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LEGO's Vision: Anything But 20/20

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LEGO's Vision: Anything But 20/20

Postby Velliscig » Thu Feb 09, 2017 4:00 pm

It's been a while since I've visited this site, but hey, I figured might as well drop by again... and vent to the choir.
I've already sent numerous emails directly to LEGO and you know their replies are typically vague and inane.
I will always be a LEGO fan, through thick and thin. No doubt about that. My gripe today, though, is that I believe precisely the latter is the situation; LEGO is losing its touch. Their vision is thinning.

We are all well aware of the absence of any substantial Castle sets. Nexo-Knights? Ummmm props for originality, but that is not an acceptable substitute.
I go to the local Walmart and sometimes dip by the ever-receding LEGO section just to see what blasé sets they've decided to stock and sure enough all there is are a few City, Star Wars, Batman, Nexo-Knights and Minecraft sets... I guess kids don't want Castle or Pirate sets or anything like that these days.

Evidently the Lego Batman movie is coming out tomorrow? The Lego Movie was a lovely idea, but making a Batman movie? Really? There's already so many Batman movies and LEGO feels the need to lean on someone else's brand to promote their own? I feel this is a bit of a stretch. The LA Times calls it "...the best Batman movie since 'The Dark Knight'." Let's just forget that it's even made out of LEGO, shall we?

Another example. Minecraft sets. What even? Why is LEGO promoting someone else's game? What happened to Lego Creator? It blows my mind that they ever even thought Minecraft sets were a bright idea considering Minecraft is essentially a dumbed-down version of LEGO's own bricks. Really, I find it laughable and self-defeating... and yes, I've never played it because I HAVE LEGO.

How about the explosion of Mini sets... cute, sure. But $40 for about 450 basic pieces? Ummmm, pretty sure April Fool's day is in April. What happened to affordable sets? What happened to childrens’ attention-spans? Better grab your kids an Adderall prescription before you consider that 2,000-part set.

Oh, and I must say I am exuberant to see the Bionicle line die out. That was an abomination. Let’s let HASBRO make the action figures, shall we? LEGO, what if I told you, you don't have to compete in every market? 8)

On an up-note, I am happy to see they’ve expanded their female-friendly product lines in recent years... that was always their weak spot, so props to that... but how effectively can LEGO push their products on young girls? Trying too hard, perhaps? Do all girls like the color pink and want to be seen as a domestic, defenseless princess? I’m no feminist, but I doubt it.

I guess overall what disappoints me is that LEGO would rather nix their own product lines and replace them by borrowing other established brands. They're selling out, and it sickens me. Okay, so that's what kids want these days and who cares about us adult collectors anyway. Our days are numbered I guess, and so is LEGO’s creativity. Au Revoir.

Anyone have similar thoughts to add, or have any good news to quell my qualms? :spin:
Perhaps I’m missing something. Perhaps it’s MY vision that’s thinning.

Thanks for letting me rant. Cheers! :halo:

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Re: LEGO's Vision: Anything But 20/20

Postby rogue27 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:45 pm

I generally agree about the licensed sets. I didn't mind so much when it was more of a novelty, but now we're getting so many licensed sets that it is no doubt limiting the number of original sets and themes that are produced.

However, I think you may not understand the purpose of licensing. LEGO doesn't release Minecraft sets to promote Minecraft. They pay for the license so they can feed off of Minecraft's popularity. I don't play MInecraft and I don't want to play Minecraft, but I believe it is a good way to convince people who play Minecraft to buy some LEGO. That being the case, I think Minecraft is the most sensible LEGO license since Harry Potter.

I don't get your gripes about price. $40 for a 450 piece set is less than 10 cents per part, which is about where things have been for decades. (The parts have generally gotten smaller, but they have to offset inflation somehow.)

LEGO Batman movie is probably fine. I haven't seen it yet, but I have no problems with this existing. It seems like a sensible way to capitalize upon the success of the LEGO movie. Doesn't bother me that it's made out of LEGO. As somebody who claims to like LEGO, I'm not sure why it bothers you either. I've seen dark Batman movies, I've seen cheesy Batman movies, I've seen animated Batman movies, I've played Batman video games, and I've read Batman comic books. In general, I like Batman. I'm not too concerned with the medium used to tell the story as long as the story is good.

