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'We Kept Star Wars Alive' says LEGO CEO

http://money.cnn.com/2016/03/01/news/companies/lego-toys-sales/index.html?iid=ob_article_hotListpool&iid=obnetwork

If you click on this article, and then watch the Video you will see that claim made.  Its interesting, at first I scoffed at it, but then in combination with the LEGO Star Wars games, and all the sets.  Maybe he was right!  That is a powerful toy company.

Anyhow, pretty awesome to see what a juggernaut LEGO has become in the last few years.   Like all business decisions, we are seeing years of good decisions (perhaps amount some bad ones) finally culminate in incredible success!

Comments

  • LegoboyLegoboy 100km furtherMember Posts: 8,829
    No no.  Star Wars helped to almost finish LEGO off.  That said, once they'd straightened themselves out, it was the licensing that saw LEGO go from strength to strength.
    catwranglerDougout
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,038
    I highly doubt that LEGO kept SW alive. SW has been alive and well all by itself ever since the first movie came out. It is a powerful and timeless story that captured the imagination of several generations and is still going strong. They didn't need LEGO's help to stay alive. I'm fairly sure that most SW fans never touched a SW LEGO set. There are plenty of other consumables and activities for SW fans besides LEGO.
    bandit778kiki180703KingAlanI
  • bandit778bandit778 Docking Bay 94. Member Posts: 2,257
    Obviously the CEO has never seen the vast range of ships and figures from different companies available over the years or paid any attention to the large quantity of expanded universe books / comics available (hang on though, didn't they do some sets of these?). The only people keeping this franchise alive are the fans who love it and will spend vast amounts on virtually anything related to these films.
    GothamConstructionCoKingAlanIBengh_Zeran
  • KingAlanIKingAlanI Rochester, NYMember Posts: 2,131
    Yep, definitely the other way around.
    And the success of LEGO SW, maybe some other licensed sets, covered up some of TLG's business issues.
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    bandit778 said:
    The only people keeping this franchise alive are the fans who love it and will spend vast amounts on virtually anything related to these films.
    There aren't enough die-hard fans for that. What keeps a franchise like this alive are those who will go back and see a new film if there is one, but equally wouldn't really be bothered if there wasn't. They're not really fans, just the general public. Fans are just a bonus that make a new release more likely to be viable - and viability is the primary consideration.

    What keeps Star Wars alive in the minds of the general public are all the derivative products that they keep falling over. LEGO sets are but one example, although they probably have a little more influence than many others because they aren't pure Star Wars and will therefore draw interest towards the franchise.

    However, "keeping things alive in the minds of the general public" is also not the same thing as keeping the franchise alive, although it may have been what Jørgen meant.
    andhe
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 14,064
    edited March 2016
    I think Bionicle kept Lego alive.  Despite Lego trying to do a death-by-Galidor.  

    (Not quite literally, but it's a simple analogy of Lego exponentially increasing risk outside of their realm of expertise.)

    At worst, I would chalk up the SW license at that time as a break-even.  But I'm sure the line performed just fine.

    But if Lego were keeping SW alive, it would have made more sense for the SW license to go to MB for more immediate short-term cash.  A simple analogy there is the Marvel film rights.  In order to raise cash when Marvel was on the ropes, the film rights went the bidder with the most cash.  

    (Thank you Fox for exiling the FF, and Sony making 2.5 good Spider-Man movies and 2.5 bad ones.  And having no vision to create a universe with those characters.)  
    catwranglerSprinkleOttermgjvegasBengh_ZeranAndorkiki180703
  • Lego_Lord_MayorcaLego_Lord_Mayorca H-Town, USAMember Posts: 594
    SumoLego said:
    I think Bionicle kept Lego alive.  Despite Lego trying to do a death-by-Galidor.  
    Oh, it did. The original press release link is dead, but BZPower had a story on how well it was doing just on its second year of release. http://bzpower.com/story.php?ID=857

    BIONICLE was number 1 for Lego in 2002. And for good reason! The Bohrok sets were revolutionary at the time, and the subsequent summer sets and Toa Nuva were much-anticipated and desired additions to the story and people's collections all over the world. BIONICLE saved Lego, even according to the CEO himself. Strange that he seems to careen in the opposite direction by claiming Lego saved Star Wars. As a devout Star Wars fan, I can totally support the argument that the mass of Expanded Universe comics and books, as well as TV shows (anyone remember the first Clone Wars cartoon?) and toys carried interest in the galaxy far, far away in-between movie releases.
    SumoLegogmonkey76CCCcatwranglerBengh_Zerankiki180703
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 14,064
    ^ I love it when people agree with me.
    gmonkey76kiki180703
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 14,064
    I don't want to be overtly critical of the original story, but it's a hack-tastic regurgitation of the vague figures in Lego's Annual Report.

