crazybirdman wrote:LEGO often says that UCS sets are their best sellers, but they don't clarify what they mean, dollar amount? or fastest selling pre-orders? or quantity?
Is that kind of like how some information is always verified by the qualifier "they say" but no one ever explains who they is? I'd like to see some actual concrete proof on this. While I'm sure UCS is probably the highest margin
line that they offer, there's not any chance of it being the best seller. The biggest barrier to that is that they're only available from LEGO stores and on Shop@Home, and those aren't the top outlets for LEGO. Retail outlets are, in all countries, and very few, if any, carry UCS. The risk is too high for a set that's aimed primarily at kids.
The best margins on LEGO sets always come in the higher price points, but the sell-through rate goes down quickly as set price rises. $10 is the low margin and top sellers, and $20-50 is the sweet spot for return. That's why the majority of sets are in that range, because it's where parents (the people making the actual purchase) are most willing to spend their money. Very few are going to drop $120 for a big set, and fewer still $180 or more for a set that's not even designed to be played with.
cas is correct in the 5% number, that's what LEGO has thrown out to investors before. And they did throw us a bone with several different lines at this point. The UCS Star Wars line is the big example of being aimed at a collector and not kids. Even their big sets are in that boat, things like the Death Star, etc, are aimed squarely at adults and not kids. We've seen that bleed out into other lines, like Modular Buildings, Architecture, and the unique sets for adults (VW Bus, London Bridge, Carousel).
And while it's true that while we're a small part of the overall numbers, the average purchase size is higher. Adult collectors have a bigger basket (retail term for how much you'd put in your cart on an average shopping trip), but the only place where they can control that is through Shop@Home and their Retail Locations. And those are only a sliver of the market, so you see the higher basket offset by the lower foot traffic. LEGO addresses that by actually stocking the UCS and big stuff at the locations and online, so it balances out. Any other location is focused on a much bigger basket (TRU sells other Toys, Walmart and Target sell clothes and food, etc) so it all gets muddled down. In short... 5% isn't worth any additional effort from anyone.
You need to think about it from the point of view of LEGO, especially when it comes to licensing. We see big things like UCS Star Wars because they already have the license. There's no additional cost in trying to produce sets in the line outside of materials, so it's a no brainer to expand it. Stuff like the VW Bus can be done fairly easily, because they have a lot of pull to do it, and there's low licensing cost to do so (it's more in VW's advantage to have the product than LEGO, so things like that come easily). Other things are public domain (Sopwith Camel) or fair use (the Japanese satellite that was the first Cuusoo set).
Stuff like movies, video games, and the like do not give additional advertisement or market penetration to the right's holder, so it's not going to drive their bottom line. Especially for something like Firefly/Serenity, which almost a decade old at this point and only remembered by a small set of annoying and passionate fans (and before you get all offended, I'm one of them, and we are very annoying).
If there's an additional license cost, it's pretty much DOA to focus it on adult collectors. Minecraft was in a unique position, since it was such a natural synergy with the game and product, and it's an indie title. I'd be willing to guess that the licensing cost for that was tiny compared to other established titles, and it makes sense from their prospective. The same as licensed sets we see in the regular line do when the movies are current (and why it's so weird to see a Prince of Persia set on the shelves anywhere).
I think the problem that you think exists isn't that they're not focused on adult collectors, they obviously are to an extent... it's that they're not focusing on what you
want. And that's where the whole "you can build things you like" with LEGO comes in. I know it's an argument in another thread as well, but it's true. It's like cooking or drawing or writing. You can do it with some practice, and a lot of times, there will be help out there for you.
You know, if I see links to Brickshelf, more often than not, the first thing I click is the "Back" button.