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2013 Train Sets


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#51 rday1982

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 08:22 AM

What does somebody have to do to get Lego to consider producing a particular theme? "Train Robbers" sounds like an awesome product line. It could even include multiple locomotives. If they were all made so that a PF motor can be added to them, then that would help generate PF sales as well as keeping the cost of each loco down.

Hm. Thinking about this, they could resurrect part of the "Time Cruisers" theme for it.

Just imagine a theme where the villains travel through time on a railroad handcart fitted with a flux capacitor/other Macguffin, robbing trains that contain rare or valuable cargo. Past, present, and even future trains are just not safe, with the Train Robbers at large. They appear out of nowhere, in a crackling flash of temporal dislocation, already charging towards the back of their target train, then fire a magnetic grapple which latches onto the coupling, and pulls them in. Now they work their way from the rear of the train forward, to the locomotive. They stop the train, unload the cargo to their waiting compatriots in the Train Robbers Getaway Truck, and then they disappear on their weird rolling handcart.

Ooh, in fact, they could call them Train Pirates instead of train robbers. Lego people, if you're reading this, feel free to send me one of these for testing if you decide to make this. A Train Pirate. Or even a Pirate Train.

With the above said, I really do like the idea of using a train to smash down a wall and grab the contents of the building. Perhaps the Train Pirates would hijack the locomotive and derail it at a specific location either in order to distract local law enforcement, or to break open a particularly tough location to get into. Maybe they have their OWN train, with a giant skull and crossbones on the front, and pirate flags all over it? It flashes into the right time period, hits the ramp that they've placed on the track, and derails straight through the front of... a bank? A jewelers? A prison? Has a train ever been used for a prison break?

Anyhow, Lego could turn it into a major thing. Train Pirates. The Railway Gang. Daring criminals who make off with valuable loot or commit crimes of chaos using or targeting trains. They could even introduce a Transport Police squad to catch them.

Dammit, now I really want to build a Pirate Train, but I'm low on parts.

#52 andythenorth

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 08:29 AM

View Postrday1982, on 01 July 2012 - 08:22 AM, said:

If they were all made so that a PF motor can be added to them, then that would help generate PF sales as well as keeping the cost of each loco down.
To generate these extra PF sales, which other product lines would you have TLG drop?  Or do you consider that there's a large reserve of untapped spending that TLG could capture?
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#53 rday1982

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 09:39 AM

View Postandythenorth, on 01 July 2012 - 08:29 AM, said:

To generate these extra PF sales, which other product lines would you have TLG drop?  Or do you consider that there's a large reserve of untapped spending that TLG could capture?

Considering your comment regarding "whining AFOLs" and "welcoming" the dropping of the Train theme, I'd be happy if they dropped your favourite theme. :tongue:

But seriously, I don't think that TLG would need to drop anything just because they were expecting more PF sales. I don't think they'd need to drop anything to bring out a new train centred theme. I think that TLG might want to focus less on some themes that already have an enormous slew of sets available (maybe one of the established license themes) for a while if they're worried about competition between internal brands. But they needn't drop anything outright.

As for untapped reserves, yes. I think there's an enormous amount of money to be made here. TLG aren't the only player in this field anymore, they've lost a lot of market share in the last couple of decades. They still have the potential to claw it back (and the licensed themes have helped a little), but they need to do something pretty spectacular to do so.

This means not only bringing out something amazing, but agressively promoting it. A tie-in videogame, a minifig and theme catalogue included with it. TV advertising. Posters in stockists. Maybe a few billboard advertisements. If TLG brought out something spectacular, intriguing, and above all NEW, then followed this release with a strong and sustained awareness campaign (perhaps a release in October and then a campaign all the way to Xmas?), I think that they could not only claw back some of the market share they've lost, but also deprive competitors such as MegaBlox that revenue.

Plus, I personally want to see new Lego trains. I mean, if they brought out something like Train Pirates, my inner 8-year-old would be beyond delighted (and my living space would shrink as it was filled up with Lego sets. I know if there were say, four new locomotives (preferably with at least one item of rolling stock each) I'd spend £50-70 on each one (I'd like to think that they can keep the price within this range by omitting the RC motor and simply making the models PF compatible) and then start thinking about ordering duplicates for MOCs and so forth. When in funds, anyway. I'm a little bit broke right now (partially thanks to having bought some expensive Lego on eBay recently, and paying for my copy of the Lego Minecraft micro world). But that's by the by.

Lego have a potentially limitless market. Everybody knows what Lego is. Everybody has had Lego at some point. Get a mixed handful of Lego pieces out, and suddenly everybody in the room wants to know what you're going to make. Tell somebody there's a new "adult" Lego set that's just been released which has 5,000 pieces and will cost them their entire month's entertainment budget and they're off to the high street to see if it's something they think they can justify the purchase of to their partner before you've finished talking.

Lego have no shortage of potential customers, they just need to appeal to them properly. Which, I think, they ought to involve Lego trains in. Why? Because I like Lego trains, I suppose. If I was more into the Castle, Pirates, Technic, Star Wars or Batman stuff than trains, I'd be advocating that they focus on those themes, and bring out some sort of "secret weapon" to claw back their market share based on that.

But I like trains. I want more train stuff. So I'm sitting here in my Technology Cave, typing away like a rabid monkey about what they could do with the train product line, and how that would be the best possible move they could make, business-wise. It's a question of personal bias - and I'm completely unashamed about it.

