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Comic Con Recap: The LEGO Booth

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Comic Con Recap: The LEGO Booth

Postby Staff » Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:59 am


LEGO Booth - San Diego Comic Con


Where do I even begin.

I guess I can start with the positives. This year, for the first time, LEGO had a large free build area composed of only 2x4 yellow bricks. Personally, I think it's a great idea since it exemplifies the very core of the toy brand we all know and love. It also forces a builder to use their imagination to build something creative. At the end of every day, the booth employees/volunteers would tear most of the creations that were built but some were kept throughout the week.

Play area at the LEGO booth - San Diego Comic Con User created models at the LEGO booth - San Diego Comic Con - 2 User created models at the LEGO booth - San Diego Comic Con - 4 User created models at the LEGO booth - San Diego Comic Con - 8

The retail portion of the booth also had all the licensed themes for sale, including the newest Star Wars assortment. There was also Ninjago near the end of the week which was was a huge seller, and the first set of the Master Builder Academy. The retail side also sold the Star Wars Advent Calendar exclusive set for $50. You were limited to 2 per purchase, but you could always go back to the end of the line to purchase more. There was no ticket system for this exclusive, that was reserved for the minifig giveaway. Simply line up and buy.

Half of the retail space at the LEGO booth - San Diego Comic Con

This is a far cry from how they usually handle their exclusive, but like I said, the usual method was reserved for distributing the Batman and Green Lantern minifigs. The ticket system has been LEGO's method since 2006, the year they decided to enter the exclusive game with their very first LEGO Batman exclusive announcing the start of the LEGO Batman line. Little has changed over the years in the method. You line up, once the designated time rolls around you draw a ticket. If your ticket has a stamp, you win the chance to buy the exclusive. I know, it sounds ridiculous to win the chance to spend money. LEGO wised up this year and just gave away the minifigs once you draw the winning ticket.

I actually don't mind this method since the LEGO exclusive wasn't really one of those highly sought after items, not like whatever Hasbro or Mattel was offering to generate such great demand every year. You could pull a ticket, and then get right back in at the end of the line and repeat until all the winning tickets were drawn.

LEGO Boba Fett Statue at the LEGO booth - San Diego Comic Con

This year, the landscape completely changed. Wednesday through Friday, the demand was pretty high and steadily increasing. The lines were getting longer, the chances to go through the line multiple times was diminishing. Saturday was the worst day in that line to purchase the Star Wars exclusive went around the booth in one direction, and the line to pull the ticket went around the booth in another. At one point, the minifig line doubled back on itself, making a wall of people 3 people thick around parts of the booth.

It was so crowded that security came by and LEGO had to quickly change their strategy. Instead of drawing a winning or losing ticket, you just get a ticket and winning numbers would be posted later on in the day. Much smoother I though, and the line went much faster. It still wasn't ideal but was a good change to accommodate the large crowds.

Ninjago Statue at the LEGO booth - San Diego Comic Con - 2 Ninjago Statue at the LEGO booth - San Diego Comic Con - 1

There are plenty of ways that LEGO could change their method of handling exclusives.


  • Sell immediately: For whatever reason, LEGO insists on starting their ticket distribution and/or sales at a certain time. And at the same time, they insist that there be no lines before a certain designated time. I don't think this is realistic at all. People who really want to get them are more than willing to wait, so naturally a line is going to form. If they started selling the exclusives immediately once the hall floor is open to the public, it would mitigate any large mobs of people just hanging around waiting and forming lines against their wishes. Ticket distribution should also be done immediately.

  • No tickets: sell or give away the exclusive on a first come first serve basis. Lots of other booths handle it this way and it works well enough.

  • Designated line area: Some booths have their line form elsewhere and batches of people are brought to the booth for the transaction.

  • Presell online for pickup at the show: Currently, I only know of one company that does this and that is Sideshow Collectibles. You purchase your exclusive online weeks or months before the show and you can pick up the exclusive at any time during the con. The infrastructure needed to make this happen is probably far more than what LEGO is willing invest in, but it is an idea.



My preferred method? First come first serve. There's a certain number of exclusives allocated per day, so if a person isn't able to buy one, there's always the next day. Use a ticket system as a secondary measure to ensure that no one cuts in the line and that those who follow the rules are guaranteed an exclusive. People are willing to throw their money at LEGO but they are making it more difficult than it has to be.

