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I personally love the smaller, modular idea if we're talking....let's say, Zoo enclosures. They're perfectly enjoyable by themselves but then even better as an aggregate.
But if we're thinking of sets like the late 2000's Jabba sets, then I'll pass. Personally, I love having sets at various price points, even those that break the bank. And when I was a kid, longing for a large, unattainable toy was both exciting and exasperating and most likely led to my out of control LEGO mania. ;o). To this day, I sometimes catch myself still daydreaming about that GI Joe Aircraft Carrier...
As to the title change @chuxtoybox, I have to say your original title was just plain awful, with all due respect. I'm still not entirely satisfied with the new title but it's workable for now.
I'll be honest in that I initially considered calling your thread, "Should TLG make smaller, virtual, adult themed MOCs instead of these disappointing Medusas with baseplates that teach us nothing about the AFOL Community?"
I went in a different direction when I realized how much merging I would need to do. ;o)
(Back on topic before we are put on report)
But seriously, I don't have enough money to buy Lego every month and I think the majority of Lego I have purchased has been in sales or from people here on Brickset. If TLG did come up with a series of modular sets that interlinked at an average price point within a theme I thought was cool, I'd fall for it in a flash. I still believe that the MF theme was clever in that they put 2 sets at each price point and topped it off with the Haunted House. I have one of every set except that final topper which I have to save for.
At therein lies the rub, where you choose to buy smaller sets over 3 or 4 months or let the money burn in your pocket until you can finally splash out for the big one. The choice and opinion is yours
I don't think comparing splitting up something like ewok village to the modulars is a fair comparison either. Each modular is a complete set in its own right. Within minimal modification (a couple of technic pins) they can by joined together without modifying the structure at all. This would not be the case with ewok village, it is more than just three trees. So if ewok village was compared to modulars, then a more fair comparison would be getting a floor at a time (which could just about make an open top play set) or a roof or the fire engine in FB. These individual subsets don't really make any sense until put together. They also need to be put together in a specific way to make any sense. You cannot put the middle floor, then the roof then an upper floor. It has to be ground floor, middle floor, roof.
Whereas the idea for a modular zoo (which is a great one) is more like the modular building sets - each is an individual playset, but could be combined in any order to make a larger zoo without any significant modifications, just a few technic pins to join them.
The large sets make excellent flagship sets to put on display in the stores, and I'm sure that enough of them are being bought as otherwise they wouldn't keep bringing them out!
1)Buy N amount of sets, and offering of existing bricks will make a syndicated (and official) alternate build.
2) Include N amount of related theme bricks, and over 4-5 sets (even at different pricepoints), the construction of an original theme set, not released any other way.
Those two options would appease a person wanting many different sets, MOC'rs with option of more bricks, and a collectible idea to spur multiple set buys. In fact, it might change the way we think about MISB, reselling sets w/o minifigs, and affect multiple purchasing further.
Kenner's Star Wars Micro Collection
Hot Wheels USA sets (such as this one or this one) - no idea if these were ever released outside the United States.
Frankly, the Kenner example is very similar to what people have already mentioned LEGO has done with some of their related Star Wars sets in the past.
I suppose they could release a floor of a modular at a time as someone mentioned, but I'd just prefer to save up and buy the whole thing at once than pay more in separate sections.
Sure, you may not be able to afford that fancy Lego-designed Ewok Village, but you can always use whatever existing bricks at your disposal to conjure up something. Isn't that the whole point of Lego. I sometimes forget this fact until my 5-year-old reminds me with: "It's OK, we can just make it!"
I think, though, we are missing the point of the original question. None of this matters what an individual may or may not buy, but rather the overall bottom line from the collective group of buyers.
As stated, it is absolutely no random element that American girl has been bundling and creating larger sets for several years now.
They would not be doing that if there was not a benefit to their bottom line.
My belief is that while small individual sets may have a greater market share, people would not necessarily choose to buy all small sets to a combined set. They would pick and choose. In a large set, they may have fewer buyers, but they are essentially selling all the small sets in one large set.
With at least one high end company seeing this positively hit their bottom line, I would not be surprised if Lego sees the same thing, thus to answer the OPs question....yes, I feel that bundling and creating a large sets has a better return compared to trying to sell the exact same product, but broken out over 3-4 separate sets.
Having said that, It is apparent that Lego gives a highly diverse portfolio with a range of sets for every purchase point. These large sets like Ewok village may also simply be a function of giving variety to the end consumer.
(I also think that Lego could really create a line that functioned specifically together and was advertised as highly modular small sets, and if marketed correctly would do really well... but that would take solid marketing of such a concept.)
Based on that, the annual income of someone working a 40-hour week at the median hourly wage would be just under $35,000. Using the average hourly wage, that rises to just under $46,000. Either way, it's well below the $60,000 suggested, which is the point I was trying to make.
Anyway, to bring this back on topic, I believe there is a place for expensive sets because each individual set has to stand alone. If a concept calls for a large set to be done right, then so be it. It would be unfortunate if LEGO didn't make large sets because of some arbitrary price limit. As long as they can make a business case for a given set, and price it so it will sell to the expected market, more power to them.
