The Geonosian Starfighter is the redesign of a somewhat less-than-iconic ship, a small set with a less than small price. At $30 USD ($35 with the Toys-R-Us tax), so at 20 cents per piece, this may be one of the most expensive Star Wars sets, part-for-part, ever made. The question that needs to be answered is: was it worth the money?
Archive for July, 2011
Despite the indescribable madness surrounding the LEGO booth at this year’s Comic Con, there was one shining aspect of their booth besides the retail space, eight shining aspects to be exact: their display cases. Ever since I can remember, LEGO has been putting display cases in their booth showing off their current product line from select themes. The glass cases were tall with one or two sets on each shelf. This year however, things were a little different. There were a total of eight large cases, and inside each case was huge diorama showcasing a particular theme. I thought this was a great way to display the currently available products as it shows what can be possible when you put everything together. The presentation looked much nicer and more cohesive than just sets on a shelf. I tip my hat to whoever designed these displays. It was one of the few things I enjoyed at the booth.
Where do I even begin.
I guess I can start with the positives. This year, for the first time, LEGO had a large free build area composed of only 2×4 yellow bricks. Personally, I think it’s a great idea since it exemplifies the very core of the toy brand we all know and love. It also forces a builder to use their imagination to build something creative. At the end of every day, the booth employees/volunteers would tear most of the creations that were built but some were kept throughout the week.
The retail portion of the booth also had all the licensed themes for sale, including the newest Star Wars assortment. There was also Ninjago near the end of the week which was was a huge seller, and the first set of the Master Builder Academy. The retail side also sold the Star Wars Advent Calendar exclusive set for $50. You were limited to 2 per purchase, but you could always go back to the end of the line to purchase more. There was no ticket system for this exclusive, that was reserved for the minifig giveaway. Simply line up and buy.
This is a far cry from how they usually handle their exclusive, but like I said, the usual method was reserved for distributing the Batman and Green Lantern minifigs. The ticket system has been LEGO’s method since 2006, the year they decided to enter the exclusive game with their very first LEGO Batman exclusive announcing the start of the LEGO Batman line. Little has changed over the years in the method. You line up, once the designated time rolls around you draw a ticket. If your ticket has a stamp, you win the chance to buy the exclusive. I know, it sounds ridiculous to win the chance to spend money. LEGO wised up this year and just gave away the minifigs once you draw the winning ticket.
I actually don’t mind this method since the LEGO exclusive wasn’t really one of those highly sought after items, not like whatever Hasbro or Mattel was offering to generate such great demand every year. You could pull a ticket, and then get right back in at the end of the line and repeat until all the winning tickets were drawn.
This year, the landscape completely changed. Wednesday through Friday, the demand was pretty high and steadily increasing. The lines were getting longer, the chances to go through the line multiple times was diminishing. Saturday was the worst day in that line to purchase the Star Wars exclusive went around the booth in one direction, and the line to pull the ticket went around the booth in another. At one point, the minifig line doubled back on itself, making a wall of people 3 people thick around parts of the booth.
It was so crowded that security came by and LEGO had to quickly change their strategy. Instead of drawing a winning or losing ticket, you just get a ticket and winning numbers would be posted later on in the day. Much smoother I though, and the line went much faster. It still wasn’t ideal but was a good change to accommodate the large crowds.
There are plenty of ways that LEGO could change their method of handling exclusives.
- Sell immediately: For whatever reason, LEGO insists on starting their ticket distribution and/or sales at a certain time. And at the same time, they insist that there be no lines before a certain designated time. I don’t think this is realistic at all. People who really want to get them are more than willing to wait, so naturally a line is going to form. If they started selling the exclusives immediately once the hall floor is open to the public, it would mitigate any large mobs of people just hanging around waiting and forming lines against their wishes. Ticket distribution should also be done immediately.
- No tickets: sell or give away the exclusive on a first come first serve basis. Lots of other booths handle it this way and it works well enough.
- Designated line area: Some booths have their line form elsewhere and batches of people are brought to the booth for the transaction.
- Presell online for pickup at the show: Currently, I only know of one company that does this and that is Sideshow Collectibles. You purchase your exclusive online weeks or months before the show and you can pick up the exclusive at any time during the con. The infrastructure needed to make this happen is probably far more than what LEGO is willing invest in, but it is an idea.
