Benito2k

Policy on discontinuation

46 posts in this topic

Hi all!

I have been a casual fan and buying Lego for years now (love the stuff). The Lord of the Rings sets look great and I'm planning to buy a few at some point. I was wondering if Lego have set rules or a set policy for how they manage their lines, i.e. will each set be available for a certain time before being discontinued?

Do they do this for the collectors? By that I mean to encourage them to buy sets to keep by making limited runs.

I was thinking about getting some Indiana Jones Lego for my nephew for his birthday, as he'd mentioned seeing Raiders, and was quite surprised to see that it's not available anymore. No!

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I think in general most sets stay on the shelves for at least six months, while a majority of them can stay for a year. I don't think there's really a way to tell which sets will go and which won't - there's not a rule or policy. I think it's probably just based on sales, with weak sets being moved out first.

With that said, as long as you keep an eye on what's going on, you can start to see which sets you should move on. With LOTR, I've worked on getting those sets completed (before even my Star Wars sets), because I'm sure The Hobbit will start getting more of the attention in the coming months and I want to be prepared if any of the LOTR sets go out when the Winter wave hits.

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Most "classic" themes like LEGO Technic and City always stay 2 year for each set.

I don't really know about other themes, but I think licensed themes will stay on the shelfes until a few months after the movie/book/whatever has stopped. So for example, there is coming a new LoTR film next year (The Hobbit) and there are coming new LEGO LoTR sets The Hobbit sets, so the LoTR sets will stay for while.

I think.... :sceptic:

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I was thinking about getting some Indiana Jones Lego for my nephew for his birthday, as he'd mentioned seeing Raiders, and was quite surprised to see that it's not available anymore. No!

If you know where to look you can still buy sealed sets although the prices will be a little higher as they are no longer in production. There is the usual Ebay route but finding sealed sets may take time, have you heard of Bricklink.com? I see you are a new member so theres a good chance you are yet to be enlightened!

Take a look at this link to the Indy sets on there-http://www.bricklink.com/browseList.asp?itemType=S&catString=605

Beware though, once you find Bricklink you will be spending all of your time and money on Lego!

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FYI... the record for longest set production was 700/1 Basic Set... 1949-64... or 17 years! default_blink.gif

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The basic grey plate is sold since more years but I suppose that:

- it does not count as a set (being just a plate, despite it has a set reference)

- its reference changed from time to time

So it is one of the oldest set which had the longest life. It seems that nowadays the sets are not for sale for so long. It seemed that in the 80s/90s the sets stayed more than 2 years. Or is it just because when I was kid "2 years" was a very long time, but now the years seem to go so fast?

Edited by antp

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I guess some of best-selling sets would be re-released? I am talking same set but new production (sometime with new box?)

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I guess some of best-selling sets would be re-released? I am talking same set but new production (sometime with new box?)

They kind of rerelease sets. They usually change them in some way though. You see this mostly with licensed sets.

Ones off the top of my head are the different Hogwarts sets from Harry Potter, a few sets from Star Wars (The Land Speeder set with Obi-Wan and Luke and the Droids, and the Droid Escape pod set are a couple recent ones that I bought the originals of years ago)

I'm not sure they've ever rereleased a set with exactly the same build, but I'm not as well versed as some here.

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They kind of rerelease sets. They usually change them in some way though. You see this mostly with licensed sets.

Ones off the top of my head are the different Hogwarts sets from Harry Potter, a few sets from Star Wars (The Land Speeder set with Obi-Wan and Luke and the Droids, and the Droid Escape pod set are a couple recent ones that I bought the originals of years ago)

I wouldn't call those rereleases of sets - rereleases of ships, or buildings, or characters or whatever, perhaps, but not of the actual LEGO sets. To me, "rereleased set" implies the same (or very nearly the same) specific assortment of LEGO parts, arranged the same way, as opposed to a completely different model of the same thing. That said, though...

I'm not sure they've ever rereleased a set with exactly the same build, but I'm not as well versed as some here.

