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New boxes revisited

rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,292
edited March 2013 in Everything else LEGO
Back at the end of February, a front page article on reduced sized LEGO boxes caused quite a stir -- with most of it being positive reception.

So now that the 2011 sets have begun hitting the shelves, what are people's impressions of the smaller boxes?

I took a look at the Pirates of the Caribbean sets today and while I was happy to see that the boxes were smaller, my enthusiasm was quickly tempered upon closer inspection. The material quality of the box seems weaker, and the edges of the box are not crisp but rather are rounded and creased in such a manner that the printing is visibly cracked. This was the case for every box, so it wasn't a case of isolated damage.

I apologize I did not have a camera handy to take photos, but I'm sure others have the boxes in hand and can comment.


  • mkoeselmkoesel USAMember Posts: 97
    edited April 2011
    I admit that while I was before and still am in favor of the smaller boxes, I was taken a back a bit when I saw how small the box for the Captain's Cabin was. However, the sheer beauty of the boxes is what struck me most. They are very nicely done.

    The larger sets, especially the QAR, seem to have kept the same size boxes as they'd have had in the past. I wonder if TLG plans to shrink these down some soon as well?
  • Bluefox1966Bluefox1966 UKMember Posts: 360
    edited April 2011
    I bought 3 QAR today (3 for 2 TRU). @mkoesel is right these are still larger boxes but I too am dissipointed with the quality of the card, the boxes seem really flimsy and the corners are not well put together. (sorry about poor second image).image
    001.JPG 218.1K
    002.JPG 229.6K
  • VithVith Member Posts: 31
    I miss the old boxes. Big as hell and the cover flap thing that could open so you could see inside the box... That were the boxes I liked. It was great fun to check out what's inside before you bought it. Bring back those boxes!
  • Bluefox1966Bluefox1966 UKMember Posts: 360
    ^ I agree. And useful plastic insert compartment so you could sort out you items.
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,292
    I believe 4195 Queen Anne's Revenge actually is a reduced size box. I believe the size of the box is roughly on par with 6243 Brickbeard's Bounty, which has ~400 less pieces.
  • mkoeselmkoesel USAMember Posts: 97
    edited April 2011
    Interesting observation rocao. What I noticed is that the QAR box is identical in size to that of the 8070 Technic Super Car, which I paired it with for the BOGO. In turn, as far as I can tell, the box from last year's 8053 Mobile Crane - with a parts count in the same range as the orther two - is this size as well. Though the crane does cost less however.

    Now it may be that the box size reduction started last year. Also, perhaps comparing across themes like that is not altogether valid. It's true that there is at least one more larger size box that they could have used in these cases, specifically the one from the 8043 Motorized Excavator (perhaps others too). Granted, curiously, that set actually has less overall parts than the crane, but then it does have a bunch of bulky PF stuff in there too (not to mention a lofty $200 price tag). Overall, I guess the big boxes still feel overly bulky to me. Perhaps this is due the fact that they are still the same form factors from before. I think that some of these smaller boxes now in use are actually brand new lower profile (thinner) form factors that hadn't been in use previously. I'm not certain on that point though.
  • Bluefox1966Bluefox1966 UKMember Posts: 360
    ^ I think your right. The box does seem smaller for it's Lego piece contents. And as you say the edges appear to be cracked.
  • wagnerml2wagnerml2 Belleville, IllinoisMember Posts: 1,376
    The POTC boxes appear to have a glossy finish, however.
  • YellowcastleYellowcastle Northern VirginiaAdministrator, Moderator Posts: 5,245
    I'm guessing all the PotC boxes come with a cardboard insert to help protect the posters?
  • aplbomr79aplbomr79 Member Posts: 159
    All of these observations and disgruntled points lead me to believe that TLG is struggling to keep manufacturing prices low and attempting to satisfy their core demographic. As I have stated numerous times, this is the 'Walmart Effect'.

