Daz Hoo wrote:Out of pure curiosity, how so? Is it because of the 2 public shows a year criteria, or is it because it is not a typical geographical based LUG, but rather a theme based LUG?
I would think that the "2 public shows" is technically the reason, although there may be other potential issues with the "10 members who are 16+". Ultimately, I think it's because it's a virtual club, not a physical one.
Because FBTB (and other online venues) are virtual, it's difficult to verify the ages and distinct number of members. For LUGBulk, you have to submit the full names of the members who are ordering, and the members have to be 16+, which is difficult to ascertain or verify. It's not clear that proof of age or identity is NECESSARY at this point, but LEGO would like to believe that the clubs have done their due diligence. That's where you start to get into legal issues-- as I recall, asking people for their names and ages online results in COPPA regulations that have to be followed by the site, and that's a big sticking point.
The other big reason would be fear of volume. LEGO already explicitly excluded the USA-- and JUST the USA from participating in the first trial run of LUGBulk. That says to me that the sheer expected volume of USA LEGO fans who would order COULD be enough to tip the scales. Hence, anything that LEGO can do to cut down on the number of people actually ordering is better for LEGO. Luckily, through the Ambassador program and other venues, LEGO can have a pretty good idea of what to expect from physically-based clubs, and can predict roughly how many people would participate. But online clubs like FBTB have very fuzzy definitions of membership, and can (in theory) consist of hundreds or thousands of users.
There's also a fear of abuse (which really translates to volume). LEGO doesn't cross-check everyone's identities and mailing addresses to make sure that people aren't double-counted. There's nothing to prevent me from having an identity on FBTB, Classic-Castle, LUGNET, Classic-Space, Eurobricks, Forbidden Cove, Classic-Pirates, Towns-N-Train, ILTCO, BrickLink, MOCPages, BZPower, BrikWars, etc, etc, and then to submit a fake "Real-life-name" to each site, along with my ACTUAL mailing address. Then I could order a dozen times or so, and it's doubtful that anyone would catch on.
Lastly, there's the questionable issue of what the LUGBulk program is intended to do. Why should LEGO sell you cheap stuff? What's in it for LEGO, especially when you're already buying things for retail prices? The biggest reason that LEGO has given us in the past is that physical
LUGs actually provide return for LEGO, because they do public events. Public events often inspire kids to go out and buy LEGO, and the company has known this for a long time, and tried to encourage LUGs to do MORE public events. Hence, LEGO wants to help out the clubs that are actively doing public shows-- and those clubs aren't typically virtual ones. FBTB is one of the few that's actually done some in the past (I think just at the Star Wars Celebration events? Maybe others?), but I'm not aware of any that it's doing any more. Plus, any member who's doing the events probably already belongs to a local physical LUG!