    I don't see any actual reporting being done in the story.
    catwranglerkiki180703
  • tamamahmtamamahm Member Posts: 1,977
    A year or two back, I went back and read through sections of a number of the annual Lego reports. What I found is that it was far more complex than simply Star Wars saved Lego, which is the mantra I have heard many state. Really, it was Star Wars, Bionicles and Harry Potter, and a return to their classic line that all played important pieces...quoting myself...


    "Harry Potter, <cut> played a good part in the few years leading up to 2003, and was one of the themes that made a positive contribution even in 2004, when Star Wars was not even mentioned in the annual report.  The big issue was that both of these themes really took a hammering when there was not a movie out. In 2005 a Star Wars movie came out, while the HP movie did not hit until November, and then no movie until 2007. On the flip, Star Wars in 2007 was really called out as possibly a line that was making a transition to a classic line. For a while there, though, Harry Potter was a big deal for Lego during such a difficult time. Bionicle, though, was a huge part of their sales, and the return to classic lines was really their bread and butter. It really wasn't until 2006, that Lego finally saw that Star Wars did not have quite the huge drop back after a movie release, that they had seen multiple times before with both Star Wars and HP (Even then, their big sales in 2006 had to do with supplying stores product because they had low inventory on Lego in general, as opposed to simply a particular line.) "

    Basically for a while, Bionicles was one of the only items that brought in consistent sales for Lego during a hard time. HP and Star Wars were major players, but for quite a while the sales were only being driven movies for both these lines, and then would fall flat. It was only in 2007 that it was called out as a theme that was making a transition to a core line. 

    Anyway, it seems simplistic to me to simply say Star Wars saved Lego, when there were several items that really helped Lego stay around, especially Bionicles. The question to me has always been what caused Star Warts to suddenly make the transition to a core theme in 2007? There were plenty of Star Wars movies out before, and the transition was not made untio the last one.

    My presumption has been that In 2006/2007 the kids that grew up with Star Wars were hitting their mid-30s and had kids. It really was about parents wanting to share two favorite themes they grew up with... Star Wars and Lego. That created continued sales even after movies faded.

    I can see why the CEO said what he said, and he really qualified it with something like "one could argue", so while I do not think Lego saved Star Wars, it did keep that brand out in front of people and brought continued interest to the theme. 
    catwranglerSumoLegopharmjoddougtskiki180703
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,635
    edited March 2016
    As others have noted, it was Bionicle that kept LEGO afloat, not Star Wars. 

    "Brick by Brick" by David Robertson is well worth a read if you want to get a better understanding of the rise, fall, and subsequent "rebirth" of the LEGO company.
    catwranglerAanchirBengh_Zerankiki180703
  • catwranglercatwrangler Northern IrelandMember Posts: 1,890
    Just finished reading it, and it was surprising to see that Star Wars wasn't the initial shot in the arm for TLG that I'd assumed. But there's a lot of interestingly counter-intuitive stuff like that in the book; it's well worth getting...
  • andheandhe UKMember Posts: 3,426
    Just finished reading it...
    That was quick.


    catwranglerKevin_Hyattricecakekiki180703
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    tamamahm said:

    The question to me has always been what caused Star Warts to suddenly make the transition to a core theme in 2007?
    Isn't it because it corresponds with the rise of the AFOL? Something like Star Wars "legitimises" adults playing with children's toys.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,921
    I don't know enough about Star Wars to know if there's really any credence to the notion that LEGO kept Star Wars alive (I'm sure it played a part, but so did other brands). But I do think it's worth pointing out that besides maintaining people's interest in the brand (which Expanded Universe media or even just fan engagement can do), maintaining a brand's value in this day and age can also depend on proving it can sell merchandise. There have been a lot of shows and movie franchises cancelled in my lifetime for not being able to sell merchandise. So it's kind of doubtful media like Star Wars: The Clone Wars would have been so successful if it hadn't been for the support of toy brands like LEGO and Hasbro. And I don't think it's unrealistic to suppose that LEGO Star Wars might be one of the most lucrative Star Wars toy lines out there.