    I am afraid if TLG keeps on this road, we will see the continual deterioration of the LEGO brand. The only way to fight this is to stop shopping at the 'quantity-over-quality' stores such as Walmart, Target, etc; and keep hammering the surveys (put out by LEGO) that we demand quality over price.

    As we continue with the current economic conditions, companies are looking for more output to increase sales. However, we must demand quality in everything we purchase! LEGO is but one front in the war against poor quality.

    Sorry - I will step off of my soapbox now.

    ~Build strong, build for life.
  • aplbomr79aplbomr79 Member Posts: 159
    By the way, after frequenting a local 'Big Box Store', I noticed that there were 3 other products in the line of 'building systems'. All of the other systems offered cheaper sets (by piece) than that of LEGO.

    With this type of competition, we will see one of a number of things:
    1. The LEGO Group must acquire more license; that means higher price per piece (ppp)
    2. TLG must cheapen manufacturing process; meaning low quality product
    3. TLG must fight the patent battle: already lost it - more money towards litigation
    4. Parents must demand high quality toys - and this is a losing battle unless we confront the Walmart Effect.
  • prof1515prof1515 EarthMember Posts: 1,561
    I'll point out that most sales are for kids and most kids treat the box like a candy bar wrapper. That's because it is like a candy bar wrapper. You're paying for the contents of the box, not the box itself. I'd rather have quality bricks in a cheap box than higher prices for what amounts to just the packaging.

    Personally, I detest the large boxes. They're wasteful and a hassle to store since they take up far more space than the contents would require. From the perspective of a consumer, I don't know if there are many more disappointing experiences than opening something and finding that 75% of the space inside the box is nothing but air. Psychologically, I'd rather shell out $25 for a small box that is packed with bricks than a big box which is for the most part empty.

    So, I welcome smaller and smaller boxes, especially if it means Lego is taking a step to reign in costs by limiting them more to the actual contents than to the packaging.
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,742
    ^ I fully agree. Problem is that marketing types insist that people feel they're getting a raw deal if the box is smaller, and for a certain type of customer I can believe it. Hopefully the environmental & cheaper shipping arguments are finally starting to trump the psychology arguments, however.....
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,292
    ^^ While LEGO boxes serve a similar purpose as candy bar wrappers -- packaging the product -- I contend they aren't as apt to be disposed as candy bar wrappers. Nor should they be: TLG spends a great deal of time and money designing and producing the art on the boxes, and as a collectible, there is a tangible value to the box.

    TLG has let the quality and functionality of their set boxes erode over time. In the 80's, the boxes carried the printing "Use this box for storage" and many had dividers that served this purpose. Images of alternate models were printed on the boxes as well.

    I'm in favor of smaller boxes for all the reasons mentioned, but I'm not in favor of the decreased quality of the cardboard or overall functionality of the box, particularly since I don't see it materially translating into consumer savings. It could be argued that value is derived and returned to the consumers elsewhere in what TLG likes to call the "LEGO experience" but I could do without LEGO universe and other areas of reinvestment.
  • brickmaticbrickmatic Member Posts: 1,071
    I completely agree with @prof1515 on this. If keeping LEGO competitive and preserving high quality bricks requires crappy cardboard, then I welcome the crappy cardboard in all the sets I purchase. It is just packaging folks. Collect it if you like, but keep in mind it is not an integral part of the set: you do not build with your packaging.

    Also, from the ecological perspective, I welcome flimsy cardboard because it means they are using less raw material to make their boxes. This is a good thing.
  • wander099wander099 Member Posts: 114
    I too like the smaller boxes. They are easier to store (privately and on the store shelf), more environmentally friendly, it can reduce prices without reducing the actual quality of the product, and there is just something about opening a box that has less empty space.
  • jwsmartjwsmart Member Posts: 298
    edited May 2011
    After nearly all of the boxes from my childhood (including my box for the 6990 Mission Commander) were destroyed in a flood, I made a conscious decision to ditch the boxes for the new sets I've gotten. They take up a lot of room, even when flattened, and the smaller boxes just don't flatten well (they never have, going back to the late 80's, early 90's).

