Economists of the Higher School of Economics Victoria Dobrynskaya and Yulia Kishilova analysed secondary market prices of the world-famous LEGO toy construction sets released from 1987 to 2014.
Their research showed that the resale of unopened sets on average yielded a profit of 11 percent per year. However, this number varies depending on the size of the construction set and its series, and it may range from (-50) to up to 600 percent.
The most profitable sets were those consisting of up to 350 pieces. Their average profit margin exceeded 22 percent. The next most profitable sets were those consisting of 1,200-6,000 pieces. They yielded a profit of up to 12 percent on average. The least profitable were mid-sized LEGO sets, which yielded a profit of around 6.8-10 percent.
In terms of the product's various series, the most profitable was LEGO Ideas, released from 2010-2014. Owners who resold their LEGO Ideas sets made an average profit of up to 64 percent. Coming in second was LEGO Seasonal (2006-2014). Its average resale profit was 58 percent per year. Rounding out the top three was LEGO Super Heroes (2011-2014), which yielded an average resale profit of 51 percent. Meanwhile, investment in The Simpsons series (2014) turned out to be unprofitable, with collectors losing more than 3.5 percent annually on resale.
The top five most profitable LEGO construction sets included Darth Revan from the Star Wars series (yielding an average annual profit of 613 percent), the Elves' Workshop from the Seasonal series (with a profit margin of 590 percent), Seal's Little Rock from the Friends series (527 percent), TC-4 from the Star Wars series (502 percent), and Ice Skating (Seasonal; 425 percent). These were all released in 2014.
The researchers also evaluated the risks of similar investments and concluded that economic fluctuations and market volatility did not have a strong effect on the profitability of LEGO sets. Moreover, in comparison with other "collectable assets," such as pieces of art, precious stones and metals, and rare coins, investment in LEGO yields higher profits.
Explore further: Philips underlying 2018 profit higher after lighting sale
Victoria Dobrynskaya et al, LEGO - The Toy of Smart Investors, SSRN Electronic Journal (2018). DOI: 10.2139/ssrn.3291456