The complexities of Bricklink – Like an onion!

One does not have to be part of the AFOL for long to be guided to Bricklink. This is the main place to sell and purchase LEGO bricks, minifigs, brochures etc. The website is 16 year old and has over 8500 stores (mostly individuals selling out of their garage). This is of course not the only market for LEGO, but clearly the most prominent one. It works similar to Trademe, eBay, Alibaba and other sales sites, where one gets a review after each sale and builds up credibility and customer good will in that way.

The reason I started looking into Bricklink was my search for the best way to source good-priced bricks. And I ended up like Alice, tumbling down the rabbit whole, through twists and turns – crashing down to the bottom in wonderment, with close to no answers and endless list of questions. While still being very much in the dark how Bricklink sellers build up their inventory (in a profitable way), it started a spark in me that being a seller would be something I would enjoy. Well, that took me of course into a whole other area of thinking, as to how you sell, present your inventory, manage your inventory, used vs new etc.

But first let me show you the path of my rabbit whole. Initially I was going to write a blog post, as I was learning, demonstrating how to purchase all the parts for a particular set of LEGO. Here it goes:


Purchasing the parts, rather than the set.

As short guide on how to build your favourite sets without spending the big bucks.

I have just realised that you can simply source the parts for any (most) LEGO sets, and spend less money than buying them in the box. This means you can also purchase sets that are currently not available. Let me take you through the process.

Step 1 – Find the set you want

Of course, countless ways to do that. For this example I thought – wouldn’t it be nice to build one of my childhood models? Quick Google search found me this handy Wikipedia site with all the LEGO themes. Then I did an image search on the “LEGO Classic Space”, and instantly saw the one I wanted.

928

Step 2 – Find the manual

Clearly I will need the manual as well. Again, Google helped me out, finding me the brilliant site of Lego.Brickinstructions.com. Simply typing in the set number 928 found me the instructions.

Well, this is going well I thought. What next?

Step 3 – Bricklink function ‘Part Out’

Bricklink can find you all the parts for any (most?) LEGO sets. This is such a hidden feature, that it makes me wonder what else is hidden away.

While I initially found it via someone’s hyperlink, I have now discovered the pathway to it. After logging in, press the Want heart shaped icon in the top right corner. This will bring you to your ‘Wanted Lists’. And the menu bar at the top will now have ‘Part Out’ option. Click on that, and on the next page ensure ‘Set’ is selected.

The way Bricklink looks at this, is that you are creating a list of items you want to purchase. One of the ways of doing that is to select items from a particular set.

Step 4 – Find your set for ‘Part Out’-ing

Now enter your set, and how many sets you intent to purchase parts for. For this exercise we will only be asking for one set. Press the blue tick box when you have entered numbers in both field.

partout-2

Tick which general parts of the set you are interested in. Take note of the ‘Part out as individual parts’ option. Bricklink looks at Minifigs (and few other types of parts) as a single part, even if they are a combination of several parts. For now, I will just select to have the Minifigs as a single part. I also don’t want the box, and don’t need the instructions.

Step 5 – Defaults, and which wanted list

Next part of the same page has couple of function.

A) Do you want to add it to an already created Wanted List. My thinking is that unless you are a an advanced buyer, you will be creating a specific wanted list for this item. For our example we will do that, and simply write our Wanted List Name in the empty field.

partout-3

B) The rest of this part of the page I am not so sure about. (Please help out in the comments!). Setting the condition is clearly more of a default setting, as later in the process you can change this, at least on individual part basis. Here I choose New, as I was exploring what new parts would cost for such an old set.

The Quantity ‘Match Min Wanted Qty…’ I have no idea.

Neither do I know what ‘Default my remark’ is for.  Might update you once I find out.

Then press ‘Submit to Edit’

Step 6 – Review your list of wanted parts

This will bring you to the page with all the parts listed, along with how many are needed of each.

partout-4

and from this point, I am still very much guessing.