    While I miss the boxes with the big plastic inserts and flip open lids showcasing the parts, my interest has always been in the parts, not the box. If it means the bricks are cheaper, I'll gladly tolerate a slightly cheaper box - I'm just going to throw it away, or recycle it anyway.
  • llanowarsoldierllanowarsoldier Ohio USAMember Posts: 357
    I don't mind the new size of boxes, as it makes it feel like you're not buying a bunch of "air space" also when you buy new sets. The only boxes I keep anyways are Exclusives and $100 + sets
  • CrackseedCrackseed Member Posts: 90
    Are the AC sets using the new boxes then? I haven't picked up a big AC set yet but the smaller sets seem to be using the same boxes as everything prior so I can't comment on that but I will echo the above sentiment that I miss the flip-up boxes. Always something exciting about getting to preview the figs, etc with those old boxes. Think the last one I had like that was the Ice Planet Odyssey outpost. Ahh, memories.
  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,742
    OK, so what about the flipside ? I recently won a fabulous lot of 11 old sets on eBay. All are boxed, all are pretty much immaculate. It is however hard to keep the boxes that way if you actually want to access the LEGO..... More specifically, it's virtually impossible to fit it all back in the boxes when you're done. Ridiculous. It's like some dastardly 3D puzzle trying to get all the LEGO in the box and closing the flap without damaging the packaging. Give me huge, mostly empty boxes any day rather than this 1970's nonsense.....
  • ZackulaZackula Member Posts: 1
    I like the new boxes better, smaller amounts of cardboard wasted eventually leads to cheaper prices. Plus, boxes just stay in my closet and die, so I don't really mind if the edges are creased.
  • wander099wander099 Member Posts: 114
    ^^ Well, that only applies if you keep Lego in the actual box. I don't, so it does not bother me at all. Though I have yet to see exactly how tight the fit is in these new boxes.
  • ThisIsMyCupThisIsMyCup Member Posts: 156
    Alien Conquest has the same boxes as before and the instructions do not come wrapped like in PotC.
  • StormsworderStormsworder Member Posts: 107
    I wish they would make the boxes smaller. Storage space is getting very tricky. I've taken to putting little sets into the boxes of large sets along with the large set's pieces.
  • CrackseedCrackseed Member Posts: 90
    They need to use the sticker sheets with cardboard backing - I've had 3 sets recently where the stickers were damaged/half peeled off >_<
  • wander099wander099 Member Posts: 114
    @Crackseed, be sure to call customer support and ask for replacement stickers. I'm sure they will provide them given that they were damaged when you opened the box.
  • CrackseedCrackseed Member Posts: 90
    Yeah, I have been. Just with a small adjustment to repacking - say manual and sticker sheet together with a cardboad slip - they could avoid those issues.
  • bmwlegobmwlego Long Island, New YorkMember Posts: 817
    I didn't realize that the boxes were so important to AFOLs. Different strokes for different folks. I just hope that the instructions and stickers come in tact and that the box is sealed with all parts inside. Other than that my boxes go in the trash. I do enjoy the old school boxes with plastic trays but know they are a thing of the past.
  • tommyboatommyboa Member Posts: 36
    Which came first for Toy Story? Cloudy Sky or White background (thinner) boxs? Saw both for set 7593 on clearence at WM for $21. I went with cloudy sky as the older one as there was only one left and two whites and I've only seen their other non-lego toys in white. Also which is the more rare box as the line seems to have run it's course.
  • MatthewMatthew Cheshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 3,735
    Cloudy Sky for both questions.
  • Rainstorm26Rainstorm26 Chicago Burbs USA (and sometimes Ireland)Member Posts: 1,004
    I bought 2x POC Captain's Cabin a month or so ago. I didn't realize it until today, but the boxes I bought were the normal size boxes. I saw the smaller boxes today in Target. I was amazed at how much smaller the boxes were. I was looking for a set for a birthday present. When I saw how small the new boxes were, I felt guilty buying a set in a small box. I initially thought the smaller boxes was a good thing as I hadn't experienced it myself, but now I have changed my mind. When you give a present, the small boxes are not as good. If I was buying the set for myself, then I wouldn't care so much.
  • EnbricEnbric Member Posts: 64
    Interesting perspective Rainstorm26. It's probably quite the conundrum for whoever makes the decision on box sizes, between packaging and shipping costs, parents, kids, and collectors it's impossible to please everyone/everything.

