Woke up to a bombshell being dropped on the AFOL community, and LEGO resellers as a whole today: the LEGO Group purchased BrickLink for an undisclosed amount. I very seriously doubt I need to explain what the site is to most of our readers, but just in case… it was basicallyÂ the placeÂ to get aftermarket parts, sets, or minifigs. Yes, things like eBay or BrickOwl exist, but BrickLink was the oldest and largest of LEGO sites like this.
If you’ve ever done any sort of MOC or customization, you’ve likely purchased from there. If you’ve ever had a collection that’s gotten unwieldy, you’ve probably sold stuff there. I’ve had a store up there in some form for years, and have been slowly using it to pair down my collection.
There’s a whole lot of unknown about this right now, mostly around how it affects sellers and resellers that use the site. The Brother’s Brick has an interview up that spells out some of it… that customized and 3rd party elements will not be welcome on the store as the transition happens. Other than that, everything is mostly mud for what happens going forward. Right now, nothing likely changes, but in the near future, expect to see a lot of changes. The messaging seems to be around the Studio functionality that BrickLink launched a while back.
Long term, there could be some good things… if BrickLink ends up as a sort of Amazon Marketplace solution for AFOL stuff and the Pick-a-Brick or part order of LEGO.com gets rolled into it. It also seems unlikely that LEGO purchased the site for the fee structure that is set up, and more for access, so I’d expect to see that whole thing getting an overhaul as well. That being said… it could also be a way for LEGO to try to get a slice of the aftermarket, something that has normally been outside of their reach.
Honestly, I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing at this point, we will have to wait and see. My gut leans towards doing an Anakin NooooOOOooOOooooo and my mind is going to an Obi-Wan “from a certain point of view.” I have a feeling a lot of sellers, especially those that do high volume on the site, are considering what other options they have available right now.
A bit of a soapbox: I don’t buy for a second that the reason behind this is to “connect” to the AFOL community. If they wanted to do that, they would start to approach sites like this, or the other bigger ones, with more exclusive news or things like that. But they don’t… LEGO goes to places like Wired, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and MTV to cover the exclusives. Sites like ours are ignored outright (intentionally at times because we tend to be a bit more critical of the company), and you can count on one hand the number of times any of the big sites have gotten an announcement in the past few years.
It didn’t used to be that way; LEGO used to reach out to sites like us all the time with news. Now, we often have to chase them down; they always had access to us, but only want it now to be parrots and get free marketing. They haven’t really cared about AFOLs for a long time – they only care about our wallets, and they want access to the communities to try and get another cut of product they’d already sold. That’s just my take, though.