LEGO Captain Sparrow Statue at the LEGO booth - San Diego Comic Con - 1
LEGO Captain Sparrow Statue at the LEGO booth - San Diego Comic Con - 2 LEGO Captain Sparrow Statue at the LEGO booth - San Diego Comic Con - 3
LEGO Captain Sparrow Statue at the LEGO booth - San Diego Comic Con - 4

I realize this is already a rather lengthy read, but I've tapped forum member Mos_Eisley to recount his experience. I can only hope that the powers that be at LEGO seriously reconsider their approach for next year. But given how bad things got, I don't think it'll take much convincing. Hit the jump to read more.

Below is Mos_Eisley's account. I met him last year doing the merry-go-round known as the ticket drawing at LEGO's booth. An all around nice guy, he's helped fellow FBTB members acquire the exclusive with a little markup to make it worth his time. Given the fiasco of this year, I doubt any amount he got made it worth it. I for one appreciate his efforts to help community members. I'll have to make sure we hook up next year for drinks. Anyways, read on:


Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin with the way LEGO booth was managed at the Con this year. I’ll try to tackle it in the order that I experienced it.

So somewhere around 9:00-9:15am the doors open and thousands of people flood into the main exhibit hall Thursday morning. Excited about the LEGO exclusives, I head straight for the LEGO booth. When I get there, I see the line that has already formed to buy the Star Wars Advent calendar. No problem, Comic-Con is all about standing in lines. However, they won’t start selling the exclusive sets until 10:00am?! While other companies are rapidly moving their exclusive items as soon as the doors open, we’re all just waiting to hand over our money. Oh well, I have to time to survey the booth. The main thing you’d notice at the LEGO booth this year is that right in the center of the approx. 30’x30’ exhibit booth is a large pile of thousands of yellow 2x4 standard LEGO bricks. This sounds and looks awesome at first, but it becomes much less entertaining when you’re trying to navigate through 15 kids and their parents sitting on the floor building, various displays, general foot traffic and the angry mob/line that is either waiting to buy the Advent calendar or trying their luck at the Super Heroes raffle (more on the raffle later).

So back to the exclusive line I’m going to be waiting in for 45 minutes. Why am I waiting again? Every other booth has sold out of their exclusives already and LEGO hasn’t even sold one yet. Who is this helping? If it was my booth, I’d want this line out of my booth ASAP. Not only are we annoyed that we’re just standing here, but we’re blocking half the products that they are trying to sell. Sure, a few brave souls ask to go through us, but the rest just get out of dodge without seeing everything that is for sale. This wait just doesn’t make any sense. Whether they start selling these at 9:15am or 5:00pm, the same people are going to get them. We’re here, we want your stuff, just sell it to us! If the idea is that this prevents people from being able to get back in line again to buy another 2 sets (2 was the limit per person per transaction), just limit it to 2 per person per day and stamp our badge or something.

Ok, it’s close to 10:30am now that I’ve completed my purchase. Guess what that means?! It’s time to line up for the 11:00am Super Heroes minifigure raffle! Yay, a raffle sounds fun, who doesn’t want to do that? Nobody wants to after they experience it Comic-Con style. It sounds simple enough – everyone line up, reach into the box and pull out a ticket. If your ticket is stamped on the back, you’re the lucky winner of a 1 of 1,500 Batman or Green Lantern minifigure (the morning raffle was for one minifigure while the afternoon raffle was for the other one). However, it isn’t so simple or fun when two hundred+ people join the line that wraps all the way around the entire booth (one and a half times or more at its busiest!). I managed to get through the line twice in the first drawing but didn’t get a winner either time (fortunately my girlfriend had better luck, getting a stamp on 1 of 2 tickets).

It’s around 11:00am now and I can finally leave the LEGO booth! I’m off to see what everyone else has to offer this year, at least until 1:30pm when it’s time to line up for 2:00pm raffle!

I don’t mean to sound so negative about the booth. It was kind of fun in a strange way. I would do it all over again so I guess it wasn’t that bad. It’s all part of the Comic-Con experience. However, these raffles and more importantly their lines just weren’t run very well. LEGO actually changed their raffle style for the Saturday and Sunday. Instead of drawing for a stamped ticket, they would pass out tickets, then you would return later to see if your numbers matched the winning set of numbers they had picked. This helped the situation a little, but there were still issues with the lines when it was time to pass out the tickets. This same thing was also happening at the DC Comics and WB booths because they were also raffling off some of the minifigures. They were all at different times so everyone would just go from one booth to the next until they were done for the day. Everything was just so inconsistent. One day you could line up whenever you wanted, the next time you could line up only 15 minutes early, next time no lining up early at all. Sometimes you could sit down, others time you had to stand up the whole time. Each booth had the same set of guards managing the lines each time but I guess their mood decided what rules were going to be applied each time. By Sunday, we were lining up an hour early to avoid the lines! Then after we sat there for 30 minutes, a guard would tell all of us that we can't line up yet. So 50 people mill around in the aisle and neighboring booths until official raffle line-up time. It makes for a fairly chaotic scene when the "ok, the line starts here" announcement is made!

