Lego David

Why is LEGO so hesitant about bringing back classic themes?

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Just now, gza said:

bases its production schedules for toy products on customer orders and forecasts, taking into account historical trends, results of market research, and current market information."

Absolutely stipulated. They ALL do. It's a core tenet of my argument above. And it's the source of my questions.

 

Just now, gza said:

if we don't see them offering similar products, it's a fair assumption they have data or analysis to back it up.

The crux of the matter is this. What does Lego see that makes them say no to Castle and Pirates while direct competitors for the age group say yes? Is TLG prescient here or are their methods overlooking a market segment. 

 

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Playmobil even has 2 different Castle themes going on at the same time.

Knight / Novelmore.

And Pirates.

 

LEGO has none of the sort right now.

And also more focus on animals sold in seperate sets, something I never seen LEGO do.

Edited by TeriXeri

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4 minutes ago, Masked Mini said:

The crux of the matter is this. What does Lego see that makes them say no to Castle and Pirates while direct competitors for the age group say yes? Is TLG prescient here or are their methods overlooking a market segment. 

The historical view, at least in the Lego community, seems to be that these lines would interfere with other lines (Castle to HP, Space to Star Wars, etc.).  Whether that's actually a factor (and whether or not it's actually true) is up for debate. It's possible that, as you've already pointed out, the lack of success of the last Castle and Pirate's series have made them hesitant to produce something similar.  Perhaps limited shelf space at brick and mortar retailers is a factor in us not seeing a traditional line of these sets as we did in the past, and instead we're more likely to see one offs like the IDEAS sets.  My point is that, however much we may question their judgement, Lego is far better equipped to answer these questions than us.  All we can do, for the most part, is speculate, whereas they have huge quantities of data to assist in their decision making.

Edited by gza

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12 minutes ago, gza said:

It's data from their sales.  I don't have access to their financial statements as they are a private company. However, here's a couple small excerpts from the executive summary of Mattel's 2017 financial statement which I quickly pulled up:

"Mattel bases its production schedules for toy products on customer orders and forecasts, taking into account historical trends, results of market research, and current market information."

"Competition among the above companies is intensifying due to trends towards shorter life cycles for individual toy products and an increasing use of high technology in toys. In addition, as a result of the phenomenon of "children getting older younger" resulting from children outgrowing toys at younger ages, Mattel competes with companies that sell products outside the toy aisle, such as electronic consumer products and video games. Competition continues to be heavily influenced by the fact that a small number of retailers account for a large portion of all toy sales, allocate the shelf space from which toys are viewed, and have direct contact with parents and children through in-store purchases, coupons, and print advertisements. Such retailers can and do promote their own private-label toys, facilitate the sale of competitors’ toys, and allocate shelf space to one type of toy over another. Competition is also intensifying due to the availability of online-only distributors, including Amazon.com, which are able to promote a wide variety of toys and represent a wide variety of toy manufacturers, and, with limited overhead, do so at a lower cost."

"During 2017, 2016, and 2015, Mattel incurred expenses of $225.2 million, $215.3 million, and $217.8 million, respectively, in connection with the design and development of products"

Lego is acutely aware of their competitors offerings just as Mattel is- if we don't see them offering similar products, it's a fair assumption they have data or analysis to back it up. Also I'm simply trying to add to the discussion, there's no need to be so dismissive.

I touched upon this in another topic, but essentially my thoughts on this are that Lego does not know what kids want. Kids enlarge do not know what they want either. That's why toy adverts (commercials) exist - to show them what they should want and ask their parents for.

The company I work for sells directly to it's customers, so believe me when I tell you that our multi-national organisation knows specifically what our customers want and buy. The Lego Group, however, [mostly] does not sell directly to its users - it sells to retailers.

Retailers know that Lego Star Wars (for example) sells very well, but their data will show that a massive percentage of those shoppers are adults. Does that mean that all purchases are for adults? Nope. Those adults are probably largely buying for children, but the exact percentage is unknown because, unless you volunteer this information and don't lie (aka, avoiding the Adult Lego Buying Shame, A.L.B.S. for short), they have no way of knowing.