#54 roamingstudio

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 10:49 AM

Adding fuel to the fire may not be ideal. But I did make a MOC of a fire train based upon real ones we have in Switzerland (see my signature). I agree the presentation is not fantastic, but it is KFOL style. People like it, I have a few favorite bookmarks on Flickr and about  30 votes on Cuusoo.

Now that is a real cross over theme and yet it goes nowhere.perhaps it needs more action on the photos - a flaming emerald night or trackside building, but you don't see that on official TLG marketing. I agree that Cross over has Strong potentiAl but as a product manager it is also necessary To tap into what the market needs. And the market is children, badgering adults and grandparents to buy them sets, not AFOL. A cross over Theme would require major marketing push which would cost a lot more than product development. Perhaps it comes in 2013, but right now we have had two cross overs: western train chase and ghost train. KFOL slightly, but still trains. How well do they sell? Do you own 5 copies of each?

Edited by roamingstudio, 01 July 2012 - 10:53 AM.


#55 Carrera124

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 10:58 AM

View Postpeterab, on 01 July 2012 - 01:34 AM, said:

No the situation hasn't changed. TLG have a finite production capacity, and they therefore look very carefully at the sets they produce, and the range and colours of parts they produce.

The situation has changed in a way, that TLG does NIOT have the problems any more, than they had around year 2000.
And production capacity can't be a valid reason. TLG produces more different sets per year than ever before (have a look at the current technic sets). And different sets can be produced parallel, there is no need to produce all sets simultaneously...
If production capacitiy would ever be a problem, TLG could also drop sets from themes that are "over-crowded".

#56 rday1982

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 01:19 PM

View Postroamingstudio, on 01 July 2012 - 10:49 AM, said:

we have had two cross overs: western train chase and ghost train. KFOL slightly, but still trains. How well do they sell? Do you own 5 copies of each?

No. I don't. I'm not going to buy five of each, either. I'm quite happy to pass on these two, in fact. They're not great trains, unfortunately. I mean, they're sets with nice parts and I can see where they'd be valuable to some people. But there's not much in them that appeals to me. They're trains, sure. But they're not very good as trains. They're failures. They are NOT what I'm talking about.

Anyhow, I spent a few minutes in LDD and came up with something silly that I definitely WOULD buy: A train pirate's snatch-and-grab rig.
Posted Image

I've attached the LXF, anybody who is interested can download it and mess around with it.

This, I think KFOLS would enjoy. I love it because it's so stupid. Part pirate ship, part train. It's got this crazy gantry that locks in the up position or down position depending on where the magnet is (I had the idea that cargo might have magnets on it and could be lifted off with the boom arm, or the boom arm might be lowered to snatch the target train using the magnetic couplings). It'd be covered in pirates symbols (and train pirates, but I've no idea what they'd look like). It's utterly mental. But I'd get one just for the joy of it. Maybe a few of them, for the parts.

A whole theme along these lines would help build the train brand as a focus for the "action" that was talked about earlier, and allow for the release of more locomotives, rolling stock for train pirates to steal or steal FROM, and of course, some sort of transport police unit to catch them and lock them up. I think that TLG would see something like this selling well.

Might just be that I'm crazy. I'm willing to accept that as a possibility. But I had a few minutes of fun knocking up the Snatchboat, so I'm happy for the moment.  :sweet:

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#57 andythenorth

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 03:26 PM

View PostCarrera124, on 01 July 2012 - 10:58 AM, said:

The situation has changed in a way, that TLG does NIOT have the problems any more, than they had around year 2000.
So the conclusion is that they should go back to the behaviour that got them into a pickle around that time?  
- insane number of SKUs
- themes nobody understands
- significant loss of touch with what gets parents buying (expensive) Lego for their kids

:classic:

I like the crossover ideas.

Meanwhile, I don't find this argument convincing: "TLG don't sell many trains, therefore they should produce a lot more trains".

Also something puzzles me: it's a fricking construction toy no?  So why do you guys feel so beholden to TLG to offer certain sets?  Just build what you want?  :wink:

Edited by andythenorth, 01 July 2012 - 03:26 PM.

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#58 Carrera124

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 03:43 PM

View Postandythenorth, on 01 July 2012 - 03:26 PM, said:

So the conclusion is that they should go back to the behaviour that got them into a pickle around that time?  

No, of course not. How do you come to this weird conclusion ? I did not say anything like that.

All I am saying is: two ro three more train sets would not tackle the business strategy of TLC. Nor, they would lead them into problems...

I don't need the hundredth studless Technic set.
I don't need the thousandth Star Wars re-released set.
I don't need the next Sopwith Camel.

Today, there are so many themes that offer lots of (redundant) sets. One or two sets less for those themes, nobody would even take notice of it.

Thank god, both Bricklink and Ebay exist. If the TLC management doesn't want my money - well, Bricklink and Ebay sellers want it and take it.
During the last 1-2 years, I spent thousands of € to buy sets that TLC isn't able to offer today. Money, that TLC could have encashed easily instead.
Of course, I bought 10194 and 10219. I also bought 3677, 7936, 7937, 7938 and 7939. But that's all I bought from TLC during the last years.
I would have bought more, but there's nothing more to buy.

View Postandythenorth, on 01 July 2012 - 03:26 PM, said:

"TLG don't sell many trains, therefore they should produce a lot more trains".
Well, sets that are not offered, cannot be sold.

Edited by Carrera124, 01 July 2012 - 03:45 PM.


