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The Ultimate LEGO® Collection: Building Your First Set

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Published: 3 July, 2023
Updated: July 14, 2023
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LEGO® sets have been a cornerstone of childhood for many generations. The delightful interlocking bricks have been encouraging imagination and creativity since the 1930s. But it’s not just child’s play; LEGO® collecting has evolved into an exciting and rewarding hobby for adults. This world has everything from rarity hunting to the joy of intricate builds. This article is a definitive guide to embarking on your journey through the enchanting realms of LEGO® collecting.

The Fascination Behind Collecting LEGO® Sets

Collecting LEGO® sets offers a rich tapestry of experiences and rewards that go well beyond the accumulation of colorful bricks. Let’s delve into the multiple facets that make this hobby so captivating.

1. Nostalgia

For many collectors, LEGO® sets are reminiscent of a simpler time. The bricks and builds evoke memories of childhood where imagination knew no bounds.

Childhood Revisited

Collecting sets once owned or coveted in one’s youth provides a tangible connection to the past.

Historical Eras

Some collectors are drawn to sets representing different eras, such as the Medieval or Pirate series, offering a sense of time travel and historical exploration.

Pop Culture

LEGO® has various sets based on classic movies and TV shows. For many, these sets are not just toys but a connection to the stories they love.

2. Artistic Expression

LEGO® sets can be astonishingly detailed and intricate, often resembling works of art.

Architectural Marvels

The LEGO® Architecture series, for example, allows builders to recreate famous landmarks. These sets require precision and offer a satisfying challenge to those who appreciate architecture.

Custom Creations

Some collectors use LEGO® as a medium for their artistic expression, creating custom designs and models that are incredibly detailed and imaginative.

3. Investment Potential

Believe it or not, LEGO® can be a form of investment. Some sets have been known to appreciate in value substantially.

Rare and Retired Sets

Sets no longer in production, especially if they were popular or had a limited run, can become highly sought after.

Mint Condition

Collectors who maintain sets in pristine condition, with original packaging, can sometimes sell them for many times the original price.

4. Educational Value

LEGO® is not just about entertainment; it’s a learning tool.

Science and Engineering

The Technic series, for example, teaches complex mechanical concepts through building.

History and Culture

Sets based on historical events or different cultures can be educational, making learning fun and interactive.

Problem-solving Skills

Building complex sets can improve cognitive skills, attention to detail, and patience.

5. Community

One of the most enriching aspects of LEGO® collecting is the community.

Shared Passion

Collectors find friends, share tips, trade sets, and discuss their builds with like-minded individuals.

Events and Conventions

The LEGO® community often gathers at conventions, where collectors can see large-scale builds, new set reveals, and connect in person.

Online Forums and Groups

Online collectors from around the world can connect, regardless of location.

Tips for Beginner Collectors

Embarking on your journey into the vast world of LEGO® collecting can be both thrilling and overwhelming. Here are some detailed tips to ensure that your experience is both rewarding and sustainable.

1. Establish a Focus

There are countless LEGO® themes and series to choose from. Here’s how to establish a focus:

Personal Interests

What are you passionate about? Space, history, architecture, movies? LEGO® has something for everyone.

LEGO® Themes

Explore various LEGO® themes like Star Wars, City, Friends, Ninjago, and more. Decide if you want to focus on one or more themes.

Build Complexity

Consider what level of complexity you enjoy. Are you up for challenging builds, or do you prefer simpler sets?

2. Set a Budget

Setting a budget is essential to ensure your hobby remains enjoyable and not become a financial strain.

Start Small

If you’re new to collecting, start with smaller sets and gradually move on to larger ones as your budget allows.

Budgeting Apps

Use budgeting apps or dedicated savings accounts to allocate funds for your hobby.

Look for Deals

Keep an eye out for sales, discounts, and deals to make the most of your budget.

3. Research

Being well-informed is critical to making good decisions as a collector.

Upcoming Releases

Stay up to date on new sets that are about to hit the market.

