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Some tips on parting out & selling LEGO sets

by admin on April 17, 2015

in Shopping Tips

(Written by Skyward)

I was strolling through my local department store and saw two #70803 The LEGO Movie Cloud Cuckoo Palace sets. Aware that this set was becoming hard to find, I decided to purchase them for resale. Knowing that buying LEGO sets for the purpose of reselling (either as a sealed set or by parting it out) is something that many LEGO fans would like to know more about, I decided to write an article based on my personal experience. (The original, longer version of this article was published at BrickPicker, so if you are interested to learn more details just follow the link.) Reselling LEGO sets, minifigures, or loose elements can be a great way to support your LEGO hobby, or at least mitigate the cost. So let’s get started! 🙂

#70803 The LEGO Movie Set

➡ TIP 1: WHICH LEGO SET TO GET FOR RESALE? – Before you buy a LEGO set for resale, you must know the availability and value of the set. For example if you buy a $20 LEGO set and you can resell the minifigs alone for $20-$30, then you own the rest of the set free and clear. This is one of the easiest ways to build up the bulk of your LEGO collection and have plenty of parts to build with without spending a whole lot of money.

Tips for Reselling LEGO

And if locate a set that is hard to find and there is great demand for it, you can just resell it as it is, even without opening. If you like the set, you can keep yourself a copy, and sell extra ones to cover your own expenses – thus owning your set free and clear. Or if you don’t want it for yourself, but you know there is demand for it, you can sell them all, and use the money to buy something that you really want.

To know when to open set to part out or when to sell it still sealed requires some considerations, but the bottom line is that you always have several choices; sell sets sealed, sell the minifigures from a set and keep the rest for yourself, sell the parts and keep the minifigs, or sell everything individually.

arrow: TIP 2 – SHOULD YOU BREAK THE SEALS? – So how do you know when to sell a set sealed and when to part it out? First of all, you can do some research on eBay and BrickLink and see how much sealed sets, minifigs and parts are selling for from a particular set on the secondary market. Please keep in mind that prices on minifigs, parts and sets can fluctuate quite a bit, so use BrickLink’s great feature that shows you all the sales that happened in the last six months, along with all the current listings.

Tips for Reselling LEGO PriceGuide

For the two #70803 The LEGO Movie Cloud Cuckoo Palace sets I decided to part them out completely because I wanted to gain more experience with the process. Please keep in mind that parting out LEGO sets may not work for everyone. It takes quite a bit of work, storage-space, packing, shipping, organizing, etc. Also, some of the parts may sell quickly, while others may sit in your eBay or BrickLink store for months, or even years.

Tips for Reselling LEGO Parting Out

If you want to sell for a quick but smaller profit relatively hassle-free, the best thing is to sell the sets as a whole. You only have to list the item one time, and pack and ship one time. If you want to get more profit and you are willing to do more work, you can sell the minifigs, as those are the ones that usually bring in the most profit, and you can either keep or sell the rest of the set. You will likely have to pack and ship several times to several customers, but it is still much easier than listing and selling every single part individually.

Tips for Reselling LEGO Parting Out on BrickLink

However parting out fully is what usually brings in the most profit, especially on large, adult oriented sets with the most useful and/or unique parts. BrickLink has a handy tool that allows you to enter the set number and automatically part out the set for you into your store, so you don’t have to enter each part manually, but it is still a lot of work to sort, pack and ship so many elements. So you just have to do your research and decide which way you want to go with each set you consider reselling.

➡ TIP 3: WHERE TO SELL YOUR LEGO? – In general if you want to sell full sets, eBay is your best option, as it brings in the most profit. Keep in mind that eBay has very high selling fees (10% of your final price + about 3% for PayPal fees), however they also have a huge number of buyers, so set your prices accordingly. Minifigs you can sell either on eBay or BrickLink with equal success, but again keep the fees in mind (BrickLink has a 3% selling fee – and of course you still have to pay 3% PayPal fees to accept payments). For individual parts BrickLink has a much better market and it is much easier to list your items (no need to take pictures of each individual part), so I would recommend them over eBay.

➡ TIP 4: HOW TO GET PAID? – Most people will want to pay with PayPal, and this is the best and most reliable payment method that pretty much everyone is familiar with. You can also offer the option of money orders, bank-transfers, etc., but in general it is best to just stay with PayPal. If your buyers request it you might add other payment methods in the future. Do not deal in cash as that can easily get lost in the mail.

arrow: TIP 5: HOW TO PACK & SHIP? – It is a very important part of the process to assure that the items you sell arrive to your buyer safely and securely. At the same time you also want to make sure you are not overpaying for packaging materials and shipping, as this can really cut into any profit that you make. It is best to calculate shipping prices before you list your item for sale, so you know how much to charge and there are no surprises at the end. For small items like minifigs and parts you can use bubble-mailers, and for larger items like unopened LEGO sets, you can Priority Mail boxes that you can get at the post office for free.

