Shopping at LEGO or Amazon?
Please use our links: LEGO.comAmazon
As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Is LEGO loosing its way from its core selling?

legofanfromleedslegofanfromleeds legoland...England Member Posts: 414
edited April 2013 in Everything else LEGO
hi all... new to all this but id just like to try and put this out there ... im a big fan of all lego but just wondering what everyones thought process is regarding the future of lego ... is all the licessened / movie lego the way forward or does it fit into the lego brand quite easily without effecting the core branding ?

Comments

  • legofanfromleedslegofanfromleeds legoland...England Member Posts: 414
    or to put it another way ...what makes lego lego or is that memory of my childhood gone for good ?
  • PocketmegoPocketmego Member Posts: 24
    When was your childhood? Because I think you'll find that Lego looks different decade by decade. Lego doesn't look the same as it did in the 90s. But, it didn't look the same in the 90s as it did in the 60s. And I think a kid in the 60s could have posted the same thing in the 90s... And probably did back on old school Lego Forums.
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 834
    I'd have to agree with @Pocketmego-- LEGO has undergone a plethora of changes in product offering since their inception, so you're likely never to see a reversion to their previous style, short of individual exceptions that may come up here and there.

    1949 - 1954 - AFAIK, the Automatic Binding Brick product was pretty much just generic bricks, typically shown as building things like houses and buildings.

    1955 - ~1963 - Starting in 1955, there was a parallel focus for LEGO (in addition to "generic bricks" that centered around the Town Plan-- small scale vehicles, figures, trees, etc that all fit into a certain scale and design.

    ~1963 - ~1973 - Around the early 60's, LEGO started including *instructions* (the horror!) Now kids weren't building with their imaginations, they were following a set of instructions for a given set. (Of course, there were still plenty of generic bricks, but "kits" started picking up).

    ~1974 - ~1977 - LEGO starts introducing and focusing on "figures", giving things a consistent scale. But the subjects haven't changed much-- they're still day-in-the-life constructions like houses, cars, trains, etc. And LEGO continues to put more focus on kits with instructions.

    1978 - ~1986 - The introduction of the minifig introduced a new scale to LEGO sets. Additionally (and more amazingly), LEGO branches into fantasy realms like castle and space. By the mid-to-late 80's, these were really becoming the core focus of LEGO-- the emphasis on generic building brick sets is starting to decline.

    Additionally (technically 1977), LEGO starts the new branch of Technic products, which feature pretty simplistic mechanics that kids can understand, and are tightly integrated with the building bricks.

    ~1987 - ~1998 - The minifig themes start to develop "good" and "evil" factions, and spread out into more diverse areas like Pirates and Aquazone. Gone are the days of generic space explorers or unaffiliated knights. There's also other wacky stuff starting to go on by the mid-to-late 90's, like Belville, Scala, Juniorization, and ZNAP.

    ~1999 - present - The minifig themes now start to become character-based. King Jayko (Knight's Kingdom), Ogel (Alpha Team), Johnny Thunder (Adventurers), Dash (Agents), etc. Everyone's a character. And licensed themes start to build up in droves.

    There's also a ton of other parallel things going on-- the change in Technic to studless beams, Mindstorms, LEGO TV shows (Ninjago and Chima), Friends, AFOL-targeted sets, the Creator line, etc.

    LEGO's a far cry from where it was in the past. And chances are it'll continue to develop. Especially if LEGO continues to be the most valuable toy company in the world!

    In the meantime, LEGO has also diversified their focus. Where LEGO's offerings in the 1970's fell into a few specific categories, there are now so many products that it's hard to even list them all from memory. You may not be able to find the exact same style of things that you remember from your childhood, but chances are good that LEGO's still making something that you're interested in!

    DaveE
    TheLoneTensorsidersddkoozPocketmegoMatthewRedbullgivesuwindMinifigsMe
  • tamamahmtamamahm Member Posts: 1,986
    Also, remember that while there are a number of licensed sets, some of TLG's biggest sellers/brand recognition in the last year have been unlicensed.
    i.e. Ninjago and Friends.

    Ninjago, Chima, Friends, Galaxy Squad

    Also, look at the themes they list at shop.lego.com

    Unlicensed categories (20)
    Architecture, Bricks and more, City, Creator, Duplo, Exclusive, Friends, Galaxy Squad, Hard to Find, Hero Factory, Kingdoms, Chima, Games, MBA, Mindstorms, Minifig, Monster Fighters, Ninjago, Pick a Brick and Technic


    Licensed categories (8)
    Cars, Super Hero (DC) , Super Hero (Marvel), Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Lone Ranger, Star Wars, TMNT


    Lego still seems to be heavily putting idea and thought into those unlicensed categories. Now, some may argue that what I listed doesn't incorporate simply standard sets/lines a kid would play with...
    If I look at just standard kid play themes, we move it down to six to eight/nine.

