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Buying Lego in the UK

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Buying Lego in the UK

Postby Jabba the Taff » Sun Sep 13, 2009 9:39 am

With my British sense of stoical bitterness over the rarity of deals on Lego in the UK, I thought I would put together this little guide. We're never going to be as cheap the States but hopefully it will be useful to you in budgeting and timing your purchases for best value. Please add any places/offers I may have missed (not specific offers though – keep those in other threads). I obviously cannot guarantee these stores will follow the trends I have observed though. When I have indicated that cashback is available, I have quoted quidco.com. This is only because I have found it to be the most reliable, there are many others which may have better returns, and the rates of cashback may change without notice.

Can someone also comment on the Lego Stores? I have no idea what they’re like. Have I missed any stores?

    Argos – They stock a very good range – especially in Argos Extra stores. They have fairly regular offers. A couple of times a year they have 25% off the entire Lego range. But in between they then may also have Star Wars offers that include the Lego sets, or Lego theme offers with money off one or two themes. While these offers can last up to a month, they are mostly week-long lasting over a weekend Thurs-Tues. Sets are priced at or slightly below Lego S@H. Their clearance offers are a great chance to pick up bargains but you have limited choice. Online delivery starts at £5.80. 1.5% back through quidco.com when ordering online. I’ve also noticed that some of the clearance sets go back up to their original price after a while and become internet only.

    Toysrus – They also stock nearly the full range but I’ve never bought anything from TRU due to the Toysrus Premium. They always seem to add a couple of pounds to sets. They seldom have sales and when they do, it seems to be about 5 sets.

    Shop@Home - Obviously they have all of the exclusive sets unavailable elsewhere. But don’t forget the delivery charge! The Sales and Deals section only appears to change fundamentally twice a year – Xmas and July – but there are bargains to be had. It’s a pity most of them are on Bonicle or accessories. As far as I know, unlike the US, there are no S@H phone deals.

    Tesco – The instore range is variable and is hard to predict, but outside of the Christmas period the sets tend to be under £30 in value. Prices are hard to predict as well. Some sets just under RRP, while most are RRP. They have a price check promotion ongoing to beat Argos prices but this amounts to pennies, and is negated by the lack of choice. They have 3 for 2 now and again. Online at Tesco Direct they have a much greater range. But you have to figure in for delivery which starts at £5, though you can get it sent to a store for free. 3% back with quidco.com

    Play.com – They tend to have SW and Indiana Jones sets. Free delivery and prices are normally slightly under RRP. Play.com also has 2% rebate if you go through quidco.com.

    Amazon.co.uk – Free delivery if it’s direct from Amazon, prices just under RRP. Prices can subtly vary from week to week, day to day, so you may want to ‘follow’ the price of the set you want for a few days. This is seemingly dependent on stock levels or supply. Search results include sets from Amazon Marketplace operators that overwhelmingly charge for delivery, so be warned. Many of the newer sets don’t show up straight away if you are only browsing and need to be searched for. Amazon has a good sale just after Xmas where some sets can be picked up for half price. You can also pick up Nectar points by going through Nectar eStores.

    Blahdvd.com or Dvd.co.uk – these sites appear to be from the same operator. Some cracking deals can be found here if getting the newest sets is important to you as they sell for less than RRP straight away and the range is quite wide, but delivery is not included. Though it is cheaper than other delivery charges - normally £2ish. They also appear to have very limited stock levels. When it’s gone, it’s gone! You can pick up iPoints. I don’t use this points system so I have no idea what it’s like.

    The Entertainer/thetoyshop.com – like TRU they add a premium and rarely have sales. The only time I tried to buy something from here was on a set with a broken box and even after haggling a discount for that, it was still going to cost more than elsewhere.

    Hamleys – You don’t pay the London premium online! Not a great range anymore but you do get free delivery over £50. 5% back with quidco.com

    Wilkinsons – A few stores have had a couple of sets recently. No savings though. I don’t whether they will expand their range. One to keep an eye on.

    ASDA – like Tesco the sets tend to be under £30 and until recently I’ve never seen any offers, but a selection of sets suddenly went to half price without advertisement. A very limited range and this can vary between stores. Online is a shambles and delivery is a fiver.

    Boots - they tend to have a fairly good range on their website and in larger stores in the run up to Xmas. This is often in conjunction with a 3 for 2 offer. But they don't appear to get more stock in throughout the year. And their stock levels seem to be quite low so be quick! Online delivery is £2.95 or free when you spend £45 or more. You can get it sent for in-store pick-up for free. Online you can get 3.5% cashback if you go through giveortake.com. You will also pick up Advantage Card points (including bonus points during promotions) which can quickly add up to a bonus set!

    TK Maxx – now, I keep hearing about great deals people have had here. But I’ve been in every store I come across and never seen any Lego.

    Vouchers/Codes – I’ve never seen any in the UK.

