Why Are Legos So Expensive?

Most people love LEGOs, at least until they step on one on their way to the bathroom at night. Over the years, the unassuming construction block brand has overcome its disastrous history to become such an integral part of popular culture that multiple successful movies have been made about it — which is no easy feat, as Playmobil's box office bomb can attest. These days, you can get LEGO sets of nearly all conceivable shapes, sizes and themes, but unfortunately, there's still one thing where there's not much room to negotiate: The price of all LEGO sets tends to be rather steep. Say, what's up with that, anyway? How come LEGOs are so incredibly expensive? 

LEGO is a master of brand-building

The trick about getting people to pay an absurd price for boxes full of tiny plastic blocks is simple, yet ever so difficult: You have to convince people that your product is worth all those big bucks. For that, you need a pretty great brand, and as CNBC tells us, LEGO excels at marketing and brand building so much that they've become an almost worryingly massive entity in the toy business. In fact, Brand Finance estimates them as the #1 toy brand on the entire planet, with an estimated brand value of $7.571 billion. For reference, the #2 brand, Bandai Namco, clocks in at $1.038 billion, and no other brand on the list is even close to a billion. That's how big LEGO is. 

The company keeps its brand in the consumers' good graces by constantly focusing on marketing and providing good experiences. As LEGO chief marketing officer Julia Goldin puts it: "Lego is a very mission-driven company. The family is very clear about the mission to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow, to reach more kids, and they're super dedicated to that."

LEGO is a complicated juggling act

As the BBC tells us, LEGO's high prices are a part of their strategy, and this is unlikely to change. In 2017, the company had a minor crisis when they realized they had overestimated the market demand and "produced too many bricks" as a result. They ultimately had to offload their "excess stock" at a reduced price, but even then, it was considered unlikely that the company would devalue their product by permanently reducing prices. 

LEGO isn't keeping their prices comparatively high just to act all high and mighty, though. The company collaborates with multiple extremely popular brands such as Star Warswhich means they have to pay (presumably pretty hefty) licensing fees. That cost will eventually fall on the customer, as it reflects on the price of the set. The company also argues that its pricing is justified by the product's high quality, durability and singular nature: "We believe Lego products are unique and deliver great value for money. In addition, our products meet the highest safety and quality standards and last for generations."

How much can a LEGO set cost?

Precisely how expensive can a LEGO set be, then? According to SYFY, we're talking about thousands upon thousands of dollars. Many of the more expensive sets are predictably rare, massive, or both, with the occasional appearance by Star Wars -themed sets (remember those licensing fees?). To be fair, the retail price for even the costlier sets tends to be three digits, with even the most expensive LEGO set ever sold — a massive "Ultimate collector's" Millennium Falcon — setting you back "only" around $800. 

However, thanks to the collectors' market, many of the bigger and rarer sets are now worth significantly more. A sealed set of the 2008 LEGO Taj Mahal, which is the biggest set the company has ever built, can cost nearly $2,500, and mint versions of the aforementioned Millennium Falcon set go for the average price of $4,000. In fact, some of the more expensive sets aren't even cool-looking, giant ones with thousands of parts. One of the goofier LEGO sets out there, a 320-copy limited edition set inspired by the H.C. Andersen story Clumsy Hans, can cost up to $3,000.

Mini figures, max prices

So, LEGO sets can get pretty expensive, but how much are people willing to pay for a single minifigure? Pretty much, it turns out. According to Guinness World Records, the most valuable LEGO minifigure is another Star Wars piece: A golden Boba Fett figure that's valued at $11,495.95. To be fair, these 2010 San Diego Comic Con competition prizes are made of actual 14-karat gold, and there are only two of them in the world.

Of course, in the interest of accurate reporting, it must also be mentioned that there are three LEGO minifigures (pictured) aboard NASA's Juno space probe, currently orbiting Jupiter. It's unlikely that anyone ever gets their hands on these particular figures, but Guinness World Records notes that their theoretical value is "many millions."