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New York Times Article - Has LEGO Sold Out?

akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,032
edited July 2013 in Everything else LEGO
I was interviewed for an article by the New York Times about LEGO. I was curious
of how others would have answered the questions. And do you guys agree with the final article they published? Has LEGO sold out? They also interviewed Joe Meno and Josh from the Brothers-Brick. Here are the questions they asked me and my responses: http://thebrickblogger.com/2013/07/has-lego-sold-out-new-york-times-interview/

I thought it was funny how they referred to AFOLs as Adult Friends of LEGO. Like we are some kind of a support group...(c:

Comments

  • skeet318skeet318 Banned Posts: 375
    I don't think this article was about Lego "selling out" or maybe "selling out" means something else in this case. Seems like an attempt to let the public in on this hobby. A fluff piece? Your answers were genuine and real (personal). I respect that.
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,032
    I don't know what was their real purpose. I like their questions, but as you see the final article they published doesn't really have much to do with what they asked us... except one question.

    Also, it was very clear to me that they already had their mind made up of what their angle was going to be - most likely that's why after all of that they didn't quote either Joe, Josh, or myself much; because we all said the angle that LEGO is selling out was ridiculous.

    But I guess that's how journalism is these days. We see this from the other post too about the angry LEGO minifigs someone shared here the other day. That was an actual study journalists completely twisted out to serve their own purposes - which is not clear there either, but is very similar to this one; writing a piece where a company's questioned with the actual data taken out of context.

    As far as the meaning of selling out; from the NYT article I took it to mean that LEGO is giving up the creative angle in favor of doing what's popular; video games, licensed sets, etc. It was still an interesting experience...
  • skeet318skeet318 Banned Posts: 375
    Oh didn't see the real article...just read your interview. I don't think Lego has sold out. It's evolved and expanded. Big difference. .
  • skeet318skeet318 Banned Posts: 375
    These guys must contribute to ESPN.com, too!
  • skeet318skeet318 Banned Posts: 375
    I pulled the trigger prematurely on my comments. Wish you hadn't responded so fast. This thread does not belong here hidden. It belongs In everything else Lego.....
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,032
    Yeah, LOL for the ESPN comment! I figured this was kind of a community thing, as they interviewed members of the community, but if a moderator wants to move it its fine with me...(c;
  • skeet318skeet318 Banned Posts: 375
    edited July 2013
    You only have like 100 views. Bump that!
  • fitzyfitzfitzyfitz ManchesterMember Posts: 94
    I'm pretty sure LEGO hasn't sold out. There's loads of stock left ;o)
    khmellymel
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,032
    LOL!...(c:
  • 14hours2save14hours2save Member Posts: 24
    I agree with you #akunthita, it does look like the authors had their angle and wrote the story to fit in with that. Not that we can know that for certain, but at some point with the 4th estate cycnicism sets in and can be hard to shift. It's easy to imagine the journos and editor agreeing that they want the piece to chime with parents who, for various reasons, think that TLG are dumbing down their product.
    I can see how parents who aren't afols might arrive at that conclusion. For example, instructions have evolved from 'their day' to be clearer and more illustrative (for want of a better word). Does that mean they've been dumbed down? Maybe, but equally possible is that TLG instruction authors looked at old instructions, with bits of the diagram missing from the side of the page for instance, and decided they could improve on them, and did. The thing is it's not journalism to find some quotes from unqulaified people (see below, I don't mean you #akunthita!) to peddle a perceived opinion back at their audience, nor is it helpful or enlightening.
    Look at the first quote of the article;
    “When I was a kid, you got a big box of bricks and that was it,” said Tracy Bagatelle-Black, 45, a public relations consultant in Santa Clarita, Calif., north of Los Angeles. “What stinks about Lego sets now is that they’re not imaginative at all.”
    So how does the word of a PR consultant who happens to have kids who play with lego become more important than all the childcare academics and AFOLs they spoke to? My cycnical view is they simply led with that quote because this person used aggressive language that they thought would get the regular parents reading it to nod their heads in idle agreement. Irritatingly, though, that point is then tied to the thoughts of the academics on the difference between video games and construction toys, a different matter altogether, whereas what she says is actually just her opinion about modern lego sets compared to old ones. And one I disagree with because I think it's superficial...and plain wrong...but hey we're all entitled!
    So we're left (all imho, of course!) with an article that looks like analysis, but under a closer look ends up more like a typical hack job, spun to read the way they wanted it to all along, which is that lego's turning into an evil toy that should be kept away from our precious children. But hey, they wouldn't sell many newspapers with the real story, which is that lego is just as creative as it's always been, but TLG now happen to be branching out into other areas of the toy industry.
    Sorry to go on. I didn't mean to when I started, it obviously touched a nerve.
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,032
    #14hours2save thanks for sharing! Yep, agree on everything you said. Also, just noting that Tracy being 45, it means that she grew up in an era where themed LEGO sets were already well and alive. Maybe all she got was a bucket of bricks, but it is not true that at that time that was all available.

