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Modular Add-ons - What's Your Take?

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Modular Add-ons - What's Your Take?

Postby MrCRskater » Tue Oct 11, 2011 7:56 pm

I'm referring to sets like 4480 Jabba's Palace (augmented by 4475 and 4476) and 4709 Hogwarts Castle (with additions like 4701, 4702, 4704, 4705, 4721, and 4722). Some have said that a moderately-priced base set, offered with optional, inexpensive add-ons would be a desirable production model as it would enable greater detail, more customization, and perhaps more freedom to pick-and-choose (and purchase) which sets are most appealing. Others have said that this sort of production model is what killed the Jabba's Palace set.

For my money, I think it could enhance the detail and value of some sets, and the ability to choose which add-ons to pick up is appealing. I guess it's also appealing in the sense that it would allow me to end up with a set like 10188 without dropping $400 all at once.

So, what say you?
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Re: Modular Add-ons - What's Your Take?

Postby buriedbybricks » Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:21 pm

I think it's a great way to market sets. I'd like to see them do it with Jabba's palace again with the main room, stackable on a Rancor pit, the droids at the main gate and a Boushh/Han in Carb side room. I even dream of a modal nodes battle (of the bands) pack.

I personally hope to see more modular marketing. Especially with the upcoming Superheroes lines.
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Re: Modular Add-ons - What's Your Take?

Postby Mister Ed » Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:43 am

I'm all for it. Heck, for some sets, it seems like it would LOGICALLY have been broken down into smaller bits. The Endor set, for instance, that I never got because I couldn't afford to pay that much at once for one set (and never had it on Clearance anywhere near where I live) could EASILY have been a small AT-ST set, a small Ewok set, and a medium sized Bunker set, all, individually, within my price range.

Jabba's palace didn't work well that way because no thought went into the way stuff fit together. The extra bits were just tacked on thoughtlessly, to the extent that the underwhelming "door" set attached in such a way that the EXTERIOR of the door appeared to be INSIDE Jabba's palace. It didn't help that the main set was no prize either, bearing little resemblance (other than Jabba's dais, which was pretty good) to what we saw in the movie, and losing extra points for having a trapdoor but NO RANCOR.

A modular bunch of Death Star sets could work well, I think. I thought the series of Harry Potter sets detailing the various challenges in Sorcerer's Stone worked very well.
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Re: Modular Add-ons - What's Your Take?

Postby Draykov » Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:31 am

I don't necessarily have a problem with the idea from a fan/consumer perspective. That said, I think any attempt to take the existing "battle pack" model (for instance, to try and balance the focus more between figs and brick-built models) would screw up the price-point.

The struggling economy may make this approach a little more feasible than it has been recently, but when you think about it from LEGO's perspective, I don't know why they'd want to give you options to avoid certain sets to save money...they want you to buy it all so they can maximize profit. I'm not sure how it's in their best interest to allow people to be more selective about not spending money on LEGO.

There's also the issue of retailer pressure to churn out new product. If the idea is to allow customers time to piece together some larger "super set" (from smaller ones) at their leisure in order to be more economical, you're going to eventually have customers that took too long and are left out in the proverbial cold when the 1.5-2 year lifespan for a group of modular sets hits.
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Re: Modular Add-ons - What's Your Take?

Postby crazybirdman » Wed Oct 12, 2011 7:51 am

I love the idea, I just wish it was executed better. The Hogwarts set started to have too much overlap.
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Re: Modular Add-ons - What's Your Take?

Postby Mister Ed » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:08 am

Draykov wrote:The struggling economy may make this approach a little more feasible than it has been recently, but when you think about it from LEGO's perspective, I don't know why they'd want to give you options to avoid certain sets to save money...they want you to buy it all so they can maximize profit. I'm not sure how it's in their best interest to allow people to be more selective about not spending money on LEGO.


Well, in some cases (such as the aforementioned Endor set) it was a matter (for me at least, and I can't imagine I'm alone) of spending NOTHING, because the combo set pricepoint was too high, vs. spending SOMETHING purchasing some or all of the smaller components over time.
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Re: Modular Add-ons - What's Your Take?

Postby Draykov » Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:48 am

Mister Ed wrote:Well, in some cases (such as the aforementioned Endor set) it was a matter (for me at least, and I can't imagine I'm alone) of spending NOTHING, because the combo set pricepoint was too high, vs. spending SOMETHING purchasing some or all of the smaller components over time.


The question then becomes, which is more profitable for LEGO - getting all of the money they want per unit for a high price-point set from someone else or some of yours for one of several low price-point sets (and I'm not picking on you, just using you in an example in this particular scenario - I'm referring to anyone who balked at the high price, which is understandable)? I imagine they'll adjust their plan to suit whichever scenario ends up being more profitable...but when you start getting into the logistics of marketing, packaging and distributing lots of smaller sets versus a smaller number of larger ones that would likely bring in the same amount of profit, the latter approach seems like the more cost effective method.
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Re: Modular Add-ons - What's Your Take?

