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Besides that, not much else annoys me, but then again, I've been too busy playing with their product to make an in-depth hate list :)
Another area that perturbs me is their cycling of themes and product. I am a huge fan of castle and town. It seems that they will inundate the market with a theme for 1-3 years and then completely abandon them for a number of years. Why not only release a handful of sets each year over a number of years? This would allow the LEGO purchasers time to simmer on the Theme and generate some excitement.
Case in point, the Farm Subtheme. I think that there is a larger market out there for the Farm theme - but as long as they release it over a longer period of time. We just had a Party for my youngest son's Birthday and after the kids were playing with LEGO for a bit, the dads noticed my boys' Farm sets (we have all of them in a separate collection) and were completely enamored by them. They asked where they could get them - and all I could say is try Bricklink or EBay. Our Local TRU is completely out except for the Tractor 7634 or the Farmer 7566.
Now look at the new LEGO City sets and this year is inundated with Police (getting pretty tired of them) and the Harbour Themes. Why not stretch these out?
Once they do find a hit, they must "strike while the iron is hot" and capitalize on the popularity, because consumers are fickle and fads come and go. If they get your attention with a particular set they want to ensure there are similar sets available while they hold your attention rather than have to advertise to get it again in the future.
I think it's unfair how I have to pay more, just because of the country I live in.....
For example: The UCS Imperial Shuttle (10212) costs USD$259.99 or CAD$309.99. That's a pretty significant difference! According to the Bank of Canada at close yesterday (12 April), the Canadian dollar was worth USD$1.0383. If the site would let me order it from the USA, it would cost me CDN$250.40. Why should I have to pay CDN$59.59 more for it?
Otherwise, I think LEGO's doing pretty well. They communicate reasonably well with the fanbase through things like the Ambassador program. It's true that when we had Jake McKee and later Steve Witt we did have people from LEGO that would routinely discuss things with the community more publicly-- and that would be nice to see again. But that's a pretty tiresome task given the size of the fanbase. I know Steve said on a few occasions that he was frequently inundated by a lot of rabid fans.
Re: Australia prices. Back in 2002?, we heard from LEGO that Australia had really bizarre customs procedures that cost a lot more money. I don't remember the details-- I want to say it was something about everything being checked by hand or something. But it boiled down to higher prices and a difficulty for setting up a [email protected] service in Australia. Of course, that's probably not the WHOLE picture (in the USA, the market is much more competitive, or so we're told), but it was certainly (and likely still is) an issue. Brad Justus at the time said that Australian fans could help LEGO out by contacting their government representatives and asking for changes to the customs system!
There's other peeves as well, like set numbering (make it more consistent!), but mostly they're pretty minor. My big one is quality.
"One of the big holdups is your government who requires BOTH electronic AND paper import documents for the same import shipment. Complain to them."
Original LUGNET post:
Of course, I remember Brad being a little gentler than saying "Complain to them" :) I think he said something along the lines of: "If you want it to happen sooner, please contact your government representatives and tell them!"
Back in 1963 there were about 140 different LEGO elements (including the different colors of parts)... of which 20 were red/white windows/doors that all were part of the same system.... now 13,000+ parts later... no common windows/doors system. From 1956-86 you could mix and match your windows to come up with a hundred different styles.... and today? An embarrassment....
A few are vector (mostly older ones as far as I can tell), but most are pixelly raster format. (At least in the SW line, which is mostly what I get.)
I was also really disappointed when I submitted a suggestion to them that basically said thanks but no thanks we have a team that does product development we don't take consumer suggestions. Well really? Someone should tell your 'team' that its illogical to have series minifigures in sets of 16 and the collectible minifigure box holds 15 i think, wouldn't it be more productive to have one box per set? I'd probably buy the minifigure storage boxes if they fit the whole set. I can appreciate having a team for such things but you'd think they'd at least say thank you we will consider it, seems more polite than thanks but no thanks we don't care what you think.
Thats my rant. : )
Last year, the Clone Turbo Tank sold for $120 U.S. in the U.S.
The Australian price was $240 Aud - at the time, $1 Aud = $1 U.S.
We paid double the American price.
Whatever the reason, whether it be customs or distance for postage, it does not cost an additional $120 per set.
Also, on the customs issue - they don't have that problem in Asia and yet, Asian prices are even worse than Australian prices!! So there goes that argument.
Basically, Lego's latest explanation is along the lines that the American market is more competitive than in other countries, hence, the lower prices to compete.
Cold comfort for those of us who live in the rest of the world....... (no offence to our U.S. readers.....)
"New Zealand is not on the same continental shelf and so is not part of the continent of Australia but is part of the submerged continent Zealandia. Zealandia and Australia together are part of the wider region known as Oceania or Australasia."
