Buying unit blocks second hand

Buying unit blocks second hand

If you are interested in bringing unit blocks into your home but would rather not pay full price for blocks I’d recommend keeping your eye on your local online marketplace to find a set of blocks second hand.

In my experience, people selling blocks online usually either don’t know anything about what they have or are just really wanting to purge their stuff so they don’t care. Either way it can be difficult to get any detailed information from the seller. You will probably have to figure out how worthwhile the blocks are based on your own knowledge. I can help!

When purchasing second hand blocks it’s important to know what you’re looking for so you can make sure you’re actually getting a good deal!

Here are some tips for buying blocks second hand!

1- Ask to see the blocks in person before you commit. This is the most important tip I could possibly give you. If you’ve been following me on Instagram or you’ve read my other posts about unit blocks you know that unit blocks should be precisely cut so that they can be used mathematically. They should be heavy and smooth, and the wood should be uncoated. You can’t always tell all of these things in photographs. You’ll want to see the blocks in real life before committing to the purchase.

2- When you go to see the blocks, bring a tape measure and measure the blocks. It would be great if you could measure at least one of each of the basic shapes, but at the very least measure a standard unit. A unit block should be 5.5 x 2.75 x 1.375 inches. If it’s not this size it’s not a standard unit.

3- It helps a lot to also compare the blocks to each other in person. Do 2 half units line up perfectly with a single unit? Are 2 units equal to a double? If there are small triangle blocks do they fit together to match a half unit? These equivalencies should be perfect, or ALMOST perfect. Otherwise the blocks probably aren’t worth purchasing.

How do I even know if a block set is worth my time?

Before you decide to go check out a second hand block set in person there are a few signals you can look for that can tell you that a block set is almost definitely worth your time. You may find a set without any signals and they could still be great, but if you see these things I’d definitely go check out the blocks irl!

  • Interesting/rare block shapes: It’s pretty rare to find large cylinders in a low-quality set and elliptical curves are only made by a few high quality brands. If you can spot a large cylinder or an elliptical curve in the set - go see those blocks.

Elliptical Curve Block (image from Constructive Playthings)

  • Stamps or brand markings: Not every brand marks their blocks - actually most brands don’t. But Constructive Playthings stamps a few blocks in each set “Made in Vietnam”, this is not my favorite feature but it is a good way to identify if a set is made by Constructive Playthings! If you spot the “Made in Vietnam” stamp those blocks are worth checking out. Community Playthings also stamps their logo on large intersection blocks!

Now I’m going to share some photos I found on marketplace and I’ll tell you what stands out to me. I hope this helps you learn what to look for when you see blocks posted for sale near you!

See the elliptical block there? There’s also a large cylinder hiding! These blocks look very “well loved” and it's possible not every block here is a unit block, but that elliptical tells me they’re definitely worth checking out in person.

Ooh look, a large cylinder! And the white boards here tell me instantly that this set is from Constructive Playthings! It’s a very incomplete set, but for a good price probably worth seeking out!

If you see blocks in a box like this one they’re almost definitely Melissa & Doug blocks. Melissa & Doug blocks aren’t the best quality and they’re not extremely precisely cut, but on a budget they’re worth grabbing for a significantly good deal. For used M&D blocks I would try not to pay more than $25. They frequently go on sale for around $40 brand new.

This photo doesn’t stand out much, but I can tell these are from a Melissa & Doug set because of the tiny ¼ circle pieces. The M&D set is the only place I’ve ever seen that shape.

The quads on top here are a good sign. Quads don’t come in most beginner sets! I’d definitely check these out! 

If you see a post like this one RUN. These are almost definitely an entire school set from a legit brand. The number of quads alone is a huge signal to seek out these blocks!

If you found this post helpful please consider sharing it on social media! And if you have a question that wasn't answered here please comment on this post or send me a message on instagram! I'd be super happy to help you figure out if your second hand block find is worth your while!

Disclaimer - Links in this post may be affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you use them to make a purchase.