Tips for Reselling LEGO Shipping

Also, don’t forget about shipping-tape and packaging materials to keep the items in their original new condition. You don’t want to send a brand new LEGO set wrapped in newspaper only to have it crushed on the way to the buyer and having to refund the full amount. So pack everything securely. Also, familiarize yourself with shipping prices at the post office’s website. If you get into reselling more seriously, you can even get a scale and download shipping tables so you know exactly how much shipping is going to cost.

Tips for Reselling LEGO Minifigs

And that’s about it. The process is quite simple to begin with, and the great thing is that you can scale it up or down depending on your needs. For example right now you may just have one set you are thinking about selling, so you can try out the process with that just to get your feet wet. As you gain more experience, you can start selling more, trying out selling just minifigs, parting out LEGO sets, etc. Then one day you find 20 LEGO sets at half price or less, and you decide to go big and run a full-fledged store!

One additional thing; make sure you keep good records on every purchase and every sale. A simple spreadsheet can work, where you list how much you bought a set for, how much you sold it for, how much packaging and shipping cost, what were the selling fees, etc. This will not only show you exactly your profit, but if you star to run a regular store it will help when tax time comes around and you have to give the taxman their share.

Shop The LEGO Movie Sets

So what do you think? Have you ever sold any of your LEGO sets or minifigs to support your hobby? Do you already run an established eBay or BrickLink store? Is there any other tips and tricks you would like to add? Or have you considered selling, but didn’t know where to start? If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to share and discuss in the comment section below! 😉

And you might also like to check out the following related posts:

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Josh April 17, 2015 at 10:31 AM

Great article! Knowing how much pieces or minifigs cost is key. I troll eBay several times a day just to see what’s out there. I sell mainly just to offset my obsess, er, kid’s presents…

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admin April 17, 2015 at 11:33 AM

Josh, yes, familiarizing yourself with the BrickLink Price Guide, and keeping an eye on eBay listings, should keep you updated on the current market. And yes, “it’s for the children” is an excuse that usually works. 🙄

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VirtualMirage April 17, 2015 at 1:03 PM

I’ve been contemplating doing this and figured if I see that a set is going to be popular and limited, if I can afford two of them I will buy two.

I did this with the last Lego Seasonal set that was released for Easter. I wish I did it for the Valentine’s set as well. They don’t cost a lot, don’t take up much space, and it appears their value increases quite a bit over a short period of time. Seeing as quickly as the Easter set sold out, I kind of wish I bought a few more.

Now I just need to figure out how long do I want to sit on it before I decide to sell them.

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admin April 17, 2015 at 4:41 PM

Yeah, those little season sets have been selling excellent on the secondary market. They are especially great because they are limited to one event and sell out very quickly. So you don’t have to wait a long time until you can double or more your money. I recently sold a few of these sets as well for a great return. I wouldn’t sit on them for more than a year, because LEGO tends to come out with better and better sets each year. So for example I would sell the Christmas sets before the following Christmas. You can still easily double or triple your money. 🙂

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Doug April 17, 2015 at 2:18 PM

I would also add that Amazon is a great resource for sealed/unsealed complete sets. And I have even startqto see lots of similar pieces there. the bonus with Amazon is that images dont need to be taken for items (generally). I have had good luck with it. In addition, making use of the eBay and Amazon phone apps for researching prices on the fly has been invaluable, especially in the rare case of finding an older, sealed set. at a thrift store or garage sale.

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admin April 17, 2015 at 4:42 PM

Dough, thanks for sharing that. That’s very interesting. I have been using eBay and BrickLink myself both for buying and selling, but never bought third-party LEGO sets on Amazon, and nothing used. I have sold books on Amazon, but nothing more. I’m going to check this out. Thanks again for the tip. 🙂

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David Tennant Lover April 17, 2015 at 4:58 PM

I think I am going to use this technique. Selling the Minifigures can be a quick and easy way to collect money! Cool post, I never thought of doing this, even though everyone on eBay is mostly doing this. Thanks for having this post!

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Tom April 18, 2015 at 6:04 AM

Having sold extensively on ebay over the last 10 years its become almost impossible to actually calculate fees and determine your margins before sale. Unless I know I’m going to get at least a 130% markup I dont even bother any more.

Also here in the UK i have to pay fees for listing, sale price, shipping (ebay now take fees againat shipping price) and paypal fees.

Often a minifig that sells for $15 will net maybe $3 profit on ebay compared to $7 on bricklink.

