My thoughts on Lego exclusive 2013 - Giveaways were RIGGED annnd a bit of a disaster!! At least from my standpoint. But before we get to that bit of a bombshell, let's look back. Also, this is for the people who attended and/or plan to attend the con. Sorry to those who want these minifigs too, and don't even get a shot at these w/o knowing anyone or being there in person. But after reading this, you might be glad you weren't here for the inevitable disappointment. This is part gripe fest and part advice.
Since Lego introduced the Batman & Green Lantern SDCC Minifigs in 2011, Lego started a fun but anger inducing trend...exclusive minifigs as giveaways. Last year giveaway was Marvel's Symbiote Spidey & Jean Grey as Phoenix and DC's Shazam and Bizarro.
Lego has had exclusives for the past 6-7 years ago. I remember the first one was the Batman/Joker diorama where you drew a ticket and had the right to buy if you won. The right to buy items or just lining up to buy them has been simple enough and similar enough to most toy companies at SDCC; wait in line, and buy your limit.
But with the SDCC minifigs, there's a raffle element to it. With the 2012 figures, there was 1k of each...totaling 4k. Lego partnered with Marvel, DC, and WB last year to help distribute the figures however they seemed appropriate. For whatever Lego didn't give to their partners, they had a one day drawing for the remaining figures that were held on a Friday. According to what I was told by Marvel and DC last year and this year, they probably got about 500-750 total figures to distribute over the length of the con for 2012. And fair warning, as an adult, you have to take everything you hear from these companies (Marvel, DC, WB & Lego) w/ a massive grain of salt. They see an adult asking about Lego, I wouldn't be surprised if they think "scalper, dealer, re-seller" waaay more often than they think AFOL or collector.
Getting back to Friday 2012, Lego held a one time giveaway of all the remaining minifigs they had in their possession, somewhere around 2,500-3000 as a safe guess. Lego had people line up and badges were scanned. That's it, no tix or anything of the sort. Just get your badge scanned and move along. With a couple thousand figures to try to win, it was unbelievable how smooth it went. UNBELIEVABLE. Line was fast cordial and simple. Stand, line shuffle, show badge, move along. But the reason why 2013 was changed from last year - Winner Redemption. THAT wasn't a nightmare per se, but more so chaos, and with chaos, brings change.
Last year, names were posted up on a large board in the corner of the Lego booth. That's all fine and dandy, but it becomes chaos when you have 2,500 or more winners and all the losers trying to find their name on a board with sheets of paper that had a super small font size. Then after that, they just turn around to line up and pick up their winner. Well, when you post everyone's name on a board and the line to redeem is right there too, you're going to expect a bit of a traffic jam, and when I mean a bit...I mean MASSIVE. That's why Lego changed it up this year.
This year's instructions to redeem were simple in theory, but poor in execution (until Friday). They planned on an 11:30 ticket distribution that also INCLUDED a badge scan (to eliminate repeats). Then winning #'s posted would be posted online and at the booth at 3-3:30, and then you could pickup winners after that. To alleviate the glut that 2012 caused, the winning ticket #'s were posted online and the amount of each figure was drastically reduced. Based on the winning #'s that were posted Thursday thru Sunday, it was 350 for Spiderwoman on Thursday, 400 or 450 of Spiderman on Friday along w/ 100 more for Spiderwoman, 200 or 250 Superman, and 180-200 for Green Arrow.
As you noticed above, I listed Spiderwoman twice - once for Thursday and once for Friday. Why? Well here comes the nightmare that ensued. Somewhere between 11-11:15, Lego decided to give out tix for the raffle. That sounds great, but there was a massive problem. They DID NOT scan badges, they did not organize with security properly to get people to line up, nor did they do a good job of trying to organize the line themselves. Since Lego did not do what they should have done, all hell broke loose. Once people saw that Lego started to give tix out and were NOT scanning badges, the corner was rushed and it was an easy 5-7 people deep around a corner that affects two major pathways within the convention center floor. Due to Lego's lack of control, eg, lines and not scanning badges, it was pure madness as no official line was ever made, so instead there were three, yes THREE lines heading to one corner; one from each end of the booth and another up the middle through the kids play area. I knew people who were less than 10 feet away from the corner and it never moved for close to 30 mins. That's why security stepped in and shut it down. It took them a good 25-30 mins for them to completely clear the Lego booth and that was the end of the Spiderwoman fiasco. No one is sure how many tix were given out as people just rushed the corner, and weren't able to back up one way or another as more people tried to go to the same place. Also, since people weren't being funneled out properly, they were able to grab multiple tickets. And again, no badge scan equals people going for multiple tix. People stick their hands over a crowd, grab a ticket, then w/ so many faces, out there, you move over a bit, and get another ticket. It's nothing new, but this could have been prevented.
If you're asking why did they scan badges AND give tix when 2012 was strictly badge scans, well they didn't want to put in the extra work to post all the names online, nor put them on a board again at the booth. Not everyone has a smartphone and can check them, and they didn't want everyone to rush the board to check if you won.
