*This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
With so many Lego sets in production, it is understandable that the Lego Group will eventually have to cease the manufacture of certain sets. This is done in order to save on production costs as well as open up the option for newer and more exciting sets to be made.
There are some very popular old Lego sets, and some that were not popular back when they were in production have seen explosive growth and proven quite attractive in the years since they stopped being produced.
But why is this?
Old and retired Lego sets are often more valuable simply because of supply and demand. There is virtually no supply and still high demand so that causes the prices to increase greatly.
This is especially a factor when sets have been out of production for many years. There aren’t many of them around so anyone who has one can charge exceptionally high prices when they go to sell it.
If the set isn’t in high demand then even if it’s old or retired it won’t be very valuable but when the demand increases as the supply dries up then that will drive the price up a lot.
I will cover various other reasons for why old and retired Lego sets are so expensive throughout this article and will explore various other aspects that have led to the increase in price for discontinued Lego products and sets.
To see the best selling Lego sets currently available you can click here.
The Value of Old Lego Sets
There are many thousands of Lego sets that the Lego Group has produced throughout the years, and every single year new sets are released. Because of the sheer number of Lego sets that are produced every single year it is unreasonable to expect the Lego Group to keep every single set in production until the end of time.
At some point, a set will need to be retired in order to make room for new sets. This usually occurs on a schedule of around two years after the initial release of a specific Lego set. Once a set is retired, production of the set is ceased and retail prices for the set tend to drop in order to promote sales of the set so that newer Lego sets can be restocked in its place.
Even if the Lego sets that are retired see a price decrease when still available in a retail store they may drastically increase in price once they are sold out in stores and are only available on the secondhand market.
Many collectors of Lego sets will purposefully purchase popular Lego sets and hold onto them in the hopes of reselling them down the line for higher prices.
As with any item on the market (especially collectibles), the law of supply and demand applies to Lego sets. That means that Lego sets that are not particularly popular may never see an increase in price once they are discontinued, but popular sets that fans adore will almost definitely see a price hike once production of the set ends and they are no longer readily available on the open market.
Older and retired Lego sets can become very expensive if they are from a popular series (such as Star Wars or Harry Potter) or if they contain rare and discontinued Lego pieces that are highly sought after by collectors and Lego enthusiasts.
One of the best examples of this is the Lego Monorail sets, which were released in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The monorail pieces of these sets are extremely popular among adult fans of Legos (AFOLs) who want to craft their own MOCs (my own creation).
The monorail sets were a bit pricey when released back in the day and were also a fan-favorite due to their unique monorail pieces and rare parts. However, Lego opted to cease production of the monorail line of sets and this caused the price of secondhand sets to rise considerably.
Nowadays, a used monorail set sells for close to $2,000! The rarity of the set and its pieces, the nostalgia of the set itself, and the collectability of it all work together to drive up the price of the set.
The Lego monorail sets are a great showcase for Lego sets that increase in price once retired. Rare or unique pieces, sets that are extremely popular during their production, and sets that spike in popularity after they are discontinued are all reasons why the price of a Lego set can become so expensive.
Of course, as we mentioned earlier not all Lego sets will see an increase in price just because they are old or retired. Some Lego sets that were never popular in the first place, or sets that have an overabundance of stock on the secondhand market will typically not see such a drastic price increase.
In fact, it is possible to find discontinued Lego sets from unpopular series that have actually dropped in price to below what they were sold for while still in active production.
It is not common, but they are out there.
Do Lego Sets Get Permanently Retired?
While every Lego set will eventually be retired there is still a chance that you can pick up that set that you have had your eye on without needing to break the bank by purchasing it via the secondhand market.
The Lego Group is aware of the popularity of their sets and actively will work to re-release their most popular sets in order to satisfy fans. One thing to note is that the re-releases of their Lego sets are typically not exact replicas of the previously retired set, and there are small changes contained with each iteration of a set.
Some of the most popular re-releases include the Star Wars Death Star II (of which there have been 3 different versions) and the various Lego City modular buildings. These fan-favorite series see remakes and re-releases of their sets often and allow fans of Legos to obtain a set that they may have missed out on without needing to spend exorbitant amounts of money just to get their hands on them.
Lego tends to re-release their Star Wars sets the most. Every time one of their X-Wings, Millennium Falcons, Death Star II, or Imperial Star Destroyer (along with tons of other sets) gets retired they are quick to release a new version so that fans always have access to a Star Wars set.
If you know for sure that a Lego set is extremely popular but it is nearing its retirement and you do not want to spend an enormous amount of money on obtaining the set via the secondhand market, then it is prudent to wait and see if Lego releases a newer version of the set.
I have covered just some of the various reasons why old and retired Lego sets become so expensive. If you are looking to collect or simply want to invest in Lego sets then it is best to identify sets that are popular or contain rare and hard-to-find pieces so that you can get the most increase in price down the line.
However, if you are simply someone looking to get a hold of a Lego set for your collection that you just have to have then you may get lucky and get a hold of one of the various re-releases that the Lego Group often puts out for popular sets.