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Showing posts with label rebuilding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rebuilding. Show all posts

LEGO Techniques - Bricklinking a Super Star Destroyer 10221

It's been a while and I've got a backlog of requested sets to analyze for Bricklinking. This analyzing stuff is fun. I also do it for the readers of my ebook, Insider Secrets to Funding your LEGO Hobby. I review sets for part out value. Get the book and get on the list!

For those of you not familiar with BrickStock, find a tutorial at the beginning of this popular post and then come take the walkthrough of this set. I'll be doing it in real time meaning that even as I'm typing this I don't know how much we can shave off of the bill.

A brand new one can still be had for $900. Not near the prices of the Millennium Falcon so my first gut instinct is that you might as well buy new. Fire up the gerbils and Ctrl-A, Ctrl-G to get the average prices of all of the parts. Once you've done this toggle the status to get all the variants at the bottom. Go through each one and strike the most expensive version. There aren't a whole lot of doozies except for the 3x6 cylinder piece and even that's not terrible. My computer shows me ~$650 of parts value.

As usual, I'm going to strike the minifigures from BrickStock. That takes off $100. The sticker is another $32. Now toggle the price to get the most expensive pieces at the top. The yellow right angle technic brick poses a problem. Almost $12 each? Change it to black for $1.25 each. Total value for 6 of this part goes from about $70 to $7.50. Part prices quickly fall to reasonable from there. Toggle the Total Price column now.

We want to be careful about changing out too many colors since this build is very drab and needs to stay that way, What we're looking for are variants that might be a little more obscure or were updated after this set was retired. But there are seriously no variants to be found here!

The only things I can find that would make a lick of difference are things like the tan 1x8 plate. Forty-one of a piece you don't see at 20c each can be swapped for any other color, even medium lavender. Whee, we just saved $4. The blue hinge plate could be swapped for green to save another $3. But these kinds of minimal savings can easily be gained or lost depending on the buyer you choose.

At this point I'm going to anti-climatically shut down the rest of this study. I'm down to $450 for new parts. Add another 12% for shipping and you're at about $500. Not even half off. What if we change the condition to used? Now at $350 for pieces and $420 delivered. Considering all the orders you'd make, the time spent checking them, as well as organizing all the pieces and you may decide to skip it and buy new.

Coming soon, the Grand Carousel!

LEGO Techniques - Building a Green Grocer 10185

My rebuilding posts seem to be growing in popularity. It's one of the few series where I am actively getting requests. At Bricks Cascade this last weekend, Ben asked me if I could analyze the Green Grocer. It's one of the sets he missed out on but the aftermarket prices are a little steep. Not nearly as bad as, say, the Millenium Falcon, but still around $1000.

If you still aren't familiar with using BrickStock, hit up the Falcon post (link above) to see a brief tutorial at the beginning of that article. For the rest of you, let's dive in!

Open up BrickStock and load in the Green Grocer. Get the value of the parts (Ctrl-A, Ctrl-G), then get the most expensive to the top (click, click). Notice that the parts value is already at $758, roughly a quarter less than purchasing one. Maybe we could have something here.

The panel can be changed to the new variant with side supports. However, this will slightly change the look of the Palladian window on the third floor. Two of the original panels cost over $17. Two of the new variants will be $0.13.

The next spendy item is the 1x2x3 train window. I don't even know the point of using the train style. The features of it are turned to the inside and no glass is used. My assumption is that the flat front 1x2x3 window was not produced until after this set was designed. In that case, change the train window to a 60593 and save about $32 on all four pieces.

Per my previous posts, you might know that I strike the figs from these sets. If you are recreating for resale, then you'll want them in. If this is a display piece, you'll either not care what the figs look like or you may not use them. $26 saved if you choose not to use them. If you're cutting the figs, you could cut the cat too at $2.75.

As with the Cafe Corner, two 16x32 baseplates are unnecessary. The model is not built to split open. Replace them with a single $8 32x32 baseplate. Change the number to 3811, quantity to 1 and physically change the price to $8.

