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What LEGO themes have underperformed?

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  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 19,769
    Three words. LEGENDS. OF. CHIMA!!!
    That sold pretty well though, lots of kids did buy into it. Not all, but still quite a few.
    SumoLego
  • LyichirLyichir United StatesMember Posts: 934
    CCC said:
    Three words. LEGENDS. OF. CHIMA!!!
    That sold pretty well though, lots of kids did buy into it. Not all, but still quite a few.
    It's an interesting case since it arguably underperformed, but only relative to the extremely high expectations placed on it. Basically, it was planned as the successor to Ninjago, and was expected to have an even bigger and more successful launch year. But Ninjago didn't end that year after all, and Chima had a successful year, but not as exceptional as the expectations placed upon it. In the end Chima lasted three years (far from a disappointing lifespan, all things considered), while Ninjago became evergreen and will presumably continue for many more years.

    That's why the term "underperformed" is sort of loaded and should not be confused for a judgment on a theme's overall quality. The term is entirely dependent on what expectations were placed on the theme in the first place. So a theme that is launched as a "one-and-done" theme and sells well for that single wave (like Monster Fighters) would not be considered to have underperformed, while a "Big Bang" theme that is expected to outperform its predecessor but fails to make as much of an impact in a three-year lifespan could be described as "underperforming".
    catwrangler
  • MaffyDMaffyD West YorkshireMember Posts: 3,024
    Anyone who's looked at the film industry statistics on box office returns versus sequels bring green lit can readily agree that 'underperforming' is a very amorphous term... And I know less about Lego statistics than I do about movie stats, and that is precious little as it is!
    catwrangler
  • DontcopythatfloppyDontcopythatfloppy 'MuricaMember Posts: 43
    Scott1 said:
    How did Alien Conquest do? The last time I checked my local Toys R Us still has tons of 7065 Alien Mothership that they somehow can't get rid of.
    Given that a second wave for the series with designed sets and even finished box art was completely scrapped, I'm guessing "not well."
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 19,769
    Lyichir said:
    CCC said:
    Three words. LEGENDS. OF. CHIMA!!!
    That sold pretty well though, lots of kids did buy into it. Not all, but still quite a few.
    It's an interesting case since it arguably underperformed, but only relative to the extremely high expectations placed on it. Basically, it was planned as the successor to Ninjago, and was expected to have an even bigger and more successful launch year. But Ninjago didn't end that year after all, and Chima had a successful year, but not as exceptional as the expectations placed upon it. In the end Chima lasted three years (far from a disappointing lifespan, all things considered), while Ninjago became evergreen and will presumably continue for many more years.

    That's why the term "underperformed" is sort of loaded and should not be confused for a judgment on a theme's overall quality. The term is entirely dependent on what expectations were placed on the theme in the first place. So a theme that is launched as a "one-and-done" theme and sells well for that single wave (like Monster Fighters) would not be considered to have underperformed, while a "Big Bang" theme that is expected to outperform its predecessor but fails to make as much of an impact in a three-year lifespan could be described as "underperforming".
    Also didn't Ninjago relatively underperform in the first wave? In that sense, I thought Chima had outsold Ninjago in the first year of existence, not because Chima was better but that Ninjago was relatively poor in the first year. Then the second and third waves really sold well.

    Of course, it is so hard to compare, with very sparse and often subjective data, and having series out at different times, going from recessions to massive LEGO growth and different (internal and external) marketing strategies at different times.
    SumoLegocatwranglerDontcopythatfloppy
  • richoricho Member Posts: 3,830
    Is this commercially or just based on personal review?

    If the latter, then Super Heroes wins hands down. I have never seen so many repeat a sets.
  • BumblepantsBumblepants DFWMember Posts: 6,978
    edited August 2016
    There are so many factors involved and many we can't know without looking at Lego Group financial books. Themes like Legends of Chima was likely produced in much larger numbers than many other themes in the same year as it was a 'Big Bang' theme. This makes it quite difficult to do much more than guess at how well it sold in relation to other themes or where it landed on the balance sheets in Lego accounting. But of the things we can observe I would put them in these categories:

    Theme that [someone] sees that never seem to sell at [their] local shops:
    Could be an indication of an under performing theme. However, many factors can play into local markets and one store having a large number of unsold copies of a given theme doesn't mean it sells poorly across the globe.

    Theme that is always on discount:
    Also could indicate a failure to move units. Many popular themes also have discounts frequently so not the end-all of poor performance indication.