#59 AndyC

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 04:53 PM

View PostCarrera124, on 01 July 2012 - 03:43 PM, said:

I don't need the hundredth studless Technic set.
I don't need the thousandth Star Wars re-released set.
I don't need the next Sopwith Camel.

You may not, but I'd put money on any of those being significantly more popular than some of the train suggestions in this very thread. I do actually quite like the idea of 'action' train themes, although I suspect depicting rail crashes so explicitly might be a touchy area for TLG, maybe you could get away with it with a cartoony type train in a Batman/Spiderman set - except then you'd probably see the same criticisms from AFOLs as you do about the Toy Story train, i.e. that it wasn't terribly realistic.

Honestly I think moving more in the direction of the Emerald Night/Maersk train with more realistic trains sold through D2C channels would probably be a more sustainable approach to trains. And, as has been suggested before, if they could find ways to encourage stores that deal more in model train sets to stock them, or maybe even run occasional ads in train collector magazines, then that too might help to expose the product to a wider audience.

Simply producing lots of train sets and just assuming they'll automatically be popular would not only be a bit foolish, but it actually goes against the history of what TLG have already tried and shown to be unsuccessful.
Posted Image

#60 Carrera124

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 05:19 PM

View PostAndyC, on 01 July 2012 - 04:53 PM, said:

Simply producing lots of train sets and just assuming they'll automatically be popular would not only be a bit foolish

Of course, more train sets should be designed in a way that there are chances to sell them... the Toy Story set is not a real train set, at least for me. The same applies to the Monster Fighters train.
Hogwarts Express was somewhere in between.

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but it actually goes against the history of what TLG have already tried and shown to be unsuccessful.

I don't think that train sets ever made TLC run into problems... and at least, the strategy of producing many, many (imho too many) sets seems to work for Technic, City, etc.
Why not reduce the amount of these sets a little (!!!) bit ? One Technic set less each year, one city set less each year. Instead, add one train set. It wouldn't have to bee a huge train or building, a single car or some accessoires would be enough. Today, there's really nothing. Even the level crossing has been dropped.

So today, you can buy two different cargo trains (3677 and 7939) and a passenger train (7938). And a railway station (7937).
and more over, you can buy a non-motorized Maersk train.

That's not bad at all, but let's imagine someone would like to start with Lego trains. He looks up the sets that are offered. Not bad to start with, but not more than a small basic arrangement.
Maybe our fictional potential train buyer, gets knowledge about the fact that TLC offered very few train sets during the last years.
Conclusion ? It is not possible to create an interesting an varied model train layout, he only could buy the same sets twice or triple.
So, he might decide NOT to start with Lego trains, because Lego trains do not offer a sensible perspective.
And TLCs headquarter is whondering, why train sets are selling so bad...

#61 AndyC

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 10:27 PM

View PostCarrera124, on 01 July 2012 - 05:19 PM, said:

Of course, more train sets should be designed in a way that there are chances to sell them... the Toy Story set is not a real train set, at least for me. The same applies to the Monster Fighters train.
Hogwarts Express was somewhere in between.

Which is entirely my point, it's catch-22. You can produce "Action" train sets, that are more exciting for little kids but then the AFOL train crowd just dismiss them as not real trains and don't buy them. Alternatively you can produce more realistic sets, which tend to have less "play" value, which satisfies the AFOL crowd but doesn't really grab kids as much. Neither crowd is likely to be pleased by either option.

And it's not just TLG that has the problem selling train sets to kids anymore, it's one of those things that just seems to have become less appealing across the board (quite probably because kids are significantly less likely to travel by train these days).

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I don't think that train sets ever made TLC run into problems... and at least, the strategy of producing many, many (imho too many) sets seems to work for Technic, City, etc.

Except when they did try to expand the train sets line and offer a wider variety of options (the My Own Train sets) they sold extremely poorly. No matter how often AFOLs make the claim that they'd buy more carriages for X or Y if they were available, they typically won't. Or, at least, those that will are probably just as likely to buy doubles of the full train sets and just reuse/sell extra parts anyway which is a more profitable model for TLG.

And quite why you think TLG would reduce the number of sets in other parts of one of there most profitable lines, City, just to make more trains that might appeal to AFOLs, I don't really know. As it is the City line has actually carried a remarkably large number of train/train-related sets and Lego train fans should probably be both pleased at that and investing in buying plenty of those sets, because those selling well is the only real way to convince TLG that selling trains is profitable.
Posted Image

#62 Carrera124

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 10:56 PM

View PostAndyC, on 01 July 2012 - 10:27 PM, said:

Except when they did try to expand the train sets line and offer a wider variety of options (the My Own Train sets) they sold extremely poorly.
Well, thats more than 10 years ago. And imho, the "My own train" was just too much stuff during a too short period.
Remember, I do not talk about 10 new sets a year. I am just talking about the small amount of 1-2 train sets per year.

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No matter how often AFOLs make the claim that they'd buy more carriages for X or Y if they were available, they typically won't.
Just an assumption, but no fact.

Quote

Or, at least, those that will are probably just as likely to buy doubles of the full train sets and just reuse/sell extra parts anyway...
Well, these people just don't habe another chance. And the fact that the extra parts are bought by other people, clearly states that there is demand for them.

Quote

And quite why you think TLG would reduce the number of sets in other parts of one of there most profitable lines, City, just to make more trains that might appeal to AFOLs, I don't really know.
Remember again, I am just talking about reducing of 1 set. E.g. technic - this year, 9 new sets have been released. Who would have been complained if it would be "only" 8 ?

