If your kid swallows a Lego, they will eventually poop it out. But, how long does it take vintage Lego sets and Lego minifigures to become valuable? How is it that certain old Lego sets — which weren’t necessarily big-ticket items when they first came out — are now very valuable collector’s items, worth thousands of dollars? Turns out, this isn’t total guesswork. While some of the most expensive lego sets — the Taj Mahal, the Millennium Falcon — obviously become classics in part because they’re challenging to put together and result in beautiful objects, there’s also a little bit of Lego science involved. You just have to know where to put the intellectual bricks.
“Many factors play into a set’s aftermarket value, but demand is the primary factor,” adds Chris Malloy, managing editor for The Brothers Brick, and co-author of Ultimate LEGO Star Wars. “For most of the company’s history, Lego was viewed as exclusively a children’s toy. So, in the early 2000s, when Lego began to explore the adult market in a serious way, they began developing a lot of massive sets with high price tags.”
Gerben van IJken, a full-time Lego expert with the E.U.-based auction platform Catawiki, and a Lego investor and appraiser, cites rarity, detail, and demand as reasons for increased value in some Lego collectibles.
“Most high-priced sets are recent, but not that recent. Properties such as Star Wars, for example, benefited from the restart of the movie franchise and the fact that people who loved Star Wars as kids — but didn’t have the money to buy sets that cost hundreds of dollars — are now buying them.”
So what are the most valuable Lego sets around? That’s what we set out to learn. While Lego lore (get used to that term) tells of employee exclusives, such as a solid-gold 14k Lego brick valued somewhere between $9,000 and $14,000, we’ve kept this list to models, sets, and minifigures that are, or once were, available to the general public. Wherever possible, we’ve also included links to comparable new sets that are available at current retail prices. Even if they won’t necessarily be worth a million in 2040, they’ll still be cool and fun to have now. So take a look at these sets and see if you have any of them sitting in the attic.
1. #10179 LEGO Ultimate Collector’s Series Millennium Falcon
Highest Sale Price: $15,000
The out-of-this-world sale price for this Star Wars set is a bit misleading, because it was a one-time thing influenced by some extraordinary factors. “This sale involved a first edition set, sold in an airtight case,” says Gerben van IJken. “It was also sold in Las Vegas, which influenced the markup.”
Despite the galactic inflation, a first edition Millennium Falcon is one of the most — if not the most —valuable Lego sets ever produced. “We’ve sold these sets for prices ranging from $3,400 to $5,700,” he says. However, a re-released version that came out in 2017 has devalued the set, according to Malloy. “Since the new Millennium Falcon came out, the more recent value is about $1,679, with only one sold in the last six months.” That said, with an original price of about $450, even the more modest sale price still represents a nearly 300 percent increase, making this set a true smuggler’s treasure.
2. #10189 LEGO Taj Mahal, First Edition
Highest Sale Price: $3,864
“This set used to trade blows with the Millennium Falcon for the top spot,” explains Malloy. “But it’s a perfect example of why speculating Lego set values and prices is a very, very risky business.” Lego re-released the Taj Mahal model a few years ago as part of a different collection, which dropped the price from north of $3,000 to a mere $450. Despite the devaluation however, this set is still an architectural masterpiece and first editions once sold for about 10 percent of their highest valued price.
3. #6080 LEGO King’s Castle
Highest Selling Price: $2,600
If you’ve got a mint condition, in-the-box 1984 King’s Castle, you might be able to fetch some serious Lego loot. Part of the reason is that, in general, a sealed Lego set is worth up to ten times as much as an opened one. Another part is that, for the ’80s, this was a huge set. “The largest set in a given theme during the ’80s and ’90s was typically in the 600 piece range,” Malloy explains. “Since the early 2000s, most themes include sets of more than 1,000 pieces. This means that there are a greater number of recent sets with a high starting value than there were from decades past.” Remarkably, the price of Legos on a per-piece basis has stayed relatively the same — about $0.10 per piece — since the 1980s, according to Malloy. So, the larger the set, regardless of its release date, the greater the possible value.
4. #10030 LEGO Ultimate Collector’s Series Imperial Star Destroyer
Highest Sale Price: $2,300
According to Malloy and van IJken, the high prices for Star Wars sets has less to do with rarity, and more to do with the enormous demand for all things Light or Dark Side. “Countless fans collect these sets to try and complete the full ‘Ultimate Collector’s Series’ or find every version of their favorite ship,” Malloy says. When fully assembled, this highly-detailed Star Destroyer measures more than 3 feet long, and is comprised of more than 3,000 pieces. Other versions of the same ship, which are not part of the Ultimate Collector’s Series, can still fetch nearly a grand on the secondary market.
