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Happy 30th Anniversary PIRATES!

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Posted (edited)
22 minutes ago, Medzomorak said:

It seems it celebrates 20 years of Star Wars instead. Celebrating an other brand. With the 1478th Slave I. Sadly Lego has lost its identity.

Not really, no? The reason they celebrate Star Wars this year instead of Pirates, etc. boils down to those two words "years of".

LEGO Star Wars has been around for 20 full years. That's a big deal. Every theme LEGO makes will eventually be 10 or 20 or 30 years old, regardless of popularity. But not all will have maintained their appeal successfully enough to stick around that entire time. So the latter is a bit more of an achievement.

It's the same reason that last year they celebrated "60 years of the LEGO brick" and "40 years of the LEGO minifigure" but not "40 years of LEGO Space" or "20 years of LEGO Ninja" — because LEGO Space and LEGO Ninja hadn't maintained an active presence for the entire duration in question, while the brick and minifigure had.

Even though LEGO Pirates turns 30 this year, there haven't been "30 years of LEGO Pirates" — there have really only been 13, and even that's being generous and counting 2013 as a "year of LEGO Pirates" because of https://brickset.com/sets/850839-1/Classic-Pirate-Set.

Anyway, it's not like a failure to acknowledge this anniversary is somehow the canary in the coal mine for the loss of LEGO's identity. LEGO already had a well-established identity long before they had a LEGO Pirates theme. I suspect there might've been LEGO fans who in 1989 thought that all the huge specialized pieces, detailed face prints, character-driven storytelling, and gunplay in LEGO Pirates were a departure from what they understood to be LEGO's true identity!

Edited by Aanchir

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Posted (edited)
42 minutes ago, Aanchir said:

I suspect there might've been LEGO fans who in 1989 thought that all the huge specialized pieces, detailed face prints, character-driven storytelling, and gunplay in LEGO Pirates were a departure from what they understood to be LEGO's true identity!

Not really to be honest. No one hated Pirates at the time. It just could not be hated, it was perfect. The figures still had two dots with a smlie, yellow skins, the foundations were still basic bricks with basic colors. Pirates enchanced Lego's identity, just as old school Castle and Space did before.

I don't hate Star Wars either. But it's not Lego's success in my opinion. It's a pop cultural monster burning away everything in its path. I loved it as a brand-new theme in '99, but today I just can't celebrate anything after 20 years. Not anymore.

But hey, that's just me, of course.

Edited by Medzomorak

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Aanchir said:

Anyway, it's not like a failure to acknowledge this anniversary is somehow the canary in the coal mine for the loss of LEGO's identity. LEGO already had a well-established identity long before they had a LEGO Pirates theme. I suspect there might've been LEGO fans who in 1989 thought that all the huge specialized pieces, detailed face prints, character-driven storytelling, and gunplay in LEGO Pirates were a departure from what they understood to be LEGO's true identity!

The thing with Pirates or Classic Space, is that the stories were made up by the kids most of the time, and sets were not forced into some movie script or tv-show. (unlike Licensed themes)

I know there were some pirate comics but those were nowhere near mainstream.

Pirates and Spacemen might have had some mentions of names somewhere, certainly not from the catalogs or sets in all countries.

Some catalogs here didn't even have set names, only a number and a star if it was new.

I'd say the shift LEGO made after 1999, especially the 2000s was a lot bigger then the transition from Space and Town into Pirates.

In recent times however, LEGO still shows it can do original minifig themes and keep some story with things like Chima, Nexo Knights or Ninjago, and even Hidden Side likely has potential to be a success.

Creator and City are still ongoing pillars as well. 

However 2019 is quite an empty year for Historic themes, Hidden Side will be my main interest new theme of 2019, and then looking forward to 2020 for potential Pirates/Castle. (Space has been covered somewhat by LEGO Movie 2 and City this year)

Edited by TeriXeri

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, TeriXeri said:

In recent times however, LEGO still shows it can do original minifig themes and keep some story with things like Chima, Nexo Knights or Ninjago, and even Hidden Side likely has potential to be a success.However 2019 is quite an empty year for Historic themes, Hidden Side will be my main interest new theme of 2019, and then looking forward to 2020 for potential Pirates/Castle. (Space has been covered somewhat by LEGO Movie 2 and City this year)

Sadly there won't be any of those classic themes, until NInjago goes on. That's just the ultimate abomination, the melting pot of all themes. Ninjas cruising space-pirate-ships with dragons on land rovers against skeleton mechas firing lasers and gatling guns in their castles. It's so everything, it is actually nothing. Every time I go into a Lego store I just can't really decide what am I seeing on the box. I start to think maybe I'm getting old? I realize that I'm actually not. I still examine the sets and take a look at the details. Then I still get the conclusion: The new sets are just truly a mess. Too much of everything, too much individual minifigures, every brick and piece is made to be a unique one. At the end none of them are.

It seems Lego was so bleeding out in the 90's financially that they really can't be revisionists anymore. Even the new Jurassic World set is about a T-rex fighting a dino mecha. They just begging out loud to make a sale in every set. I feel for them, it can't be easy to stay competitive in today's online, almost augmented world. Altough when I was a kid (late 90's - early 2000's), me and my friends were always browsing old catalouges all the time (from the 80's and 90's), because we hated the new messy themes. We were filled with awe looking at the old dioramas, the choosable factions. We hated that Lego takes us that stupid and create infantile themes for us. 

img002.jpg

img001.jpg

Every time I show these to kids today I just see the truth in their reaction, in their eyes: They know they've been cheated and this is how Lego should still look like.

They DO say they were much better than this:

LEGO-Australia-Catalogue-January-to-May-

I admit, there was some brief success in Vikings and the Fantasy Era castle themes after the early 2000's bottom. Sadly that was just in my dark ages, but I accept those as proper, original Lego themes. Today, TLC does not take their own mission and their own customers seriously anymore. The new pirates themes were poor shadows of themselves. This is the reuslt of cost-optimalization, this is sales-tinkering, this is Lego's new adventure-based identity if not something licensed.

