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Should Lego change the way they sell Track ?


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Poll: Should Lego change the way they sell Track ? (87 member(s) have cast votes)

Do you think it needs to change

  1. YES - Time for a change (81 votes [93.10%])

    Percentage of vote: 93.10%

  2. NO - I like it the way it is (1 votes [1.15%])

    Percentage of vote: 1.15%

  3. MAYBE - I'll think about it (5 votes [5.75%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.75%

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#26 halfpenguinhalflego

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 01:05 AM

I don't mind the straight and curved pack, plus you can make a mildly straight track using curves. However I think flexi-track doesn't look very good anyway, so this new pack of straight and flexi-track does not appeal to me.
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#27 Whittleberry

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 05:49 AM

I think if someone wants to buy a whole lot of straights or curves, and no flexi track, they should ring up LEGO and ask for that. I've heard of someone doing that and they paid a reasonable price for just a certain element they wanted. Or, order what you want through LUGBULK.
I myself dislike flexi-track, so for the time being I'll probably buy one of these new straight-flex mix packs and see if I can sell the flex tracks to someone in the local LUG.
EDIT: Although I should say that although I don't like it, I realise it could be very handy in certain situations. I just wouldn't want to use it in general.

Edited by Whittleberry, 17 November 2010 - 05:51 AM.

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#28 broomhandle

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 07:51 AM

this debate again? I do not think its even worth talking about unless we know Lego reads this. And I do not think lego is that smart to read this. if they did they would not come out with a flex and strait pack. That is the worst idea ever.

#29 Pet-Lego

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 10:35 AM

Until I have enough straight track pieces I'm using the flexi-track as the straights on shunting tracks.

And I use flexi-track as 1/4 straights to have my track side by side with 4 studs between them (3 flexi-track pieces to bring the track 3/4th straight closer together).

With some ballast and other frills the flexi-track pieces don't even look that odd or ugly in the shunting yard.
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#30 pulipuli

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 11:19 AM

I know that they must reduce the number of catalogue references, but if you're willing to sell trains you have to listen the customer tipical needs.

Andy, you're right on the point that a parent would buy just one or two "mixed boxes" for his child to upgrade his layout, so these mixed boxes may be more attractive "to be sold as a toy". Anyhow, it's also well known that train customers use to upgrade and upgrade their layouts (there isn't enough track in the galaxy for my needs :grin: ), and the bigger they grow, the more straight they need. So, I think it's not foolish to demand them 8x or 16x packs with only stright track  :angry:

Flextrack is not so bad from my point of view, and can be used as straight, but to be honest, I don't find it a real alternative. Maybe we would get used to it, who knows?

 andythenorth, on 16 November 2010 - 11:30 PM, said:

But actually acting isn't as much fun as whining, right?  :devil:
So... what do we have ambassadors for? :laugh: Yes, I can contact LEGO, but our ambassadors should listen to our wills, and let them know how do their products meet our needs


Edit: I read here they're considering the straight pack ;)

Edited by pulipuli, 17 November 2010 - 12:14 PM.


#31 andythenorth

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 12:40 PM

 fred67, on 16 November 2010 - 11:49 PM, said:

And as has been mentioned earlier in the thread, $2/track makes it more worth it to just buy the pack... it's pointless.
So the precise request is more like "Lego should offer the straights via S@H / Pick a Brick / customer service at a lower price than $2?  Sounds reasonable.  How much should they be on sale for?
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#32 fred67

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Posted 17 November 2010 - 04:52 PM

 andythenorth, on 17 November 2010 - 12:40 PM, said:

So the precise request is more like "Lego should offer the straights via S@H / Pick a Brick / customer service at a lower price than $2?  Sounds reasonable.  How much should they be on sale for?
I dunno, Andy... are you being facetious?

When you buy a set of 8 straight and 8 curves for $16, $2 for one straight makes it more worthwhile to buy the set and stick the curves in a drawer somewhere because maybe you can figure out something to do with them later; but buying $2 straights is pointless (given only a few fringe buyers would only want 1 or 2... which would be downright stupid unless you're getting free shipping anyway).

And lastly, nobody is "whining" about it, we're stating a preference... I don't need more curves and have minimal use for flex track, so it would be nice if I could buy straights separately.
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#33 peterab

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Posted 18 November 2010 - 03:18 AM

I think the difficulty TLG has is in meeting the needs of a large group of children buyers while at the same time meeting the needs of a small vocal minority who are just a bit obsessive and have quite different needs.

It seems that to meet the needs of production/retailers and kids combined packs are a solution that works. Perhaps the mix of elements could be changed around a bit. The current switch (points or turnouts) set with a right and left switch and four curves could be extended to include eight twelve or sixteen curves perhaps. The straight pack could contain sixteen straights. If there needs to be a pack with the flexi track why not add a 90 degree crossing to make it more attractive and add more track options.

