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20 minutes ago, 22kane said:

I think it was a big hit due to most holiday sets are very popular, at least over the past few years and it was the most affordable full Lego train set to date. You got a full circle of track and could add PF if you wanted but it wasn't necessary. It was a great gift for children and I wouldn't be surprised if it stays on for 2-3 years. Unfortunately the market for the "adult trains" is not huge or highly profitable when compared to many other sets in the Lego catalog and it's more of a Lego cult thing. I remember seeing Emerald Night and the Maersk set on the Lego store shelves for at least a year, if not longer. They eventually went to clearance at my local Lego store. Anyway, the Holiday Train set (10254) was a big seller for Lego and I don't think its going away anytime soon. Just look at the amount of reviews on the Lego website. It's up to 49 at this point which is a very high number and it's currently on back-order! I wouldn't be surprised if they continue the trend for a long time to come.

Agree with this. A $100 USD set is cheap enough for most parents or grandparents to give as a gift for little ones that want a LEGO train. Got to start some where, and it is tough to drop $200 on set if it will just sit in a box in the back of a closet in a month. I doubt we will see a new train in 2017, but I hope so. The new cargo terminal could at least be adapted to a train set-up. I would love a Santa Fe  remake or a My Own Train re-visit but I don't think that will happen. :sadnew:

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The other thing is that the winter train crosses over into a lot of areas:

 

1. Winter village with pent up demand for a train. 

 

2. Cheap steam train without batteries for the younger children. 

 

3. Great parts set for more serious building - either combining two (which looks awesome!) or the fact that you get 3 large drivers in red plus a front truck with new red parts. Any DB steam train you like? Sorted. 

 

Thats 3 markets at once - which means that the costs get defrayed much more widely. 

 

Personally I'd like to see some smaller engines with PF built in - tank engines or shunters. I can't come up with something as widely popular as the winter train though. 

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On 13/2/2017 at 5:44 AM, M_slug357 said:

I wonder how well a 'mega' train set would do sales-wise?

Meaning a larger set ((not two separate train sets put into one box)), priced upwards of $250-$350 usd, that contained:

-two engines, preferably one large (like maersk) and one small (a shunter), or two medium sized ones,

-around 5 to 8 wagons, a mix of freight & passenger,

-enough track for two loops, about 60,

-around 2-3 trackside structures and 2-3 auxiliary vehicles,

-lastly, about 6-12 minifigs

In total, around 3,000 parts I'd imagine.

Basically, something a lot more robust than the typical under $200 usd sets.

 

That sounds like 2 City Cargo trains + 1 City Passenger train so you're probably looking at $400+. And then you'd have a set that very few would buy. The AFOL train market is tiny, the target audience for trains is kids and then particularly the big xmas present. Few kids would get a $400 train set from Santa.

 

14 hours ago, ElectroDiva said:

Re- releases of those classic sets would be fantastic for people who missed out, but I would be equally happy with completely new creator expert type sets.

Re-releases have proven unsuccesful which is why they haven't been done for some time (the Death Star being the exception). For sentimental value it would have to be exactly like the old set which is often not possible and part substitutes may turn people away. Think USS Constellation. To people without memories of the original set it would probably look like a poor design beside current sets.

 

14 hours ago, ElectroDiva said:

I would much rather see them fill out the line with individual locos, carriages/wagons and buildings in the $30 - $100 range.   That would allow kids and adults alike to add to their starter sets according to their own budget.

 

At the top end, I'd love to see them add a flagship "UCS" set every 2-3 years at $250+ to anchor the line (like pretty much every other theme these days).

 

They could use the huge piece count this allows to produce a really outstanding, detailed loco and 3-4 carriage/wagon set, top notch railway building set (imagine getting Grand Central, St Pancras or Gare du nord :) or even a niche system that would appeal to enthusiasts (e.g. monorail, light railway, subway, tram)


The individual locos and cars were last tried with the My Own Train line. You could argue that not all those sets were great designs but the point is that they just wouldn't sell in big enough numbers. Unfortunately LEGO is run by beancounters these days (which in a way is good because they saved the company) but it means that very simple calculations are made. We have x slots for sets this year. Are we going to fill 5 of those slots with small train sets that will sell n copies each, or will we do a helicopter and a police boat and a fire truck that will sell 10x n copies each? As much as I'd love to see individual train cars as a nice way to get train parts I can't see it happening any time soon.

I think the sweet spot for flagship/expert train sets is somewhere between $100 and $150. Bigger/ more expensive would seriously limit sales volumes in what really is a niche market.

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An expansion type of pack would be great! Something like a loco with a bit of straight track (maybe just enough so it fits on the track?). We always need straight track!