And yes, it has been 30 years. And we got nothing as it seems. Nothing any new, not even a single middle-sized nostalgia set with simple smiley-faced pirates to raise the hats. Just a Slave I.

Edited by Medzomorak

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15 hours ago, Medzomorak said:

No one hated Pirates at the time. It just could not be hated, it was perfect.

Pretty definitive statement from someone who wasn't even alive at the time. I would bet literally any amount of money in the entire world that if AFOL websites had existed in 1989, there would have been plenty of complaining.

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2 hours ago, tafkatb said:

Pretty definitive statement from someone who wasn't even alive at the time. I would bet literally any amount of money in the entire world that if AFOL websites had existed in 1989, there would have been plenty of complaining.

This site is full of AFOLs from that period and I have yet to hear of anyone complaining about Pirates, except for the cannon change, I do remember being angry about that as a kid. My little brother liked that change alot and I kept more black rounded studs that way.

Times were way different back then, LEGO didn't dilute its brand with crazy amounts of themes and sets per theme all in one year. Lego did release sets to its main demographic - European kids - since it is an European product and you could tell by the offerings (Castle and the way many of the Town sets were designed - back then cars were solo drivers and I am guessing it's so the car would be compatible with any country it is shipped to as Americans and Europeans drive much differently). There were four big, main sets : 2 ships and 2 forts. The rest were all impulse sets that could be added to those 4 existing sets if possible. The impulse sets, the smallest, ran about $3.00USD which allowed me as a kid, who only got a $5 allowance, to buy a few different sets weekly, especially the Buried Treasure set where every purchase meant more gold and guns.

Personally I am glad the technology didn't exist back then. Things were definitely kept much simpler, you could say we were limited in choices if you want to modernize your view, but back then we had more distinct choices that reached each of our interests. I wasn't a huge space fan and Lego was pretty much just living off the success of NASA's moon program and newer ideas (Space Police) as the time (now Trump wants to officially have a Space Defense department). I enjoyed some of the Castle sets but was bigger in Town and especially Pirates, I bought every set I wanted back then and had no need to get the Clippers ship (until later in my life when I decided I should become a completest, now I own all the original sets from 1989-1990). I was a fan of the Pirates minifigures and especially loved their varied, colored variations. They stood out better because everything around them was either brown (their ship) or black (their "fort). My parents got me Eldorado Fort for Christmas and I must have asked for it so my parents had someone to attack but otherwise I wasn't a fan as much of the Imperials and knowing now their historical representations I'm even less a fan. But I own all but the Trading Post and I did enjoy gawking over that set when I went to the store.

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, tafkatb said:

Pretty definitive statement from someone who wasn't even alive at the time. I would bet literally any amount of money in the entire world that if AFOL websites had existed in 1989, there would have been plenty of complaining.

I have an older brother and four cousins, all of them were schoolboys at the time. They had tons of basic sets containing basic bricks and had zero complaints when the pirates came out. Betting literally any amount of money is just as pretty definitive as my statement. Also I would suggest doing otherwise, because:

No, there was no plenty of complaining. I've been reading forums and blogs about Lego for 13 years now and seen zero negative remarks on the classic Pirates theme. Zero. Afols were writing the actual opposite.

This is a catalouge picture from 1979:

22LeMFj.png

And this is the first pirates pages in '89:

HKSEFMH.png

So what has exactly happened that could cause 'plenty' of complaints? Nothing was betrayed here. Following your logic everything caused plenty of complaints which was not a standard 2x4 brick.

"The first modern minifigures were released in 1978, included in Castle, Space, and Town sets." - according to Wikipedia. And yes, the yellow castle was introduced in 78 with shields and swords. So what would have been the complaints after that? The boat pieces? The sails? The whole historical line were part of Lego since 78. They MADE Lego's identitiy. A brick itself is not the only identitiy. It is just a brick. You don't need a minifigure for that, or a wheel. My grandpa had wooden bricks way before Lego came in. Also Basic Lego bricks sets hasn't been abandoned for Castle and Pirates, we get those sets up to this very day. Of course, the Lego bricks with their studs are the best. But saying that everything else came after is not part of Lego's identity is simply not true.

Without any offense, your argument makes no sense to me. My post was not based on a global, scientifically analyzed statistics on people's reaction to Lego's 1989 Pirates theme of course. Evidently. So what are you trying to say? I don't get it. You DID actually hate Pirates in 89? Or you just found a logical backdoor to deny my statement? You just want to point out that 100% of Lego fans could have not liked Pirates, because the correct number is actually 98%?

I accept if you think otherwise of course, but I still say the same: these classic themes are the backbone of Lego's identity. And not because they are vintage. I think - just for an example - the 2005 Vikings deserve to be part of it as well.

What I am trying to say is that these themes are left behind for licensed ones. Even the Lego movie was about batman being batman. A comic book character... they are not Lego's identity, they belong to Marvel and Disney and so on. I'm saying that as a fan of those products.

 

Edited by Medzomorak

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Oh boy, those catalogue bring back memories... I spent hours and hours staring at them imagining stories and adventures. :wub:

Have you gotten any more of them? :moar:

Btw TLG would not have to bring back every set of Pirates to celebrate it, just a small iconic set or something... :classic:

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2 hours ago, Medzomorak said:

Without any offense, your argument makes no sense to me. My post was not based on a global, scientifically analyzed statistics on people's reaction to Lego's 1989 Pirates theme of course. Evidently. So what are you trying to say? I don't get it. You DID actually hate Pirates in 89?

It just so happened to be a child throughout the 80's so I can account my from my own personal experiences.

Back then, there was no Internet or public forum to express opinions about toys, beyond schoolyard discussions.  If you didn't like a toy, you'd just forget about it rather than complain about it to everyone. From my observation, the children of 80's did not have any disdain for LEGO Pirates, they didn't know any different so they didn't have expectations like AFOLs do. 

