Deathleech, on 08 November 2012 - 06:41 PM, said:
But surely you see the problem here. These sets are all decent deals for licensed themes being around 12 cents per piece. You basically want to add $20-30 to every set to make it feel more complete. That means Helm's Deep is now $160, Mines of Moria $100, Weathertop $80, Shelob $40, and Gandalf Arrives $30. How many 8-14 year olds (the target audience) do you know with 400 bucks laying around to buy the entire wave, let alone $30 for a single set? I'm sure you wouldn't raise the piece count/price of every set that much, but you get the idea.
I'm not saying that there shouldn't be low end entry sets or that every set needs to be "complete." My core points really boil down to three points of contention (four if you count battle pack marketing ideas but I feel we're very much in agreement on that one):
1) Not every set needs to be a UCS offering, there is a need for broad spectrum of sets in all price ranges, play and display expectations, and building ability level; the problem is that LOTR has a huge following among college students and adults (some of whom are even rumored to be female) and the Lego offerings to date _seem_ to be targeting pre-teen boys, a strong LEGO demographic for sure but in the greater Tolkien fan world, a pretty small minority (hopefully this will change with the release of the Hobbit films). TLG should _expand_ its offerings to have broader appeal beyond the pre-teen boy audience.
2) When I buy a mid- to high end kit, be it LOTR, the Hobbit, or whatever I want the price point to reflect the size and complexity of the build. If I spend $80 on a kit, I want, what in my mind - warped as it is - I have come to expect from an $80 kit, not eight $10 kits bundled into a common box. The Mines of Moria doesn't _feel_ like big kit despite being priced like one. It feels like a bunch of little builds - like building all the furniture and the fire truck that goes into the modular fire station, without actually getting the fire station
There are two ways to fix this: either break it up and market the pieces as small builds (Cave Troll with doorway and Orcs, Well with Hobbits and Skeleton, Sarcophagus with Gimli, skeleton and orcs, Wall segment with hero (Aragon/Boromir/Legolas) and more goblins and orcs, etc) for $10-20 each - collect them all and build the bigger scene yourself - buy all 6-8 kits at once on S@H and save 10%, etc., etc.; or
build a more "complete" kit with a coherent, monolithic centerpiece to the build and set a different (probably higher) price point.
3) A number of the design choices they've made to date just seem hard to justify to me (okay, I've never been a fan of flick fire missiles - so shoot me with one - whatever...) For example, I MOD'ed the cart from Gandalf Arrives to make it big enough for Frodo to sit (technically stand, as his legs don't bend) beside Gandalf and so the rear tailgate of the cart could open. This involved replacing 6 parts and adding 4 additional parts. Even at S@H PAB prices (and giving myself a credit for the 6 parts I was no longer using) this was less than a dollar in parts to make it a much nicer scale and more playable set. True, a dollar in the context of a that kit's MSRP is a 10% price hike, but in the larger scope of things, the can of Coke on my desk right now cost $1.75 from the vending machine in the break room so it's not an unreasonable trade-off to address the issue.
I mean no disrespect to the designers at TLG who are working hard to bring us these kits, but I look at that they've done for Star Wars, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and other licensed themes (where in some cases I like the kits better than the source material they're drawn from) and I just don't feel like they're bringing their best work to the table on these lines. There are a lot of (little) things that could have been done to improve the implementation of the ideas behind the current kits that, for whatever reason, didn't make it into the finished products.
Maybe I just have low expectations or something, but these sets are pretty much exactly what I expected. They still give a good sense of the scene they are trying to portray, are priced reasonably, and have a great assortment of minifigures. Sure some may not feel complete, but they offer tons of play features for kids which I am sure they appreciate a lot more than an extra wall or two. It seems most people complaining about these sets are looking at them as UCS sets and not the basic line meant for kids. Plus, the great thing about Lego is it's a building/construction toy. Don't like that the Mines of Moria set only has two walls and doesn't feel complete? Go MOD it then! (snip...)
I totally agree that the greatest strength of the LEGO system is the fact that you don't have to build it exactly the way they tell you to and leave it at that, but that's really beyond the point at hand. For the purposes of this thread, the real question is, what is the out-of-the-box experience? Do the kits, as is, engage your enthusiasm? You say these are about what you expected, I find them a little disappointing - that's fine I like coffee ice cream but know many people prefer chocolate and I will even accept chocolate when coffee is not available.
My MOD to Gandalf's cart was a trivial fix, I'm sure I'm not the only one who's made such changes, but my point is that _I_ shouldn't have had to make it and a six year old who wants two people to be able to ride in it or open the tailgate might not have the parts or skill needed to "fix" it once they realize the cart was too small. It was an obvious defect that would have been easy to address for relatively little additional cost, but they didn't
- that's where I see a problem. Maybe it's not that I expect more from the LOTR or The Hobbit kits, it's that I expect more from TLG, I've been collecting this stuff for 40+ years and I know they could do (and have done) better.
I think they should even go one step further and like with their creator sets, make say a Minas Tirith wall set that includes 4 Mordor Orcs, 2 Gondor soldiers and then instructions to build 2 different wall designs. They could do the same for a numbers of add on sets like an Ent battle pack with 2 different looking Ent builds. The possibilities are endless.
I'd buy that for a dollar - or ten, as the case may be.