    Theme that is always on discount AND STILL fails to sell out:
    When the first two categories merge it can be more telling. Things like the Chima Speedorz still popping up on the Brickset mainpage for 50% off or more on Amazon years after release is a strong reason to believe those sold poorly. These types tend to be more specific than 'Theme' though and a few sets like Speedorz not selling well cast a shadow over the entire theme and can color our assessment. Examples like the Ninjago Mechdragon or the Ultra Agents Hurricane Heist (In the US, other markets might have had different dogs) were constantly on sale for deep discounts and still hung around for ages without getting sold. Even though Mech Dragon was a turd at RRP calling all of Ninjago a poor performer based just on that set would be a mistake. When the entire theme is lingering  on discount (Galaxy Squad anyone?) it seems a safe bet for not doing as well as hoped.

    Licensed themes:
    Perhaps one of the most difficult to assess. Speed Racer, Prince of Persia, The Lone Ranger all could fit the previous category of mass discounts and shelf warming to various degrees. The gloom over a bad Rotten Tomatoes score and bad box office numbers might also contribute to the perception of failure even if the Lego sets did decent enough. (Lone Ranger perhaps?) The other side of the coin is themes like Cars 2 or Toy Story which also seemed to have a lot of languishing sets even though their respective films made mint.

    Theme that got a wave cancelled and/or cut short:
    Examples being the previously mentioned second year of Alien Conquest that never made it to shelves and the last wave of Ultra Agents that only released in North America and ran out quickly. Themes in this category almost certainly tanked.


    TL:DR - I am subbing for @Aanchir today ;-)




    mr.pigglesScott1PoochycatwranglerSprinkleOtterDontcopythatfloppykhmellymelstlux
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,922

    CCC said:
    Lyichir said:
    CCC said:
    Three words. LEGENDS. OF. CHIMA!!!
    That sold pretty well though, lots of kids did buy into it. Not all, but still quite a few.
    It's an interesting case since it arguably underperformed, but only relative to the extremely high expectations placed on it. Basically, it was planned as the successor to Ninjago, and was expected to have an even bigger and more successful launch year. But Ninjago didn't end that year after all, and Chima had a successful year, but not as exceptional as the expectations placed upon it. In the end Chima lasted three years (far from a disappointing lifespan, all things considered), while Ninjago became evergreen and will presumably continue for many more years.

    That's why the term "underperformed" is sort of loaded and should not be confused for a judgment on a theme's overall quality. The term is entirely dependent on what expectations were placed on the theme in the first place. So a theme that is launched as a "one-and-done" theme and sells well for that single wave (like Monster Fighters) would not be considered to have underperformed, while a "Big Bang" theme that is expected to outperform its predecessor but fails to make as much of an impact in a three-year lifespan could be described as "underperforming".
    Also didn't Ninjago relatively underperform in the first wave? In that sense, I thought Chima had outsold Ninjago in the first year of existence, not because Chima was better but that Ninjago was relatively poor in the first year. Then the second and third waves really sold well.

    Of course, it is so hard to compare, with very sparse and often subjective data, and having series out at different times, going from recessions to massive LEGO growth and different (internal and external) marketing strategies at different times.
    No, definitely not. Ninjago actually had a spectacular first year — its sales in 2011 were literally the highest single-year sales of any theme up to that point. It was considered a major factor in the LEGO Group's 20% overall sales increase in the first quarter of 2011. And the two 22-minute TV specials released to promote it were "consistently the highest rated program among boys in their time slot" in the United States.
    LyichirBumblepants
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 19,769
    ^ OK, I didn't think the first wave sold very well. But that shows what happens when you rely on what you can buy in sales at 50-70% off.

    I was just having a look at this thread ...
    http://bricksetforum.com/discussion/8326/ninjago-returning-in-2014
    and I've cut some comments from it.

    Not to mention that Chima is being more heavily promoted from the very beginning, whereas Ninjago didn't get a full TV series until a year in.

    As far as set designs are concerned, personally I see a lot more interesting, refined-looking designs in Chima than I saw in Ninjago's first wave.

    This isn't to say that TLG didn't know what they were doing when Ninjago began, but they've learned a lot since then, and that's as visible in the Ninjago theme as in Chima.

    You look at Ninjago's first wave and it disappointed a lot of people. The biggest structures were merely facades (much like the Eagle's Castle), the Ice Dragon (despite its gorgeous brick-built wings) was a puny, somewhat disproportionate set dominated by a specialized head piece, and the spinner sets were remarkably bare-bones.