    City, Friends, Galaxy Squad, Chima, Monster FIghters, Ninjago

    It moves up if I include Creator, Technic or the exclusive/hard to find items.
    Licensed moves down to 7 if I exclude Cars, which is the Duplo line.

    Basically, from a theme perspective, there is a pretty even split between licensed and unlicensed. One could argue there are even more themes on the licensed side. One could also compare the number of sets in licensed and unlicensed, which I don't feel like trying to track down right now.

    Looking at these numbers, what I see is that overall, Lego is investing in a wide variety of non-licensed ideas, that might not be simply considered standard play lines. This includes everything from Minstorms and minifigs, to Technic.

    In addition, Lego has a pretty good split between licensed and unlicensed. Sure, it has changed over time, and sure, I am a bigger fan of unlicensed, but from my perspective and looking at this data, I guess I don't see anything that is negatively impacting it's core branding at all.
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,937
    I thought Lego started to lose its way in the mid-80's when they went from brick built things to using more big wall pieces. I.e. I'd rather have a bunch of 1x6's than the ugly castle wall pieces from back then. Then I grew up and realized it's all about reducing costs. That said, I don't think Lego loses its way as much as it keeps trying new things. Of course some work and some don't. If they didn't try new things then innovation would stagnate and the terrorists would win.

    That's actually one thing I like about the licensed lines, in that they tend to give Lego a baseline of new things for them to Lego-ize as opposed to generating the IP of a line scratch. Either way, new ideas invariably end up getting us new molds and building techniques, which are always good things.

    Admin, please fix the title, it hurts my soul to read that.
    LostInTranslationPocketmegokylejohnson11
  • BanditBandit Member Posts: 889
    tensor said:


    Admin, please fix the title, it hurts my soul to read that.

    Agree, I'm loosing my mind here...
    koozPitfall69
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 834
    tensor said:

    I thought Lego started to lose its way in the mid-80's when they went from brick built things to using more big wall pieces.

    It's interesting to see how they've evolved on this-- from about 1978-1996, LEGO seemed to view all of its minifig-based themes as a single entity, with the same target age range. Hence, the complexity of a castle from 1986 would roughly match that of a police station from 1986. Everything was all "Legoland".

    There was a VERY prominent change in 1997, though, with town sets suddenly being targeted at a younger age group. So a town set from 1997 used larger pieces and had a simpler build than (say) a Time Twisters set.

    According to LEGO, these days, each individual building theme has its own target age range, and complexity level. So some themes will use big wall elements, some will try to steer away from that. Some will use Technic-style frames, some will use brick-built ones. It all depends on what type of customer LEGO's aiming for with that particular lineup.

    As a result, LEGO's a lot less cohesive than it was back in the 80's. And that's something that a lot of AFOLs seem to find very annoying. They sort of expect each LEGO minifig product to align with a particular standard, and that isn't the case anymore.
    tensor said:

    Then I grew up and realized it's all about reducing costs.

    Well, that's a consideration, but not as much as the building experience. Based on what I know about the company, LEGO did NOT care much at all about cost back in the 80's. They wanted quality. If they included large wall pieces in 6080 King's Castle, it was almost assuredly because they thought it made for a better product, not because they were looking to save money.

    As I understand it, most kids love big elements. It helps them build big things quickly. That's why LEGO introduced raised baseplates-- kids LOVE 'em for making big mountain fortresses or landscapes, and Presto! They're already built. For the same reason (I believe), many kids love wall elements, because they can put together a bigger building faster.

    But that's changed a lot since the early 2000's. Now cost is a big factor. LEGO still wants to put out high-quality sets, but they're not hell-bent on making high quality while ignoring high cost. That's why they use fewer baseplates, less chrome, and share more piece/color combinations across a given years' production.
    tensor said:

    Admin, please fix the title, it hurts my soul to read that.

    At least the use of "its" was correct :)

    DaveE
    Pocketmego
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,937
    edited April 2013
    davee123 said:

    If they included large wall pieces in 6080 King's Castle, it was almost assuredly because they thought it made for a better product, not because they were looking to save money.

    I agree with most everything you've written except for this point to which this I still hold fast. When it comes down to it, the move to the blocky wall pieces was most assuredly a turning point in Lego history, if only because they shifted slightly away from their foundational concept of building things out of bricks. Now I may be overthinking it, and I can't help but admit there's a little subjectivity here because I hated the blocky castle walls of that time because they are so single-use. When I got the old Knight's Castle #6073 or King's Castle #6080 back in the day, I remember thinking that these pieces, while arguably useful in the set they came in, are terribly less useful outside of anything castle. Did they make it a batter castle product? Maybe. Did they make it a better Lego product? No.

    We'll never know for sure the actual reason, but I'm sure it's easier to produce those wall pieces than it was to produce the equivalent 4-1x6 and 2-1x4 bricks that would make a brick-built wall.

