipping to this base cost, you’ll typically have a final price tag of about $35. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for profit on behalf of LEGO.
So, while you might think that a LEGO set is unreasonably pricey, especially one containing more than a thousand pieces, it’s crucial to remember that the prices of these sets leave minimal profits for the LEGO company. As such, LEGO sells its colorful kits for competitive prices, especially when you consider the hard work that goes into making each brick and figure.
7. Nearly All LEGO Pieces Are Precisely Engineered
The LEGO company rarely makes manufacturing mistakes. Approximately 99.99% of LEGO pieces are perfectly engineered, allowing them to snap together precisely and resist impacts. Other child-friendly building blocks are prone to breaking, cracking, or fitting together poorly, with gaps between pieces.
This precise engineering ensures that almost every LEGO creation looks sleek and well-built. It also significantly increases the durability of LEGO pieces.
You’ve likely heard parents lament the intense pain experienced when accidentally trodding (while barefoot) onto a LEGO brick. But these accidents rarely ever result in shattered plastic or foot wounds. That’s because LEGO bricks are capable of withstanding immense amounts of pressure.
Because LEGO bricks are resistant to impacts and pressure, they’re some of the longest-lasting children’s toys ever created. This superior durability naturally makes them more expensive than lower-quality building blocks.
6. LEGO Bricks Are Incredibly Durable
The easily-recognizable LEGO brick is one of the most durable plastic toys on the planet. These bricks are resistant to mold and decay, but they can also withstand incredible weight and pressure.
If you decided to test a LEGO brick’s strength by stacking them atop each other, you’d be able to build something more than two miles high before the bottom bricks cracked and splintered. It takes almost one ton of force to damage a 2-inch by 2-inch LEGO brick. That’s equivalent to the weight of an adult horse or cow!
Consequently, LEGO bricks can withstand more weight and pressure than competitor building blocks, including those made by Duplo and Mega Bloks. So, children that accidentally sit or stand on LEGO bricks aren’t likely to end up with plastic shards in their skin, which is a considerable safety concern with other types of plastic toys.
Parents are typically happy to pay the extra bucks to ensure their children have access to durable toys that aren’t as likely to cause injuries. And because LEGO pieces can endure an incredible amount of pressure, they’re less likely to warp and break over time.
LEGO sets can potentially outlive their owners, making them an excellent multi-generational investment. Due to their long-lasting nature, they’re often pricier than other types of building blocks. But supply and demand also influence a LEGO set’s price.
5. LEGO Sets Are Always in Demand
Though some LEGO sets may be more popular than ever, LEGO building blocks and figures are always in high demand. The company releases new collections every year, limiting production time and encouraging buyers to purchase sets as soon as possible.
This limited production ensures that the supply of specific sets (particularly those featuring franchise characters) is always low, but demand remains constant. This relationship between supply and demand ensures that prices for some LEGO sets will continue to rise over time.
4. LEGO Constantly Changes Its Product Lineup
The types of LEGO sets available change each year, as LEGO is constantly changing and updating its product lineup. Since the late 1990s, LEGO has released between 300 and 900 unique sets each year! This increased product variety means that collectible LEGO sets have never been more plentiful, with plenty of them featuring franchise characters that appeal to specific users.
For example, LEGO released its first Star Wars sets in 1999, drawing in adult franchise fans eager to own a piece of memorabilia. This collaboration between LEGO and Lucasfilm also generated interest in the Star Wars franchise from young LEGO fans, making the sets incredibly beneficial for Lucasfilm and LEGO.
However, these sets quickly sold out. Additionally, LEGO rarely re-releases sets from previous years. Therefore, the price for any LEGO set featuring franchise characters and locations tends to increase with time.
If you see a LEGO set featuring your favorite characters or intellectual property (IP), you’ll want to snap it up quickly. While you might spend more than $100 to grab the elusive LEGO pieces soon after their release, it’s a more affordable option than waiting a few years, as collectors can sell previous years’ sets for hundreds or thousands of dollars.
3. Making New LEGO Molds are Expensive
LEGO molds are made of thick metal and are often designed to last for decades. Therefore, these molds need to be flawless to ensure that bricks and pieces made from the molds are as close to perfect as humanly possible.
A single flaw in the mold can result in thousands of imperfect bricks, leading to massive losses. After all, LEGO destroys bricks with structural defects, as they don’t adhere to company manufacturing standards.
But creating a new LEGO mold is typically expensive, easily costing between $10,000 and $200,000. Because LEGO changes its available pieces and sets each year, the company has invested an astounding amount of money into molds over the last couple of decades.
This expenditure is often added to the base price of a LEGO set. So, if you’re eager to purchase a LEGO set featuring new characters and pieces, you’ll likely spend more than if you were to buy a basic block set. You’ll be helping LEGO recoup the cost of making new molds.
However, franchise characters and locations also contribute to the high price of unique, limited-edition LEGO sets.
2. Many LEGO Sets Feature Licensed Characters
As we’ve mentioned, many LEGO sets released within the last two decades feature franchise characters and locations. LEGO has released sets featuring characters from the Marvel Universe, DC Universe, Harry Potter series, Star Wars film franchise, The Hobbit, and more!
LEGO invests enormous sums of money for the licensing fees required to produce toys related to these properties. These costs are then transferred to the buyer via increased toy prices.
For example, the 2022 Spider-Man’s Techno Trike LEGO set has 59 pieces and retails for about $10. That’s about $4 more than the sum of the pieces (at $0.10 per piece). This higher price partially stems from the licensing costs associated with the Spider-Man franchise.
And because LEGO releases new franchise sets each year, buyers who are fans of those franchises are often willing to pay the slightly higher price, as many of these themed sets become instant collectibles. In fact, the primary reason why LEGO sets are so expensive is their collectability.
1. LEGO Sets Are Collectible Items
Many of the most expensive LEGO sets sell for thousands of dollars, even when used. These sets tend to feature specific franchises that have passionate fanbases.
The Star Wars LEGO sets might be the best example of how these toys have become high-value collectibles. Products related to the Star Wars film series are among the most in-demand and high-value types of memorabilia valued by fans.
The Ultimate Collector’s Millennium Falcon LEGO set retails for between $800 and $4,500. It was initially priced at $500. However, with 7,500 pieces, the base price for this kit is about $750, making the original and current lower-end retail price pretty reasonable.
However, getting your hands on this set can be challenging, as many of the most diehard Star Wars fans are eager to own this highly collectible item. LEGO released this set in 2007, so finding brand-new or gently-used versions can be tricky. As such, pre-owned boxed sets in like-new condition can quickly sell for thousands of dollars.
Remember, products with a limited release and an emphasis on popular media can become collectibles. And because LEGO has placed such an emphasis on manufacturing franchise-related sets, more and more LEGO items are becoming highly-desirable collectibles, which naturally increases their initial retail price.
Why Is LEGO So Expensive?
So, why is LEGO so expensive? There are several reasons, including licensing fees and high-quality manufacturing. However, collectibility may be the primary reason why LEGO sets are so pricey.
After all, LEGO doesn’t produce identical sets each year. Instead, they vary their products, making some LEGO sets incredibly rare and desirable. This scarcity makes some sets collectible and incredibly expensive.
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