So how does TLG know what to produce? My guess would be that they hire designers to come up with new concepts based on several factors including, but not limited to; hot trends, social media key-words, market research conducted in Lego stores (both brick & mortar stores and online) and through 3rd party Market Research specialist companies (see link for detailed sales pitch, including reference to TLG), TV show tie-ins and hot-topic licenses (where fitting with companies brand guidelines, vision and budget).

My personal suspicion is that, if you made any of the classic themes again, but with a good TV show to back it up and commercials at kids' prime-time television, it would sell well. I may be out of date, but maybe even without the TV show.

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Alright. If we stipulate that the assumption is correct for Castle and Potter, it breaks down right away with City Space competing with Star Wars. And there is no analogue for Pirates. PotC hasn't been on shelves in years.

TLG is indeed the only entity that can shed true light on the subject.

The rest of us poor mortals can only try to inform guesses based on TLGs actions in the market place and to some extent the moves of the other Titans in their sphere.

Fantastic discussion lads! You've made my day.

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21 minutes ago, leafan said:

My personal suspicion is that, if you made any of the classic themes again, but with a good TV show to back it up and commercials at kids' prime-time television, it would sell well. I may be out of date, but maybe even without the TV show.

Well, technically that's what LEGO did for the more recent themes, Chima, Elves, Nexo Knights, I don't see those as "Failures", but I can also understand the heavy cost put in multiple fronts to keep those themes running.

Nexo Knights eventually was cut short due to the TV show not getting another season.

Lots of merchandise, books, magazines and such beside just LEGO sets.

But I don't like the way LEGO is going with the LEGO City Adventures TV show, restricting it to Nickelodeon customers/television but I have discussed that on previous pages, and City is pretty much evergreen anyway.

Edited by TeriXeri

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Just been looking at some lifespans of the later Castle / Pirate themes : 

 

2015 Pirates just came and went, which seemed very quick, they were only sold for about 8-9 months on LEGO.com.

I don't know if the Ninjago 2016 Skybound wave had any effect on that, but those sets were on LEGO.com twice as long.

Also 8 months is just shockingly short lifespan compared to the 2009 Pirate wave which was sold for nearly 2 years in the US. (based on brickset lego.com info)

 

2011 Castle wave also seemed to have a very short lifespan on Lego.com 6-7 months , they retired before 2012.

In 2012 Lord of the Rings sets launched , and the large Kingdoms Joust single set for Castle.

But then for 2013, there's both Castle and Lord of the Rings again, as well as The Hobbit sets, so maybe 2013 Castle got bad sales due to the competition.

After 2014 Hobbit sets were retired, we got 2015 Elves, and 2016 Nexo Knights, which in term now both retired after 2018.

Edited by TeriXeri

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44 minutes ago, TeriXeri said:

Playmobil even has 2 different Castle themes going on at the same time.

Did someone say Playmobil? I love Playmobil! I like City Life. 

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1 hour ago, leafan said:
1 hour ago, gza said:

 

I touched upon this in another topic, but essentially my thoughts on this are that Lego does not know what kids want. Kids enlarge do not know what they want either. That's why toy adverts (commercials) exist - to show them what they should want and ask their parents for.

Adding to the difficulty is that Uncle George and Aunt Susan often buy children sets that they didn't ask for and don't want, so the sets that sell and the sets children want are not always necessarily the same. Of course, if their parents have taught them even the most basic manners, they will simply say "thank you" for the unwanted set and use it as a parts pack!

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Lots of kids these days want/need to relate something to what they already know. I have seen it for years when displaying MOCs. The Agents themed spy-car gets called out as Avengers (The great big A is wot did it), the colourful spaceship that was queried as Overwatch (I will admit, there was some shaping inspired by D.VA before the theme existed). Anything that is certainly matched to an IP proves hugely popular. 

Sure, my big castle was admired, but I was asked if/when I was going to build another Batcave now that there is a whole LEGO Batman film. 

Yeah, it is a small sample of people in my local area attending a local event. But if that is seen as a cluster that repeats across all markets then it is a pretty loud voice when marketing takes a look.

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39 minutes ago, Brandon Pea said:

Did someone say Playmobil? I love Playmobil! I like City Life. 

Sad. Playmobil has discontinued their train sets,  They were G-scale sized.  I wonder if Playmobil train fans ponders the same thing.  Why is LEGO still selling train sets and Playmobil won't bring back trains? 