Quote

As it is the City line has actually carried a remarkably large number of train/train-related sets and Lego train fans should probably be both pleased at that and investing in buying plenty of those sets, because those selling well is the only real way to convince TLG that selling trains is profitable.
But that's the problem. What, if you already bought 7936, 7937, 7938 and 7939 already in 2010 ? And 3677 in 2011 ?
If nothing new is offered, there's nothing to buy.
Buying the same sets double or triple, just for buying's sake, can't be the right way to convince TLG that selling trains is profitable.

#63 lightningtiger

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 11:28 PM

View PostCarrera124, on 01 July 2012 - 10:56 PM, said:

But that's the problem. What, if you already bought 7936, 7937, 7938 and 7939 already in 2010 ? And 3677 in 2011 ?
If nothing new is offered, there's nothing to buy.
Buying the same sets double or triple, just for buying's sake, can't be the right way to convince TLG that selling trains is profitable.
Though if you buy a few extra sets, you use your imagination and MOC build different engines and rolling stock.
Also I have witnessed for myself children around Lego trains, they love them especially the non-powered ones....they like to push them and control themselves. :wink:
Most of the powered trains I feel are brought by adults and maybe a few are actually built for kids....there would be a few, mostly for us big kids. :laugh:
This year, no trains and no space or castle theme (LOTR is a licensed theme) neither so perhaps 2013 might see the return of trains to Lego city. Going by how police and fire sets get redone every three years, 2006/7 saw trains and of course 2010 saw trains....2013 we can hope. :classic:

#64 Steinkopf

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 11:31 PM

The days of Trains being a standalone theme are long gone and these days are viewed more as being a complimentary element of the city range this is the only way trains will survive, sure we won't get a new train set every year or individual wagons but at least we will still have some form of trains available. The best path/outcome that we could hope for is a major expansion in the variety of train parts available on PAB, it would be great if we could get things such as train doors, windows and wheelsets especially the steam train wheels in a variety of colours.

Edited by Steinkopf, 01 July 2012 - 11:34 PM.


#65 fred67

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 01:21 AM

View PostCarrera124, on 29 June 2012 - 04:16 PM, said:

Well, what does TLG prevent to increase this number ?

They balance releasing enough sets to keep everybody happy with releasing so many sets that they compete too much with each other.

As far as I can tell, they are pretty happy with the current balance.

#66 rday1982

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 06:51 AM

View PostAndyC, on 01 July 2012 - 10:27 PM, said:

Which is entirely my point, it's catch-22. You can produce "Action" train sets, that are more exciting for little kids but then the AFOL train crowd just dismiss them as not real trains and don't buy them. Alternatively you can produce more realistic sets, which tend to have less "play" value, which satisfies the AFOL crowd but doesn't really grab kids as much. Neither crowd is likely to be pleased by either option.

View PostAndyC, on 01 July 2012 - 04:53 PM, said:

I do actually quite like the idea of 'action' train themes, although I suspect depicting rail crashes so explicitly might be a touchy area for TLG, maybe you could get away with it with a cartoony type train in a Batman/Spiderman set - except then you'd probably see the same criticisms from AFOLs as you do about the Toy Story train, i.e. that it wasn't terribly realistic.

I don't quite know about that. I mean, if there were Batman/Spiderman train sets, they'd probably utilise quite realistic locomotives and rolling stock. Villains from these themes would tend to fall into two types: scientists and goons. Goons are out to cause mayhem, they're like the Joker and the Lizard. They're just comitting crime for the sake of it. So they'd go after a train full of people. Something like the Metroliner, perhaps done in an Art Deco style for the Joker to put a bomb aboard, or a subway train with a few cars for the Lizard to terrorise. Scientists usually want money to continue their crazy experiments, like Doctor Octopus or Mr. Freeze. They'd be more attracted to a perfectly normal, realistic cargo train. Maybe pulled by a heavy-haul big diesel locomotive. Something that's big, raw, powerful, and probably brown with age and neglect. Think something like this:
Posted Image
Now think of it in a dark colour, scaled up a little, and re-inforced around the front for  a brutish look. A huge rusting hulk that's just begging to have two "L" PF motors installed for traction. This behemoth would pull a mixed cargo train, including one "strongbox" wagon containing gold bullion and cash.

The same train would of course be an ideal candidate for a smash-and-grab raid on a bank or similar by the Train Pirates.

Arguments could be made that a big steamer would be perfect for pulling a cargo train for Doc Ock or Mr. F to rob - it's a contrast to the passenger trains that'll be held up by goon-type villains, and it's a chance for Lego to design something beautiful and captivating. But I think that a steam engine and early 20th Century passenger carriages would be better suited to something like an attack by train pirates (assuming they're after mundane things like wallets), or a set that involves some sort of rail disaster either happening or being averted.

I can see a mining train (carting precious stones or rare and exotic metals perhaps) being a tempting target for either a scientist-type villain or train pirates.

Posted Image

Something like this, snaking its way through the mountains or rattling through the city at night would be a fantastic setting for the daring raid that allows the villains to steal what they need for their next audacious crime. Rolling stock would be the key to making this both fun and commercially viable. if TLG sold the loco with two or three short cars filled with rock, ore or gems, they could also offer some expansion sets. Another three longer cars full of cargo, a pack of train pirates with a handcart somehow modified to give them impression of criminality, a loaded train car being taken to the base of operations for a villain. That sort of smaller set would sell in real multiples, whilst the loco might only sell once to a KFOL and maybe a couple of times to an AFOL. Especially if it had a few exciting pieces in it.

