Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Importance of Manuals

One of the greatest selling points of LEGO is that it's only limited by one's imagination. So, why then would you keep the manuals that come with the sets after you've built it a few times? Especially if they're available in PDF form on-line? A few reasons:

1. The PDFs blow. It's virtually impossible to differentiate the black bricks, even in the best scanned PDF docs. They're hard enough to make out in the actual books; the PDFs just make it worse. LEGO finally got the message and started to put white outlines around their black bricks in recent manuals but that doesn't help their vast catalog of past sets.

2. They're beautiful. I love, love the instructions books. They're well made, beautifully printed and also show different build possibilities in the back. Too bad they're just shoved into the boxes where they get all bent but that's my own personal pet peeve. Although, in a recent set, the instruction book was shrink wrapped against a cardboard backing - winning!!

3. It increases the set's value. If you ever intend to resell your LEGO, having the original manual in good condition can significantly raise the asking price. Actually, so will boxes (try near double the price if you have both the manual and box) but those are harder to store and in the past, I've always thrown the boxes out. But I digress...

I originally stored the books in magazine holders:

Lego Storage: Instruction Booklets

But they were difficult to sort through, plus the weight of the manuals curved them downward. A big no-no for a perfectionist Lego freak. So, while I was surfing the net, I found someone who had punched holes in the books (BLASPHEMY!!!) and put them in a binder. Other than the mutilation, I thought it was a great idea.

This is Vol.1 of my Star Wars binder.The plastic sleeve in front is perfect for putting in artwork - this is the new 2012 Star Wars poster that I printed out.

LEGO Binder Cover

Inside, I put the books in plastic page protectors - no need to punch holes in them! Almost every manual size (except for the UCS books) will fit. And yup, that Yoda model is just as ugly built.

LEGO: Star Wars Binder

Books are placed in numerical order according to theme and page protectors make it very easy to move things around when we get more manuals. I even keep the books from the small sets because believe it or not, they really do increase in value. Like this one: Jabba's Palace had an MSRP of $30 when it was first released in 2003. A recently sold used set on eBay went for over $90. Yup. For 231 pieces.

LEGO: Star Wars Binder

For other themes, we don't have enough to fill a whole binder so I double/triple them up. And divide them with re-useable tabs. (This is the Cafe Corner set #10182 - go look this up on eBay. And then take a deep breath).

LEGO: Building Binder

LEGO: Building Binder

And here they are, all stored away. I did notice that I have the wrong little image on the Market Square binder but these are easily changed.

LEGO Binders


  1. I think those manuals would look better with hardwood floors! ;)

  2. Everything looks better with hardwood floors.

    We have three binders so far - Star Wars, big sets, small sets. My 5.5yo doesn't put them away but I can handle that part.