Should you keep LEGO instructions?

If you’re an avid Lego collector and builder, it’s only a matter of time before storing and managing all those instruction booklets becomes an issue you’ll have to deal with.

There are a number of factors to consider however, before you decide whether to organize and care for them or to simply throw them into the recycle bin. There is also a possibility those piles of paper could become piles of dollars if offered up for sale.

You should keep your LEGO instruction booklets if you want to rebuild your LEGO sets in the future, or if you want to resell your used LEGO sets to get back some of the money you spent. Lego instructions have more value than just the information on how to build a set. They also have part number and description information as well as customer service contact information and the quantity of each piece provided. A whole new market has been created by those who resell LEGO parts that includes the necessity for original LEGO instructions.

LEGO instructions can be more than just a nostalgic look back on that time spent building a favorite set. It’s worth taking a closer look, however, on why one might want to hold onto those instructions and have them available when they are needed again. Also, thanks to a thriving market of used sets for sale, there is an equal demand for LEGO instructions. You could be the one to benefit from that demand.

Are LEGO instructions available online?

LEGO instructions are available online for a large number of LEGO sets. They can be found both on the official LEGO website and also on their LEGO Instructions mobile app. Though LEGO states it does not have digital instructions for every set ever made, Lego.com does offer an extensive list of sets that have digital instructions available to download for free.

Early LEGO sets did not actually come with instructions as they were sold simply as building blocks without any specific models in mind. But since 1964, LEGO Group has included instruction booklets in their sets. There may come a time when all LEGO instructions are only available digitally but only time will tell.

Currently, LEGO Group is researching more environmentally friendly materials for their building pieces so perhaps this is an indicator of some future change to providing paper instructions. Also, as of this writing, the BrickLink Designer program is only offering digital instructions via an app and then with a pdf download for it’s upcoming sets.

Time will tell if this new process will succeed or customers will demand they receive printed instructions as they have in the past. In time, perhaps printed LEGO instructions will be as collectible and hard to find as all of those vintage retired sets.

Why use printed instructions when digital are available?

Most LEGO builders agree that printed instructions are easier to follow than digital while you are building. In fact, a study by Temple University proved that printed material activated the ventral striatum area of the brain more so than digital media. And when kids want to build a set from your pile of assorted LEGO, you’ll have some instructions to help guide their play. Also, if you’re an avid builder, you’ll find it very convenient to be able to flip back and forth to reference previous building steps and piece color.

The parts list at the back of the instructions can be invaluable in verifying you have everything you need to complete your set because it also includes the quantity required and supplied for each individual piece. Of course, although LEGO pieces are washable and quite durable, LEGO instructions need a certain level of care to last over time.

And lastly – there is such a sense of satisfaction as you turn each page of the instruction booklet, because it shows the progress you are making with building your LEGO set!

Let’s talk about how to keep our LEGO instructions safe for future reference.

How to store LEGO instruction booklets

The most important thing about safely storing your LEGO instruction books is to keep them in a dry, climate controlled environment.

If you’re an avid comic book reader like myself, then you are familiar with the work involved with keeping flimsy comic books safe over time. These same methods can be used to protect your LEGO instruction books. I would suggest storing them inside acid-free comic bags with backing boards. Comic book storage boxes can keep the instructions stored upright and flat to avoid warping or folding. If they are too large for comic book format, try magazine sized bags with backing boards.

Keep them in a dry, climate controlled environment and they will last a very long time.

Then there is always the thrill of pulling out that old instruction set to remind you of a set built and long forgotten. Those old instructions are also a great reference for specific building techniques that can be used in multiple designs. Many of the techniques for employing gears, for example can be quite complex in order to accomplish the correct action. Having the instructions in hand can make those complex builds a little easier.

Thankfully, LEGO Group has made organizing them chronologically a breeze by using the set number. One can also organize them by theme since the set numbers in each theme are similar. Now that you’ve organized and safely stored your LEGO instructions, you only have to decide whether to keep them or perhaps cash in on safeguarding your collection.

Is there a market for selling LEGO instructions?

LEGO instructions can be another revenue stream for LEGO collectors and resellers. As recently as last November, a set of instructions for Café Corner, the first modular building in the Creator Expert line from 2007, sold online for $180.00. Typically, however, LEGO instructions from the last ten years for example tend to sell for a small percentage of the total cost of the actual set. Yet just as sellers offer mini-figures and specialized parts, they find value in offering LEGO instructions as well.

Just as there is a market for bulk LEGO pieces, those buyers are willing to purchase LEGO instructions in bulk as well to try and assemble full sets from the miscellaneous pieces they’ve purchased. At times, assembling a complete LEGO set by purchasing the specific LEGO pieces and the related instructions can be less expensive than buying the sealed set at full retail price. It’s also an excellent option for putting together that long sought after set that has sold out and just isn’t available anymore.

Some LEGO collectors will settle for having instructions of old retired sets rather than spending big money for the set itself. Seller platforms like BrickLink and eBay online have shown that there is definitely a market for selling LEGO instructions.

If you want to learn more about what you can sell on BrickLink, a LEGO marketplace for buyers and sellers, check out this article we wrote.

Final thoughts

LEGO instructions are worth holding on to. Regardless of whether you are a LEGO fan who may want to re-build those sets in the future or someone who is more likely to resell your LEGO sets on eBay, those little instruction booklets will add some value. Keep them safe and you won’t regret it in the future!