Saturday, October 15, 2016

Building a Lego Collection, without breaking the bank

If you have followed me on instagram, pinterest, facebook, this blog or even know anything at all about my family, my kids have two toy passions, Lego and dolls.  I asked them one time, if they could only take one type of toy with them anywhere we move, what would it be?  No surprise their answers were their Lego and dolls.  However, both of these passions, while they foster wonderful imaginations, can be quite costly if you are not careful.  Both are very popular, which jacks up the costs more than necessary, in my opinion.  But, you can get around this if you know what you are doing.   Yes, we do splurge at times, but I have tried to keep it down as much as possible.  Over the course of the next few posts, I hope to help you with this, especially with Christmas coming very soon.  So, lets talk Lego first!  And, when we talk, we will talk about all aspects of it from collecting to organizing to playing and learning.  Its how I roll, so here goes...............

(fun recent creation based on the newest Lego movie short - you can watch part 1 movie here and just keep going through all six parts on youtube)

We have ALOT of Lego.  With 8 avid collectors (notice that includes the parents), it adds up to thousands of pieces in the house, which adds up to alot of money spent if you were to do it all out of pocket at your local Lego or big box store.  However, we have been able to build our collection mostly on the cheap.  We have inherited 3 lego collections over the years, a friend of ours, my mother-in-laws, and my brothers.  That has made a large dent in getting us started.  So, if you know you had some as a kid or know of another family or even friend who has outgrown them and is willing to pass them along, take them up on it!  Another place we have gotten a ton of Lego is Goodwill.  My husband and I regularly frequent them sometimes just looking for Lego.  And, we've gotten great bargains.  Allow me to share our most favorite find.  The kids call it my "baby."

Welcome to Miniopolis, our town that was from Goodwill (with the exception to Central Park, upper center of pic).  These building are regularly $150 dollars a piece.  On a random trip into Goodwill to look for Lego, I found 2 large bags of Lego pieces totally $25.  I raced out the door, grinning from ear to ear over my find.  Little did I know until I got back home what we really had.  My children starting browsing through them when they realized it was pieces from the Lego creator advanced building sets (yes, they know the catalog that well).  After a week or so, they knew what buildings we had, and, together, we went browsing the 'net for free building instruction manuals.  Over the course of several months, all were rebuilt and we found we had 5 buildings.   This has been our best find to date!  The kids love it and have been featured it in many stopmotion movies.   We have added a house and chapel so far.  The house we purchased from the Lego store, but the chapel was built by my daughter with our current bricks.

(lego chapel)

Another source of Lego at a discount is Craiglist or a yard sale.  We have bought a couple of buckets of Lego that way and its a great way to build up cheaply.   Amazon, Toys R Us, and Target run great deals on them as well.  Sometimes Toys R Us and Target have freebies that come along with their sales, so be on the lookout.  Getting a Lego VIP card is handy as well, though this is not the most inexpensive way to build up.  But, you do get points and sometimes double points for your purchases at their store and online and they do add up to additional savings.  Ebay is another source for great Lego, but be careful.  Do your homework.  Knock off bricks are all over, some good and some not at all.  (This goes for stuff sold on Amazon as well) So read the reviews and do your homework.  We have gotten a lot of great stuff there, though.   Last, but not least, every month, Lego has a free build.  We have been faithful attenders of these for several years now.  

If you want to get started with some good bricks, the Lego classic sets are a great way to start.  They have the basic colors and can get you started building anything quick.  If you want to add some great minifigures, the current Lego park (pictured above in Miniopolis) is the bomb!  It comes with many minifigures some that are very uinique like the baby and the handicapped boy.  It is by far my favorite set to date just for its unique figures.  

Now, you that you have your collection, let's talk how to keep them organized.  And, that took us a couple of years to figure out what works the best and to get it all together.

After looking all over the internet for ideas for how to organize, this is the best and least expensive way to store our family collection of Lego.  You can purchase these plastic organizers for a reasonable cost.  I made my own labels that I adhered with contact paper to the front of each drawer.   If you would like to use what I made, here is a link to a free word document that you can use!  You should be able to adjust it however works best for your drawers.   We've had them organized this way for about 5 years.  And, it has worked quite well.  I have seen similar ideas based on using the bins found at Ikea.  But I found these cheaper and it works just as well.

For each child's own personal collection, we have just used miniature plastic drawers and smaller plastic bins.  These have worked well while they are young since they are not overly concerned with organization.   My oldest son is a Lego stopmotion maker and needed his personal Lego organized even better which I will share in detail next post when we talk about taking Lego even further.

For the instruction manuals, we've used large notebooks and clear plastic page protectors.  In the pictures above, you see my oldest son's.  He has organized each type of Lego in a separate clear page protector.  If a certain collection doesn't all fit in one sleeve, he just adds another.  His collection is so large, he will be starting another notebook soon.  

(love this pic - shows the older they get the neater their area becomes - 
can you guess whose spot is whose)

Lastly for today, I want to share our play area for Lego.  It started as a train table that my husband built.  Once they outgrew that, I flipped over the table wood and repainted it to be a Lego town.  I don't know how well you can see in this picture, but it is painted 4 different colors.  The kids asked for me to add a pool, a pond, and a park which at the time I painted it worked out well for town play, but it stays mostly covered these days.  :)  There is also a road all the way around.  It has worked well for them and has held up well.  My oldest son has his own work place and I will share that next time.

I hope this will inspire you and give you some good ideas for building and organizing your lego collection.  Next week we will talk about how we use them in school, how to use them to do cool things, and share loads of fun Lego books.  Do you have anything further you would like to add to this?  I am always looking for new ideas.  So, please share.  Happy collecting!

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