    Also, I found it interesting what you said that they went with a quote with agressive language. I find it very insightful because the one of the only things they quoted from us AFOLs was just a half a sentence from Josh from the Brothers-Brick using the word "ridiculous". I guess journalists prefer agressive language....(c;

    Because we are familiar with LEGO we can see very clearly when a news item is tainted. Just imagine how tainted and twisted everything they report must be if they have to put this much spin on an article on a children's toy! I don't even want to go there....)c:
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    The news in general is written to be entertainment and to keep the masses distracted from what is really going on.

    You didn't know that?
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,032
    #LegoFanTexas of course I did. This was simply just another reminder....(c;
  • 14hours2save14hours2save Member Posts: 24
    I agree with LFT, certainly. And I could go further...as I did in my fevered brain after I posted the screed above (just wish I could learn to spell cynicism correctly). I started wondering why a publication like the new york times, which a quick google tells me is perhaps even slightly liberal-leaning, would want to take a pop at TLG? It's a scandinavian company after all. Aren't scandinavians the world leaders in tempering capitalism with socially beneficial policy to ensure a more cohesive society? I'm sure that'll get me shot down, especially as it's sub-internet-forum-rant analysis by someone who doesn't really know anything.

    I think that the fact that they've taken the number one spot of global toy companies recently is telling; wherever there's a 'success story' like lego's (and I don't necessarily agree financial success is the best indicator of success, and certainly not the only one) there will always be people willing to knock. And this is kinda the official notice that TLG is a victim of its own success.

    Then the caffeine kicked in and I started wondering if this PR consultancy that Tracy works for were employed by a sinister mattel/hasbro-led cartel to work with friendly contacts in the media to help produce this sort of article to dethrone lego and ensure that future generations don't play with mind-expanding toys, but instead grow up to be unquestioning consumers of their evil products. But then...maybe we're being unkind to Tracy, who was a secret AFOL who was outed to her neo-liberal management who decided they couldn't possibly have a such a dangerous subversive in their organisation, and they pressured her to betray her community in the hope that she'd either leave or break down completely and join them on the dark side.

    Then I remembered to take my medication and I calmed down.

    So my point there is it's very easy indeed to imagine what happened, to make all sorts of assumptions. But I do believe there will be a lot more of this sort of article around in the future. And I'll stop monopolising the thread now, #akunthita.
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,032
    #14hours2save LOL! That was awesome, poetic and prophetic! You must have some really good quality coffee!...(c:
  • skeet318skeet318 Banned Posts: 375
    I figured if somebody read your interview and then the article, it would illicit that kind of response from somebody... Good stuff, A!

    10 points for HuffnPuff!
  • murphquakemurphquake Member Posts: 651
    @akunthita & @14hours2save use at-signs (@) not hashtags (#) to mention people on here, that way they can get notifications. Hashtags work like twitter, just a meta-data tag, but with numbers they should link directly to sets (ie: #10179 to go to UCS MF) HTH.
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,032
    Thanks @murphquake. Hope I did it right this time...(c:
  • binaryeyebinaryeye USMember Posts: 1,734
    Meh. The article was poorly written and likely created for the sole purpose of generating controversy, thus attracting page hits.

    Even so, I agree with the premise. It could easily be argued that LEGO sold out when it licensed Star Wars, or when it started making video games that really have nothing to do with being creative, or when it started selling (pseudo-) blind-packaged CMFs. But is there any successful company that hasn't sold out to some degree? I'd suggest business itself, by definition, is selling out.

    But that's really irrelevant. While it's human nature to try and paint something black or white, in reality everything is gray and it's up to us to see it for what it is. So while I do feel LEGO has sold out, it's not the only criteria by which I judge the company. I'm not morally opposed to any of their business practices, they generally promote learning through play, and I believe most of their products have value greater than or equal to their cost. Most importantly, their product brings me enjoyment. As long as those things remain true, it doesn't matter to me whether or not LEGO has sold out.
  • mrseatlemrseatle Member Posts: 410

    The news in general is written to be entertainment and to keep the masses distracted from what is really going on.


    Occasionally they have an agenda as well... I wonder if that paper is owned by the same people that own MegaBloks.
  • skeet318skeet318 Banned Posts: 375
    With great power, comes great responsibility...not so much. Seems like news agencies can be bought and are taking advantage of the "freedom of press" to manipulate us with their agendas. I guess that's "stating the obvious", nonetheless; It still bothers me....