While I really like the concept, I don't know that it would work for larger sets because of the amount of extra pieces required.
Also, a big fan of alternate builds of the past combining two seperate sets to make a larger set. They've done that in the past, even with IPs like POTC. It promotes more set buys for people who can afford the four sets, building opportunities for people who cannot afford it, and a chance to save up for two sets, for those that have to save...and basically get three sets to build.
....Not that anyone can't do that already, with imagination.
I was just trying to use the Ewok Village as an EXAMPLE of what TO ME personally is an expensive Lego set that TO ME could have had the POTENTIAL to be released in smaller sets. The first person who seems to have understood what I was trying to say is JTR, followed by legomatt and then piratemania7. LEGOMATT more than anyone.
The intended premise of this thread:
What do you those of you in the AFOL Brickset communtiy who are reading this think of the concept of smaller Lego sets that can connect to, ultimately, but not imperatively, form a larger set?
You agree it's a good idea? You think its a bad idea? Don't care? Don't think its a good topic in the first place? You think I should collect Mega Bloks instead because they're less expensive?
(I need to lie down now)
I have been in your price bracket before and what I would do if I wanted to collect or build with Lego. I would find a way of doing it. My way, if it were important to me, would be to get a second job and save my money. You could also go to garage sales and get Lego for much cheaper than new and usually it's just as good as new from a lack of play. Maybe even new as I see a lot of parents recycling their kids toys way too fast these days.
Just my opinion though.
So I think it can be just as (if not more) profitable for TLG to go this route. It just has to make sense thematically. And you still have to have those flagship sets to pace a theme and frustrate the kids. :o)
I do LOVE the "add-on" plan where you get enough pieces via 4 sets to build a fifth. The mini Y-Wing was awesome!
She loves her Lego though :)
I'm going to use Jabba's Palace as an example. What seems to be the principle behind one of the arguments against this concept is that if Lego had released Jabba's Palace and the Rancor Pit as one structure, all they would have done is combine the two current designs together, add both of the current price points together and release "The Ultimate, Exclusive, Hard to Find Jabba's Palace" for ,if my math and facts are correct, $179.98. Cheap for some, expensive for others.
It is my opinion that instead, Lego would eliminate components not entirely necessary for the two initial designs, use larger elements where two or more smaller elements had been used, whatever it took to produce a Jabba's Palace with a Rancor Pit designed into it for as little expense for them and us as possible, ending up with a set less than, but probably not that much less than, $179.98 but with less elements.
Personally, while I did not mind being able to combine sets such as Jabba's Palace and the Rancor Pit, I think this is a slippery slope. TLC could keep producing these kinds of models, then after a number of successful sets produced in this manner they might go a little too far and you could end up with something which simply does not function without the other sets attached to it. Therefore, I think it better to avoid it completely.
For those that want the whole shebang, fine--include some exclusive mini-figs in the complete set.
Imagine the add-ins that are possible--I think the current City Museum (#60008) has some good attributes, but overall is pretty bad. Create add-on rooms.
Or all of the ESB Hoth sets. Have a good plan spread out over a few years, like the Winter Market sets. Scale would be consistent, no duplication in mini-figs or vehicles.
Other ideas? Everyone loves #10196. What if TLG released swappable cars/animals?
That is not the case with winter village, etc. Those work fine as one-offs but can be combined into something larger. But if you are missing one, it does not matter so much.
I'm just saying with a little planning and design work, it *could* succeed.
Hoth would be the perfect add-on design sets, spread out over time. I'm honestly surprised it hasnt happened already.
Then duplication of minifigs. Sorry, you cannot buy an R2-D2 minifig, he was in a set three years ago.
In an era when lego are trying to kill off or at least restrict resellers, why would they push sales of one of their key ranges into the hands of resellers?
It's all about planned marketing, accessibility, and delving into a different additional strategy. It works in other toy outlets besides TLG, at low to mid-level pricepoints.
What exactly is the failing part of that idea? Kids who are with Lego for a while get rewarded for their patronage, and newer Kids start with a stand alone set.
This really isnt much different than the Modular line...just a smaller scale. I'm not proposing you have to "have them all" to make a complete set. The idea is to ADD ON in a designed way vs. having 8 ad hoc Hoth sets that you can set "side by side" now.
It would be a good idea if they were sold concurrently (like Helm's Deep plus Uruk army / wall or Jabba's Palace and Rancor Pit), but spread over many years, not so good.
Imagine if JP was EOL before RP came out. RP is stand alone, but showing it in a picture with JP would lead to complaints that JP is not available and would hurt sales of RP.
However, I think it is silly to suggest that everything in a product line needs to connect together with Technic pins or be modular or whatever to be better. Using the Hoth example, does anyone really need Lego to tell them how to arrange their Hoth sets? Just put them next to each other depending on what you have and can afford. If you really want to go nuts, buy some white bricks and build some snow chunks to connect them. Additionally, in many themes, the main products are vehicles of some kind. Kids want AT-ATs and Snowspeeders, not a $40 bley power generator to connect to their bley Radar dish to connect to the Rebel Base.
