Why is LEGO So Expensive?

If you have ever bought LEGO before, you’ve probably wandered up and down the aisles of a local toy shop to try to find a good deal. You’ve checked the prices, and each time you’re taken aback by how expensive LEGO sets are.

A LEGO Education Coding Express 54045, for example, set can set you back for a little more than $200, while some architectural landmark sets cost anywhere between $39.99 and $129.99. Even LEGO’s Duplo toys, the product range designed specifically for toddlers, have price tags that are capable of making your eyes water if you’re on a rather tight budget.

And those are not even the high priced LEGO sets! The UCS Star Wars Millennium Falcon 45192 retailed for $799.99!

So why are LEGO sets so expensive? Let’s find out.

1. LEGO pieces are durable, safe and high quality

LEGO toys were first made of wood, but in 1963, the company shifted to making their toys out of a type of plastic called ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene styrene). This plastic doesn’t slip from a child’s fingers easily, and the bricks are not brittle at all.

Even better, these plastics come in different bright colors and are glossy, making them very attractive to young children. Moreover, the material doesn’t warp as easily as other plastics. Newer ABS toys are also non-carcinogenic, making them safer than other types of plastics.

But what truly sets LEGO bricks apart from the competition is how they are made. LEGO elements are made with utmost precision, so you can take a brick manufactured in 1981 and stack it on top of a brick made in 2018 and it will still work.

The company’s quality control is simply top-notch. If you’ll check the inside of a LEGO brick, you’ll see a set of printed numbers. These are mold numbers, and they are used to keep track of any defective molds in case one brick breaks apart.

2. Designing a great LEGO set takes a lot of work

LEGO has produced tons of playsets since its inception, and many more are being developed today. Designing these intricate LEGO sets while making sure that they last a long time is not an easy task, that’s why the company invests millions of dollars (or krone) each year for research and development. 

So how much does the company spend on research and development alone?

According to The LEGO Group Annual Report, the company spent 937 million Danish krone (around $150 million) in research and development in 2020 alone.

While the key elements have stayed the same for many years, LEGO designers ensure that each playset is new and challenging, and these take time. The length of time it takes to design a single LEGO set depends on its complexity. Simple sets for toddlers and preschoolers, for example, only take a few months to design.

On the other hand, complex sets, such as the Creator Colosseum and the Millennium Falcon™, can take a couple of years or more to design. 

3. Branding and marketing is expensive

Over the years, LEGO has evolved to become more than just a toy. It is now the top toy brand worldwide, beloved by kids and adults alike. Apart from toy production, the company now has several Legoland theme parks located all over the world and surprisingly successful movie franchises and TV series.

All of these take time and money to develop. In 2020, sales and distribution expenses alone cost the company 13,540,000 Danish krone (a little more than $2.1 million).

4. Licensing deals with other brands

LEGO’s original patent for its stackable bricks officially expired in 2011, clearing the way for its competitors to flood the market with cheaper versions. The company tried to fight this by suing competitors left and right, and by extending its trademark over certain products, but to no avail. The only way to stay ahead of the pack was to innovate.

And innovate it did by partnering with popular franchises, such as DC, Disney, Harry Potter, and Star Wars. But the caveat: all of these co-branding and licensing deals cost the company a lot of money. License and royalty expenses alone reached 3,308,000 Danish krone (nearly $530,000), and that will quickly drive up the price of the products.

What was the most expensive LEGO set have you bought?

Have you had second thoughts before buying them? Did you ever regret buying a LEGO set? Check out the list we made about the LEGO sets you will never regret buying.

You can also share with us your stories in the comments below. Or join us in our free Facebook Group and be part of discussions and conversations with other LEGO fans.