How I Make Money From My Favourite Childhood Toy

My Favourite Childhood Toy

Most of us had a favourite childhood toy, for some it might have been GI Joe, for others it may have been Barbie dolls. For me it was LEGO. To this day I can still remember opening Christmas and birthday presents and smiling when I saw the classic red and yellow logo.

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Random Facts About LEGO.

  • LEGO was founded in 1932 in Billund, Denmark and to this day remains owned by the same family.
  • The iconic LEGO brick was not developed until 1958, the same design is now copied by multiple companies but never to the same high quality.
  • The toy has been named the toy of the century by various different publications.
  • The company now have movies featuring their products, own a stake in Legoland theme parks and also part own a wind farm.
  • The LEGO group is the largest tyre manufacturer in the world.

How I Got Started

As a child I probably played with LEGO from the age of three until I was around 10 or 11. I then didn’t touch any LEGO for a significant number of years. In the world of LEGO this is called ominously “The Dark Ages”.

Skip forward to early 2011. I was on a date with a lovely young lady (now my wife). We discussed various things including our favourite toys as a child, both of us said LEGO. A few days later one of the national newspapers ran a promotion giving away free LEGO. My wife purchased the paper and gave me this small LEGO set as a surprise.
That was it…. I was back in.

LEGO Childhood toy

2 Weeks after the end of the dark ages!

The urge to purchase LEGO grew and as it did so did my collection of unopened sets. I had the money to buy but not the time to build. Something had to happen, as luck would have it whilst browsing online I found the site Bricklink. An online marketplace for people to buy sets and individual bricks. Quick as a flash I knew I would have to sell some of my LEGO.

How I Make Money From LEGO

So how do you still make money 5 years down the line I hear you cry.
Essentially I buy LEGO sets when they are on sale. Ideally you want them to be reduced by at least 50%, but depending on the set I will settle for 33%. As with any business the cheaper you can get the product the more profit you can make.

The Bricklink site has a repository of every LEGO set ever made including what pieces are in each set and in what colours. By clicking the “Part Out” button the system adds all the individual parts from a specific set into my own inventory. Anybody who then views my site will see my complete inventory and is able to pick and choose what pieces they want to buy.

The buyer will then place a digital order on the system and I will compile all the pieces by going through my mini draw based storage system. Once I’m happy I have all the correct pieces the buyer will be invoiced and I’ll await payment via Paypal.

How Much Money Do I Make?

It’s a very difficult question to answer. Due to the nature of the pieces you may hold common pieces for years and not sell many. A rare piece or Minifigure may cover almost the price of a full set. Minifigures can sometimes actually make more cash if sold on Ebay again depending on the rarity. I never buy a set if the “part out” value is less than 3 times the price I pay.

I believe this year I have made around $2000 not bad for a childhood toy. The store has been closed multiple times reducing the amount of orders I’ve had, this is mostly down to my travel schedule. There are stores on Bricklink with thousands of orders per year but I’m happy with hundreds!

Is it easy money?

The simple answer is no. It can take a long period of time to compile a large order and if you are missing a part searching through drawers of pieces is extremely frustrating. It also sucks away your love for LEGO. I guess like anything once it becomes a “job” the enjoyment can wane; even for a favourite childhood toy.

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19 Comments
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19 Comments

  1. My collection (mostly City and Space sets and pieces from the 1980’s) has been combined with my sons’ growing Lego collections. It’s rather massive, but great fun to build and play with my boys using the same bricks I had as a kid.

    If we don’t decide to hang onto them for the next generation, this might be a fun / lucrative way to start to part with them.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    1. Frugalfox says:

      Absolutely, if you need somebody to take them off your hands then give me a shout!
      Bricklink is great for selling new and used LEGO. Its a bit more difficult to sell the used items because you will probably need to list each piece separately.

    1. Frugalfox says:

      Wess,
      If they are unopened then absolutely pick them up. Dealing with used LEGO is a lot more difficult.
      Depending on the price it may still be worth it though.

    1. Frugalfox says:

      It can be a lot of work. Setting up a organisation system at the beginning is the key to success.
      Its easier when people order multiples of the same piece rather than one of everything.

  2. Erith says:

    Well I have a loft full of Lego, from when my sons were growing up. Unfortunately it was all used and loved. So I have started recycling some of it. When a friend comes to the house with young children, they get gifted a box from the loft. They are always very happy, especially as it is ‘retro’, and they are guaranteed not to have it! They don’t care if the boxes are a bit bashed, although a collector might… I gifted a Lego castle one day, and his father was as interested as the son – apparently it was a rare Knight’s Castle. (It was in the original box, and was complete!). I told the child just to play with it and enjoy it!

    However, I might add some things to the site. You never know!

    Now if you also know of an equivalent forum for selling Warhammer, I would definitely be interested… That’s the other stuff in the loft….

  3. Martin says:

    That’s awesome! Lego was definitely one of my favorites growing up.

    This reminds me of those yogi card (I grew up in Asia) that people collects. Often times the rarer ones people could sell them upwards of a couple hundred bucks.

    1. Frugalfox says:

      Yeah there are phases people go through in collecting, the cool thing about LEGO is if you don’t like what you have you can just make something else.
      That being said even LEGO went through some bad times financially because less people were buying.

    1. Frugalfox says:

      Thanks for your comment Mr. Tako
      Strangely for me I don’t keep records of the time it takes.

      However, it does vary from order to order. Selling one full set for £100 profit can take 10 minutes. Selling an order of £5 worth of individual pieces can take 20 minutes.
      I take the rough with the smooth. It’s also time I wouldn’t use for much else anyway.

      1. That last point is critical (time you wouldn’t be doing much else) in my opinion- this is $2000 helping others enjoy something he likes and the time wouldn’t have been financially productive anyway. And he can set his own schedule. Seems like all gravy to me and he can quite whenever he wants with no problem. Plus it’s really cool.

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