Actually, they have done this a few times (or at least, they've done reissues that were very nearly identical, with only minor changes for things like using later versions of parts that have undergone modification). Two of the first Star Wars sets, 7140 X-Wing Fighter and 7150 TIE Fighter & Y-Wing, were reissued three years later as 7142 and 7152, respectively, with essentially no changes (just some slightly tweaked versions of some of the parts); there was also another "TIE Fighter & Y-Wing" set two years after that, 7262, that used a different design for Vader's TIE, but used the exact same model design for the Y-Wing as in the two previous sets, even down to using the same traditional classic yellow head for the pilot despite the fact they'd switched to flesh tones for minifigures in licensed themes the year before).

They've actually done a lot more in the way of set reissues outside of licensed themes, though. A few off the top of my head:

Enchanted Island - 6278 & 6292

Red Beard Runner - 6289 & 6290

Guarded Inn - 6067 & 10000

Rapid River Village - 6766 & 6763

Sheriff's Lock-Up - 6755 & 6764

Fort LEGOREDO - 6769 & 6762

Pizza to Go - 6350 & 10036

LEGO Truck - 2148 & 10156

Main Street - 6390 & 10041

6597 Century Skyway & 10159 City Airport

Lots of these do have different details here or there (for one prominent example, look at the tree in the earlier Main Street and compare it to the tree in the reissue; the old cypress tree was discontinued by the time the reissue came out), but these are just functionally-equivalent parts to replace discontinued elements in sets that otherwise use the same design, construction, etc., even when the names are changed, as with Century Skyway / City Airport. That's different from simply having multiple different versions of Hogwarts or the Millennium Falcon or whatever.

Having said that, from what I understand they generally avoid doing straight reissues of sets like these now. All the ones I've listed here were reissued sometime from 2001 to 2004; my understanding is that they've abandoned the practice.

Edited by Blondie-Wan

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At least one set was re-released 2 times: Lego Technic Front loader with numbers 8459, 8439 and 8464 (with minor differences)

Similar with X-wing 7140 and 7142, x-wing and y-wing collection 7150 and 7152, same with y-wings etc

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A better question for these days might be "have the re-released and duplicate sets in the past 10 years? And if so how often does that occur?" That would more accurately reflect the current company policies and product plans. Which are most likely very different than what they were in the early 1980's.

Also based on the OP's questions, we may also want to think on not just re-releases of a set, but re-runs or production restock of a given set. I think that is at the heart of what he is asking? How many times will Lego "re-print" a set to restock it on the shelves during its expected product lifecycle.

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It's a widely known fact that the "Legends" re-releases didn't sell particularly well. They received a lot of criticism for changes that had to be made to deal with parts/colours that had been discontinued etc. And ultimately it put them in competition with the second hand/MISB collectors, who were selling the 'original' version which is what the people who wanted the set were always going to prefer.

As to the OP's question, it's tricky because the logistics involved in set production are a lot more complicated than you might imagine. So TLG will have roughly attempted to estimate the quantity of any given set that they can sell and planned production around that. There may be some scope for changing scheduling to fit in another production run if a set is selling significantly better than expected (or to cut short production of one doing badly) but generally not (the aim, after all, is to have production planned to run as close to 100% of capacity as possible)

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I experimented and bought some sets to resell once they discontinue. They're taking too long to discontinue. I don't have patience. I will not do that again :P.

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I also find their discontinuation practices 'interesting'. Last month I noticed that both Atlantis and Prince of Persia were just gone from their U.S. product page. Huh? No goodbye? No farewell?

I wish they would re-release a few sets like CMF Series 1, Green Grocer, Cafe Corner & the Carousel. Keeping their SKUs down is understandable and all that but when these sets are going for crazy money on the secondary market it makes it a little painful for us dummies who just got interested recently.

Now that I think about it though, I guess they're instilling a 'get it while you can mentality' and if that's the way it's gotta be for them to be profitable, well, that's the way it is. It is the toy industry after all. Today's 'Gotta Have It!' is tomorrow forgotten closet fodder.

Maybe I'm really dreaming here but it would be nice if they could put out some smaller batches of famous sets from the past from time-to-time. They could take pre-orders from S@H (so they would know exactly how many to make) and make it clear that hey, the minifigs will be slightly different or something like bicycles or dogs might be a different color. They could charge a little more for their trouble. I wonder if that would be worth it for them? It would work for me. How many Green Grocers could they sell today that way; 5,000, 10,000?

