The Ultimate Guide to Collectable LEGO sets, Identification and Price Guide is a paperback book that's just been published by Krause Books who specialise in collector guides. It's written by brothers Ed and Jeff Maciorowski who run the excellent LEGO investing site BrickPicker.com.
To many, the practice of investing in LEGO hoping to make a quick buck is frowned upon but there's no doubt that it's a growing phenomenon, fuelled by articles in the popular press like this one. The popularity of BrickPicker, currently the third most visited LEGO fan website, is also testament to this.
On first sight then, this book might seem like something such detractors do not want to see published, fearing it will fuel the phenomenon further. However, I bet there isn't a single one of us here that hasn't wondered how much our collection is worth at some point or other.
You might also be thinking that the book can't be much more than pages and pages of prices, values and growth rates. Well, yes, they are present, but occupy just 20% of the book: there's so much more to it than that...
The bulk of the book, 200-pages or so, is occupied by the 'identification' part of it where several hundred sets are discussed, illustrated with original photographs of the models. They tend to be those of most interest to collectors and investors, so advanced models and Star Wars account for many of them. What I particularly like about this section is that the authors often explain why the sets have increased in value, which is sometimes obvious to those close to the hobby, but not always. Why the ugly 10187 VW Beetle that I have languishing in the back of my MISB set storage cupboard is worth $800 nowadays remains a mystery to me, however...
The depth of information and insight in the front section of the book makes it so much more than a price guide: it's a celebration of great LEGO sets, but rather than them being chosen for their 'coolness' as those in the recent DK book 'Great LEGO Sets' were, they've been picked for their value, or rather, their increase in value.
Fifty pages at the back contain the actual price guide which shows new and used prices, and growth rate compared to retail prices for around 2000 sets. The data here will be as accurate as any available because Jeff uses data from eBay and BrickLink to collate it. Of course it will go out of date, but then that's what BrickPicker is for...
So who's the book written for? I would say those who are interested in investing or collecting LEGO who are probably new to the LEGO scene. To that audience it's great resource and probably a bit of an eye-opener.
If you don't fit into that category you might think it's not likely to interest you. But I urge you to think again: it's so much more than a dry investment guide. The bulk of it is packed with well researched information and insight about our favourite sets and I doubt there will be anyone who flicks through it who doesn't exclaim "I've got that set!... it's worth how much??!" at least once!
Many thanks to Jeff for sending me a review copy. Look out for DrDave's take on the book at his blog GimmeLEGO in due course.