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A Dark Age, Bored, or Just Getting Old?

The reason FBTB came to be. We don't forget our roots.

Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby rodiziorobs » Sun Sep 03, 2017 1:31 pm

fbtb had a big impact on my exit from the dark ages, as it was one of the first two Lego-centric sites I came to, EB being the other. It's been five good years.

But to be frank, I never really came here for the Star Wars. Or really for the Lego, either; as you point out, there are plenty of sites that do that. Sure, that's what first brought me here--the camper-van contest--but I hung around as a lurker/occasional commenter for the articles: your (and the other contributors') generally sardonic but never mean-spirited bent on everything kept me coming back as a reader.

In the recent dearth of articles I searched for other sites to fill that void but nothing was the same (KeithLug came close-ish). So if you'll be back, but also writing about random non-SW, non-Lego stuff, that's fine, great in fact. Totally cool with me. I just want your darkly humorous perspective on life in general a couple of times a week if you can manage it, regardless of the topic. And if that's too much to ask sometimes, well shoot, that's fine too.

Take care of yourself, we'll be here to laugh and maybe type out a snarky reply or correct your grammar once in awhile. :P
See more on my Flickr page.
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby corran horn » Sun Sep 03, 2017 5:00 pm

Extremely rare poster, long time reader. Please take the time you need - thank you for everything you do.

I look forward to your future writings--whatever they may contain.

Thanks again!
corran horn
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A Dark Age, Bored, or Just Getting Old?

Postby Staff » Sun Sep 03, 2017 6:36 pm

Daughter's First MOC

Hey, Nick here. You may have noticed that it's been quiet around the site lately. There are a multitude of reasons for that, honestly. The active staff members all have full time jobs, and currently that means we aren't always able to post. More than that, we have families and kids in school, and that sucks up a whole lot of time. Ace posted his reasons the other day, and they sound very familiar. Myself, I have a newborn son and a daughter that started school, and that has been consuming a whole lot of my free time as of late. As of late, the most I've been into LEGO is in playing with her... she's been playing with them for a good portion of her life at this point, and the picture above is the first "MOC" she made and could describe... and it was of us.

Shortly after my son was born, I started going through a bunch of my older stuff and selling off duplicates, things I hadn't used in years, etc. While I was doing it, I came to a realization... that I didn't really care all that much about getting rid of the stuff. That was really driven home when I opted to get rid of a crown jewel of my collection... my Chrome Gold C3PO. The motivation wasn't one of space or really needing the money... it was more about selling it to someone who would want it before my kids grabbed it and started playing. I hadn't used it in a display for years, to be honest... it doesn't look right next to the other figures... and didn't miss it.

That little endeavor made me realize something; in the past year, I've bought maybe a half-dozen total sets for myself. Most sets that I've purchased were for reviews, and there are several of them that are sitting in draft here on the site waiting for me to finish them (dating back to about a year, ago, sadly). Sets that I really wanted, like the Saturn V rocket and the Modular buildings, have gone un-purchased, and when it came to stuff like Star Wars, the core of this site, it was even worse.

The last time I bought a Star Wars set was probably sometime last year... the last review I did for a Star Wars set was in December with a set provided by LEGO, and before that it was nearly a year ago. Don't get me wrong... I still love Star Wars. I loved Rogue One and I'm extremely excited about The Last Jedi... I just find it hard to get excited about the stuff that's come out lately. There are some sets that I would like to get... or more accurately, some characters (looking at you, Thrawn), but I keep picking up the box and putting it back down. After selling off some sets, the reason for these changes made me realize that LEGO just honestly wasn't all that important to me anymore.

A good portion of that is on me; I've changed in the nearly two decades I've been collecting LEGO. My collection has long since become too large to be manageable, and probably less than 2% of it is on display at any given time. That's a whole lot of money to put into stuff that's sitting in boxes, bags, and bins. I was never much of  MOC builder... I liked it, but didn't have the obsessive drive that a lot of people do. Yet bins still fill my wall and go unused for the most part. When I do actually build these days, it's because my daughter wants to build, and I can use the time to teach important life lessons about why she has to keep the Barbie MegaBloks set she got for her birthday apart from the rest of it.

But I'm not going to say it's all on me. LEGO has made it exceptionally hard to be a fan in recent years. I've made more than a few snarky comments about how LEGO does their reveals on far bigger, and typically unrelated, sites. But it's really worse than that... we often get ignored for news, sets, or the like. Sometimes LEGO is nice when they want publicity, like when they sent us the LEGO Batman and LEGO movie sets. But they ignore us most of the time, even when we ask just for press releases or the like.