I've knocked up a quick example of a short car in LDD. LXF attached in case anybody wants it.

Posted Image

This would be reasonably cheap, potentially fun to play with, and has quite a few nice, useful parts that would make me think about more multiples than I needed for just the train. I can also see this being half of a set that includes some bad guys after the rock/crystals that are in the ore cart. Either train pirates on a small handcart, or Batman/Spiderman villains in a getaway truck.

There's a balance to be struck between these sorts of sets being realistic and being appropriate for a universe where caped vigilantes routinely deal with criminally insane masterminds, of course. But I think that the point where that balance exists is roughly around the same point where both KFOL and AFOL purchases would be made.

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Edited by rday1982, 02 July 2012 - 06:59 AM.


#67 LovinLegoSince97

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 07:32 AM

View Postrday1982, on 30 June 2012 - 12:15 PM, said:

Lego Trains is only a "limited user base" because TLG don't manage it properly. It has the popularity, the durability, and the versatility to make it a fantastic model train brand worldwide. Forget Lionel or Hornby, Lego could corner the model train market and relegate other model trains to "niche" status if they made an effort.

It would make sense to link together the train and docks and road transport with a big loading yard. A dock, rail spur and container depot sold as three separate sets that all link together to form this complex would be a great way to do this, and to make trains the centerpiece of the City theme.

A train station and a bus station that are sold separately but link together to form a large combined mass transit hub would similarly help to focus interest on trains, and if this mass transit hub were designed specifically to link up to the freight complex, people would likely end up buying all five, rather than just the one that specifically appeals to them. People love to collect things. Kids love to collect things. Parents might hate shelling out for kids to collect things, but they end up doing it anyway.

If TLG decided to properly integrate and interweave their trains into the City theme, they might sell a whole lot more of them, increasing their "user base" and ultimately helping to ensure their continued popularity.

Lego trains are the ideal vehicle (no pun intended) for promoting other areas of Lego's product range. There's a place for them in almost any theme that Lego currently produce, and they work both as traditional model trains and as a break-it-then-make-it version for children. Sure, not everybody who likes Lego is a train nut - BUT - they'll get a train if TLG make the trains more of a focus for the rest of a theme, because it's Lego. Not because it's a train.

It would be nice to see TLG try to build a theme around a particular train, rather than just shove a train into a particular theme. I can see this working particularly well with a Wild West/American Revolution type of theme. A town could be built with the railway in mind - the station connects the tracks to the town. The tracks connect the town to the frontier. The trains transport people, troops, ordnance, supplies to the town, etc. With careful planning, TLG could make the train something that's not required for kids in order to have fun, but an element that brings an amazing enhancement to the other sets for both kids and AFOLs.

This won't work for some themes - Castles, Pirates, Star Wars, a train would be out of place there. But in almost any other theme, there's not only a place to PUT a train, but to make a train the potential lynchpin around which all the other sets work. It could even have been done with Harry Potter. There could have been a large, modern station released that was designed to connect and be integrated with a smaller set for Platform 9.75, the Hogwarts Express being sold separately, and Hogsmeade Station being yet another set. This would have helped bridge the City and Harry Potter themes as well - Sets could have been designed to mesh around the two stations. Diagon Alley sets would integrate at the London end of the track, Hogsmeade and Hogwarts sets at the Hogsmeade end.

To go back to the Batman and Indiana Jones examples, Batman trains would tend to lend themselves to potential integration with a goods yard or loading facility. Indiana Jones would need to set off on his journey from a station - the licensed sets could have been designed so as to either look at home in a "normal" Lego city or to look at home sitting at the other end of the train tracks from one.

With the trains, TLG are neglecting a potential golden goose by not making sure that, 1) everyone is aware of the product, and 2) the product appeals to all market shares. If they decided to release trains that helped tie themes together in this way, and designed the new sets so as to gain extra dimension and value when added to a collection incorporating a train, they might open up hitherto unknown revenue streams.


Amen! /\/\/\


And to whoever said AFOL wouldnt buy multiple traincars if given the chance....I know people (Legosjaak brilliantly buying multiple sets keeping the rail cars and containers and selling off what he didnt need)  and have myself gone out of my way on eBay and bought 2 duplicate cars for my 3677 one green box car and one repair lowboy (using the two 3677 lowboys for Lego <--0--> intermodal cars) ...maybe when they launched My Own Train people were not into locomotives...seems theyre pretty popular nowadays....but im no economic marketing guru.

Edited by LovinLegoSince97, 02 July 2012 - 07:37 AM.

Peace and Love.  Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

#68 peterab

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 07:49 AM

View Postrday1982, on 01 July 2012 - 02:29 AM, said:

I'll say it again: integration of trains with these themes will build interest and awareness for the train elements of the theme as well as complementing and adding to the theme overall.

Trains just need to be put into the right context for any market, and they'll become of interest. It's that contextualisation of the train elements that Lego has been failing at, all this time.

You pretty much admit in the above comments that trains are not of interest to most people. I think you're clutching at straws and blaming Lego's mismanagement because your favourite theme isn't everybody else's. It's not mismanagement to give kids what they want, and I'm pretty sure that kids would much prefer a four headed dragon as the big set in the Ninjago theme than a train. Otherwise the designers would probably have included a train; Mark Stafford seems to be pretty informed about market research and takes his role as a toy designer fairly seriously. It's not his role to promote trains, it's his role to make sets that will appeal to the most customers.

