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TLG acquires Bricklink

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46 minutes ago, Grover said:

(snip) Anyone with some decent coding skills should be gearing up to create a sellers marketplace as well.  This bodes well for sellers leaving BL and migrating to another platform.  It will be interesting to see what that platform is.

Funny, as someone with 15+ years experience in web development, this was my second thought as well (my first was "What the f...?")  I sincerely believe that if this whole thing turns out to be a disaster, the market itself will survive.  Buyers and sellers will find (or create) new venues and the free market will win out under a new umbrella, it just might take some time.  At worst, this is an inconvenient delay (that will no doubt hurt many in the community) but it's not the end of a sub-culture.  This genie left the bottle twenty years ago and while TLG might be able to wave it newly purchased bottle around, sticking the cork back in at this point isn't going to capture the genie.  If people don't like changes that come under TLG's control, they'll just close up their BL shops in favor of BrickOwl, eBay or whatever other option comes along.  No disrespect to the people behind BL or BO, but, at its heart, the software isn't _that_ sophisticated; the right people with the right skills and the right motivation could cook up a viable alternative to BL and, with the possible exception of post-aquisition non-compete clauses for current BL staff, TLG wouldn't have any say in the matter.  TLG can't stop you from parting out and reselling kits you bought as a general consumer (reselling LUG-bulk buys and charitable donations from Lego might be a trickier matter but kits, PAB cups filled at stores, etc. are fair game) and if BL becomes an unfavorable place for sellers and buyers to meet, they'll just find someplace else to hook up.  The internet is a big place.

That said, I don't _know_ that this buy-out is a bad thing (though it does make me nervous).  Maybe they'll leave things pretty much alone and simply try to learn how and why the BL culture works.  Maybe they'll crack down on unlicensed compatible parts,  beat us over the head with the "Official" names of colors and parts, and threaten to ban anyone who forgets to put the little registered trademark symbol after the word "LEGO" in our private messages.  Maybe they'll deliberately mis-manage it so badly that when they finally shut it down people will be grateful it's gone; who knows?

Strategically though, I don't see the upside no matter how they play this.  If they want to learn how to better connect with AFOLs or improve their software for a MOC oriented audience, they could have done that by buying metadata from BL or hiring consultants (even possibly BL software developers) to improve their own in-house offerings - get the knowledge without assuming day-to-day operations of a foreign business model.  If they are trying to protect their brand from dilution or inappropriate associations, they've actually moved in the wrong direction - Bricklink as a wholly independent entity allowed them deniability, now everything any BL seller does has the implicit blessing of TLG unless TLG launches a crackdown against any BL seller that deals in goods, services or policies that TLG disapproves of.  If they are trying to control the secondary market, then they are delusional, they have a hard enough time dealing with clones and knock-offs on the primary market.  If they were trying endear themselves to AFOLs, maybe they should have just opened up B&P as a BL shop and focused on competitive pricing.

Whether their intentions are good or ill, I think I'm most concerned for the software side of things.  I don't know if TLG writes their own software in-house or hires it out to development shops, but the one thing their software has proven time and time again is that they are a toy company that makes physical bricks, not a software house.  When it comes to software, they're just not very good designing it and they lack the commitment to maintain it.  Their shop web-site is marginal at best, software tie-ins to their kits over the years typically see the programs abandoned before they even wring all the bugs out of them; even large, heavily lauded efforts like LDD and Lego Universe just seem to come and go like pet-projects run by someone with a short attention span.  Even if they chose to do nothing today with the BL site and Stud.io, it seems like it would only be a matter of time before they'd start tinkering in a well meaning effort to 'improve' things with their reverse-Midas touch and end up either diminishing what they've got or replacing it with something unrecognizable and less desirable.

 

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1 hour ago, hagridshut said:

but it has been an excellent reference resource for sets and components

IMHO, this is the best part of BL. What will happen to this datas concerning sets, parts and minifigs? I hope they will be kept online. But as had been said before - wait and see.

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My post from The Pub.

I saw this morning that Bricklink.com was acquired by TLG, and my mouth hit the floor.

While many of us can list the set that brought us out of the dark ages, for me, it was Bricklink, so I am a little apprehensive about this change. Bricklink has opened up this hobby to me, and has allowed me to do a number of MOCs. I hope moving forward, this acquisition will will not be too disruptive to element acquisition..

I will say, that in the last two years, I have bought more pieces directly from TLG as their Replacement Bricks site gets better. While there are some organizations issues that Bricklink does better, maybe this change will help them provide improved access to new and used elements.