And if you follow a common definition of continent, @PaulTR was right:
"There is no universally accepted definition of the word "continent"; the lay definition is "One of the main continuous bodies of land on the earth's surface" (Oxford English Dictionary). By that definition, the continent of Australia includes only the Australian mainland, and not nearby islands such as New Guinea."
Sorry for being pedantic and off-topic, but I couldn't resist.
Just an FYI. In my educated opinion. Lego usually runs most sets for about 2-3 years (actually makes sets for about 2-2 1/2 years, then lets the supplies run out by the end of the 3rd). The caveat to that is some of the retail store exclusives.. it all depends then on the demand by the retailer I think (The Helicopter/limo set and city townhouse sets are good examples) But most sets, it is a 2-3 yr run.
So, in short if you want the Medieval market village, Emerald night, Death Star, Fire Brigade, among a few others (I believe Battle of Endor as well) will be selling out this year, most likely around (usually before) Christmas, but it depends on stocks.. Again checking Amazon (if they have the set there) they usually have a notice if the set has been discontinued in the product details section, which can help.
FYI, There are new cases coming out that are divisible by 4, so you can have your 16 fig cases, you just have to wait.
To everyone else:
The reason why Lego does not show everyone what is in development is due to the fear of Mega-shlock and Chinese knockoffs from copying, however badly, their new lines.. Lego is trying to put out unique sets (hence the Farm line) and trying to be different than those companies... They change the lines to keep them fresh and while some are misses, others are hits... Will Farm be gone forever? Prob not, but again people do not buy the sets, causing Lego to stop the line, then people complain they cannot find them... well if they are deemed popular Lego will not keep them going.... Lego is a company and looks at the bottom dollar.
1) They don't want to be inundated with tons of suggestions. On other forums, we've seen examples of this, where people (particularly younger fans) have ADAMANTLY wanted to submit ideas like "make a new Cloud Car set!" and "you should make Halo sets!". LEGO doesn't need every 9-year-old out there submitting ideas, only to wade through a sea of mostly-useless suggestions. LEGO has teams of people for product development who are really good at it. They don't need to invest money in staff to read through 1000 suggestions every day in the hopes that one of them will be worth pursuing.
2) "Legal reasons". This is the reason that Steve Witt would tell us repeatedly, without expounding on. My own guess is that this is only mildly true. If you submitted a fleshed out product suggestion to LEGO, and 6 years later they released something very similar to what you submitted, you MIGHT have reason to sue them demanding payment. If you could prove that LEGO *accepted* your suggestion, it could be evidence that you can submit legally in court. Hence, if LEGO throws away your suggestion, and tells you "sorry, we don't take suggestions", that covers them legally. Then they don't have to worry about keeping a MASSIVE database of suggestions, and prove that EVERY set they come out with DOESN'T have something similar in their suggestion database. That's a long-standing complaint with LEGO, I wouldn't expect an explanation. LEGO has said time-and-again that the strength of the Canadian dollar vs. the US dollar is meaningless in the price derivation for Canadian prices. What might be a better comparison would be CAD to DKK. But even then (says LEGO), there are a bajillion other factors at work, different in every country (OK, they might not say "a bajillion"). But basically, every country has its own customs, import taxes, regulations for childrens' toys, merchandiser demands, economic strength, etc.
There's also a long-standing complaint that basically the USA has the cheapest prices out there. Nobody seems to compare Canadian prices to Australian prices, or Japanese prices to German prices. Everyone compares to the USA, because they've got the cheapest LEGO. The USA has cheap LEGO for various economic reasons, most likely the largest of which is that its citizens are absolutely unwilling to pay for a more expensive toy.
From what we've heard, LEGO sells in the USA at a very low profit margin (I heard that from 2005-2007, I haven't heard any updates since). LEGO covers its costs in the USA, but doesn't make much in the way of profit there. In that timeframe (and before), LEGO actually made MORE profit in Germany than in the entire USA, despite selling a LOT more volume in the USA. Of course, since 2007, USA LEGO prices have climbed a little (or so it seems), so I don't know if that statistic still holds true.
1) The price of Lego in Malaysia. Seriously, it is NO JOKE. Some examples: 8258 Crane Truck RM 999.00. 8070 Supercar RM 549.90. 7498 Police Station RM 559.90. Galactic Enforcer RM 549.90. At one time the UCS Falcon was selling at RM 2500 new. The conversion rate at this time is roughly USD 1.00 = RM 3.02.
2) Availability of sets. Some sets are very very hard to find such as the flagship technic sets from last year.
3) Late arrival of sets. We usually have to wait a few months before we can finally able to obtain the latest released set. For example the police station and bank is finally on sale last month (March) and the 8070 Supercar this month. I do not know how long I will have to wait to obtain the Unimog.
