Okay, I’ll be the first to admit it, this article isn’t so much news as more of a story. In Summer 2019 our UK correspondent and Canada based editor in chief found themselves in Toronto and collaborating on the next couple of months of review for this sites. While discussing a number of rare sets, the value of LEGO Speed Champions and the difference in the second hand marketplace between Europe and US/Canada, we realised that there are fundamental differences in the sets you’ll find in stores, and how long it takes from LEGO discontinuing a line. It turns out the amount of time after a set is discontinued that you can still find it in stores varies widely on on either side of the Atlantic. Spurred on by the knowledge of these differences, we sat down over a pint of Mill St Brewery beer and set about finding some out of production sets that we could bring to you fans and where we'd still be able to find them on ordinary, retail, sale (maybe even discounted) in Toronto.
If you’ve ever visited the city, you’d know that step one was the Eaton Center. A large shopping centre located in the centre of Toronto, we were sure this was going to prove useful for toy stores, but were mindful that if the toy store did a large volume of sales they would probably sell through all of their LEGO Speed Champions sets in a year and maybe only stock the 2019 variants. So we headed down to the basement level and found a shop, rather originally called 'Toys Toys Toys' - as you walked through the doors they had large LEGO branding on the first racking of shelves straight in front of you, and a huge 3 story shelving unit stacked to the roof with kits. Sadly, our predictions were right. There was an abundance of the 2019 kits, with the Ford Mustang Fastback, Ford Fiesta WRC, McLaren Senna and Ferrari 488. Larger kit wise, they had one or two boxes of the Dodge Challenger set and a few of the Technic Camaro, but these were tucked away at the top and hard to find.
This situation is nothing less than you can find on eBay or other any good toy store and we quickly figured there was no gold to be found here. Hopping back in the car, we headed north about 30 minutes across the city. Ending up in the Don Mills area, we headed to a medium sized Toys ‘R Us to look at what a bigger retailer may have in stock. The thinking behind this was that they might not sell through everything they have, and probably have the shelving space to leave unsold items out and about.
This paid off, we hit the jackpot. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 set 75893 was available for $129.99, the Ferrari Ultimate Garage (set 75889) was the same price, and hidden at the very back of the shelving behind a wide selection of the 2019 range including the Mini Cooper double set was a Ferrari SF16-H Formula One car (Set 75879). Needless to say, we ended up walking out of the store with around $300 worth of LEGO and some strange looks from the families in the queue buying toys for their kids. Over the next week or so we are going to continue to look for diamonds in the rough and where hidden valuable and collectible sets may be located, but if you have any tips for us in the meantime please email info [at] speed-champions.com and let us know about any good collections or local Toy stores. We're especially interested to hear of any that have a really wide range of Speed Champions / Technic / Creator or any good LEGO cars in stock.
What did we learn from this adventure? That it’s always worth looking around at even the most ordinary places for rare sets. If we were looking on eBay or brick marketplaces for the sets we found today at retail RRP, we definitely would have paid a massive premium for them being brand new in box. Instead with a bit of smart thinking and seeking out toy stores, we managed to find some good sets at reasonable prices. Our pricing team will be trying out this theory over in London, England in the next few weeks so stay tuned for some bargain LEGO hunting the other side of the pond.
Stay tuned for our post later today on pricing trends with the older Speed Champions sets and what we're finding difficult to get, rare or collectible.