Retired Sets

Research which sets are retired or about to be retired as they may become valuable.

Price Trends

Monitor price trends. Sites like BrickPicker can help.

4. Prioritize Quality

The condition of the sets is vital, especially if you consider them an investment.

Packaging and Instructions

Opt for sets with original packaging and instructions.

Inspect Used Sets

If buying used sets, inspect them for any missing pieces or damages.

Storage Conditions

Consider how the sets were stored; exposure to sunlight or moisture can degrade the quality.

5. Organization is Key

Having an organization system will make your collection more manageable and enjoyable.

Storage Solutions

Invest in good storage solutions to keep your sets in great condition.

Cataloging

Keep a catalog of your sets, categorizing by theme, size, or year of release.

Display

Plan how you want to display your collection. Consider investing in display shelves or cabinets.

6. Engage with the Community

The LEGO® community is rich and vibrant, and engaging with it can significantly enhance your experience.

Join Forums

Become a member of forums like Eurobricks or Brickset.

Social Media

Follow LEGO® groups on Facebook or Instagram.

Attend Conventions

Attend LEGO® conventions or local meet-ups if possible.

7. Enjoy the Journey

Remember that collecting is a marathon, not a sprint.

Savor Each Set

Take your time building each set and appreciate the process.

Celebrate Milestones

Celebrate when you complete a series or obtain a particularly rare set.

Share Your Passion

Share your achievements and joy with friends, family, or fellow collectors.

Tools for the Aspiring Collector

Building an impressive LEGO® collection goes beyond just buying sets; it requires care, display, and organization. Let’s take a closer look at each essential tool that can significantly enhance your collecting experience.

1. Storage Containers

Quality storage is paramount to preserving your LEGO® sets and pieces. Invest in airtight storage containers to protect your sets from dust, moisture, and environmental elements. It’s crucial to ensure that the containers are made from durable materials that will not crack easily.

For added protection, consider using containers with dividers so that pieces of a particular set or theme can be stored together without getting mixed up. This is especially important if you are into custom building, where pieces need to be easily accessible and organized.

2. Brick Separator

If you’ve ever tried to separate two flat LEGO® pieces, you know the struggle. A brick separator is an invaluable tool that allows you to detach bricks without damaging them or your fingertips. This tool is specifically designed to help you remove plates and tiles that are tightly fitted together.

It can be particularly useful when deconstructing sets for storage or when correcting mistakes during a build. Considering the relative low cost of a brick separator compared to the price of some sets, it’s a no-brainer addition to your toolkit.

3. Display Shelves

Displaying your completed sets is one of the great joys of LEGO® collecting. Investing in quality shelves is essential for a stunning display. Consider shelves with glass doors to reduce dust accumulation and to protect your sets from accidental bumps.

Additionally, adjustable shelving units can be beneficial so that you can alter the spacing between shelves to accommodate sets of different heights. Choose a shelving unit that complements the decor of the room and enhances the aesthetics of your collection.

4. Lighting Kits

Lighting can dramatically enhance the visual appeal of your LEGO® sets. Custom lighting kits are available that are specifically designed for various LEGO® sets. These kits usually include LED lights and wiring that can be integrated into your builds, illuminating the interiors of buildings, vehicle headlights, or street lights in a cityscape.

Some kits come with remote controls that allow you to change the color or pattern of the lights. Investing in lighting can transform your collection into a truly mesmerizing display, especially in dim lighting conditions.

5. Price Guide and Checklist

Being informed is vital in LEGO® collecting, especially if you are treating it as an investment. Resources like the BrickPicker Price Guide are invaluable for keeping track of market trends and the value of sets. It’s also wise to maintain a checklist of sets, especially if you are focusing on a particular theme or series. There are apps and software specifically designed for LEGO® collectors, which can help you catalog your collection, create wishlists, and monitor prices.

A Springboard for Your Collection

Starting a LEGO® collection can be a daunting task, especially with so many sets available. If you’re looking for sets that can serve as a robust foundation for your collection, here are some options that offer not just a fantastic build experience but also a sense of accomplishment and display worthiness.