Overall, Argos has the best and most consistent offers, especially if you are prepared to wait. If you want new sets straight away then Play, Blahdvd or Amazon are your best bets. You can get lucky at Tesco but I wouldn’t rely on it. Boots is really good during the Xmas period but you have to fast. Toysrus, The Entertainer, and Hamleys are rip offs. TK Maxx is a mystery, to me at least. And S@H? It’s a necessity for exclusives but I’d avoid it for the common sets.

EDIT: Massive thanks to Dr Dave and Bigospedros for their information about Tesco, Boots, and further down this thread about John Lewis and Lego Stores.

Hope this helps. Good Lego Hunting!

Jabba
Last edited by Jabba the Taff on Thu Sep 17, 2009 1:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buying Lego in the UK

Postby drdavewatford » Mon Sep 14, 2009 12:34 am

Excellent summary, Jabba - this pretty much fits with my own experience, although I guess I'll add my own 2 pence worth:

- If you like your boxes pristine then Argos can be a nightmare, firstly because they can be careless in the warehouse (about half the sets I've bought from there have had some marks on the box right up to holes and tears) and secondly because they always apply a sticker to the box for their own internal use which won't peel off without damaging the box. They do have the best selection outside the lego stores/shop@home & TRU, however, don't charge a premium like TRU, and do often have worthwhile discounts, e.g. £20 off the AT-TE most recently.

- The Entertainer charges a HUGE premium. Avoid. At least when TRU charges a premium it's generally modest (although it can be huge, so always check), but The Entertainer adds on a shameful amount.

- Play.com are still building up their Lego selling capacity, but the discounts are surprsingly big on some sets, e.g. almost 20% off some of the sets, including brand new preorders. I've just ordered Lego from them for the first time and I'm waiting to see what the service is like.

- The Lego stores in Milton Keynes etc. are the daddy if you can get there. There have always been a few decent sets on discount in the stores whenever I've been (e.g. Rogue Shadow, UCS Grievous for half price), and in the post-Christmas sales the savings can be enormous (I bought the Republic Cruiser, UCS AT-ST, Sandcrawler and MTT during a massive post-Christmas blow-out last year and saved up to 50% on all of these sets).

- Lego S@H is "point and shoot" danger, particular when they have some good sale items - just keep clicking on the items, the cost grows and grows, and they send you everything for just 1 postage charge of £5.25 - bargain !

Anyway - happy shopping....

Dr. D.
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Re: Buying Lego in the UK

Postby bigospedros » Mon Sep 14, 2009 1:28 am

I would add that in Tesco, you can have any item bought via Tesco Direct sent to a store for you to pick up and that this is free, thus saving on any delivery charge. But again, I would express some caution here, as the last two times I've done this, the box has been mangled as their "packing" consists of a mailing plastic bag!
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Re: Buying Lego in the UK

Postby drdavewatford » Mon Sep 14, 2009 2:22 am

Two more points from my disorganised brain :

1. An added bonus of shopping at Lego's own retail stores is that you get a loyalty stamp for every £15 you spend; once you've collected a certain number you get up to £20 off your purchases. If you make a couple of big purchases, you can get money off there and then. It's even better when you make purchases on "double loyalty points" weeks, although these are unfortunately rare.

2. John Lewis is also a reasonable source of some new sets, you can occasionally get money off, and their online division will deliver to a JL store of your choice for free. I've used this service a couple of times and it's worked efficiently.

Dr. D.
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Re: Buying Lego in the UK

Postby Jabba the Taff » Mon Sep 14, 2009 9:31 am

Cheers for the extra info, I've never thought of John Lewis. Also good to know about Tesco Direct sending to stores.

drdavewatford wrote:
- The Lego stores in Milton Keynes etc. are the daddy if you can get there. There have always been a few decent sets on discount in the stores whenever I've been (e.g. Rogue Shadow, UCS Grievous for half price), and in the post-Christmas sales the savings can be enormous (I bought the Republic Cruiser, UCS AT-ST, Sandcrawler and MTT during a massive post-Christmas blow-out last year and saved up to 50% on all of these sets).



Are these discounts regular? And is the post-Xmas sale at the end of Dec or the start of Jan? I don't really live near enough to a store to go regularly, but if a sale is on it'll be worth the petrol money to make a special trip.
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Re: Buying Lego in the UK

Postby drdavewatford » Tue Sep 15, 2009 6:10 am

[/quote]

Are these discounts regular? And is the post-Xmas sale at the end of Dec or the start of Jan? I don't really live near enough to a store to go regularly, but if a sale is on it'll be worth the petrol money to make a special trip.[/quote]

There always seems to be SOMETHING on sale in the Lego stores, but not necessarily something I've wanted...... They're pretty forthcoming on the phone, however, and it's worth calling them periodically to ask them what's on sale.

Regarding the post-Xmas sale, I think it's between Xmas and New Year (can't say for sure though), and it continues into Jan, although stock of sale items obviously dwindles over time, Again, however, you'd need to check by giving the store(s) a call.