However, in the early 2000's I met someone a decade older than me who was interested in LEGO. In the 80's he would have been a teenager, so he developed his LEGO interest in the early 70's.  He kept telling me he hated the direction LEGO had taken in the 80's with the themes and their "defined" pieces.  He much preferred the older sets which were entirely composed of bricks, rather than fabricated elements like castle walls and palm leaves.

So yeah, maybe tafkatb has a point, adults at the time may have indeed complained about Pirates, or any of the contemporary themes of the late 80's, just as my friend did.

But this is merely speculation, without travelling back in time and conducting a survey, it's very difficult to ascertain the opinion of the majority.

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Posted (edited)
56 minutes ago, Mister Phes said:

However, in the early 2000's I met someone a decade older than me who was interested in LEGO. In the 80's he would have been a teenager, so he developed his LEGO interest in the early 70's.  He kept telling me he hated the direction LEGO had taken in the 80's with the themes and their "defined" pieces.  He much preferred the older sets which were entirely composed of bricks, rather than fabricated elements like castle walls and palm leaves.

So yeah, maybe tafkatb has a point, adults at the time may have indeed complained about Pirates, or any of the contemporary themes of the late 80's, just as my friend did.

I totally understand that, you make a good point with this memory. BUT. This individual's perception was not accurate at all, as Lego did not abandon anything for its themes. 

Check out all the Basic sets: https://brickset.com/sets/theme-Basic

Basic amazingly thrived through the 80's. My older brother left me tons of basic bricks and he had got them in the late 80's as well. I still build with those bricks, bricks older than myself and I hope someday I'm going to leave those to my kids.

Themes were not replacements but enhancements. Today's licensed and hybrid themes on the other hand are total replacements of the old ones. On its own it wouldn't be a problem, but we all remember 2009's and 2015's Pirates sets. They were laughable, like Lego wasn't even trying. It's easy to discard Pirates in favor of some messy Ninjago flying laser-crocodile-banana-motorbike-dragon ship if you don't even try to make those Pirates sets anything good. Those last ones were unpretending, stingy and all-together the most hurriedly designed we've ever seen.The same happened with the last castle theme, not to mention those poor alien-space attempts. I've would have hate those even as an 8 years old. I was browsing the catalouges from the 80's when I was 8 and I liked the tone of them a lot. Children are not infantile beings, they are just children.

Edited by Medzomorak

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49 minutes ago, Mister Phes said:

It just so happened to be a child throughout the 80's so I can account my from my own personal experiences.

Back then, there was no Internet or public forum to express opinions about toys, beyond schoolyard discussions.  If you didn't like a toy, you'd just forget about it rather than complain about it to everyone. From my observation, the children of 80's did not have any disdain for LEGO Pirates, they didn't know any different so they didn't have expectations like AFOLs do. 

However, in the early 2000's I met someone a decade older than me who was interested in LEGO. In the 80's he would have been a teenager, so he developed his LEGO interest in the early 70's.  He kept telling me he hated the direction LEGO had taken in the 80's with the themes and their "defined" pieces.  He much preferred the older sets which were entirely composed of bricks, rather than fabricated elements like castle walls and palm leaves.

So yeah, maybe tafkatb has a point, adults at the time may have indeed complained about Pirates, or any of the contemporary themes of the late 80's, just as my friend did.

But this is merely speculation, without travelling back in time and conducting a survey, it's very difficult to ascertain the opinion of the majority.

Yeah, that's all I'm really trying to get at - Pirates diverged in many significant ways from then-current design standards, and the most cursory glance at any AFOL forum will show that accepting change is... not a strong suit. Let's not delude ourselves into thinking anything from the past was somehow perfect just because an outlet for the incessant whining that has become the defining feature of fandom wasn't around at the time.

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, tafkatb said:

Yeah, that's all I'm really trying to get at - Pirates diverged in many significant ways from then-current design standards, and the most cursory glance at any AFOL forum will show that accepting change is... not a strong suit. Let's not delude ourselves into thinking anything from the past was somehow perfect just because an outlet for the incessant whining that has become the defining feature of fandom wasn't around at the time.

Because it was better around at the time. I've said that as a kid in the early 2000's and I'm saying the same 20 years later. After some number of exchanges in posts now, I'm not really sure what are we arguing about.

It is truly 30 years since Pirates has been introduced and we did not get anything, while some of us were hoping to. I guess it is the end of the story, I may go back and by my next Lego set as a used one again from the previous century.

Edited by Medzomorak

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, Medzomorak said:

Sadly there won't be any of those classic themes, until NInjago goes on. That's just the ultimate abomination, the melting pot of all themes. Ninjas cruising space-pirate-ships with dragons on land rovers against skeleton mechas firing lasers and gatling guns in their castles. It's so everything, it is actually nothing. Every time I go into a Lego store I just can't really decide what am I seeing on the box. I start to think maybe I'm getting old? I realize that I'm actually not. I still examine the sets and take a look at the details. Then I still get the conclusion: The new sets are just truly a mess. Too much of everything, too much individual minifigures, every brick and piece is made to be a unique one. At the end none of them are.

It seems Lego was so bleeding out in the 90's financially that they really can't be revisionists anymore. Even the new Jurassic World set is about a T-rex fighting a dino mecha. They just begging out loud to make a sale in every set. I feel for them, it can't be easy to stay competitive in today's online, almost augmented world. Altough when I was a kid (late 90's - early 2000's), me and my friends were always browsing old catalouges all the time (from the 80's and 90's), because we hated the new messy themes. We were filled with awe looking at the old dioramas, the choosable factions. We hated that Lego takes us that stupid and create infantile themes for us. 

[snip]

I admit, there was some brief success in Vikings and the Fantasy Era castle themes after the early 2000's bottom. Sadly that was just in my dark ages, but I accept those as proper, original Lego themes. Today, TLC does not take their own mission and their own customers seriously anymore. The new pirates themes were poor shadows of themselves. This is the reuslt of cost-optimalization, this is sales-tinkering, this is Lego's new adventure-based identity if not something licensed.