Outside of the press aspect of it, though, just being an AFOL has gotten difficult in recent years. I've called out price on reviews more than once, or just the flat lack of creativity that runs through the huge majority of LEGO sets at this point. It feels like a good portion of their sets are just the "stock" build they need to slap a look on between all the different lines. The jets in the Marvel lines, the stock playset like we got with the Batcave... things like that. Worse, the price of LEGO, specifically the price in the AFOL ranges, has gotten just plain stupid in the last couple of years. The new UCS Falcon is a ridiculous $800. I don't care how many pieces it comes with or the size, that is, quite simply, too much. Heck, $500 was probably too much for the first one, but at the time, it was unique.

It's not just that set, though. The last few UCS sets have been disappointing, if I'm being charitable. Sure, the Snowspeeder looked cool, but I was sick of those in the system line, and it just continued the price creep in sets. The last modular building was $280. The carousel was $200. The Saturn V Ideas set was $120 and the fishing shack was $150... together more than all of the other Ideas sets I've ever bought, combined (and I've bought several of them). At a time when i'm having trouble convincing myself to spend money on a $25 set (that should have probably been $20), seeing these prices makes me want to just walk away in disgust.

And from a creative point of view, LEGO seems to only care about their original themes or movie tie-ins. The LEGO Batman movie sets were fantastic, the Ninjago ones look cool (but I could not care in the least about Ninjago). Yet Star Wars has been mostly remakes that are less stuff for more money, or reskins of other builds that are swapped in for something else. The most recent Super Hero sets are just overpriced junk for the most part, and even someone like me gets tired of dropping that kind of money for ugly sets and a few minifigs.

I suppose looking back, a Dark Age was inevitable for me. For years, I've purchased a lot of sets I wouldn't have otherwise touched because I was going to review them. I genuinely like writing reviews and getting my snark on, and will keep doing it. Maybe I'll finally finish one of the half-dozen movie reviews that I've started (in the case of Force Awakens, I have two different review drafts for a review) and get them up here. I may also be putting up more opinion pieces... some of those are the most pride I've had in what I've written for the site. But for the foreseeable future, I'm done purchasing LEGO for myself. Much like Ace, I'm burnt out, even if for different reasons. I'll probably be working on some of the changes around the site, and maybe trying to fix some stuff.

As we open up to more stuff, perhaps I'll branch out too (though it may be a hard sell to post most of my hobbies like painting miniatures or role playing games here). I'm learning what it's like to share a hobby that was a bit part of my life with someone who's just starting out on hers, and there's something kind of magic in watching her. I don't know yet and haven't made any plans, but also knew I wanted to get a statement in too.

tl;dr... I hate the entire idea of tldr and refuse to summarize here (but I bet you can guess by the title).
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby Brickplumber » Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:48 am

Hey Ace,

I have been a long time fan of this site, I check it every day. You are one the main people that got me into building to display back in '05 when you invited anyone to display at Star Wars Days at Legoland, I brought a small MOC and felt I was a small part of a community (now I build too big, haha). I alway admired how much you and Don gave to everyone when you were not actually displaying. I appreciate you and this site, thank you

Mark (Brickplumber)
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby Trooper10 » Mon Sep 04, 2017 12:27 pm

I'll echo Mark's comment - FBTB got me "out of the closet" in terms of being open about my hobby and Bothcon 2011 got me to Star Wars Days, just after I moved to LA from Australia, and Ace got me to join LUGOLA. All I can say is thanks - I've met a huge number of awesome people and gone places with the hobby I couldn't have imagined...and among the best times have been just hanging out at Legoland and seeing what MOCs the local community has brought for the public to swoon over!
Also I fully understand your funk - I've been feeling a lot the same about the majority of SW and superheroes sets and am only maintaining interest in buying the bigger stuff (UCS, Modular etc) which is really painful to my wallet and requires more shelf space than I have! Otherwise most of my energy is going into MOCs or the LUG.
Picking up on Nick's comments, I feel like TLG is being quite bi-polar currently - putting out some amazing sets like Saturn V and some total dross like much of the licensed stuff IMO. I think they are behaving that way with their fan/media relations too - playing favorites with exclusives and yet having just about every single new product leaked months before announcement and blamestorming on the little guys who dare post images. Sadly the ephemeral nature of internet-news, click-related advertising dollars and "first" culture are messing up our ability to just enjoy new products (well at least for me!)
To both of you and Don and FBTB alum - thanks for a great site - I like that it's focused and not trying to be all thing to all people - I hope you find some energy to refresh, or perhaps reinvent or revive or whatever is needed....but if not, Real Life comes first, right?
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby chebyrashka » Tue Sep 05, 2017 10:39 am

I check in here at least every other day so enjoyed reading the posts. Take time off or spread the work around, would always be great to have more perspectives.