As far as sets go, at the end of the day it comes down to 'Is there a viable market for X'. Is there a viable market for a stand-alone Death Star Trash Compactor? Perhaps. Is there a market for half of a Tower of Orthanc like suggested on the mainpage? Absolutely not. Might as well try selling a race car set with the tires and wheels sold separately.
A good modular line can be done in any theme, if it's done right. Do train hobbyists stop buying track and trains, or scenery in the same vein, just because there are older models that got missed out?
the Winter Village is a good example. Does the fact that there are sets no longer available hurt the theme? No.
A $49.99 set with random Hoth battle, like the current release ( #75014 ), stands alone. How much better would it be, if it were designed to add on to a past set? How much better would #7879 Hoth Echo Base be as a set, if it was designed to join with existing #7666 Hoth Rebel Base?
Both are already "stand alone," but could be better than the sum of their parts.
#7879 doesnt have a gate now. It would only be enhanced by #7666. I'm not saying these two are perfect for each other in their current forms...they aren't.
Designed with both in mind, how much better could they have been?
There is potential in longterm designing, and TLG already plans quite a bit ahead. IMO, it just makes sense to visit previous models, and incorporate them into a cohesive whole. All that would do is strengthen the line, vs rehashing the same vehicles over and over. Just because things are designed to fit together, doesnt mean they HAVE to....it's Lego, afterall. With all the Hoth sets floating out there, as example, if you can have ad hoc disjointed sets...it's not a huge leap to make them a bit more cohesive.
Whereas small SW vignettes designed to fit together to make a single scene, you need all the characters, you need to fit them together in a specific order to create the scene.
Maybe, we're on conceptually different pages (and that's A-ok). Your concept, for clarification's sake, is One final scene = vignette 1, 2, 3, and 4....I think.
From my perspective (and I'll keep using Hoth for example), my concept is...
Hoth = any number of the sets, or just one. Let's say, a Hanger set, Echo Base interior set, and Shield generator set. All could stand on their own. TLG is adept at offering a wide variety of minifigs (even with obvious repeated characters) per set, and spread out "fairly." All, or some of those sets could be joined to make a larger scene cohesively. That's what longterm designed to do...
Modulars are different, but they dont have to be, and they ARE intended to create a singular scene...otherwise, people wouldn't clamour for retired sets for completion.
Switching gears, you dont think that a developed Batman scene including a Gothic courtyard would work well as an expansion to Arkham? Or that the Joker's Funhouse couldn't have included a helipad for the Joker's helicopter? That is design and marketing at it's core. Get the kids excited about getting more than one set, enhance their play experience, yet still have two very different sets that are cohesive in that design while maintaining the theme.
This is what I do, so I have a pretty strong opinion about longterm design...
Sets that work well together to create a truly larger set such as JP and RP can only really be connected in one way. Now imagine there are four sets needed. If you only get 1 and 3 then they don't create the scene that Lego would show in there advertising.
Now if they are just small sets that have the same connections and can be clicked together in any order, then that is not really a well designed larger set. It is just a collection of individual sets that can not only be placed next to each other, but can be clicked together. You can do that with most current sets by just adding technic bricks and pins or sticking them on a base board.
They could have split DS into many small vignettes that create a line if you connect them in any order. I don't think that could really be called a great set. It would just be a collection of small srts that connect together without any real meaning. They could have split them into many small vignettes that create a sphere, making them all into something special as a whole. Now that would be a great set, but you have to do that in a specific order. And if you have pieces missing, it would just look crap. Even worse if you had to wait five years to finish it.
Your example of the courtyard, how many people would buy it if Lego had stopped production of AA, yet advertised this as a set capable of clicking into AA. You'd feel as if you are getting only half a set if you don't already own AA. Even worse when people ask Lego how to get the building and they tell them they cannot buy it. Resellers would love it, but it would be bad for Lego if the courtyard only fitted with AA.
For pairs of sets that go together it is much better to have them overlap, so even though JP came out first it overlaps for a good time with RP. Same with Helms and Uruk army.
I doubt Lego would want to show a new product next to an EOL one in their advertising. I know they make an occasional mistake in City / trains when it comes to track sets, and that causes complaints.
What happens when JP EOL's and RP is still available? That's the same question. Again, it's about adding to the scene...yet still have a stand alone model. Also, it would be cross marketed with a set like AA. In fact, it would probably bolster sales of both sets, as well as might offer another related set with the life of AA. A DC Superheroes Gothic Courtyard (with the proper minifigs/play factor) would sell w/o AA all day long. It would still enhance the AA scene, however. They've done just this with the Modular line. GG is sitting right on the back of GE's box art and instructions.
Thinking about the concept of Lego sets that connected together made me then think about the fact that, other than Jabba's Palace, Lego never really makes sets that "connect" together.
Obviously they can all connect together because they're Lego. You can surround your Tower of Orthanc with trees from your Ewok Village and have them connect to the tower with rope bridges, an epic battle between Mr. Gold and Azog raging on top of the tower whilst all the Comicon exclusives look on in awe from below!
It would just cost a helluva lot if you had to buy all of that in one box. :}