So I guess all the collectors and resellers (the guys with twenty Fire Brigades and MMVs) are all groaning right now and I don't blame you but I'm not in this to collect or make a dollar, I just want to have some fun with my son.

Anyway, that's my two cents, thanks for reading. Joe

Edited by bjtpro

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I wouldn't call those rereleases of sets - rereleases of ships, or buildings, or characters or whatever, perhaps, but not of the actual LEGO sets. To me, "rereleased set" implies the same (or very nearly the same) specific assortment of LEGO parts, arranged the same way, as opposed to a completely different model of the same thing. That said, though...

Actually, they have done this a few times (or at least, they've done reissues that were very nearly identical, with only minor changes for things like using later versions of parts that have undergone modification). Two of the first Star Wars sets, 7140 X-Wing Fighter and 7150 TIE Fighter & Y-Wing, were reissued three years later as 7142 and 7152, respectively, with essentially no changes (just some slightly tweaked versions of some of the parts); there was also another "TIE Fighter & Y-Wing" set two years after that, 7262, that used a different design for Vader's TIE, but used the exact same model design for the Y-Wing as in the two previous sets, even down to using the same traditional classic yellow head for the pilot despite the fact they'd switched to flesh tones for minifigures in licensed themes the year before).

They've actually done a lot more in the way of set reissues outside of licensed themes, though. A few off the top of my head:

Enchanted Island - 6278 & 6292

Red Beard Runner - 6289 & 6290

Guarded Inn - 6067 & 10000

Rapid River Village - 6766 & 6763

Sheriff's Lock-Up - 6755 & 6764

Fort LEGOREDO - 6769 & 6762

Pizza to Go - 6350 & 10036

LEGO Truck - 2148 & 10156

Main Street - 6390 & 10041

6597 Century Skyway & 10159 City Airport

Lots of these do have different details here or there (for one prominent example, look at the tree in the earlier Main Street and compare it to the tree in the reissue; the old cypress tree was discontinued by the time the reissue came out), but these are just functionally-equivalent parts to replace discontinued elements in sets that otherwise use the same design, construction, etc., even when the names are changed, as with Century Skyway / City Airport. That's different from simply having multiple different versions of Hogwarts or the Millennium Falcon or whatever.

Having said that, from what I understand they generally avoid doing straight reissues of sets like these now. All the ones I've listed here were reissued sometime from 2001 to 2004; my understanding is that they've abandoned the practice.

I just realized I omitted a couple other reissues, one of which is important because it's an exception to the rule I observed:

Armada Flagship - 6280 & 6291

10152 Maersk Sealand Container Ship & 10155 Maersk Line Container Ship

The Maersk ship reissue was just a couple years ago, in 2010, well after all the others; it's the most recent example I can think of of a more or less straight reissue of a set (different box background art, and even a different set name, but it's still apparently the same model, except for having new stickers). I'd love to think this was some sort of test, or dipping their toes into the reissue waters to see if things work out, but given that it's a Maersk set I half-wonder whether it has more to do with a greater-than-anticipated availability of Maersk blue material (or perhaps even a specific reissue request from Maersk), and doesn't signify anything for other set reissues.

Thoughts?

Edited by Blondie-Wan

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I guess some of best-selling sets would be re-released? I am talking same set but new production (sometime with new box?)

Not replying to happymark's post in particular, but I want to call people's attention to something: what he's describing doesn't sound like it's describing re-releases as in "new set with the same parts and build" but rather re-releases as in "new production run of the same set with the same number. And THAT happens all the time. The first run of a set is far from its only run; otherwise you wouldn't have sets like the Pirates of the Caribbean sets last year being released with the chrome parts after they were unable to include those in the first production run, or sets like the 2010 LEGO Hero Factory set Furno Bike released with the new-style Y-joints that were not introduced until 2011.

A particularly noteworthy example of a set that had significant changes in a later production run is Fero & Skirmix, a BIONICLE set from 2009. It was originally produced for release as a Walmart-exclusive "special edition" set for early 2009. That summer, however, a new version of the set started showing up. It had the same set number (8990), but the box was almost entirely redesigned. Here is the original box art, while Here is the later version of the box, which was designed to promote the new movie BIONICLE: The Legend Reborn as well as tie in with the packaging design of that summer's Glatorian Legends sets. The only change to the set's contents was that Skirmix's eyes were changed from Transparent Fluorescent Green (Trans-Neon Green) to Transparent Yellow (Trans-Yellow).