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Ok, so it seems that there's a growing concensus for smaller train offerings- not neccessarily smaller engines or cars- but lower price points.

It would be interesting to have the next cycle of trains mimic other themes, with 4-5 sets that range from small (like a single waggon?) to large (like a regular set) and maybe an Expert one for good measure.

 

What I'm really curious about is the next generation of PF components. From the German toy fair, there was that "baby Mindstorms" robotics set that uses (I think) 2-3 M-motors in the new 2.0 style. I'm not a huge fan of having the electrical connectors change form... again! I think it's too soon...

Do you think TLG will be rolling out 2.0 upgrades of the entire PF line?

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On 2/15/2017 at 5:56 PM, M_slug357 said:

What I'm really curious about is the next generation of PF components. From the German toy fair, there was that "baby Mindstorms" robotics set that uses (I think) 2-3 M-motors in the new 2.0 style. I'm not a huge fan of having the electrical connectors change form... again! I think it's too soon...

Do you think TLG will be rolling out 2.0 upgrades of the entire PF line?

They already have the website up since before the toy fair: https://www.lego.com/en-us/creator/products/robo-explorer-31062

I think that they announced back when wedo 2.0 came out that the new power functions will displace the old power functions. But I think that the new system runs on a lower voltage (tho I'm not entirely sure about that).

 

/edit

I just found the source that the wedo 2.0 system will displace the old power functions: http://www.technicbricks.com/2016/01/wedo-20-future-of-pf.html "  WeDo 2.0 is not compatible with the old WeDo. Although all future PF will be compatible with the new platform introduced with WeDo 2.0."

Edited by Tcm0

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12 minutes ago, Tcm0 said:

They already have the website up since before the toy fair: https://www.lego.com/en-us/creator/products/robo-explorer-31062

I think that they announced back when wedo 2.0 came out that the new power functions will displace the old power functions. But I think that the new system runs on a lower voltage (tho I'm not entirely sure about that).

I believe the new system uses lower voltage devices either 5V or 3.3V like for microcontrollers.  5V good enough for low voltage servo motors but they may have trouble with our heavy big boy trains.  Using a lower voltage can simplify connecting devices that already designed for 5V volts.  You can avoid extra motor driver circuits and stuff. Plus use 4 AA or AAA batteries instead of 6. 

The different electrical connector is necessary so people don't connect 9V to a 3.3V device.  That could destroy the device if there isn't any voltage protection or regulation built-in.

 

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10 minutes ago, dr_spock said:

I believe the new system uses lower voltage devices either 5V or 3.3V like for microcontrollers.  5V good enough for low voltage servo motors but they may have trouble with our heavy big boy trains.  Using a lower voltage can simplify connecting devices that already designed for 5V volts.  You can avoid extra motor driver circuits and stuff. Plus use 4 AA or AAA batteries instead of 6. 

The different electrical connector is necessary so people don't connect 9V to a 3.3V device.  That could destroy the device if there isn't any voltage protection or regulation built-in.

 

Yeah it's probably about the microcontrollers but you still need motor drivers because microcontrollers don't allow much current. There's probably a rechargable battery included into the set (at least for the education version). BTW: the new connector appears to have 6 pins like mindstorms cables as opposite to power functions cables with 4 pins.

Philo already took the controller brick apart: http://www.philohome.com/wedo2reverse/cont.htm

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22 hours ago, Duq said:

I think the sweet spot for flagship/expert train sets is somewhere between $100 and $150. Bigger/ more expensive would seriously limit sales volumes in what really is a niche market.

 

A lot of people say that, but how niche is it though? They currently have 3 train starter sets on sale in the $150-$200 range. Why would they do that if trains were a really niche market? 

 

I think $150-$200 is actually the sweet spot for starter sets and they could easily go up to $250 for a flagship/expert/UCS train set. I also think a big ticket set like that would actually draw in *more* train fans.

 

Personally speaking, I've bought all sorts of random $250 sets in the past just because they seem cool (the latest example being Big Ben). Why wouldn't other AFOLs do the same for a really nice train set?

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@dr_spock @Tcm0 thanks for that info! I am definitely not happy about getting a new line of motors that are weaker than the last lot, especially since all of my current trains' designs are based on the current selection of motors. I could understand if the PF 2.0 stuff was physically smaller, but if they're just gonna be the same size....?

@ElectroDiva I think you may be right... While many AFOLs may have kids to cater to, I think it's safe to say that we all have a separate budget for our own Lego stuff.

So,

What kinds of sets are people the most willing to empty their wallets for, and on a consistant basis?

