Why Do LEGO Sets Retire? 5 Things You Should Know!

Last Updated on April 18, 2022 by Lisa D. Marsh

Are you looking to buy a LEGO set and noticed that some sets are no longer available or saw a notice that a set you want to buy is now retired?

LEGO is a famous and popular company with widespread toys appropriate and fun for children and adults from all over the world.

LEGO doesn’t only produce its products but also collaborates with major brands and franchises such as Starwars and Harry Potter to bring new, customized and exciting products based.

LEGO is constantly reconfiguring its production line and has become a culture in the toy industry with more than 80 years of history. But the question is with this popularity, why do LEGO sets retire?

Why Do LEGO Sets Retire

This is what we are going to know in this article and about why LEGO retires its products, how to know when a LEGO product is retiring, and other frequently asked questions about LEGO sets retirement.

So let’s dive in.

Why Do LEGO Sets Retire?

There are various reasons why LEGO sets retire but it all comes down to a set’s popularity, limited shelf space, people’s interest, and introduction of new sets.

Other factors that contribute to a set’s retirement include:

1. Set’s Performance

It is a well-known fact that when a particular product stops performing well on the market, that product is usually discontinued and another one introduced. 

If a LEGO set becomes unpopular and stops performing, it takes up shelf space and has to be discontinued to provide room for new sets which will perform better on the market.

People tend not to buy more than one copy of a set so there will come a time that a long-running set will decline significantly in sales. It would be prudent to stop producing it at some point.

Other figures like movies, games, and action figures are usually relevant for a short period of time, which will make their popularity decline. Some of these sets are constantly upgraded to stay relevant while others are discontinued.

2. Profitability

LEGO usually needs to keep introducing new sets to the market to keep people buying. And once a set has grown unpopular and its order rate declines, they quit making that set and introduce a new one.

LEGO sets will retire as soon as possible if producing a particular LEGO set becomes no more profitable or if the bricks become out of production.

3. Marketability

Constantly upgrading a LEGO set makes it more relevant and marketable. And a new upgraded or similar set usually supersedes the current one in terms of likeability, purpose, and quality of design (take a look at UCS version, Millennium Falcon, and Solo Movie).

Movie sets usually have their popularity decline once the movie is released, either on physical media (or streaming) or in theaters.

Retiring and limited runs can also create a rarity for the product which will increase the product’s appeal and play a role in the popularity of the brand.

How Long Does It Take For A Set To Retire?

There is no specific formula to tell when a LEGO set is going to retire. However, most sets tend to be around for at least a year and larger sets tend to be around for a longer time than smaller sets.

LEGO sets usually have an average lifespan of 2 years before they are retired. However, they can be retired earlier or even longer depending on their performance, profitability, and marketability.

How long a LEGO set takes to retire can also depend on their popularity and how they are made. But these are some observations that we’ve made over the years:

  • Popular sets may have extended shelf life
  • Modulars tend to retire 1 set at the end of the year
  • Unpopular sets may retire earlier
  • Creator sets seem to be around for many years
  • Licensed products often have a shelf life related to the movie that they are tied to

Note that these are not a set of guidelines, but just observations that we’ve made after extensive research about LEGO sets retirements. Also, a set is not retired unless it is labeled “retiring soon” on the LEGO Shop.

How Do You Know When A LEGO Set Will Retire?

You’ll be able to know when a LEGO set is retiring when it is labeled “retiring soon” on the LEGO online shop.

You can also assume that a set will only be available for one year after it has been introduced. Basic brick sets can be an exception because they seem to stay mostly the same from year to year, although they usually have a part assortment or tweaks to their price.

You can find out when a particular set went into production by checking LEGO marketplaces like BrickLink, Peeron, BrickSet, or any number of similar fan databases.

Do LEGO Sets Come Out Of Retirement?

Yes, LEGO sets do come out of retirement, but it is very rare. There have been some instances where remakes of popular LEGO sets were made after years of retirement due to unending demand for those sets. Most popular among these remakes are the Star Wars sets which have come out of retirement several times to fulfill their demand every time a new Star Wars movie comes out.

Other popular LEGO sets that were brought back after retirement include the Taj Mahal set which was brought back after nearly 8 years, and Metroliner 4558/10001 which was also brought back after some years of retirement.

Do Retired Lego Sets Increase in Value?

This usually depends entirely on the set in question. LEGO sets that are very popular will usually increase in value when it is retired, but this is not always the case with any LEGO sets.

Also, when a set is labeled as “retiring soon” on the LEGO shop, it tends to sell out very quickly. Although, there have been older sets such as Modular which went from retiring soon to sold-out and to backorder.

Retired sets can typically increase in value within the first two years of their retirements as collectors are actively on the look out to grab them while they are still widely available. The value can also increase after some years when it becomes rare and very hard to get.

However, retired LEGO sets are significantly more valuable if they are unopened and still in their original box.

Final Thoughts

LEGO sets retire based on factors such as popularity, people’s interest, demand, marketability, profitability, or to provide room for new sets. However, there are no set guidelines or criteria that exist for LEGO sets to retire 

You know if a set is retiring when the “retiring soon” label is put on the product’s page on the LEGO online shop.

Popular sets that are still in demand might increase in value due to their growing demand and popularity.