And yes, it has been 30 years. And we got nothing as it seems. Nothing any new, not even a single middle-sized nostalgia set with simple smiley-faced pirates to raise the hats. Just a Slave I.

I mean, Ninjago has been massively popular since its launch, so maybe the problem is on your end. The fact that it combines ideas so freely is what makes it so imaginative and inspiring — it empowers kids to create their own models and stories without feeling constrained by rigid, unimaginative rules about which types of pieces, characters, ideas, or subjects "can't" or "shouldn't" go together.

If you really think that today's kids who have overwhelmingly embraced many of these themes you so despise simply don't have the good taste that your generation had as kids, then I think it's YOU who are failing to take LEGO's customers seriously.

2 hours ago, Medzomorak said:

I totally understand that, you make a good point with this memory. BUT. This individual's perception was not accurate at all, as Lego did not abandon anything for its themes. 

Check out all the Basic sets: https://brickset.com/sets/theme-Basic

Basic thrived through the 80's. My older brother left me tons of basic bricks and he had got them in the late 80's. I still build with those bricks, bricks older than myself.

Themes were not replacements but enhancements. Today's licensed and hybrid themes on the other hand are total replacements of the old ones. On its own it wouldn't be a problem, but we all remember 2009's and 2015's Pirates sets. They were laughable, like Lego wasn't even trying. It's easy to discard Pirates in favor of some messy Ninjago flying laser-crocodile-banana-motorbike-dragon ship if you don't even try to make those Pirates sets properly. They last ones were unpretending, stingy and all-together the most childish one We've ever seen.The same happened with the last castle theme, not to mention those poor alien-space attempts. I've would have hate those even as a 8 years old. When I was 8 I was browsing the catalouges from the 80's. Children are not infantile beings, they are just children.

It's true that LEGO didn't abandon basic bricks in favor of minifigure-based play themes back then. They haven't abandoned them today, either, yet you still see boneheaded comments on Facebook from people complaining about how LEGO today is all "specialized themed sets that only build one thing" and miss when you could just "buy a box of basic pieces and make your own things", in spite of the fact that Classic and Creator sets designed to inspire different ways of using basic LEGO parts still exist today.

Nobody here is saying that complaints in 1989 about LEGO "losing its identity" with themes like LEGO Pirates would have been true or rational. But complaints that LEGO has "lost its identity" today because they're making themes you don't like are just as untrue and irrational as those type of comments would have been 30 years ago.

The idea that kids only flock to themes like Ninjago because there aren't any alternatives is way more "laughable" than the designs of the 2009 or 2015 Pirates sets. After all, in Ninjago's debut year (2011), other themes it coexisted with include:

  • Kingdoms
  • Pharaoh's Quest
  • Atlantis
  • Alien Conquest
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Harry Potter
  • City
  • Racers
  • Games
  • Creator
  • Technic
  • Hero Factory
  • …and more!

So it's not as though there were no other themes out there for kids to choose from. And of course, just like today, there were numerous other toy brands back then that kids could have chosen from if they felt let down by all of the current LEGO themes. So even if kids were only grudgingly buying Ninjago in lieu of historic themes that would truly be of interest to them, you would expect it to result in rather middling sales as kids unwilling to compromise on their preferred genres of play veered away from the LEGO brand entirely, right?

But as it turns out, LEGO Ninjago sales in 2011 were stronger than ANY previous launch for a new theme. And since then, even in years when there have been other licensed or non-licensed historic/fantasy themes for kids to choose from, Ninjago has pretty reliably maintained a place among LEGO's top-selling themes even in years when LEGO sales and profits were at an all-time high. It was so popular that LEGO even extended it BEYOND its intended final season in 2012 and final episode in 2013 due to fan outcry over the rumors of it being cancelled, and have since elevated it to "evergreen" status alongside themes like City or Technic.

Outside of building sets, several of the LEGO Ninjago graphic novels also reached #1 in the paperback graphic books category of the New York Times bestseller list (volumes 2, 3, 7, 9, 10). In the United States, the TV series' Season One finale on Cartoon Network in April 2012 had 3.340 million viewers, and the Season Two finale in November of the same year had 3.108 million viewers. Are you also going to argue that kids in these years also didn't have any other books or TV shows to choose from?

 

Furthermore, when you have this much obvious disdain for themes like Ninjago that have been massively popular and successful among kids, it's hard to really imagine that your dismissive attitude towards the past decade of Pirates, Castle, or Space sets accurately reflects how kids at the time felt about those themes, either. After all, if you believe it was those themes' "childishness" that resulted in their short lifespans or unremarkable sales figures, why would knight- and pirate- loving kids congregate to a theme that you seem to be convinced is even MORE "stupid", "messy", and "childish"?

A lot of this dismissive attitude to these waves smacks of nostalgic bias, considering that the cheerful G-rated marketing, simple and colorful builds, and smiley-faced figures of LEGO Castle and LEGO Pirates have been pretty unapologetically childish for those themes' entire duration. I mean, the jail cell doors, jail cell door frames, staircases, and lower mast segments in 80s Pirates sets were literally repurposed from Fabuland, a post-Duplo intermediate theme that was effectively the 1980s analogue of today's Juniors/4+ sets or the early 2000s Jack Stone/4 Juniors sets! The 1990 Forestmen river baseplate even had dots printed on the studs so kids wouldn't misplace the bricks! Not to mention the cheesy, cliche-riddled stories and comics published to promote these themes in magazines and catalogs.

But even if we humor this notion that these themes' potential in the present day has been stifled by the latest incarnations' "childishness", I don't see how you reconcile that with Ninjago's enduring success.

In conclusion:

13 hours ago, Medzomorak said:

Every time I go into a Lego store I just can't really decide what am I seeing on the box. I start to think maybe I'm getting old? I realize that I'm actually not. I still examine the sets and take a look at the details. Then I still get the conclusion: The new sets are just truly a mess.

