Revealed!! Why LEGO Toys Are So Expensive

By on May 8, 2013

Lego Retail store

Whenever we post LEGO deals on Ben’s Bargains, they’re usually quite popular because regular-price LEGO sets just seem outrageously expensive for children’s toys. The 3,803-piece LEGO Death Star (10188) is frequently cited as an example, retailing for $400.

LEGO Death StarYet, we love LEGO anyway and continue to fork over our hard-earned cash for these fantastically well-crafted pieces of (ABS) plastic. The LEGO Death Star has been in production for 5 years (!) and is frequently seen on eBay for significantly more than the MSRP during peak buying periods, as are many other popular and/or rare LEGO sets.

Among LEGO buyers, it’s known that the price per brick hovers around 10 to 13 cents. According to Andrew Sielen’s excellent analysis What Happened with LEGO, the price of a brick has been relatively static for the past 8 or 9 years and was even significantly higher two or three decades ago — you know, back when most adults today were playing with LEGOs. And this price stability has occurred in the same time period as the advent of LEGO’s licensed sets (Star Wars, Harry Potter) which actually carry very little to no price markup compared to the non-licensed sets.

Expensive, Just Not Crazy Expensive

LEGO toys aren’t always tremendously more expensive than its closest competitors (knockoffs) MegaBloks and KRE-O, which have increased in popularity in recent years with its own licensing deals like Halo (MegaBloks) and Star Trek and Transformers (KRE-O). For example, while the 413-piece LEGO Tie Fighter (9492) can be found for around $45 to $50 and the 443-piece MegaBloks Halo UNSC Mantis is a comparative value at $32,  the 432-piece KRE-O U.S.S. Enterprise is the most expensive at $50.


LEGO USS Enterprise? Nope, this is the KRE-O USS Enterprise!

Even a comparison of plain bricks is a close call. A 450-piece MegaBlocks Ultimate Building Tub is $25 (5.5 cents/brick), while the 405-piece LEGO Ultimate Building Set (6166) is around $30 (7.5 cents/brick). So, yes, LEGO toys are generally pricier, but not by a huge margin.

Resale Value, Quality and Size

Grumpy Cat in LEGO formThe thing is, LEGO sets hold their value and then some. Sealed and mint brand-new sets from popular lines like Star Wars have been known to go for twice as much as the original price, and sometimes even used sets can fetch higher-than-sticker prices. The LEGO Star Wars Slave I (8097) sold for $80 three years ago and can now be found on eBay for as much as $100 new and $75 for used.

LEGO is famous for its crazy attention to detail and precision engineering of the billions of pieces they’ve produced over the decades (over 400 billion since 1958, according to the company).

Not only do pieces from different decades fit together with consistent clutch power—which is not always the case for its competitors’ offerings (i.e. MegaBloks) from the same set!— but its high-priced molds are ridiculously accurate with tolerances as minute as 0.0005″. You’re not gonna be pumping out LEGO-quality bricks with a 3D printer anytime soon. You’re also not gonna find this special sauce in MegaBloks bricks, either.

Besides quality, the size of sets is a major factor in the perceived expense of LEGO toys. The aforementioned Death Star is one of the top-five largest LEGO sets with over 3,800 pieces. The more advanced Architecture series LEGO sets often have over 500 pieces with a few over 1,000 pieces. By contrast, the top-of-the-line LEGO set in 1980, the Inter-City Passenger Train Set (7740), had  786 pieces and the classic LEGO Main Street (6390) had 591 pieces—these sizes are now commonplace.


LEGOLAND Main Street — a classic of its time…

Higher quality production, the ever-increasing size and complexity of high-end sets and the impressive resale value of LEGO all contribute to its high price tag. But the number one reason is, of course, demand. We’re still willing to fork over more cash for LEGO sets, and that’s that.

Watch for LEGO deals on Ben’s Bargains and be sure to set your Deal Alerts!