It is interesting timing with the news of Lego laying off 1400 and the business taking a sharp dip. Maybe the world over all is a bit Lego'd out. I have a bit of fatigue as well and have dropped buying lots of Lego but also there are so many pics of everything and info out everywhere, by the time I actually get a model and build it, the wow factor isn't there as much.

I think sets in some ways are too complex. I used to get a set and instead of building it, have a mini building contest for my two kids where they would each take the pieces and build something unique. So often now there are piles of random gears or bits afterwards. (although amazed at what they can build, my stuff at that age must have been crap)
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby dWhisper » Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:53 pm

Huh, thanks for that bit about the layoffs, I hadn't read on it, but saw this article and saw some things that should give any AFOL with experience in business pause...

We have added complexity into the organisation which now in turn makes it harder for us to grow further,” he said in a statement. “As a result, we have now pressed the reset-button for the entire Group.

While companies can grow too quickly and that adds cost and overhead, what LEGO reported was a drop in sales growth, i.e., people bought fewer sets last year than the year before (and the year before that was the first time in years they hadn't seen double-digit growth in awhile).

I've heard that line before at places I've worked... and as soon as you are trying to address the fact that your product isn't selling as well, it tells me you're trying to avoid the root of the problem and trying to make up the ground on operational gains. The issue is that operational gains can only be gone so far, and they longer you kick the can the worse it will be when you can't squeeze any more blood out of the stone.

1400 layoffs (and I'm kind of shocked that's only 8% of their workforce) is another sign that they're probably going after the wrong target and trying to structure their way out of a different problem.

I'm not shocked by the news that retailers are reporting softer demand for LEGO either. I noticed last Christmas and earlier this year that it felt like sets were on shelves, and it didn't seem to be because they were overstocked. The LEGO Batman movie sets felt like they underperformed on that front, to be honest... a few were slow to come out, but after they were in stores I don't think any of the stores I frequent were out of any of those sets.

I could speculate on all kinds of reasons why, and have talked about it elsewhere. I may even have to look at this and turn it into a bigger article, because there could be a lot of things driving it...
If the above post didn't offend you, you're probably reading it wrong.
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Re: A Dark Age, Bored, or Just Getting Old?

Postby Draykov » Tue Sep 05, 2017 3:43 pm

As we open up to more stuff, perhaps I'll branch out too (though it may be a hard sell to post most of my hobbies like painting miniatures or role playing games here).

Not to me! Part of the reason I haven't been as active around here is that I started playing D&D 5th ed. when it kicked off in 2014. I'm DMing a campaign for my family and a couple friends. It has taken up a lot of my free time. That said, I don't intend to step away from the LEGO attention is just more divided than it once was. In fact, I even put together a new space MOC back in the spring...still haven't made time to get good shots to post to Flickr.

In terms of my contributions to LEGO's profit this year...I've bought a fair amount, but most of that was probably Q4 of last year. It's hard to pull the trigger on some sets at full MSRP, and as others have pointed out, I think LEGO has overextended themselves in terms of their product lines. And, unless I'm mistaken, LEGO Dimensions was yet another misguided attempt to digitize that went nowhere.

Admittedly, I'm not up on my LEGO current events, but it did also seem strange to see Bali Padda leave the role of CEO so quickly (Niels B. Christiansen having been named as his replacement last month). ... da0bcbc928
Hail Space!
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby dWhisper » Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:23 pm

Man, you and I should get together some day for a game, Draykov... I believe we live in vaguely the same area at this point.

If the above post didn't offend you, you're probably reading it wrong.
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Re: I Am Burned Out

Postby Draykov » Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:42 pm

Haha! Too funny. I suppose it's not a stretch to see some nerdy hobby overlap. Hit me up some time...maybe our stars will align. :)
Hail Space!
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