I was reading a thread just now, where a Bricksetter was heading to Singapore and wondered if there was anything they should pick up. Unsurprisingly, there were more than a few requests to pick up some #21021
Marina Bay Sands sets as, I'm sure you're aware, that set was only released in parts of Asia.
It got me thinking. Why do LEGO restrict access to certain sets by region? There are plenty of examples, one of the most obvious being the Master Builder Academy - we in the UK hear about it, but can only get it on the 'grey market'.
It strikes me that if ever a toy was designed that crossed international borders, needed little or no translation, and could be understood by a builder from Toronto to Timbuktu and from Beijing to Bradford, then LEGO is it.
I guess the argument (certainly for 21021) would be 'Well there wouldn't be much demand for it worldwide - it was just produced in the region that the actual building stands.'
But surely if that were the case, then what's the point of the Architecture line at all? Are LEGO saying that these sets are basically souvenirs for visitors?
With the advent of more and more downloadable instructions, even the argument of 'Having to print instructions in multiple languages'
is starting to fade. Yes the translation still needs doing, but you don't have to physically print them all.
I know it's difficult and expensive to tool up for a new set, but when the set is created from existing parts and it's simply a case of picking the pieces, printing the box and sending them out, when something like the aforementioned lines are proven sellers, it baffles me that that LEGO would restrict sales in the way that they do.
If they're worried about retailers shelf space, then make them on-line only.
I'm currently reading 'Brick by Brick', which is a fascinating insight into the troubles of the early 2000's, and how the situation was turned around by listening to their customers - both the retailers and us the consumers.
It strikes me they could do with putting their ear to the ground again!