OPTIONS:

  • Condition: You can clearly now change the default that I had set to ‘New’ to ‘Used’ or ‘Any’. I am not sure what would drive such choice. Maybe when you are very knowledgable about which part is expensive, or if for example you only want visible parts to be new.
  • Max Price: It seems you can set the max price. I guess that is per part, while unsure which currency it is going by. This feels like something that only very knowledgable buyer would use to any effect.
  • Quantity: This one I get. You might have some of the parts, so you need to be able to change the amount you purchase for each.
  • Remarks: No idea what this is for.
  • Notify: My only guess for this is if you are pretty sure already that the part is not available, either at all or for the price you have indicated. So you want to be notified the minute it comes on the market.
  • Exclude: That is pretty obvious. Remember, you are creating your ‘Wanted List’ now, so this is when you are deciding what items are going to be placed into the list. If you already have several of these parts, you would exclude them now, so you don’t have to be doing that later in the process.

Close to the end of the list, you might come across Alternates: Some production runs of the same set might feature different parts than other production runs of the same set. The part that replaces the one that appears the most frequently is tagged as Alternate. One alternate will be marked for deletion per match by default. 

I am not fully sure what is the right protocol here. As I understand it, Bricklink is recommending one of these parts. However, the wording (in bold/italic above) is so convoluted that I don’t get it. Which one is the alternative? Anyway for now I left it as is.

At the bottom of the page, press ‘Add to Wanted List’, and it will show you if successful. At which point you can go back and do another part out, or view what you just did.

Step 7 – Review before looking for store

At this stage you can view your list. You would also get to this page if you go to the ‘Want’ option at the top right corner, and click on one of your Wanted Lists.

Here you can pretty much do the same things as you could when you created the list. (if you press EDIT)

partout-5

Additional Feature would be that you can change the colours of several bricks in one go. I can imagine that if you wanted to build a pink spaceship you would use this option. I don’t know what some of the other features are.

Step 8 – Look for store

On this page, you have two main options before looking for the store.

  1. Combine Lists (you can change and/or combine which lists you want to now find store for)
  2. De-select items (once more you can un-tick items that you might already have acquired)

partout-6

Then press ‘Find Stores’

Step 9 – Select stores to purchase from

I must admit, I am yet to fully understand this, or what is best to do.

partout-7

This is what I know so far:

  • The ‘Lots’ number next to the store represent how much that store can provide. It is called Lots, rather than Parts, as you might have multiple of each part (so it is a lots of parts). Interestingly though, even if the store at the top has 72 ‘lots’ of the 99 required available, it still does not mean they can fill the order for those lots.
  • If you click on the store row, the ‘lots’ on the left will be highlighted to show you this. Each part that is available is highlighted with grey banner and green line, while lots that the store can only supply partial lots have orange banner (as here below at the bottom right corner where only 1 of the 3 required is available in this store.
  • partout-8
  • For old sets like the one I am trying to source parts for, it might be best to press ‘Auto-Finder’. There are some options there as seen here, self-explaining. For our test I went with best-value.
  • partout-9

And this is where I get even more confused. What I gather is that in my example, is that 15 of the 99 lots required are really difficult to

source (as NEW).

partout-10

As I work myself through this I might post more. But hopefully (for simpler and younger sets) this guide might be of some help.

We haven’t covered here anything about such items as checking if price is reasonable (Bricklink gives some indication above with Green/Red) and what the shipping cost could do to your over all calculation.

Cost Discovery

Well, this adventure began as thinking about cost. So what did I find out very simply regarding this set.

  • USED: Multiple Stores using Auto-Finder. All lots/parts found in 5 stores. Cost: NZD 240
  • USED: Multiple Stores sourcing myself (no idea, lots and lots of work)
  • USED: Single Store. None (none could source all of it)
  • NEW: Multiple Stores using Auto-Finder. Still missing 15 lots. Cost: NZD 928

And searching by Set

  • USED: no parts missing. NZD 148
  • NEW in box: NZD 3,486

Would love to hear some comments/questions/recommendations in the comment section.


Featured Image: Galatic Defender (Landed) from pasukaru76 at Flickr

 

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