Trying to find an old LEGO set can feel like a treasure hunt. Most of them are not easy to access and, if accessible, they can be extremely expensive. In this article, we are going to give you several options for finding those old LEGO sets that seem to be always escaping from you. To find all the old LEGO sets you want, use a combination of these options or, in extreme cases, all these options.
eBay – The starting point in your journey
Your first stop when looking for the best old LEGO sets should always be eBay. eBay has a very good search engine that will easily help you get an idea of the availability and price of a certain set.
So, by going first to eBay, you will get an idea of whether the set you are looking for is easy to buy and also how much it costs. If a set is not available there, a great tip is to set a notification for that specific search term by making it a “Followed Searches”. This way, you will get notified if anyone puts something for sale that is related to that search term. This is a great way to find some excellent deals.
Bricklink – Get creative to find all the missing pieces
Once you have checked eBay, the next stop is Bricklink. For those of you that are not familiar with Bricklink, it is the biggest marketplace for anything related to LEGO and it has some really useful options that can help us in finding our LEGO set in creative and cheap ways.
If you want a video explaining this process, this one from Dr. Jake’s Very British Reviews is excellent.
The first step once you are inside Bricklink is to search for that old set in the search box. Now, be aware that, unlike eBay, Bricklink has a terrible search function. What that means is that if you make a typo or even put a space where there should be a hyphen, the search engine will come back with 0 results. If that happens, don’t despair. Just go through the title and make sure you have typed it correctly.
Once the search engine has given you the result back, you need to click in “Items for sale” and there you will be able to see the prices for the same set that you check first on eBay. Prices might be either cheaper or more expensive than on eBay. It really depends on the specific set. But, if the price is still too high or you don’t find any sets that ship to your address, here comes the magic trick.
Once you select the set, under “My Wanted List” you will see a clickable option that says “Part Out”. Click here and you will need to check some options such as if you want the minifigs, the box or the instructions. Once that is done, Bricklink will automatically show you all the parts that are needed in order to build that specific set. You just need to add them to a Wishlist.
Once they are in the Wishlist, you press the button that says “Buy All”. Bricklink will give you a bunch of options such as the location of the store or the currency that the stores accept.
What Bricklink will do now is to look in its database and find all the different stores/sellers that sell each specific part and come with the list of all the places where you can find all the pieces. Amazing, isn’t it?
Your best choice, if you don’t want to go crazy, is to press “Auto-Select” and let Bricklink select the way to collect the parts from the minimum amount of stores and at the lowest price possible.
After Bricklink has had enough time to calculate everything, it will give you a result with all the different parts and a price. This price will most of the time be lower than buying the set complete. However, this is not always the case, so be sure you compare this to the other prices you have seen.
For example, I did a quick search for the Taj Mahal and the price for this came at about double to what I could find on eBay.
The next step for you is to quickly scan through the different stores suggested and check the prices for the different pieces. Why is that? Well, in some cases, you will find some pieces that are extremely expensive and maybe it is because that color is not very common. You can choose to buy the brick in a different color and save a bunch of money. In other instances, you can just leave that specific part without buying and look for it separately.
Rebrickable – To find the LEGO set that you want, you might just need to look at what you already have
If the price is still too high or if you are struggling to make the Bricklink search tool work, you can head over Rebrickable. The focus of Rebrickable is not on buying old LEGO sets, but on reusing your current LEGO to build something new. This can come quite in handy if the price of the set you want to buy is still too high. Why? Because you might be able to reuse some of your collection and, as a result, only need to buy part of the set and not the whole thing.
What you need to do to find out is to let Rebrickable know all the sets that you currently own. As it has the inventory of all these sets, once you start looking for another set, it will tell you how much of that set you already have in your inventory.
The coolest part, though, is that then you can select “Build this Set” and it will bring you to the next window where it will show you all the missing parts you have. There, you go to “Buy Parts” and there you will find the option to add those parts to a Wishlist on Bricklink. Then you can go back to Bricklink and follow the procedure I explained before in order to find the best prices for the different parts.
But, as I mentioned before, you can also use Rebrickable if you are struggling with the search function in Bricklink. How can you do this? You can search for the set on Rebrickable and, upon finding the right set, simply select the option of “Add parts to Bricklink Wanted List”. This is a quick workaround to the terrible search engine that Bricklink currently has.
