Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A "new" Lego set found suspiciously cheap !

 I've been around the  block a few times when it comes to wheeling and dealing at garage sales. All those years have taught me you take your chances on anything you buy out there. Sellers will sometimes stretch the truth, or even downright lie when trying to sell you something. So I've come to expect the fact that some people may occasionally try pull a fast one on me. But it's important that I point out I specified people....as in grownups. Last week I had an experience that was a little different. For the first time in my garage sale picking career, I was snookered by a kid! Talk about embarrassing!

What a new Lego set looks like
This juvenile larceny took place at a typical suburban garage sale. Mom, Dad and their three kids were all participating in the sale. As with many family garage sales, the kids had their separate little table. Most of the kid stuff was junk, but then I eyed a large Lego box sitting on the table.  Removing some toys resting on top of the box, I spotted a price tag of $5 dollars. You could tell from the scribbled handwriting it had been written by a kid. Picking up the box, I noticed one lid was still factory sealed, while the opposite end was closed with a bunch of scotch tape.

This box had my full attention. Lego sets such as Star Wars, Harry Potter and Indiana Jones can sell for big bucks on eBay. A few years back, I made close to $200 dollars on a sealed Harry Potter Lego set. This set was a fire engine truck called "Creator Fire Rescue." Though not as popular as Star Wars or Harry Potter, if it was unopened with the pieces still sealed in packs, it could be a money maker. But I needed to know the story on the suspicious looking taped lid. I hoped the box had been briefly opened then resealed, leaving the inside untouched. Either that or the set was "used" and someone was trying to keep the pieces from falling out. Summoning up my best investigative garage sale skills, I shook the box. There was no messy sound of loose parts rattling and sliding around inside. With too much tape to remove, the easiest thing to do was just ask the seller. The family was scattered throughout the driveway. Asking no one in particular, I blurted out loud, "Is this Lego set new?" At that, the Dad summoned over his son, who I guessed to be around twelve years old. Still shaking the box to listen inside, I asked the young man, "Hey buddy, is this new?" The kid stared long at the box, then glanced up at me, "Oh yeah, I never played with it...it's new." I thought it was a little strange that a kid wouldn't play with a Lego set, but some kids are fickle. Who knows-maybe junior just didn't like fire engine sets? The kid seemed sincere enough and how can you not trust an innocent looking twelve year old, right? Satisfied it was new, while also not wanting to doubt the young man's personal integrity, I peeled off a five dollar bill and handed it to the budding aluminum siding salesman....ummm kid.

After a few more yards sale stops, I headed home with some decent scores including my brand new Lego set. A few hours later, I prepped the Lego set for an eBay photo shoot. Normally when I open a new set I know exactly what to expect. Lego sets contain pieces that are packaged in clear plastic packs. When listing on eBay, it's important to show all those packs so buyers know what they're getting. In order to show the packs-I needed to open the box. Using my trusty penknife, I carefully removed the multiple strips of scotch tape that sealed the box lid. With the tape removed, I eagerly peered inside looking for the much anticipated plastic packs. But when I squinted into the box my heart dropped. Either Lego had radically changed how they pack their sets......or I'd been snookered!

The Lego pieces were not factory sealed inside neat little packs like I expected. Heck no....this was a more like Dixie cup packaging instead! All the parts had been dumped into individual plastic party cups. These cups were then stacked and wedged in long rows inside the box. (This explained why I didn't hear a lot of loose pieces when I shook the box.) Like a college kid cleaning up after a frat party, I poured out the half filled cups like so much stale beer. Once the cups were all poured onto the table, I could tell it wasn't even a complete set! Larger parts like tires and base pieces were missing. Making matters worse, there was dog hair mixed in with the pieces. You might imagine this could be a minor gross out factor to a potential buyer! On the bright side, I rationalized that maybe that kid didn't fib to me after all. Perhaps he told me the truth and really didn't play with the set. Judging from all the K-9 hair, it was probably his dog who opened the set! Yeah that's it...it was the dog see? But whether it was Fido or the kid, it was going to now cost more time and labor in cleaning up this not-so-new set. With this disappointing discovery, the set's value had gone from a potential of around $60 dollars on eBay, to maybe $5 to $10 as used "parts" lot. So much for new!
My "new" Lego set!

Oh well, live and learn right? Even though the kid got me, it was partly my own fault. Despite the kid's innocent assurance that the set was new, I still should have looked inside. I am more amused how the youngster scammed me with his poker face bluff. The kid has a future playing championship poker in Vegas some day!  That's how it goes at the garage sales-win some...lose some. But jeez...if you can't trust a kid, who can you trust?

Have you ever been snookered on a yard sale deal? (If so, I hope it wasn't by a kid!) Tell your story in the comment section below....






 
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19 comments:

  1. Well, not so much snookered as much as a foolish mistake on my part. I was hosting my first garage sale, and Hubby could not be there to help. I certainly did not anticipate the opening blitz! A couple swooped in and piled a bunch of stuff at the "check out." I was so flustered and frenzied as I added it all up; I took their money and watched them hightail outta' there in a hurry. Only later did I get a sick feeling in my stomach when I realized I had undercharged them about $100!

    At my next sale, a couple years later, I took my time with my calculator, even adding bigger sales twice. I didn't want to make that mistake again. I'm glad you only paid 5 bucks for those Legos. That kid was quite the little con artist!

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    1. That's a shame that happened. That first wave of buyers who come to your yard sale can be overwhelming. A few will always try to give you the bum's rush, hoping you make a mistake adding or miss something they're holding.Calculator is an excellent idea.

