(Written by William)
There has been several recent changes to the LEGO Pick-A-Brick (PAB) wall at all LEGO store locations, so I thought it was important to write an update on what you can expect next time you stop by at your local LEGO store to get some LEGO elements. 🙂
➡ LEGO PAB WALL PRICE CHANGES
The first and most impactful change is the price for the PAB cups. Each will be increased by a $1 USD, so the small cup is now $9 and the large cup is $16. Obviously, this has a bigger effect on the smaller cup as you roughly get half the volume of the large one. The LEGO Group (TLG) will also be increasing the price of the full boxes of elements you can buy, from the previous price of $75 USD to $100 USD. If you are unaware of what I’m talking about here, that’s no surprise. Normally LEGO employees don’t tell you, but TLG allows you to buy an entire box of a LEGO element you see on the PAB wall, provided they have more in stock. This is ideal for those attempting to make a larger scale LEGO model.
A couple of years back I had a conversation with a LEGO representative, and we talked about the PAB wall. This conversation was partly started due to the poor selection at my local LEGO store. He told me that the PAB wall was something TLG needed to change. It was inconsistent on how it was run, and the full boxes of parts at $75 would often mean they were losing money (depending on the part). He did admit that raising prices was looking to be one of the solutions.
➡ LEGO PAB WALL SELECTION CHANGES
In the past LEGO stores had two options for choosing what went on their PAB wall. The first choice – often the default -was when someone who had very little to do with a particular store would just send out a selection of parts to that store. The second option was for the store manager to elect to pick out the parts they wanted, and hope they got them. Even for the stores that selected pieces there was no guarantee they’d get what they have liked. This is why you saw things in the PAB wall like door-frames with no doors or windows with no window-frames. Apart from this, it was up to the store to stock whatever they had.
Later TLG put all their LEGO stores under the same system where every store had to select pieces for their PAB walls. There were still a few restrictions, but we’ll talk about those more below. The most recent change is going to build off of the more consistent application of every store choosing their own PAB wall selection. This change involves every store being obligated to carry certain types of pieces. In addition, those pieces will contain advertising, such as “this goes great with LEGO Star Wars sets”. So what you end up with is a system where parts are partly pre-determined and consistent across stores, and then each store has some options after that.
➡ LEGO PAB WALL STORE RESTRICTIONS
Remember when I said that the store must work within restrictions? There are policies in place that all the stores have to follow in regards to their PAB wall. First, on the bottom-most rows, larger pieces like 2×4 bricks must be stocked so that they do not pose a choking hazard for smaller children. Another restriction, that may or may not be still in place, is that they had to have the basic parts to make a vehicle; this meant tires, wheel-hubs, a connector piece to attach the hub to, and possibly a steering wheel or windshield. For a while they tried expanding on this idea by having other builds you could make from parts on the wall. However because PAB walls are not all equal in size and storage-capacity, this idea didn’t work out.
Chances are that with the latest change TLG may stick with the vehicle parts option plus a bit more, as this would limit the stores ability to order a larger variety of more specialized parts. Unfortunately this is not great for adult LEGO builders, but we have to remember that TLG’s priority is young children and their priorities (kids love vehicles!).
➡ WHAT CAN YOU DO?
So with all the changes happening to the LEGO PAB wall, the question is, what can you do as an adult LEGO fan to have the best experience? The most important thins is to get to know the employees at the store; the store manager is especially key. They hold regular meetings and provide feedback to the company on how customers are responding to any given change. In addition, LEGO stores employees are often open to hearing what you want. This may mean being able to talk with the person in charge of picking out pieces for the PAB wall. Letting them know what you would like gives them some guidance on what should get stocked.
Also, don’t forget to bring back your old PAB cups to refill. This could save you $0.50 for each one you re-use. It’s not a big discount, but it does help to reduce the price-increase a bit. Finally, do fill out the surveys on your receipts. This obviously has a bigger impact on smaller LEGO stores compared to the large Disney or LEGOLAND stores, but your opinion does shape how decisions get made. This includes things you really like about the store and never want to see leave. Point in case, LEGO stores used to carry grab bags, but since the complaints far outweighed compliments, the program was discontinued. So keep in mind, change only comes to those who asked for it… and you can always shop at the Online Pick-A-Brick.
