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Lego has many licensed products...and for a likely reason
First off, this website has a list of all of the licenses
Lego uses or has used in the past. Quite somesthing. I suggest a dual
purpose for why Lego has so many deals. Obviously the first purpose/benefit is to give fans of the various licensees stuff to buy. Merging fans across different product categories a great marketing concept that has enabled Lego to become the largest toy company
in the world.
Now my second reason may seem tin-foil but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. The Lego bricks/parts/models/instructions are essentially in the public domain. I don't think anyone could count the number of clone brands (or people who sell parts so you can build that car you missed out on). When bricks/parts/models/instructions come from licensed agreements, those large companies are the ones who are enticed to enforce their intellectual property. They have the $$$ and lawyers that Lego cannot keep up with. I'm not sure there has been a case about a company in China (or elsewhere) selling Star Wars Lego models.
I hope I explained my thoughts in an understandable manner. If there are holes or things to add, please let me know in the comments.
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Recent discussions •
I see the licensing as a primarily, and possibly solely marketing decision. It brings in more customers who might not buy Lego before, but they do love the IP - be that films, TV etc. That’s why the Ideas and 18+ sets often have licenses attached, to draw in a new audience, as you suggested too.
Lego are worried about clones, but I highly doubt they choose licensed sets because of them, even if the added legal support from the IP holder helps their cause.