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I am running a middle school robotics club, and this year we are focusing on building a Great Ball Contraption. One problem I'm having is acquiring the balls. On Bricklink, the discontinued soccer balls are going for nearly $1 each, and I figure we'll need about 200.

Any ideas?

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    A quick search on Eurobricks says a lot of people just get bulk cheap 14mm plastic balls. – Raystafarian Feb 7 at 3:51
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    Do they have to be lego balls? Why wouldn't marbles or something else work? Those would be way cheaper and easy to acquire. – Noah Cristino Feb 8 at 21:13
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You should research if there is an RLUG (Recognized Lego users group) active near where you live. These are groups of LEGO fans for which the LEGO company provides various levels of support.

Often they have the means to buy LEGO directly from the LEGO company through the LUGBULK program. The program allows the members of the LUG to buy LEGO in bulk directly from the LEGO company itself at a discount rate.

I have in the past succeeded in purchasing a reasonable amount of soccer balls this way (among various other elements).

However, there is only a narrow time frame in which you are able to register for the program and it takes nearly a year until the lugbulk is delivered, sorted and sent to the various members. I'm not sure if the registration is still open or already closed. At least the final selection of items hasn't happened yet AFAIK, so perhaps your RLUG can still select the elements as a favor...

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    Registration for the current one closed just a few days ago. – Alexander O'Mara Feb 6 at 19:06
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    While LUGBULK seems a good option it takes quite some time before ordered items are delivered. It takes almost a year. So it is a good option for those planning way ahead. – Alex Feb 7 at 12:32
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On LEGO's customer service under "Bricks & Pieces" (not sure what it's called in english the page is in danish here, and I couldn't quickly see a way to change that) you can buy parts. If I search for part id 6261264 (an orange "BALL Ø14,2"), it "only" costs DKK 4.94 which is ~$0.76, quite a bit less than $1, and shipping is usually quite cheap from there, but I think there's a limit on 100 of each piece, so you might need to make more orders.

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I got them from here; https://pv-productions.com/product/lego-gbc-balls/ work perfect in my gbc modules. Also they have very cool glow in the dark gbc balls

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