As a casual collector of LEGO, I always keep an eye on what is worth investing. Obviously, the intention and purpose of LEGO investment is to make a profit. Therefore, it is crucial for the success of the investor in the world, where he is paid, or in the LEGO, reaches his end of life (EOL). It’s no secret that the most important factor in LEGO investing is EOL. In simple terms, no end of life without profit.
For the LEGO investor nothing is more expected with anticipation and perhaps dreaded simultaneously than the three letters: EOL. For many occasional LEGO investors, EOL arrives far too fast and for others too late. Many times, EOL arrives unexpectedly. One day, a set is apparently there and the next one is “Out of Stock” or “Call for Availability”. Neither is good if you are the LEGO investor outside. There are many EOL theories and prognosticators that can be found online with various claims of so-called LEGO sources and inside information. In the midst of all speculation, one thing is certain: Unless you are working for The LEGO Group (TLG) and you have knowledge of the real life cycle of the product, these are pure speculations and enlightened assumptions. Regardless of this fact, it is nevertheless fun and potentially profitable to engage in this activity. Virtually all LEGO investors do it. Historically, TLG uses an exhilarating and infinitely flexible two-year EOL rule, in which many sets see their production end. I like to summarize the phenomenon with three main categories or end-of-life scenarios that I call: exception, perception, and deception.
Missing on a big LEGO set is a heartbreaking feeling that happens all too often for the occasional LEGO investor. The two-year rule is nothing more than a vague LEGO barometer for when a set could become EOL. As with most rules, there are exceptions – in this case, many exceptions! Attempting to identify a rule EOL light line is a real crazy race. The following examples are just a few exceptions to the two-year EOL LEGO rule. The first and perhaps the most extreme exception of the EOL would be all holiday trains (10173). He was available for one lean holiday season in 2006 and then ottoman. The initial RRP in 2006 was $ 89 and today it is valued at over $ 300. True, it was a special occasion, but still a short life is a hard pill to swallow if you had the hope of acquiring it. Another notable exception that many casual investors may have missed is the MTT Trade Federation (7662) which was released in late 2007 for $ 99 and was released at the end of 2008 with just a little more than one year of production. The value of this set today is close to $ 400, which is huge increase of 285%. The VW Beetle (10187), released in 2008 and achieved EOL status in December 2009 for a total life of less than 20 months, is another example of an exception to the two-year rule. The initial RRP was $ 119 and the present value is about $ 350, an increase of almost 200%. Unfortunately, there are many other sets that fall into the exceptions category, such as Market Street (10190) and Grand Carousel (10188) to name just two. Both make me want to kick me for missing! These exceptions to the EOL rule highlight the perils and pitfalls of LEGO investment and all investors who have seized these exceptions to the two-year EOL rule have been very fortunate indeed.
So we looked at some exceptions to the two-year end-of-life directive, which is now on most of the rule. It goes without saying that a rule should have a large number of examples that support it. In other words, for the exceptions to exist, there must be a collective perception of what is supposed to happen. There are many examples of two-year end-of-life rules that, if they were observed, still allowed casual investors to make good profits. A favorite set of mine that falls into this category is the Eiffel Tower (10181). Released at the end of 2007 and ending at the end of 2009, this set is an excellent example of almost exact production over two years. The original RRP for the Eiffel Tower was $ 199. The current value now stands at an impressive $ 850, which translates into a not too shabby increase of 326%. Another good example of a great investment set with a two-year production life routine is the Jabba Sailing Barge (6210). This impressive set was released in 2006 with a modest RRSP of $ 75. Today, this package generally orders a price over $ 400 which equates to a 445% increase on the investment. Perhaps the holy grail of the LEGO modular world and the best example of cyclical production of two years has been put 10182 Café Corner. Café Corner lasted two full years from 2007 to 2009. The original PPR of $ 138, which is all the rage, has now jumped to $ 1,136, for a 700% increase in value! The Taj Mahal (10189) are other remarkable ensembles that fall squarely in the two-year sweet spot; the green grocer (10185); The millennial hawk (10179); Vader’s TIE Advanced (10175) and charge more. It’s hard to claim a surprise or generate a lot of sympathy for missing something that has been around for at least two years. Two years represent the common perception of LEGO’s average production lifespan and are often the determining factor for buying different sets: choose the longest set in your production cycle and you are generally safe. That’s unless you fall victim to LEGO deception.
The deception of LEGO is nothing more than those sets that have survived their welcome for the casual investor while simply refusing to die a natural death. This does not mean that the public agrees with this feeling; in fact, they obviously do not do so or these series would not be suspended for years after their beginnings. A perfect example of EOL deception is the medieval market village (10193). This set was released in 2008 and is still available today. Currently, LEGO Shop at Home (S & H) indicates that this set is not available until August of this year. Does this mean that he is finally close to the EOL? The two-year EOL rule would dictate this result but this set seems to have some solid legs and remains very popular. There may still be life left. The initial PRT of $ 99 is still an outstanding deal. Current value is quoted at approximately $ 92, representing a 6% decrease from RRP. Interestingly, the value of this set has increased by 6% in the last month. It seems that investors could start making some modest gains over the next 6 months if it ends up going to the end of life this summer or fall. Another set that is still available long after the two-year rule of the EOL is the Fire Brigade (10197). This set was released in September 2009 and was considered a likely candidate for EOL at Christmas 2011! From today, he is still doing well and does not let anything appear, even after the release of the Modular Town Hall in March. There has been a lot of speculation around the modular theme and the number of different active sets that it can support at a given moment. For several weeks this spring, most major outlets had no firefighters in stock, including S @ H and Amazon. This has led to a small value bubble that has since jumped and is now back to the near-home PRP. Finally, one can not ignore the biggest and most extreme example of LEGO EOL deception: The Death Star (10188). For many LEGO casual investors, it’s this set that has taken them out of their dark age. It is therefore somewhat ironic that this set is still available four years later! In fact, it is still a LEGO bestseller on Amazon, even with a gross public price of $ 399. Unfortunately, the current value is “fair” of $ 383 and certainly does not mirror the impressive fire power of the real and fully operational Death Star it so wonderfully emulates.
Many factors play a role in applying the two-year LEGO guideline. Admittedly, popularity, profit, theme and price all help to dictate the lifespan of a specific set and each of these factors could be analyzed in detail. For most LEGO casual investors, this is not particularly practical or productive. For now, it’s best to keep an eye on sets that are approaching the two year mark and use your best LEGO judgment. As with any investment, there is a lot of luck. Go too early and you can sit with many large boxes in every room of your house. Wait too long and you will only want to have a lot of big boxes in every room of your house.