    I wonder what would happen if Lego toyed with the idea of smaller boxes and more fancy packaging (with the flaps and whatnot, similar to boxes a few decades ago). Kids could still be excited about the sets because they would see the figs and bricks inside, the shelves of our homes and our stores would be less cramped, and Lego could save money shipping to stores (and on [email protected]). The downside would be that packaging would probably cost the same, if not more, by replacing excess cardboard with flaps and windows.

    Just a thought.
  • wander099wander099 Member Posts: 114
    I don't think the size of the box should make a difference. The contents are the same, and I find it more satisfying to have a box that is filled than a box that is more than half empty. Not only does it feel like a waste, but it feels like I've been misled (though I have not because the piece count is on the box).
  • ThisIsMyCupThisIsMyCup Member Posts: 156
    i was at my local TRU today and some kid couldnt have been older than 2 or 3 was freaking out over the "big box." He grabbed a duplo cars 2 set and was carrying it around(it was almost as big as him) screaming, "i want this big box" over and over. never once did he mention cars or lego, he just wanted the big box of toys. it made me smile.
  • princedravenprincedraven Essex, UKMember Posts: 3,768
    I hadnt added to this subject as I didnt feel the size of the boxes really mattered, until, I just received 4191: Captain's Cabin in the post, the box looks tiny, and certainly doesn't look like it has £10+ of value in it.
    I can very much see that if it was going to be a present for someone they would look at it and expect it was at the most half that price.
    I can see how it is quite a dilema for TLG as the AFOL's dont get fooled by the box size (generally) and may feel deceived with a box filled with 80% air, but I know that most kids would be much happier with big flashy boxes to open and in reality probably dont care how much air is in the box as they will probably bin it anyway afterwards.
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,292
    edited May 2011
    Even when presented with a large box, people otherwise not familiar with purchasing LEGO would be surprised to find out the cost, imo.

    For perspective, these two items retail for the same:

    a Sony PS3 Move bundle, which is a current gen video game system with motion sensing webcam + game, a 3D blu-ray player, an internet connected media center:

    10188 LEGO Death Star:

    As far as big vs small boxes, the conundrum will only last as long as a mix of the two is being distributed by TLG. If (and hopefully when) they transition to universally smaller packaging, everyone's perception of value:box size simply needs to be recalibrated.
  • princedravenprincedraven Essex, UKMember Posts: 3,768
    edited May 2011
    @rocao - I understand your point of view about recalibration, however when a child who doesn't know the difference is in a toy shop and is faced with say a LEGO Black Pearl in new fancy small box, or [email protected]@x The Flying Dutchman in a box 50% larger and at 2/3rds the price, he will naturally gravitate to the worst product as he feels like he's getting more and the parent will be happier to pay less. So the issue is not just a case of TLG transitioning to smaller boxes as they have to consider competitors products too.
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,292
    edited May 2011
    ^ You didn't mention competitors previously so I thought you were simply discussing the current presence of both "older" larger style boxes and the "newer" smaller style boxes.

    Now that I understand that you're including comparisons to competing products, my response would be: TLG has a lengthy track record of diligent market research, design and product development, and evaluation of their competition, so the shift towards smaller boxes was likely not decided upon lightly or even with the singular assessment of reduced cost; I am quite certain that all ramifications were considered and will continue to be evaluated.