How can future train offerings mimic the "popularity" of the WV Train? What was the last commercially successful train set, and why was it so sought after?

Do future train sets need more cross-theme appeal? If so, what themes should/could be crossed into?

I'm curious to know!

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@ElectroDiva I think you may not be the average AFOL, nevermind the average customer... I certainly don't have the cheque book to buy $250 sets on a whim and I know very few people who do.

Most sets these days only last 1-2 years on the shelves. Train sets stay for 4 years until they get replaced. That's because they just don't sell like fire stations or Millennium Falcons. Just think about your friends and club members; how many have sets like the VW Campervan or the BttF Delorean, and how many have an Emerald Night or Horizon Express?

@M_slug357 Looking at the Expert trains, Emerald Night was popular and is still sought after because it introduced the big steam train wheels and because of its nice colour scheme. Maersk train was popular because AFOLs have been brainwashed to think that the word 'Maersk' is Danish for 'special' (a bit like that other M-word...). Winter Village train was popular because of the winter theme. Apparently in some countries it's normal to have a train running around your xmas tree.

I've no idea if cross-theme appeal works; I've no idea how commercially successful the Toy Story and Lone Ranger trains were. I know the Lone Ranger theme as a whole did really badly but the train was a good set.

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7 hours ago, ElectroDiva said:

 

A lot of people say that, but how niche is it though? They currently have 3 train starter sets on sale in the $150-$200 range. Why would they do that if trains were a really niche market? 

 

AFOL's are about 5% of the market and I suspect train fans are less than 5% of AFOLs. We are a niche of a niche market. Most of the starter sets are selling to kids for Xmas. They have a much longer retail life than any other theme at four years; think of Ninjago which gets updates each year, or city which gets two waves a year. Starter sets are the sweet spot. Everything else means less sales.

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@Duq / @peterab - good point. I hadn't thought of it from the perspective of how long the starter train sets stay on sale for. Makes sense if they're positioning the line as a low volume slow burner.

 

Still think UCS train sets could potentially have broad appeal though. Possibly wishful thinking though :)

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Maybe they would be successful releasing only one or two "expansion" wagons for 30$ in addition to two or three starter train sets. A complete theme like my own train is probably overkill.

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1 hour ago, Tcm0 said:

Maybe they would be successful releasing only one or two "expansion" wagons for 30$ in addition to two or three starter train sets. A complete theme like my own train is probably overkill.

I think it would only be successful if the expansion wagons would be wagons that are built to fit the starter pack trains

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More wishful thinking, but perhaps these 'wagon packs' could be one extra coach pack to match the current passenger train, and one extra freight wagon pack to match the cargo train, both with extra straight track. The coach pack would feature another 'standard' middle coach, and a baggage car or double-decker panoramic-view car, and the freight pack would include two or three wagons similar to those in the matching cargo set. I have no idea how well these would sell; if they look good with the set they're intended to go with, and could entice people into buying several copies of each to form longer trains, perhaps they would be successful.

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On 2/14/2017 at 5:35 PM, Duq said:

The individual locos and cars were last tried with the My Own Train line. You could argue that not all those sets were great designs but the point is that they just wouldn't sell in big enough numbers. Unfortunately LEGO is run by beancounters these days (which in a way is good because they saved the company) but it means that very simple calculations are made. We have x slots for sets this year. Are we going to fill 5 of those slots with small train sets that will sell n copies each, or will we do a helicopter and a police boat and a fire truck that will sell 10x n copies each? As much as I'd love to see individual train cars as a nice way to get train parts I can't see it happening any time soon.

 

That pretty much sums it up. There is no mass appeal on trains anymore at least not like it used to be. I really think because of the success with the Holiday train last year that Lego may lean towards another Holiday type train in the near future. That set had mass appeal because it could go under a tree which is the classic Christmas set up, the price point of $99.99 and it wasn't necessary to upgrade to power functions. It appealed to both children and adults. When Lego invests in making a set they need a specific return on investment. The amount of money spent on a single set is a lot higher than one may think. You've got research, employee wages, overhead, production and logistics just to name a handful. Single locomotives and train cars won't provide the return needed to make a standard profit or what Lego considers a standard margin (It's somewhere around 60%-70%). They take enough gambles as it is. Look at the Prince of Persia line. Lego lost a ton of money on that line with the cost of licensing rights coupled with the fact that the film bombed and no one wanted the sets. The rare train releases will continue i'm sure but it will never be a yearly thing. The only other way I could see the one-off sets is if they were voted for in the Lego Ideas line.