 

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15 minutes ago, GREG998 said:

Perhaps there was competition between the two brands and Lego "killed the fight" against Playmobil.

Lego has actually been doing trains long before Playmobil. 

20 minutes ago, dr_spock said:

Sad. Playmobil has discontinued their train sets,  They were G-scale sized.  I wonder if Playmobil train fans ponders the same thing.  Why is LEGO still selling train sets and Playmobil won't bring back trains?

I like the road vehicles. 

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1 minute ago, GREG998 said:

Yep, that's perhaps why they won the war.

What about Thomas?

 71RH6e+7NZL._AC_SL1500_.jpg

Edited by Brandon Pea

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3 hours ago, GREG998 said:

Ah ok! :) Nice one!

I love Thomas! Speaking of licensed themes replacing the generic......If Lego partners with Mattel....Thomas may go mad and murder other Lego trains. :head_back:

Edited by Brandon Pea

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6 hours ago, gza said:

Pretty much my line of thinking. I have gone back on classic-castle.com and seen discussions from the early 2000s where users absolutely panned Knights Kingdom 2 saying it was "not even a real Castle line". Well, I was a kid at the time, and I absolutely loved KK2. As much as I didn't like Nexo Knights for all I know there are kids out there for whom it's their favorite theme. I think we're a lot less in touch with what the kids of today want than we think.

I remember I was 10 when Knights Kingdom II came in. I liked and hated it in the same time. It was truly not real castle because of lots of gimmicks, no factions, and a cartoonish backstory for those colored knights. I just simply liked the old crusaders and black knight from catalogs more. The second waves with more factions were okayish, but the later fantasy line seemed so much better in my child's eyes. Still for today's Ninjago and Nexo Knight KK2 is godly.

But I guess that's just me, I remember most of my classmates to be watching animes while I was reading about the hundred years' war and stuff instead. I felt my preferences too marginal back in the days as well.

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"Research and development activities:

Each year, new product launches account for approximately 60% of the LEGO Group’s sales to consumers. More than 250 designers from more than 40 different countries make up the creative core of product development within the company, with the majority being based in the company’s headquarters in Billund, Denmark. The development activities that enable such an extensive degree of innovation comprise a wide range of initiatives from trend spotting and anthropological studies to the development of specific products and campaigns. The LEGO Group also co-operates with a number of educational institutions concerning various research projects within, among other topics, children’s play and new technologies."

Note 8. Research and development expenses

822 million DKK (roughly 126 million USD) for FY 2018

550 million DKK (roughly 84 million USD) for FY 2017                  (source)

Just to give an idea of the rough amount of capital they invest in this area.

 

 

 

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My biggest question is, do we (AFOLs) really need new classic themes to be released?

Take the pirate bay for example, that is going to be huge. Personally my budget is restricted (by myself) to a 500-1000 $/year range for old classic sets. If I buy the pirate bay I might not be able to buy the old Imperial Trading Post I was planning for years now. So I have to decide wheter I like the nostalgic old set or this great new design more. A new theme should be very well designed even in my adult eyes to really tilt the balance.

Okay some of us might have a 10k USD limit for a year I guess, but you know what I'm implying here. It's not a coincidence a well conditioned oldie can reach $500 today.

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8 hours ago, leafan said:

I touched upon this in another topic, but essentially my thoughts on this are that Lego does not know what kids want. Kids enlarge do not know what they want either. That's why toy adverts (commercials) exist - to show them what they should want and ask their parents for

Well said! That's a very important detail that I don't see mentioned very often.

LEGO has full control over what appeals to kids, even if they don't realize it. Before Ninjago, were Ninjas that popular among kids? I doubt that. But because the theme was so well executed, kids today have fallen in love with it and never stop wanting more. It became so popular in fact, that it even won the battle with the licensed competitor it had... That being the Teenage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme, which was based on an IP that was far more popular than Ninjago. But, that theme only lasted for two years (2013-2014) and Ninjago kept going to this day.

I firmly believe if executed well, that could happen to pretty much any LEGO theme. 

It's all a matter of having a proper launch and proper marketing. If you get that right, kids could end up preferring your original product over the licensed one. 

 

 

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What if the costs of creating a new or a reboot line of classic themes from zero (or so) are higher than just buying some licenses and then replicating models already designed by others? Not to mention the longer preparation time and the greater risk of a complete failure.