#34 MojoLego

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Posted 18 November 2010 - 03:58 PM

I keep reading that the AFOL and kid markets are different and that kids are quite happy with limited track options.  I don't believe this is entirely true.  The decision to get a train is very much one that parents take and though they are not as aware of what is going on with Lego's corporate decisions, they aren't necessarily buying a set, dumping it with a child and walking away.  

A year ago I was in a Lego store when a mom came in to look at the train sets, specifically track.  She wasn't being helped by the staff so I asked her what kind of track she needed.  It turned out the family had a 9 volt system; she was devastated to learn that Lego had discontinued 9 volt and she was repulsed by the idea of controlling a train by infrared remote.  "It's not the same!" she exclaimed.  She said that the kids set up the train every year at Christmas and that she and her husband bought a little bit more each year to expand it out.  She felt very let down by Lego.

Likewise, if you troll the reviews of Lego train products on Amazon, you can come across parents who are trying, some desperately, to get all the right pieces for their kids' sets, whether it be motors or track.  If you think AFOLers can get frustrated, think about a parent with little Lego experience who is madly trying to get a Hogwarts Express in time for the holidays and is trying to figure out how to motorize it.  Parents don't necessarily want the simplest train set up; they want the simplest buying experience.  Many parents would be relieved to see a better web page on the Lego train site that provided a la carte track options as well as one-click motorization options (even if the motors and accessories came in typical pick-a-brick bags).

So I'm getting a little off-track here.  My main point is that I don't think Lego's approach to trains is benefitting anyone.  They may have convinced themselves that they are acting in their best business interest by taking a minimalist, cost-benefit approach to trains.  But I don't think they've actually ever found out what the kid's market could be if they really tried to serve it.  The interest in trains is out there.  There are plenty of parents ready to drop a few hundred dollars on these things.  They want clear options from a company that appears to want to support a product over the long term.

#35 fred67

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Posted 18 November 2010 - 05:27 PM

Good post, Mojo.

I still think the vast majority are essentially "here's your set, I'll help you build it" and then that's it.

I think LEGO knows what they're doing more than they did 10 years ago, and I know there's only a limited amount of LEGO that can be made in a year (I know they could expand, but the last time they over expanded they almost went out of business... better to keep demand high).

It certainly would be better to get 16 straights per 8 curves, IMO, but then we could argue about what the best ratio is all day, too... There will always be disagreement, which is why selling separately makes more sense because you make everybody happy.

To expand on my answer to Andy, if I paid $10 or $12 for a pack of 8 straights, it would be preferable to me than paying $16 and getting a bunch of track I don't want.  Moreover, I'm likely to buy more.  I have shelves of trains that sit on straight track.  No curves at all.  That's not even part of my train layout, it's just for display.
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#36 Captain Becker

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Posted 18 November 2010 - 06:12 PM

Id say... YES, im new in trains, but i really think they should give us that 8 straight and 8 curved packs back. I have just buyed my first train sxet Emerald Train, wich should come in 22nd December.

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#37 andythenorth

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Posted 18 November 2010 - 10:19 PM

 fred67, on 17 November 2010 - 04:52 PM, said:

I dunno, Andy... are you being facetious?
No, quite literal  :classic:

I literally mean, "what would your price point be for straight track?"  Define that, it's a straight forward expression of consumer preference.  

I'd be surprised if TLG staff weren't paying at least partial, informal attention to this forum :)
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#38 Goldenmasamune

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Posted 18 November 2010 - 10:34 PM

I asked about buying straight track. I got this

Quote

Thanks for getting in touch with us.

As of right now, the only options we have available for train track are the two types you mentioned in your email: the set of curved and straight track, as well as the flexible train track.  Thought not through us directly, there are some other ways to get your hands on straight LEGO track.  Bricklink.com and Peeron.com are both fan run sites that have a community of buyers and sellers of LEGO product -- including train track.  While not affiliated with LEGO, then can be a tremendous resource.  

We are very sorry that we can't help you personally with getting your hands on some straight track, but I can say it is always important to hear from our LEGO Builders about what is important to them.  Your comments are being passed on to the appropriate departments so they can be reviewed to help us improve our product line.




#39 Toastie

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Posted 18 November 2010 - 11:21 PM

Quote

Thanks for getting in touch with us.

As of right now, the only options we have available for train track are the two types you mentioned in your email: the set of curved and straight track, as well as the flexible train track. Thought not through us directly, there are some other ways to get your hands on straight LEGO track. Bricklink.com and Peeron.com are both fan run sites that have a community of buyers and sellers of LEGO product -- including train track. While not affiliated with LEGO, then can be a tremendous resource.