LEGO® Creator Expert Modular Buildings Series

For those interested in urban landscapes and architecture, the LEGO® Creator Expert Modular Buildings Series is an excellent starting point. This range offers detailed buildings that can connect to create an entire street. Each set in this series represents a different type of building, such as a corner café, police station, or bookstore. Collecting these over time can lead to the creation of a bustling LEGO® town. It’s perfect for long-term collecting and offers endless possibilities for customization and expansion.

1. LEGO® Cafe Corner (10182)

Set Number: 10182
Theme: Creator Expert Modular Buildings
Year Released: 2007
No. of Pieces: 2,056
RRP: $139.99 USD

The LEGO® Cafe Corner was the first set in the LEGO® Creator Expert Modular Buildings series. This set allowed LEGO® enthusiasts to create a detailed, three-story cafe corner building. It was designed with the adult builder in mind and became a beloved set for its architectural details and the innovative modular building style, which allowed for easy access to the detailed interior.

2. LEGO® Market Street (10190)

Set Number: 10190
Theme: Creator Expert Modular Buildings
Year Released: 2007
No. of Pieces: 1,248
RRP: $89.99 USD

LEGO® Market Street is the second set in the Modular Buildings series. This set features a multi-story building with a market on the ground floor and living quarters above. It offers a different architectural style compared to the Cafe Corner and adds diversity to the street scene created by combining multiple modular buildings. The Market Street set is particularly valued for its unique blue and white color scheme.

3. LEGO® Green Grocer (10185)

Set Number: 10185
Theme: Creator Expert Modular Buildings
Year Released: 2008
No. of Pieces: 2,352
RRP: $149.99 USD

The LEGO® Green Grocer is an iconic addition to the Modular Buildings series. With its classic green facade, this set replicates a grocery store along with apartment units. The intricate details such as the fire escape, rooftop access, and the fully stocked shelves inside the grocery store make it a standout model for collectors and fans of urban architecture.

4. LEGO® Fire Brigade (10197)

Set Number: 10197
Theme: Creator Expert Modular Buildings
Year Released: 2009
No. of Pieces: 2,231
RRP: $149.99 USD

LEGO® Fire Brigade is a tribute to fire stations of the 1930s. This set features a detailed fire station building with garage doors that open, a fireman’s pole, and a bell tower. The brick-built details, like the station number and the fire truck, make this set a rich and rewarding build that has become a collector’s favorite.

5. LEGO® Grand Emporium (10211)

Set Number: 10211
Theme: Creator Expert Modular Buildings
Year Released: 2010
No. of Pieces: 2,182
RRP: $149.99 USD

The LEGO® Grand Emporium brings the grandeur of a department store to the Modular Buildings series. This three-story building features revolving doors, an escalator, and beautifully detailed window displays. It’s a perfect set to expand the cityscape and adds a commercial element to the street scene.

6. LEGO® Pet Shop (10218)

Set Number: 10218
Theme: Creator Expert Modular Buildings
Year Released: 2011
No. of Pieces: 2,032
RRP: $149.99 USD

LEGO® Pet Shop is a charming addition to the Modular Buildings series. This set includes two buildings: a pet shop and a townhouse. With its detailed interiors including a pet shop on the ground floor, apartments above, and a variety of animals and minifigures, this set captures the essence of a quaint urban street.

7. LEGO® Town Hall (10224)

Set Number: 10224
Theme: Creator Expert Modular Buildings
Year Released: 2012
No. of Pieces: 2,766
RRP: $199.99 USD

LEGO® Town Hall is an imposing and elegant set that represents the civic heart of a LEGO® city. With its tall tower, working elevator, and detailed interiors including a mayor’s office, secretary’s office, and a wedding hall, this set is the largest in the series to date and an exquisite example of architectural design.

