Wednesday, 29 September 2010


I've always been a bit of a hoarder. When I was a kid it was stamps, coins and toy cars. As I got older and into my teens and beyond I went through various phases, some of which still haven't ended - LPs (for any youngsters reading this, LPs are those circular vinyl things that go round and round and music comes out), video games, CDs, DVDs..... anything that I could catalogue and collect was fair game.

I did have a fair bit of LEGO as a kid, although I never really collected sets in those days. I generally binned the boxes, built the sets, took the models apart and mixed the pieces up with all the other pieces I had. I never really started collecting sets until about 3 years ago, and that was when my problems really started.....

One unifying characteristic of the things I collected in the past was that they didn't take up much space; you can hoard literally thousands of stamps or coins in a drawer somewhere. LEGO is different, however. LEGO comes in big boxes, and consequently, LEGO sets are literally taking over my house. It's like some sort of Danish invasion by stealth. It's just ridiculous. You can't move for LEGO. And the LEGO company don't help either - when you open the boxes, they contain more air than plastic. There's really no need for the boxes to be so big.

My wife maintains that we recently had to move house because of my LEGO. It's an exaggeration, of course - sure, my study was heaving with sets, and there was a fair bit in the loft, plus some sets above the wardrobes in my bedroom and my son's room, plus a couple of sets on display in the lounge, but that's all.... OK, so I suppose that is a fair bit, but at least there wasn't any LEGO in the kitchen or the bathroom. And anyway, she can talk - her shoes were were taking over the bedroom, but that's another story. There's more space now in the new house, but it's just a temporary respite - with all the recent 3 for 2 offers, plus the the UCS Imperial Shuttle, the upcoming Tower Bridge set and other impending sets such as Winter Bakery and the UCS Jedi Starfighter all the extra space will be used up and I'll be back where I started, drowning in LEGO boxes.

My dad thinks that I should build a house extension....out of LEGO. Problem is, while I do have hundreds of sets, most of them don't actually contain many 2 x 4 or 2 x 8 bricks, which are unfortunately what you'd need for such an undertaking. I'd really love to see someone try to build an extension out of cheese slopes, minifigures or round 1 x 1 plates which seem to be the most common pieces in the sets I buy these days. Or maybe I should just waterproof the boxes and build an extension out of those ? After all, the box for the UCS Millenium Falcon alone is bigger than some London flats I've visited.....

So, what to do ? Well, stop buying sets I guess - it's the only solution until I'm rich enough to live in a castle with hundreds of rooms, which will of course happen faster if I stop spending my money on LEGO. Either that, or maybe I could start storing my sets in the unused space inside the boxes of other bigger sets. On reflection, however, I think my preferred option is to just keep letting the LEGO mountain grow until I eventually drown in the stuff - while I'm in no hurry to expire, what a way to go !


  1. I've gotten in the habit of opening up the boxes and merging unopened bags from common themes. For instance, my large Creator boxes (with unopened bags) contain the bags and instructions from smaller Creator sets. I've cut down the space waste by about a third.

  2. So my tongue-in-cheek comment about storing sets within other sets wasn't too far off the mark then, Haggie ! What do you do with the other boxes - flatten or bin them ? I couldn't bear to part with my boxes....

  3. I understand your dilemma. I've got a decent sized collection of lego (Collected since I was a young child, i'm now in my mid twenties!) and live in a relatively small house. Like you I refuse to throw away boxes as not only does it lower the value of the set but also I think the box is itself a very important part of the set. The problem is that I am running out of room, despite a lot of sets actually being stored in their original boxes. My bedroom and my brothers are full of my lego (He's left home which is the only reason why I can get away with that) whilst the garage is slowly filling up. My 10210 Imperial Flagship is proudly sitting in the living room but is living on borrowed time if other members of the family have anything to do with it. Will I stop buying Lego? I wish I could!

  4. Branko Dijkstra30/9/10

    I too have been forced to flatten the boxes. That HUGELY reduced the required storage space but it is a bit sad not to have these nice boxes all on display. On the upside though: I can rotate the boxes on display (which are crammed full of LEGO bricks). I mostly use the biggest boxes on display to store bags of bricks. It does require a database to keep track of the location of all sets.

  5. i just flatten them and thumb tack them to the wall in my lego room, i didn't have the heart to throw them away. although i am almost out of wall space.

  6. Ronnie30/9/10

    Another great topic that touches on one of my pain points. I have a fair sized house, however, that just postpone when trouble arise, and doesnt really change anything. When my collection reached about 800 sets I had boxes everywhere (though mostly hidden), but almost any closet in any room would contain some boxes :-) Since I wouldn't part with my boxes I decided to flatten them, and then start sorting bricks - the good side-effect of this is that you get lots of bricks for mocs, and still have the possibility to reverse the decision. Trouble is there are many boxes that are hard to flatten without damage. And then there are all those old sets with plastic inlays... Perhaps you could blog about "how to best flatten all kinds of lego boxes" :-) Thanks for a great blog

  7. Clearly you have struck a chord with people! I have gotten into and out of LEGO collecting over the years. Just getting back in (again) now. I got rid of all my other LEGO, except for Castle & Harry Potter lego, so I have two large rubbermaid containers in storage with them. As for the new LEGO that is beginning to come in, I am trying to focus mostly on minifigs and sets I only REALLY love.

    I come from a family of collectors, and again and again, seen collectors get burnt by trying to be completists - getting EVERY set. Likewise, there are trends, when people look at these as investments, and only a few years later, the sets aren't worth nearly what people had hoped for. Clearly, there are bigger trends like Beanie Babies that illustrate this.

    With LEGO, I am shocked that older sets are worth so little. For example, people are saying that the new Castle is similar to a castle from the 1980s. When I looked it up on eBay, I realized I could pick up a 1985 castle with 12 minifigs and box for about $70-$80. That's less than the newer set. And yet, people are stockpiling the newer sets because they know one day they will be "retired."

    Yes, some sets will be collectable (Star Wars a likely candidate), but these trends tend to wax and wane. So, I'm not being a completist. I only bought 3 different characters of the collectible minifigs, even though I could have bought all of them at $1.99 each a few times over.

    I frequent a lot of yard sales, and find the same problem. For instance - an older man selling off his "collection" of model cars. He had put together the plastic models, painted them, purchased lucite holders for each, and created a custom metal sign for each. And they were just stacked on a table at a yard sale with zero interest.

    There will always be interest in LEGO, but I do wonder about everyone who tries to purchase EVERY set, or as many as they can afford. For example - Tower Bridge looks amazing, and there is no way I am buying it.

    Anyhow - I think managing a collection is less about flattening boxes, and more about making choices. That is what makes a collection special. Art museums don't display everything they own, or everything they could own - the choose selected works. And that process of curation tells a story of their personal collection.

    Thank so much, another great topic, and I've enjoyed the comments others have made as well!

  8. I toss the boxes. That hurts a bit because I am a bit of a hoarder and it's hard to give 'em up. I've been trying to change my hoarding ways in any way I can and pitching boxes has been one of the easier decisions.

  9. Bricki11/11/11

    Hey, I'm a youngster (TFOL, thank you very much), and I'm the biggest LP collector I know...

  10. my suggestion is to flatten the boxes, cut off the front, tape or glue them to your walls, then throw out the rest.