Why Is LEGO So Expensive

Why Is LEGO So Expensive? (And is it Worth It?)

LEGO sets are wonderful gifts that can teach valuable skills like creativity, engineering, and coding to kids (and adults!) of all ages. But these learning experiences come at a price.

Welcome to STEM Geek!
Welcome to STEM Geek!

Why do LEGOs cost so much when they’re just made of plastic? Because a lot of time, materials, and planning go into ensuring every brick is a perfect representation of the brand as a whole.

While LEGO is one of the most expensive brick-building companies out there, it’s fairly easy to justify the price point when taking the brand’s quality, reputation, educational value, and more into consideration.

So instead of jumping straight to asking why LEGO is so expensive in the first place, maybe we should be asking what the brand offers that competitors might not!

LEGO star wars minifigure

Why Are LEGO Sets So Expensive?

Name Recognition

Across all demographics, it’s rare to find someone who hasn’t at least heard of the LEGO brand. And the more recognition a brand has, the more it can charge for its products.

Of course, LEGO didn’t create this brand recognition out of thin air. It took decades of innovation and quality control to build a reputation that allows LEGO to charge top-dollar for its products today.

While you might feel like you’re paying for the LEGO name alone, you’re also investing in the quality and customer satisfaction that you (and other customers) have grown to expect from the brand. The same peace of mind can’t be expected from a no-name company.

Quality

Speaking of LEGO’s quality control, it’s easy to take for granted something we as customers rarely have to think about! 

LEGO sets require tons of time and patience, leaving zero room for error when it comes to ensuring every piece is exactly how it should be. A mistake as simple as one missing piece could ruin the entire experience for a LEGO builder.

While mistakes do happen, LEGO isn’t exactly known for shipping out subpar goods. This is a big part of why fans of the brand are willing to spend big bucks on its products.

Durability

Stepping on a stray LEGO is one of the most PAINFUL experiences one can go through.

~someone who stepped on a LEGO

This half-joking meme didn’t emerge out of nowhere!

LEGO designs its bricks to be practically indestructible on purpose — a single brick can support 953 pounds of pressure without giving — for both safety and customer satisfaction.

Longevity

When you stop and think about it, the fact that a LEGO brick from 50 years ago is compatible with one manufactured today is pretty incredible. And the same is likely to be true of any bricks manufactured in the foreseeable future.

Unlike many other toys, LEGOs don’t come with a figurative expiration date. There’s very little chance LEGO will phase out its current business model anytime soon (if ever).

Licensing Deals

One of the main reasons LEGO has dominated the toy brick market for so long is its use of uber-popular licenses from Disney, Warner Brothers, and other major media companies. 

Such licensing agreements rarely come cheap. (If you’re wondering why LEGO Star Wars is so expensive, here’s your answer!)

Fortunately, the cost of these licenses is offset by the value they add for prospective customers. For many fans of franchises like Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, or Disney Princesses, the ability to build LEGO sets starring their favorite fictional characters and universes is nearly priceless. 

Collectibility

Yes, countless people purchase LEGO sets because they feature franchises they or their children already love. But there are also many, many people who invest in LEGO for the toy bricks themselves.

Collectibility may not have a huge impact on new LEGO sets. However, it certainly plays a role in LEGO products sold used or by resellers.

Why Are LEGO Minifigures So Expensive?

In terms of collectible status, few LEGO products outshine Minifigures. 

Minifigures are the plastic characters featured in many LEGO sets (as well as in media like the LEGO Movies and video games). They have a distinctive look and are extremely valuable in the eyes of collectors and investors!

According to Guinness World Records, the most valuable LEGO Minifigure is a gold Boba Fett costing over $11,000 USD.

While the above is an obvious outlier, even regular Minifigures can go for $10 or more a piece on the secondhand market. 

LEGO Star Wars R2 D2 minifigure

Variety

You won’t find another toy brick company with the sheer variety offered by LEGO. 

From a consumer’s point of view, the number of products LEGO offers might not seem like an important pricing factor. But the reality is that creating and managing so many products — from initial conception to day-to-day customer service — requires a lot of resources.

Why Are Used LEGOs So Expensive?

Thrifty consumers know that buying products secondhand is often the best way to get what you want/need while also saving a few bucks. 

If you think purchasing a used LEGO set automatically means saving money, however, you may be disappointed!

LEGO is one of many major companies that often falls victim to scalpers — resellers who purposely buy large quantities of limited edition items to sell for a profit on platforms like eBay.

There’s also the issue of how recently the set in question was released. Once LEGO retires a set (and purchasing secondhand is the only way to get hold of it), the price for a used version is likely to skyrocket. 

The good news is that not all LEGO sets fetch a pretty penny on the secondhand market. But if you have your heart set on a particular kit, especially if it’s part of a popular franchise, be prepared to pay more than the original price!

LEGO Series That Offer The Most Bang For The Buck

Knowing why LEGO is so expensive is one thing. Deciding whether you’re willing to pay big bucks for a set of toy building bricks is another.

LEGO Architecture

With that said, some LEGO products offer more value — at least from a parent’s perspective — than others. Here are some of the best LEGO sets worth investing in:

LEGO Technic

The LEGO Technic series is comprised of vehicle-themed sets that teach important STEM skills surrounding mechanical engineering. These sets are ideal for children 8 years and older.

You can learn more about STEMGeek’s favorite LEGO Technic sets by checking out our top 10 list!

LEGO Architecture

As the name suggests, the LEGO Architecture series is all about constructing big and impressive buildings. LEGO Architecture includes many famous buildings from around the world, including the Taj Mahal, Empire State Building, and London Skyline – as featured in our guide to architectural modeling sets.

LEGO Boost

LEGO Boost is a beginner-friendly robotics kit for children between ages 7 to 12 years old. It’s a great way to introduce kids to the basics of robotics, especially if they already have an interest in the LEGO brand as a whole.

LEGO Mindstorms

The LEGO Mindstorms collection is essentially the older sibling of LEGO Boost. This robotics kit is designed for ages 10 to 15. 

Not sure which LEGO robotics set is best for your needs? Our detailed comparison of LEGO Boost vs Mindstorms is sure to help!

LEGO Education

The LEGO Education series includes a variety of building sets designed to improve STEAM-related skills in children of all ages. There are several different types of kits featured in this series, so you should have no trouble finding something for the LEGO-enthusiast on your list.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are LEGOs so expensive now versus in the past?

LEGO sets are indeed more expensive than they were even a few decades ago. Take the LEGO Architecture series, for example, which features several sets with 1,000 pieces or more. 

LEGO sets of today also include many more individual bricks on average than the sets of the late-20th century. While whole sets are more costly, the price per brick is significantly cheaper (about $.40 each in 1985 compared to about $.12 today).

Can you buy LEGOs in bulk?

Yes! For those uninterested in completing specific sets, buying LEGO bricks in bulk is often the most economical option.

LEGO offers several box sets containing a variety of basic styles and colors of bricks. These are perfect for children or adults looking to come up with LEGO creations of their own.

For even greater savings, you can also purchase LEGOs in bulk secondhand. These bricks are often sold by the pound — depending on the retailer, there’s no guarantee what type or number of bricks you’ll receive. But you can quickly build a collection of LEGOs without spending a small fortune!

How often does LEGO retire sets?

There is no set timeline with which LEGO retires its sets, though the turnaround is fairly quick. Most sets are available for at least one year before being retired. Two years seems to be the average amount of time you can buy a set before LEGO discontinues it.

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