8. LEGO® Palace Cinema (10232)

Set Number: 10232
Theme: Creator Expert Modular Buildings
Year Released: 2013
No. of Pieces: 2,194
RRP: $149.99 USD

The LEGO® Palace Cinema is a throwback to the golden age of Hollywood. The set captures the essence of a classic movie theater, complete with a red carpet, grand staircase, and cinema screen. The movie posters and cinema-related details are the cherries on top for this wonderfully nostalgic set.

9. LEGO® Parisian Restaurant (10243)

Set Number: 10243
Theme: Creator Expert Modular Buildings
Year Released: 2014
No. of Pieces: 2,469
RRP: $159.99 USD

The LEGO® Parisian Restaurant is a romantic and intricately detailed set that brings a touch of Paris to the Modular Buildings series. With a fully-stocked kitchen, dining areas, and a quaint apartment, this set captures the charming atmosphere of a French restaurant. The set’s external details, like the vines and balcony, are particularly impressive.

10. LEGO® Detective’s Office (10246)

Set Number: 10246
Theme: Creator Expert Modular Buildings
Year Released: 2015
No. of Pieces: 2,262
RRP: $159.99 USD

LEGO® Detective’s Office brings a touch of mystery and noir to the Modular Buildings series. This set features a detective’s office, barbershop, pool hall, and an apartment. The story-driven details such as the hidden compartments and clues make this set a fun build and an engaging addition to the series.

11. LEGO® Brick Bank (10251)

Set Number: 10251
Theme: Creator Expert Modular Buildings
Year Released: 2016
No. of Pieces: 2,380
RRP: $169.99 USD

The LEGO® Brick Bank is an elaborate and ornate addition to the series, with an old-style bank and an adjoining laundromat. The vault, teller’s counter, chandelier, and secret access points make this set a detailed and engaging representation of a classic financial institution.

12. LEGO® Assembly Square (10255)

Set Number: 10255
Theme: Creator Expert Modular Buildings
Year Released: 2017
No. of Pieces: 4,002
RRP: $279.99 USD

LEGO® Assembly Square is a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Modular Buildings series. It’s the most expansive set in the series and features a variety of buildings including a bakery, café, florist, and photography studio. This set is packed with details and pays homage to elements from previous sets in the series.

13. LEGO® Downtown Diner (10260)

Set Number: 10260
Theme: Creator Expert Modular Buildings
Year Released: 2018
No. of Pieces: 2,480
RRP: $169.99 USD

The LEGO® Downtown Diner transports you back to the 1950s with its retro American diner style. The set includes a diner, gym, and recording studio. With its jukebox, red booth seating, and vintage pink car, this set captures the nostalgic spirit of an era gone by.

14. LEGO® Corner Garage (10264)

Set Number: 10264
Theme: Creator Expert Modular Buildings
Year Released: 2019
No. of Pieces: 2,569
RRP: $199.99 USD

The LEGO® Corner Garage is a tribute to the classic corner service stations of the mid-20th century. With a working vehicle lift, gas pump, and a tow truck, this set captures the everyday life of a bustling community garage. Additionally, the set features an animal clinic and an apartment.

15. LEGO® Bookshop (10270)

Set Number: 10270
Theme: Creator Expert Modular Buildings
Year Released: 2020
No. of Pieces: 2,504
RRP: $179.99 USD

The LEGO® Bookshop is a cozy addition to the series, featuring a bookshop and an adjoining townhouse. The set captures the charm of a quaint street, with detailed interiors, a birch tree, and a bookshop complete with shelves, a reading nook, and a basement.

16. LEGO® Police Station (10278)

Set Number: 10278
Theme: Creator Expert Modular Buildings
Year Released: 2021
No. of Pieces: 2,923
RRP: $199.99 USD

The LEGO® Police Station is a detailed and elaborate set representing a classic police station. With a jail cell, evidence locker, and interrogation room, this set brings the action and drama of police work to life. The adjoining donut shop and newsstand add a touch of urban life to this set.

