The other night I was looking for Lego baseplates on Amazon. The airport is outgrowing its footprint and so I thought maybe I would spend a little money to get us some more square footage. What did I discover? It turns out that baseplates are really expensive, like $8-9/each. I would have thought maybe a third of that. Also it seems like many of the plates I have were at some point discontinued and so getting matching baseplates requires purchasing what is essentially a collectors item. I saw one lot where the parts were like $40/each.
Too rich for my blood.
While looking for these I kept coming across bulk Lego items. Lego has some official sets (also fairly steep) and then there are third party sellers dealing bricks by count or weight.
I have a floating purchase max for this sideline activity, meaning when I do buy new sets I don't like to spend more than $19. Something about exceeding $20 causes the nature of the purchase to mean rather more and I want this to all be casual. The ceiling ruled out most of the bulk sets, but I did see one that was 200 random pieces for $9.00.
Most of the sets I look at in the $19 neighborhood are also in the 200 piece neighborhood. So on its face this could be a decent deal.
I read the reviews and they were mixed. The negative reviews fell into two camps: the first is that 200 pieces really isn't a lot of pieces. This isn't a surprise to me. The second flavor of complaint was that the piece selection was such that you couldn't build anything from the set. This wouldn't much matter to me as I am just looking for bricks. Part of that second group was also that some of the parts were pretty esoteric, to the point of having part of a multicomponent piece - like half a hinge. This was a little alarming, but I decided to overlook it.
I mean 200 parts for $9.00, how bad could it be?
So here's what we got:
The upper left are what I call "specials." Those pieces are either for a specific task or for detailing. The 200 piece set was probably 100 parts specials. I don't mind that. Sometimes you buy an entire set just to get one special part and there were many in here that I didn't have yet. Most notably in the "new to me" category were 2@2x3x1 slanted pieces with McDonald's Grimace screen-printed on them - you can see one up front there. Once upon a time there must have been some promotional McDonald's Lego sets. Not sure what to do with one of those, let alone two.
There were only 2 minifig related parts. That was a little disappointing. I had hoped for more than that.
Of the remaining parts there was a trend toward the odd. In total I think there were 7 2x4x1 basic bricks. There were some parts in there that I didn't have, and certainly some colors I didn't have (you can see under my current regime that green is blue and orange is yellow).
It was fairly easy to appreciate the "you can't really make anything" school of thought. But like I said, I was just expanding inventory, so that wasn't so much of a concern for me.
In the end, the only buyer's remorse I have is that the item wasn't prime qualified which meant I had to pay shipping and that the $9 set was actually a $15 set FOB my mailbox. That $6 different is enough to tip it over and make me decide that this isn't the buy it seemed like it might be. For it to be worth doing again either the nature of the pieces would have to be a little different or the shipping would have to be free.
Still, I got a treasure chest piece. Didn't have one of those.