Next click the black door then sort by description. You'll notice that there are both variants of doors for all three colors. The Type 1 door is the older style and is more expensive. Obviously. Highlight all three of those variants and note that the price is around $32. Now highlight the Type 2 variants. A grand total of $4. Strike the Type 1 doors.

Note that this only catches 3 variants. Click the "Status" column to find the others. Scroll all the way down. Whenever you see doubles, strike the most expensive one. In most cases it will make little difference but it will clean up your end result. Note that all the extras are just above this. The original set came with 54 extras totaling under $4. Might as well remove them all.

Now go back to the top and sort by the "Total" column. You'll notice right away that Sand Green bricks top the list. It's hard to replace a basic brick, but what if we could replace a color? Crazy? Select the 1x8 brick and click the "Color" column. We only have 6 unique pieces to try to replace. Highlight them all and let's have fun.

Total value of all 243 parts is $316. My first thought is to try the newer Olive Green. It's a bit yellower, and I don't think we'll have good luck with the hinge base or slotted bricks, but let's try. Sure enough, those two parts don't exist in Olive. The hinge base is easy though. Two of them are hidden by the outdoor vegetable display. Five others are hidden within the roof. Change the color to anything else. Black would work and takes $1.20 off the price EACH. That's $8 of savings.

The slotted brick is going to be a little challenge. It's used for architectural appeal in several places. You could possibly change it to Light Bley/Medium Stone. The total price drops from $111 to $13. Or change them to plain 1x2 Olive Green bricks and drop the price to $10. If you want to see some architectural variety, you can replace them all with triple the number of 1x2 plates. That would be $18 for the lot. If it was me I'd be inclined to go the plain brick route, then hope that TLG made some Olive Green slotted bricks in the future.

Or, change the style up a bit and replace every single Sand Green brick with a bunch of brick bricks. It doesn't change the price much per stud, but it would have a WAY different look with pieces that would be much easier to source.

For the remainder of the bricks, Olive Green drops the price from $180 to $48.

Click the "Total" column again to get the spendy items up top.The Dark Red inverted slopes are $3 each. As much as I love the color, it is obscured slightly by the window glass in front of them. Maybe we could change them to Reddish Brown? That also requires changing 8 of the 12 1x1 bricks as well. Highlight the inverted slopes, sort by color, then select the 1x1 Dark Red bricks. Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V to create a second lot. Answer "No" to both pop-ups. Your new lot will be at the bottom. Change the color to Reddish Brown and the quantity to 8. Go back up to the Dark Red colors and change that 1x1 brick lot to quantity 4. Then change the color of the inverted slope to Reddish Brown. Ctrl-G that item. A change to Dark Purple would net the same savings.

The Light Bley/Medium Stone 1x8 bricks are expensive. It would not be completely unreasonable to replace them with twice the quantity of 1x4 bricks. Change the part# to 3010 and the quantity to 58. This drops the price from $11 to $7.

The Tan 1x6 arch is rather expensive and can be replaced with a newer and subtle variant. Change the part# to 92950 and watch $8 melt away. Changing the lamp post to part# 11062 drops $1.

Select all and Ctrl-G to get the price at this point. I see $358. That's amazing! We've cut the price by well over half! Don't forget that this is the Olive Green version, at least mine is. If you've kept the Sand Green, You'll be a little over $600. There's not much more to consider at this point that would make a big difference. Maybe changing from new to used pieces. Maybe some minor details of replacing longer bricks or plates with shorter ones. Or replacing the 2x16 plates with any other available color. Bear in mind that you have some complicated ceiling assemblies to build. Don't cut the plates down too small or you'll have structural failure. Double check the instructions to be sure.

You can now export to your Wanted List on either Bricklink or BrickOwl.

Happy Building!

LEGO Techniques - Building a Santa Fe Super Chief 10020

The public really seems to adore these rebuilding posts. I've had an amazing amount of hits to my Millenium Falcon rebuild and quite a few to the Cafe Corner one. Recently it was requested that I do a breakdown of how to build the Santa Fe Super Chief on the cheap. Request granted!