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4 hours ago, 22kane said:

That pretty much sums it up. There is no mass appeal on trains anymore at least not like it used to be. I really think because of the success with the Holiday train last year that Lego may lean towards another Holiday type train in the near future. That set had mass appeal because it could go under a tree which is the classic Christmas set up, the price point of $99.99 and it wasn't necessary to upgrade to power functions. It appealed to both children and adults. When Lego invests in making a set they need a specific return on investment. The amount of money spent on a single set is a lot higher than one may think. You've got research, employee wages, overhead, production and logistics just to name a handful. Single locomotives and train cars won't provide the return needed to make a standard profit or what Lego considers a standard margin (It's somewhere around 60%-70%). They take enough gambles as it is. Look at the Prince of Persia line. Lego lost a ton of money on that line with the cost of licensing rights coupled with the fact that the film bombed and no one wanted the sets. The rare train releases will continue i'm sure but it will never be a yearly thing. The only other way I could see the one-off sets is if they were voted for in the Lego Ideas line.

Speaking of which, I wonder which of the 90 something LEGO train ideas would have the most chance of making it? Sadly trains are not the number one supported type of project on that site, but I'm hopeful at least some of them would get votes. I know I definitely vote for a lot of them! 

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Well there is the excellent tram mentioned up thread that has made it to review stage, so fingers crossed for that one! That aside, Ideas is still mostly a popularity contest so trains are starting from a bit of a disadvantage unless tied to a popular IP theme and even then there's no guarantee (cf the Back To The Future train)....

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There are several further challenges for lego trains. Lego is a global company, but most trains have regional appeal. It is difficult to find a train that will have global appeal. Their choices so far have been focused mostly on iconic trains (Flying Scotsman & TGV) while the Maersk is semi-cross promotion (I believe the family that owns Lego also owns a good portion of Maersk) and offered a design that could appeal to Europe more than a license of a N America RR.

I believe the EN and Maersk sold very well while the HE did not. Part of that was the fact that a lot of resellers parted out the EN and Maersk in large quantities for the rare colors while the HE did not offer many rare parts.

While the AFOL train market is certainly coughing up blood, Lego is doing a good job of slipping in train specific parts into mass-produced sets. They do seem to realize the marketing potential of having a moving train running around a massive AFOL display does for their products. While I lament not having a gateway set for AFOLs, I am glad that the critical train parts continue to be available. And while a gateway AFOL train would be nice, I don't think there has been a complete train system since 12v in the 1980's.

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4 minutes ago, zephyr1934 said:

While the AFOL train market is certainly coughing up blood, Lego is doing a good job of slipping in train specific parts into mass-produced sets.

Like black Train doors on that new City Bus? :classic:

Well, NY Toy Fair didn't show any Train sets. So I guess nothing new this year, or is it too early to say?

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Off the top of my head I can't really think about trains that have global recognition. Maybe the Orient Express? Even though it's more of a concept line that has applied to many trains over the years, but at least some people are familiar with the Agatha Christie novel. I think there's a remake of the movie coming out in November if I'm not mistaken. But I agree, it is indeed hard in that respect. 

 

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1 hour ago, zephyr1934 said:

There are several further challenges for lego trains. Lego is a global company, but most trains have regional appeal. It is difficult to find a train that will have global appeal. Their choices so far have been focused mostly on iconic trains (Flying Scotsman & TGV) while the Maersk is semi-cross promotion (I believe the family that owns Lego also owns a good portion of Maersk) and offered a design that could appeal to Europe more than a license of a N America RR.

I believe the EN and Maersk sold very well while the HE did not. Part of that was the fact that a lot of resellers parted out the EN and Maersk in large quantities for the rare colors while the HE did not offer many rare parts.

Personally I prefer american disel trains over european disel trains although I'm from Europe. They are just prettier. I think that the maersk train looks much better than a european train would do. But I think that the old BNSF and the santa fe trains look really great, too.

I didn't buy the HE because it just doesn't look as pretty as both of the other trains to me and it doesn't have this character with all the small details of the emerald night or the maersk train.

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2 hours ago, zephyr1934 said:

Lego is doing a good job of slipping in train specific parts into mass-produced sets.

I think that the best example of this was using the train motor bogie sides in dark brown in 70589 - Ninjago Rock Roader. I'm surprised it hasn't turned up in anyone's MOCs yet. I like this approach of using parts in other sets during non-train-release years, it keeps the moulds from gathering dust and gives us a game of which-sets-hide-the-train-bits!

2 hours ago, Capparezza said:

Like black Train doors on that new City Bus? :classic:

That bus actually has a full pair of doors, unlike the one from 60026 which only had right-hand doors. Bonus!

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