888.jpg

3 hours ago, Cyberfounder said:

Btw TLG would not have to bring back every set of Pirates to celebrate it, just a small iconic set or something... :classic:

I agree that would not be too unrealistic, and to be honest, they might still do something like that! After all, it's not as though gift-with-purchase items tend to be leaked/rumored as far in advance as normal retail sets or D2C sets. Often we don't even see rumors about them until a month or so ahead of time when the LEGO Store Calendar for the following month gets released. And we still have more than half the year ahead of us.

Edited by Aanchir

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Aanchir said:

I mean, Ninjago has been massively popular since its launch, so maybe the problem is on your end.

Yes. That might be the case.

Bionicle was hugely popular at the time I was a kid, and I kinda liked it when I've got a set of it. Still I was always telling my brother that I'd give all my bionicles away to get one of those castles or pirate ships. And when I got my own money after I've started to work at the age of 17, that's what I've exactly done. I sold most of my legos from the 2000's to buy vintage sets. Sets outrun years before I was born. I loved that old catalouges have used dioramas, that they had no ready made stories except some brief indroductions to the factions. Yes, there were some poor and cheesy attempts for sure but they were not pushed as hard as today.

I don't think today's kids or their parents take any time to compare a Ninjago set with a 93's pirate ship. I still think most of the kids would choose the ship all the same. But Lego has never tried that again in that quality, so I can't say for sure. Pirates were brought back twice and they did not work, I didn't like it either. It is said that the 90's were a downfall for Lego, so maybe they know better after all. Most of the kids need something television/youtube induced cartoonish mess than real masterpieces.

By the way, all of the non-licensed themes you mentiond above as an alternative were poorly designed ones just as the two pirates reboot and thus were quicky left abandonded. Of course Ninjago's survival is clearly a proof that the problem is on my end. Maybe the dragons and the ninjas on motorbikes had somehow the upperhand in a pool of bad options, so it was the one to go on. Maybe I'm just to cynical.

1 hour ago, Aanchir said:

The fact that it combines ideas so freely is what makes it so imaginative and inspiring — it empowers kids to create their own models and stories without feeling constrained by rigid, unimaginative rules about which types of pieces, characters, ideas, or subjects "can't" or "shouldn't" go together.

Putting everyting into a set does not make it more free or imaginative in my opinion. There is actually a point when the thing becomes purely infantile. Also, you could always have combined sets before, no one ever forbade you to do so.

This is what Ninjago is in my opinion:

I have to admit at this point that my ego generally considered myself to be more mature, demanding and intelligent than the other kids. But hey, I guess that could've been one of the great illusions I've been feeding to myself.

Who knows, maybe I'm just a dummy at the end.

Edited by Medzomorak

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26 minutes ago, Medzomorak said:

To be concise, yes. That might be the case.

Bionicle was hugely popular at the time I was a kid, and I kinda liked it when I've got a set of it. Still I was always telling my brother that I'd give all my bionicles away to get one of those castles or pirate ships. And when I got my own money after I've started to work at the age of 17, that's what I've exactly done. I sold most of my legos from the 2000's to buy vintage sets. Sets outrun years before I was born. I loved that old catalouges have used dioramas, that they had no ready made stories except some brief indroductions to the factions. Yes, there were some poor and cheesy attempts for sure but they were not pushed as hard as today.

I don't think today's kids or their parents take any time to compare a Ninjago set with a 93's pirate ship. I still think most of the kids would choose the ship all the same. But Lego has never tried that again in that quality, so I can't say for sure. Pirates were brought back twice and they did not work, I didn't like it either. It is said that the 90's were a downfall for Lego, so maybe they know better after all. Most of the kids need something television/youtube induced cartoonish mess than real masterpieces.

By the way, all of the non-licensed themes you mentiond above as an alternative were poorly desinged ones just as the two pirates reboot and thus were quicky left abandonded. Of course Ninjago's survival is clearly a proof that the problem is on my end. Maybe the dragons and the ninjas on motorbikes had somehow the upperhand in a pool of bad sets, so it was the one. Maybe I'm just to cynical.

I have to admit at this point that my ego generally considered myself to be more mature, demanding and intelligent than the other kids. But hey, I guess that could've been one of the great illusions I've been feeding to myself.

Who knows, maybe I'm just a dummy at the end.

I don't think you're a dummy at all… but I do think you need to avoid the temptation of thinking there's any need to rank interests based on which are more or less valid, no matter your criteria. Considering your own interests innately superior to other people's is an easy temptation, but alienates other people and also can limit your frame of reference. Whereas considering more popular interests innately superior to less popular ones can both result in unreasonable pressure to "follow the crowd" and suppress the value of your own individual experience, plus close you off to exploring stuff that might be niche or low-profile, but align well with or complement your other interests.

To be honest, I strongly suspect you and I have some experiences in common. As a kid growing up in the 90s I greatly enjoyed LEGO Pirates, Imperial Guards, and Islanders (along with lots of other themes), and my brother and I even dressed up as an Imperial Guard and King Kahuka one year. I didn't get many of the actual large pirate ships, but I didn't regret it too much either, because my interests changed steadily over time as I learned about new things like robotics, fantasy storytelling, space exploration, video games, etc.

I was just getting into Technic shortly before Bionicle came out and was a little unsure about it from the first pics I saw in catalogs — it was the magical, adventurous storyline and characters as well as my first few sets that managed to make it one of my favorite themes for its entire duration. Truth be told, it might have played some role in my lack of a "dark age" — after all, even if themes like Knights' Kingdom 2, Vikings, and Exo-Force hadn't appealed to teenage me on their own merits, the prospect of colorful new parts I could use in my Bionicle MOCs was very compelling indeed!