Postby buriedbybricks » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:05 am

The point of which way they can make more profit is moot if they re-use the Hogwarts scenario of still having a big expesive central set and making smaller modular sets to enhance it. Those who can't afford the larger set will still pick up some of the smaller sets if they're desirable enough and those who can afford the larger set are more likely to purchase the smaller sets to accompany it. In reality they already do it they just don't release them all in the same wave, spreading the love over a couple of years to keep a wide variety. They're playing it safe, so the real question becomes is there a modular concept they would deem profitable enough to take a chance?
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Re: Modular Add-ons - What's Your Take?

Postby vynsane » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:08 am

Draykov wrote:The struggling economy may make this approach a little more feasible than it has been recently, but when you think about it from LEGO's perspective, I don't know why they'd want to give you options to avoid certain sets to save money...they want you to buy it all so they can maximize profit. I'm not sure how it's in their best interest to allow people to be more selective about not spending money on LEGO.


Think of it this way: Anyone who bought Battle of Endor (to pick a set that has been mentioned previously) as a single huge set would have also bought it as individual modules - and some probably would have even bought multiples of certain modules in order to add to their scene. That's an increase in revenue already and we haven't even touched the segment of collectors who bowed out because BoE was out of their price range. They, in turn, would most likely have bought a few smaller sets that comprised the whole had they been given the opportunity. Buying $25-$50 out of a selection of modular sets totaling $120 is better than $0 out of one $100 set, and the aforementioned multiple module buyers will pick up a lot of the slack.
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Re: Modular Add-ons - What's Your Take?

Postby Draykov » Wed Oct 12, 2011 9:30 am

buriedbybricks wrote:The point of which way they can make more profit is moot if they re-use the Hogwarts scenario of still having a big expesive central set and making smaller modular sets to enhance it. Those who can't afford the larger set will still pick up some of the smaller sets if they're desirable enough and those who can afford the larger set are more likely to purchase the smaller sets to accompany it.


Maybe...still, I don't know that it makes the point moot or highlights the fact that smaller, add-on sets make no difference to the marketability of a larger, related set. I have no data, so it's all kind of speculative on my part based on my vague memory of KB Toys marking down a bunch of small SW sets (specifically 7200, 7201, 7203, 7204, 4475 and 4476). Come to that, I'm pretty sure I picked up 4480 Jabba's Palace at a deep discount.

vynsane wrote:Think of it this way: Anyone who bought Battle of Endor (to pick a set that has been mentioned previously) as a single huge set would have also bought it as individual modules - and some probably would have even bought multiples of certain modules in order to add to their scene.



I'm with you so far..and in this sense, I like the idea as a fan/consumer, assuming we're dealing with attractive parts packs and generic figures you'd want multiples of...o' course, that tinkers with battle packs place in the lineup, and those have been solid sellers.

vynsane wrote:That's an increase in revenue already and we haven't even touched the segment of collectors who bowed out because BoE was out of their price range.


Is it? I don't know. My conservative nature has me thinking it's not that simple and the costs of marketing/packaging/distributing separate sets would cancel out any money made from additional sales. Either that, or it would drive up the price-point of the small, modular sets to the point of actually costing more altogether than a single, large, high price-point set would have.
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Re: Modular Add-ons - What's Your Take?

Postby MrCRskater » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:07 am

vynsane wrote:Think of it this way: Anyone who bought Battle of Endor (to pick a set that has been mentioned previously) as a single huge set would have also bought it as individual modules. . . Buying $25-$50 out of a selection of modular sets totaling $120 is better than $0 out of one $100 set, and the aforementioned multiple module buyers will pick up a lot of the slack.

This was my thinking, and there are a couple implications here to consider. First, as you suggest, offering the big-box sets as modulars will increase cost (both cost to manufacturer and cost to consumer), which could create opportunity for a little extra profit. Secondly, the higher overall price could also presumably allow for more detailed and complete sets. Again, taking the Battle of Endor as an example, if broken into different components, they could have offered a complete, enclosed bunker for around $75, then you add in the AT-ST with better-looking legs for $20, an ewok addition with more weapons (or a tree hut?) for $20/$25, and 2 trooper battle packs at $12 each - now the set is even more accurate, more fun to build, more fun to play with. LEGO is probably making more money, too. That said. . .
Draykov wrote:My conservative nature has me thinking it's not that simple and the costs of marketing/packaging/distributing separate sets would cancel out any money made from additional sales.

This is a very valid point. While the consumer is getting more LEGO (and a more desirable set), TLG is now marketing/packaging/distributing 5 sets instead of just 1. Obviously there are greater costs involved, so the question remains (as Draykov has pointed out already), would that sort of model markedly increase profits?
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Re: Modular Add-ons - What's Your Take?

Postby vynsane » Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:25 am

MrCRskater wrote:
Draykov wrote:My conservative nature has me thinking it's not that simple and the costs of marketing/packaging/distributing separate sets would cancel out any money made from additional sales.

This is a very valid point. While the consumer is getting more LEGO (and a more desirable set), TLG is now marketing/packaging/distributing 5 sets instead of just 1. Obviously there are greater costs involved, so the question remains (as Draykov has pointed out already), would that sort of model markedly increase profits?


