Limited-edition Istana model made with Lego bricks sold on Carousell, eBay for $100 to $300

Limited-edition models of the Istana building made of Lego bricks are being sold on online marketplace Carousell and eBay after its launch on May 1, 2019. PHOTOS: SCREENGRABS FROM CAROUSELL
A close-up of the exclusive Istana model using Lego bricks to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Istana. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Just a day after they were launched, sets of a limited-edition Istana building model made of Lego bricks are now being sold on online marketplaces Carousell and eBay for between $100 and $300.

The model of the presidential residence was unveiled on Wednesday (May 1) at the Labour Day Istana open house by President Halimah Yacob, to commemorate the Istana's 150th anniversary this year.

Visitors who made a minimum donation of $70 to the President's Challenge were able to redeem a set.

Only 500 sets of the limited-edition model were available and all were fully redeemed within two hours of the launch. The model made of 200 Lego bricks was commissioned by the President's Office and designed by a Lego certified professional.

A check by The Straits Times showed at least 13 sets up for sale on Carousell on Thursday evening, with prices ranging from $130 to $210.

Later in the night, two sets that were priced at $138 and $150 were marked as sold, while another seller had deleted a listing.

There was at least one listing on eBay priced at US$199.99 (S$271).

One Carousell seller that ST spoke to said that he was selling his set because he was not really a Lego fan, but had been at the Istana open house to catch a glimpse of Madam Halimah.

The 21-year-old university student who wanted to be known only as David, said: "I heard about the limited edition (model) and decided to get one out of curiosity. When I realised how limited they actually were, I decided to sell it on Carousell."

He added that he believed there are many avid Lego collectors who would actively seek to purchase unique sets made of Lego, such as the Istana model.

He told ST that as of Thursday evening, he had managed to sell his set to a Lego collector for $150. He had started his Carousell account to earn some additional income.

Local brick artist Jeffrey Kong, 39, who is behind the brand Artisan Bricks, posted on Facebook on Thursday afternoon pictures of his own version of an Istana building made of toy bricks.

He said in his post: "Since I can't afford to get the set, I thought I'd create a simple version of my own. This rendition by Artisan Bricks uses fence parts for the bottom columns, with a flag added for a stately feel and a dash of colour."

In a later post, he said that he was "pleasantly surprised by the support and enquiries I got".

He told ST that there had been some hype about the Istana model prior to the launch, but "it is the same with any new exclusive models", and exists among the same pool of adult collectors.

He added that "reselling will always happen", but said the secondary market is not that large, and comprises mainly adult collectors.

He compared the current situation to when the Ministry of Education gave out free commemorative SG50 Lego sets to students in 2015.

"Nowadays, if you find people selling the SG50 sets, nobody is buying because it has piped down," said Mr Kong.

On Wednesday, screenshots of the online sellers generated some discussion online on public Facebook group I'm a Singaporean Adult Fan of Lego (AFOL).

Facebook user Zhan Pei said: "It's all about demand and supply. Selling at 200 (dollars) is one thing but actually finding a buyer who is willing to pay 200 (dollars)... Well good luck finding a buyer."

Others commented that the brick parts used in the Istana model were not that rare, and it was possible to build one's own version of the model.

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