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Box size

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Box size

Postby meeotch » Fri Mar 06, 2009 9:56 pm

I'm willing to bet that I know the answer to this, and that this was answered before in the old forums, but I'm just wondering, why do the boxes for sets (especially for the larger sets) seem to be about twice as big as they need to be to hold everything?
Last edited by meeotch on Fri Mar 06, 2009 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Box size

Postby MrCRskater » Fri Mar 06, 2009 10:12 pm

Good question! It seems a wasteful practice and not very "green". Hope Steve has a satisfying answer for us. . .
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Re: Box size

Postby theJudeAbides » Sat Mar 07, 2009 7:17 pm

Another question I've been wondering about (along the same lines) is why LEGO varies the width of the mid sized (200-300 pc) sets. I've seen some that were as thin as [almost] an inch while others are thick at almost 2 inches. The thing is, it doesn't seem like LEGO is necessarily moving in a thinner (less wasteful) direction, as newer sets are released in both sizes. What (if anything) drives the decision of what the box width will be?
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Re: Box size

Postby onions » Sat Mar 07, 2009 11:55 pm

maybe if the set has large elements? that woudl determine how thick the box would need to be.

i personally hope that lego would reconsider their box sizes overall. so much wasted space; it's not very "green". maybe they are afraid of losing shelf space with smaller packaging. I would think, though, that smaller packaging overall would allow a retailer to place more and different products on the shelf. if not, it might actually bring the price of lego down with more products being shipped on the same pallet with smaller packaging. but what do i know... it certainly is an interesting topic, and i for one would be interested in knowing tlg's stance on going green.
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Re: Box size

Postby dWhisper » Sun Mar 08, 2009 7:30 am

Well, from a retail perspective, the box face is important to manufacturers, but recently, I know that big retailers have been pushing manufacturers to be more efficient with it. Walmart has prodded cereal and video game manufacturers to use smaller packaging whenever possible, and even invented a new way to send milk to the store that saved some 33% of transportation costs.

It would be nice to see LEGO jump on that board, not just as a "green" thing, but as a way to lower their costs (and maybe increase what they can put in a set). As Jude mentioned, LEGO is using a ton of different box sizes for no good reason. The greater the number of boxes you have, the less you order of each one and the higher price you pay per unit. Simple economics decreases cost as quantity goes up. I'd be curious to see what kind of savings would come just from cutting the number of boxes in half. I bet its a lot more than anyone realizes...
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Re: Box size

Postby natelite » Sun Mar 08, 2009 7:16 pm

I think afols already prodded TLG to make thinner boxes 2/3 years ago. Lego started producing thinner boxes with the batman series 2 and with classic IJ sets. I think they saw batman sets bombed and classic IJ sets weren't selling as well and decided boxes should be thick and big. They switched back with the SW clone sets. RGS, ATTE were way larger than they have to be. Even bigger and thicker than MTT.

The whole issue around the boxes isn't that TLG doesn't want to be green. It's the perceived value with thicker, bigger boxes. Parents unfortunately equate thin packaging to poorer quality or cheaper value and deny kids the set they wanted. Unfortunately they look at MTT and RGS and figure that holy moly…RGS is so much more bigger it has to be good value, and bought that.

i would love if TLG continue with smaller boxes. makes storing misb sets easier.
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Re: Box size

Postby MrCRskater » Sun Mar 08, 2009 8:51 pm

natelite wrote:It's the perceived value with thicker, bigger boxes. Parents unfortunately equate thin packaging to poorer quality or cheaper value and deny kids the set they wanted.


Not to refute your point but to add to it, TLG (and other toy companies) are ultimately responsible for this consumer mind set, so it is also their responsibility to change it and not perpetuate it.
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Re: Box size

Postby onions » Sun Mar 08, 2009 11:06 pm

Fine keep the boxes thick just make them smaller.
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Re: Box size

Postby kelano28 » Mon Mar 09, 2009 12:42 am

OR...

don't worry about the box sizes, just put more pieces in them ;)
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Re: Box size

Postby Gingerbeard Man » Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:53 am

dWhisper wrote:As Jude mentioned, LEGO is using a ton of different box sizes for no good reason.