I have no idea how long to expect the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit sets to remain on store shelves, but generally the shelf life of such sets is at least a year after their initial release. The reason sets have a limited shelf life is not because of collectors, but rather because of retailers. Retailers know very well that new sets sell better than older sets and want to keep circulating their stock so they always have shelf space for the newest items. And what this means is that they will eventually have to stop restocking older sets. So TLG only produces new batches of the same sets for as long as they expect retailers to keep buying them.

The Indiana Jones sets are from several years ago, so it's no surprise that few places stock them anymore. This isn't because they want to compel people to buy them when they're brand new, but rather that there's just not much of an incentive to keep producing and stocking sets from that long ago when there are newer sets that will appeal to a larger number of buyers.

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Speaking of classics, will they ever re-release the death star 10143?

I would tend to doubt it. It's a big collectable kit and making more of them would probable depreciate the value of the originals and tick off the collectors who are hoarding them.

As has been pointed out, they _could_ introduce a new kit of the same subject matter (I've lot count of the number of Millenium Falcon and snow speeder variants there are) and if they did, I'd hope that the revision were more stable than the original (it's very fragile and when knocked over breaks into many small pieces which tend to sit in a bag for over a year waiting for someone to put it back together - but enough about my personal life...) I wouldn't hold my breath though, the UCS stuff seems to be marketed very much along the lines of a "buy it now or regret it forever" mindset.

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I would tend to doubt it. It's a big collectable kit and making more of them would probable depreciate the value of the originals and tick off the collectors who are hoarding them.

Why would TLG care about that?

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They wouldn't, but keep in mind also what ShaydDeGrai said about re-releasing UCS sets not happening. Otherwise, what would be the point of having a Collector Series if they are going to remake them? It would no longer be a Collector Series. TLG wants to make a profit, so they will sell what they make, but typically re-releasing something isn't as profitable for them because the core audience that bought it the first time around won't buy it again and the new people that want to buy are probably fewer and farther between. They'd make more money from something entirely new to everyone instead of new to a few people.

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Why would TLG care about that?

For a low end set that they're going to sell tens of thousands of to 8 years, they wouldn't. For a high end set sold mostly to AFOLs and non-Lego Star Wars collectors you want limited edition to really mean something. I think TLG is mart enough to learn from what happened with previously hot collectables like beanie babies and comic books. For example a little over a decade ago people who didn't even read comic books were buying them up as "investments" and when an Issue #1 for some new title came out it flew off the shelves because people _assumed_ it would be worth something some day (just like Detective Comics #1 is today) Marvel and DC were selling books as fast as they could print them and most of the books were going straight into storage, unread.

The publishers didn't care why people were buying them, they just saw their inventory moving, so they printed more, and more, and more... Pretty much overnight, it dawned on people that the reason old comics were worth thousands was because they were RARE and the chances of a given book from a 500,000 copy print run becoming the only surviving copy in your lifetime was pretty slim compared with being that one mint comic from '1939 that only started with 2000 copies. So, people stopped seeing comics as an investment vehicle and stopped buying them. The people who cared about the comics still bought them, but they turned out to be in the minority and the publishers were saddled with the expense of printing thousands of books that didn't sell because they couldn't constrict their production runs fast enough to compensate for the bubble bursting.

So let's say TLG ignored this lesson and reissued another 20,000 copies of the Death Star II. As TheLegoDr points out, a lot of AFOLs who want that kit already bought it, and at the price of it, they're probably not going back for a second one. The Lego Scalpers (the guys who are the reason why there's usually a limit of 5 copies per customer on these high end kits) are still sitting on MSIB copies from the first run and are asking for 1500-2500 USD per kit in the secondary market (I saw one ad recently asking $300 just for the building instructions, no bricks). Now the scalper can't make a profit and is stuck with several copies of a high end set - you may say "no big deal, that's his problem" but this is also the guy who cleans out LEGO's inventory by buying dozens of copies of a particular kit. So if the fans aren't buying and the scalpers aren't buying, who's left? Sure, they'll sell eventually, but an unsold kit isn't an investment for TLG, it's a liability.