5. #6399 LEGO Airport Shuttle
Highest Sale Price: $2,484
As part of the “Classic Town” line, this airport set was sought after by ’90s kids everywhere. Why? Because it was one of the rare monorail sets that featured a looping track and battery-powered train. Originally selling at $140, this 730-piece model sits alongside other monorail sets such as the Futuron Monorail Transport System (1987, set #6990) and the Monorail Transport Base (1994, set #6991), which each average more than $1,000 in collector markets. “The monorail is sought after because it was a limited production,” says van IJken. “In fact, Lego folklore tells us that Lego outsourced the production of the monorail tracks — just the tracks, not the trains — to a company that went bankrupt. Because of that, the tooling pieces for the tracks were lost, and the monorail sets were abandoned.”
6. #10190 LEGO Market Street
Avg. Sale Price: $2,163
Designed by a Lego fan, this hyper-realistic set is a Lego Factory exclusive which incorporates intricate design elements such as spiral staircases, awnings, and removable balconies. It’s also part of the sought-after “modular” collection, which allows you to construct it in different ways and supplement it with different sets to create a truly unique Lego town. The highly valued “Cafe Corner” set (#10182), is one such set, itself valued at nearly $1,600.
7. #1952 LEGO Milk Truck
Average Value: $1,980
Released in 1989, this Lego vehicle set debuted in Denmark to promote the Danish dairy company MD Foods. While it only contains 133 pieces, it’s niche availability, and subsequent rarity, make it one of the most sought after “oddities” in Lego land. Don’t be fooled by later, domestic releases, such as this one, which are much less valuable.
8. #71001 LEGO Minifigures Series 10, “Mr. Gold”
Average Sale Price: $1,786
If you have kids, you know the thrill of hunting for the rare, blind-boxed Lego Minifigures. “This Minifigure was limited to 5,000 pieces,” explains Malloy. “Sold to the public, they were mixed in with the unmarked, blind packs as a ‘treasure hunt’ item.” Minifigures, which are a huge part of Lego lore can drastically affect the value of whole sets. “It’s common to sell sets without the Minifigures, which will often drop the value by at least 50%,” Malloy adds. And Mr. Gold, because he wasn’t part of a larger set, had a sticker price of only $2.99 during his release in 2013.
9. #1650 + #1651 LEGO Maersk Line Container Ship + Container Truck
Average Sale Price: $938 (used), $1,700 (Mint in Same Box [MISB])
“Maersk and Lego have a long history, and Lego continues to release Maersk sets,” explains Malloy. “These are both limited sets, and finding accurate listings on them can be tough. I’ve seen a mint, in-box Container Ship listed for $1,700, a used Truck for $2,000, and a new Truck for $3,600. But these are asking prices.” Still, both sets are rare enough to command respectable scratch.
10. #10196 LEGO Grand Carousel
Average Sale Price: $1,591
The Lego Creator series — of which this intricate carousel set is a part — is a recent example of the detail factor that makes certain models so valuable. It’s a work of art that sells for nearly $1,500.
11. #3450 LEGO Statue of Liberty
Average Sale Price: $1,531
As part of the Lego Architecture series, this 2,882 piece beauty can fetch up to $2,000 in its first edition. There’s even a boxed set on Amazon listed at $5,000 ($11.54 for shipping, though? We’ll pass). “This set and the Eiffel Tower regularly switch places in the value department, says van IJken. “More recently, the Statue of Liberty has begun to gradually increase in value,” he says. Standing at 30 inches tall, it’s likely to tower over your typical toddler — assuming he or she doesn’t swallow the torch pieces first.
12. #10018 LEGO Darth Maul
Average Sale Price: $1,333
Back to the Sarlacc pit we go to retrieve yet another high priced Star Wars Lego set. This time, it’s a bust of a bust — the majorly underwhelming Darth Maul from 1999’s The Phantom Menace. His 1,800+ piece visage looks incredibly cool, and the hype was strong with this one, having been released less than two years after the film. So, again, a combination of Star Wars buzz, moderate rarity, and a great looking figure created a sought after collectible. If you’re not inclined to pay max Galactic Credits, though, here’s a list of all the pieces needed to build your own for a fraction of the bounty. Instructions too!
14. #6081 LEGO King’s Mountain Fortress
Average Listing Price: $1,326
A key component of Lego’s ’90s Castle line, this 400-plus piece stronghold features a realistic drawbridge, landscaping elements, and several badass Minifigure knights. Currently, eBay features a handful of used sets (some complete, some not), which go for nearly 15 percent of the boxed set we’ve listed. “If you want to sell a set like this quickly,” Malloy says, “eBay is the way to go. If you get lucky and there’s a bidding war, it’s likely to bring in the highest price possible. But if you want to have more control over the price but don’t care about selling as quickly, use Bricklink, which is a dedicated community for Lego collectors.”
15. #4051 LEGO NesQuik Bunny
Average Sale Price: $114
“There are a few increasingly rare Lego pieces that were available to the public, but this one is the most baffling to me,” says van IJken. “It’s the Nesquik bunny, who is the mascot of the chocolate milk brand. This figure was part of a line that was centered around movie making, and was endorsed by Steven Spielberg.” It came with a yellow sweater and brown pants and was given away with European chocolate milk cartons. Some did hop on over to the U.S., though, and if you have a mint, bagged one, you can hock it for some modest money. Not bad for what was once a free giveaway.