    Like I said though, that time was when Lego started to get more specialized with their pieces, especially within a theme. Then, a few years later things got really nuts with huge single-use, single-theme pieces and we ended up with the monstrosity that is #6953.
    Pocketmego
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 834
    edited April 2013
    tensor said:

    the move to the blocky wall pieces was most assuredly a turning point in Lego history [...] Did they make it a batter castle product? Maybe. Did they make it a better Lego product? No.

    Oh, I totally agree that you could argue that it was a turning point for LEGO. There were actually a few of those in that timeframe, like the "good" Space Police vs. the "evil" Blacktron, for instance.

    Did they actually make a "better" product? I can't say-- it depends on how you want to rate it. Certainly, I think that kids that really wanted to use their LEGO to build other things probably found it less optimal than brick-built walls. But remember that that's not the entire market base. There are plenty of kids out there that JUST want to build castles, or that JUST want to build the featured model. And for THEM, the large elements might actually make for a better product. (I wouldn't agree, but hey, I'm an AFOL like you).

    Oh, the other thing I'll mention is that kids are often frustrated that their models don't look as cool as the ones they see on the boxes. So another benefit (apart from saving building effort) is that the castles produced may actually look nicer, by including windows and brickwork patterns. Again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that could be another factor.
    tensor said:

    We'll never know for sure the actual reason, but I'm sure it's easier to produce those wall pieces than it was to produce the equivalent 4-1x6 and 2-1x4 bricks that would make a brick-built wall.

    My guess is it's probably comparable. The castle wall elements make for another element that you've got to mold. Adding element variety to a set is a large cost increase, whereas adding bulk of repeated elements is pretty cheap. And for most castle sets, they were already including 1x1's, 1x2's, 1x3's, 1x4's, and 1x6's that they would have made the walls out of in a brick-built alternative.

    Also, some of the wall elements were printed, which is similarly a high cost that wasn't done with 1xN bricks in castle walls.

    Now, they DO save *some* money on raw plastic, since the wall elements don't have as much ABS as the comparable 1xN bricks would. But I don't think the plastic cost is very much. I would expect it would probably roughly balance out the other added costs of element variety and printing, although I don't know if we'll ever be able to know the exact details.

    DaveE
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,984
    davee123 said:

    Keep in mind that materials cost isn't the only reason larger parts can be cheaper than an assembly of smaller parts. The heavier a set is, the more it costs to ship it. With that said, I agree that this is hardly the only reason more specialized wall elements are used in place of individual bricks. There are other factors, such as that wall/window panels make the build a bit more intuitive for less talented builders (Want a wall? There's a piece for that), allow a minifigure to stand right inside a window so you can see their face more easily (non-panel-based walls are obviously thicker), and of course allow castles to be built bigger without hugely increasing their size and complexity. So there are really a lot of factors involved.

    I personally am fine with a lot of more specialized elements used in larger sets. I think it's a perfectly valid technique for reducing complex or repetitive building. But of course, I also agree that parts can become too specialized. The mid- to late 90s were a good example of this, with many parts like those ginormous UFO dish pieces or Exploriens cockpit wedge pieces that I never use anymore. Today I feel like TLG has struck a nice balance, with sets in the Chima and Ninjago themes featuring complex brick-built sculptural details, but also using simple panel elements to keep the price and complexity of the sets from becoming too daunting.
  • PocketmegoPocketmego Member Posts: 24
    tensor said:

    davee123 said:


    Then, a few years later things got really nuts with huge single-use, single-theme pieces and we ended up with the monstrosity that is #6953.


    To this day, I swear they stole that design from the Micronauts. :D
  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,453
    edited April 2013
    Ohhh. I loved me some Micronauts in my day. Wow, Mego made some cool toys back in the day.
    Pocketmego
  • PocketmegoPocketmego Member Posts: 24
    Pitfall69 said:

    Ohhh. I loved me some Micronauts in my day. Wow, Mego made some cool toys back in the day.

    You and me both, brother Pitfall. And your love of retro gaming is also some I commend.


  • Pitfall69Pitfall69 0 miles to Legoboy's houseMember Posts: 11,453
    edited April 2013
    ^Ha, yeah. One of my favorite games of all time.

    I'm old :(
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 834
    I actually got a response from a LEGO designer on the large parts question-- they couldn't guarantee that things were the same back then as they are now, but:
    We do make a lot of larger elements to help the younger builders. They often cost more than if we just built the same section with smaller bricks, so it's a conscious choice on the part of the designer to take the cost for lower age builders. Printing is also another consideration because it's not possible to print over multiple elements. That makes the larger bricks more valuable at times because they maximize the printing/label area.
    So, there's another consideration that I had forgotten about-- and considering the pretty large prints they wanted to make in the first few years for half-timbering, scattered stones, and arched windows, that makes some more sense.

    DaveE
    StuBoy
Sign In or Register to comment.

Shopping at LEGO.com or Amazon?

Please use our links: LEGO.com Amazon

Recent discussions Categories Privacy Policy Brickset.com

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. Sign in or register to get started.

Brickset.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, the Amazon.com.ca, Inc. Associates Program and the Amazon EU Associates Programme, which are affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.