Of course licensing could play a bigger role; didn't the contract run out in 2009? I thought it was ten years. Which means they signed a new one, that could play a significant part.
But we do see the other things... it's not molds or plastic costs (because, as pointed out, you can look at unlicensed themes and not see such price inflation on those sets). The boxes have gotten bigger... it's true, the battle packs boxes are much bigger than they used to be, there's a lot of empty space in those boxes... there's a lot of marketing games going on...
Profits are sales after costs (and sometimes after taxes, depending on which number you look at), and increases in profits are greater than increases in sales, it's really just that simple. Licensing fees are a cost, they wouldn't be included in profits. The problem is we don't know the stats for the second half of 2009, but what Solo says makes some sense, it was around mid year (if I'm not mistaken) that the battle packs jumped 10% in price, and it was around that time (August release time frame) that we started getting all
at the prices of the new sets (like $40 for the midi Falcon... I still can't get over that one).
Still... licensing doesn't explain the rather arbitrary differences in prices. Battle packs are a bargain compared to the larger sets; battle packs, in fact, cost less than other comparable items, as I pointed out... magnet sets with three licensed figures are $15, yet battle packs are $11 and include FOUR figures and a vehicle.
Even the landspeeder, upon reflection, with FIVE classic figures and a larger vehicle seems like a bargain when given consideration... by that measure, the TIE Defender seems like an absolute rip off.
The only conclusion I can draw is that it's simply arbitrary pricing, partly based on (as soap pointed out) perceived "size" of the sets. The TIE Defender "feels" big, and comes in a much bigger box than, for example, the land speeder... that it comes with only 2 (compared to 5) figures and doesn't have many significant parts, it's the only conclusion I can draw... they've probably done a lot of market research on what price they can get away with.
And while price/piece is only a very rough gauge, it's also true that the LARGER sets used to be considered the "bargains" in price per piece and minifig ratios... now it's all topsy-turvey.
I'll repeat it again, because while I am a whiner, TLG can do whatever legal thing they want to do... they could charge $1/piece, it's entirely up to them, but we're allowed to notice and comment on it, and if we "feel" like we're being ripped off and buy less because of it, it's certainly a topic for discussion.
That said... I had nearly COMPLETELY gotten out of buying Star Wars LEGO at all... but now LEGO is sucking me back in with so many OT sets that I'd missed... now I can't wait for my Slave 1, or my Wampa Cave (because I don't have a Snow Speeder), and I already got my Land Speeder... I'm very happy about it. So they are selling me what I want, and what I've bought so far in new sets (including last August), I don't feel ripped off about... Echo Base, the two new battle packs and the land speeder... I simply don't feel like I overpaid.
Now, that said... I got the midi Falcon for $25 during the Walmart sale; I simply refused to pay $40 for it. I will not pay $50 for the TIE Defender. So... we've all got our own ideas of what's worth it or not, it really just boils down to that. When the TIE Defender inevitably goes on sale (because I don't believe a significant number of people - relative to other sets - will buy it at that price), then I'll get it.
Solo wrote:Last thought: maybe the 10 cents per part rule should never have applied to licensed sets in the first place.
It's a rough estimate. A VERY rough estimate. I do it right off the bat, then I look at what you're getting... a lot of figures make it worth more; certain other pieces make it worth more (larger/uncommon). I often conclude that prices well above $0.10/piece are worth it... like I did with the battle packs.
Still, I'll defend the $0.10 "rule" as a decent starting point.