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20 minutes ago, Masked Mini said:

This has the potential to be quite sinister.
 

It certainly does. I'm trying to reserve judgement until we have more information, but ... this could be quite dire. Bricklink plays such a unique and vital role in the AFOL community.

I could see TLG deciding that the secondary market is too much of a competitive threat, so they bought Bricklink with the intent of either jacking up seller fees so TLG gets their cut, or they shut it down altogether. Obviously other secondary markets exist, but Bricklink is THE main one. With this one move, TLG now controls a vast share of the secondary market, and that makes me very uneasy. I simply don't trust their motives. 

 

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52 minutes ago, Erik Leppen said:

consequences

None at all.
It's not prohibited to make these parts as long as you don't use the brandname Lego.

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My other question is what's going to happen to licensed parts on the secondary market?  TLG tries not to sell licensed parts on B&P now.  If they own BL and have an agreement with the IP company to avoid selling their licensed parts, could this mean the end of SW and other licensed parts (printed or not) on BL?  It could be that these parts are banned in this manner.

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Just now, Grover said:

My other question is what's going to happen to licensed parts on the secondary market?  TLG tries not to sell licensed parts on B&P now.  If they own BL and have an agreement with the IP company to avoid selling their licensed parts, could this mean the end of SW and other licensed parts (printed or not) on BL?  It could be that these parts are banned in this manner.

than they will be sold on another website and tlg misses the selling fee's

13 minutes ago, The Reader said:

IMHO, this is the best part of BL. What will happen to this datas concerning sets, parts and minifigs? I hope they will be kept online. But as had been said before - wait and see.

there is also peeron

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I hope this doesn't mean the end of building MOC's (I ain't gonna wait a few years for another BL to open and I don't really have a huge collection of parts). Gonna make a BrickOwl account just in case, but I hope I never have to use it. Hopefully, LEGO keeps the independence of the market and maybe add there own market presence by selling pieces not available in B&P. 

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LEGO sure understands that today online is killing retail. Bricklink is becoming the smart hub of LEGO e-shopping and taking too much of their potential revenue. 

It could be a smart act by LEGO to make Bricklink its own Aliexpress. If thats the case then this is beneficial for them and no harm for BL. Bricklink can continue to run as is while LEGO takes its share.

However if they decide to manipulate the market to protect their classic retailers worldwide, here comes the bad news for both LEGO and Bricklink. It will however fail as people will shift to other platforms gradually.

Let me categorize Bricklink's activity as follows:

1- Parts market

2- Used set Market (complete and incomplete)

3- Historical Set Market (overpriced)

4- Oversees Supply (lower price than LEGO)

If I'm LEGO then I'd like to take my share of (1) and hit (4).  I am already fighting (3) through re-issues.

I (LEGO) may also become a seller (the big one) and a buyer (when I need to).

 

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6 minutes ago, Grover said:

I don't have access to a LUG or a Lego store easily either, which is frustrating to me.

Same here. The closest store is several hours away...

Maybe the whole LUG thing isn't working out to their liking?

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It's remarkable eh?

On a fan site.

For Lego.

A community for people who spend thousands of dollars, pounds, euros or whatever on Lego.

Where official sets are endlessly discussed, raved about, hated on, dissected.

That Lego.

Is so mis-trusted.

Edited by andythenorth

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13 minutes ago, andythenorth said:

That Lego.

Is so mis-trusted.

The Lego Group is not equivalent to Lego bricks that we are enthusiasts of.
TLG is a shareholder profit driven corporation in, this the year of our Brick, 2019.
They will make corporate decisions which benefit the corporations bottom line.
Historically those decisions play out poorly for the (niche) consumer.
Especially as they now also need to recover the funds invested in the acquisition + show a ROI.
Incoming moneygrab. Hopefully BL will not be milked to death to satisfy the beancounters but I expect it will be.

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"The LEGO Company has alienated its most vocal evangelists...I have friends who are very angry about it and, I feel their pain. I don’t know what to do, but I’ll certainly be buying less of your product in future."

Some will get the reference :wink:

Edited by andythenorth

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As both an occasional buyer and seller, I figure this will either be very beneficial or it will be a disaster.  I really hope it continues to be a place I can sell an occasional set or buy something Lego no longer offers at a reasonable price.  