About to make the jump to bricklink as a seller rather than buyer – at least the charges are much clearer!

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admin April 18, 2015 at 8:44 AM

Hm… that sounds complicated. Here in the USA eBay fees are a flat 10% on everything, except for vehicles. Listing fees are either nothing or a flat 30 cents, which is negligible. 10% is really high though, so you definitely have to calculate that into your sale price. Also, there is the 3% going to PayPal. BrickLink has a flat fee of 3% on the item only (not shipping), so it’s definitely a better deal there. We used to have very complicated eBay fees too in the past, but it was much lower. so there are plusses and minuses. I have been selling on eBay for over 10 years also, and I list all sales on a spreadsheet. It helps to know exactly what fees to except as I look back on my sales history.

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Tom April 18, 2015 at 12:59 PM

The fees until a couple of years ago were very simple they have changed it all recently. Hopefully it will revert soon.

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admin April 18, 2015 at 3:14 PM

Funny, we hade it the other way around; complex previously, simple now. I like simple better because I can calculate my profit exactly when I list an item (I list mostly Buy-It-Now with free shipping). I remember when it was more complex I had to use a chart to figure out everything.

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Clumsybumsy April 18, 2015 at 7:03 AM

I’ve never had to sell any LEGO to fund my new sets and i hope I won’t have to in the near future. I’ve sold all of my K’nex, Pokemon/Yu-gi-oh cards though to buy new sets.

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admin April 18, 2015 at 8:46 AM

Just wanted to clarify that this is not about having to sell off your own personal LEGO collection. This is about buying and selling extra LEGO so you have money for what you really want. Basically you can own all your LEGO free and clear with this method. Of course you could be running another business buying and selling other things, but since LEGO fans tend to know the most about LEGO, it is an easy match. Also, if for whatever reason you can’t sell something, you can always keep it for yourself. So it’s low risk in this regards as well. 🙂

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brickman April 18, 2015 at 11:31 AM

I got the Ultra Agent Hurricane Heist set for 33 bhcks on EBay! Epic!

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admin April 18, 2015 at 3:08 PM

Nice find! 🙂

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Skyward April 18, 2015 at 6:29 PM

Admin, please contact me through email. I tried the email listed, but my email experienced an error and could not send the message.

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admin April 18, 2015 at 8:43 PM

I sent you an email. 😉

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Ollantigh April 19, 2015 at 7:31 AM

What with complications in pricing for fees etc, ebay and the post office here in the UK changing its charges too- often been put off selling my extra sets too, but that’s paid off as hanging on a bit longer has increased the potential profit too- however as i have noticed especially on ebay: one can advertise a set for X amount but then no ones buying at that X amount either? ifind the prices abit too high on certain things- makes you wonder if they are really selling some of these sets at those prices or is something dodgy going on? star wars falcon for £5000- yeah come on really?
I’ve often thought about going round to a lego show somewhere and just offering people a quick look at the back seat of my car piled high with unopened sealed sets – all Dell Boy and alike….not sure if thats technically illegal- makes one wonder though.

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admin April 19, 2015 at 9:39 AM

Ollantigh, selling LEGO sets at LEGO shows and other similar events is actually a great business that many LEGO fans do. You can rent a table at most of these shows and have a whole store set up. At the shows I have been these tables are extremely popular. And even though the prices on sets and minifigs are insanely high, they sell like hotcakes. It’s pretty interesting to see. You can also consider renting a table at a local flee-market. Another great place to sell LEGO with little competition. 😉

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SkiFi April 8, 2016 at 7:17 AM

Yes that is exactly what I do .. 🙂 when I join some Exhibition I always ask if I can sell some things there. Or when I do my own exhibitions Ialways sell .. actually People really await there they can buy something rare and unofficial .. a minifig or some acccessories or even hard to find items and polybags. It is a must to Sponsor your Hobby. And there are always so many People around the table that I hardly Keep track on what´s really selling 😀 .. I once opened m small lego 2hand shop 😀 in a public market place and I was the only one offering LEGO and I was totally mobbed I had to call my gf to immediatelly bring my reserves .. I sold some 500 minifigs in 2-3 hours … hard to imagine .. I did not sell so much on any other web or marketplace .. offer items live is a total game changer

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admin April 8, 2016 at 10:18 AM

LOL! That sounds like fun! 😀

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Franitz May 3, 2015 at 10:49 AM

”Some tips on how to be an annoying reseller” should have been the title of this post.

