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The Current State of Lego Sets: An Opinion

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  • tamamahmtamamahm Member Posts: 1,985
    This was my concern with LotR from the getgo, and was exacerbated once I saw the initial wave. From the start, it was AFOLs who were excited about LotR, but the sets are designed for children (who seem to have very little interest in them).

    Yes, the issue Is understanding your market. Lego has kids and AFOLs.
    It was somewhat the same issues I saw with Cars. It was not the right age group. Kids most interested in Cars tends to be a younger age range, and Lego was somewhat outside that range. The same with LOTR, but the other direction. If I look at the schools, LOTR is just not that big of a topic in the Lego sweet spot for selling. LOTR made no sense to me, since the movies were done a while ago, and the age range for kids reading the books is older. I guess they assumed the castle element would appeal to kids, but many of the sets were not very appealing. Even my kid, that read the books, has only had a few sets appeal to her.

    A license does not mean an instant best seller.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,976
    tamamahm said:

    This was my concern with LotR from the getgo, and was exacerbated once I saw the initial wave. From the start, it was AFOLs who were excited about LotR, but the sets are designed for children (who seem to have very little interest in them).

    Yes, the issue Is understanding your market. Lego has kids and AFOLs.
    It was somewhat the same issues I saw with Cars. It was not the right age group. Kids most interested in Cars tends to be a younger age range, and Lego was somewhat outside that range. The same with LOTR, but the other direction. If I look at the schools, LOTR is just not that big of a topic in the Lego sweet spot for selling. LOTR made no sense to me, since the movies were done a while ago, and the age range for kids reading the books is older. I guess they assumed the castle element would appeal to kids, but many of the sets were not very appealing. Even my kid, that read the books, has only had a few sets appeal to her.

    A license does not mean an instant best seller.

    No, but a license often means an easier/cheaper seller, at least in the sense that TLG doesn't have to shoulder the burden of promoting the story: the IP holder does. For instance, in the case of the Indiana Jones license, when that franchise was rebooted there was a huge marketing push for previous installments in the series. Likewise with Star Wars when the prequel trilogy came out: the original trilogy suddenly became trendy again, in no small part due to shrewd marketing. In some cases, a major reason for a franchise being given a new installment is to revitalize interest in related works, not necessarily to tell an entirely new story. Obvious exceptions include works like TMNT, which has no pressing interest in promoting older installments of the franchise, but rather is meant as a strict reboot with its own range of tie-in merchandise and media.

    So TLG can't really be blamed for thinking the Lord of the Rings sets would be popular. With The Hobbit being adapted to film, "Tolkien-mania" is once again being pushed by book publishers, DVD distributors, merchandise manufacturers, and others. TLG is hardly the only company that sees the Hobbit films as an opportunity to capitalize on the Lord of the Rings franchise, and to be honest I haven't seen indications that the LEGO theme has been unsuccessful. It hasn't seen the same level of success as Star Wars and the like, but that's to be expected: there's hardly an IP in the world that moves merchandise the way Star Wars does.
  • tamamahmtamamahm Member Posts: 1,985
    I agree that a license does often mean easier seller.
    I disagree that TLG can't really be blamed for thinking LOTR would be popular. If they are going to jump in and sell it, they are responsible for thinking all aspects through. Part of that is simply understanding their customer.

    I don't think it has been a 'horrible' seller, but I also don't think it has been as much as a success as they would have liked. Of course, I have no numbers to back that up. :-) I'm only going off what I've observed when I've been in the Lego store and down the Target aisle. I can't imagine they (or anyone) would have ever considered it would have been on the order of Star Wars.

    The part missing to all of this, is we simply don't know what their internal expectations were. No matter what we may think, they may be doing better/worse based on what they had planned to sell. *shrug*
  • DiggydoesDiggydoes Cologne/GermanyMember Posts: 1,079
    When i look at the LOTR-sets i get the feeling that even when mainly aimed at kids (obviously) it's also a theme that TLG brought out to give some to the AFOL! Look at helms deep for example,no juniorized pieces! The walls (yeah kinda small)are completely brick build,no annoying castle walls! And the rest of the LOTR-range also comes without BURPs and stuff!!! So to me it seems like the line was designed with the AFOL in the mind!
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,976
    tamamahm said:

    I agree that a license does often mean easier seller.
    I disagree that TLG can't really be blamed for thinking LOTR would be popular. If they are going to jump in and sell it, they are responsible for thinking all aspects through. Part of that is simply understanding their customer.