I would not have chosen this set myself since it is fairly low on Bricklink's most wanted list. In fact, it's not even ON the list! The Green Grocer should be the next one I do. The Emerald Night is the first train on that list and that one is about the 20th one down. But let's take a look and see what kind of savings can be had!

As before, crank up the gerbils and open Brickstock. Load the inventory for set 10020-1, NOT the Limited Edition. Right there we saved $25 for a used complete one. For reference, a used one costs $200. Ctrl-A, Ctrl-G to get the price guide data for all parts. Sort by price, highest first. Go to the bottom and delete all the counterparts. They have no price data which means none have sold in the last 6 months. They're all stickered parts that already occur in this list as parts plus the sticker sheet. Head back up to the top.

Ctrl-A to select all the parts. On the left upper side I show that all parts are $368 in new condition. Change condition to used and you can reduce the price to $212. So far, not good. We might as well buy a used one. I'm going to keep the condition as used since many of the old light grey and dark grey parts will be pretty expensive otherwise. We'll test for swapping them to the newer greys later on.

The most expensive item is the sticker sheet. Strike this for over $17. Next is a panel with a porthole window. Unfortunately it is painted light grey so recoloring the train may not be possible without looking off. There are no other versions of this piece available.
The minifigs are each under $2. Striking them doesn't help much. Below this is not much point in changing pieces; they are all low cost anyway. We've gotten down to $195. Add the assumed 12% for shipping and you're looking at almost $220. Might as well buy complete.

So what if we recolor the train slightly? Arrange by color. Select and change all the Light Grey to Light Bluish Grey and all the Dark Grey to Dark Bluish Grey. Hit Ctrl-A, Ctrl-G to reprice the items. Total comes in at $164 and that's assuming that every piece is available in its updated color. Two doors, a decorated slope, and that old chunky SNOT brick are in fact not.

As I'm not a trainhead, I can't give recommendations for reconfiguring the bogies or rejiggering the train base by using several other pieces or updating the couplings. Unless you already own a bunch of older train parts, I would say that you are better off purchasing this set complete then you are piecing it together.

So, request granted?

LEGO Techniques - Building a Cafe Corner 10182

My last post on building a UCS Millenium Falcon on the cheap was such a blast that I decided another penny pinching post would be in order.  Previously, I showed how to build a Falcon for $900 or less, down from a new ticket price of $3000.  Let's see if the Cafe Corner can be so lucky.  This is the number one most wanted set on Bricklink.

Of note should be the current price for sale.  Bricklink is the best source for this.  We can single out the incomplete ones (which really mess up the price guide).  Complete Cafe Corners appear to be holding steady around the $1500 price range for a new in the box with instructions set.  Used ones are about $800.  The part out value (new) for one is only $765 though.  At first blush, this doesn't look like there will be as much impact as the Millenium Falcon.  Less licensed parts, likely.  It also seems like a no-brainer to buy the parts.  Let's continue this exercise and see how much we might save anyway.

That $765 will need an extra 12% for shipping, so consider adding $90.  Total is $855.  Per the Millenium Falcon instructions, fire up Brickstock and let's load it up.  After loading the inventory and aligning to the price guide, I get a value of $852.  This includes both extras and variants though.  Click the left most column (Status) and scroll down to the bottom.  Remove all the extra pieces (labeled with a big blue +).  These were included in the original set in case you happened to lose one of the tiny pieces.  For the variants, delete the most expensive one of each.  In all three cases it will be the 'a' variant.  Also delete the counterpart.  Price is now down to about $760.

Sort by price and scroll back to the part.  Let's find some substitutes for the most expensive pieces!  First, dat door!  At $40 this one piece accounts for over 5% of the cost of the set.  There are a few options.  One is to change the part number to 73436c01.  This gives you the left hand door instead of the right hand door.  Now only $16.  Or you could change the color of the door to old light grey and trans-black glass.  Part number 73435c03 is under $10 new.