      Yeah, even though the Legos turned out to be a bust, I should be able to recover my investment. At least it made for a good story! Ha!

      Thanks for writing in....Dude!

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  2. Certainly not a "bust" in the sense of losing too much. As you said, you'd break even at the very least in bulk pieces (just dump the box). Those 3-1 sets are certainly not as popular as the licensed or even the City sets. I still like them, but they just aren't as good of an investment potential.
    Can't say I recall a time I was "snookered" at a garage sale. Really, any case like yours and I consider it more of a mistake to not check a taped box rather than a "scam" on the seller's part. One time I did buy a Star Wars Lego set that was only $3 at a flea market. It was one of the Star Destroyers which is about a $150 set. I grabbed it and handed over the $3 as fast as I could. Got it home to find it was glued together. I was not please...that is, until I found the minifigures for the set. Those alone sold for $40. I now check for glue, but those Lego people can be worth the price of admission alone.

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    1. I've seen how popular those Star Wars figures are...good stuff! On occasion I've come across the Star War and other Lego sets in Goodwill. But they're always Target merchandise returns, which means someone bought the set, took out the figures and returned the box and remaining pieces back to Target-quite the scam!

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  3. Electronics is always an iffy purchase at a yard sale. I've been scammed a couple times being told "yes it works great" or "everything you need is in the box". Now I stay way from that stuff unless I can test it.

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    1. I'd have to agree with you on that one. And even if it does work when you bought it, who knows it'll work after it's shipped to your customer?You definitely roll the dice with electronic gear.

      Thanks for writing in....Dude!

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  4. i dont think i got "scammed" at all....but when people tell me "it goes for this on ebay" in one ear and out the other. i picked up a NIB harry potter lego set last month she told me it sold for 20.00 on ebay she was fairly upset i wouldnt give her more than 7 but it is a yard sale (and not sure why i believed her)....got home they sold for 30-75 on ebay. i sold it for 35 in an hour (yeah i shoulda asked for more) so she snookered herself. when holding a yard sale dont volunteer ebay advise :D

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    1. When they tell me " it sells for so and so on ebay....I wonder, well why don't you sell it on ebay

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    2. I totally hear you. I hate when yard sale sellers try to quote you eBay prices to justify their pricing. It's apple and oranges as far as I am concerned. If they want to get that an "eBay" price, they should take the time and effort to photograph and post an eBay auction just like we do, right? Funny though that the seller basically underestimated the eBay price with your Harry Potter Lego set-good for you!

      Speaking for myself, if I could see eBay prices just by selling stuff in my driveway, then I"D NEVER USE EBAY!!! Why would I bother? The yard sale sellers who use eBay comparisons just don't get it and it drives me crazy! Can you tell you hit a nerve with me on this subject? Ha!

      Thanks for writing in with your excellent point...Dude!

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    3. Agree 100%. Even better, when they print out an auction they found and it's a "current" auction that hasn't ended and they are quoting the asking price as the price it's "going for." Ummm, that's not how it works. And I have said to more than one seller, "Well, you should sell it on eBay then." They just give me a blank look like I called their bluff.

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  5. Hey Dude, I love your blog, I consider us "Brothers in Arms". I picked up a plastic tub of Legos at a yard sale for $3. I was plannng on just weighing them and slapping them on ebay as parts only. But when I dumped the tub there were 10 or 12 minifigs at the bottom. No Star Wars but a lot of Pirates and regular Spacemen, etc. They sold for $54.

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    1. Hey Budcat-I've done s few "By the pound" Lego sales too. Seems to work out well if you get the pieces for the right price. Nice score on the figures...Hoo-Fah, $54 bucks is outstanding! Now I am going to obsess on Lego pieces-Ha!

      Thanks for liking the blog and good luck out in there in driveways....Dude!

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  6. Hi Dude! I've just recently started selling on ebay (mostly my own stuff so far) and I love your blog, I've learned a lot! I read your posts about holiday blowmolds and someone on my local craigslist is selling a 6 piece nativity set for $30. I've looked at the completed listings and similar ones are selling for $100 a piece! I'm thinking about giving it a try but I'm worried about shipping such large items since I'm so new to this. Any advice? Thanks so much!

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    1. A six piece Nativity set for only $30 is a very good deal! I would buy it. You may even be able to get it for less. Offer them $20 and see what they say-you never know, right? As far as shipping, you could resell it on Craigslist and avoid any shipping hassles. Let me know how it goes...Dude!

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  7. I have a snookered story for you. And it also was a lego product! I bought a Bionicles in the hard plastic storage container. Shook it and tried to open it but it was hard to open. Sounded like lego parts in there! I figured it was worth the .50 price so i bought it. GOt it open later to find used up pencils and crayons, miscellaneous other small junk and a pair of boy's underwear. Not one piece of bionicle, though. LOL

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    1. Ouch-That would hurt! Amazing collection of worthless stuff, right down to the underoos-Ha!

      Thanks for sharing the story-nice to see I am not the only one....Dude!

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  8. As far as for resale, Bionicle isn't really worth very much. I'd certainly buy a box of it for 50 cents, but compared to the regular Lego for selling, it is not good.

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    1. Yeah bionicles i couldn't sell for .99! Ha, they are currently in my goodwill pile :)

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  9. I just came across this post, about a year later. Anyhow, my two cents is that I don't the kid knew. Maybe it was given to him by someone and he never opened the box. It happens.

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