    I don't think it has been a 'horrible' seller, but I also don't think it has been as much as a success as they would have liked. Of course, I have no numbers to back that up. :-) I'm only going off what I've observed when I've been in the Lego store and down the Target aisle. I can't imagine they (or anyone) would have ever considered it would have been on the order of Star Wars.

    The part missing to all of this, is we simply don't know what their internal expectations were. No matter what we may think, they may be doing better/worse based on what they had planned to sell. *shrug*

    I'm always a little bit hesitant to judge how a theme is selling/how it is measuring up to expectations based on anecdotes about how many are seen in stores. I've heard that used as evidence that themes I love have been unsuccessful countless times, but somehow those themes continue to make the cut year after year.

    A good example is LEGO Hero Factory. A lot of people, particularly some bitter BIONICLE fans, have been wanting to give that theme its last rites since it began, and a common refrain is "this year/next year is going to be Hero Factory's last year". But it's already been confirmed to be continuing in 2014 by Christian Faber, the art director, and by some job offerings that have shown up on the internet for designers and concept developers for future years.

    And while some people might see certain sets as perennial shelfwarmers, that can often be skewed by how many of those sets retailers order. I have had a terribly hard time finding certain Hero Factory sets this year, but then again I'm not entirely sure the stores in my college's area ordered ANY of those sets this year or even last year (for the record, they're consistently the sets at the lowest price point and only available to retailers as mixed lots as far as I can tell).

    The retailers are a big factor to consider with licensed themes, because retailers are often suckers for movie tie-ins. Even if retailers are left with overstock, if they sold any significant number of units then they will likely order sets from the theme the next year too, just not in the same hyped-up quantities.
  • tamamahmtamamahm Member Posts: 1,985
    I'm always a little bit hesitant to judge how a theme is selling/how it is measuring up to expectations based on anecdotes about how many are seen in stores. I've heard that used as evidence that themes I love have been unsuccessful countless times, but somehow those themes continue to make the cut year after year.

    Thus, the very reason why I clearly mention in my post that my only data is based on what I've seen in stores, and why the big missing piece to having any reasonable discussion on this comes down to internal expectations.


  • Dread_PirateDread_Pirate Member Posts: 184
    From a conversation I had with a Lego Customer Service Rep, the LoTR sets were supposed to be the replacement for the medieval themes for the next 2 to 3 years. (like PoTC) but sales were not what they expected at all and decided to push the next castle theme up 2 years earlier than expected. She said LoTR will be lucky to see anything in 2014 and will prolly drop about the same time the new Castle line is released.

    The information she gave me on the castle line was pretty accurate. There would be a new large castle that is modular and compatible with the 2010 King's castle and one old set was going to get a refresh and re-release. It appears that both are correct as the new King's Castle is modular and so long as the pins are in the same locations they will link with the existing castle. The set with the dragon also appears to be a slightly modified older set (cant remember its name right now but part of the Knights or Knights II line).
  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,208
    Well someone is buying LOTR minifigs and sets. If they were not wanted, I would expect their ebay price to drop - especially after some of the recent fairly limited cheap prices they have been instore in the UK. But in auctions (ie. buyer sets the price), they are still going for decent sums. Similarly, sets with the minifigs removed are going for decent sums too. By decent, I mean I wouldn't buy them at the price.
  • HardradaHardrada Member Posts: 439

    From a conversation I had with a Lego Customer Service Rep, the LoTR sets were supposed to be the replacement for the medieval themes for the next 2 to 3 years. (like PoTC) but sales were not what they expected at all and decided to push the next castle theme up 2 years earlier than expected. She said LoTR will be lucky to see anything in 2014 and will prolly drop about the same time the new Castle line is released.

    Now, that information clearly proved to be false. The new Castle line will be released this summer. And the 2nd wave of LOTR, too.
  • tamamahmtamamahm Member Posts: 1,985
    I speculate that information was a combination of fact and fiction. It was a fact that the castle line was coming out, but it was fiction that this was a replacement. I think there was speculation about this initially, but it was simply speculation. I wouldn't expect a customer service rep to truly have reliable info about internal sale/marketing info. Often people will take speculation and frame it as knowledge. I suspect that is what happened.


    Now, sure, it is possible Lego moved up Castle, but really a typical CS rep would not be privy, nor would virtually anybody here be privy.
  • SylvarstySylvarsty Member Posts: 2
    I would guess that the Lotr theme will stick around just until the Hobbit movies end. This is a shame too as I think that Lotr has some of the best quality builds that Lego has out on the market today.
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