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Lego bricks outshine gold bars as investments, study finds

A report claims Lego toys outperform gold, stocks and bonds. Also, Happy National Lego Day!

At over 3,000 pieces, the Lego Movie 2: Welcome to Apocalypseburg set is huge -- and maybe even a great investment.

Could Lego sets be the building blocks of a stronger investment portfolio? A study has that found Lego sets may be a better investment than gold. 

Lego did better than traditional investments like gold, stocks and bonds -- yielding an average return of about 11 percent from 1987 to 2015, according to the study published recently out of Russia's Higher School of Economics.

"Lego returns are not exposed to market, value, momentum and volatility risk factors, but have an almost unit exposure to the size factor," the report said. "A low exposure to standard risk factors make the Lego toy an attractive alternative investment with a good diversification potential."

It's interesting to note that some of the most expensive Lego sets sold since 2014 have reached six figures. 

Here are some examples: 

  • Lego Captain America & Iron Man set (from 2012 New York Toy Fair) for $11,200 (around £8,485, AU$15,590).
  • The rare Lego Magician and Zombie (from 2015 Manager Conference) for $11,150.
  • The complete collection of 55 Lego Harry Potter sets and minifigures for $10,000, according to marketing firm Edelman.

It isn't just the rare or expensive sets that have done well as investments. Big and small sets, as well as "seasonal, architectural and movie-based sets," all delivered high returns, the study found.

Before you trade in your gold bricks for Lego bricks, there's a dark side to collecting the retro toys.

In 2016, Vice reported that stolen Lego sets have become a lucrative trade. 

"There's a 'black' or secondary market for everything, especially things of value," Portland police Sgt. Peter Simpson told Vice.  "Legos are a hot item due to their popularity and relative cost from retail markets. Virtually untraceable -- no serial numbers -- and easily sold."

A gang of criminals was arrested in San Diego in 2015 for taking more than $15,000 worth of toys that included mostly Lego sets. That same year, a 43-year-old was caught on camera stealing a $450 Star Wars R2-D2 Lego set in Oregon.

Phoenix cops discovered an even bigger crime ring and seized $200,000 worth of stolen Legos in 2014. A Long Island woman allegedly stole $59,000 worth of Legos from a storage unit

Whether you decide to invest in Legos for financial security or buy them merely to build something fun, don't forget that Monday is National Lego Day.

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