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1 hour ago, ShaydDeGrai said:

Funny, as someone with 15+ years experience in web development, this was my second thought as well (my first was "What the f...?")  I sincerely believe that if this whole thing turns out to be a disaster, the market itself will survive.  Buyers and sellers will find (or create) new venues and the free market will win out under a new umbrella, it just might take some time.  At worst, this is an inconvenient delay (that will no doubt hurt many in the community) but it's not the end of a sub-culture.  This genie left the bottle twenty years ago and while TLG might be able to wave it newly purchased bottle around, sticking the cork back in at this point isn't going to capture the genie.  If people don't like changes that come under TLG's control, they'll just close up their BL shops in favor of BrickOwl, eBay or whatever other option comes along.  No disrespect to the people behind BL or BO, but, at its heart, the software isn't _that_ sophisticated; the right people with the right skills and the right motivation could cook up a viable alternative to BL and, with the possible exception of post-aquisition non-compete clauses for current BL staff, TLG wouldn't have any say in the matter.  TLG can't stop you from parting out and reselling kits you bought as a general consumer (reselling LUG-bulk buys and charitable donations from Lego might be a trickier matter but kits, PAB cups filled at stores, etc. are fair game) and if BL becomes an unfavorable place for sellers and buyers to meet, they'll just find someplace else to hook up.  The internet is a big place.

So hope they will keep that in mind, there actually are quite some AFOLs that work in ICT indeed...

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Hmm, these news came really surprising to me - in hindsight, with the recent collaboration in selling that limited run of MOC-sets - it maybe should not surprise us that much. :wink:

I don't really know what the consequences will be and I'm not going to call this the end of days. After all, bricklink itself is just a platform. A platform of thousands of individual sellers, so the consequences of us as buyers will be probably not negative. And if they are, this would mean an open door for a potential competitor to pop up and has its moment. There are likely more Bricklink-MOC-projects coming up instead. Maybe it will even get as much importance as Ideas.

 

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Unexpected bad news

- For Customers: data analysis?

- For Sellers: fees?

- For Mocers: copyright and censorship?

And let's not forget the acquisition of Sohobricks, a clear message towards custom bricks manufactures.

Overall, as a customer, I don't feel very comfortable at the moment.

What would it be the next step? The acquisition of Brickset? Or maybe of Eurobricks?

Anyway, I can foresee a large migration to Brick Owl, provided that Lego doesn't buy it as well.

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2 hours ago, Erik Leppen said:

Now this is a susprise.

Not sure what to think. I'm not really worried about the availabiltiy of official Lego parts, but what kinds of consequences does this have for things like Brickarms, Chromebricks, custom (aluminum) parts, and other such "fan-created additions" to the building system?

LEGO has already said that Brickarms etc will no longer be sold on BL. Obviously, there will be a transition period, but I expect it won’t be long.

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34 minutes ago, Masked Mini said:

TLG is a shareholder profit driven corporation in, this the year of our Brick, 2019.

From what I remember, TLG is a private/family owned profit driven corporation.

As for creating an alternative, lots of people seem to forget that BrickOwl exists, which is part of the problem for anyone creating a replacement. Unless you get all the sellers to move over and have them offer competitive prices, it will fail.

One of the thing whichs always bugged me, was that TLG never made an attempt to improve things like B&Ps.

One bit which hasn't been mentioned is that the sellers on BL tend to buy up LEGO which is on sale in high street shops, online, retailer returns etc. For all of those retailers, this is a good thing. It means they clear their stock. For LEGO, it is a good thing as it means retailers aren't left with excess stock, which makes them more sheepish on order numbers going forward. I don't think LEGO would want to disrupt that aspect of the 3rd party market. That market provides a place where sets that didn't sell go.

In a perfect world for the consumer, it would be great to have LEGO as a seller on BL. When you have a look at LEGOs stock numbers for certain parts, they are swimming in them. At the moment, I buy from both BL and B&Ps depending on which is cheaper for each piece. B&Ps can work well for all the random bits I need as they have them all and thus I don't have to get them via lots of different sellers, e.g. postage costs. Also, some pieces which are not common in sets, but are in high demand, end up being cheaper on B&Ps.

That said, I would see that as being bad for the resellers and you need the resellers to be able to make their profit off the less common/high demand pieces. Their profits in part, come from the convenience of doing it all on one site. Doing it between BL and B&Ps is a pain.

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I'm neutral until I see the direction it'll go. Part of me says "Ooh let's see if they bring more AFOL designer programs, maybe mine will succeed this time" and part of it (the Hermione part) says "THE MINISTRY IS INTERFERING AT HOGWARTS"

 

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