We have a Legoland slowly building up in Johor at the moment. I seriously hope the price will go down otherwise the park will have a seriously hard time selling Lego to remain profitable. Our GDP per capita isn't really that high compared to the States or the EU.
I respectfully disagree. Why do we have to search the internet for fuzzy pictures of upcoming sets. We seem to spend countless hours speculating and wondering what is coming down the pipe. Why does the POTC just show up at TRU? Why wouldn't you let the LEGO world know that on 04/12/11 head on down to your local TRU and pick up the POTC sets. Imagine going to the movie theater not know what was playing. What kind of marketing strategy is that? Build up the excitement.
The Log Bricks.... they make a nice building facade (reminiscent of Terra Cotta or Streamlined Art Deco designs. But all they have are 1x2, 1x4 and that large panel piece. What would be nice would be a pair of 1x1 pieces (one with the wave on opposite sides, the other with the waves on 2 adjacent sides)... ditto for a 2x2 "L" piece with the waves on the 2 outside sides.
Another system they never completed was sloped bricks.... 45 degee slopes (dating to 1958-60) they have had completed for many decades... but would it kill them to make a 3x3 concave 33 degree low slope corner? Or a 2x2x3 75 degree concave corner?
Also the new macaroni bricks are useless (they can only be stacked and not staggered. A macaroni brick with a 1x1 brick size attached to both curved ends would be great for building curves.... and produce some without that ugly notch of missing plastic (like they did briefly from 1955-56).
So many systems could use a few pieces to make building architectural projects easier... without having to use the SNOT technique (like on the 2008 Town Plan sets Octan Gas Station curved window).
When TLG starts something promising... they never finish it like they used to do back in the 1960s.
Also... would it kill them to make a 45 degree convex corner brick in trans-clear... for use with all those zillions of 2x2 clear slopes we all have from sets... so that we can build a glass pyramid or skylight?
Just my rant...
I agree that price parity is difficult to achieve, but I'm shocked to hear that the US doesnt turn a profit, thats plain bad for business so more parity please.
Less juniorisation definitely.. very disappointed with the planes, they're like duplo.
Less of the specialised pieces! Again, I know this is good marketing (less re-use = people buy more sets), but there's a delicate balance and sometimes it tips too far.
More choice on pick a brick and please bring in bulk buy discounts to reflect the fact that it's surely cheaper in costs to provide 5000x of one piece than 15x different ones.
More engagement with the fan-base definitely. We keep their business running but it doesn't feel like it sometimes.
But mostly, as far as sets go, keep up the good work, some of the recent sets have been the best ever.
As for us keeping the business running? Debatable. We're about 5% of their total sales, so by pure sales figures, we're simply a small market group of their business. However, what AFOLs primarily add is advertising. AFOLs are putting up LEGO content on the web left-and-right, and we're doing local events like train shows, conventions, and displays. We're promoting their product a LOT, and by-and-large, we're amazingly brand loyal. That part's difficult to gauge-- how much value are we adding to the 95% of business that's NOT directly AFOL-generated?
"How much value are we adding to the 95% of business that's NOT directly AFOL-generated?"
I think we are quite important to keeping the value of their brand high. Also, I wonder how much growth potential there is in the AFOL market.
What's Lugbulk and why isn't it publically available? this is what I man, it seems like they just want to create a stratification of elites, rather than engagement. Doesnt feel very 2011.
Juniorisation is only good for business to a point. There's a level where you throw out the USP if reuse isn't possible and I think that turns people off lego. 4juniors wasnt a bad idea in theory as it 'ringfenced' the juniorisation, whereas now it just randomly creeps in all over the place.
Lego User Group Bulk Purchasing --> So that Lego User Groups that make public displays (which provide a form of advertising for Lego) can build larger displays since the bricks cost less. Well, that is the intended purpose I suppose.
LUGBULK is effectively a way for LEGO to thank and encourage serious AFOLs, so that we do more events promoting their brand.
Increasing use of large parts not usable anywhere else. I'm looking at you, 3182 Airport plane.
Just to reiterate a comment I made on another discussion thread, I believe AFOLs now account for around 15% of LEGO sales.
If that's the case, I think the margin for error would be quite large.
Of course they could be really smart and cross reference everything to build a single view of the customer based but even major multinationals aren't great at that kind of thing so I'd be surprised if Lego do.
So what frustrates me about TLG?
1 - The price of LEGO in my country (Bulgaria). Here LEGO sets are more expensive than in Germany! Both countries are in the EU...
2 - The giant setboxes with lots of air! But it seeme that TLG started to make slightly smaller boxes lately, which is great
3 - The usual life cycle of many themes is far too short. TLG have many themes, but most last 1-2 years, which is something I don't like. It wasn't like that in the '80s and '90s! How am I supposed to build a large world when there are only 6-7 sets?! (Example: the Pharaoh's Quest theme, but there are many more such examples).