    Looking back at those comments, I wouldn't have predicted that Ninjago wave 1 would have had spectacular sales figures. PS. The comments were all yours!


  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 14,219
    Everything that has been produced in the DC Extended Cinematic Universe is disappointing, but still generates more cash than is possible to count.

    The first wave Ninjago sets may not be the best, but they still flew off of shelves.  I also recall there was an emphasis on the spinners, which probably doesn't translate well to AFOLs.  I have a bucket full of those things at my house.
    SprinkleOtterDontcopythatfloppy
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,922
    CCC said:
    ^ OK, I didn't think the first wave sold very well. But that shows what happens when you rely on what you can buy in sales at 50-70% off.

    I was just having a look at this thread ...
    http://bricksetforum.com/discussion/8326/ninjago-returning-in-2014
    and I've cut some comments from it.

    Not to mention that Chima is being more heavily promoted from the very beginning, whereas Ninjago didn't get a full TV series until a year in.

    As far as set designs are concerned, personally I see a lot more interesting, refined-looking designs in Chima than I saw in Ninjago's first wave.

    This isn't to say that TLG didn't know what they were doing when Ninjago began, but they've learned a lot since then, and that's as visible in the Ninjago theme as in Chima.

    You look at Ninjago's first wave and it disappointed a lot of people. The biggest structures were merely facades (much like the Eagle's Castle), the Ice Dragon (despite its gorgeous brick-built wings) was a puny, somewhat disproportionate set dominated by a specialized head piece, and the spinner sets were remarkably bare-bones.

    Looking back at those comments, I wouldn't have predicted that Ninjago wave 1 would have had spectacular sales figures. PS. The comments were all yours!
    Yep! To clarify, that last comment was referring more to AFOL reactions to Ninjago's first wave than to buyer reactions in general. Honestly a lot of AFOLs are still surprised to learn that Ninjago is such a big success and has been from the start, perhaps in part due to things like the clearances you mention. Whatever respect the AFOL community as a whole has for Ninjago today is respect the theme has had to fight long and hard to earn. By contrast, kids have been receptive to Ninjago from the get-go.

    Furthermore, I think even many of the AFOLs who have warmed up to Ninjago over time and begun to understand its appeal would be disappointed with designs like those from the first half of 2011 if they came out today. #70590 Airjitzu Battle Grounds certainly has a lot more detail and playability than first-half 2011 sets like #2504 Spinjitzu Dojo, but there were still plenty of people here on Brickset expressing severe disappointment when it was finally revealed, because to them an arena-style set like that felt like a huge step backwards, rather than a worthy companion piece to the Temple of Airjitzu. And can you imagine how AFOLs would react if the Ninjago dragons went back to using giant rubber heads?

    That's not to say I stand by everything I said in that thread. Scrolling through it — wow, amazing how long ago it all feels after just four years! — I see comments of mine like "I highly doubt the snakes are coming back. Ever," which I obviously turned out to be very wrong about!
    Lyichir
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,922
    SumoLego said:
    Everything that has been produced in the DC Extended Cinematic Universe is disappointing, but still generates more cash than is possible to count.

    The first wave Ninjago sets may not be the best, but they still flew off of shelves.  I also recall there was an emphasis on the spinners, which probably doesn't translate well to AFOLs.  I have a bucket full of those things at my house.
    I greatly enjoyed the spinners and the trading cards that went with them! I still think it's one of the LEGO Group's most effective attempts at a non-digital gaming component to a LEGO theme.

    The Speedorz were nice in concept — I liked that they had more single-player potential than the Ninjago spinners — but after I finally got my hands on some Speedorz I found that they were way too technical for my liking. Spinners were easy to use and fun to experiment with, whereas Speedorz had a steeper learning curve and there was less of an obvious correlation between what modifications you made and how they would perform. The card game component of the Speedorz was also not so well integrated — I still don't entirely get what purpose the cards served.

    The Airjitzu fliers are a nice successor to the spinners, though they don't allow as much modification (presumably for safety reasons — you don't want kids attaching sharp or blunt objects to something that is then going to fall from a great height). And they don't have the nifty card game component that adds another level to how you can play with them.

    I'm still curious if LEGO will ever dabble in combination physical toy + card game integration again, but for right now it seems like their focus is more on ways to combine toys with digital gaming.
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 19,769
    ^ the speedorz are great fun, but you are right there is a significant learning curve if you want to be good at it and do two or more tasks at once. Even getting through the whirling vines for example is a small miracle. We have never really figured out the cards either, we use them independly of the speedorz, just like Top Trumps. 