My preferred method? First come first serve. There’s a certain number of exclusives allocated per day, so if a person isn’t able to buy one, there’s always the next day. Use a ticket system as a secondary measure to ensure that no one cuts in the line and that those who follow the rules are guaranteed an exclusive. People are willing to throw their money at LEGO but they are making it more difficult than it has to be.
I realize this is already a rather lengthy read, but I’ve tapped forum member Mos_Eisley to recount his experience. I can only hope that the powers that be at LEGO seriously reconsider their approach for next year. But given how bad things got, I don’t think it’ll take much convincing. Hit the jump to read more.
Update: In case it wasn’t made clear, the Blu-ray is a Walmart Exclusive. That’s right, no other outlet will be selling the set so get your preorder in while the price is still $13.00.
Missed the special on TV? Want to see it again? Walmart.com has put up a pre-order for the Blu Ray + DVD release of “LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace.” The Blu Ray includes an exclusive “Young Han Solo” minifigure. While this figure has no exclusive parts, it’s a neat little incentive to pre-order. Price is $13.00 with free shipping.
Best part? The release also includes crisp, high-definition versions of:
- Hunt for R2-D2
- Bombad Bounty
- Star Wars in Two Minutes (Part 1)
- Star Wars in Two Minutes (Part 2)
- Star Wars Clone Wars In Cinema
Full details HERE.
Revealed last week, Hallmark is entering the LEGO Star Wars market with a new ornament of a LEGO Darth Vader minifigure. The ornament goes on sale in October for $14.95. They had a few on display at the San Diego Comic Con which I was happy to take pictures of. The Dark Lord is a pretty good size for an ornament, much larger than an actual minifigure and around the same average size for their other figure ornaments. My only gripe is that the cape seems all too narrow. In some views, especially head on, it seems like he doesn’t even have one on. You just see a hint of it. I would have like to have seen a much larger sweeping cape, one that is immediately noticeable without having to purposefully look for it. Still, not bad for the first product out of the gate.
Hallmark will also be selling a series of party accessories based around LEGO Star Wars such as bags, cups, plates, etc.
But the biggest news is that they had a little sign showing a sneak peek what next year’s LEGO Star Wars ornament was going to be for 2012: Stormtrooper. LEGO hasn’t used the loudhailer and 1×1 round stud as a blaster for awhile now, so I’m not sure why they are using it for the ornament. Perhaps it was a licensing issue but I really wish they had sculpted in a blaster instead. It does give the figure a bit of nostalgia, though, for old timers like me.
They need to do everyone’s favorite pair of droids next.
Did you attend the LEGO Star Wars Panel in Room 7AB at the San Diego Comic Con last Friday?
Yeah, me neither.
Luckily, Eurobricks posted a few images of some of the things revealed at the panel, including a proper Queen Amidala and a new TIE Fighter set that’s been completely redesigned and will include 4 minifigs, pictured below.
Gamespot posted an article that goes over what was discussed in the panel. Nothing too earth shattering, but a good read nonetheless.
Thanks to Anonymous Tipster and Justin for the heads up.
LEGO Shop@Home now has the Toys’R'Us exclusive 7879 Hoth Echo Base on their site available for ordering. It’ll cost you $89.99, five bucks cheaper than TRU, and you get VIP points. It’ll still cost you shipping since their free shipping promo ended a little bit ago, but you can still get the free Kingoms polybag set to help ease the sting.
Thanks to Jon for the heads up.
When the 2011 second-wave sets were first leaked, the reactions for most sets was the same we’d felt in recent years: “meh, too expensive.” But then everyone glanced at the revision of the Episode I classic podracers, and what was in there, and the buzz was on. Early previews pointed to a sharp looking, well designed set from an area that didn’t get a lot of love in recent years.
Episode I is rightfully hated by pretty much anyone who’s ever had it inflicted on them, but the podracer scene was one of the highlights. Edit: Okay, I relent. I was apparently confusing Anakin in this with the video game, or the rest of the movie. I stand by the fact that it was too long. Changing it above to reflect what everyone has been telling me, so I don’t have to go watch Episode I again!
But LEGO managed to take a bad scene and make an awesome set in its original run; 7171 Mos Espa Podrace was a great set with good build quality and a lot of parts that had never been seen before (and a few that haven’t been seen since). It wasn’t without its flaws, especially in the minifigure area, but it was a welcome site to see updated. Especially around here, with some of the fun FBTB has had with podracers in recent years.
So, the real question here is, can a set live up to the hype, revisisted 12 years later? Especially when it comes in with (a few) less parts and one less podracer?