What should you invest in? A complicated question with many different answers. We can’t claim any real expertise in the area of smart investments. But now, a new study from the Higher School of Economics in Russia suggests a new kind of investment. An investment type we hadn’t heard about yet. But one we know a little more about. This investment? LEGO. According to these economists, LEGO offer more return on investment than “bonds, gold, and many collectible items, such as stamps or wines, yield.”
The more you know.
One of the authors of the study, Victoria Dobrynskaya, shares:
We are used to thinking that people buy such items as jewellery, antiques or artworks as an investment. However, there are other options, such as collectible toys. Tens of thousands of deals are made on the secondary LEGO market. Even taking into account the small prices of most sets, this is a huge market that is not well-known by traditional investors.
Not a well-known market to traditional investors. But certainly a well-known market to fans. How can LEGO sets make for such smarts investments, you ask? Well, according to the economists, several variables come into play. First, LEGO sets often get produced in limited quantities. Especially collectible LEGO sets that tie into pop cultural events. Second, the number of them available to purchase from a secondary seller remains low. The study shares, “many owners don’t see value in them (and lose or toss parts).” (The horror!) Alternatively, others do value them… And thus don’t want to part with them. (This we understand.)
Additionally, researchers speculate that over time LEGO become “valued as a classic sample or a nostalgic object.” Also, LEGO prices seem not to depend on the stock market. Finally, LEGOs have a low cost “in comparison to art, antiques, and cars.” This makes them “a reliable and accessible method of investment.”
Well, they certainly have our attention. But not all LEGO sets will perform the same.
According to a release from the Higher School of Economics:
Prices of small and very big sets grow faster than prices of medium-sized ones, probably because small sets often contain unique parts or figures, while big ones are produced in small quantities and are more attractive to adults. Prices of thematic sets dedicated to famous buildings, popular movies, or seasonal holidays tend to experience the highest growth on the secondary market (the most expensive ones include Millennium Falcon, Cafe on the Corner, Taj Mahal, Death Star II, and Imperial Star Destroyer). Another attractive category includes sets that were issued in limited editions or distributed at promotional events: rarity increases their value from the collectors’ perspective.
The study does caution, however, that returns on LEGO sets do vary quite intensely (returns ranging from -50% to +600% annually). Additionally, investment in LEGO becomes worthwhile “only in the long term (i.e., over three years) and incurs higher transaction costs (e.g., delivery and storage) than investment in financial securities.” Also, this LEGO research feels pretty new… But absolutely interesting.
And, of course, it takes the eye of a true fan to make smart investments in LEGO. Dobrynskaya shares “Not all sets are equally successful, and one must be a real LEGO fan to sort out the market nuances and see the investment potential in a particular set.” Definitely, something to keep in mind the next time we have a box of LEGO bricks in hand.