While Pick a Brick on Lego.com is great for finding those parts you need. It's also very expensive. If you want to add to your Lego collection, and want to do it fast, I mean really fast. Bulk auctions are the way to go.
A set on Lego Shop at home typically runs from 9 to 18 cents a brick. Unless it's an auction I really want, I never pay more than 2.5 cents a brick. More often than not, I pay less than that.
The rule of thumb is, there are 300 bricks on average per pound. At 2 cents a brick, that's $6.00 a pound. At 2.5 cents a brick, that's $7.50 a pound.
The last auction I won, weighed in at a hefty 40 pounds. That's 12,000 bricks! The parts a usually varied in type and color. You'd be amazed at the bricks you get that you never knew existed, or came in a certain color.
What to look for.
Look carefully at whats pictured.
In the description, always look for the following.
1. Is the picture of the actual Lego you will be bidding on. Unless you know the seller, never buy from ones that say they'll pick your bricks..
2. What percent of the Lego being sold are not Lego. A percent like 95% sounds good, but in the above mentioned auction, that would have been over 600 non-Lego!
3. Are there instructions included, and is it part of the weight. Instructions weigh a lot. In fact, they weigh more than the bricks do. If listed with instructions, ask how much just the bricks weigh.
4. What condition are the bricks in. New, Good, gently used, used, poor. The word clean should always be in the description.
5. How will they be packaged. Nothing like getting an empty box with a hole in the side. It happens!
6. Shipping. Include shipping in the per brick cost. Sellers some times get a little crazy on their shipping cost. They think a 20 pound box of bricks is going to cost a fortune. UPS will do it for under $25.00.
If any of the above info is not in the description, ask! A lack of info could be just an inexperienced Lego seller, or it could be left out on purpose.
The down side to buying bulk.
You will get non-Lego bricks into your collection. I've never bought a set from the other guys, not even once. I go through each bulk purchase four times, and watch as I'm adding to my collection. They still slip past. One thing to look for is off colors, and for features, that just aren't Lego.
Damaged, scratched, or just miss treated. You will get these as well. Toss them in the garbage. I know, it's a sin to dispose of Lego. The guilt just kills me every time I have to do it. Do it. Nothing like taking a good, well cared for collection, and adding sub standard bricks to it.
Miss represented auction. It can happen, even if you double check everything. Sellers lie. It's only happened to me once. I sorted through the bricks, took out the good ones. Re listed the auction, made sure the description was accurate, and still came out okay.
What to do when your box of bricks arrive.
The first thing you should do is open the box and make sure it's what you paid for. Check weight, condition, and pieces. Your best chance for resolving an issue, is to do it fast and by keeping everything the way it arrived.
Once your happy with the new bricks, wash them! You never know what has been done with these bricks, or where they've been stored. Moldy basements, next to the cats litter box, you name it.
Kitchen sinks and bathtubs work great. Wash tubs that clothes washers drain into are to be avoided. They can hold chemicals that could damage your bricks. Some have suggested washing them in a dishwasher. again, chemicals could damage your bricks, not to mention the drying process.
During each of the following steps, look for broken, damaged, discolored bricks, along with non Lego items.
Crayens, marbles, wood blocks, barbie heads, etc.
1. Fill the sink with water just a little cooler than you'd use to do dishes in. Squirt a little anti-bacterial dish soap in the water. Now add bricks. Note any real dirty bricks and set them aside.
2. Gently stir the bricks making sure they are all covered.
3. Leave them until the water is cool. Stirring them every half hour or so.
4. Once the water is cool, drain about half off. making sure none go down the drain (it's harder than it sounds).
5. Add hot water back in. Bringing the water temp back up and diluting the soap.
6. Once the water has cooled again, drain the sink completely.
7. Fill the sink back up with warm water. Stir the bricks gently and drain again.
8. Lay bath towels on the counter. A handfull at a time, transfer the bricks from the sink to the towels. At this point your just draining the access water from the bricks. Let them set for a half an hour to an hour.
9. Those real dirty bricks you set aside earlier. Repeat the process with them. The only reason I say to sepperate them, is your going to let them soak longer, and take a very soft toothbrush to them once they've soaked long enough.
10. Lay out a clean bed sheet, or old (but clean) blanket on the floor. Gather up the towels and dump the bricks onto the sheet/blanket.
11. Let them dry overnight. A small fan blowing over them really helps the drying time. you'll want to move them around every few hours or so. Larger plates may have to be tapped on the sheet/blanket to get access water out of them.
12. Any bricks that still aren't clean, repeat process.
Now your ready to sort, build, play.