About Joe Warner

I'm the senior editor of The CheckOut. I am an aficionado of shiny gadgets and classic Hollywood movies and can also tell you the names of the late '80s Swedish Davis Cup team members.


  1. Ken Quigg

    November 2, 2018 at 12:13 pm

    I once thought VHS tapes should be constructed like legos. That way I could’ve built furniture from all my tapes.

  2. Criskras

    July 25, 2018 at 2:40 am

    Guys just by it from lepin its much better only collors a littlebit different but cmon. Jermy the private seller is the best a set from 140 dollar is now 62 for a modulair building


    March 14, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    Ugh I wonder why buying seperate lego peices that should be like 5c are actually 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 dollars :/

  4. David

    December 21, 2017 at 1:14 am

    400$ / 3800 pieces = 0.10526$ a piece.
    I have already bought some GUDI bricks over Aliexpress for 0.046098$ a piece. The quality is identical. If not for the ‘GUDI’ word in the place of lego and the slight color difference some times I cannot tell which is which.
    So, come on! Don’t tell me it is a matter of quality. It is a matter of image right, payed to Disney and other third party brands and also to Lego itself.

  5. No

    October 18, 2017 at 10:05 am

    I almost bought Minecraft legos because it seemed pretty reasonable at $8 if I really had to pay that much for just decoration. Until I noticed it was stocked wrong and the original price was actually $30. I wanted legos 10 years ago and even now I still can’t have any. I can’t believe lego is even in business. Who actually buys legos when they are so expensive?

    • Eric

      November 1, 2018 at 3:35 pm

      I buy the Christmas legos each year, and I have all but to of the expert buildings, all of these are kept separate from the rest of my piles, and all have held or now exceed the original cost. and they are fun.

    • Alexa Splawn

      March 16, 2019 at 2:14 pm

      I really wanted to get some of the new LEGO Jurassic world sets even though I’m a kid but I HATE the prices! Ugh. They are way to expensive if they’d just lower the prices a bit I’d be much happier!

  6. Bond, James Bond

    September 24, 2017 at 6:47 am

    The quality is why they charge more, you people make me laugh with your “teach my kid an economic history lesson.” Yea that’s exactly what a kid wants to hear when there at a toy store, let them be kids and buy them legos.

  7. Eric

    November 20, 2016 at 8:00 am

    The real answer of those prices: Because people buy at the imposed high price. High quality is there; but Kids still playing after 10 years is very rare. Basements of the world are filled with stored Lego. Hunt them down and negotiate a good deal.

  8. Lex

    July 21, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    I agree with Mark, I don’t buy it.

    Perhaps I’ll make my 2015 goal to design a building product where the chips are stacked in my favour.

    Interesting article, even if it seems like the company is just selling an image (its pieces of plastic for godsake)

  9. Mark

    December 21, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    Don’t buy it!.. Leave it on the store shelves.. The price will soon come down.. It’s plastic and people should do as I do.. ‘Sorry son!.. The man from Lego is charging far too much, at least Dick Turpin had the decency to wear a mask’.. This way you teach them a little economics sprinkled with a bit of history..

    • mike

      February 24, 2015 at 7:38 am

      “My daddy bought me Legos!”
      “Oh yeah? Well MY daddy taught me economics! Let’s go debate the merits of Keynesian policy!”

      • Sarah

        December 13, 2018 at 6:57 pm

        Ha ha ha ha! 😂

  10. ryan

    December 20, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    You Said The Tie Fighter Is 45 To 50. The cheapest I found it was 130. And Boba’s ship is as high as 200

    • Joe Warner

      December 24, 2014 at 8:49 am

      Hi Ryan, at the time this article was posted back in May, the TIE Fighter was still clinging on to that price range. Unfortunately, it was discontinued at the beginning of 2014 and since production has stopped, prices will go much higher.

  11. Matt

    December 27, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    5.5 cents vs 7.5 cents isn’t a lot more expensive? It’s 36% more expensive.

  12. Will

    May 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    That Deathstar 10188 is never going to retire, is it?

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