But at the same time, I also try to keep a healthy sense of perspective. Perhaps this tendency has in part been fostered because as somebody who was fairly antisocial as a kid, my parents' attempts to shelter me from and discourage any interest in stuff my peers liked such as Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, or Rugrats only further alienated me from most of the people I met at school, making me a prime target for bullying or ostracization. I quickly learned that thinking I was "better" than other kids for indulging only in stuff my parents approved of didn't earn me any sort of respect or even make me all that happy. So when the Pokémon craze sprung up in the late 90s, I finally broke free of watching the primarily educational shows that my parents had raised me on and started watching the type of Saturday morning fare other kids my age talked about at school — regardless of whether my parents liked or understood it.

Since then, even among fellow Bionicle or Ninjago fans, it can sometimes be uncomfortable to hear the same level of dismissiveness that I am so used to seeing directed at various themes I've enjoyed over the years, from Royal Knights to Aquazone to Exploriens to Bionicle to Exo-Force to Atlantis to Ninjago. Particularly since as time has gone on, I've seen perspectives on MOST of these themes shift dramatically. For example, when Rock Raiders first came out, it was pretty much met with the same hostility as many other themes of the late 90s that epitomized that period's trend towards simplistic builds, large specialized pieces, and unconventional genres.

A lot of these critiques weren't necessarily wrong — even designers with the best of intentions can misjudge the tastes of their audience, and that was very true of that period's assumption that the growing popularity of video games was a sign that kids craved nothing more than instant gratification. But fast forward a decade or so, and Power Miners was seen by many as a sign of how far LEGO had FALLEN compared to supposedly "mature" themes of the late 90s and early 2000s like Insectoids, Rock Raiders, and Bionicle. This, despite the Power Miners sets being far more technically intricate and complex builds, a far better value for money, and on many levels even more believable/realistic!

And nowadays I'm seeing people on this very site point to 2009 as the ideal LEGO should aspire to, when beloved classic themes like Space, Castle, and Pirates coexisted alongside licensed themes like Star Wars, Indiana Jones and SpongeBob SquarePants, as well as newer non-licensed themes like Bionicle, Racers, and Power Miners. Having lived through ALL these eras, it never stops being disorienting to see TFOLs and younger AFOLs being just as hostile towards the current variety of themes as the AFOL community during THEIR childhood had been towards the themes THEY enjoyed! It's the same type of cycle we see on a broader societal level with each generation attacking the musical tastes or fashion sense of the generations that follow theirs.

 

I think something else to keep in mind is that even in the 80s when LEGO was a lot more based on plain, archetypical stories, they had aspirations of breaking into other types of media like comics, storybooks, TV programs, movies, and computer games (Jim Spaceborn, the star of a couple classic Space comics at this time, was envisioned as a potential star for this kind of wide-reaching IP). So on some levels, their preference for less wacky themes in the 80s seems to have been less a matter of some purity of philosophy than having limited means to create media that would help kids to contextualize subject matter that wasn't grounded in familiar archetypes.

After all, it's not as though kids in the 80s had less of a taste for wackiness than kids today — just look at the popularity of wacky, over-the-top, or nonsensical 80s brands like Voltron, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Super Mario Bros, Thundercats, and Masters of the Universe. For all we know, if LEGO had been capable of launching a wacky, media-supported, genre-mashing theme like Ninjago at that time (without overextending themselves like they ended up doing in the late 90s and early 2000s), it might have been a major hit even back then.

But instead, kids who craved types of stories, fictional worlds, and play experiences that their parents had not already exposed them to in some form in their preschool years might have had to look for those outside the LEGO brand entirely. And as such, the "Generation X" kids who might've been most likely to welcome a theme like LEGO Bionicle, LEGO Ninjago, or LEGO Nexo Knights with the most enthusiasm are also the generation of kids who might have been least likely to have developed enough of a childhood passion for LEGO to even be drawn into the AFOL community.

So I don't think the themes that are currently most popular are necessarily a sign that kids and what they like have really changed as much as people might think — just that LEGO is reaching kids that they couldn't have back then when they relied less upon thorough consumer insight research and more upon "conventional wisdom" that was slightly out of date even for its time. After all, how many other major toy companies besides LEGO took until the 90s or 2000s to really affirm and cater to kids' long-established interest in ghosts, dragons, ninjas, dinosaurs, wizards, fantasy monsters, giant robots, video games, skateboarding, superheroes, spies, and space aliens?

LEGO was well behind the curve on a lot of things, including genre mashups. Mind you, I don't think that makes the more conventional interests they catered to back then were any less legitimate than the ones they failed to acknowledge, nor are most of them any less legitimate today. I think that LEGO will continue to revisit these "traditional" themes well into the future (my bets are on Castle for the next to get a revival, as since the turn of the millennium it's gotten a refresh almost like clockwork every three or four years).

But the same can be said for a lot of the other recurring theme categories introduced since then, like secret agent themes, underwater themes, underground themes, dinosaur themes, globetrotting adventure themes, ghost/monster themes, etc. So it's harder to justify granting the pirate and medieval genres a unique "evergreen" status within that much larger list of categories to choose between when figuring out which new product line will be best suited to kids' interests in any given year.

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6 hours ago, Medzomorak said:

Today's licensed and hybrid themes on the other hand are total replacements of the old ones. On its own it wouldn't be a problem, but we all remember 2009's and 2015's Pirates sets. They were laughable, like Lego wasn't even trying.

Based on managing an AFOL LEGO Pirates Forum during the release of the 2009 and 2015 LEGO Pirate sets, it did not seem the majority of AFOLs felt they were laughable. 

In fact, the 2009 pirate sets were welcomed enthusiastically for the most part, I recall the biggest complaint was the palm trees because they were reduced to a couple of pieces. The sets themselves however, were mostly praised.

But unfortunately, the 2015 sets didn't have the same impact because the LEGO Group more or less rehashed well used concepts, albeit into flimsier structures.

Still, I don't recall anyone describing the sets as laughable, it was more a case of being less satisfied.

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6 hours ago, tafkatb said:

Yeah, that's all I'm really trying to get at - Pirates diverged in many significant ways from then-current design standards, and the most cursory glance at any AFOL forum will show that accepting change is... not a strong suit.

