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Lego bricks - not just for children any more

Updated on July 5, 2013

AFOLs: Adult Fans of LEGO

Used to be that LEGO bricks were only for kids. Maybe some Moms and Dads would get interested and build something. And there was the rare adult who got totally hooked and built amazing creations - but that was the exception, and until the rise of the Internet, those rare birds had a hard time finding out about each other.

Once the adult fans of LEGO - AFOLs - could find each other online, though, amazing things happened. People learned from and were inspired by each other. They got together in person in groups and built more amazing things together than one person could alone. They built train layouts and invaded the model railroaders' train shows - and often won the "people's choice" type awards for the layout that visitors loved best. They designed models that the LEGO company itself made into sets. And they had a whole lot of fun in the process.

They still do. How about you?

Bulk lego bricks for sale
Bulk lego bricks for sale

Where do adults get all those LEGO bricks?

One thing you may notice about AFOL creations is that they are often quite large, and contain a lot of LEGO bricks. Not only that, but because adults tend to go for realism, they contain a lot of bricks of the same color, and it may be a less common or even downright rare color. Where do all those bricks come from?

I can tell you from my own experience that there are several ways to accumulate the LEGO bricks you need to build a model you're planning.

The most obvious is to buy them direct from LEGO on their Shop at Home website. "Pick a Brick" services allow you to buy large quantities of a single color and shape of brick. Unfortunately the selection is often, shall we say, whimsical, and the prices for standard rectangular bricks are very high. Pick a Brick works best when you need a lot of a fairly uncommon piece that just happens to be available at a decent price. Grab them while they last.

Another very useful source is Bricklink. Here, thousands (yes, really) of adults sell the bricks they don't need themselves in order to fund their LEGO hobby. Some run it as a genuine business. They buy official LEGO sets on sale, sort out all the pieces, and sell the pieces individually or in bulk to whoever wants them. Bricklink is by far the cheapest way to directly buy brand new standard bricks - the only way you'll do better is if you can find used LEGO at garage sales (good luck with that!). Bricklink is also your best hope for old and rare pieces if you're looking to replace a piece from an old set.

if you're prepared to work, though, the cheapest way to get LEGO bricks is to become a seller on Bricklink and part out sets for sale yourself. Buy sets that contain the pieces you need, keep those pieces, and sell the rest. It's not unusual to cover the cost of the set by selling the pieces you don't want, so you get the pieces you do need for free, in dollar terms. I did this for a number of years and the hourly rate turns out not to be so good if you actually value your time.

Lego books

Along with the flowering of adult LEGO fans has come a wide variety of books written partly by and for those fans. Up to the late 90's there were very few LEGO books available at all - "The World of LEGO Toys" was pretty much it - but now you can find LEGO books for every type of theme or building interest, including ones that your parents would definitely have disapproved of.

LEGO instructions on the Kindle

I've added several of my small LEGO instructions to the Amazon Kindle store. Did you know that you can read Kindle books on your computer, iPad, or other non-Kindle device? Yep, you can download free Kindle reading software from Amazon that allows you to read Kindle books on just about anything.

Did you enjoy reading this lens? Would you like to leave some feedback, or just make a suggestion? I'm always glad to hear what more you'd like to see here!

Thanks for visiting!

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      dannystaple 5 years ago

      You may want to check spelling of some of the Lego terms - "midstorms" should be mindstorms. I love the selection of Lego books, I'd also love to hear why you like each one! Lego is one of my favourite subjects - I read a lot of Lego lenses!

    • myneverboredhands profile image

      myneverboredhands 7 years ago

      Lego is really good for creative people for any age actually... Nice lens.

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      marsha32 8 years ago

      I am adding this to the featured lenses on my own legos lens.

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      KidsPlayKitchens 8 years ago

      My brother in law got into MIT because his entrance essay was about Legos! So, they're pretty much one of the best toys you could possibly find for the brain.

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      anonymous 8 years ago

      I love legos! Cool lens.