We are very sorry that we can't help you personally with getting your hands on some straight track, but I can say it is always important to hear from our LEGO Builders about what is important to them. Your comments are being passed on to the appropriate departments so they can be reviewed to help us improve our product line.

Let me get this straight: "Your comments are being passed on to the appropriate departments so they can be reviewed to help us improve our product line" ??? Is that really what they replied? Was there some elevator music in the background?

Sorry - but this is a phrase so boldly stupid it should not be in the repertoire of any decent company; not in the 21st century. Maybe 20 years ago. Maybe when they are selling sh*t.

Here is my translation: "We could not care less and GO AWAY". Oh my. With all this revenue, I sure hoped that TLC would generate smarter replies, by all means. I personally would come up with gazillions of replies not that stupid.

OK, there is hope (I am a believer): It was a machine. You can't blame machines. They do what they are told to do. :cry_happy:

Thank you very much for sharing this, it is important for the entire discussion here!

Man.

Best regards,
Thorsten

#40 gambort

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Posted 19 November 2010 - 02:28 AM

 Toastie, on 18 November 2010 - 11:21 PM, said:

Here is my translation: "We could not care less and GO AWAY".

Best regards,
Thorsten

Had it occurred to you that this may have been exactly what they meant?

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#41 peterab

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Posted 19 November 2010 - 11:37 AM

 MojoLego, on 18 November 2010 - 03:58 PM, said:

So I'm getting a little off-track here.  My main point is that I don't think Lego's approach to trains is benefitting anyone.  They may have convinced themselves that they are acting in their best business interest by taking a minimalist, cost-benefit approach to trains.  But I don't think they've actually ever found out what the kid's market could be if they really tried to serve it.  The interest in trains is out there.  There are plenty of parents ready to drop a few hundred dollars on these things.  They want clear options from a company that appears to want to support a product over the long term.

I think you make some valid points about long term support, but in reality the train line hasn't changed that often. The 12V line was backward compatible with the 4.5V line, and grey era and blue era track was interchangeable. 9V was a bigger change, as was RC & PF. But thats only four changes in 50 years. The average kid who builds with Lego for 6-8 years is unlikely to even notice.

Also part of the problem is retailers who only stock the new sets, which means trains which seem to be on a cycle of 4 or so years disappear in my market (and I assume others) for three years in between. I don't think TLG can do much about that. I've seen suggestions that TLG should stock smaller train specialist shops as well, but that doesn't address the fact that TLG actively tries to avoid small retailers by setting a quite high minimum order. I doubt they would do that unless the smaller retailers are marginally profitable due to the added effort to actually supply many small retailers rather than large chains. Many of the opinions I see expressed about how TLG doesn't do the right thing with trains fail to justify why they should do anything at all with trains given police sets sell better and they don't have to do anything special for those higher sales.

At the scale of enterprise that TLG now is I really doubt anybodies gut feel about how trains should be marketed is going to be helpful to TLG since they are so large that anything that diminishes returns probably has a very rapid affect on profitability at that scale yet is easy to overlook if the huge scale is not your central focus. I think the best we can do is express what we'd like and make the best of what we get. Since AFOLs are only 5% of the market it makes sense we won't get everything just as we like.

#42 MojoLego

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Posted 19 November 2010 - 02:00 PM

 peterab, on 19 November 2010 - 11:37 AM, said:

Also part of the problem is retailers who only stock the new sets, which means trains which seem to be on a cycle of 4 or so years disappear in my market (and I assume others) for three years in between. I don't think TLG can do much about that. I've seen suggestions that TLG should stock smaller train specialist shops as well, but that doesn't address the fact that TLG actively tries to avoid small retailers by setting a quite high minimum order. I doubt they would do that unless the smaller retailers are marginally profitable due to the added effort to actually supply many small retailers rather than large chains. Many of the opinions I see expressed about how TLG doesn't do the right thing with trains fail to justify why they should do anything at all with trains given police sets sell better and they don't have to do anything special for those higher sales.

You're right.  I rarely see trains in our independent toy stores (which are, incidentally, stocking larger amounts of competitor bricks as Lego focuses on big box sales).  I actually think trains are dead at brick and mortar stores.  But parents, and especially parents with both money and interest in their kids' play (e.g., see sites like GeekDad) are doing much of their research and purchases on-line.  Hogwarts Express, while obviously benefiting from the movie release, has been a top seller at Amazon over the last few weeks.  It is currently #13 in Amazon's list of top building sets and spent 6 days in the top 100 of all toys.  That is a boat load of trains.  I would argue that Lego should drop efforts to stock brick and mortar with trains and, instead, make sure their on-line offerings are well presented (e.g., a one-click option for buying an oval of track) with better variety.