#69 AndyC

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 08:17 AM

View Postrday1982, on 02 July 2012 - 06:51 AM, said:

Scientists usually want money to continue their crazy experiments, like Doctor Octopus or Mr. Freeze. They'd be more attracted to a perfectly normal, realistic cargo train. Maybe pulled by a heavy-haul big diesel locomotive. Something that's big, raw, powerful, and probably brown with age and neglect. Think something like this:
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Imagine in your head exactly what a D2C version of that would be like, maybe along the lines of the Maersk set. Now reduce the piece count by sufficient parts to enable Batman to have a vehicle to go after the train. Then add flick-fire missiles to the engine (kids love them even if AFOLs don't) and perhaps some additional play features like an exploding engine and you'll quickly end up with something that'll not really satisfy those who want realistic trains, even if the design isn't totally out-there crazy to begin with.

Things like Hogwarts Express are a classic example of this already, the design just ends up too compromised to fit everyone's wishes and remain in a suitable price bracket - most kids will tell you it looks like the Hogwart's Express, most AFOLs will point out it's a travesty of a steam engine design given the availability of things like more realistic train wheels from the Emerald Night and so on.

View PostLovinLegoSince97, on 02 July 2012 - 07:32 AM, said:

And to whoever said AFOL wouldnt buy multiple traincars if given the chance....I know people (Legosjaak brilliantly buying multiple sets keeping the rail cars and containers and selling off what he didnt need)  and have myself gone out of my way on eBay and bought 2 duplicate cars for my 3677 one green box car and one repair lowboy
But that's precisely my point, those who are going to do it are managing it fine already by buying multiples of big expensive sets that TLG is reasonably confident it can sell (or by buying parts of those sets from the second hand market, either way it's a sold set to TLG). There aren't enough people doing it in sufficient quantities, however, to make taking the risk of selling individual cars profitable, because the audience for such sets is even smaller than the already small train audience - kids just aren't clamouring for another box-car.

Mechanisms that are better suited to niche markets and that can better sustain a higher priced model with a smaller audience, like Cuusoo and D2C sets are just a much better fit for what most AFOLs want from Lego trains. A PAB selection with more easily available train-related parts would be great too, although I think that would really need more competitive PAB pricing to have a practical impact.
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#70 peterab

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 08:28 AM

View Postrday1982, on 02 July 2012 - 06:51 AM, said:

Rolling stock would be the key to making this both fun and commercially viable. if TLG sold the loco with two or three short cars filled with rock, ore or gems, they could also offer some expansion sets. Another three longer cars full of cargo, a pack of train pirates with a handcart somehow modified to give them impression of criminality, a loaded train car being taken to the base of operations for a villain. That sort of smaller set would sell in real multiples, whilst the loco might only sell once to a KFOL and maybe a couple of times to an AFOL. Especially if it had a few exciting pieces in it.

Historically though you are wrong. This exact argument was made for the Santa Fe train. TLG tried it. The passenger cars didn't sell well. I don't think you can argue they were a poor design, since on the second hand market they command huge prices. The point is complete sets are more profitable, partially because the huge retailers prefer them, since they want a single quick sale, not something that sits around on the shelves in the hope the customer comes back to expand their train. In practice most kids will get given the engine, and may never get a carriage. Since sales of the carriages are slow retailers wont restock them, then the kid has no hope of getting them six months later.

I don't see mixing trains into licensed themes working very well since they normally mirror scenes from books or movies, adding in a train that wasn't in the source wont be popular with the licences fans, and adding the licence fees to an already expensive train theme probably wont be very successful either.

People who actually try and build a full layout are rare, a complete train set will meet the needs of most people interested in Lego trains. I must echo the statement of others; Lego is a construction toy, you can build whatever you want, you don't need TLG to make an official set to allow you to do so. I'm happy we get a few city sets every few years, and overjoyed with the exclusive train sets, but as long as track and wheelsets and magnets are available I have all I need.

Edited by peterab, 02 July 2012 - 08:31 AM.


#71 rday1982

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 08:52 AM

View Postpeterab, on 02 July 2012 - 07:49 AM, said:

You pretty much admit in the above comments that trains are not of interest to most people.

Not at all. I'm saying it's not MADE of interest to many people. If you put something into an interesting context, it becomes of interest. Lego have done this with other themes, but not trains. They've always been sidelines to other themes, like City.

I never mentioned Ninjago, either. I don't see Ninjago as something that the train theme should intersect with anyway. Not sure why you brought that up.

As for Mark Stafford's role, it is to make Lego money. If they promote trains properly, they have an opportunity to make money there.

View PostAndyC, on 02 July 2012 - 08:17 AM, said:

Imagine in your head exactly what a D2C version of that would be like, maybe along the lines of the Maersk set. Now reduce the piece count by sufficient parts to enable Batman to have a vehicle to go after the train. Then add flick-fire missiles to the engine (kids love them even if AFOLs don't) and perhaps some additional play features like an exploding engine and you'll quickly end up with something that'll not really satisfy those who want realistic trains, even if the design isn't totally out-there crazy to begin with.

Batman's vehicle with the flick-fire missiles? Separate set. I'd see this more as being a train with a Batman minifig set. Something like a driver, a villain, and Batman. Maybe a Batcycle. Possibly a getaway car. Something small, not terribly detailed.