The mini-doll product lines seem great in the sense that they've finally succeeded in creating a lasting product line that seems to appeal to girls. Friends is too pink for my tastes, but Elves is a pretty fantastic original theme that I love buying for parts.

I'm not collecting Nexo Knights, but I understand that they have their fans. NK remind me of an 80s cartoon, I kinda like the weird mix of themes. It's not the first time Castle has gone in a weird direction. Fright Knights in 1997 and Knights Kingdom II in 2004 both strayed from "standard" castle and had their fans and detractors. You are worried that they are losing their creativity, yet don't want them to try something new. Can't have it both ways. I'm sure we'll see a more traditional castle line again someday.

I never cared for Bionicle, but they had their fans and their place in time. It's over. I'm not happy or sad that it is gone. It's just the way business goes. There are always some LEGO products that do not interest me. I don't understand the need to hate or complain about products that you are not required to purchase.

I think the real problem is that you are dissatisfied with LEGO catering to their core audience which is kids, and they're going to keep selling the stuff that sells and cancel the stuff that doesn't. That's just business. All that said, they have some great products for adults. The modular buildings have been coming out every year since 2007, and they are fantastic. Decent price-per-part ratio, intricate designs, clever building techniques, and no gimmicky weirdness.

Another thing to consider is that most adults look at LEGO sets as boxes of parts. Even if you don't like Nexo Knights or Star Wars, you can probably still find a set that would be a great parts pack, especially if you wait for a sale or clearance. Bricklink off the figures if you don't want them. Thinking of sets as parts packs, (and the modular buildings), keeps me going when I'm not interested in the retail themes.
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Re: LEGO's Vision: Anything But 20/20

Postby Athos » Tue Feb 14, 2017 5:15 pm

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Re: LEGO's Vision: Anything But 20/20

Postby Elephant Knight » Thu Feb 16, 2017 3:04 am

Velliscig wrote:Oh, and I must say I am exuberant to see the Bionicle line die out. That was an abomination. Let’s let HASBRO make the action figures, shall we? LEGO, what if I told you, you don't have to compete in every market? 8)

I should point out that Bionicle did save Lego from going bankrupt in the early 2000s. (With some help from Star Wars) Don't believe me? Read this book:

Don't ask about something: Just do it.

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Re: LEGO's Vision: Anything But 20/20

Postby Velliscig » Wed Feb 22, 2017 3:12 am

Alas, I know it’s really all about money and so therefore I can understand their desire to benefit off the popularity of other brands through licensing – really, the more pragmatic choice. That kind of practice however is still precisely what bothers me – ‘feeding off’ other brands! In any case though, I certainly can’t argue against the possibility of enticing those individuals playing Minecraft to buy a few LEGO sets…

The price gripe, I suppose, is my realization of inflation… or, perhaps also, the prices merely seem higher because I see less value in the sets… my toilet-seat revelation of the night! :P

I suppose my definition of creativity in this sense doesn’t provide for trying something new… as ironic as that is. We do concur there is too much licensing, and I’m sure we’d all agree that it would be quite lovely if they’d just return to some of their older lines and expand those instead.

You are most probably right concerning my dissatisfaction with their target market… The aspects of LEGO I enjoyed when I was younger are perhaps not the same as what I feel now, 10-15 years later… :?

I generally do only see the sets as parts of course but often I’m just headed back to Bricklink because the amount of parts in any given set I actually think I’ll use seldom still justifies my purchase of the set! Bah.

My gripes about LEGO are probably as out of line as are my gripes about most things… I’ve never been one to accept change unconditionally. Anyway, thanks for letting me rant, folks!

==> Elephant Knight – thanks for that link, I shall have to add that to my wishlist! 8)

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Re: LEGO's Vision: Anything But 20/20

Postby Sir Osis of Liver » Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:42 pm

I will always be a LEGO fan, through thick and thin. No doubt about that. My gripe today, though, is that I believe precisely the latter is the situation; LEGO is losing its touch. Their vision is thinning

Well said. After 40+ years of being a fan of LEGO and an avid collector I have found that my enthusiasm for the product has waned in recent years. There is no one reason or thing to blame for this but rather what I see as a gradual departure from the toy I fell in love with decades ago. Here are some factors that I think have contributed to LEGO losing its focus.

