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After a 20 year hiatus I picked up LEGO again as a hobby. I've been into the Trains lately and need bricks. I found a couple places to pick them up but they all suck for various reasons. The first was http://www.bricklink.com/ and I found their user interface confusing, clunky, and straight out of 1998. The other was Ebay, which is fine for most things, but it's still Ebay. I even bought a mystery box of 300, which was cool, but doesn't work when you need a specific brick in a specific color. The most efficient way I have found thus far is via Pick a Brick on the LEGO site but they don't have ALL the bricks available.

Does anyone have a more effective and efficient way to buy bricks?

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Are you more interested in buying specific quantities of specialized bricks, or buying specific common bricks in bulk? –  user23 Oct 26 '11 at 17:39
    
I'd say typically in 10 brick lots. –  craigmoliver Oct 26 '11 at 17:41
    
Joining a club might help. Doesn't TLG have a programme where they sell bricks in bulk to clubs? –  Kramii Oct 30 '11 at 9:47
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If Bricklink part numbers confuse you, use Peeron.com in conjunction. Enter the size of the brick and Peeron will give you pictures of all those parts as well as part number, colors available and an interface to Bricklink sellers. Peeron also has inventories for most Lego kits as well as build instructions. Those 2 websites together should solve most of your parts search issues. –  user2962 Sep 15 '13 at 12:36
    
Just linking a couple of other answers in: Any good alternatives to bricklink and How to minimize the number of merchants for a given set of bricks which have some useful tips on working with Bricklink. –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Jul 28 at 14:34

11 Answers 11

up vote 20 down vote accepted

First off, as you mentioned, Ebay is not the greatest place on the net to get bricks. As you seem to be aware of, it is difficult to get individual bricks from these individual sellers. Having to pay separate shipping from various buyers plus the unreasonable prices can really add up.

Then there's LEGO Shop. Here, you can buy LEGO bricks directly from the LEGO company. You can individually purchase bricks from Pick-A-Brick, or buy their currently advertised sets. The downside to this is that they obviously do not carry discontinued sets, the selection in Pick-A-Brick is limited, and the prices are unsatisfyingly high, making the bucks add up quickly. Shipping times can be pretty quick and cheap, that is, if they're not currently having any difficulties with their warehouse. If they are, then orders can be delayed by a large amount of time, which has happened to me twice. I once placed an order there which took nearly two months to arrive.

Then, there's Bricklink. You seem to be aware of this website. I like it very much. It is, in many people's opinions, the best source from which to acquire LEGO bricks. The prices are cheap, it carries almost every piece and set ever released, (even discontinued ones) the tools for finding bricks are useful, and most of the people there are pretty nice. The interface is quite useful, you just have to be familiar with it. Once you get used to it, I'm sure it won't seem so "clunky" to you. For detailed help, enter the chat room. The people there are very nice, and will be happy to you point you in the right direction. Shipping times vary depending on which area you buy from. Buying from within your country might generate shipping the speed of TLG on their best days. Bricklink, however, is much less likely to have technical difficulties as each order is just an individual seller sending something off to the post office, and has therefore generally been more reliable in my experience.

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There site may be clunky to me because I'm a web developer...it kind of makes me physically ill too. :-) –  craigmoliver Oct 26 '11 at 22:40
    
@craigmoliver Alright. Well, the interface shouldn't be too hard to get used to. It only took me about a month to settle into it. Again, the people in the chat room are very helpful. –  HaydenStudios Oct 26 '11 at 22:52
    
OK, I'm getting used to Bricklinks. It's quite spartan though. –  craigmoliver Nov 2 '11 at 20:06
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OK, Bricklink rules. I got used to it. –  craigmoliver Nov 18 '11 at 20:04
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@craigmoliver I don't like the colors. :) Luckily, I have a readability bookmarklet and the Decreased Productivity extension. –  muntoo Nov 19 '11 at 4:06

Bricklink really is the best place to get bricks you are looking for. Their site is a little confusing at first, but it works well once you get the hang of it. It also makes it pretty easy to find pieces you are looking for... if you know what it's called or how to describe it.