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admin May 3, 2015 at 10:47 PM

LOL! Personally I heavily rely on resellers and I’m very thankful that they are willing to do the work of parting out LEGO sets. I remember the time before I discovered BrickLink. They were not happy days…

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Emily December 6, 2016 at 3:59 PM

Hello, We’ve amazingly managed to get our hands on some very old lego in mint condition sealed in there boxes, from small, medium and large boxes! I am after some advice on where to start with selling them? Who to talk to and how much there worth?
I have the following sets;
6080
6062
6055
6039
6041
6049
6035
6022
6017
6035
6023
6632
6012 x2
6023

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admin December 6, 2016 at 4:14 PM

Emily, those are some very nice sets. You can research prices as well as list your sets on BrickLink. For example here is the price guide to some of the first few sets you listed:

http://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?S=6080-1#T=P

http://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?S=6062-1#T=P

http://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?S=6055-1#T=P

http://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?S=6039-1#T=P

http://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?S=6041-1#T=P

http://www.bricklink.com/v2/catalog/catalogitem.page?S=6049-1#T=P

On each items page you can see what other sellers are listing them for, what buyers are paying, how many sets have been sold in the last six months, etc. A very nice collection you have there! 🙂

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Dorita1972 April 17, 2017 at 2:17 PM

I have just sort of wandered into selling LEGO. I used to sell Star Wars collectibles on ebay years ago with much success. I recently lost my job and then stumbled upon a large basket of LEGOs for $10 at a yard sale. I’m currently going through and inventorying what was in the basket and trying to figure out what is what. It would seem I have parts from at least 10 different sets with none being complete. Its a daily struggle to try to figure out how to inventory and then resell. I change my mind on how to catalog almost every day. Any advice on selling incomplete sets vs just selling part lots?

sorry for my noobness!!

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admin April 17, 2017 at 2:31 PM

Good question! First of all, I would inventory all the sets you have using the BrickLink Catalog. The best way to do this is to find the most unusual looking pieces, locate them in the BrickLink Catalog, then see which sets they came in. From this, go to the set you think you have (it shouldn’t be more than a few when you are looking at unusual parts), look at the inventory of the set, and see how many of the original pieces you have.

Yes, this takes time, but with Star Wars sets it may very well be worth it. Once you know which sets you have, check the current going prices (also in the BrickLink Catalog). If the price is pretty high, it may make more sense to buy the missing pieces and reconstruct the set, rather than just selling the parts individually. Also, compare going prices for high-value sets on eBay. Usually the prices are pretty similar on BrickLink and eBay, but sometimes there could be a significant gap as well.

So at this point, you should be able to tell which sets you might want to reconstruct for the best price, and which are not worth to rebuild. The once you reconstruct you can sell as used sets, the rest of the parts you can sell either individually (BrickLink is best for this), or in bulk (eBay is best for this).

If the sets you have are not high value enough (by high value I mean over $100) to reconstruct, but still have some worth as a partial set (say, somewhere between $50-$100), you may want to sell it as an incomplete set (eBay is best for this). Compare prices to similar listings and see what makes the most sense.

Personally, I would not bother with trying to reconstruct sets worth less than $100. The amount of time and effort you have to put in it is just not worth it. Just sell them as partial sets, sell the parts in bulk, or sell the parts by the piece. However if you have something like a Millennium Falcon or Star Destroyer, it would very much make sense to reconstruct. 😉

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Stephanie July 8, 2017 at 12:20 AM

This is kind of an old post now, but I have recently become totally infatuated with Legos (again as an adult)… especially the minifigs! Now I have a LOT and do need to offset some of the cost of my new hobby before my husband gets more annoyed at his wife and her toys…! Anyway, never having sold anything anywhere, I feel a little lost on where to begin and in reading the high fees of Amazon and EBay and PayPal, I really don’t know where to begin! Any advice for a super newbie is greatly appreciated!

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admin July 8, 2017 at 2:18 PM

Stephanie, the best outlet to sell your excess LEGO and minifigs is on BrickLink.com. BrickLink is sort of like eBay, but only for LEGO. The fees are significantly lower than at any other place, and you will be interacting with other LEGO fans, which is a nice bonus. You basically just follow the directions to open a shop. There are no listing fees, so you can list as many items as you like, and keep your shop open as long as you like. You only pay a fee when you sell, which is 3%, and then you will be paying another %3 to PayPal when the buyer checks out.

I would suggest that you read these two guides to understand how BrickLink works. It was written by one of our contributors who was also new to selling LEGO, so he goes from the perspective of a beginner: http://thebrickblogger.com/2016/03/starting-out-to-sell-lego-on-bricklink/ and http://thebrickblogger.com/2016/04/selling-lego-on-bricklink-avoiding-mistakes/

I also sell LEGO to offset the cost of the hobby, and had about a thousand transactions (both buying and selling), so if you have any further questions feel free to ask. You can comment on any of the articles, as I see all comments and questions as they come in, no matter where they were asked. 🙂

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