Kits on shelves and in warehouses don't make money, the product needs to move out the door to keep the revenue stream flowing. If TLG gets a reputation for reissuing "collector" level items, the value of the item is eroded and the urgency to acquire it during the initial production run wanes, it becomes harder to predict what a production run _should_ be to maximize sales while minimizing shelf time and the risk of having too much capital locked into unsold kits sky-rockets.

I realize it's frustrating (I'd still like an 8880 supercar mint in box) but from a business perspective its actually better to run out of a hot selling item and discontinue it before the market reaches saturation than to overproduce the item and get stuck with excess inventory. So long as you can come up with "the next hot item" you're better off leaving your customers a little hungry.

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For a low end set that they're going to sell tens of thousands of to 8 years, they wouldn't. For a high end set sold mostly to AFOLs and non-Lego Star Wars collectors you want limited edition to really mean something.

Indeed, though it'd mean quite a bit more if the UCS sets were actually marketed as "limited editions."

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I wouldn't put it past LEGO to issue re-designs (not reissues) of Star Wars UCS sets someday, but it would be slow to happen if so. The reason that the smaller sets are frequently re-designed is that kids want particular, iconic vehicles, and there are new kids entering the market all the time. LEGO's first X-wing fighter showed up in 1999, but many kids today were born after then-- so if a kid born in 1999 turns 8 in 2007 and wants an X-wing, LEGO wants to make sure that it's available!

But applying that logic to the UCS sets is a bit different. Kids typically are into LEGO for a few years (maybe age 7-11?) but the target market for UCS sets is adults, who are Star Wars LEGO fans FOR LIFE. So chances are that if they came out with a new UCS Star Destroyer, it wouldn't sell all that well becuase... well... many of the adults that would normally buy one already own one! They bought one back in 2004 (or whenever). Hence, you might argue that out of a market of (say) 100,000 fans, 75,000 already own a copy and wouldn't buy a newer one.

However, the adult collector community for UCS Star Wars sets is still growing. They started coming out with UCS in 2000, back when LEGO wasn't popularly associated with the Star Wars brand, and similarly wasn't as strong of a brand among adult hobbyists. So that base of 100,000 fans is increasing gradually. If it ever gets up to (say) 175,000 fans, you've got a pretty large base of potential buyers, even if 75,000 of them already own the set.

One contrasting point is that you could offer a vehicle that was never offered before. Supposing that they released a UCS A-Wing fighter, they'd get the full 175,000 fans rather than only 100,000. And contrasting *that* point is the popularity of the model. Star Wars fans will be ALL OVER an iconic ship like the Millenium Falcon, but probably won't care so much about a Cloud Car or an XJ-6 Airspeeder.

Anyway, given the extended life of the Star Wars license, I could believe that at some point, we might see a re-designed UCS set, like (say) the X-Wing! But I wouldn't really expect it to happen in the near term.

DaveE

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Anyway, given the extended life of the Star Wars license, I could believe that at some point, we might see a re-designed UCS set, like (say) the X-Wing! But I wouldn't really expect it to happen in the near term.

Even though I own the original UCS Star Destroyer, I'd welcome a redesign that WASN'T held together with magnets and so fragile that it sags under its own weight after a decade on display. The Executor is much more sturdy and I can't help but think that a re-design of the older model would use more modern (and structurally sounder) building techniques.

But like you, even in a case where an improved model of an iconic ship _could_ be offered in the UCS line, I'm not holding my breath.

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Even though I own the original UCS Star Destroyer, I'd welcome a redesign that WASN'T held together with magnets and so fragile that it sags under its own weight after a decade on display. The Executor is much more sturdy and I can't help but think that a re-design of the older model would use more modern (and structurally sounder) building techniques.

I'd actually say that's much more likely to happen than a re-issue of an existing set as is. The only thing against it is really that the slow rate of UCS releases means there are a lot of iconic ships that have never been done, so the desire to revisit those that has is lower. When they finally do reach that point, a UCS X-Wing revamped for the modern part selection would be the most likely.

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