What do you think of the LEGO Pick-A-Brick wall changes? Do you use the PAB wall regularly to shop for LEGO elements? What about the Online Pick-A-Brick selection? Do you use it? What do you like to see in the PAB wall? Feel free to share and discuss in the comment section below! 😉
And you might also like to check out the following related post:
*Sigh…. we really need a Lego store in my Country 🙁 (The Netherlands)
There is one in Belgium just over the border near Antwerp but that’s only an option if you live in the south of the country.
My LEGO store had the Tires, Hubs and Connector Pieces in big PAB cups where you get the cups. price increase dang…..
The last time I was at the Orlando LEGO Store I got a bunch of stuff from the wall, then I filled the rest of my cup and the lid from the play-tables with really unique pieces and colors. There were not a lot of people around and nobody objected, so I was a happy camper. 😛
so wait, you can take pieces from the play-tables?
also, I have never really bought from the pick-a-brick wall but have considered it. but let me tell ya, the minifigure thing they have at the LEGO store is awesome! so many cool things I don’t have 🙂
I don’t think taking stuff from the tables is normal, but they didn’t stop me. 😉
Sounds about like my Modus Operandi…
LOL, yeah! It is always easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask permission. 🙄
I visited the PaB wall in Michigan yesterday. I can confirm the price increases. As for buying PaB pieces by the case, they are no limitations on which pieces may be purchased this way. Sadly, you can no longer get 4000+ 2×2 light gray tiles for $100. 🙁
Eric, thanks for sharing that. I actually don’t mind the price increase on the cups that much, and as William mentioned, if you bring your cup back, you will also get 50 cents off, so the increase is really just 50 cents. However the price increase on the full boxes is major. I can see that hurting LEGO fans who build big stuff. 😕
really? fifty cents off! awesome! (I guess you learn something new everyday.) and then if I also brought the V.I.P card I would get even more off! sweet!!!!!!!!! 😎
I thought it was 75 cents…?
It used to be 75 cents, so you don’t get as much of a discount anymore I guess….
Technically it’s still a $1.00 price increase because you could get the 50 cents off before the raise. Before a large cup, where you brought your own, was 14.99 – 0.50 = 14.49. Now it’s going to be 15.99 – 0.50 = 15.49.
Kriterian, that’s a good point. I actually like to get the cups as I use them for storage and for separating out small projects. They are quite handy around the house too. 🙂
Its a pity the prices are raised but that all mostly.
Keep squeezing customers for more money and LEGO will be put out of business. That’s the problem with big companies they get to greedy . I know it does not seem likely that LEGO will go out of business, but, all businesses are at risk. It starts off small and it starts to snowball.
That is true, but also please remember the major inflation that is going on right now. Everything is getting more expensive. That LEGO has been able to maintain the same price-point for years is actually really amazing.
Is this only in america? I usually go to the Cardiff lego store, so if anyone goes, please confirm this.
Hm… good question. I can’t answer that for you as I’m in the USA, but hopefully someone will let you know. And you can also call the store directly to find out.
My closest PAB is in Copenhagen, but I only go there a few times a year.
Honestly, I’m quite mad! I’ll learn to live with the increase in PaB cups….but an extra 25 bucks for a box!?! That’s insane!
Yeah, that’s a very significant increase for the boxes. As Will mentions in the article there were times when LEGO was making a loss on these, so I guess they adjusted their price where it makes sense to sell the parts in bulk, but yeah, it is a big increase. If you are a member of a LUG you can also order parts through the LUGBulk program. I’m not sure though which method would end up being cheaper. That might be a good article for Will to write next time.
I had no idea that you could buy the whole box like that for $75, shame it’s going up but it still seems like a awfully good deal! Looks like TLG is making some effort to improve what shows up on the shelves, though I’m not sure it’ll be exactly what I’m looking for! Too bad the prices are going up, but it’s good to know that bringing the cup back saves .50 cents.
As far as I understood this change was worldwide. However, lately LEGO has made some changes that are region specific.
As for the price, LEGO is double affected when it comes to things like oil. Since it needs it for its production and in its shipping.
The difference between the PAB wall and LUGBulk is that the PAB wall is cheaper, but the LUGBULK program will have better selection.
