A few days ago, LEGO officially introduced the LEGO Art Mosaics, opening up a completely new product category especially for adults. As is often the case when a LEGO set is presented, there were controversial discussions about the price. One tenor in the comments was: “This is much too expensive, you can rebrick this much cheaper” – we want to focus on the question today, if this is really true.
In this article, we will discuss whether and how it would be possible to build LEGO Art mosaics cheaper on your own and what sacrifices you would have to make. As an example, we’re going to look at the single portrait of Darth Vader from the LEGO Art 31200 The Sith Set.
Please keep in mind: This article was originally written in German and translated later . So most of the price calculations were done in Euro and later converted to USD. And at some places there are probably some minor or major translation-errors. Sorry for that! 😉
How many tiles do we need?
The LEGO Art mosaic sets consist of 2,933 to 3,406 pieces. The biggest part of them are 1 x 1 round tiles or, in case of the Marvel and Star Wars sets, the 1 x 1 round tiles. In addition, there are 9x new Technic base plates (16 x 16 each), a new brick separator, a hanger and a frame built from LEGO. Since we don’t have more detailed information, we estimate the frame to be about 100 bricks. So per set there are about 2800 (The Beatles) to 3300 (The Sith) 1 x 1 round tiles or plates included.
The base of the LEGO Art mosaics consists of 48 x 48 studs. Accordingly, we would need 2,304 pieces to cover this area completely. Of course, this quantity means that we cannot create variations of the pictures afterwards, which are only possible because of the hundreds of additional parts.
What do the individual parts cost?
Let’s start with the (theoretical) procurement of the parts necessary for the mosaics.
LEGO has produced a new element for the LEGO Art Mosaics. It is a 16 x 16 studs wide Technic base plate, which has a height of 4 plates. In some press photos you can see this new element quite well.
Thanks to the colleagues from New Elementary we know what the plate should look like from below and have recreated it for you (just roughly with individual parts) in Stud.io.
This part will probably be quite expensive to buy individually and also a self-construction is probably out of question due to the high costs. As a refference: The single parts to build one of these plates (in the cheapest colors) would cost more then USD 6,- at the LEGO Bricks & Pieces service. For every mosaic 9 of these plates are needed, which would cost about USD 54.00 – this is out of question. By the way: The plates in the finished LEGO sets are of course not put together from individual parts, but are manufactured as a whole by injection moulding. So our picture and the calculation is only a rough orientation.
Another orientation point could be the LEGO Technic Baseplate (Panel 11 x 19) from the Spike Prime Set. This costs USD 5.09 when ordering at Bricks & Pieces. A similar price (rather a bit more) can probably be expected for the new part. This is because the production of the big plate is probably more expensive than the single parts we used for the mockup cost added up.
If you want to do without the specially designed substructure made of LEGO Technic elements, you have to resort to the 48 x 48 studded base plate. Unfortunately this is not available in black, so we have to find a remedy here. Because a background in light bluish grey would probably disturb the overall impression of the mosaics very much.
So we put a 48 x 48 studded base plate in grey in the shopping cart, which currently costs $14.99. To colour the background black and to be able to realize a suspension we need another layer of plates. We have compared several plate sizes: The cheapest way to get rid of it is to order 574 2 x 2 plates in black and to add 2x Plate, Modified 3 x 2 with Hole to your shopping cart to realize a suspension. At Bricklink this currently costs you more then USD 20.00 plus shipping costs.
So we have spent about USD 35.00 so far and have at least a usable base for a mosaic with black background that can also be mounted on the wall. Let’s go on.
1 x 1 round plates or tiles
Now we have to get the actual pixels, meaning 1 x 1 round tiles or plates. Here we have basically two possibilities: Bricklink or the Bricks & Pieces Service. I am going to leave out the Pick a Brick service (online as well as offline in the brand stores), because the prices online do not really differ from Bricks & Pieces and offline the color selection is not given.
Bricks & Pieces
If you look at the price of individual tiles and plates for Bricks & Pieces, it quickly becomes clear that this service here cannot be a real alternative to the complete LEGO Art sets. The normal 1 x 1 round plates there cost between 0.03 and 0.08 Euro, whereas the average price is about 0.04 Euro per part (in the US it’s about USD 0.03).
The round tiles are minimally cheaper: here the price varies between 0.02 and 0.05 cents for the available colours. On average you have to pay about 0.03 Euro per piece (in the US it’s about USD 0.04).
In order to order the minimum of 2,304 parts required there, 92.16 Euro would be required for the tiles and 69.12 Euro for the tiles. If you assume 3,300 parts to build the Star Wars set, for example, you would have to pay 132,- Euro just for the 1 x 1 round tiles.
The view to Bricklink is more worthwhile: Here it is possible to order large quantities of small parts for cheap prices. At European dealers you have the chance to order 1000x black 1 x 1 round plates for 10,- Euro plus shipping costs, that means 0.01 Euro per part.
However, the price depends strongly on the colour. With some other colours, an average of 0.02 or 0.03 Euro per part is due. Up to the very rare colours (such as dark blue or dark red, for example), which can quickly cost 0.50 Euro or more per part, even with a large order quantity.
So to really find out how cheap Bricklink is in the end, we need to know which parts we need. We now calculate this using the example of LEGO Art 31200 The Sith Set and try to recreate the portrait of Darth Vader.
Darth Vader: Original vs. Rebrick
For our introduction to the LEGO Art mosaics (only availyable in German at the moment), Jonas Krass has already pointed out all the new plates and tiles that will be included in the sets. Therefore we won’t be able to make an original rebrick of Darth Vader, because of the following colors (they are the color names of Bricklink) the two bold ones don’t exist (yet) as LEGO parts.