17. LEGO® Star Wars Millennium Falcon (75192)

Set Number: 75192
Theme: Star Wars (Ultimate Collector’s Series)
Year Released: 2017
No. of Pieces: 7,541
RRP: $799.99 USD

The Millennium Falcon is not just one of the most iconic ships in the Star Wars universe but also one of the most intricate and celebrated LEGO® sets ever produced. Set number 75192, in particular, is the ultimate Millennium Falcon set. With over 7,500 pieces, it’s a massive build and a true representation of LEGO® engineering. Owning this set is like owning a piece of both Star Wars and LEGO® history, and it’s sure to be a jewel in any collection.

18. LEGO® Technic Bugatti Chiron (42083)

Set Number: 42083
Theme: Technic
Year Released: 2018
No. of Pieces: 3,599
RRP: $349.99 USD

For car enthusiasts and fans of mechanical engineering, the LEGO® Technic Bugatti Chiron, set number 42083, is a must-have. Comprising over 3,500 pieces, this set is not just a model but an achievement in how closely it replicates the real Bugatti Chiron. The attention to detail, including the engine and the interior, is astounding. It’s a challenging build but deeply satisfying and a perfect conversation starter when displayed.

19. LEGO® Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle (71043)

Set Number: 71043
Theme: Harry Potter
Year Released: 2018
No. of Pieces: 6,020
RRP: $399.99 USD

For lovers of magic, fantasy, and the Harry Potter series, the LEGO® Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle, set number 71043, is a dream come true. This massive set captures the majesty of Hogwarts with impeccable attention to detail. With over 6,000 pieces, it features not just the castle but also the surrounding grounds and various iconic rooms and locations from the Harry Potter series. It’s like building a piece of cinematic and literary history.

20. LEGO® Ideas NASA Apollo Saturn V (21309)

Set Number: 21309
Theme: Ideas
Year Released: 2017
No. of Pieces: 1,969
RRP: $119.99 USD

For those inspired by space exploration, the LEGO® Ideas NASA Apollo Saturn V set, numbered 21309, is a must. This set allows you to build a highly detailed model of the Saturn V, the rocket that took humans to the moon. With over 1,900 pieces, it’s both an educational and inspiring build. It’s a tribute to one of humankind’s greatest achievements and a fantastic addition to any collection, especially for those interested in science and space.

The LEGO® Collectors Community

The LEGO® collectors community is not just about collecting bricks; it’s a thriving ecosystem of creativity, shared passions, and camaraderie. It’s one of the most welcoming and active hobbyist groups you can find. Here, we will explore various facets of the LEGO® collectors community and how you can get involved.

Forums

Online forums are an excellent place for collectors to discuss, trade, and share information about LEGO®. Some popular forums include:

Brickset

This is a comprehensive LEGO® database and community platform. You can catalog your sets, write reviews, and engage in forums with an extensive archive of discussions on just about everything LEGO®.

Eurobricks

It is known for its international membership and is an excellent place to engage with enthusiasts from around the world. From in-depth reviews to build contests, Eurobricks is teeming with activity.

LEGO® Subreddit

Reddit has a dedicated LEGO® subreddit (/r/lego) where users share pictures of their builds, discuss new releases, and help each other with building techniques or identifying sets.

Social Media Groups

Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram have numerous dedicated LEGO® collector groups.

Facebook Groups

There are groups for general collectors, as well as those focusing on specific themes. It’s a great place to share photos of your collection, get advice, and sometimes trade or sell sets.

Instagram

On Instagram, you can find an array of LEGO® collectors sharing their creations. It’s also a great platform for discovering custom builders who make bespoke creations. Using hashtags like #LEGO, #legocollector, or the specific set or theme you are interested in can help you connect with like-minded enthusiasts.

Conventions and Events

Conventions and events are fantastic venues for experiencing the LEGO® community in person.

BrickFair

Held in various locations in the United States, BrickFair is an expo where fans of all ages come together to showcase their creations, attend seminars and workshops, and meet other fans.