So after Thursdays craptastic attempt at giving away tix, they FINALLY learned their lesson and just moved the ticket giveaway upstairs. This turned into a pure dream as people were orderly, friendly and in one single line. The line was long, and I mean LONG...from the middle of the convention center at the sails pavilion down to the Marriot Marquis long. But the one beauty of the line was that it was extremely fast and fluid. No one was pushing, shoving, getting squished or anything of that nature that was experienced the day before. Just follow the line and pick up a ticket. There were two people with bags of tickets and tickets in their hand ready to give out to the people who walked through the line. But no one was scanning badges, so guess what happened. Yes, people would go through the line again. Granted the lines were long, so one would have to travel down the stairs to go again, but the line was also very fast, so it would only take a few mins to go through the line again. After announcing badge scans on Wednesday, that actually didn't even happen til Sunday. The very last day. Nice job Lego team...last day? what a crock.
Now we get back to where this initially started - the Lego Giveaway was RIGGED!!!! You must think I'm joking or just some conspiracy theorist, but after the facts are shown, it's very likely it was rigged. Which is a shame, but it's probably true. How does one rig a drawing/raffle if tickets are handed out with #'s on them? Well, simple, they know the #'s BEFOREHAND. The number ranges that would be announced later in the day, were already known BEFORE the tix were distributed. The raffle winners were based on ranges, generally in chunks of 50. For example, 10,051-10,100 are winners. They would have 4-8 ranges of numbers based on what figure was assigned to that day.
So what do you do with a rigged drawing? Well, you give winners to anyone you want, primarily you give winners to kids. Lego loves kids and kids love Lego. Kids don't resell figures on eBay. They play with them in their sets, swap body parts and get them dirty. So let's target the winning tickets to kids. I wouldn't have thought twice about this rigging if I didn't see some fishiness w/ my own eyes. And believe you me, it was fishy. The ticket givers already had tickets in their hand ready to give out, when an adult walked by for his/her ticket, they were given a ticket out of the bag...even though they had tix ready to give out in their hands. As a child walked by, the ticket in his hand were given to the kids. Early on, they wouldn't give out those tickets in their hand unless it was to a kid. Now this could only start off at the beginning of the giveaway as people would walk too quick to continue doing this the entire time as you gave out tickets. But that also doesn't mean they could have the winners stashed away in their bag that's in a different manner than most of the losing tickets too.
This was a theory that started on Friday early, and watched upon to prove it was happening. For those that didn't win, your only goal was to join the hoard of people around the booth, begging to trade or buy the winner from someone. Oddly enough, or not oddly enough, most of the winners were kids. You would see kids come up or the parents of the kids come up to redeem the winning ticket.
I mentioned previously that Lego wasn't too thrilled w/ the crowd that they caused in 2012 to redeem the winners, but another crowd was caused this time...by those were trying to trade or buy from people who just won. You'd see a few people run over to them and ask them to sell it or to trade it. Some of those people seemed normal, others kinda scary. This one guy literally walked around w/ two hundred dollar bills trying to buy it from them. The most common response from those people, "Nah, these are going for $500 on eBay." followed by "sorry, that's not enough money" and waaaay down the list "my kid really wants this" or "this is for my personal collection" In the middle, there were those trying to trade their winners for other ones they didn't win. Green Arrow for Superman for example.
Two of my most favorite memories of seeing people buying/trading lego figures -
A family of four: Mom, dad, daughter (11'ish), son (5'ish) Two winning tickets.
Buyer 1 - "Interested in trading?"
Dad - "What do you have?"
Buyer 1 - "Last year's SDCC Lego figs."
Dad - "We don't know anything about Lego. Any of those go for a lot? These figures are selling for $500!"
Buyer 1 - "Nope, sorry"
Dad - "Nah, sorry, not interested in trading." Father turns to his daughter and says, "honey, hold this winning ticket. This is the last we will see of this before it's on eBay!" Said with smile and enthusiasm.
Buyer A - "$200 for that figure"
Winner - "sorry, they're going a lot higher than that"
Buyer A - "$300?"
Winner - "Yesterday's figure is over $400 on ebay already."
Buyer A - "$400?"
Winner - "sold"
Buyer B (who missed this the above exchange) - "I'll give you $200 for that figure!"
Buyer A - "I just bought it for $400. That's how it's done people."
I witnessed both the above as I was trying to trade too. I was polite about it and people were honest about their responses too - selling it, for my kid, or for my collection.
It's pretty awesome I tell ya.
By rigging it in the above fashion, aiming it at kids, it still doesn't deter the parents from selling it. The kid might enjoy it in it's plastic case for a few days or so before the mom or dad has it shipped off to whoever they just sold it to on eBay. Why punish an AFOL b/c he or she doesn't have a kid? Instead, force them to go to eBay or try to trade.
If you're gonna do a raffle, make it a true raffle. Select the winning numbers AFTER the tickets are given out. Or allow them to grab a ticket out of the bag themselves. And the reason they didn't allow that, well, people would grab multiple tix. If you saw the size of this ticket, good luck grabbing two without anyone noticing. These were like concert size tix. Not your normal Office Depot tickets.
I don't think I would have thought twice about this fiasco if it wasn't for the fact that the winning #'s were drawn well before the tix were given out. That just doesn't make sense to why they would do that.
More food for thought is that a good chunk of these are gonna get listed no matter what Lego tries to do whether it's not allowing exhibitors to enter the raffle or rig it in the favor of kids. There are close to 100 SOLD auctions on eBay for these minifigures plus another 100 or so in active status. Let's just say that's 200 figures of the 1,000 - 1,500 figures that were given out. And there will be even more listed once people get back from San Diego.
They might not have rigged it, and it could be my conspiracy theorist mind going nutso, but that's how I see it. When I know about 40 or so people trying to win these figures. It just so happened that the people with kids won it more than the adults.
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