There is a lot of frustration out in the LEGO fan community about resellers. When collectors see a classic LEGO set at a vastly inflated price, that puts it beyond reach, it can be frustrating. The target of this frustration is often the resellers who are profiting from this long retired set. But do they deserve to be labelled as the bad guys?
At face value, it’s a simple argument. If someone buys a LEGO set to stash then sell in the future, they are depriving someone else of that set. This is a particularly irritating problem when a set due for retirement disappears from LEGO stores quicker because resellers gobble up the last stock. It’s probably the part of reseller behaviour that is the most irritating.
But aside from those soon to be retired sets, resellers buying it are not really depriving anyone. If a set is well stocked in supermarkets, toy shops and on websites around the world, does it matter if someone buys a dozen extra? LEGO churn out a lot of these things. The buyer looking for the set for themselves can just go and pick it up elsewhere if a reseller has cleared that store out.
Rather than just not be angry though, fans should actually be grateful that resellers are doing this. There has been an awful lot of new blood joining this hobby in the last five years or so, and thanks to a healthy secondary market those new fans can go on their marketplace website of choice and buy a set – brand new in sealed box – that has been retired. If it were not for the resellers, where would fans go for this?
Sure, retired sets are listed at a hugely inflated price on the RRP, but if a reseller has been using valuable storage space and had their money tied up for years in this thing, they are going to want a reasonable return. And if a number of them had not stashed the set, the price to buy it on the secondary market would be even higher. The reason sets such as UCS Millennium Falcon (10179) have climbed so much is because too few resellers stored one to sell later.
So LEGO fans could get out their pitchforks and blame the resellers. If they were somehow stopped from reselling, all it would actually do is take away an opportunity for fans to get their hands on a set that has been retired. If anyone is to blame, it is LEGO for having sets available for a limited time and then retiring them, or the toy industry for having an annual cycle of newness… resellers are responding to market demand.
Rather than blame and be frustrated about resellers, they should be acknowledged as an occasionally frustrating but vital part of the community. Never has there been an easier time to pick up any LEGO set from the past twenty years, and a savvy buyer can find that buying the right set at the right time is not as expensive as the headlines suggest.