Carefully stacking the little plastic bricks together, I was filled with nostalgia. ‘I feel like a kid again,’ I said to my boyfriend, Josh.
Growing up, my younger brother Luke, now 17, was often gifted Lego sets. But he wasn’t that interested in building them, so my sisters, Amy, 25, and Emily, 21, and I would all pitch in and do it together.
Now, as I helped Josh, all of my childhood memories came flooding back.
When I first met Josh, then 18, in February 2012, we instantly clicked. Taking me to meet his family for the first time, he had something to show me. ‘This is my Lego collection,’ he beamed.
Displayed in large glass cabinets in his bedroom, he had figurines of all shapes and sizes. His most prized possessions were the Star Wars sets, which he’d been collecting since he was a little boy. ‘I’m a bit of a nerd,’ he joked. But it didn’t phase me.
A month after we started dating, Josh went to the US for a Lego convention. For the next four weeks, we spoke every day about his big adventure.
I’m at the Lego store today, he wrote in one message. I imagined Josh was like a kid in a candy shop! He returned with a suitcase full of Lego – including a plastic rose for me.
Over the next five years, his personal collection grew and grew. Each year I needn’t ask him what he wanted for his birthday or Christmas. The answer was always Lego! ‘Aren’t you a bit old for this?’ I teased.
Serious about our future together, we wanted to start saving for a house so we could move out of our parents’ places. While working as an apprentice chef, Josh was studying full-time at uni, so we had a strict budget. How are we going to afford a house? I worried.
Then one day the following week, Josh had an idea. ‘I’m going to spend all my savings on Lego,’ he said.
At first I thought he was crazy. But as he revealed the value of his collections had dramatically increased over the years, I warmed to the idea. It’d be an investment.
‘There are collectors just like me all over the world,’ he insisted, explaining that people often paid big money to complete their sets. We could be sitting on a gold mine! I realised.
Still, if his plan didn’t work, we’d be stuck living with our parents. It was a huge gamble, but I had to trust him.
Over the next 18 months, our lives were completely taken over by Lego.
Waiting for special edition pieces to go on sale, Josh would buy up to 20 sets. After waiting around six months, he’d sell them on eBay, Gumtree or Facebook for a profit.
Spending thousands of dollars at a time, it was a long wait to get a return. But once the money in Josh’s bank account started creeping up, I realised we were on to something big.
At times the turnaround was much faster. Purchasing a set of Simpsons-themed Lego for $50, Josh managed to sell it for triple the price just seven days later. Another huge profit came from some mini figures, which fetched prices of up to $500.
Soon, all his free time was split between buying, selling and packing orders. ‘You’re a patient woman,’ his friends would joke.
Storing all the packages in a room at his parents’ house, Josh insisted the curtains be closed to prevent sun damage.
Before long, we were well acquainted with the postman and the staff at our local stationery store where we bought packing materials. ‘What sets have you sold recently?’ they’d ask.
In less than two years, we sold around 250 sets – and made a whopping $20,000!
With the help of the Queensland First Home Owners’ Grant, we were able to put a deposit on a new house in January this year – three months before getting married. ‘I can’t believe all of our hard work paid off,’ I smiled.
We move in August and can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives together. Josh has already claimed a room for his Lego! It’s hard to believe that plastic bricks helped us own the real thing.