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Re-designs/re-releases: who done it?

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Re-designs/re-releases: who done it?

Postby Draykov » Tue Sep 22, 2009 1:19 pm

I'm pretty sure this question has been asked and answered elsewhere. I even went through the old forums trying to find it, but I came up with nuttin', so I'm posing this question again:

There is only one licensed property that I know of that has had a LEGO relationship long enough to hit this point, but who is most responsible for deciding which sets get re-made/re-designed/re-released? Does LucasFilm initiate the process? That is, is it a matter of George and company calling up to say "hey LEGO, the Flash speeder is gonna make an appearance on Clone Wars next season, can you fry us up some LEGO goodness?"

Over the years, whenever a set is re-designed or re-released, I tend to hear a lot of noise from fans who don't like the notion of re-releasing old sets. TLG and various specific parties within (up to and including the guy that cleans the toilets in Billund at night) have been accused of being money-grubbing, lazy demons that are just out to sell little children the same toy every few years. I'm hoping that a little official light shed on the subject might get people (myself included) to understand the process a bit more.
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Re: Re-designs/re-releases: who done it?

Postby legodavee123 » Tue Sep 22, 2009 2:25 pm

Draykov wrote:who is most responsible for deciding which sets get re-made/re-designed/re-released? Does LucasFilm initiate the process?


From what I've heard, LucasFilm communicates info regarding upcoming scripts to LEGO, along with whatever material they've got. I'm not sure how much lead time that entails, but probably pretty early. Something like "in the upcoming series, we'll have vehicle X, which character Y will ride on a mission to Z planet, and here are some sketches and preliminary 3-D models of the vehicle." Etc.

Then, LEGO and LucasFilm basically go through some back-and-forth regarding which sets, minifigs, etc, will be released, and both parties have to agree. LEGO's marketing will look at which price points they want to hit, which things are the most "important" in the series, and which have the most "play appeal" to kids. They'll figure out more-or-less what the general sets should be, and make sure that LucasFilm agrees.

Next, the LEGO designers get to play around with making the sets. In fact, they may have already started, depending on the particulars. They'll work with the artwork that LucasFilm has provided, and make some models using the expected-to-be-available parts for the timeframe of the release. They'll work with LucasFilm to get more details if needed, and show the designs at various stages. I'm not sure how much back-and-forth there is exactly, but I'd bet there are a few milestones along the way where they keep LucasFilm in the process.

The final step in the process is for LEGO to show LucasFilm reps the "finished" sets, box art, and any other material (instructions, etc) that include LucasFilm licensed IP. Once approved, it gets worked into the production queue at LEGO.

Draykov wrote:Over the years, whenever a set is re-designed or re-released, I tend to hear a lot of noise from fans who don't like the notion of re-releasing old sets. TLG and various specific parties within (up to and including the guy that cleans the toilets in Billund at night) have been accused of being money-grubbing, lazy demons that are just out to sell little children the same toy every few years.


The idea on LEGO's part is that kids grow up, and new kids appear in the market. If LEGO released ONE X-wing fighter in 1999, how is a kid who's born in 2001 and is finally old enough to play with system bricks in 2008 going to get his hands on an X-wing? Obviously, LEGO wants to sell him an X-wing, so they need to make sure that there's one for him to buy-- probably released between 2007-2009, so that he'll have a chance at getting one during his prime LEGO age. That's why you'll see the same ships, minifigs, and other stuff re-released over and over.

Now, you could argue that LEGO should just keep the same old design that they had in 1999, and not come out with a new set, but that's very difficult. LEGO only produces certain elements in certain colors each year, and it's carefully planned to be as efficient as possible, a long time in advance. Hence, not all the pieces that were available in 1999 are available now. So rather than try and jam an outdated element medley into their current production lineup, they simply make a different design for the ship using the current selection of pieces. It's cheaper and more efficient for LEGO.

But it has little to do with selling to collectors, since the market of collectors doesn't really have such a small window of "growing up". A kid born in 2001 will likely only be in the market for a Star Wars set for a few years (say, 2007-2013, or 7 years). A collector, by contrast, will be in the market for a LONG time. Say, 1999-2039 or so (40 years). And yes, I know there are bound to be outliers. And there are FAR more kids than adults.

If LEGO was interested in selling repeated sets to collectors, you'd see another UCS X-wing coming out, or another UCS ISD, etc. But LEGO already sort of learned that lesson with the Legend sets. AFOLs weren't terribly interested in buying re-releases of exact copies (well, not really exact) of sets they already owned. Hence, you're not very likely to see them come out with "re-designed" sets geared towards collectors. It's not out of the question (since many people out there want a UCS X-Wing, and wish it was still available), but it's not likely. LEGO will likely sell *more* sets if they choose to release a *different* model that hasn't been done before when selling to collectors.

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Re: Re-designs/re-releases: who done it?

Postby Athos » Thu Sep 24, 2009 11:36 am

I imagine there is some input of what's going to appear in upcoming movies/seasons. But I'd guess Lego makes what they think they can design well and what they think will sell.

Draykov wrote:There is only one licensed property that I know of that has had a LEGO relationship long enough to hit this point


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Re: Re-designs/re-releases: who done it?

Postby Draykov » Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:17 pm

True...and given the comparatively limited size of the theme as a whole, that's kind of surprising. That said, the people who bought SpongeBob LEGO weren't as likely to b_tch and moan about it.

By the way, thanks for the info, Dave. Insightful.
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Re: Re-designs/re-releases: who done it?

Postby Flynn » Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:08 pm

It always amazes me that people always whine and complain about LEGO rereleases, when practically every other toy on the market does it too. How succesful do you think the actual SW line would be if there was only 1 TIE fighter and 1 X-Wing? Or if the Transformers line only had 1 Optimus Prime figure? Or, if they did rerelease it, they would only reuse their previous versions?

Most toys do that, LEGO just doesn't normally do it because they typically have a large majority of various themes to produce sets for (Though you could argue that City was re-releasing itself for a few years). It's just that since this is a liscensed theme, they'd want to have the iconic vehicles from themes readily available to kids.
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Re: Re-designs/re-releases: who done it?

Postby banthafodder » Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:48 pm

I'm all for re-releases and redesigns for many of the reasons stated. IMO the ones with the biggest complaints are those that were trying to make money off of discontinued sets or want to say that they have some rare set that no one else can get. Most of the redesigns have been significantly better than the original. Yes, I too would like to see new sets come out that we haven't seen before, but I think that there is room for both and Lego has done a good job in balancing the two. As to the original question of the thread, I really don't know and really don't care that much as long as they keep the sets coming to feed our addictions.
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Re: Re-designs/re-releases: who done it?

Postby fredjh » Fri Sep 25, 2009 8:22 am

Draykov wrote:...I tend to hear a lot of noise from fans who don't like the notion of re-releasing old sets....


Really? My impression is it tends to be from after market resellers who may not state it outright, but they are mad their "investments" will not be worth as much.
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