One thing I forgot to mention in the article is that if you get a discount like through the LUG Showcase program, you can ask if you can apply the 30% off to a box. It will be up to the store manager to determine if discounts like that can apply though.
As for the play pieces, yeah, you’re not supposed to do that. But if no one objects it’s hard to stop someone. I think the policy for why this is the case has more to do with the germs that are on the play pieces. They are handled more so ten to be more dirty. Then when they are done they will either be thrown or sent to the Community Team. Either way, stores will probably not have a problem with it if they see it makes them money, but you do get some funny sorts.
Now the minifigure bar is definitely off limits to PAB cups. And since pieces from both the PAB wall and minifigure bar migrate to the play areas…
That last thing you said is true, but it shouldn’t be that hard for honest people to avoid taking LEGO people pieces. Personly, I will probably take a look at the play table next time 😉 .
At the Orlando LEGO store the minifig station is far-far away from the PAB wall and even the play-tables. Probably that’s why. 😉
It’s kind a like a double edged sword. LEGO is trying to balance there cost on making their product and we ( as customers) have to balance on the cost. Yes, LEGO has been very good at keeping price level on the low side and that’s great. But, how far will LEGO go and how far are we as customers going go on spending when LEGO ups the prices a little more each time they need to( for business ). Keeping in mind you are not buying garbage . LEGO is a great product. Of course those of us that are addicted ( like me) to LEGO will never stop buying and just bite the bullet and go for it. It’s up in the air on what will happen>
Yeah, for us addicts it’s hard. But always remember that LEGO in the USA is very-very cheap compared to other countries. Our friends over the pond usually pay double, and down under triple of what we are paying. 😐
Seconded with regards to US prices compared to the UK. Its usually a 1:1 conversion so on average its 40ish percent more expensive in the UK than US. It never ceases to amaze me and whenever I’m in the US I always buy what I can. I get wierd looks though as I have to dump the packaging to get it in my suitcase. Last time I left a huge bunch of kingdoms boxes in my room on checkout!
LOL! I can imagine the hotel maids wondering what you were up to!
It might cost more here in the Europe than in the USA(oh do i envy you people)but we usually get the sets much earlier and you can always buy sets when they are about to be discontinued.
Hm…we get a small cup every visit, but those price increases are bothersome. I know it’s just a dollar, but that’s a big difference for my brothers and me. We make about $16 a year, plus any b-day money. 😐
I’ve always been a little upset about the poor piece selection though, does this mean they are expanding the range of pieces?
And I know that at $100, I will never get a box of loose parts. The whole box has to be the same piece, right?
BTW, we finished building MetalBeard’s Sea Cow today. It’s Awesome! 😀
Also, check Brickset! Chima and Ninjago images have been found!
Scowls. Moderation. I wonder what it is this time. 😡
Sorry about that. I’m not sure what caused it.
The general readership here tends to be very young, but maybe you can make some extra money through moonlighting; such as walking the dogs, cleaning etc. in the neighborhood…
The piece selection differs between different stores. The bigger stores have better selections.
Good suggestions. Also, the majority of our readers are actually older, however it is the younglings who talk the most. 😀
My store (bellevue) had spaceship engines!
Yeah, I remember reading that this time the theme is spaceships. 😛
I’ve never even BEEN to a LEGO store, so I don’t know what it’s like anyway 🙁 Even though the closest one to me is the one in Cardiff (Wales:()I never been to it:( but one of my old friends keeps on going there and makes me jealous an purpose >:(
I’ve only been to a Lego store twice in my life, given the fact that the closest one is about 7 hours away. Those stores are just amazing, and I love the pick a brick wall.
My closest LEGO store is two hours away, and I agree, they are amazing! If it would be closer I’m pretty sure it would be the only place I would buy LEGO… besides parts, which I usually get from BrickLink.
I love the LEGO stores. I was recently in two of them and bought three cups of pieces. It’s a pity that they are five hours away. Switzerland needs a LEGO store!
There is no LEGO store in Switzerland? That’s a shame. Such a beautiful country with such LEGO-like houses and towns deserves a LEGO store!
I can agree on that, although the Netherlands needs a LEGO store too.
Why doesn’t Online Pick A Brick have HERO FACTORY parts?
That’s actually a really good question. I don’t know the answer though, probably too specialized?