Another option (as of this writing) is to part out another set to obtain the door.  The original Krusty Krab #3825 has both a left AND a right hand door in the proper color.  The part out value for this set is $110, mostly due to the doors.  You can purchase the set on the aftermarket for $40-50, keep the door, and part out the rest.  You could actually make about $30 to build your Cafe Corner!  Not only that, but you could harvest about 80 other parts out of the Krusty Krab to build the Cafe.  Rumor has it that there are a bunch of leftover sets somewhere in a vault.  TLG still had sets on hand when the license expired so they are currently unsellable.

Next is that $14 window frame and you need FIVE of them.  There's $70 right there.  Most of the time, variants are listed as and 'a' and a 'b'.  But then TLG does something goofy and releases a variant with a completely different part number.  If you don't care whether your studs are solid or hollow, then change the part number to 60598.  Suddenly it's 21c!  There's $69 in savings right there.

BUT, beware that the shutter piece 4133 does not fit this window frame.  Before we forget, let's fix this.  Go to part 4133 and change the number to 60608.  Also double the quantity to 10.  The older window has a single shutter that is the full width of the window whereas the new window requires two smaller shutters.  It's up to you on how precise you want to be.  If this is for yourself, you can save $70 doing it this way.  If you plan to resell someday, you'll need to replace the windows with the correct ones.

The door 73312 is $10 but there really aren't any good substitutes.  There is not a left version in black.  The only other colors it comes in are red, blue, and white.  The white one might work but it's $32 new so this is no improvement.  The $10 turntable base can be changed to black to drop the price on four of them from $40 to 17c.

Twenty of the white 1x2x3 panels will run you $160.  There is a newer version of the panel with reinforced sides.  Once it's built in place, you can't see the difference.  Change the part number to 87544 and you'll see the bill for bulk drop to $4.  The black door frame 1x4x6 is our last expensive bulk part.  Much like the previous window frame, change the number to 60596.  This is the same size door, but with a little different inside frame.  It's functionally the same.  The price drops from $8 to 25c each.  Across five of these doors, that's a saving of $38.

At this point let's take a look at our cost.  Hit Ctrl-A to select all pieces.  In the upper left hand corner You can see that we've gotten down to $425.  That's $340 off and we're still not done!

There are several more minor parts to explore.  One is the reddish brown 2x10 brick.  These are $7 each but also replaceable.  You could go with old brown for $3.  Or you could replace each of the two bricks with three stacked plates dropping the price of the function to 35c each.  The tan 1x6 arch brick can be changed to variant 92950, dropping the price from $3 to 10c.

Per TLG's replacement services, the dark blue 1x8 arch can be replaced with dark bluish grey.  The arch is not seen very well when displayed.  This piece is in less need of replacement than a year ago.  It used to be $15 and up.  Ever since it was re-released in the Winter Village set, the price has been dropping to the point that you can get one for as low as $1.25 (as of this writing).  Similarly, the 1x1x6 pillar support can go dark bluish grey to save over $2 from the sticker price.  But, these pillars are highly visible when displayed.

The last extra to explore is the baseplate, or, baseplates.  This set originally came with two 16x32 baseplates.  But since the model doesn't swing open in halves, there's not much need for both baseplates.  Save yourself $11 and pick up an $8 32x32 at your LEGO store or with your next Shop@Home order.

Beyond that, there is really no more low hanging fruit other than the minifigs.  Much like in the prior guide, I'm going to strike them.  Between the three of them it's a $20 savings.  They're pretty basic and could be replicated with some pieces from your own collection.  Beyond that, any little cost savings might come from changing the colors of hidden parts.

Total cost is now down to $370.  Add 12% for the shipping and we're at about $415.  So we've cut the price in half.  Not quite a 67% savings as in the Star Wars ship but reasonable.  If you want to add original printed instructions, set aside about $200 extra.  For the box, it's $200-$300.

What other large sets would you like me to penny pinch?  Sound off in the comments.

