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A new study says investing in LEGOs is better than gold

This investment strategy is certainly more fun than traditional methods

Looking to diversify your portfolio? Traditional wisdom may tell you to invest your money in gold, artwork, antiques, or wine. But, according to a surprising new study, there’s a much more lucrative investment available: LEGOs. While you might think LEGOs for adults are purely for nostalgia, that’s not exactly true. Keep reading to learn why you should consider trading in your gold for the colorful bricks of your childhood.

City street scene made with LEGOs
Image used with permission by copyright holder

LEGOs are worth more than gold

A recent study published by the Research in International Business and Finance journal has put a serious spin on traditional investing advice. Economists at the Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Russia found that LEGOs provide a higher return on investment than most other investment alternatives.

Researchers examined primary sales data, online auction transactions, and the prices of more than 2,000 unopened LEGO sets from 1987 to 2015. They found that the market prices of retired LEGO sets, when sold on secondary marketplaces, grew by at least 11% annually. This is higher than the average returns for gold, large stocks, bonds, and other types of investments.

“We are used to thinking that people buy such items as jewelry, antiques, or artworks as an investment. However, there are other options, such as collectible toys,” Victoria Dobrynskaya, co-author of the study and a professor at HSE, says on the HSE website.

Smart investors can make thousands of dollars on the secondary toy market. “Even taking into account the small prices of most sets,” she continues, “this is a huge market that is not well-known by traditional investors.”

Pile of multi-colored LEGOs
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Why are LEGOs so valuable?

Researchers attribute the high ROI of this investment opportunity to a few different possibilities. They believe the reason people are willing to pay so much for these toys comes down to two main factors: rarity and nostalgia. LEGO sets are released in limited quantities, especially those that are based on films, books, and historic events. After these sets are retired, the number available on the secondary market is fairly small. Many owners of these sets either don’t see their value, donating them and losing parts, or value them highly and don’t wish to sell.

Lastly, the LEGO brand has amassed a massive fanbase over the years. The company has been selling toys since the 1960s. Over the decades, they’ve found a lot of adult fans who are nostalgic for older sets and willing to pay more for them.

What to know before investing

Like any investment, it’s crucial to do your research first. There are a few things to keep in mind before you start listing every LEGO brick sitting in your basement on eBay. Here’s what you should know to make your investment really count:

  • LEGO prices vary greatly on the secondary market and generally increase two to three years after retirement.
  • Returns range from -50% to +600% annually, so don’t assume every set will automatically make you rich.
  • Because of the nature of this investment and the fact that it can take a few years for a set’s value to increase, you’ll need to factor in transaction costs like delivery and storage when calculating the return.
  • The prices of small and very large sets grow faster than medium-sized ones.
  • Sets related to movies (especially Star Wars), famous buildings, and holidays see the largest growth in value, along with limited edition and promotional sets.

While selling LEGOs for adults may be a great investment, it’s not a market anyone can just jump into. “Despite the high profitability of LEGO sets on the secondary market in general, not all sets are equally successful,” says Dobrynskaya. “One must be a real LEGO fan to sort out the market nuances and see the investment potential in a particular set.” But for all of the LEGO fans and collectors out there, your hobby may be worth more than gold.

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Shannon Cooper
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