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15 hours ago, Masked Mini said:

You make a good point.

But I disagree with the assertion that it is true in this instance.

My reasoning is thusly:

Town Space seems to sell well, Saturn V die for sure, ISS is hotly anticipated. Star wars continues to sell the same 20ish sets. There most certainly appears to be appetite for Space Prawns from children and adults.

Harry Potter sells like a champ. LOTR didn't do as well but is now highly sought after. There appears to be appetite to an extent amongst children and quite a bit more amongst adults for fantasy/castle prawns.

Town space selling well and the NASA sets selling well suggests that todays kids like realistic space rather than futuristic space (especially futuristic views from 30-40 years ago.) Star Wars is still a popular license, even if merchandising is not as exceptional as it used to be for the recent movies. Harry Potter sells well because it is Harry Potter, not because it is a fantasy / castle theme that also happens to be licensed. You can put a Harry Potter logo on a stick and it will sell well at $30. 

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2 hours ago, MAB said:

Town space selling well and the NASA sets selling well suggests that todays kids like realistic space rather than futuristic space (especially futuristic views from 30-40 years ago.)

I'm glad someone agrees with me there. The space sets that we get from City satisfy me enough to where I'm not even worried about classic space. 

Deep Sea Divers also gave me some closure on the state of pirates.....dead. Now we just need a Forest Exploration subtheme to let us know where the castle sets is.

In other words, classic space, pirates and castle aren't coming back. 

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3 hours ago, MAB said:

kids like realistic space rather than futuristic space (especially futuristic views from 30-40 years ago.) Star Wars is still a popular license

Well point one is refuted by point two isn't it? Star Wars is "futuristic views from 30-40 years ago." albeit "broken down Diesel Punk" futurism instead of more Trekkian "everything clean and neat utopian" futurism.
Mind you, it's a small jump from the Mars exploration sets to exploring the moon or Jovian moons, and we're right back to classic space including the crater baseplates. 


Your Harry Potter point is literally true. Absolutely no argument.

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6 hours ago, astral brick said:

What if the costs of creating a new or a reboot line of classic themes from zero (or so) are higher than just buying some licenses and then replicating models already designed by others? Not to mention the longer preparation time and the greater risk of a complete failure.

What do you mean by "greater risk of complete failure? As far as we know, there have been few original themes that were failures in the true sense of the word. If anything, there have been more failures with licensed themes than with original themes. 

And no, the fact that they are too expensive to produce isn't the reason LEGO isn't making them anymore. Licensed themes have always been more expensive because of the fees they have to pay in order to keep those licenses. That's the reason why licensed sets are often priced higher then in-house sets.

3 hours ago, MAB said:

Town space selling well and the NASA sets selling well suggests that todays kids like realistic space rather than futuristic space (especially futuristic views from 30-40 years ago.)  

Saying that modern kids prefer realistic space over sci-fi space is just ridiculous to be honest. After all, if that's the case, than why in the world is Star Wars still one of the top selling LEGO themes? 

Edited by Lego David

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Just now, Lego David said:

After all, if that's the case, than why in the world is Star Wars one of the top selling LEGO themes?

Because Star Wars has a story behind it. Its also a well known franchise and extremely popular. Not just among KFOLs and TFOLs, but also AFOLs as well. That's why it sells. Classic Space didn't suck, but it didn't have any of the traits that Star Wars has besides the fact that they are both science fiction. 

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10 hours ago, gza said:

"Research and development activities:

Each year, new product launches account for approximately 60% of the LEGO Group’s sales to consumers. More than 250 designers from more than 40 different countries make up the creative core of product development within the company, with the majority being based in the company’s headquarters in Billund, Denmark. The development activities that enable such an extensive degree of innovation comprise a wide range of initiatives from trend spotting and anthropological studies to the development of specific products and campaigns. The LEGO Group also co-operates with a number of educational institutions concerning various research projects within, among other topics, children’s play and new technologies."

Note 8. Research and development expenses

822 million DKK (roughly 126 million USD) for FY 2018

550 million DKK (roughly 84 million USD) for FY 2017                  (source)

Just to give an idea of the rough amount of capital they invest in this area.

Yeah, these market research companies do not come cheap. Doesn't invalidate what I said though.

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