I agree that it could potentially cost LEGO more to release a wave of modular sets than it would to release one big set, and they would need to figure out the cheapest way to do it in order to maximize profit - but they've already begun to do so, what with smaller, more uniform box sizes. Also, they don't just release one big set and call it a day, they release a big set and multiple other sets of varying sizes already! Instead of a wave consisting of multiple sets from disparate segments of the Star Wars universe, they could release half a wave of just Endor-related items that all could snap together if one were so inclined, with the other half being items from various other segments (there would be a lot of green and brown on the shelves, otherwise). I say half and half because they seem to release SW in waves of greater numbers than any other theme.

The fact that battlepacks would be made to suffer ignores the fact that the battlepacks could be designed to integrate with the larger modular sub-theme - once again, if one were so inclined. It would stand to reason that the largest set would come with an assortment of important stand-alone figures (major characters) and smaller ones could include on additional major character depending on pricepoint and sense (the AT-ST set could include Wicket, Chewie, a Stormtrooper and the AT-ST pilot, for instance) - the smallest sets and/or battlepacks would contain nearly only army-builders to further strengthen their re-buy value (one featuring Ewoks, one with Biker Scouts, one with Stormtroopers or a mixture thereof would make the most sense).
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Re: Modular Add-ons - What's Your Take?

Postby Draykov » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:08 pm

vynsane wrote:Instead of a wave consisting of multiple sets from disparate segments of the Star Wars universe, they could release half a wave of just Endor-related items that all could snap together if one were so inclined, with the other half being items from various other segments (there would be a lot of green and brown on the shelves, otherwise).


That might not be a bad idea, particularly from a fan/consumer perspective. As an example, Playmobil (which my daughter has been getting into lately) does what I consider to be a good job of offering multiple play-themes while the various sets within a play-theme (e.g. "School") complement each other very directly and very well. The overriding issue here might be that LEGO seems to take the attitude that vehicles outsell locations.

The fact that battlepacks would be made to suffer ignores the fact that the battlepacks could be designed to integrate with the larger modular sub-theme


I suppose that is true, but I guess my point is if battle packs are working as is, where is the motivation for LEGO to innovate?
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Re: Modular Add-ons - What's Your Take?

Postby vynsane » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:36 pm

I see what you mean about the emphasis on vehicles over playsets, but my daughter LOVED the Space Police Central set. Vehicles may sell better but that doesn't necessarily mean playsets sell poorly. The argument could be made that they need to up their game on playsets instead of writing them off.

As for innovation in battlepack technology, it would really only have to integrate on the basis that the figures in a battlepack make sense within the context of the greater modular sub-theme - it doesn't even necessarily need to incorporate pieces that will physically integrate (read: connect via technic pins) with the other sets, but the figures/accessories could be planned out in such a way that they compliment the greater picture. That's just good business practice, and they've nearly done so in the past (Hoth Rebel and Snowtrooper BPs released between 7749 Echo Base and 8089 Wampa Cave).
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Re: Modular Add-ons - What's Your Take?

Postby Draykov » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:45 pm

vynsane wrote:The argument could be made that they need to up their game on playsets instead of writing them off.


Werd.
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Re: Modular Add-ons - What's Your Take?

Postby Tyrant » Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:48 pm

I think Draykov is right on why we don't see this much anymore in that it is either a profit issue of some kind or it is due to some type of retailer pressure.

Having said that, I wish they would do it more often. They used to do it quite a bit with Castle, in a way. Most of the castles that weren't on a single baseplate were made to be able to open and had the means to easily connect with either another copy of that set or one of the other sets they had out around that time. Some aspects of this idea are in the upcoming Joust set to make it easy to combine multiple copies. That is the way I have wanted to see it applied more frequently. For Star Wars, I agree that something like the Death Star, Endor, or maybe the Battle of Hoth could be made that way. I figure the Battle of Hoth is more likely to actually be made. One central bunker/rebel compund set and then smaller sets of the trenches/tower guns/etc that people can buy multiples of to join together to make the battle as large as they want. As a consumer, I would rather have seen the Endor set broken up so I can buy multiples of the parts I like.

I see the down side of people possibly not getting all the bits and pieces. However, I think if they are decently designed (thought put into where they will connect to make it look good, throwing something in the smaller sets to make multiples seem appealing, etc) they are a good idea for some themes.
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Re: Modular Add-ons - What's Your Take?

Postby Scogali » Thu Dec 22, 2011 9:26 am

I reckon it's a good idea but in certain sets it just wouldn't work. To get them to work right they would have to be particularly careful about the way they assembled them and planned to have them set up. This would drive the price up anyway. Obviously they didn't do this with the Jabba's Palace and look what happened there. For dioramas such as Endor it is clearly a good option but for more compact displays it simply isn't viable. So as long as they executed it well it would work and sell probably much more than it would have otherwise but it would be a very fine line. Overall, it is a good concept but they would have to choose wisely as to what they used this style in and what they didn't.
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