Solo wrote:Anyone ever consider maybe Lucas or his cohorts told Lego to dial up the profit margin?
If true, I would expect to see similar price increases across all Star Wars merchandise across the board-- anyone know if that's been happening?
Solo wrote:set weights spring to mind, because across the board we're getting some larger parts in recent sets and more plastic obviously means more money. Maybe it's not that obvious though since no one has brought it up.
From what I've heard from inside the company, the price of individual elements doesn't follow as much rhyme or reason as you might expect. Things like "how many seconds does it take for the element to cool within the mold?" or "how easy is it to set up the mold for a particular color run?" or "how much plastic sprue needs to get recycled?". Other things like baseplates we know are pricier because there's a different process involved-- like with chrome parts, or assembled elements like minifig torsos or horses, or with multi-colored elements or things made from polycarbonate or the more rubbery/vinyl ABS, or printing.
Also involved are what parts are in use across the product line-- I recall that there's a lot of discussion between groups regarding what parts are currently "available" and which aren't. If you can convince the Star Wars and City teams to use a 2x4 wing piece, then your Atlantis set is made cheaper, because other groups are using that same element. But if you can't convince the other teams to use that element, then it winds up adding to the cost of your Atlantis set.
When all is said and done, every element has a "price" that's used for internal calculation for how much a set is going to cost, and that IS reflected in the final MSRP, but I get the impression that the final MSRP sort of uses that internal cost only as a starting point.
One thing that I've noticed, but I'm not sure has been affecting things has been that LEGO seems to be churning out new element designs at a very high rate compared to what they used to do. Star Wars has featured a bevy of new pieces, and continues to do so-- which doubtlessly adds to the cost. I'm not quite up on the current lineup of new Star Wars elements, since I haven't been buying Clone Wars stuff, but it would be interesting to see new elements cross referenced with price as well.
Solo wrote:the Star Wars line has been around since just before Lego nearly went bankrupt - maybe those are related more than we thought? They've since spun around and have been turning a huge profit in recent years, all the while raising prices... see where I'm going with this? Frankly it never made sense for these to be priced on par with in-house themes, because they still had to pay uncle George at the end of the day.
Actually, from what I recall, Star Wars and Bionicle basically saved the company, and kept it afloat... or... from sinking less quickly. I also recall hearing sometime in the early 2000's that LEGO was dissatisfied with their price negotiation with Lucasfilm for the original 1999-2007 license agreement. Effectively, LEGO didn't have experience with branded merchandise, and Lucasfilm is practically the INVENTOR of modern licensed toy merchandising, and have TONS of experience. So LEGO supposedly got a shorter end of the stick than they really "ought" to have gotten in the early life of the license.