LEGO Techniques - Building a Millennium Falcon 10179

It seems all the rage now is to build a UCS Millennium Falcon by purchasing all the pieces on the secondary market.  This could be a good idea but look at the costs.  As of this writing a new Falcon will set you back around $3,000 while a used one can be had for around $1,500-$2,000 in varying conditions.

So let's buy the pieces and put one together, easy right?  According to the Bricklink part-out feature, the average price of the parts comes to $2,700.  Of course items don't get shipped on love alone so add another 12% to account for postage.  We're up to $3,000 assuming all the pieces can be had for average.  No box or instructions.  Might as well just buy new, right?

But maybe there's another way.  What if you just want to own one and don't care about reselling?  What if you could substitute some rare pieces for more common ones or pass on others altogether?  What kind of savings would you see?  And how do you do this?

First, download Brickstock.  Install.  Run.  The first thing you need to do is go to Extras -> Update Database.  This will bring your copy up to date with all the pieces, inventories, and minifigs.  Then go File -> Import -> Bricklink Set Inventory.  Set Item Type to Set, type 10179 into the filter and click [All Items].  Once the set pops up, double click it.  The entire inventory will load on the screen.  Could take a minute.

Now we need to know prices.  Press Ctrl-A then Ctrl-G then Enter.  This will load the average prices of all the parts.  Watch the numbers grow in the upper left corner.  When it is finished you will get a pop-up screen.  Click OK.  Note the value.  Mine currently says $2679.90.

Now comes the fun part.  Click the Price column, probably twice to get the most expensive items at the top.  Scroll up.  What's that first item, a certificate of authenticity?  You don't need that, it's $275 and this isn't going to be authentic.  Select and delete.  The next item is a big sticker for the set.  This sticker goes on a plaque and isn't even part of the ship.  At $223 you can strike it.

The next item is a boat mast rigging in light bluish grey.  They're $122 a piece and you need two.  Want to save $220?  Double click the color and change it to black.  Hit Ctrl-G again and see what happens.  Now it's $8 each.  Go buy some paint or call it good as is.

Three items modified or deleted and we're already under $2,000.  See, I just saved you almost $700.  Now you can buy some of my Dag Brick instructions to thank me.  But we're not done yet.

The fourth item is a radar dish that has some sort of printing inside it.  The decoration is nice but for a cheaper version we're going to rename this part.  Double click on the '50990pb03' and change it to read '50990b'  This gets rid of the decor and changes the dish to one with solid studs instead of hollow studs.  Really, who's going to notice the studs since they're facing down?  Hit the magic Ctrl-G and watch the price drop from $80 to $2.  Next are five minifigs worth about $48.  It's your choice but for the purpose of this guide I'm going to strike them.

The next sticker is superfluous and at $8.50 is not important enough to the build.  Gone.  The dark red 6x14 plate is not terribly visible and could be substituted for light bluish grey or dark bluish grey dropping the price from $16 to a buck or two.

There are two parts that have a little number next to them.  This is called a Match ID.  It means that there is a variant to the part that is functionally similar and possibly cheaper.  Select the Technic, Pin Connector and then click on the description column.  It will show up next to it's mate.  One type is over $4 each.  The other newer type is 12c each.  There is no functional difference.  Since you need 41, I HIGHLY suggest you remove the $4 one.  This will save $65 in this one part alone.  Click the Price column twice, scroll to the top and repeat for the Bar 6.6L.  There's a similar per part price differential over 28 units.  The only caution here is whether or not the extra 0.6L is needed.  You can always build it with the shorter version and see what suits you.

At this point we've shaved about another $500 off the price but I've still got a few more tricks to play.

There's a light bluish grey lever with a light bluish grey base.  And not just one but 60 with 2 extras.  It will change the finished look a little but you can always change the part number to 4592c02.  This changes the lever color from light bluish grey to black.  But it also changes the price from over three bucks to under 3 cents each.