I actually think the LEGO employees were the worst about the raffles. By Sunday, they were visibly over it. I felt they were to the point of being quite rude with some of the people who were just trying to line up to get their products. I saw the same employees each time at WB and DC and they appeared to be much more comfortable and used to these types of situations. I just skipped the LEGO raffles on Saturday because they had gotten to be so ridiculous. It turned out the new system worked a little better so I went back Sunday but by that time the employees had kind of taken the fun out of it there. Ultimately, people are going to line up for things that they want at these types of events. There are thousands of people so the only way to get what you want is to line up early. I don’t think there is any way around it, these exhibitors just need to be ready for it.


Were you there? What did you think? I invite you to leave your comments on our forum. Hit the "comments" link to leave a message.

Did you read all that? If so, send me an email to [email protected] with the subject line of tl;dr to win yourself a LEGO Star Wars Comic Con Exclusive Advent Calendar. The number edition of the set is somewhere in the 400's. I'm too lazy to go downstairs and look at the moment. Standard giveaway rules apply. You have until 11:59pm PST (GMT -8) July 31, 2011 to finish reading and send your email. I missed out on a few months of Battle Pack giveaways, hopefully this will make up for it.
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Re: Comic Con Recap: The LEGO Booth

Postby etcknight » Wed Jul 27, 2011 9:25 am

FYI, mattycollector.com also was doing ticket presales for their exclusives. But, apparently (just like every other system involving fans and high demand ticket sales), their system also had some issues on the day of presales (July 11).

For what it's worth, I also agree Lego could have had a better method for selling their stuff. I think the "stamp" on the Con ticket / pass is probably one of the better ideas. This is what the Hasbro booth was doing.
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Re: Comic Con Recap: The LEGO Booth

Postby onions » Wed Jul 27, 2011 10:07 am

yeah but in order to get the stamp and be able to buy anything, you still had to line up on a first come first serve basis. all the stamp ensures is that the limits per person are enforced.
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Re: Comic Con Recap: The LEGO Booth

Postby dubchester » Wed Jul 27, 2011 12:06 pm

My wife and I attended Comic Con this year, as well, and we're firm believers of first-come, first-serve for the exclusives. If they want to take it a step further, we thought it would be fair to give the freebies to children first. I mean, that's what it's really all about, right? :D

We were one of the first 10 people in the Thursday 11:00am line (I think just a couple of people behind Ace) and my wife was luck enough to pull a winner on her first try. We then proceeded to jump back in line (for my sake) to try our luck again. By this time, the line had looped around all 4 sides of the booth just to where the actual drawing was taking place. When it was our turn, we both struck out. By the third time, they still had about 45 minifigs left and it proved to be a charm. Finally, one for me!! Hey, I'm a total AFOL myself but at the end of the day, my wife and I ended up giving the Batman and Green Lantern exclusives to my 5-year old son. I couldn't help but think that some of the folks in line were just out to flip them right on eBay...that just pisses me off!

Mos_Eisley hit the nail right on the head. By the 3rd or 4th giveaway the booth workers were visibly annoyed at everyone trying to get their tickets. And making folks wait unnecessarily for an hour before selling the exclusive Advent calendar while every other booth has sold out and moved their customers along? All that does is increase the congestion in the booth (and definitely NOT in a good way) and prevent people who just came to look at the booth to basically turn around and walk to another booth. Hopefully someone from TLG will read this and try to make next year's experience much better!
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Re: Comic Con Recap: The LEGO Booth

Postby rocao » Thu Jul 28, 2011 9:38 am

It sounds like there are definite areas for improvement, but something noticeably absent from being recognized in the critique of the process is the fact that the exclusive give-aways are intended to create buzz. Long lines create interest, and spreading the raffles across the duration of the entire event ensures sustained interest. The notion that the promotion should be as easy as possible to get into people's hands via pre-registration or selling out within the first hour of a four day event is laughable.

At a convention with 100,000 people in attendance, lines certainly should be expected and it was your own decision to wait repeatedly, knowing what you were getting yourselves into after the first experience. If you had done this and come away with nothing, I could understand the frustration, but you all came away with multiple figures.

