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The prices, Steve, the prices

A Member of LEGO Company's staff drops in here from time to time to answer questions from LEGO fans like you.

Re: The prices, Steve, the prices

Postby Draykov » Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:10 pm

theJudeAbides wrote:His behavior is more remeniscent of a child whos broken his mother's favorite lamp and has opted to go find a safe hidey-hole in which to hide. That behavior may be ok for a child, but as a man, it's embarrassing. Part of becoming a man is learning to take responsibility for you actions. He had to know, as a member of this community, that we wouldn't take this very well and would demand answers. Now, I understand that, both as a person and as a company representative, he "owes" us nothing. However, as a friend and trusted boardmember, I expected better. I know this is the internet, but I had higher expectations.


I think that's out of line and unfair to Steve. His "behavior" has been absent...and that could be for any number or reasons that we're not privy to.

theJudeAbides wrote:Bear in mind, too, that I'm NOT saying that Steve is responsible for the price hikes or even had any part in them. But as a LEGO representative, he had to find out about them sooner or later. And once he did, he had a choice: he could either seek out answers and raise hell on our behalf, or he could be a corporate shill, ask nothing, and let the suits get away with it. Honestly, I never thought it would be the latter, I really didn't. I guess I'm just dissappointed in who Steve turned out to be.


Again, you're making a lot of assumptions and assigning a lot of blame in a situation that none of us are completely in the loop on. We don't know what Steve has or hasn't been doing and we don't know what he can or can't say in regard to the matter. It's irrational to treat a guy this way when he's done nothing but favors for our community.
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Re: The prices, Steve, the prices

Postby MrCRskater » Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:50 pm

theJudeAbides wrote:However, as a friend and trusted boardmember, I expected better. I know this is the internet, but I had higher expectations.


To be honest, I, too, have been disappointed by the lack of engagement on Steve's part. Not only in this thread, but in our forums in general. We have an entire forum essentially dedicated to "Ask Steve", and he is obviously aware of this. But alas, he has not commented on any of our inquiries in the past 5 months. Of course, his job description is not solely "liason to FBTB", but as consumer relations are supposed to be his bag, would it be too cumbersome to spend just one half-hour a month answering a few questions for a significant (and growing) community of AFOLs?

That said (and to bring this back on topic), it would certainly be enlightening to get some feedback from Steve on this front. I didn't know that profit margins were accelerating faster than sales volume (thanks DaveE), so what is tipping the scales? At a certain point, it doesn't matter how good the product is, it is no longer a good value. Some have said that LEGO can do what they want, ignorant mothers and other types of consumers will always continue to buy, but I think at a certain point, the majority (even those who are not LEGO devotees such as us) will look at a box and say "they want $50 for that?" and will decide their money is better spent elsewhere, ultimately on "more" toy.
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Re: The prices, Steve, the prices

Postby Draykov » Fri Jan 15, 2010 6:28 pm

MrCRskater wrote:...but I think at a certain point, the majority (even those who are not LEGO devotees such as us) will look at a box and say "they want $50 for that?" and will decide their money is better spent elsewhere, ultimately on "more" toy.


I think the general public already thinks of LEGO as an expensive toy.
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Re: The prices, Steve, the prices

Postby Solo » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:30 pm

You know what? I'm closing this thread down. I should have done this on page one, but I thought there would be more constructive brainstorming going on instead of it boiling down to you whining that you're not getting any answers.

I think you guys need to step back and realize Steve is absolutely in no way obligated to answer our questions. The Ask LEGO section is a nice perk we've kept going for many years now, with Steve's participation being completely voluntary and subject to outside priorities. His job is a "Community Relations Coordinator" - and in all honesty none of us knows what that really entails... but I can pretty much guarantee you it doesn't require him stopping by FBTB for the worlds longest Q&A session. Toss in the fact that he bought a house recently and I can understand better than many of you why he's not more involved online at the moment.

You're pissed off that the new Star Wars sets cost more, and you want to know why. I get that. If Steve has an answer and the time, he can still respond here after I lock this. But with the way he's been belittled in this thread I don't expect him to. It's not like it would matter though, you've made up your mind: if he doesn't respond he's being childish and if he does he's a corporate shill. Your words. For someone who supposedly considered him a friend I would expect a bit more respect than that.

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Re: The prices, Steve, the prices

Postby Solo » Mon Jan 18, 2010 2:37 am

OK, since I know this was a pretty heated topic with quite a bit of interest, and I was impressed no one sent me a rage filled PM for locking it or passive aggressively started a new thread with a similar line of inquiry, I decided to do the research myself.

I spent some time today scanning through Repoort's handy buyers guide and ended up making the following graph:

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You can see how well the current sets fit the "10 cents per part" rule-of-thumb that has been around for so long. Big surprise: they don't really fit it at all anymore. Most sets are pretty predictably placed between the 10 and 15 cent per part lines, though we've still got a decent number dropping below. You'll note however that very few Star Wars sets are down there. The graph doesn't show the full set lineup, but it gets the point across: as a group everything is more expensive now. Just not equally so.

The lists below are organized by price per part, and grouped by theme and year. The last five columns are set price, part count, price per part ratio, how many minifigures are in the set, and the collective average ratio for the whole lineup in that group (cost of all sets in the group over total number of parts - not just an average of the independent ratios).

Looking only at the Star Wars sets, from 2008 through 2010, it's clearly getting worse. You all know this - it's not really news to anyone - but it seemed like it was being exaggerated in this thread. Which is why I went in to all of this.

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Even despite only having half the 2010 lineup so far there's more upcoming sets in the red than in the last two years combined. It's no wonder everyone is so upset. ;) But is the spike really out of the ordinary? I don't think so. I compared the other licensed themes between 09 and 10... and spotted the jump too:

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To be honest these themes aren't exactly on par with Star Wars quantity wise, none of them carry over from one year to the next, and they're all still cheaper right now. But the increase is there. More solidly: a majority of the system themes have gone up one or two cents per part as well:

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Again, none of these are as high as Star Wars, but the trend is clearly across the board. Even Technic is subject to the boost:

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There are anomalies however... Power Miners started out pretty bad, as bad as Star Wars is now, but even with a redesign of the theme the value appears to have doubled * for the 2010 wave:

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I'm simply amazed at the ratios for those sets. With the new rock monster molds, completely different minifigs, and set designs so different than the last wave it might as well be a new theme - it's cheaper than the creator sets? Clearly there's magic involved here. The reason the Creator sets are dirt cheap is the complete lack of minifigs and specialized parts... it just doesn't make sense. [*edit: it's been pointed out that the price info on the 2010 Power Miner sets is probably wrong. I'm inclined to agree, so until those are up on S@H it's not very helpful.] On the other end of the bell curve, you've got the surprisingly rich blooded Pirates theme:

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Worse value overall than the new SW sets, but hard to relate much since it only lasted a year. So one rouge theme that's crazy high, and another that's crazy low. There's balance in the force after all. 2009 saw Castle end around 10, Agents at 11, and Space Police at 12 (only 2/5 of the 2010 sets have prices and part counts given so far so it' unclear if that'll buck the trend); and the new Atlantis theme is kicking off at 12. Can't show an increase from year to year with those, but they fill in the chart as expected.



The point? We all know that Star Wars has historically been among the higher priced Lego themes. This year Lego has boosted prices on nearly everything, for whatever undisclosed reasons (knowing it's a company wide price hike makes the inflation/cost of production ideas a lot more valid - however unconfirmed). As such, us Star Wars fans are in for a rough year. But it's just business as usual. Our pet theme isn't getting singled out for a massive price gouge any more this year than other years.
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