Short Product runs- Whether it is LEGO's own themes or licensed product lines, the shelf life seems to be less than 6 months after which sets are gone for good to be replaced with the next wave of products. I like that there are new products appearing regularly, but it seems if you blink you miss finding sets on the retail shelves and have to resort to the aftermarket to find items. I've backed off on collecting some themes and sets for the simple reason that I can't afford to keep up with the torrent of "new" products.

Lack of really new sets - Any theme that lasts longer than 6 months faces rehashed variants of sets that have already been made several times. Worst example of this is the City line of sets with the annual police or fire stations and an assortment of vehicle based sets that while technically new are little different from ones produced the year before.

Overly complex models - The sets you find today are a far cry from the minifigure based models that were introduced decades ago. Complex building techniques that require highly detailed instructions to complete are now the norm. While the models are amazing, being too complex can be a turn off for kids. It is not unusual to find LEGO sets at second hand stores or yard sales where the child has started the build, but given up partway through, even leaving some bags of parts unopened. I miss the days of one page building plans.

Too Much focus on LIcensed products - Fair enough, licensing has saved LEGO's bacon! However (rough estimate) more than half of their product lines are now licensed. Starwars, Disney and the comic superhero themes while big sellers are not for everyone. I wonder are the fans of these sets fans of LEGO, or just fans of the licensed brand. Too much focus and reliance on a license agreement leaves the TLG vulnerable to the demands of the owners of that license.

In keeping with the focus on licensed products, some of the licensed lines have been poor sellers and some have been real stinkers. Considering the cost of the license and the cost of producing new model designs and in some cases parts to support the license this has got to hurt the company's bottom line. It was/is not unusual to find these sets having to be marked down in order to sell. Lone Ranger, Prince of Persia, Cars, Ben 10, Airbender, SpongeBob, LOTR, Hobbit and others I can't recall. Some of these had a strong, but narrow target audience and were good sets, but not long term money makers.

Even some of LEGO's own product lines haven't been great sellers. Chima and Nexo Knights are the current duds in my opinion. These sets can normally be found marked down in short order as seen to lack play value or are overpriced to begin with.

Brick Quality - Maybe I'm just getting picky, but It seems like the quality of the LEGO bricks has been decreasing over the past years. The colours don't seem to be as strong and the plastic itself doesn't seem to be as good as it was years ago. Ironically, the "lower quality" brands such as Megobloks have steadily improved the manufacture of the bricks and sets over the years to where they are nearly on par with LEGO's product. Even the clone knock offs of the LEGO sets are now difficult to distinguish from genuine products.

Oh well, just a few rants that seemed to fit in with this discussion. It may just be that I've reached the point where I'm nostalgic for the LEGO sets and designs I remember from my youth. :) Get off my lawn!
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Re: LEGO's Vision: Anything But 20/20

Postby Bruce N H » Tue Mar 07, 2017 3:47 pm

Yay, grumpy old man time. I'm good at this. :D

Years ago I ranted about the proliferation of licensed themes, and I still stand by that. Actually, I did at that time hold out a broader comic book universe as a good license, and that's become one of their main ones. My main complaint is these one-off themes that come and go - Last Airbender, Lone Ranger, etc. Ironically, though, right now the impediment to getting good a good castle theme is not a license, like 2001-2003 when a true castle line was precluded by Harry Potter. Indeed, the Lord of the Rings license gave us some great sets. Instead it's the Spastle line, which, I agree with Rogue above, feels like an 80's cartoon. So I kind of wish they'd scrap this and go back to the Tolkien stuff, at least long enough to give us the rejected rumored final wave of Return of the King sets.

I'm not sure set complexity is a big complaint. My son pretty much built the Disney Castle set by himself at age 7. Indeed we complain loudly when the sets are too dumbed down. I think the problem is with parents not knowing the appropriate range for their kids, and jumping to the big complex sets when a simpler set would be more appropriate. BTW, I want to go to garage sales with you. I never find these cool deals that others seem to find.

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