It seems like a fair and simple solution that would go a long way to reduce the line and ensure the highest number of satisfied people would be to limit each person to winning one exclusive. Of course that wasn't one of the solutions mentioned :P
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Re: Comic Con Recap: The LEGO Booth

Postby Mos_Eisley » Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:35 pm

rocao wrote:It sounds like there are definite areas for improvement, but something noticeably absent from being recognized in the critique of the process is the fact that the exclusive give-aways are intended to create buzz. Long lines create interest, and spreading the raffles across the duration of the entire event ensures sustained interest. The notion that the promotion should be as easy as possible to get into people's hands via pre-registration or selling out within the first hour of a four day event is laughable.

At a convention with 100,000 people in attendance, lines certainly should be expected and it was your own decision to wait repeatedly, knowing what you were getting yourselves into after the first experience. If you had done this and come away with nothing, I could understand the frustration, but you all came away with multiple figures.

It seems like a fair and simple solution that would go a long way to reduce the line and ensure the highest number of satisfied people would be to limit each person to winning one exclusive. Of course that wasn't one of the solutions mentioned :P


Nowhere above does anyone suggest that they shouldn't have lines or that they should give everything away in the first hour of a 4-day event. First come, first serve is a perfectly logical idea. It doesn't mean that they need to give out every day's supply the first day. Each day they have a given quantity, they hand out that quantity out until they run out. This can even be at various times throughout the day so that at 10:00am the first 50 people who walk up to the booth get an item. At 2:00pm the first 50 people who walk up to the booth get an item. Of course, there will be lines prior to these times as people will want to ensure that they are within the first 50 people. It's the manner in which the lines are managed that becomes the problem. Our lines would be perfectly orderly and nice, then they would come over and tell us that we couldn't line up yet. If your argument is that lines=buzz=good for the booth, then they should have been thrilled that we were creating "buzz" for them an hour before the raffle. Instead, they were annoyed and rude to the very people they were trying to attract. Again, I said I would do it all over again and I've been going to Comic-Con for years so standing in line is to be expected.

Of course the exhibitors want buzz, that goes without saying as that is the purpose of the entire event. Based on your comments, I'm guessing that you've never been to Comic-Con. Pre-registering for exclusives or not, there are plenty of lines and buzz around all of the interesting booths. Other companies have managed to handle these lines better than LEGO, that is all anyone is saying.
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Re: Comic Con Recap: The LEGO Booth

Postby onions » Thu Jul 28, 2011 8:46 pm

rocao wrote:
It seems like a fair and simple solution that would go a long way to reduce the line and ensure the highest number of satisfied people would be to limit each person to winning one exclusive. Of course that wasn't one of the solutions mentioned :P


that doesn't address the issue of how to distribute the items in a way that causes the least amount of headache for everybody. even at one per person, there is still going to be a demand, and people are still going to want to line up as early as possible to ensure themselves the coveted exclusive.

like mos eisley said, unless you've experienced something like this in person, it's hard to fully understand the situation.
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Re: Comic Con Recap: The LEGO Booth

Postby DarthJer » Fri Jul 29, 2011 11:05 am

Why I think Lego Made You Wait Until Ten

Two years ago, Graphitti sold some exclusive Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) figures of him in different colored uniforms (Blue Lantern, Red Lantern, etc) with each day being a different color.

Preview night: My wife and I were in the first row/line let in (I would estimate that we were in the first 200 attendees let in). We went directly to the Graphitti booth and the line was already wrapped around the booth twice (More people there than were in line ahead of us). Con Security sent everyone away until Graphitti could get control of the line. My wife and I walked away and saw that at least two different booths already had the day's figure for sale. At a third booth, a guy was returning with his two figures and getting behind the table of his booth.

Thursday: I got in line at about 6 for the 9:30 opening of the floor. I was among the first 50 people. By the time I got to the Graphitti booth, the line wrapped around the booth. I finally got that day's and the preview night's figures, but it took a LOT of time and back and forth. On Friday, I got there just as early, but they started doing a ticket drawing (meaning I could get up and be in line before sunrise and still not get the figure). At that point, I realized I'd be better off just tracking down the figures on the floor...

My point is, you can want a different system, but you don't want Lego to just make it first come, first serve, first thing, because unless you are an exhibitor or friend of one, you may not even get the exclusive. A ticket drawing outside before opening may work, but it means that people have to get in line for the drawing very early to have the opportunity to win nothing but lost sleep...

Just my two cents...
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Re: Comic Con Recap: The LEGO Booth

Postby onions » Sat Jul 30, 2011 2:39 pm

easy fix: don't sell/giveaway to exhibitors. if the premium is for the fans, exhibitors should not be allowed to get one. or allow exhibitors a chance to buy one on preview night.
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Re: Comic Con Recap: The LEGO Booth

Postby DarthJer » Sun Jul 31, 2011 7:51 pm

onions wrote:easy fix: don't sell/giveaway to exhibitors. if the premium is for the fans, exhibitors should not be allowed to get one. or allow exhibitors a chance to buy one on preview night.