- bright light yellow
- dark blue
- dark bluish grey
- dark red
- light bluish grey
- pearl dark grey
- reddish brown
- sand blue
I have tried to estimate the distribution of the approx. 3,300 round plates to the different colours in percentages, as we do not yet have a parts list for the mosaics. This is certainly not very accurate, but should be enough to get a rough impression. Thereby I came to the following required numbers of pieces. I replaced bright light yellow with ordinary yellow and sand blue with light bluish grey.
- black: 825
- dark blue: 330
- dark bluish grey: 165
- dark red: 330
- light bluish grey: 330
- orange: 165
- pearl dark grey: 330
- red: 330
- reddish brown: 165
- white: 165
- yellow: 165
I have tried to visualized the effect of the change of the two colors on the original image, in the following using Photoshop. At first sight, the mosaic does not get much worse:
If you now want to order these parts from Bricklink, the disillusionment comes quickly: For the needed parts I should charge 1,026.08 Euro plus shipping costs.
The problem for the high price is quickly identified: Dark red and dark blue are both very rare colours that have not been included in sets since 2005 and 2003 respectively. Accordingly, the parts in new quality are very expensive at Bricklink. So we simply replace these colours with much cheaper colours.
I have made two different versions here: Once I replaced the dark blue parts with simple blue and once with dark bluish grey. The parts in dark red I replaced completely with red. Now the list of needed parts contains only very cheap standard colors. And look, the price goes down drastically:
- 58.60 Euro (USD 65.90) plus shipping (round plates in blue)
- 61.25 Euro (USD 68.88) plus shipping (round plates in dark bluish grey)
But what does the mosaic look like, after we have also simply replaced the expensive colours? I have also visualized this for you in Photoshop with two more sliders:
By now, the “original” picture already loses a little more of its original depth, but Darth Vader is of course still recognizable. I personally like the version with dark bluish grey round plates much better.
If we now add up all the parts for the mosaic, we have the following costs:
- 48 x 48 Baseplate: USD 14.99
- Black 2×2 plates + eyelets: USD 20.00
- Round plates: USD 68,88
- Total costs: USD 103.87
So we end up with about USD 103.87 costs for our “low budget” mosaic and would have to add some shipping costs for the orders at Bricklink. That’s probably not worth it with a RRP at USD 119,99 for the mosaics, because many retailers will offer the sets considerably cheaper.
Let’s face it: Even a modified rebrick is probably not worth it financially if you have to buy all the parts directly from LEGO or via Bricklink. But there are still some alternatives.
Use your own bricks?
Of course we would like to encourage all our readers to do so: Look what your brick or spare part collection has to offer. Especially 1 x 1 round plates and tiles are included in all sets as spare parts. If you have been collecting for a few years, you have probably accumulated a lot. For a rebrick (even in the colour-matched version) it might not be enough. Here you have to estimate yourself what is possible.
For the calculation of the costs of a rebrick, it would not really make sense to assume that “everybody has the parts at home anyway”, because it is simply not true. So we will not pursue this possibility in this article, although it could of course (depending on the collection) reduce the price to be paid for a rebrick.
StoneWars is a LEGO blog and we are all fans of the LEGO brand (and not just of the system of bricks), so other manufacturers are normally out of the question. Nevertheless, for the sake of completeness, I will take a look at whether other manufacturers might be much cheaper for the mosaics here.
If you take a look at the assortment of individual parts at some German retailers that sell alternative bricks, you will find prices of 4.83 Euro for 200 round tiles or plates. So here you pay 0.024 Euro per part, which is even considerably more expensive than Bricklink for the standard colours. Unfortunately, the choice of colours is not really big at the moment.
On platforms like Aliexpress you can order cheaper parts directly from China. An exact price overview is difficult to get here, but 500 parts for USD 6.57 incl. shipping can be ordered. With 3.300 parts you end up with about USD 43.00 for the small parts, the rest would have to be added to that.
Whether other manufacturers are an alternative for you, you have to decide for yourself. Surely, in addition to the legitimate alternatives, 1-to-1 copies of the LEGO Art mosaics will appear on the market once the LEGO Art Mosaics are released.
Conclusion: Is it possible to rebrick a LEGO Art set cheaply?
If you have read this far, you can probably already guess the conclusion: A rebrick of LEGO Arts mosaics is not worth it (at least in my eyes). Even if you do without the specially designed (and probably expensive) Technic substructure and the special LEGO suspension, a rebrick with original LEGO parts (and lots of compromises on colors) will not really cost less than the official sets on the open market.
Even if you look at other manufacturers and leave out license costs, you won’t end up with the prices that were sometimes asked for in the commentary columns.
On the other hand, the release of the new sets gives you a lot of possibilities: With the release of the LEGO Art mosaics, not only many 1 x 1 round plates and tiles in completely new colors will be on the market, but also many currently rather expensive small parts will probably drop drastically in price. And with possible further LEGO Art sets to come, maybe even more colours will appear. Depending on where the price for the bigTechnic elements for the substructure will be, creative MOC builders and LEGO artists can look forward to finally being able to design huge pictures themselves without annoying compromises, which would have been much more expensive or even impossible to realize (with only using LEGO elements) until now.
What do you think about our excursion around the rebrick of LEGO Arts mosaics? Do you think that the price for the mosaics is reasonable, or do you still think that the sets are too expensive? We are looking forward to your suggestions and additions in the comments!