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There's a set I want that is currently available on eBay for around 8-10 x its original price.

I was wondering if I could just buy every piece needed and if you guys thought that made any sense whatsoever - be aware I'm expecting several 'you're dumb' responses :)

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  • 6
    This is not a dumb question at all and any "you're dumb" answers would likely get flagged and deleted. However, my answer would be that it really depends on the set. On average buying the set 2nd hand complete is cheaper than bricking them, but there are quite a bit of exceptions. So you might want to specify which set you had in mind. Mar 2 at 13:07
  • It was 10182 and 10185, I have all of the modular buildings but these two, and my word they're spendy - thanks for coming back to me on this.
    – Chopper3
    Mar 2 at 14:00
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    Bricking those sets doesn't work very well, they'll highly sought and plenty of people try bricking them, hence the price of the pieces goes up to match the complete sets. Ofcourse, if you are willing to compromise, e.g. leave out minifigs, use alternative colors or use other alternative bricks for the more expensive ones, profit can be made... Mar 2 at 14:53
  • Thank you very much for your time to respond - I think you're right too, I'm glad I asked the question but I value everyone here's experience and will happily take your advice.
    – Chopper3
    Mar 2 at 15:43
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    Of course it can also bring the cost down if you already have some of the pieces. Like others have said, it really depends on the set (exclusive parts, availability, etc). Sometimes it's also cheaper to buy an incomplete set and source the others elsewhere than to buy a complete set. Mar 3 at 3:01
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It's a good idea, but it often doesn't work well in practice. In general, rare parts from rare sets are more expensive, so you will frequently spend more money buying all the parts for a set. As a classic example, let's look at the Airport Shuttle:

6399

This set is expensive on the secondary market, so it could be tempting to buy the parts for it instead of the complete set. However, many of the parts are very expensive individually. The motors and monorail track are specialized parts, relatively rare, and haven't been produced in 25 years, so they are priced accordingly.

Perhaps the most egregious example of this is the single molded piece of plastic that covers the motor:

Monorail motor cover

That piece is currently $67 USD used on Bricklink.

These same economic factors apply to current sets as well, so it is often hard to save money buying the parts.

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  • Wow, that's expensive, thanks for your thoughts though, I appreciate it
    – Chopper3
    Mar 2 at 13:59
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    There are other advantages of course in that you remove things you don’t need: instructions (most are available online), original packaging, minifigures you might not need. You might find that you only want part of a set or you’d like to swap some pieces or colours to save money or because you prefer it that way.
    – Ambo100
    Mar 2 at 15:26
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    As an example: I decided to BrickLink the Modular Town Hall last year. I figured I had quite some parts in my collection, so I hoped to spend $200 on the remaining parts for a set that costs $400-$500 used complete on EBay. I could have met that target if I was willing to make some compromises (e.g. no instructions or minifigs, some color substitutions) but ended up going for an exact match. I was lucky to find 2x Plate 6x24 in LBG from two different sellers for $40 shipped each (There are currently NO North American sellers), but my total ended up being a tad over $400 all-in .. same as EBay.
    – Phil B.
    Mar 2 at 16:11
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    Another example. I've always wanted engine from 10219 set, but wasn't interested in cars. Prices are exorbitant even for used sets and there's not that much of them for sale in Europe. So I've ended up studying the model and after making some substitutions it ended up quite inexpensive. Even managed to grab incomplete sticker sheets with needed stickers (and some extra) for cheap.
    – Alex
    Mar 2 at 16:56
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    Some sets that are cheap to bricklink are the retired architecture sets like the Marina Bay Sands (21021) and the Sungnyemun Gate (21016). Those sets do not contain any special pieces besides their name tiles, which you can print on a tile yourself. Mar 3 at 9:36
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It really depends on the size of the set (the smaller the better I have found out) Also, you do not want to buy it if it has a lot of minifigures, Because that is what usually makes the price so high, besides its rarity. Finally, you want to make sure that you have the sticker sheets, though those can be found pretty cheap on bricklink or brickowl.

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  • Cheap sticker sheets for sought after sets? Of course, this depends on your income and ability to spend some hefty cash. But for general public stickers are as expensive (and hard to get) as rare elements.
    – Alex
    Mar 9 at 16:18

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