The basis for the realistic design needn't be scrapped (and an exploding engine sounds pretty cool), it would just mean shifting other, crazier design elements to other sets.

View Postpeterab, on 02 July 2012 - 07:49 AM, said:

I think you're clutching at straws and blaming Lego's mismanagement because your favourite theme isn't everybody else's.

Is "missing the point" something that you do on a professional basis? TLG's mismanagement is the reason that the train theme is not more popular with KFOLs - in point of fact, not many people even KNOW about it. Show a kid a Lego train and they're going to want to play with it. Put out a Lego train display in a store and it's going to generate interest. Trains IRL are big, powerful, complex machines. The sort of thing that Lego excels at reproducing for kids, basically.

View Postpeterab, on 02 July 2012 - 08:28 AM, said:

Historically though you are wrong. This exact argument was made for the Santa Fe train. TLG tried it. The passenger cars didn't sell well.

TLG's promotion and management of trains didn't help that.

If TLG didn't mismanage the theme, there is every chance that the majority of KFOLs would become Lego train owners, if not absolutely nuts about Lego trains. Those KFOLs would become AFOLs and either have KFOLs of their own to give those trains to, or become AFOLs with at least some interest in Lego trains. But if TLG continue to sideline the production and promotion of trains, that user base will always be somewhat limited, and it will always appear that there is at best a limited interest in Lego trains.

I propose an experiment. Two toyshops in similar town centres to have a Lego display, with the sets involved to be available and prominently displayed for purchase. One of them would be an enormous extravaganza with a pirate raid (Pirate ships!) on a ninja camp (Ninjago!) and dragons (Ninjago! Castle!) flying over a castle (Knights! Hogwarts!) in the background.

The other would just be a train set. Perhaps buildings as scenery, perhaps a few minifigs working on the tracks. But a train running around a long loop would be the focus. Maybe a freight terminal, a station... road plates and a level crossing. Fairly simple, spartan design. The idea is that the display's mostly about the long loop of track and the big train or trains (Emerald Night, Maersk, the red cargo train, the yellow one, the red passenger train, any one of these or a combination) running around it.

The experiment should run for a year, so as to include Xmas and all the local kids' birthdays, during which time the display should be highly visible, and people should be encouraged to come inside and look at it. Each set showcased would also be available to buy right then and there, and this should be prominently displayed and advertised. Like the pirate ship? BUY IT HERE! Like the train? TAKE ONE TODAY!

I think that the train would probably sell more Lego, all other things being equal. Especially if the right price point sets were available. Like, if there were locomotives available singly with space for a PF motor, rather than sold with the RC motor. The cost of purchasing the loco would come down, and allow a KFOL to come back later in the year to get the PF motor. AFOLs have more purchasing power, and would probably buy both at once. Parents of KFOLs would be able to decide whether to get a full train set, or buy a loco, motor, and track either separately at the same time or staggered over time. Track should ideally be sold as cheaply as possible. Saving money on packaging would be nice and easy to do - just ship boxes of so many pieces to the retailer without packaging and have an MSRP per piece. The retailer has a box of track by the till, with a sign saying how much it costs per section, and both KFOLs and AFOLs can then buy as much track as they can afford/carry. The point is, if customers (whether KFOL or AFOL) see this big, expensive, shiny, enticing Lego train running around, it's going to generate interest for them whether they are a fan of trains in general or not. Especially if it's something complex, detailed, or even just plain recognisable.

View Postpeterab, on 02 July 2012 - 08:28 AM, said:

I don't see mixing trains into licensed themes working very well since they normally mirror scenes from books or movies, adding in a train that wasn't in the source wont be popular with the licences fans, and adding the licence fees to an already expensive train theme probably wont be very successful either.

Batman, Spiderman, and Indiana Jones, to name three, all have specific examples from the source material (Batman:TAS, films and comics, Spiderman comics, cartoons and films, Indiana Jones films and TV series) that feature trains.

Interest in trains, and the desire to purchase Lego trains isn't lacking. But it IS something that requires proper display, promotion, and management on the part of TLG. Without these, trains will not be a major profit line, and so it's going to look like there's little interest.

Of course, that's my opinion as an AF of Lego Trains (AFOLT?), and you're obviously either not a huge trains fan or not wanting to bash TLG. Your mileage may vary.

View Postpeterab, on 02 July 2012 - 08:28 AM, said:

I must echo the statement of others; Lego is a construction toy, you can build whatever you want, you don't need TLG to make an official set to allow you to do so. I'm happy we get a few city sets every few years, and overjoyed with the exclusive train sets, but as long as track and wheelsets and magnets are available I have all I need.

Whilst this is very true, it's nice to have parts that are specifically useful for building trains, no? If TLG decided to stop their train sets entirely, you won't have tracks, wheels, magnets, etc. Lots of the speciality parts necessary for building your own train will cease to exist.

Edited by rday1982, 02 July 2012 - 09:09 AM.


#72 rday1982

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 09:07 AM

Oops. Doublepost by accident.

Edited by rday1982, 02 July 2012 - 09:08 AM.


#73 roamingstudio

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 09:25 AM

An example (based upon my real life work as a product manager): Large retailers will command at least a 50% margin on the final sale price of goods. At the end of the financial year, many will demand the manufacturer buys back unsold stock; or allows them to sell at huge discount. This may not be the same for TLG (since they are a well known brand) but imagine the logistics of having 3 different train expansion sets (example, Tanker, Caboose, Hopper) sat on shelves of local super market. They sold ok... the 1 AFOL in town bought multiple copies. 20-30 parents bought one of each for Christmas because Johnny wanted it. The rich kid(s) in town wanted two copies of Tanker and Hopper just because they were rich. The local TRU had better luck, but the Caboose just did not sell.