Dr. D.
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Re: Buying Lego in the UK

Postby Jabba the Taff » Tue Sep 15, 2009 8:13 am

Thanks Dave, Lego store will be programmed into contacts now!
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Re: Buying Lego in the UK

Postby bigospedros » Tue Sep 15, 2009 11:16 am

i do wish Lego would provide a way to get the store calendars sent via post or e-mail. Yes, the Lego site lists the in-store events online, but they don't list anything else, like double stamp promotions / Sales etc etc.

I'm not gonna drive to Brighton every month to pick one up, but I would go to the store more often if I knew when to go in advance. I did make a Ask Lego thread here about it, but it was closed following a reply from Steve and nothing has changed (no surprise there, sadly). :(
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Re: Buying Lego in the UK

Postby bluemoose » Sat Sep 19, 2009 3:42 pm

bigospedros wrote:I'm not gonna drive to Brighton every month to pick one up(


That's why they do the in-store calendars, to encourage you to visit the store & spend money. Usually some kind person will scan the calendar & post it on flickr; the US one for October popped up a couple of days ago, but the UK stores haven't received theirs yet (the calendar fliers for US, UK & German stores are all done in the US).

The in-store offers for UK for the rest of September are -
Sept 21-24 - Back to school sale - 10% off all pens, pencils, stationary, bookends, backpacks, watches & keychains
Sept 28-29 - £35 off the Eiffel Tower set
Sept 1-30 - Free keychain with any purchase of £25 or more (need a coupon, which will be at the desk)

Ian
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Re: Buying Lego in the UK

Postby bigospedros » Sun Sep 20, 2009 2:36 am

bluemoose wrote:
bigospedros wrote:I'm not gonna drive to Brighton every month to pick one up(


That's why they do the in-store calendars, to encourage you to visit the store & spend money. Usually some kind person will scan the calendar & post it on flickr; the US one for October popped up a couple of days ago, but the UK stores haven't received theirs yet (the calendar fliers for US, UK & German stores are all done in the US).


but that's my point ... it's a 100 mile round trip for me. I'm gonna be severely pissed off if I drive that distance to find that I've missed a special deal by a day or so ... probably buying less or nothing. However, if I knew in advance, I would make the trip and probably spend more money when I went.

But, by the same token, I can see where you're coming from.

I've seen that the US ones regularly appear online but I've yet to find somewhere that posts the UK ones regularly. If you know of a place, then please share. Or maybe you could start doing it with your family links? ;)

The in-store offers for UK for the rest of September are -
Sept 21-24 - Back to school sale - 10% off all pens, pencils, stationary, bookends, backpacks, watches & keychains
Sept 28-29 - £35 off the Eiffel Tower set
Sept 1-30 - Free keychain with any purchase of £25 or more (need a coupon, which will be at the desk)

Ian


Thanks ...
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Re: Buying Lego in the UK

Postby bluemoose » Sun Sep 20, 2009 7:41 am

bigospedros wrote:Or maybe you could start doing it with your family links? ;)


There's the problem ... LEGO have made it clear to the staff that they don't want the calendars scanned & posted on-line (because they want people to visit the stores to collect them ...) & staff are likely to get in trouble if they (or family) are found doing it. Within Brickish, the UK AFOL group, someone usually scans it & posts it within the private members forum.

Ian
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Re: Buying Lego in the UK

Postby bigospedros » Sun Sep 20, 2009 12:08 pm

Thanks ... Is Brickish really worth £12 a year ??
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Re: Buying Lego in the UK

Postby Jabba the Taff » Sun Sep 20, 2009 1:48 pm

I think quite a few people, like myself, only don't go to the stores because of not knowing what's on offer. It's a long journey to a store for a lot of people in the UK. Promoting the store calender, maybe even only a fortnight or so in advance, could convince many people to make that journey.
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Re: Buying Lego in the UK

Postby bigospedros » Sun Sep 20, 2009 2:48 pm

ooh, here's something to add that I've just discovered ... the cashback site Cashback Kings will offer 5% cashback on purchases via Shop@home.

In fact, use this site at MoneySavingsExpert to work out which sites give the best cashback so you make the most when you order anything online.
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Re: Buying Lego in the UK

Postby bluemoose » Sun Sep 20, 2009 3:28 pm

bigospedros wrote:Thanks ... Is Brickish really worth £12 a year ??


For me, at £12 a year, for what I get out of membership, it is an absolute bargain. But then I'm very active in this LUG, participating in many events during a year, interacting with other members on a regular basis, etc. If you can get up to "The Great Western LEGO Show" in Swindon, weekend after next (3rd & 4th October), you can get a feel for what we do & chat to a few members (I'll be there, exhibiting a few things & generally helping out). I'm not sure if it's confirmed yet, but LEGO run a temporary store at the venue during the weekend. PM me if you'd like any more info :-)

http://www.brickish.org/steam/

Ian
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