Thursday, 14 June 2012


OK, so it goes something like this - five minutes to kill, so I fire up my browser, open up eBay and do a half-hearted search for LEGO auction lots that have been newly listed or which are finishing soon. Usually I survive this unscathed, my browsing experience dominated by a ton of overpriced listings by hopelessly over-optimistic people who've heard that LEGO is a great way to make a quick buck, or maybe a torrent of poly bag listings fresh from the latest UK newspaper giveaway. But every now and again my eye settles on something which I would never have searched for specifically, but which I nevertheless immediately take a shine to. So I click the button to watch the item, and then maybe I'll bid on it, and sometimes I even win it. Dangerous, this idle eBay browsing, or eBrowsing as I've come to call it - seriously bad for your wealth.

I have to confess that this is far from being a rare occurrence - my collection contains rather too many sets that I've randomly stumbled upon while eBrowsing the LEGO listings and ended up buying. It was only last week that I took possession of my latest eBrowsing purchase, and it prompted me to have a think about what other LEGO I've bought while idly flicking through the eBay listings....

First on my random purchase list is Set 6390 Main Street (above), released in 1982 and containing 591 pieces. I was never even aware that this set existed until I stumbled upon a listing for it on eBay a couple of weeks ago. I've always been a big fan of the LEGO Town Plan-type sets both old and new and Set 6390 reminded me a bit of those I guess. I expected that the auction for a boxed and almost complete example would go well beyond what I was willing to pay, but a relatively modest maximum bid was unexpectedly sufficient to secure the item so it's now in my possession. Watch out for a review of this rare set when I eventually get round to it - it's a good 'un !

Next up is another recent acquisition, Set 182 Train Set with Motor (above) from 1975. It's like the cool older brother of Set 171 Train Set without Motor which was the first LEGO train I ever owned, so when I stumbled upon an eBay listing for Set 182 complete with box and instructions a couple of months back it shouted "Buy Me" and I had no choice but to bid.... A few days and one auction win later and it was winging its way to my front door. It's been a bit of a restoration job, to be honest - quite a few missing pieces, and some of them quite hard to find - but thanks to the saviour that is Bricklink the set is now complete and awaiting its turn in the build queue.

Then there's Set 1054 Stena Line Ferry (above) from 1999 which I picked up a couple of years back. I'm not quite sure why I bought this one; I can only assume that it was out of a sense of nostalgia for trips to continental Europe that I used to go on with my family as a boy. Why I wanted reminding of the many unhappy hours I spent throwing up over the side of the Dover to Ostend ferry I'll probably never know, but nostalgia's a funny thing.... Still, I can console myself with the fact that I didn't have to pay much for it - just £4.99 plus shipping for a mint, boxed example - so at least I didn't break the bank to get it.

Moving swiftly on we have Set 2556 Ferrari Formula 1 Racing Car. Perhaps not all that surprising a purchase given my interest in cars in general, but still not something I was previously on the lookout for - I wasn't actually aware it even existed until I chanced upon the eBay listing. Once again it seemed like a good idea at the time - less than £20 including shipping for a 15-year old boxed 580-piece set seemed like a bit of a bargain - but this proved to be a cruel illusion as this infernal set unwittingly started my slide down an extremely expensive slippery slope which most recently culminated in the purchase of a Mint In Sealed Box Set 8674 Ferrari F1 Racer 1:8. Beware the law of unintended consequences...

My final pick for today is Set 6562 Gas Stop Shop, just another purchase which seemed like a good idea at the time but which in hindsight I'm not sure why I bought. It's not to scale with my work-in-progress City Layout, nor is it a display model in its own right, or indeed a future classic to be revered or cherished in years to come. Even so, none of that prevented me from treating the well-used example I bought at auction like a valuable antique, carefully sorting all the pieces, painstakingly replacing anything that was missing, and lovingly bagging up all the pieces in the far-from-perfect box when I was done. I'll never get that time back, but suspect I'll nevertheless do exactly the same next time anyway...