End of the financial year - massive discounts hit, and the remaining stock is liquidised. No-one wins. Next year, TLG announce the Orient Express Expansion series. Most retailers will remember the massive discounts they had to give last year, and would prefer to fill shelves with high volume licensed brands which appeal to casual buyers.

Whilst you may be tempted to say this is the example from My Own Train - and Santa Fe expansion series... it is not. It comes from other products, but matches pretty well what has happened in the past with those examples.

The biggest game changer since then is electronic retailing, and D2C. But even then, most volume will be done in bricks and motor stores, as this is where Joe Public go. Now we have Cuusoo and there are some really good train designs on there. Not just expansion packs. Winter Village Train Depot: 112 supporters. Lisbon Tram 155 supporters. Space Mining Monorail: 75 supporters. Ter Trans Rapid Express: 81 supporters. Pennsylvania Railroad Carriages: 12 supporters. Emerald Night Sleeper Car: 11 supporters.

Now tell me that there is a massive market for trains, and expansion packs, when AFOLS' cannot even get these well designed projects to above 200 supporters? Whether you agree that Cuusoo is the right venue with it's rabid fandom or not, AFOL trains are simply in the minority especially when it comes to licensed branding. Non-licensed projects like Japanese Architecture scores 2871 supporters. British Birds 2102 supporters. Lego Mountain Biking 1909 supporters. Realistic Trees 920 Supporters. Roller Coaster 430 Supporters.

Personally I would love expansion packs... but I dont see it ever happening. Marketing wise, you either need to generate a lock-in effect, in which case people will buy 'upgrades' (expansion)... which is clearly done with Star Wars (how many times have certain sets been reworked and re-released, and still sell in very high volume!) or you sell a large one off, which fulfills >80% of the market need. Small Tie-in projects provide a good expansion (extra rails, motors, railway crossing) etc.

Someone mentioned the idea of using Lego trains as the next evolution of model railroading, and I agree the potential is there (integrate Arduino control, JopieK). But the level of expertise needed to build realistic models out of Lego is probably beyond most builders - who prefer kit pack assembly using prefab plastic, and paint. Watch the series of Garden Railways just to get an idea of how dedicated some modellers really are.

So as a Challenge: Design the expansion packs you want to see; and place them on Cuusoo. Go through the design stages, work out the instructions so that everyone can build them easily. Put together the marketing materials, and get each of your expansion projects to 1000 supporters.

Quote


The experiment should run for a year, so as to include Xmas and all the local kids' birthdays, during which time the display should be highly visible, and people should be encouraged to come inside and look at it. Each set showcased would also be available to buy right then and there, and this should be prominently displayed and advertised. Like the pirate ship? BUY IT HERE! Like the train? TAKE ONE TODAY!
The Cuusoo challenge would be a AFOL / electronic version of the same idea. As a paper exercise you could ask JopieK's school kids this question: present your perfect Lego Catalogue with the extra models; together with some of the latest licensed branding... and see what comes back. Ask the children if they could only buy 2 sets, what would they want? How much would they or their parents be prepared to pay?

Perhaps only through this approach would the AFOL community be able to demonstrate real marketing numbers to TLG (who have a massive market research group working in Education brand which we hardly know about)... and either prove them right or wrong. But bickering on here does not help anyone.

Edited by roamingstudio, 02 July 2012 - 10:02 AM.


#74 Steinkopf

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 12:35 PM

View Postrday1982, on 02 July 2012 - 09:07 AM, said:

Oops. Doublepost by accident.
This is probably the only post that you have made that makes sense.



Earlier on you were touting the idea of action train sets that complement a theme and how great it would be, yet when you were given 2 current examples the Monster Fighters Ghost Train and the Toy Story Train Chase you stated you had no interest in purchasing either of them, both of these sets complement their theme well and the Toy Story Train is featured in the film.



To be frank if you don't like the trains that TLG has to offer order parts from Bricklink or S@H PAB and build your own, then you will get exactly what you want that's what many of us do, Lego is a creative medium and has a myriad of possibilities as far as building is concerned, all it takes is a bit of imagination on your behalf. I am growing rather tired of this somewhat senseless argument peddled by some that "TLG should do this" and "TLG should do that", TLG is like any company they have a core market that their product is aimed at and makes the company viable, in TLG's case this happens to be children we are we are on the periphery of that market and represent only a small fraction of it. Sets such as the Emerald Night and Maersk Train shows that TLG is willing to accommodate the adult market, but at the end of the day they can only do so much, selling individual wagons was initially good but then lacked followup sales which ultimately deterred the company from introducing any new sets. Another issue that plagues the Trains theme is what too offer the customers, a US design such as the Santa Fe Super Chief will sell well to the US market, yet it will only have a limited interest to European fans and will not sell well there, the same applies for trying to sell a European style train to the US market. Making everyone happy is extremely difficult as there is no one size fits all as far as trains are concerned, everyone one has differing tastes and trying to please all is not only costly it's near impossible.

Edited by Steinkopf, 02 July 2012 - 11:27 PM.


#75 rday1982

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 12:49 PM

View PostSteinkopf, on 02 July 2012 - 12:35 PM, said:

This is probably the only post that you have made that makes sense.

Fine. I give up.



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