Alternative websites to find old sets
If you have not had any luck with the three steps above, there are other specialized resources online where you might find what you are looking for. Please note, though, that the three resources above are the biggest ones, so these alternatives are just for the odd set that somehow did not show up on the other ones. These are the best alternatives:
Catawiki, auction site with a LEGO expert
The first option is Catawiki, an auction site based in The Netherlands. This site was born to help collectors to keep track of their collections online. A few years after being founded, the website started offering weekly auctions on different categories such as art, classic cars, or watches.
Luckily, the also have a LEGO auction, which you can find following this link. There, their LEGO expert offers old sets. For what we could see when we checked, the prices tend to be better than in Bricklink and eBay, but the variety is obviously much lower.
The Plastic Brick, a good choice for complete sets
Another option you want to check is The Plastic Brick. This company specializes in used and out-of-production sets. According to their website, they are the biggest retailer on the field.
The added value of this company compared to Bricklink is, according to their website, threefold.
First, they check every LEGO set they receive. This way they make sure that everything is in acceptable condition, that all the pieces are present and that there are no non-LEGO brand pieces mixed in with the set.
Second, they take pictures of the sets, the instructions, and the box to show the condition in which it is being sold. This way the customers know exactly what they can expect and they avoid surprises that you can get with other online marketplaces such as Bricklink.
Third, they price the sets with the current market value in mind. They want their customers to buy there with the confidence that they are getting the set for a fair price. What we found when doing our own research on this is that the price is very similar to what you can find both in eBay and in Bricklink, a bit more expensive than the cheapest options there, but with the assurance that the set will be complete and that there is a company on the back of the product if a problem arises.
Brickowl, another resource worth checking
One last resource worth having a look at is Brickowl. This is another marketplace where people buy and sell anything related to LEGO, including old sets. This site was born in 2013 when the founders realized they could not fill the demand that there was for LEGO parts. So, they decided to create a marketplace that would allow other sellers to have a full storefront so they could also sell parts, minifigs, and sets.
There are fewer sellers here than in other places such as Bricklink, but it is worth having a look just in case. You might find here a hidden gem for a cheaper price as well.
Craigslist & Facebook MarketPlace – Surf these places to find hidden gems
With these four steps above, you will be able to find or reconstruct most of the old LEGO sets. However, there might be some which are simply not widely available and that have special pieces that are hard to find in other sets. Or, even with the steps above, if the set or the pieces are too rare, the price of the purchase might still be too high.
If any of the above is the case, then your next step is to surf through Craigslist & Facebook MarketPlace to find hidden gems. In our article “A Guide To Making Money Selling LEGOS”, we highlighted these as some of the best ways to find cheap used LEGO parts.
This is a good alternative to the previous options because the type of people that post here are very different from the people that will post on eBay or Bricklink. On eBay, you can still find some hidden gems but, if someone is selling their LEGO on Bricklink, it means that they are familiar with the value of LEGO so you will not get a great deal out of it.
However, the story changes on Craigslist & Facebook MarketPlace. In these places, you will find a lot of parents that are simply doing a clean-up and want to get rid of the toys that the children don’t use anymore. These parents are usually not familiar with how valuable the LEGO bricks are, so you can get them for a very low price.
The disadvantage of this method? All the great capabilities of the search function are not there and the chances of getting an incomplete set are higher. Also, since the inventory will be non-existent, this is not a great method if you are in the lookout for a specific piece.
But, if you want a specific set, by being patient and looking at these resources periodically, you might end up finding what you are looking for.
You could also combine this with Rebrickable. Rebrickable has a great function that is called “Suggested Sets”. So, if you know which set you want and you have already your own sets inserted, it will tell you which sets will help you get additional pieces that will help you increase the percentage of pieces from that set that you own. And you have the advantage of also having an additional set that you can also build.
Garage Sales & Flea Markets – The set you are looking for could be in your neighborhood
The last alternative is similar to Craigslist and Facebook MarketPlace. And this is Garage Sales & Flea Markets. Here, you will be able to get even better deals than in Craigslist and Facebook MarketPlace. Also, the chances of another savvy LEGO fan snatching the set away is less likely.
Another advantage of these two options is that you can check what the state of the bricks is and whether it looks like all the pieces will be there. It is really not an option to go through the whole set to make sure all pieces are there, but by seeing what they have you can get a good idea of how likely it is that you will have most pieces.
And with this last alternative, we have arrived at the end of this post. If you liked this article and would like to know a bit more about buying and selling LEGO, be sure to check “Why is LEGO so expensive? (And alternatives to consider)” & “A Guide To Making Money Selling LEGOS”.
If you are interested in any big Lego ideas, then check out this Lego Ideas book on Amazon.