    Forgot which punctuation marks go with nonetheless....
  • piratemania7piratemania7 New EnglandMember Posts: 2,097
    I understood the point of the article but it wasn't that interesting or enlightening to me. I've heard all those answers before. What we need, and they may exists I just haven't seen or been told about them, are interviews with executives and more interviews with retired designers. I remember a few years back I read an article about a retired Danish designer that worked on the original space theme releases decades ago. Now that was thrilling. More of that would be superb.
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,032
    edited July 2013
    @piratemania7 That is a great idea! In fact I just wrote an article yesterday about how interesting is to know about the designers behind the sets. (I was featuring the LEGO Creator bios section - kind of a hidden gem on LEGO's website.) LEGO is getting better putting their designers in the light, in fact I'm not sure why they hid them in the past. They are interesting and fun people and knowing the designers only make us like the company more...(c:
  • chuxtoyboxchuxtoybox Member Posts: 711
    "What stinks about Lego sets now is that they're not imaginative at all." Another ignorant comment from an ignorant person. When I played with my tie fighter, land speeder and Star Wars action figures as a child, none of which I actually built, was I not using my imagination? With Lego you not only get a play set, you build the play set first! And then you can change it any way you want to! "Lego sets are more like paint by numbers." Which one of these idiots is letting their kids throw away their Lego sets after one use, which is what you do with a paint by number set, unless you hang it up somewhere? And how can they ask the question, "Has Lego sold out?" when they don't provide any claims that Lego has made? Did Lego once state that they would never sell any other products except their plastic bricks? Does Lego have a mission statement somewhere that their current practices conflict with? Lego has always tried to make high quality toys that spark imagination and creativity and they are still doing that, so where did they sell out?
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,032
    @chuxtoybox, yep, totally agree with you! I'm really not sure what is the reason they like to bash even good companies. This is just the flavor of news that's popular these days.

    Interestingly, I have contacted the reporters a few months later about a topic I thought they would like; something positive about LEGO. The response was that they weren't sure how to make news out of it. In otherwords, if it is not negative or controversial, they don't consider it worthy of publication...)c:
  • chuxtoyboxchuxtoybox Member Posts: 711
    After reading the questions you were asked again, you wouldn't think they were doing research for the same news article. Their questions sound as though they were going to write a positive article about Lego, and they were given strong answers that supported the use of Lego as an imaginative, creative product and medium. Instead they wrote an article trying to slam Lego using ignorant statements and ignorant allegories like "Lego today are more like paint by numbers." I'm surprised this article was written in the NY Times. It seems very amateurish to me. If you're going to try and put a negative spin on something, at least have something to back it up with. I understand what they were trying to say but they should have said it better. I think I could counter anything negative they tried to point out about Lego's merchandising.
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,032
    @chuxtoybox - yes, I'm not even sure why they asked us those questions. I had a lot of fun responding to them, but it didn't have much to do with the article - as you said. One thing perhaps to the defense of Jesse (who interviewed me) is that the article was in collaboration between two journalists. Maybe the two had different perspectives and the final article is more in line with what the other journalist wanted to say. I don't know for sure, but this is a possibility. If I remember correctly Jesse is from a journalist family and both his dad and his brother worked for the Times. He is not a rookie. I'm not sure about the other guy. I didn't check him out...(c;
  • tamamahmtamamahm Member Posts: 1,955
    I always hate the angle of "it must be less imaginative because of more instructions/structured sets".

    I've said it before and will say it again, that there are many facets to imagination. For some, the imagination is used to build models that one envision. For others, the imagination is used to create amazing play stories with their designs.

    Both of these are very valid forms of imagination.
    Since when does one consider 'pretend' not to be imaginative???
    To me it is like somebody saying Imaginext or even Playmobil are not imaginative toys, which to me would be a crazy statement.


    My kids do create their own items, especially my son, but they have always been high on imaginative play. They build a set, and then their imagination and pretend takes off as they use the sets in a myriad of ways. Who cares that the TLR Mine is from TLR? It is an amazing piece with a ton of features that can be used in play. Over here it was recently featured in a play scenarios with Jabba, Rancor pit and Ninjago Spinners.

    There is no question, they had an angle from this story from the beginning, because that is what sells articles/stories, etc.
    bluemodern
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UK / KLMember Posts: 3,532
    QTWTAIN.
    skeet318
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    MXYZPTLK?
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark UK / KLMember Posts: 3,532
    Google it.
  • PhoneboothPhonebooth USMember Posts: 1,430
    Google this.
  • skeet318skeet318 Banned Posts: 375
    ^^Bookmark it.

    Is Superman wasting time saving people?
  • jasorjasor United StatesMember Posts: 839
    Waffles.
  • khmellymelkhmellymel United KingdomMember Posts: 1,234
    tamamahm said:

    I always hate the angle of "it must be less imaginative because of more instructions/structured sets".

    I've said it before and will say it again, that there are many facets to imagination. For some, the imagination is used to build models that one envision. For others, the imagination is used to create amazing play stories with their designs.

    Both of these are very valid forms of imagination.
    Since when does one consider 'pretend' not to be imaginative???
    To me it is like somebody saying Imaginext or even Playmobil are not imaginative toys, which to me would be a crazy statement.


    I agree. In fact, I will even go so far to say that I think that structure or constraints actually give rise to even MORE creativity, sometimes. Like finding a solution using only the parts you have, or working only with what you've got. Sometimes elegance and simplicity are creative, too.

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