Ahhhhh... the "good old days!"

People driven by nostalgia look back fondly at their childhood memories of a toy, forgetting the aspects they dislike while only focusing on the positive, creating a somewhat artificial bias.

6 hours ago, tafkatb said:

Let's not delude ourselves into thinking anything from the past was somehow perfect just because an outlet for the incessant whining that has become the defining feature of fandom wasn't around at the time.

But you've got a point, the contemporary is as rarely accepted by older generations and that was no different 30 years ago.

However, 30 years ago there were significantly less AFOLs, because, until LEGO forums became popular in the mid 2000s, it wasn't really socially acceptable for adults to admit (even to themselves) they had an interest in LEGO.  So there would have a been far less whining as well.

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Yeah, while classic Pirates was my favorite theme when I was a young person, the later Pirates sets had their own strong points (a less garish color palette for example).

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Mister Phes said:

Based on managing an AFOL LEGO Pirates Forum during the release of the 2009 and 2015 LEGO Pirate sets, it did not seem the majority of AFOLs felt they were laughable. 

In fact, the 2009 pirate sets were welcomed enthusiastically for the most part, I recall the biggest complaint was the palm trees because they were reduced to a couple of pieces. The sets themselves however, were mostly praised.

But unfortunately, the 2015 sets didn't have the same impact because the LEGO Group more or less rehashed well used concepts, albeit into flimsier structures.

Still, I don't recall anyone describing the sets as laughable, it was more a case of being less satisfied.

Well, it seems I projected my own experience a bit harshly to all of us and I was wrong. For me personally, they were a huge letdown. I did like the older tone, the dioramas and the colors, the sails arts were all more serious for me, even tough they were highly romanticized as well according to the pop culture at the time. I liked that you had vast options to collect, I liked the idea of factions. You could choose. Today the popularity of the mainstream movies and brands dictate the steps for Lego. Marvel, Disney, licensed themes... now all kids get what they get. Parents go into the store and just take down a set for this year's christmas. At least Ninjago is quite complete and collectable up to this point, I take that as something positive.

8 hours ago, Aanchir said:

I don't think you're a dummy at all… but I do think you need to avoid the temptation of thinking there's any need to rank interests based on which are more or less valid, no matter your criteria. Considering your own interests innately superior to other people's is an easy temptation, but alienates other people and also can limit your frame of reference. Whereas considering more popular interests innately superior to less popular ones can both result in unreasonable pressure to "follow the crowd" and suppress the value of your own individual experience, plus close you off to exploring stuff that might be niche or low-profile, but align well with or complement your other interests.

I've read your answer, just did not want to quote the whole post. I've liked your own personal story about the matter and I liked it, I understand you. I may lost of sight of some of the general truth here about the themes, so I guess I must be a bit more acceptable from now on.

 

Edited by Medzomorak

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12 minutes ago, Medzomorak said:

Well, it seems I projected my own experience a bit harshly to all of us and I was wrong.

 

Many people do that, it's quite normal.  Once upon a time I did the same myself, but over time I came to realise I should at least provide a degree of evidence to back my statements, rather than share assumption or speculation.

12 minutes ago, Medzomorak said:

 I did like the older tone, the dioramas and the colors, the sails arts were all more serious for me, even tough they ere highly romanticized as well according to the pop culture at the time. I liked that you had vast options to collect, I liked the idea of factions. You could choose.

I completely agree with you there.

However, back in 2009, there hadn't been any new SYSTEM Pirate sets released in 12 years! 

There was a rather obtuse 4+ Pirate theme released during 2003 and some Duplo Pirate sets released during 2006.  It seemed like the LEGO Group was deliberately skirting around what AFOLs wanted - more SYSTEM style pirate sets!

So these sets targeted at a preschool audience helped lower expectations when the 2009 sets were released.  We were just happy we were finally getting something closer to the original Pirates.

Although, in my opinion, I thought the 2009 sets were a decent return to form,  it's more the 2015 sets which felt too derivative because they rehashed too many of the same ideas.

However, I will give an honourable mention to  70409 Shipwreck Defense as that set did something with the shipwreck concept which hadn't previously been done in Pirates.

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7 hours ago, Mister Phes said:

Although, in my opinion, I thought the 2009 sets were a decent return to form,  it's more the 2015 sets which felt too derivative because they rehashed too many of the same ideas.

However, I will give an honourable mention to  70409 Shipwreck Defense as that set did something with the shipwreck concept which hadn't previously been done in Pirates.

Although the 2015 sets were not really innovative in terms of subject matter, I think they took some really impressive strides forward in terms of building techniques.

For example, I loved the rocky, uneven coastlines visible in sets like 70410 Soldiers Outpost and 70411 Treasure Island. It called to mind detailed landscaping techniques I was only accustomed to seeing in sets aimed at somewhat older builders like 9476 The Orc Forge from The Lord of the Rings theme, and felt like a major step up from the single-piece island base from 6241 Loot Island or the much less compelling blocky yellow coastline from my childhood's 6254 Rocky Reef.

It was also delightful to see the reliance on printed or stickered wall panels for exposed brickwork in previous imperial fort and outpost sets give way to smaller and more versatile parts like arch and masonry bricks. Don't get me wrong, I love pieces like BURPs and wall panels, and it frustrates me when people treat them as "dumbed down" even when they are genuinely useful for efficiently creating a sturdy structure… but actually building up the patterns that were previously represented by predefined graphics felt both more authentic to the LEGO aesthetic and more respectful to kids' building ability.

I also loved some of the throwbacks to many classic Pirates sets and figures I have fond memories of to this day, such as the re-imaginings of Captain Roger/Captain Redbeard and Bo'sun Will Cavendish, a brick-built skull motif that echoed those in sets like 6248 Volcano Island or 6279 Skull Island, and a redesign of the classic Pirate map (instead of just reusing maps from entirely different themes like Indiana Jones).

