Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mega Bloks Wins Halo

The Brother's Brick was tipped off that Lego's number one competitor has won the license for Halo. Right away comments began rolling in about how it's no big deal and that no one is going to buy the sets.

I followed the link found in the comments and took a look at the sets and the first thought that came to me was, "Why couldn't these have been made by Lego?"

Which got me to thinking about the brand loyalty I've been adhering to all these years. Granted, Mega Bloks was initially just a cheap and poorly produced version of Lego. But over the years they have created an identity of their own. Their models are more realistic and detailed, the brick density in their sets is greater, and often their product looks much more fun than Lego. From my experiences with Mega Bloks, the only real quality difference seems to be that the bricks are softer. Some people have reported that the softness is an issue when constructing detailed MOCs. Also, while I am a huge fan of their highly detailed minifigs, I do not like that the gear is molded onto the figs rather than included as an accessory. This means that if you buy a pirate or Halo minifig from Mega Bloks, it will always be a pirate or Halo minifig. There is no swapping of gear or body parts to make original characters.

However, considering that many brick buyers are purchasing the license brands anyways, maybe this is not a big deal. Lego Star Wars collectors often do not take apart their sets once built, Princess Lea will always remain Princess Lea for them.

I understand the fear that some AFOLs might have that Halo, being a popular intellectual property, could take some sales from Lego. The fact that Mega Bloks even exists suggests that they actually do take some sales from Lego. How much more could they take? What if Mega Bloks had won the Star Wars license?

Halo collectors will buy the Mega Bloks Halo line. Lego builders who do not mind mixing brands will also buy Mega Bloks Halo line. Parents on a budget will buy Mega Bloks Halo for their children. Children who do not yet experience brand loyalty to toys will buy Mega Bloks Halo.

Mega Bloks does stand to make a good showing with this line. They could even force Lego to reconsider their weakening stance on violence even further.

With Lego's current quality issues, yet improving financial state, AFOLs have shown that we will buy product of a lessar quality.

The worse that could happen is that Mega Bloks will continue to gain ground and Lego will continue to drop restrictions and shed quality. Will it be enough to discourage AFOLs from continuing their hobby? I don't think so. The brand loyalty is simply too strong. Even Patrick Swayze still has fans.

My hope is that Mega Bloks will continue to improve their quality and Lego will continue to strive for the best but also cut costs. In the end, I believe the two companies will emerge on equal ground (for the most part) and people who enjoy building with plastic bricks will have more options and more parts to use.

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