BrickCon

Similar to BrickFair, BrickCon is held annually in Seattle. It’s an event where adult fans showcase their custom creations. Besides displays, you’ll also find vendors selling sets, custom parts, and other merchandise.

Both of these events, along with other regional events, often offer exclusive sets and are perfect for meeting other collectors, seeing massive displays, and getting inspired by the creations of fellow enthusiasts.

Engaging with the LEGO® collectors community, be it online or in person, adds a social and dynamic aspect to what might otherwise be a solitary hobby. It opens up avenues for learning, sharing, and building friendships with those who share your passion. Whether you are a seasoned collector or just starting, immerse yourself in the community and allow it to enrich your LEGO® collecting journey.

More Info

Collecting LEGO® can be both an engaging hobby and a form of investment. Whether you’re new to collecting or have been amassing sets for years, you may have questions about various aspects of this hobby. Here are some frequently asked questions along with their answers:

1. Can I sell my collection later?

Yes, you can sell your LEGO® collection if you wish to do so. There are many platforms where you can list your sets for sale, including eBay, BrickLink, and Facebook Marketplace. When selling, it’s important to be transparent about the condition of the sets and provide clear pictures. You might also want to research the current market value to ensure you set a competitive price.

2. How do I ensure my sets retain their value?

To ensure that your LEGO® sets retain their value, it’s important to keep them in good condition. Here are some tips for doing so:

  • Keep Original Packaging: If possible, keep the original packaging and instructions, as this can significantly increase the value of the set.
  • Avoid Sunlight: Sunlight can cause discoloration, so store your sets in a place where they are not exposed to direct sunlight.
  • Prevent Dust and Moisture: Keep your sets in a dry environment and regularly dust them to prevent accumulation.
  • Handle with Care: When building or moving sets, handle them carefully to avoid damaging pieces.

3. Are there clubs or societies for LEGO® collectors?

Yes, there are many local and international clubs and societies for LEGO® collectors. One of the largest networks is the LEGO® Users Group Network (LUGNET). Additionally, many countries and regions have their own LEGO® Users Groups (LUGs). These groups often hold meetings, participate in events, and sometimes have special purchasing programs for members.

4. Is LEGO® collecting suitable for all age groups?

LEGO® collecting can be suitable for all ages, but it’s important to note that some sets are designed for older builders due to their complexity and the number of pieces. Always check the recommended age range on the box. For young children, LEGO® has specific lines like DUPLO® which are designed to be safe and suitable for small hands.

5. Can I combine LEGO® sets to create my own designs?

Absolutely! One of the greatest appeals of LEGO® is the limitless creativity it offers. You can combine pieces from various sets to create your own unique designs. The LEGO® community often refers to these custom creations as MOCs (My Own Creations), and sharing these designs is a popular aspect of the hobby.

6. How do I keep track of my collection?

There are several tools and websites you can use to catalog and keep track of your collection. Brickset and BrickLink, for instance, offer collection management features. There are also mobile apps specifically designed for LEGO® collectors, which all

Conclusion

Embarking on the journey of collecting LEGO® sets is a thrilling and deeply rewarding experience. Whether you’re drawn by nostalgia, the thrill of the hunt, or the sheer beauty of the creations, this is a hobby that can last a lifetime.

Customize Your Collection with Belle-Ve Bricks

For those looking to add a personal flair to their collection, Belle-Ve Bricks offers custom LEGO® sets and pieces that allow you to bring your imagination to life. Challenge yourself to create something uniquely yours. Visit Belle-Ve Bricks and start personalizing your collection today.

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Written by Matthew Mitchell
Hey, I am Matthew Mitchell and I am an AFOL from the UK. I have been fascinated by LEGO® since I was a child. My two children are in love with LEGO® and it's because of them that my interest continued to grow, this is how I fell in to the rabbit hole of MOCs (my own creation). 

With every new MOC I saw I became just a bit more addicted to the endless possibilities that LEGO® offers. This led me to creating Belle-Ve Bricks, a platform where talented designers can share their work with the world.

And where we can create together with you, custom models.
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