Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Solar Sails and Light Sabers

The Lego company often tells the adult fan community that its theme/System product is designed for children in the age range of 7-12 years (or so).

However, as every adult fan of Lego knows, the entire Lego Star Wars line is, at least partially, designed with adult collectors in mind. I understand that George Lucas is also somewhat responsible for the quality, as well as the price, of the Lego Star Wars line. Mr. Lucas takes at least some personal time on almost every licensed product based on his franchise, even if it only entails a cursory glance and a nod of the head.

However, when sets with price points up to $500 are available, who in their right mind would believe for an instant that the Lego Star Wars line is only designed with children in mind?

Yes, Lego is also keeping the adult collectors in mind. Why else would they invite adult collectors to the Lego HQ and go so far as to allow them to help design upcoming sets?

So, it boggles the mind when something like the new Count Dooku set comes along with less than 400pcs but with a price point of $60. Sure, it is a Toys R Us exclusive and that store likely had a say in the retail price, but seriously. The set does not even properly represent the ship from the movie. The main function of the ship is a giant, spidery array of solar sails, a feature that seems to be completely missing from the Lego model. There are a few "spines" that fold out, but they only make the ship appear to have a giant claw.

The only redeeming feature of this set is Count Dooku himself. He has only appeared previously in a $10 dollar set a few years ago. That set goes for around $30 or more these days because of the unique parts in the set: printed sand blue curved slopes, Count Dooku, and his curved chrome light saber hilt. The hilt can be found for $5 and up just by itself. This from what once was a $10 set.

So, here is a dillema then. Normally, if a rare part was featured in a new set, the part would drop in price due to the new influx of quantity. However, this rare light saber hilt comes in a set with a drastic price per part ratio. Also, the set is exclusive so there won't be quite as many produced as other sets and many people will not be able to find one on any toy shelf near them.

This light saber hilt will likely only go up in price, in spite of the new quantities produced.

So, who exactly was this set marketed to anyway? Not the kids at that price point. Not the collectors with its shoddy design and price per part ratio. Maybe the completists will give it a go. Completists are a different brand of collector. The MUST have every item that becomes available in their niche. Completists are willing to spend obscene amounts of money on their collection, no matter the quality or purpose of the product.

Lego has done better. They are still doing far better than they were a decade ago, but AFOLs should continue to keep a critical eye open to help prevent as many blunders as possible.

Remember, what we see today is approx. three years old from design concept to shipment. Who knows how many more blunders made it through the process?

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