The 5x5 right angle Technic brick is another en masse part.  You need 16 in the odd color of yellow.  Perhaps there was a bunch of construction equipment being produced at the same time as this set and this piece/color was already coming off the line.  The color is unimportant in this build.  Changing to black cuts off about a buck each so there's $16 saved.

This drill can be run on several more parts.  To make it a little easier, click on the Total column (likely twice) to get the most expensive at the top.  The 1x16 Technic Brick can be changed to black, the 1x1 cone should become a 4589b, the 4x6 Technic Brick can go light bluish grey, and if you dare, the 3L Technic Pin can go blue.

Some items like the standard bricks and plates should probably not change.  At this point it's probably tempting to find an alternative to the 8x8 plate, 2x3 plate, 1x8 plate, and 1x16 brick.  But the point of this drill is to get a 10179 on the cheap, not a Rainbow Flyer.

By default, all pieces come into BrickStock as New.  Right now your total will be somewhere around $1100.  For curiosity's sake, go Edit -> Condition -> Used and redo the Ctrl-G.  The price now drops to somewhere below the $800 range.  Add 12% for shipping and you're still under $900.  At this point we've picked most of the low hanging fruit.  The price is now about 1/3 of what it was previously.  You're on your own to find more corners to cut.

Whenever you're happy with your modified inventory, you can export it to a Bricklink Wanted List.  Select All and go to File -> Export.  This will copy all of your items in XML format to the clipboard.  Enter Bricklink or BrickOwl and paste this in the appropriate spot.

On Bricklink I would start with the rarest and/or most expensive pieces. Find a few stores that have it (and shipping) for a reasonable price. See what other parts that store has and add them in. Pick the winner for your preference of best cost vs. most parts. Then start with the next rarest or most expensive piece remaining and keep going. Even if you end up spending 20% more on pieces you could save a bundle on shipping. BrickOwl has a much more automagical tool that will show which stores have what and let you select them. Your wishlist and ideal stores will be updated in real time with the remaining pieces. You can always undo and reselect different options before purchasing from all the selected stores.

Bear in mind there are a couple of other items that the completist would want.  One is a box for $300-500.  The other is the instructions for $300-400.  We never considered these in the above so it's not another expense to deduct.  But you still need to build somehow, right?  Did you know if you visit the LEGO website that you can find instructions?  Type 10179 in the search bar and you'll have the opportunity to download a pdf file.

To get your shipping costs down even further, you might consider using Brickficiency to help you find the least amount of sellers who can satisfy your epic wanted list.  You can load a Brickstock .bsx file to it and it will automagically figure out what to buy from whom. However, Bricklink has added this functionality directly on their site.

Good luck with your build!  For more great tips, visit the Brickset Forum where there's an ongoing discussion.  I'd love to know how cheaply you built your UCS Millenium Falcon for!  Sound off in the comments below.

N.B. With the recent release of the Millennium Falcon 75105 you might be tempted to buy one or two to harvest parts from. Seems legit, right? You could use the inventory comparison tool on Bricklink to find that there are 66 lots that are the same. But if you are willing to make appropriate color swaps (hidden pieces, light vs dark bley), there are more like 120 usable lots. Even better, it looks like almost half the inventory of the 75105 is in your favor. After a rather in depth BrickStock session, it appears that the value of usable parts from the $150 set is $64 which replaces $95 of needed parts. By purchasing 3 of the 75105 (at $450) you can replace $286 worth of parts. It's possible a number of other parts would work as well. The good news is that as of this update, the minifigs have a value of about $90 $48. So $286 worth of parts plus $270 $144 remuneration on the figs equals $556 $430 worth of value for $450. Call it a wash at regular price but the shipping is free and you don't need to make any more than two orders to get all those parts. Plus you'll have a crap ton of parts left over, some of which may be worthwhile. If you run a store, no problem. If you're an avid builder, cool. But if you just want to rebuild a 10179, it may or may not work for you.

Get the Millennium Falcon 75105 at:




And hey, don't forget to check out my latest project, BRIX!