Bootstrapping Your Brick Collection on the Cheap

Picture of lego models and builders

I recently finished the LSPF Training and had setup my first facilitation session a few weeks after the course. I needed a kit to do Landscaping but didn’t want to commit the funds until I knew I would have the sessions to justify the investment. Here’s what I needed to solve and how I got started on the cheap.

Getting Bricks Quick and Cheap

Folks in the course suggested Craigslist and eBay. I also planned to canvas my local community. Is it turned out the next door neighbor were willing to sell me their son’s collection at half what it was worth on eBay. Lots of kits buried in with bricks. This one collection had enough basic bricks and interesting specialty pieces.It was fine for the first session.  Although friends may not understand LSP, I found everybody was inquisitive and supportive so tweet and post about your adventures.Help is around the corner.

Cleaning the Bricks

Leave plenty of time to clean and sanitize. I found pre-loved bricks are pretty dirty.Sanitizing the bricks was an ordeal but necessary. I used Spick and Span (surface cleaner with degreaser) and an antibacterial dishwashing liquid. I used a bath with the cleaners and a separate rinsing bath. Sorting and soaking pounds of bricks took over the house as they take a while to dry. SeriousPlayPro articles suggested putting bricks in pillow cases and putting in the dryer with the setting used for delicates. I got short for time and tried that. It worked but damaged the softer Duplo bricks which got ground by the harder regular legos.

Starter Kits

To cut start-up costs, I build my own starter kit with my own models. I followed the guidance on brick selection supplied with the course. It was a good exercise playing with models and comparing them to those offered in the LSP Start Kit. I had started with a detailed model but worked on reducing the brick count to make the builds quicker. Making my own models was a way to practice and explore ways to inject different types of LEGO to inspire the builders.

I used LEGO Designer to document the models. I took screenshots of various stages of the build instructions and put in a separate document. Some folks at work tested the instructions. I had to enhance the screenshots a little but all in all this approach works. Another benefit of using LEGO Designer is its HTML Export. I can use git to publish the models. I’m expanding my home made starter kit with more models. I’ll be publishing along with the Designer models here: http://guywinterbotham.github.io/rainboids/

If you are interested in comparing kit inventories, search SeriousPlayPro. There are articles that have inventories for all LSP kits.

Searching through my recycled collection, I was able to get bricks of the same type but not the same color in some cases. When it got to the session, not having identical colors threw off one of the eleven builders. It taught me the importance of an an exact match of color and shape. I will fix in later editions with a trip to the pick-a-brick section of the nearest LEGO store. They have cups you can fill for $16 (US) with whatever you can fit. There is an art to filling the cups. Squash bigger bricks together into a tower as tall as the cup. Fill the gaps with smaller pieces after putting the towers in first.

Container full of LEGO

Pick a Brick LEGO

My collection lacked some items I saw used a lot during training. The LEGO shop doesn’t seem to carry kits of the unique things like flowers and connectors. eBay is a great place to get bulk numbers of specific bricks. Things like flowers and minifigures. I contacted one seller and explained the starter kits. He was willing to help put together difficult to find bricks.

I used ornament boxes from a local department store to keep the specialty bricks sorted plus a tub for basic bricks. Cheap and easy. Once I had suitable groups of specialty bricks, I hot-glued the dividers. I loaded the tub, two ornament boxes and another box containing the kits onto a spare luggage dolly.

The initial investment for a twelve person session was under $US300. I probably could have saved more on the bricks from folks desperate to make room in their houses. I enjoyed making my own starter kits which I can grow as I learn and observe builders in more sessions.

7 Comments
  1. Prof. Dr. Marko Rillo 2 years ago

    Guy! Many thanks for this thorough and informative text regarding bricks – very helpful for many community members!

  2. Michael Tarnowski 2 years ago

    Thank you, Guy for your thorough “experience report”. I build my first LSP kits by myself as well and took similar experiences.

    For your information:
    a) You find the “Pick-A-Brick” program on LEGOs online shop as well – at least here in Germany. You can configure bags of all bricks available in the online store,

    b) Unfortunately, in the LEGO stores/online shop the bricks available are very limited compared to the universe of bricks.
    http://bricklink.com is a internet platform where sellers all over the planet offer their lots of bricks, special bricks, minifigs, tech-stuff, etc.
    Its a treasure trove if you want to complete your LSP collections.

  3. Author
    Guy Winterbotham 2 years ago

    Michael,
    Thanks. I had seen that link but really didn’t know how the Brinklink world works. If you have tips or tricks to navigate and get good deals, I would eagerly await that blog.

  4. Flora 1 year ago

    Hi, Guy, I use bricklink for a long time. It is the world largest Adult Fan of Lego tribute for get from one to one bricks online. Many people called it Brick Ebay. Search Google via keyword of Bricklink tutorial then you can access many useful tutorials. It is a good place if you need minifigure and special bricks for LSP workshop. Yes you will need to pay the shipping fee or paypal fee, but it is usually reasonable charged. Not too much worry on it.

    My tip, ‘wanted’ function is quite essential. I usually add my target bricks into it, and check my wanted list in each shops or the functional page to see the best price. You can’t always meet the perfectest combinations, but you will be closer to use ‘wanted’ function in BL.

    I also produced my own mini kit. (I use LSP all at an in-house environment of menufactoring company, so reduce the brick amount and replaced with some special bricks for those engineers is quite essential) I found two useful tips, one, wrap them in the homemade-cookie gift bag will gain participants curiosity and involved (like what Per taught, a beginning of open a delight box is very important). two, insert a colorful paper in, and if they need, put the model on the paper to rotate or move it, will be much safer.

    If you want, I could share my mini kit brick list to you. I was using LDD, but since that is a mini kit with 46 bricks, so I just sort bricks and took a photo.

  5. Author
    Guy Winterbotham 1 year ago

    Flora,
    Thanks so much for you tips on BrickLink. I will just have to jump in and try it out. I really like the idea of hiding the parts in a gift bag. I went for clear plastic bags because I had never heard of this idea. I can see how it would make for heightened curiosity.

    Happy Building,
    Guy

  6. Talia Dashow 1 year ago

    I don’t know how international shipping would do, but shopgoodwill.com has lots of random boxes of LEGO® bricks if you need volume. You can’t chose specific pieces, but you can get a lot of bricks for not a lot of money.

  7. Author
    Guy Winterbotham 1 year ago

    Talia,
    Nice! They do have a lot out there!

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