Over the past almost 20 years my kids have built quite a few Lego sets. Some of these sets were enjoyed for a time and then ended up in a box full of loose pieces. Sure, we may have lost a few pieces over the years but for the most part, each of those sets is just mixed up in the pile. Recently, I decided to see if I could sort out the sets and give the kids a chance to rebuild these cool Lego sets. If you are looking at a big box of mixed-up Lego pieces and want to rebuild the sets from the brick piles, I have a few tips to make it easier.
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How to Rebuild Lego Sets from Brick Piles
Find the Instructions
The first step to rebuilding a Lego set is finding the instructions. If you already have the original manual, then you are on the right track.
If you do not have the instructions but remember what the set looked like or what the theme was, then you can do a search. Lego.com has thousands of instructions available for free as PDF files. Simply create an account or access the instructions for free and print them at home.
Tip: Don’t remember what sets you have? Just ask the kids. I would send them a picture of a piece and ask them if they could remember what set it was for and most of the time they would remember what set it came from!
Sort Your Bricks
This is the most tedious part of the process. Depending on how many sets have been mixed together, you may be sorting for several weeks.
I found that it was helpful to have multiple bins to start sorting by color first and then begin putting them into smaller containers of similar types. We had a plastic nuts and bolts organizer that was not being used in the garage so I repurposed the drawers to help organize the LEGO pieces.
Anything you can find that allows you to sort into lots of piles will work – Plastic lunch containers, a round fruit tray, or shoeboxes.
Keep Moving Forward
There are two ways to start sorting the bricks into sets.
- For smaller sets, I found it easier to go to the back of the instruction manual and find all the pieces for the entire set at one time.
- For the larger sets that have multiple bags, I found it easiest to go one page at a time and look for the pieces one by one.
Either way you choose, don’t get bogged down with finding 100% of the pieces. Just mark with a post-it note the pages that need pieces and keep moving forward. As I was working on a large Star Wars set, I ended up with about 40 post-it notes of missing pieces.
As you fill each of the bags, a baggie holder is essential. This simple gadget makes the sorting process so much easier.
Order Missing Pieces
Once you get to the end of your sorting you may find that you are still missing some pieces. Did you know you can order the missing pieces on Lego.com Pick A Brick? Simply put in the name or number of the set and you can pull up an inventory of every piece in the set. The missing pieces will cost less than a quarter for the common pieces and up to $1.00-$2.00 for specialty pieces.
What to Do When You’re Done
Rebuilding LEGO sets from a big pile of bricks is a bit tedious but pretty rewarding when you realize that you don’t have to spend anything but time and you can give your kids back a full set to rebuild.
But I’ll be honest, there comes a limit when you’re going to be done – even if the pile of bricks is not completely sorted and you haven’t finished all the sets. That’s when you bring out another stack of gallon-sized baggies and you store them back for another day.
Have you ever taken the time to sort LEGO bricks back into full sets? Got any other tips? I’d love to hear!