The following are my top tips to help you save money and avoid frustration when buying Lego on BrickLink.

Tip #1 – Shop your own collection!

Before you start ordering for a Lego parts Wanted list on BrickLink, I recommend that you print your list out and find as many of the parts as you can from your own collection.  Checking-off the parts and quantities from your list that you find as you go. 

You can scavenge parts from Lego sets you no longer want, or better yet source parts from your own collection of sorted spare Lego parts (see also tip #4).

This simple activity prior to buying parts from BrickLink can save you a surprising amount of money and makes good use of what you already have.

Tip #2 – Buy from domestic sellers whenever possible

Buying Lego parts for a custom Lego model, mod project or MOC will likely involve placing multiple orders with several different BrickLink sellers.  And as each order you place incurs a shipping cost the total cost of shipping for your project can blow-up quickly!

To minimise the total cost of purchasing parts for your custom Lego project you should:

  • Buy from BrickLink sellers in your country, or even better yet that are local to your state or city.  As the shipping cost per-order will be less than you will incur if ordering from overseas sellers. You also avoid paying import duties and taxes that may apply to international orders.
  • Purchase parts from BrickLink sellers that stock the most unique parts matching your wanted list*. So that you can reduce the total number of orders you have to place across BrickLink sellers, saving on total shipping costs, versus placing a lot of small orders with multiple BrickLink sellers.

(*To see BrickLink sellers that stock parts for your Wanted list: from your Wanted list in BrickLink -> select ‘Buy All’ -> then sort the BrickLink sellers on the ‘Buy Wanted List’ page by: Unique lots.)

Note: I do occasionally order from overseas BrickLink sellers if I cannot source rare parts that I may need for a Lego project from domestic sellers. If I have to do this I always try to buy as many of the parts required for my project as possible from the overseas seller I’m ordering from, to get maximum utility from the high shipping cost that I have to pay for the overseas order.

Bonus tip: Consider buying from local sellers in your city that offer ‘in-person pick-up’ on orders.  Not only can you save on shipping but you never know you may be able to strike-up a fun conversation with a fellow Lego enthusiast who may be interested in what you are building!

Tip #3 – Check prices against Lego Pick-a-Brick

If you need to order a large quantity of one or several part types for a custom Lego model, mod project or MOC it is worth checking the pricing of those parts on Lego’s Pick-a-Brick site.  Sometimes you can get bulk parts cheaper from Pick-a-Brick than from BrickLink.

A word of caution however.  I do this only for ‘small’ parts that I need in high quantities for a given project, for example 1×1 or 1×2 plates and tiles and other similar small parts.  I prefer not to order large parts such as bricks or other parts that may be liable to getting scratched from Pick-a-Brick. 

The reason for this is that unfortunately Lego send Pick-a-Brick parts orders with all parts in your order unsorted, and bulk dropped into large plastic satchels; and Lego often post these in simple padded mailing bags with minimal protection for the parts. 

Resulting in a high likelihood of you receiving scratched parts! 

This result is less likely to occur for small parts, but is highly likely if ordering larger parts with large flat surfaces like say 2×4 tiles or 1×6 bricks.

Tip #4 – Round-up to build a spares collection

When you are ordering parts from a BrickLink seller, add extra quantities of commonly used parts and round up odd quantities to the nearest even or x5 multiple.

This not only helps the seller to count parts out for your order, it also over time will build up your Lego spare parts collection, which will help provide for future custom Lego, mod and MOC projects.

Tip #5 – Check sellers feedback before ordering

If buying from a BrickLink seller you have never bought from before always check the feedback on their profile as a first step before ordering from them. 

You want to look for people posting positive feedback and comments that indicate the seller stocks good quality parts and that they take care to pack orders properly. This will give you confidence that you can expect the same for your order.

If you see negative feedback comments or even neutral feedback that indicates that the seller is sloppy with order packaging or that buyers have experienced other issues with the seller, order from a different BrickLink seller instead.

Bonus tip: If you had a good order experience with a BrickLink seller I recommend that you favourite that seller and check the option on the Buy Wanted Lists page to ‘show favourited sellers’ first in the list of BrickLink sellers you see.  This is a win-win scenario: you have confidence that your next order or orders if placed with favourited sellers are going be good, and the good BrickLink sellers are rewarded by your repeat business for their care and good customer service.

Tip #6 – Plan your BrickLink purchasing run to buy for 2-3 projects at a time

When you are ordering parts from a Wanted list on BrickLink you will find that you will often get down to the last 5-10 part lots on your list and not be able to find a BrickLink seller that stocks all of these parts – instead having to place 2 or even worse 3+ very small orders with different BrickLink sellers to get the last parts you need for your Lego project.  Each small order incurring a shipping fee, sometimes with the fee being more than the value of parts order itself.

It can be a frustrating thing, I’ve certainly been there!

To reduce the likelihood of this happening, I recommend you hold off on doing your BrickLink orders until you have 2-3 projects to order parts for. 

You will find that if you order parts for several Wanted lists at the same time the likelihood that you’ll have to place those final very small orders is reduced as you can likely get all the parts you need for your projects from a select few BrickLink sellers.