Nostalgia clearly plays a significant role in my eBrowsing purchases, with many aquisitions having an obvious link to much-loved childhood sets or themes. An inability to resist a bargain is another factor; problem is that however good value a random purchase appears to be, it carries a significant risk of stimulating interest in a previously unknown or unexplored theme which inevitably leads to more purchases and further unplanned assaults on the bank balance. I often seem to rationalise purchases on the basis that if a set proves to be a bit rubbish then I can part it out. This sounds great in theory, but falls down when you consider that when push comes to shove I can't ever seem to bring myself to do it.

So AFOL beware - eBrowsing can seriously damage your wealth... If any of you have examples of similarly random purchases then please share - it'll make me feel (slightly) better to know I'm not alone in this affliction.


  1. While I've learnt to manage my 'eBrowsing', there have been many lean months in the past due to my impulsiveness. On more than one occasion I would bid low on multiple items not expecting to win any of the auctions and somehow manage to win all of them. Individually they were great deals but collectively they were a body blow. Never doing that again!

    There has certainly been a notable shift in prices on eBay in the last couple years. There may be some people prepared to pay these obscene prices but I hope I'm not the only person who feels these newer valuations are detached from reality.

  2. Anonymous14/6/12

    Oooo! eBrowsing. Not healthy for one's wallet.

    Back when I was deep into my Star Wars UCS model hording mode I managed to bid on 4 - FOUR - UCS Yoda's, hoping that I might win one of them. I ended up with all 4. Individually they were a steal. Together...well, let's just say that you should never, EVER raid the mortgage saving s account for anything but the mortgage...or eBrowsing mistakes.

    That single event 'encouraged' me to start my BL store, which is another evil hobby almost as bad a eBrowsing.

    Please excuse me, I have about 100lbs of bulk lego from eBrowsing that I need to get listed. Otherwise the mortage payment will suffer in a few months...=)

    Lo Vaquero

    1. I shouldn't laugh, but...four Yodas ?! That is funny ! Lots of lovely sand green, if nothing else... Of course, they're probably worth more now than they were when you bought them, but it's a question of how long you're willing to tie your money up for waiting to make a profit.

      A timely warning to us all - beware !

    2. Anonymous20/6/12

      That has got to be the funniest lego story I've ever heard. Your both the luckiest and most unlucky person in regards to lego. On the bright side I'll bet you'll get good resale value on them.

  3. I enjoyed this article, as ever, Dave. It's always good to know there's someone significantly more gone than I am when I comes to these things.

    Can I suggest a companion article to this post? Bricklink browsing. You mean to buy a few bricks, but then, y'know, whilst you're at it you could do with a few bley slopes, and there's a really good price on sand green tiles, and holy cow, what's that piece? I NEED one. Not for nothing is it referred to as Cracklink by some.

  4. Glad to see I'm not the only one. It's how I've ended up with all six Space Police III sets I own, and the reason I've continued adding to my Atlantis collection.

    And as far as Bricklink goes, I usually continue piling things into my cart well after I've finished getting what I "need." "Ooh! That looks neat! I don't have any bricks in that color.... I could use this! Look at this deal - I would be stupid not to get it!" ...and so forth.

    Lately, I've been questioning whether I have a hobby or a habit. :)

  5. Anonymous24/6/12

    I didn't think this blog entry would apply to me (I consider myself a MOC'er rather than a collector), and then I started working my way through Gary Istok's collecting guide and saw set 744 from 1980. Memories came flooding back - this was undoubtedly the largest set I had as a child.

    An idle browse on eBay (not really expecting anything) and I find one for sale with box and instructions for only £35 (more like £60-80 on Bricklink). I did pause as I tried to justify my decision but not for long.

    And now it's with me. In pretty good nick really. Only 5-6 pieces missing, and box in one piece, inserts in place. I keep looking over at it.

    I can't explain why, but it just makes me happy.

    I'm waiting on the missing pieces from Bricklink before i build anything, and planning to savour the experience.


    1. Anonymous24/6/12

      Does one have to pay shipping when ordering pieces on bricklink?

    2. Shipping costs depend on the seller. I guess there may be Bricklink sellers offering free shipping, but if there are then I've never encountered them....