Since I don't live next to a LEGO store I don't often have the opportunity to stand in front of a Pick A Brick Wall. Recently, I filled my large PAB cup for the second time. When I browsed the wall, I found several pieces that fit into my current (or near future) projects. I was aiming for small parts, since the price on Bricklink would be at least some cents each.

Here comes the question: I needed some trans-clear 1x2x2 panels. I took some, walked back and forth, put some more into the cup, and ended up with 43 (!) of them. But I was sure that I only had 10, maybe 15. Am I crazy? How can I so dramatically underestimate the number of those panels? Do you know in advance what to put into the cup? What is your PAB cup strategy?

The picture shows the filled cup. PAB cup, larfe

And this is the pile of the mentioned panels: just a few panels

  • Thank you for the inspiring answers. Unfortunately, I can only accept one.
    – Metalbeard
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 22:55

5 Answers 5


My Pick-A-Brick Strategy:

  1. Are you interested in building this months' model? If so you should pick out all of the parts for that first. Put the big pieces in your cup now. Hold the tiny pieces until you're ready to fill in gaps.
  2. Put things together that probably belong together like turntables. This is key if you don't want to end up with more of one half than the other. turntable
  3. Stack blocks and other things that stack naturally. This can take a lot of time while you're in the LEGO store, but it is worth it if you are trying to squeeze all of the wasted air out of your cup. Having things stacked from the store will also make it easier to sort out your cup when you get home.
  4. Fill in the remaining spaces with small things like LEGO "dots". The dots are great for filling in air gaps in your cup. You will almost always find some colored dot on the wall. And they also come in handy when building. dot
  5. Ask for your lid to be taped so it will make it home without spilling all over the car, bus or train.
  6. It is good to decorate your cup while you've got it at home so there's no confusion at the store about whether your brought the cup from home or not. Sharpies or other permanents markers will personalize your cup for a few years.

Good luck!


You aren't crazy. In my experience, the PaB wall ends up having only a handful of parts that I'm really interested in, so I end up getting a lot of certain parts.

I find myself walking back and forth adding the same parts that I know I already have a bunch of just because nothing else looks particularly interesting to me.

Several years ago, I filled up a small PaB cup and ended up with 62 of those trans-clear panels, so you're at least doing better than me. :)



In terms of strategy, I've found it helpful to check the inventories in advance and decide if it's going to be worth having a cup full of those parts. At this point, I usually don't fill up a cup unless there is a part that I don't mind having a whole lot of (e.g. 1x2 bricks in a rarer color that I like). If I fill up a cup it tends to look more like this now:



  • 1
    First of all, thank you for resolving my doubts about my mental state :) I looked up the few sources to get information about the content of a brick wall in advance. The quality varies piece by piece, so I will bring my cup whenever I make a trip that brings me close to a LEGO store. I could really try stacking bricks next time. You seem to have optimised the technique.
    – Metalbeard
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 9:46

Everyone has different strategies because everyone builds different things. Last time I went to the lego store I got almost all of the same color(orange) because I wanted to make a decoration in my room. I also picked up some parts I thought I would use in cars. Other people might be thrilled to see pieces that can be helpful in landscaping. One thing that is consistent is the fact that the smaller the piece the less air you buy. If you can see a gap I would put studs to fill the gap to make the most out of your cup. Also, the store I go to in Castleton will tape your cup shut if it is over flowing(don't be rude and make it way above the brim). The divot in the top of your cup isn't just for decoration. It can hold a little bit of bricks. I personally never plan my visit to the Lego store around the PaB wall, but sometimes you can score a deal, especially since there isn't shipping like bricklink or ebay.


My strategy usually goes something like this:

  1. Bring a pick-a-brick cup from before! If you ask, they may give you a $.50 discount on the price for not taking a new cup (at least in some US stores).
  2. Set aside what I need before I put anything in the cup.
  3. Determine how to assemble them into small-ish structure that will fit in the cup.
  4. Find some little filler pieces that can go in between the assembled chunks.
  5. Make sure the bottom ring is full, as the larger pieces will not go down that far.
  6. Start layering up the levels of structures and fill in the spaces between with filler pieces. Because the cup gets wider at the top, assembled structures usually fit best in layers.
  7. When you get to the top, build something to fit in the top of the can, and put the lid on.
  8. If the lid doesn't fully snap into place, they usually don't mind and will tape the lid on.

Tip: If you want to buy multiple cups, you can empty the first one out into a bag. Then you can reuse the cup and get the $.50 discount again. Or if you have them, just bring multiple cups (may be store dependant).

  • 3
    Thank you for the tips. One interesting observation : Handling of the cups seems to depend on the country. In Germany, we get a bar code on the cup. The code is scanned at every visit in the store, VIP points automatically go to the associated LEGO id. And we can have the reduced price only once a day.
    – Metalbeard
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 9:56
  • 1
    There aren't any barcodes like that on the cups in the US.
    – chicks
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 15:13

They always have more pieces than displayed. Ask for Pick a Brick selection baseplate. They will have all available pieces attached to a 32x32 baseplate in the back. Staff can bring you pieces you need and aren't displayed on the wall. I recently got a cup full of light grey 1x2 masonry bricks perfect for the castle Im building.

  • This is true. When I asked, they showed me a bucket full of previous PAB items.
    – Metalbeard
    Commented May 9, 2019 at 9:33

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