That's the really interesting bit. A perfectly reasonable answer to meeotch's original question would be "We only have X different box sizes and this set was just slightly too big for the medium box so we have to sell it in the large box". Ok, might not be very green, but it makes sense from a business perspective. Obviously this is not what is happening at LEGO.
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Re: Box size

Postby Jabba the Taff » Mon Mar 09, 2009 5:19 am

Gingerbeard Man wrote: A perfectly reasonable answer to meeotch's original question would be "We only have X different box sizes and this set was just slightly too big for the medium box so we have to sell it in the large box". Ok, might not be very green, but it makes sense from a business perspective. Obviously this is not what is happening at LEGO.


Having only X box sizes might actually be greener, because the cost, in terms of production not just money, of making a greater variety of boxes could be higher. So although it might seem like some boxes are wasting space, that might be offset by a production saving.

TLG probably have some complicated formula to assess production costs versus transportation cost that include a 'green' element.

Also I would have thought the plastic has a much greater detrimental effect than the cardboard. The cardboard could probably have a neutral environmental impact.
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Re: Box size

Postby BCTom » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:55 am

My impression is that the boxes are large to give the impression of LEGO sets being bigger than they actually are. LEGO is a pricey product, and I think it's likely that someone not overly familiar with the product would be discouraged from buying if they knew how small the finished product was going to be.

The big boxes with their big pictures cleverly (deceptively?) imply a larger product than we actually get.

The only set I have that came tightly packed into an appropriately sized box IMO, is the UC Death Star.
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Re: Box size

Postby natelite » Mon Mar 09, 2009 5:02 pm

BCTom wrote:My impression is that the boxes are large to give the impression of LEGO sets being bigger than they actually are. LEGO is a pricey product, and I think it's likely that someone not overly familiar with the product would be discouraged from buying if they knew how small the finished product was going to be.

The big boxes with their big pictures cleverly (deceptively?) imply a larger product than we actually get.

The only set I have that came tightly packed into an appropriately sized box IMO, is the UC Death Star.


i made the exact same point earlier. it's the perceived value by consumers that drove TLG to keep boxes large.

all factory sets are appropriately sized, eg market street, star justice, etc.

most ucs are appropriately sized, eg ucs chess set, ucs death star and playset death star, ucs isd, ucs mf, sandcrawler, etc. there's no need to fudge value with these sets because they are already huge to begin with.

MrCRskater wrote: Not to refute your point but to add to it, TLG (and other toy companies) are ultimately responsible for this consumer mind set, so it is also their responsibility to change it and not perpetuate it.


companies are ultimately responsible for generating shareholder's value and giving consumers what they want. they are not responsible for consumers' free will. it will be a very scary world if companies (like TLG) start to dictate what and how consumers should think.

for consumers to change, it has to begin with you, the consumer. if you start buying green perhaps others will follow.
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Re: Box size

Postby dWhisper » Wed Mar 11, 2009 5:18 am

Not exactly true... first, LEGO is privately held, so they're not accountable to any shareholders. But all retailers, especially toy retailers, are accountable to creating and meeting consumer whims. We're not talking about changing consumer minds here, more of presenting options based on consumer minds before they know its there. Several big companies have been making these pushes lately, in part because consumers want to "be green" and also because it saves them money. Cereal companies, dairy providers, software manufacturers, and computer manufacturers have all been in this boat. Last year, HP sold a computer through Walmart that came pre-packaged in a carrying case. That saves the consumer some $50 in having to buy a bag, and reduced packaging and shipping costs by nearly $70. Instead of coming 2 in a case, they could be packaged 4-5 in the same box. That reduces the space they take, and thus means more in a truck... etc etc etc.

LEGO has the oppertunity to kill two birds with one stone, both by selling up a green angle to consumers (and creating some consistency) and saving money on transportation costs.
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Re: Box size

Postby Crusader » Wed Mar 11, 2009 7:17 am

My gut feel on this is similar to the one I have on Lego having more female minifigs. Lego strikes me as a company that would like to be politically correct whenever possible. I'm sure they would like to have very green packaging, just like I'm sure they would like to include more female minfigs. However they have done probably numerous studies that show that they sell more Legos when they come in big boxes, just as they have done numerous studies showing that female minifigs sells less sets. In fact with the millions of sets sold their data is not just in studies but in actual market results.