    They did something similar with the Nexo freebie map / box. Does anyone know what it is actually for? 
  • TheOriginalSimonBTheOriginalSimonB Felixstowe Member Posts: 1,644
    New Ninjago card game anyone? 


    Dontcopythatfloppy
  • binaryeyebinaryeye USMember Posts: 1,734
    New Ninjago card game anyone?
    Looks like someone has played Final Fantasy VIII.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,922
    New Ninjago card game anyone?
    I've seen that. But what really appealed to me about the old Ninjago cards was how they integrated with the toys. So, instead of the cards just being all about stats, the character stats told you what types of other cards they could use (you could only use a card if your character had that many points in their element), and then the other cards would have effects on the spinner battles (like making you set up the cards as obstacles for the spinners, or making the opponent spin their character on their head, or instructing you to build certain bricks or weapons onto your spinner).

    In 2012 they enhanced it even further by introducing "scroll cards" that were basically mini-games — so instead of just fighting to see who could knock the other character off their spinner, you might set up an obstacle course using several cards, or set cards up as targets and see how many you could knock down, etc. It was all done very well IMO, and felt like the cards and the spinners truly enhanced each other rather than one or the other feeling like a pointless distraction from the main game.

    I suppose perhaps part of the motivation for the Chima trading cards being so much simpler was either to make translation less of a challenge or to make the game less reading-intensive. After all, one of the great things about LEGO instructions has always been how they're in pictorial format, so they aren't limited to a certain language or level of reading ability. The Speedorz sets also lacked in-depth rules manuals like the spinner sets, which indicates that the intense wordiness of the Ninjago spinner game might've been seen as a problem.

    However, as a result I have a tenuous grasp on what the Chima cards actually DO. I think maybe they were supposed to designate which characters could use which Speedorz, weapons, and power-ups, since each of those had a corresponding card with a specific power level? But that feels both boring, since it limits the room for experimentation if you play "by the rules", and pointless, since it's tough even for me as an adult to tell how much of a difference the Speedorz, weapons, and power-ups make in terms of actual performance (whereas a Ninjago card that tells you to make your spinner taller or give your character a second weapon has an obvious impact on spinner battles). It just strikes me as a needless complication rather than something that actually made Speedorz challenges more fun.
    SprinkleOtterDontcopythatfloppy
  • SprinkleOtterSprinkleOtter Member Posts: 2,751
    Aanchir said:
    New Ninjago card game anyone?
    I've seen that. But what really appealed to me about the old Ninjago cards was how they integrated with the toys. So, instead of the cards just being all about stats, the character stats told you what types of other cards they could use (you could only use a card if your character had that many points in their element), and then the other cards would have effects on the spinner battles (like making you set up the cards as obstacles for the spinners, or making the opponent spin their character on their head, or instructing you to build certain bricks or weapons onto your spinner).

    In 2012 they enhanced it even further by introducing "scroll cards" that were basically mini-games — so instead of just fighting to see who could knock the other character off their spinner, you might set up an obstacle course using several cards, or set cards up as targets and see how many you could knock down, etc. It was all done very well IMO, and felt like the cards and the spinners truly enhanced each other rather than one or the other feeling like a pointless distraction from the main game.

    I suppose perhaps part of the motivation for the Chima trading cards being so much simpler was either to make translation less of a challenge or to make the game less reading-intensive. After all, one of the great things about LEGO instructions has always been how they're in pictorial format, so they aren't limited to a certain language or level of reading ability. The Speedorz sets also lacked in-depth rules manuals like the spinner sets, which indicates that the intense wordiness of the Ninjago spinner game might've been seen as a problem.

    However, as a result I have a tenuous grasp on what the Chima cards actually DO. I think maybe they were supposed to designate which characters could use which Speedorz, weapons, and power-ups, since each of those had a corresponding card with a specific power level? But that feels both boring, since it limits the room for experimentation if you play "by the rules", and pointless, since it's tough even for me as an adult to tell how much of a difference the Speedorz, weapons, and power-ups make in terms of actual performance (whereas a Ninjago card that tells you to make your spinner taller or give your character a second weapon has an obvious impact on spinner battles). It just strikes me as a needless complication rather than something that actually made Speedorz challenges more fun.
    I completely agree. My problem is, I almost never get Ninjago cards in job lots- only a load of spinners...
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