There are lots of ways to purchase LEGO. Almost any store that carries toys will have various LEGO sets, from WalMart and Target and Toys ‘R’ Us, to local hobby stores and, of course, the official LEGO stores (which, by the way, are scattered all too thinly across the country). You can also buy through the LEGO.com website, through Amazon, and through E-Bay, where sellers offer brand-new still-in-the-sealed box sets as well as used sets and miscellaneous bricks. There are websites devoted strictly to the sale of LEGO by-the-brick, such as http://www.brickset.com and http://www.bricklink.com.
You can sometimes get lucky and find LEGO at yard sales, or hear of someone who’s getting rid of their old sets. I know people who’ve made great hauls through craigslist, buying bricks by the pound. You can locate old instruction manuals online, and pretty much any specific set or individual brick you’re looking for can be found – for a price.
I pretty much do all my buying through LEGO.com, Amazon, or the LEGO store itself. Going to the LEGO store is a big deal. For one thing, it’s an hour’s drive, to a shopping mall I never otherwise frequent. And then, no matter what I’ve told myself that the purchases should be limited to, once I get in there, it can be a little overwhelming. (I have the same problem in a Barnes & Noble – big bookworm here.) The store walls are filled with shelves of box after box of sets. They have a ‘ribbon’ of displays (mostly at kid-height) showcasing some of the newest sets, and in the center of the space are additional displays of the large sets or multiple sets within a particular theme, plus a large play station for kids to experiment with loose bricks, and a display where you can build a minifig, choosing from a selection of torsos, heads, legs, hair-or-hat pieces and an accessory.
A big draw is the Pick-a-Brick wall. This is usually at the back of the store and features see-through barrels full of different types of bricks, a very colorful display. You can fill a cup (they come in two sizes) full of whatever bricks you want and it’s usually a very good bargain. I’ve seen whole tutorials on YouTube about how to get in the maximum number of bricks. I recently went to the LEGO store and here was my haul. The magazine and calendar were freebies. (I sent them to my cousin’s son, who’s a big LEGO fan.) Walking out of the store, toting that big yellow shopping bag, I’m always filled with a sense of glee. Being a grown-up isn’t usually this much fun.
Contents of the Pick-a-Brick Cup
Question: What is the best haul you’ve ever had, buying LEGO?