    Finally, and anecdotally, as a child I was fiercely loyal to LEGO products and was never lured by the boxes or even interesting models (i.e. military machines which LEGO makes a point to avoid) of competing products. This was because the quality of the brick was paramount to me; and I needed just a single experience with a "knock-off" to know that it didn't measure up in clutch, uniformity, fit & finish, and durability. If a child or parent has an emphasis on getting more for the money -- both in packaging and number of bricks -- with a competing product, rather than a focus on quality, maybe they are choosing just as they intend.
  • MatthewMatthew Cheshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 3,735
    I just thought I'd mention a review I read on Tesco for 4842:

    '..... but I did think it could be bigger for the price, the figures are only a few centimetres high.....'

    The had completely failed to grasp That's how big Lego is!!!
  • TownTown Member Posts: 68
    Guy at my local Lego store said that Lego was going back to bigger boxes later this year.
  • roxioroxio UKMember Posts: 1,382
    From my trawls round Asda/Tesco etc the small box sets do not seem to be shifting at all. The small sets e.g SW battlepacks and Hobbit @ £12 and the mid size sets at rrp pricepoints of £25 and £50 are in considerably smaller boxes than previous sets at same price. This is good for the environment and allows the retailer to have more ranges on the shelves, but is it also going to lead to early / heavy instore discounting more than usual ?
  • jasorjasor United StatesMember Posts: 839
    @roxio -- i was wondering the same thing...parents that shop for CFOLs? are they translating value with box size?

    It's a good thing Lego isnt Ikea. Can you imagine great sets flat packed into battlepack sized boxes? There is a delicate balance Lego has to walk. Big boxes = value to a lot of consumers.
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,525
    I just wish LEGO would pick a box size and STAY WITH IT..
    I hate how all of these boxes are different sizes and or widths.
  • meyerc13meyerc13 Member Posts: 227
    All they need to do is throw a label on the box saying "New environmentally friendly packaging!" and some people will buy it just for that.
  • CrownieCrownie WA StateMember Posts: 228
    It's not the new, smaller size that rubs me the wrong way so much as the flimsy, thinner cardboard. But consistency in size would save several parties a headache, I imagine.
    jasor said:

    It's a good thing Lego isnt Ikea. Can you imagine great sets flat packed into battlepack sized boxes? There is a delicate balance Lego has to walk.

    Oh, God what an image, lol.

  • legomasonlegomason Member Posts: 190
    meyerc13 said:

    All they need to do is throw a label on the box saying "New environmentally friendly packaging!" and some people will buy it just for that.

    Or what about "In New Concentrated Size" ?

  • jasorjasor United StatesMember Posts: 839
    ^^ It's FOR THE DOLPHINS! Seriously, i back the smaller boxes. They are great for my storage woes. From a Marketing standpoint, it has to be hard....especially when you have some older sets in the same-ish size box with less pieces/less pricepoint sitting RIGHT next to the new boxes. I've experienced the "parent" effect in B&M box stores firsthand already.
  • binaryeyebinaryeye USMember Posts: 1,764
    jasor said:

    From a Marketing standpoint, it has to be hard....especially when you have some older sets in the same-ish size box with less pieces/less pricepoint sitting RIGHT next to the new boxes.

    I imagine that's somewhat offset by the smaller boxes allowing for more variety of sets on the shelf.
  • roxioroxio UKMember Posts: 1,382
    roxio said:

    From my trawls round Asda/Tesco etc the small box sets do not seem to be shifting at all. The small sets e.g SW battlepacks and Hobbit @ £12 and the mid size sets at rrp pricepoints of £25 and £50 are in considerably smaller boxes than previous sets at same price. This is good for the environment and allows the retailer to have more ranges on the shelves, but is it also going to lead to early / heavy instore discounting more than usual ?

    .....and less than 4 months after launch, 79002 Attack of the Wargs is available at 50% off in UK
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