Notoriously Expensive LEGO Prices Scale Linearly, Remain Constant Over Time

Jan 19 2017 -- 8:00 PM

If there's one big gripe common among brickheads, it's that the prices of LEGO sets are quite lofty (plus maybe not enough spaceships). But two disparate people interested in the plastique fantastique eschewed conjecture in favor of hard data, and found that LEGO prices scale linearly with piece count, and that on average, prices of sets have actually remained constant over the last couple of decades.

In a recent Reddit post published by user proxyformyrealname, a graph originally created and then posted to twitter by Ken Steif shows that the cost of a LEGO set increases linearly according to piece count. (Steif controls for both the theme of the set, and the year.)

Steif, who collected his data from (a major hub for the bric-a-brick world), found that "each additional piece adds $0.09 to the price of the set, on average." The idea that some sets having a far better price/piece ratio may be overblown (although perhaps not totally untrue). But while this may seem reasonable, it could still be that LEGO set prices have increased wildly over time, right? Not exactly.

In unrelated research by Andrew Sielen in 2013, it was found that (again, according to the average price for a LEGO set has actually remained roughly constant over the last 20 years. Sielen, whose research is absolutely superb in terms of rigor and presentation, notes that "From what our data shows, it seems that the notion that LEGO is increasing in price is false at least in regards to the last couple decades. Since around 2006, the average price of a piece of LEGO has remained relatively stable between 10 and 13 cents apiece."

When the reports are considered together, it seems that in regards to LEGO pricing, you can expect to pay $.009 for each extra piece a particular set has, and also expect that the average price of any particular set will remain constant over time (when adjusted for inflation). Licensed sets — Star Wars LEGO sets presumably being the most popular examples of this — do still appear to cost more than generic LEGO sets, however. So if you want to make sure you're paying the average price for some LEGO rather than above average, make sure to mix in plenty of City and Ninjango on your next shopping spree.

What do you think about LEGO's pricing? Give us all your brickheaded thoughts in the comments below!

Images: Wikimedia / Benjamin D. Esham