The hardest thing to get used to is what parts are called. So my suggestion is to find a seller with a large inventory, and just peruse it and figure out where parts of different types are located and what they're called on Bricklink.

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Another approach: browse to a set you are familiar with and look at the set inventory to learn what Bricklink calls those parts. –  Erik Olson Oct 26 '11 at 20:40

If you contact your closest LEGO store, they can sell you a 'case' of bricks for about $70, which will give you, I'm told, about 650 2x4 bricks, which is about $0.11 per brick. These are bricks that usually go into the pick-a-brick wall. You might be able to buy case by just walking into the store, but expect the manager to have to order the bricks, with a 4 week lead time.

I feel this approach is a nice complement to bricklink.com.

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Will try, thanks! –  craigmoliver Oct 31 '11 at 6:31

Set 6177. 650 basic bricks in 9 colors for $30. That's 4.6 cents a brick. Yes, most of the bricks are tinier than the standard 4X2 but still the best value by far. And they're new and available.

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I'll make a case for ebay:

Bulk lots of around 4-5 pounds often sell for around $7-8 per pound (or less), including shipping. I buy many of these lots, which I count and sort, and the average cost-per-piece has been about 2.5 cents.

If you are an ebay seller, you can relist the parts you don't want to keep. If a lot yields some scarce or desirable pieces you can sometimes even make your money back or clear a profit. This does require some time and knowledge about LEGO parts, and the ability to spot good lots from the sometimes blurry ebay photos.

Although many common parts sell for 1 or 2 cents each on Bricklink, the more desirable parts and colors are anywhere from 5 cents up to several dollars each - plus shipping. On average, you will pay less per piece with bulk lots from ebay.

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In my case, I have been able to make a small cash profit selling parts from bulk lots and have added about 15,000 pieces to my collection. Not the most efficient method, perhaps, but for cost-effectiveness you can't beat free. –  62Bricks Jul 17 '13 at 15:32

One more thing about BrickLink to make your shopping experience easier. Make sure you use the Wanted List feature. This is one of the most important part of BrickLink and a lot of new users completely miss it.

You can have one main Wanted List as well as additional Wanted Lists for your various projects. Once you add items to your wanted list from the main Catalog (you can add sets, parts, sticker-sheets, minifigs - anything in the Catalog), you can check which seller carries all or at least most of the items you want.

You can also narrow down your search by color, price, country, new/used, etc. It is really the most useful feature of BrickLink that will save you lots of time and money as you are shopping around.

Also, pay attention to the sellers' feedback and terms. But this is also the case on eBay. After you shop for a few months, you will see how incredible BL and the BL community are. BL is really a LEGO fan's dream. Don't think of the site as clunky. Think of it as retro. And retro can be very cool. Having said that, BL 2.0 is in the making already...(c:

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If you're looking for a Bricklink-style site with an updated interface and easier shopping experience, you should check out Brickowl.com. It started a few months back, but it's growing quickly. Hope this helps.

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Bricklink. I'd like to add that using software (MLcad, LeoCad, Bricksmith) to build the model or just compile a list of pieces you need there. Open it up in a program called BrickStore and you can then export directly out to your wanted list. This is very handy when using Bricklink. You can even look at price averages in the program and jump straight to other stores selling selected parts !

It's much faster than navigating around all the time - Take a look : )

Also don't worry the 'New' Bricklink will look alot easier on the eyes.

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Bricklink is useless when it comes to contact support though, much like Craigslist. You have a problem, no one cares. NO one really monitors it accept to hose people over. At least you can talk to real people at eBay, you get what you pay for... CL - free - so help is crap auto responses to issues. Bricklink never responds to buyer complaints about bad sellers, and they can leave a good buyer bad feedback and no one cares. Again, cheaper, so getting what you pay for. It's a stinky society in the end when it comes down to it because no one wants to take responsibility for their sites.

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There is an app that will help find combinations of Bricklink stores that provide all wanted parts at lowest price (not including shipping). You can read more about and download this app at http://buildingoutloud.com/brickficiency.php

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Brick owl seems to be a nice alternative as well. The interface is well designed and they have a feature built-in that allows you to find the best combo of stores for the parts in your wishlist, then add them all to your cart at once. It even gives you a total + shipping!

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