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Archaeology in a Grab Bag

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Archaeology in a Grab Bag

Postby Formendacil » Sat Jan 07, 2012 9:57 pm

I don't know if all LEGO Stores do this, being only acquainted with two, but the LEGO Store in Braintree, MA, puts together ziplocked bags of assorted parts and sells them (I assume "by the pound") for $7.99. I've been picking one up most times I've been there, having somewhat moved beyond buying sets; buying for parts instead. The assortment of random handfuls from the Pick-a-Brick has included a number of interesting pieces, some duds, and few... interesting bits.

Today's interesting bit was both awesome and odd. There's usually enough parts to make a couple figs, and one of the torsos I ended up with today was in old grey.

Yes, you read that right: old grey.

The torso in question was this part, which was an Orient Expedition torso, from 2003. Since I didn't already own it--and since I *really* wasn't expecting to get a nine year old part--I was very pleasantly surprised to discover it in there... but it makes me curious about the process for these grab bags. I've always assumed they're "mixed" in the back out of Pick-a-Brick surplus, maybe a few returned sets, and a few minifig parts out of the Build-a-Fig... but if that's the case then where did Dr. Kilroy's 2003 torso come from? And, for that matter, why did he have yellow hands rather than brown, which Bricklink informs me were the only hands this torso was ever officially released with?

I guess that the surplus mixed into these grab bags is a little bit farther-reaching than I thought.

Am I the only one who's bought these bags with awesome parts mixed in?
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Re: Archaeology in a Grab Bag

Postby Athos » Sun Jan 08, 2012 4:56 pm

That is a great torso. One of my favorites.

I've always figured a lot of the parts in those bags came from sets that were on display in the cases around the store. Or maybe from boxes that were too damaged even to sell at a discount.

I wonder if Kilroy's torso came from one of those mini figure display, where they have a bunch of minifies all lined up chorus line style.

I've found some old/unusual torso and heads like that in the build a fig bin.

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Re: Archaeology in a Grab Bag

Postby Karalora » Sun Jan 08, 2012 7:06 pm

The shop in Glendale, CA does the big display turnover grab bags too, although I can't get over there on a reliable enough schedule to really take advantage of it. I did once get a nice batch of black and white 2 x 2 tiles when they dismantled a chess set display.
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Re: Archaeology in a Grab Bag

Postby Kosh » Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:23 am

Grab bags can have a few sources for their contents. From conversations I've had the primary sources are damaged/returned sets and PaB 'sweepings' and small lot leftovers. I never to to the local store reliably, but sometimes folks in the LUG post when they've seen the Grab Bags. The way i understand that it works is that they've got a bin in back that the small leftover quantity parts from a PaB bin changeover, whatever they sweep up from being dropped on the floor and stuff from boxes that are severely damaged in shipping and possibly parts from returns can wind up in the grab bag supply. On a schedule unknown to me they take and load up the grab bags and sell them.
Getting an old Grey torso in a recent grab bag is quite a find, congrats. I had never considered that they'd break down non-glued displays and add the parts to the grab bag supply bin, but it makes sense. Most of the grab bags I've personally seen have had very few to no minifigures or their parts in them, others in my LUG whom get there more often have had better luck. If you can get the right bag you can surpass the haul of a large PaB cup with the contents of a Grab Bag, but the catch is obviously you don't get to choose what's in the Grab Bag....

If you are seeing Grab Bags each visit then you are lucky, I only see them 1 out of every 5 visits or so, and then it's the debate is what I can of the pieces inside worth spending $$ on...
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Re: Archaeology in a Grab Bag

Postby Formendacil » Tue Jan 10, 2012 2:52 am

It's interesting to hear about other Stores' mixed bags--and I think you may well be right, Athos, about Dr. Kilroy's torso having come from a minifig display--after 8 years off the market, I can't imagine that it was from a returned or damaged set.

It also intrigues me that both Kosh and Karalora note high turnover and/or infrequency of seeing the bags when they go to their LEGO Stores, because I'm either timing it right or I'm too infrequent a visitor to get reliable stats. Still, at each of my recent visits: Jan. 2012, Nov. 2011, Sept. 2011, Apr. 2011, and Jan. 2011, they've had them--usually about four to seven of them. Mind you, I wonder if this indicates different local FOL demographics, as opposed to different store policies/rates of making bags.
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Re: Archaeology in a Grab Bag

Postby Kosh » Tue Jan 10, 2012 5:10 am

I'd easily bet that local demographics affect how often you see Grab Bags. I live in MN where the first LEGO Brand Retail store opened inside the Mall of America. Thus there are many folks well educated to the allure of the Grab Bags and they tend to go fairly quickly. I'd definitely call it a High Volume Store in *MY* view, I've never asked staff how it's rated in comparison to other locations but they did a MAJOR remodel in 2010 and that rarely happens in low volume retail locations in my experience.
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Re: Archaeology in a Grab Bag

Postby medib » Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:09 am

I find that the Lego Stores in Toronto don't stock the grab bags on the shelf. If you ask a sales associate, they will bring a couple of bags out.
Most of the ones that I've got are mostly filled with pick-a-brick.
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