    All in all, the statement is hyperbole without a doubt, but that's not to say it has no basis in reality. Star Wars has pretty much always built its success on merchandise, and these days LEGO has become a pretty big part of that.
  • Legopassion8Legopassion8 North CarolinaMember Posts: 1,181
    Arrogant Europeans. :P
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,942
    Arrogant Europeans. :P
    Aaand now we've brought regionalism into it.
  • LusiferSamLusiferSam MontanaMember Posts: 531
    flord said:
    I'm pretty sure Star Wars did just fine by itself between 1983 and 1999, too.
    Were you around between 1985-1995?  Star Wars all but had died during this period.  It was not a lot of fun being a fan at that point.  Other than being on TV now and than Star Wars had all but left the public consciousness.  1985-1991 there was almost nothing (Star Tours being the biggest thing I can think of).  Slowing starting in 1991 with the EU novels and comics did Star Wars start creeping back into the public consciousness.  Kenner (by then subsidiary of Hasbro) reintroduced Star Wars toys in 1995 and changed everything.  1996 (Shadows of the Empire) on ward has been a different story.

    pharmjodAanchirkiki180703
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,105
    flord said:
    I'm pretty sure Star Wars did just fine by itself between 1983 and 1999, too.
    Were you around between 1985-1995?  Star Wars all but had died during this period.  It was not a lot of fun being a fan at that point.  Other than being on TV now and than Star Wars had all but left the public consciousness.  1985-1991 there was almost nothing (Star Tours being the biggest thing I can think of).  Slowing starting in 1991 with the EU novels and comics did Star Wars start creeping back into the public consciousness.  Kenner (by then subsidiary of Hasbro) reintroduced Star Wars toys in 1995 and changed everything.  1996 (Shadows of the Empire) on ward has been a different story.

    Fairly certain that SW went mostly to video games though between 85-95 though.

  • LusiferSamLusiferSam MontanaMember Posts: 531
    And other than Super Star Wars (and possibly Super ESB) I don't recall any being really significant games until Dark Forces (1995) and Shadows of the Empire (1996).  Both of those games had their share of issues.

    I think the biggest thing (that I completely forgot about) was the Star Wars Role Playing Game (1987).  I don't recall how many SW RPG books were released 1987-1995, but before Shadows that was bulk of what was being published.

    But the point is all of this stuff was very niche and appealed to small market of fans.  If you look at was done between 1985-1995 and 1996-1999 (pre-TPM) it's a world of difference.  And was completely different approach to what happened 2005-2015. 
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,105
    edited March 2016
    Fairly certain LucasArts was making titles like X Wing and some other simulators, but I guess my dates are off as those were closer to '95. Though Im fairly certain there were Star Wars video games for the NES back in the day
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 19,645
    Videos of SW were quite big in the 90s, and didn't Kenner do their re-released figures mid 90s. I remember buying some for my nephew, so probably 95ish.
  • jamie75jamie75 Member Posts: 12
    While I'm sure we could debate this we are all blue in the face. I think is was a perfect match that helped both tremendously! 

    Lego may not have made it out of the early 00's without Star Wars and Star Wars might not be as popular as it is today without Lego. 

    Would Lego have had financial troubles without the Star Wars license, maybe. But, if they did not have the license and had money problems, they may have folded. In the early 00's the Star Wars line of figures as horrible, IMO! ROTS was done, the line has no where to go, no new movies. Clone Wars wasn't out yet. The figures than were..............leaking good material. They were trying gimmicks that sucked.  No ships or playsets. 

    I think without Star Wars, Lego would have folded and would have been a memory for us all. Star Wars would be still be around, but, I don't think it would be as popular.

    I think after ROTS, Star Wars would have gone the way of the late 80's without Lego.
    LusiferSamkiki180703
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 14,064
    I think there are some stretches here.  Perhaps what was really meant is that Lego helped keep Star Wars as a relevant franchise in the '90's.  (Along with other marketing, merchandising and goodwill that the movie had built up.)

    As much as we all don't like the prequel trilogy, that reinvigorated the franchise.  The extended universe stuff has been consistently vibrant, but more in a sci-fi sub-niche.  

    Star Wars Lego is a perennial best seller.  Lego was not going under because of Star Wars, but the theme obviously wasn't singly lucrative enough to cover other early '90's bad decisions.
    catwranglerkiki180703
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    ^I like the Prequels just fine! =P
    SumoLegokiki180703
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 14,064
    They did earn a few billion dollars, and a few billion more in merchandising.  

    I have a stupid set of Episode I action figures floating around my house...
  • BumblepantsBumblepants DFWMember Posts: 6,893
    SumoLego said:
    They did earn a few billion dollars, and a few billion more in merchandising.  

    I have a stupid set of Episode I action figures floating around my house...
    Scavenger hunt for this year's pitfallcon?
    SumoLegokiki180703
  • monkyby87monkyby87 Member Posts: 316
    Well said monkey_roo.
  • piratemania7piratemania7 New EnglandMember Posts: 2,144
    I wonder what was lost in the Danish to English/American translation?