No, it's not that easy. Most, if not all booths already have that policy, including Graphitti that year. Dealers purchase additional badges (which may not be as much of a problem now that badges are becoming so hard to get) or they just borrow attendee badges from employees or friends to use in the morning to make the purchases.

Regardless of that, my point was that if it's going to be sold first thing, it would probably need to be a drawing system, which would then mean that getting up early to get in line still wouldn't guarantee the ability to purchase, but it would alleviate a lot of the hanging around the booth waiting for lines to form.

I actually think it might be in a company like Lego's best interest to just skip exclusives in the future. If they really think they need to have something, they could also just make so much of the exclusive that it doesn't have any value on the secondary market and everybody that comes to the booth can have one or five of whatever it is. There was still a crowd of traffic coming through the booth after the exclusives and drawings were done for the day, so Batman and GL weren't the only things bringing people in.
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Re: Comic Con Recap: The LEGO Booth

Postby hansok49 » Tue Aug 02, 2011 4:44 pm

Who won the giveaway?
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Re: Comic Con Recap: The LEGO Booth

Postby WillyWampa » Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:11 am

[quote=staff]Where do I even begin.

I guess I can start with the positives. This year, for the first time, LEGO had a large free build area composed of only 2x4 yellow bricks. Personally, I think it's a great idea since it exemplifies the very core of the toy brand we all know and love. It also forces a builder to use their imagination to build something creative. At the end of every day, the booth employees/volunteers would tear most of the creations that were built but some were kept throughout the week.

I love the look of the all yellow models that people built. Fantastic simple idea on LEGO's part. The results remind me of the sculptures you sometimes see at rural fairs (or the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto) that are carved out of butter or cheese. :D
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Re: Comic Con Recap: The LEGO Booth

Postby onions » Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:29 pm

DarthJer wrote:Regardless of that, my point was that if it's going to be sold first thing, it would probably need to be a drawing system, which would then mean that getting up early to get in line still wouldn't guarantee the ability to purchase, but it would alleviate a lot of the hanging around the booth waiting for lines to form.

I actually think it might be in a company like Lego's best interest to just skip exclusives in the future. If they really think they need to have something, they could also just make so much of the exclusive that it doesn't have any value on the secondary market and everybody that comes to the booth can have one or five of whatever it is. There was still a crowd of traffic coming through the booth after the exclusives and drawings were done for the day, so Batman and GL weren't the only things bringing people in.



i still don't see a justification for having a drawing system. if exhibitors want to waste money or borrow a badge, they have every right. lord knows i've borrowed an exhibitor badge or two to get stuff that i want. but what it boils down to line management, and having a drawing system doesn't address how to minimize it. they're using a drawing system now and it didn't work so well. i understand the logic behind a drawing system: it gives everyone an equal chance at "winning" regardless of where they stand in line. but the reality of this system is causing more headaches than it's worth.

skipping exclusives is definitely an idea, but it creates brand awareness, hype, advertising, you name it. whatever lego (and other companies) can do to generate interest for their products they'll do it. in the case of comic con, they just need to find a more efficient (and safe) way to do it.
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Re: Comic Con Recap: The LEGO Booth

Postby bigkid24 » Wed Aug 03, 2011 2:35 pm

Personally I would prefer if they just did away with their exclusives since they are kind of half assed anyway. Getting the SW advent calendar 6 months early or whatever doesn't really matter to me and since it's LEGO, if I get the instructions then I can make the model anyway. And in terms of exclusives building brand awareness I feel like I don't know what the exclusive is until I'm there at the Con.

Personally I think the way that LEGO handles their stuff is fine. I hate having to go upstairs to the Sails Pavilion to get into a line to get a ticket to get into a line that starts by the back wall in order to be lead to the line in the booth. With LEGO I know where I need to be and at what time. Yeah maybe more people line up because it's later in the day and/or just because they see a line forming but personally I'm okay with that. Even on a first come first serve basis there would be a line. There's always going to be a line no matter what they do. The raffle system they switched to later in the Con seemed to work better and faster so I'd probably prefer they stuck with that.
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Re: Comic Con Recap: The LEGO Booth

Postby onions » Wed Aug 03, 2011 4:05 pm

yeah, i'll admit, there's something to be said about lego not doing an exclusive. it would alleviate a lot of line waiting for me personally since i spent the majority of my time in line at lego for the past two years. i've been lucky enough to still get the hasbro exclusives despite this, and other than that, i usually don't kill myself to get the exclusives. the pan am bag being an exception.
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