As a parent, I'm always trying to make sure that the presents around the Christmas look impressive. Likewise the pile on the kitchen table at birthday time. Big boxes get kids excited, and to a parent it seems like you're getting more bang for your buck.

By all indications, Lego sets are selling very well even in a global recession. I doubt they are going to change their successful formula right now in the midst of it.
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Re: Box size

Postby Puddleglum » Wed Mar 11, 2009 7:28 am

It's easy to say "the stupid consumers think bigger boxes are better", but I think the issue is not a simple one for LEGO. (WARNING: Lots of conjecture and opinion coming up! :D) With every other children's toy, the box is more or less the size of the toy, by necessity. Packaging is very important with toys, and you can't simply expect people to change their frame of reference when they wander out of the toy car section and into the LEGO section. I think LEGO must size the boxes relative to the size of the assembled set, or people's perception of the value of a set will go down, even if they are not conciously thinking it. And especially with kids, big is always better. It would be nice if LEGO sold their sets in boxes that were only big enough to hold the peices, but from a marketing perspective, I just don't feel like that's a viable option for them. That being said, I do agree that in some cases they go overboard, giving an impression that a set is larger than it actually is.

ALSO, it's better for us AFOL's that people do not have a clear idea of the per-volume price of LEGO. Otherwise we would never find garage sales where a shoebox full of LEGO is marked for $5-$10. >:)

EDIT: I see Crusader posted while I was typing, looks like I overlapped a lot with what he( or she?) said!
Last edited by Puddleglum on Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:18 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Box size

Postby Crusader » Wed Mar 11, 2009 7:48 am

Nicely written Puddlegum, and lest there be any confusion, I am a man.
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Re: Box size

Postby dWhisper » Sun Mar 15, 2009 8:58 pm

Puddleglum wrote:With every other children's toy, the box is more or less the size of the toy, by necessity.


Eh? I've quite often found the complete opposite to be true. The psychology behind packaging typically relates to the mindset that larger things are of higher quality than smaller things. This is something that people are slowly moving away from (especially in electronics). But in toys, shelf space is king, and packaging is made to occupy a balance between capturing attention and maximizing what's there. Go down an action figure aisle, and you'll see far more packaging than figure in pretty much every pack. The same goes for dolls... look at a barbie box and see how much space is there for a doll that's been the same size for decades.
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Re: Box size

Postby Puddleglum » Mon Mar 16, 2009 10:23 am

dWhisper wrote:
Puddleglum wrote:With every other children's toy, the box is more or less the size of the toy, by necessity.


Eh? I've quite often found the complete opposite to be true. The psychology behind packaging typically relates to the mindset that larger things are of higher quality than smaller things. This is something that people are slowly moving away from (especially in electronics). But in toys, shelf space is king, and packaging is made to occupy a balance between capturing attention and maximizing what's there. Go down an action figure aisle, and you'll see far more packaging than figure in pretty much every pack. The same goes for dolls... look at a barbie box and see how much space is there for a doll that's been the same size for decades.


You are correct, but I don't think what you are saying is the opposite of what I was saying. I guess my point was that in every other case, the box is NEVER smaller than the toy, because the toy has to fit in it. So for LEGO to make a box that was smaller than the assembled set would be insanity, from a marketing perspective.
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Re: Box size

Postby dWhisper » Mon Mar 16, 2009 1:27 pm

Not quite true... Thebox size is somewhat dictated by the nature of the toy. If it requires assembly, it's quite possible for it to be smaller (like, say, every furniture box ever). LEGO is somewhat unique in the sense that all of their products require assembly, that's the point of the toy! But compare a LEGO box to K'nex, Magnetix, or even MegaBloks, which have to do more with less shelf space. It wouldn'tbe suicide, if handled correctly; potentially, it could be a great tool that saves LEGO money.
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