    This is a pretty smart man - I think he knows not to upset the other half of the apple cart too much - the licensing relationship with Disney is far too precious.
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    I wonder what was lost in the Danish to English/American translation?
    Where did Danish come into the equation? Jørgen was speaking English which, like many continental Europeans, he does fluently.
  • piratemania7piratemania7 New EnglandMember Posts: 2,144
    ^sorry, I didnt mean the language specifically, just the Danish thinking in English words.  I have a ton of Danish friends, lived in Copenhagen for 6 years - I have lots of experience with listening to a Dane speak English. :)
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    Most people who speak multiple languages fluently don't translate, particularly when they've been doing so since early childhood. Their thinking switches because you generally can't translate fast enough to have a fluid conversation.
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 14,064
    ^ Um, I'm sure the Disney folks could care less about a glib comment referencing 1999.

    Billion dollars much?
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,942
    ^Could care less? Or couldn't....
  • TigerMothTigerMoth Member Posts: 2,343
    ^Could care less? Or couldn't....
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om7O0MFkmpw
    xwingpilotkiki180703SumoLego
  • danstraindepotdanstraindepot Member Posts: 172
    "That means you DO care.... at least a little"
    plasmodiumkiki180703SumoLegojhuntin1
  • OldfanOldfan Chicagoland, IL, USAMember Posts: 672
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Gv0H-vPoDc

    "I hate these word crimes..."
    danstraindepotkiki180703SumoLego
  • DougoutDougout Member Posts: 888
    IMO, SW has gone downhill since the OG Trilogy (movies).  I don't like many of the SW sets at all today.  I would much rather prefer more Modulars, big sculptures, UCS.  Course, I'm an AFOL and not a kid.

    I liked a lot of SW LEGO as a kid, and I do see how SW Lego appeals to kids.  I see this statement completely true.  Kids like Lego, SW sucked for a long period (even the most recent SW movie is meh) and Lego kept it alive in the minds of kids.  TLG helped out big time.
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    I figure that Star Wars has been a generational thing. Because I'm only mid-30's now, I loved the OT as a small child and then the PT hit when I was still in college. So I hold both trilogies dear to me in different ways. But the new trilogy is missing the mark for me so far with Ep. VII, fortunately though there's still plenty of room to make up for it. But looking back, SW never really went away but just went on sabbatical in between eras.

    The only other phenomenon that is similar is Superhero movies with that OT being the original Superman (Reeves), Batman (Keaton), Supergirl, Wonder Woman series (Carter), etc. While the PT era would be equivalent to Batman (Kilmer/Clooney), Blade, Rocketeer, The Phantom. Then Bale's Batman ushered in the current new era that is in its 4th or 5th wave now with no signs of abating. Just like how SW is now on a perpetual cycle until the wheels fall off.
    bandit778catwranglerkiki180703
  • binaryeyebinaryeye USMember Posts: 1,734
    And other than Super Star Wars (and possibly Super ESB) I don't recall any being really significant games until Dark Forces (1995) and Shadows of the Empire (1996).  Both of those games had their share of issues.
    X-Wing (early 1993) and TIE Fighter (mid 1994) were both significant. I believe X-Wing was the first space flight simulator to use a 3D engine. TIE Fighter improved upon it and was extremely well-received.
    But the point is all of this stuff was very niche and appealed to small market of fans.  If you look at was done between 1985-1995 and 1996-1999 (pre-TPM) it's a world of difference.  And was completely different approach to what happened 2005-2015. 
    The big dead spot for Star Wars in the public consciousness was 1987-1990. ROTJ merchandising was mostly done by 1985, and the TV shows Droids and Ewoks, which both had toy lines, ended in 1986. After that, there was nothing really mainstream until the Zahn trilogy in 1991, followed shortly thereafter by the Dark Empire comics and video games for NES and SNES. A number of PC games began to release 1993, and Kenner rebooted the toy line in 1995. By the time the OT was re-released in theaters in 1997, along with a plethora of toys, the resurgence was in full swing.

  • ethanjwallethanjwall United StatesMember Posts: 118
    I think that Lego Sausages kept Lego alive :oP
  • OldfanOldfan Chicagoland, IL, USAMember Posts: 672
    I agree with @binaryeye, there wasn't much Star Wars in the public consciousness until the book Heir to the Empire came out and was an immediate hit (along with its sequels).  The Roleplaying Game and the associated Adventure Journal books provided lots of backgroud content and short stories to build on the universe, then the book series and comics took off, and Star Wars became popular again--popular enough to result in the video games and the new action figure line in the mid-90's.

    All this restored love for the franchise must have convinced GL to proceed with his plans to butcher the original movies release the special editions of the OT, and make the prequels, and etc....leading us all to the glorious day in 1999 when LEGO Star Wars sets first appeared in the store aisles.
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 14,064
    edited March 2016
    "That means you DO care.... at least a little"
    I think that accurately echoes my sentiments.  They could care, but not enough to actually care.  It's a paradox!

    (I shouldn't be surprised that nothing gers by @TigerMoth.  Or I should be not surprised?)
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