What is the best place to buy LEGO in bulk? In person, the best deals can often be found at yard sales and thrift stores, but they can be very hit-and-miss. You can also monitor Craigslist for people near you unloading their kids’ LEGO collections. When you find them you can get great bargains, but most of the time it’s not fruitful unless you have other reasons to shop there. Still, I know people who get up every weekend morning early and scour their nearby yard sales and garage sales, buy all the LEGO available, and resell that by the pound at the flea market and at LEGO events for a markup. But beware – you may find that there are a lot of MegaBloks or other unwanted clone brand products mixed in, so check carefully first!
When I built my Pokemon sculptures, I was able to do that using a bulk brick tub that lego was selling at the time (set #3033). I bought about 20 of those at $20 each and still ran out of certain parts – that’s why Squirtle’s tail was so small. Sadly, that tub was discontinued a few years ago and the bulk tubs that are available more recently haven’t had nearly as good of an assortment or as good of a price per brick.
Probably the easiest way to get specific parts cheap is to shop on BrickLink. It’s an online shopping mall just for LEGO. Sellers buy sets in bulk (generally when they have clearance sales at retail stores) and sort the parts, putting the individual pieces on their stores. Then you can go in and order any part in quantity. It’s an awkward site to use, but I think the best way is to start at the Catalog tab, find the part you want in the color you want, and then find a store that has them in sufficient quantity. Or if you add the parts to your Wanted List, they have algorithms to help fulfill your needs by placing orders from several different sellers. Whenever I’m working on a large project and run out of something, BrickLink is where I look first. For example I bought a lot of brown plates on BrickLink when I was working on my Teddy Bear model.
Of course the world’s #1 place to buy and sell used stuff in general is eBay. I’ve found some bargains there by searching for “lego pounds” to find people selling large collections all at once, and I have bought some of the 9V track in my collection there. Bargains can be found, but there’s a lot of overpriced stuff too, and as with the yard sales and thrift stores, watch out for clone bricks being mixed in.
There’s also bulk brick available from LEGO; usually they’re a lot more expensive that way but once in a while you can find some real bargains. Look for the “Pick-A-Brick” in the LEGO Shop-At-Home Store and if you have a LEGO store in your nearby mall, they have an in-person pick-a-brick wall where you can fill up a plastic cup with LEGO parts for a set price. Also check the Bricks & Pieces area on LEGO’s website which may have better deals than Pick-A-Brick.
And of course don’t forget about buying sets on sale. Look at your local Target, Toys ‘R’ Us, or Wal-Mart for clearance sales, and check Web sites online such as Amazon.com and others. Check for sales at LEGO Shop-At-Home (and try their phone number too, as they have weekly phone-only sales as well). LEGO Education also has bargains from time to time. If you do this a lot though, you may find yourself setting up a BrickLink store to unload the parts you don’t need from those sets!
If you know any other good ways to find bulk LEGO at economical prices, please post it here as a comment….