After reading many posts I consider myself lucky that I live surrounded by lego stores. I usually buy my parts from pab online, recently learned of bricklink and used them. I decided to try a large cup today and fill it with
4×6 white flats. I connected them and arranged them and got 135 flats plus gaps filled with clear 1 studs. Online each flat 4×6 white on pab is $0.60 each. I should have paid $81 but just $16.99 +tax. A great deal.
I wish lego would organize and know what they have at each store and when so I could just swoop my 30 min drive and pick them up. There was a website but it’s not up to date as some haven’t been updated in 8 months. Does anyone know a better updated pick a brick wall site?
Yeah, you are lucky! Most of us would have to drive for hours to get to the closest LEGO store. It is so nice to be able to just walk into a store and pick up the elements you need! Unfortunately besides the two sources we mentioned before, there is really no other website that updates on PAB walls. And since both of them rely on individuals to volunteer their time and update the website, they are lagging behind. Best would be if LEGO would provide this service themselves and maintain a subscriber list and send updates to subscribers. However as you have noted yourself, the PAB wall is really not the biggest money-maker for LEGO, so they likely don’t have the insentive to put more menpower behind it.
What about a one hour drive, is that decent?
That just depends. I have to drive 2 hours to my closest LEGO store so it won’t make sense to drive 4 hours back and forth just to go the the LEGO store. So what I usually do is incorporate a visit as part of a larger trip. Like we may be going down to Orlando for a theme-park or for some event. This way a side-trip to the LEGO store doesn’t cost anything extra. Or another option is to share the trip with other LEGO fans so you can split the cost of gas. That also works. 😉
It seems 2 hours of driving back and forth for I.E. picking up a modular, exclusive or a few PAB wall cups is decent then. Oh, I should go there soon again 😉
The PAB-wall is definitely a main attraction at any LEGO store, especially if you plan ahead and know exactly what you are looking for. Another thing I really like about LEGO stores is the displays of currently available sets, specifically the large ones. No matter how many pictures and videos I see online, there is nothing like seeing a LEGO set in person. There were sets I was sure I didn’t like, until I saw them at the LEGO store, and also it happened that I thought I will like a set, but when I saw it them in person I lost interest. So yeah, first-hand experience is invaluable.
I think planning ahead is vital for a trip to a LEGO store. I always like to know what to buy before I go or I buy to much(common problem with LEGO fans, i hope). Also like you said seeing sets in person can really make the difference in if you like them or not.
Thanks, this really shows the value of the PaB wall…
Seems you could visit once a moth and in a year have quite a collection of basic pieces… at a great savings too.
The prices in the USA are still cheaper than in Canada even with the price increases. The small cup is 10.99 + 13% tax and the big cup is 19.99 + 13% tax. I wish the prices were the same considering the parts come from the same factories.
Bay-area in US seems to have several such stores. I picked one of the sets in April for my kid and we are hooked. Looking forward for my next US trip this month (from India) to buy several cups and fill my suitcase 🙂
Still wondering though if I should buy 2nd hand bags from ebay. I just need a lot of random bricks.
The Bay Area is practically flooded with LEGO stores. LOL! The rest of the country has to be on a diet though. As far as shopping on eBay, be careful. Most sellers who regularly sell mixed LEGO lots cherry-pick all the minifigs and better elements to sell separately and just dump the rest into mixed lots. You could end up with a lot of LEGO that you would never use, not to speak of mixed in junk and other brands. If you do consider a mixed lot, buy from individuals who just want to get rid of their collection. You would get a much better quality mix and you might even find some treasures. 😉
Visited Lego store@ValleyFair, Santa Clara yesterday. Didnt liked the PAB wall. Its is mostly 1×2 and 2×2 bricks. There are no tires, axle,
Asked one of the staff members for some of the parts, he checked the back store but didnt found.
They will be changing the selection regularly, so you may consider checking back a bit later. At least now that they are planning to be more uniform in their selection across stores, we should be better informed on what to expect at each visit.
Hey so I hate when lego stores focus on little kids. It’s so annoying kids don’t even spend the most money it’s people like us who are building awesomely huge models or cities. Literally every time I go to one of the lego stores in my area I find a bunch of stupid florecient pink or bright orange and no specialty bricks that I need to build my customs modular buildings like currently I need roof tiles or the ramp things. It’s just so annoying! Also, there multiple times where they have the same bricks in multiple cubbies
For adults there is the LUGBulk program. You can order pretty much any LEGO element in large quantities. The program was specifically developed for adult builders who are working on large projects. You can contact your local LUG for details, or if there is no LUG in your area you can start one. If you need help with this just let me know.