On the matter of police sets being more profitable, yes, that is always going to be true.  But, and I say this in a polite, not snippy voice, Lego is a bit like an auto company that offers both high performance cars and minivans.  The UCS Millenium Falcon, the Green Grocer and train sets may not be affordable for the vast majority of people shopping at Target and TRU, and profit margins are probably not as good as a police station, but they add significantly to the brand.  Whenever my kids buy a $10 Star Wars Lego set, they are really imagining that someday they'll be able to afford the $100, $250, $400 Star Wars set.  You do the low volume, low margin sets in part because it defines the brand and helps drive volume of the high margin sets.  

Oh well, I'm probably speaking to the converted.

#43 Cinderbike

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 09:47 PM

I'd like to chime in. TLG doesn't seem to care much about selling track. The only retail store I've ever seen that carried it was, of course, the official LEGO store. However, even here in SoCal where we have 4 of them nearby, none of them carry the 7896 Straight & Curved, only the flexible track pack. Even then, it's never in stock.

Beyond that, neither pack gives you sufficient track to build a simple circle or oval. The whole thing is a mess, IMO.

#44 Toastie

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 10:39 PM

 Cinderbike, on 04 December 2010 - 09:47 PM, said:

I'd like to chime in. TLC doesn't seem to care much about selling track. The only retail store I've ever seen that carried it was, of course, the official LEGO store. However, even here in SoCal where we have 4 of them nearby, none of them carry the 7896 Straight & Curved, only the flexible track pack. Even then, it's never in stock.

Beyond that, neither pack gives you sufficient track to build a simple circle or oval. The whole thing is a mess, IMO.

I could not agree more!!!

Every other year, I am teaching a summer class at UC Irvine/CA. Dowtown Disney, 'round the corner, has a LEGO store - well I'd say THE LEGO store in the area. You can get EVERYTHING there, millions of mini figs and what not - but no train stuff. And no PF stuff. Can you imagine that? A LEGO store NOT featuring train or PF? I was going to write them about that - but then we have all learned the hard way that TLC has turned into JUST that: A multi billion dollar enterprise living on it's past :alien: . And Downtown Disney is the world of whatever, but not the world of TrainTechs.

Rock on,
Thorsten

#45 LEGO Guy Bri

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 08:48 AM

I fully agree. Selling straight and curved track together may seem like a good marketing ploy, but only for the younger fans that may not have a specific design. For those AFOL, big spenders who have a city grid, such as myself, who need spcific pieces for their layout (particulary straight), you're scr***d and get stuck with a bunch of pieces you don't need and don't resell very easily.(sorry, run-on sentence) But same goes with the road plates. If I need multiple straight plates, I also have to get the same number in 4 way. I miss the 2 pack of the same plates from yester year and the sale of the 8 straight or 8 curved. This, of TLG, really angers me. I hope they go back to their original way of packaging. I miss 9V!!
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#46 Fistach

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Posted 11 December 2010 - 09:03 AM

They definitely should sell curved / straight tracks separately as It was with 9V system

I wished Lego had introduced 9V with new motor again :(
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#47 Cinderbike

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 07:08 AM

 Fistach, on 11 December 2010 - 09:03 AM, said:

They definitely should sell curved / straight tracks separately as It was with 9V system

I wished Lego had introduced 9V with new motor again :(
Yeah, 9V seemed so more easier. No expensive motors or such, and you could run trains all day long if you wanted. Oh well. At least track is cheaper and we have more switches now.

#48 k27463

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Posted 13 December 2010 - 04:37 PM

Sorry to jump in a bit late, but I'm at least happy that the new plastic track and wheels are still compatible with the 9V system.  If I ever do "upgrade" to the battery equipment, I won't have to completely rebuild my engines/cars, just remotor them.

#49 Rustie86

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 04:01 AM

I also have to agree that I would much rather see each style of track sold separately as well.

By the way, what happened to that double crossover that was offered back when the first RC trains came out?

#50 peterab

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Posted 14 December 2010 - 08:55 AM

 Rustie86, on 14 December 2010 - 04:01 AM, said:

I also have to agree that I would much rather see each style of track sold separately as well.

By the way, what happened to that double crossover that was offered back when the first RC trains came out?

I don't think it sold very well at full price. I still see them on shelves at TRU in Australia, probably because they don't sell well. I picked up a couple heavily discounted on clearance a year ago. I'd search bricklink if you want one. They did have a problem in that because each pair of points were linked together you were restricted in which directions you could get two trains traveling around separate loops.




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