Tip #7 – Always ask for your order to be packaged well

In the ‘Note to Seller’ section on the BrickLink check-out page, I recommend you always add a note before finalising your order asking the seller to package your order thoroughly, something like:

Hi there, can you please pack the parts for this order in bubble wrap and then ship it in an outer cardboard mailing box?  So that the parts are protected in transit.  Thanks in advance!

This is particularly needed if you are ordering from a BrickLink seller who is located overseas or who you have not ordered from before.

The reason for this is obvious, but you’d be surprised what can happen if you don’t.  I’ve had BrickLink orders arrive in the past that have been shipped in nothing more than a flimsy plastic satchel with minimal to no protection for the parts – resulting in damaged parts in the order.  If you’ve asked for proper packaging and for some reason a BrickLink seller has not packaged your order properly you have a good basis to seek a partial refund if some of the parts in your order have been scratched or damaged in transit.

Asking for robust packaging applies doubly-so if you are ordering a boxed complete Lego set.  It can be soul destroying to have an expensive Lego set arrive damaged as it has not been adequately packaged to survive the stress of the mail system!

Note: if you are placing a very small order that is going to be shipped in padded mailing bag / envelope then the above tip doesn’t apply.

Tip #8 – Avoid buying used Lego parts

The reason for this is that if you stick to buying new condition Lego parts on BrickLink you know exactly what you are buying and what to expect when your order arrives.  The standard for new condition Lego parts bought from BrickLink is that the part quality matches what you would get if you removed the parts directly from a brand-new Lego set.

Whereas used condition Lego parts could be of any quality at all, you really are ‘rolling the dice’ if buying used parts on BrickLink.  The used parts ‘could’ be acceptable, but are likely to be discoloured by age, scratched and scuffed.

The only time I buy used parts is if I’m after a rare discontinued Lego part that I can’t find at all in new condition or that I can’t find at an acceptable price in new condition.  If I do buy used parts I often buy multiples of the part type so that I have a selection to choose from for what I want to use in my build. 

Occasionally if I’m after a very rare part, and if even used instances of this part are expensive, I ask the seller to send photos of the parts so that I can gauge part condition and determine if I want to buy them or not.

Tip #9 – Options for when you are stuck with finding a rare part

There are times when a custom Lego model, mod project or MOC that you are buying parts for calls for one or several rare parts that although available on BrickLink are only sold by a handful of sellers or/and are very expensive due to their scarcity.

…but that unfortunately cannot be substituted for alternate parts and you must buy them for your project.  Parts like the rare printed Tie Fighter cock-pit hatches and specific printed windscreens come to mind as examples.

There are several options you can consider if faced with this predicament:

  • Buy the Lego set that part comes in. Sure, you may pay more for the full set than the expensive part, but in some circumstances, say where the part comes in a small Lego set, you may be able to pick-up the full set at an affordable price, get the part you need, and use the remaining parts for spares.

To see the sets that a Lego part exists in via BrickLink, search for the part via its part number, then select the part from the search list and on the Catalogue page for the part select the number under the ‘Item appears in’ label on the top right.  Find the set or sets for the part colour you are interested in and then work through them to see if any sellers are offering those sets at a reasonable price.

  • Another option is to see if you can find the rare part(s), or again the set the part comes in, on eBay or on your local classifieds site. I’ve been able to pick up the set I need for a rare part very cheaply this way.  Bonus: sourcing cheap Lego sets for parts on classified sites (in Australia we have a site called Gumtree) can also be a cheap way to stock your spare parts collection.
  • And as a ‘last-ditch’ option I’ve recently found Webrick to be helpful. Yes, yes I get it, they supply non-Lego parts so a ‘no-no’, but would you pay upwards of $20 for single rare Lego part that you need multiples of, possibly considerably blowing out your budget for your Lego project, or pay 10 cents for the same part sourced via Webrick where the quality of the part is comparable?

Tip #10 – Always check & sort your orders as they arrive

There’s nothing worse than getting stuck into a build that you are enjoying only to have to stop as you are missing essential parts.

While it can be laborious, I highly recommend that as your BrickLink orders arrive that you open them, check that the order contains the correct parts and ordered quantities and sort the parts into whatever part storage trays or storage solution you use to house parts for a Lego project.

While it doesn’t happen often, you will occasionally get a BrickLink seller that misses parts or has miss-counted quantities and if you pick the error up early and contact them, they will be able to send you out the missing parts.

In summary:

  • Before buying Lego parts from BrickLink for a Lego project source as many parts as you can from your own unwanted Lego and spare parts.
  • Reduce shipping costs by ordering from domestic BrickLink sellers and seek to complete your Wanted list by ordering from as few sellers as possible (those that stock the most unique parts matching your list).
  • Buy bulk (small) parts from Lego Pick-a-Brick when cost effective.
  • Round-up odd order quantities or/and buy extra parts as you go to build up a collection of spare Lego parts.
  • Check for positive feedback before ordering from an unfamiliar BrickLink seller.
  • Buy Lego parts for 2-3 projects at the same time for shipping cost and ordering efficiency.
  • Always ask for good packaging from BrickLink sellers.
  • Avoid buying used Lego parts.
  • Look into alternate sourcing options when seeking rare or/and expensive Lego parts (e.g. buy the originating set or try eBay).
  • Check your orders as they arrive to avoid potential future frustration due to missing parts.