I’ve always been a LEGO fan but I had passed my collection on to my nieces and nephews a few years back. I’ve just recently been collecting pieces and sets again to build and have fun. I live in NYC and have now been visiting the Rockefeller Center LEGO store more often. I love the PAB walk but I really wish they had more selection in the pieces they offer. I went by one week and many of the bins were sold out, almost empty or duplicates. I went again last week and they had new pieces but still not exciting. The PAB wall is supposed to be the largest, I think but I still wish there were more special pieces. Hoping to see more selection in the future!
FYI, while at the store in King of Prussia, PA, I learned the following:
The stores are now required to have 120 different types of bricks. However, many of these are in the back. They typically won’t offer to bring a box out, but if you are courteous and they aren’t busy, you might get lucky (I got some nice scores of palisade bricks this way).
Also, they are only permitted to sell bulk boxes (K2s) if they have 4 full boxes of the same brick on hand. That’s from the store manager.
Good luck brick hunting.
Dough, thanks for sharing that. Very helpful information.
Visited Lego store in San Mateo, CA… They have small wheels, axels, wind-shield on PAB wall which i was looking for and didnt find in valleyfair… bought small cup of them..
That’s interesting as those are from the last period. I guess that particular store still had enough stock to keep them in in the bins.
Is it just my store or does the manager at the LEGO store have to ability to restrict what parts they will sell in case qty? The manager at my LEGO store will only sell basic bricks by the case. Anyone else run into this issue?
Yes, that is up to the manager. If you make friends with them however and ask nicely, they may get you what you want. 😉
Visited Lego shop in Fashion Mall @ Las Vegas. They have white fence, white door, brown staircase, connectors/hinges. Picked a small cup of them …
Nice! Those are all very useful pieces.
My wall has doors and door frames of which I managed to squeeze 25 sets in a cup to make our own advent calendar, along with some smooth tiles (for the interior floors) and greenery (to decorate) and small 4×6 white plates- I only had to add the 2×4 bricks for the walls and assorted pieces for the back and roof.
I have a question about the PAB. Since I don’t have one locally, I thought this would be the best place to ask my question before I head up to a store pretty soon. I was wondering if you can buy the PAB cups separately? I know that sounds weird to ask. But I am giving my son a Lego party for his 10th Birthday. Recently he (and myself) have turned into diehard Lego fans. What I would like to do is get a cup for each of the kids for his party and fill it with party favors, which will include a simple build, kinda like what they do monthly at the Lego Store… But I like to give each person a PAB cup to use on future trips to the store (if they ever get close to one) It has also been rumored that one will be coming to our location soon… so in preparation. So anyway, sorry for the long drawn out comment, however I just want to know if buying the cup separately was an option and if so, do you know how much it would be?
The PAB cups are not supposed to be for sale, however some stores allow you to get some extra ones. It really depends on the store, the store-managers, and if they have enough stock of the cups. You can also buy them very inexpensively on BrickLink. Here are the large cups: http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?G=4200692, here are the small cups: http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?G=4200691, and here are the lids: http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?G=4200693. I also use them for storage and even around the house for other things. They are very useful. 🙂
You rock so hard! Thanks so much! I am learning quite alot from your blog!!!
You’re welcome. 😉
Why are they so expensive?
Do you know roughly how many pound are in the small and big cups?
That would very much depend on the size and density of the pieces, but I have a full large cup at my desk with generic pieces that I just weighted for you. It came to just about a pound. So I would say 1 pound for the large cup with generic pieces, and half a pound for the small cup. This would increase though if for example all the pieces uses to fill the cup are 1×1 round plates.
Any idea on how many pieces are in a full box? Is it a good savings?
I’m heading to the USA next month and want some bulk LEGO.
Sadly, we currently don’t have a LEGO store in Australia 🙁
It really depends on what pieces we are talking about. Also, it is best to call beforehand to make sure they have full boxes available and if they are willing to sell them. Different stores have different policies in this regard, and it is also based on the stock they have at hand.