Even if you weren't convinced that these sets measured up to the classics that inspired them, it's easy to see how many ways they were intended as a love letter to the theme's heritage. To be honest, I think that wave might have been a lot better appreciated if it had just gotten more than five sets, and more intermediate price points between $30 and $100 (either as part of the same wave or as a follow-up wave).

 

That's definitely something we can all hope for with the next Pirates (and Castle) wave — but I think the best chance of actually GETTING bigger waves of sets will be if LEGO takes their time and releases them when they see the strongest chances of success, which I suspect would not be in a year like this one when their main focus is on The LEGO Movie 2.

I would personally also like to see more sets at price points ABOVE $100 in both the Castle and Pirates themes, since even if great things are possible at the $100 price point, a lot of the scale and grandeur of sets such as Black Seas Barracuda, Skull's Eye Schooner, Imperial Trading Post, Eldorado Fortress, etc. was only possible because they cost considerably MORE than the equivalent $100 in today's money.

Those sets' original prices were between $66 and $126.50, and after 26 to 30 years of inflation that's equivalent to between $136.44 and $224.42 in 2019 dollars. Is it any wonder that today's $100 sets often seem underwhelming by comparison? It should be clear how much more LEGO is able to give buyers at price points over $100 — even non-D2C, 9+ and 10+ sets like 70618 Destiny's Bounty, 70357 Jestro's Volcano Lair, 4195 Queen Anne's Revenge, 9474 The Battle of Helm's Deep, 70657 Ninjago City Docks, and provide ample evidence of that.

The biggest obstacle I see to giving the Pirates or Castle theme this same push is conventional wisdom among parents and even some AFOLs that anything over $100 is an exorbitant sum kids can't hope to afford. And while this isn't true either for LEGO from a historical standpoint or for the toy industry more broadly (have any of y'all looked at what a Barbie Dream House costs nowadays?), I can see why LEGO has been hesitant to take that risk with the Castle and Pirates waves up to this point.

Still, I've been keeping my fingers crossed for years now to see these themes get out of that rut and start applying more of the strategies we've seen pay off so well in today's most successful themes.

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3 minutes ago, Aanchir said:

Although the 2015 sets were not really innovative in terms of subject matter, I think they took some really impressive strides forward in terms of building techniques. For example, I loved the rocky, uneven coastlines visible in sets [...]  It was also delightful to see the reliance on printed or stickered wall panels for exposed brickwork in previous imperial fort and outpost sets give way to smaller and more versatile parts like arch and masonry bricks.

Yes, indeed these newer sets have indeed kept up with contemporary building trends however, for me that's not enough to justify rehashing what's been done before.

I'd rather see these techniques applied to design concepts and thematics which haven't been previously explored.

A while back we were discussing possibilities for new pirate sub-themes and we arrived at Merchants protected by the Haven Guard from the Smugglers.

Based on that brief description those names probably don't seem that appealing, but each sub-theme explored concepts previously unused in LEGO Pirates.

The Merchants for example were influenced by the Dutch West India Trading Company and expanded upon what was seen in 6277 Imperial Trading Post to offer a range of non-military sets...  for the pirates to plunder!

 

3 minutes ago, Aanchir said:

I also loved some of the throwbacks to many classic Pirates sets and figures I have fond memories of to this day, such as the re-imaginings of Captain Roger/Captain Redbeard and Bo'sun Will Cavendish, a brick-built skull motif that echoed those in sets like 6248 Volcano Island or 6279 Skull Island, and a redesign of the classic Pirate map (instead of just reusing maps from entirely different themes like Indiana Jones).

I found those throwbacks too blatant...  The Brick Skull had already been done twice so it was time for something new.

But obviously children ages 7-12 were the intended market for those sets so they would most likely be unaware of any throwback.

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On 6/15/2019 at 8:23 PM, Cyberfounder said:

Oh boy, those catalogue bring back memories... I spent hours and hours staring at them imagining stories and adventures. :wub:

Have you gotten any more of them? :moar:

I still have some creased physical copies, yes. But you can check them all the same online here: https://brickset.com/library/catalogues

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We are all out of touch, IMHO, we are clinging to good old memories this line has brought us over the years.

Lego is a corporation that have to makes ends meet, now depending on who you talk to it's all good and bad, I mean if you ever stumble in deep german forums you can see how fans who grew up in the 70's, 80's are mad that lego went the IP over everything route, which is true, I feel City is the only successful old school line but the sad true is that kids nowdays are all into ninjago, nexus knights, lego movie, Disney princesses and friends, mostly because if anyone has seen cartoon network, they get all the exposure there.  I too love classic space, castle's, kingdoms, most of all pirates!  I am too super sad that lego kicked  the curb the pirates line for the majestic 30th anniversary release which they did 10 years ago, but the demographics have changed, call me crazy but I do love the 2015 line, they were starting the produce their lego formula or making smaller sets into big ones and my guess was that the "next" wave would had been bigger sets of course, the forts had that AFOL city build to them, I could had imagined what would have been the newer sets

but spending time at lego stores, some good friends that I have known for the past 5 years have told me that the pirates line never sold that well, same with marvel, heck kids choices are weird now days, but at the end of the day kids are really not buying that many toys anymore, which would lead to believe if Lego days are semi numbered, my kids despite having the whole entire toy story 4 line up only play with the minifigures and leave the bricks laying around, but who knows licensed set pricing keeps going up, but with sometimes less bricks and pieces per dollar, at the end of day we all know deep down that there won't be a line in 2020, unless lego approves the pirate ideas set and decides to test waters with new sets.  My local Walmart has the roller coaster themed pirate set for 72, at least like 20 stacked.  

I am a simple guy I guess, I love all sets from all the previous releases up to the 2015 even though it was barebones, I do wish lego did give some tough love to castles/pirates a bit more to say the least.  I feel the new mars explorations are filling the classic space theme in a good way, im excited for them, I love the new designs, would love me some pirates more I guess

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