Sunday, April 1, 2012

Lego Misses the Boat

So, I recently read that Mega Bloks managed to snag a Blizzard license. I've seen pre-lim images of the upcoming World of Warcraft line and read that a Star Craft set was sold at the last Blizzcon event.

So now Lego has missed three of the biggest merchandising trends: Halo, World of Warcraft, and Star Craft.

We know it's not because of the violence or dark-toned themes inherent in the stories because Lego recently agreed to ten more years of Star Wars, in spite of the darkness and violence of The Clone Wars animated story.

So what happened? A Warcraft or Starcraft collectable minifig line alone would be enough to pay for the license fees.

At this point it must come down to politics. Maybe the license owners just don't like Lego.

Maybe Lego's turnaround wasn't what they wanted or maybe the level of detail in the product.

Whatever happened, Lego missed the boat. And so did Lego fans.

Lego vs. Violence

After watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars Umbaran story I have come to the conclusion that Lego can no longer claim to have an issue with violent or dark-toned properties. Long after those episodes aired, Lego agreed to ten more years of the Star Wars license.

The Umbaran story has it all: soldiers being crushed and cut in half or eaten, an execution, even a suicide bomber. One scene shows an enemy combatant struggling to breath through a cracked helmet and a Clone Trooper pointing a gun toward his head then pulling the trigger.

This article isn't about trying to get Lego to pull out of the license because of the violence, it's about the Lego company's hypocrisy.

Don't tell us that a military theme would be too violent, you already have that with the Clone Wars. You've had it for a while but this particular story is so extreme in its graphic depictions and dramatic effects that I wonder if kids should even be watching the show at all.

My point, perhaps not clearly written, is that if The Clone Wars is not too violent or dark for Lego, then I don't see how much of anything else could be either.

Lego is not allowed to use that excuse as a crutch anymore.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lego Space Issues (Part Two)

I hadn't planned on doing a series for this particular topic, but some more thoughts came to mind.

Earlier I mentioned that UCS-scaled ships outside of the Star Wars line might be cool, but what about larger space ships in general?

I'm looking around my Lego wall and there are several Lego Star Wars ships sitting around and they are all of a larger size than the general space-themed lines tend to get. I've complained before about the conflict-in-a-box issue. When you put resources into multiple vehicles and accessories, you take away from the main feature of the set.

What if, instead of forcing the blue viper ship into an $80 set (which was designed with a "jail", rover, and alien ship besides the main defense vehicle), the viper ship had been redesigned as a stand-alone $40-$50 set? I'm looking at my revamped Star Wars Arc Fighter and wondering why Lego thinks they have to force the main themes to have all that action packed into the box when stand-alone vehicles can sell very well on their own.

I understand that they've done their market research and that the main themes are designed with a younger audience in mind. I can't help but wonder why Lego won't add a few higher priced, stand-alone models into a few of their play themes...test the waters so to speak. They take so many more risky gambles that a couple of test sets couldn't hurt that badly if they failed to sell.

This train of thought is incomplete. It has a few holes. For instance the Mars Mission line went bonkers near the end of its shelf life and a few really cool things happened with it. On the other hand, the Space Police line sort of fizzled. The limo was interesting but really deserved a larger budget and the "transformable" police cruiser thing had a nice profile but turned out to be an abomination once built. There should have been a high-end police bus model in this theme instead of the shallow base (which had some really great parts but was otherwise rather pointless)

Obviously I'm speaking as a model builder of sorts. I can make my own stuff if I'm unhappy with what Lego produces. I'm just saying, "Hey, I actually like some of these sets as limited kit models and would like to buy more." I don't mind following instructions if I'm building something cool.

Just give me more cool.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lego Space Issues

I'm ready for something original.

So far we've had a revamped Mars line, revamped Space Police, and now revamped UFO. If they continue with this trend we are likely to see a revamped M-Tron next. Why M-Tron and not another theme? Because Mark Stafford has stated that M-Tron is one of his favorite classic space themes. And in one of the Brickjournal magazine issues there is mention of a spacy dumptruck that they can't show us yet.

I know that M-Tron (and the "M") was all about magnates, but I suspect that the theme could make a reappearance as a space-construction/mining theme. Or at the very least a resource management/gathering one.

Otherwise, we might see a new Ice Planet theme, lot's of fans have been waiting for one and were quite disappointed when Lego missed the campy tie-in with the actual year.

Blacktron was given a nod with the recent Space Police pirates, Unitron and Spyrius were kind of small and I am unfamiliar with their stories. Robo-force (or whatever) was also small and might work as a new mech line, but please, no classic-styled robots.

Insectoids? I didn't really like that theme though I bought some to boost my collection straight out of my dark age. Although I could see the theme working with Lego's new anything-goes attitude regarding minifigs. Give us an insectoid alien nemesis with some cool ships and vehicles (not insect-based, with the exception of a multi-legged mech or two). I think we might go for that.

UCS scaled space ships outside of the Star Wars line. That would be really cool. Would anyone buy them though? UCS works because its Star Wars. The Cafe Corner series works because the buildings are quality designs. So...a UCS-scaled space ship would have to been done right. What if it were based off a Classic Space design? Imagine a giant Uranium Search vehicle, or Alien Moon Walker...or FX Star Patroller? Something bigger? Why not?

Where's My Universe?

I can't believe Lego let Lego Universe die like that. There should have been a boat load of sets supporting the game. This was a huge missed opportunity and Lego should be ashamed of themselves.

I didn't play the game so I don't know what kind of adventure stories might have been involved, but Lego Universe should have been able to spawn several lines of product.

All that money and investment time simply flushed down the toilet.

I doubt that Lego will ever take a shot at the online gaming market again, unless it involves a licensed product of another company.

Can't win them all, I suppose, but wow, this should have been the most awesome thing ever.

Hits and Misses From 2011

Just a quick rundown of my predictions for 2011 and how they turned out.

"I think we will be seeing a third release of the new Space Police."
Didn't happen. Got a revamped UFO line instead. Not bad, mixed blessings.

"I suspect Power Miners is at its end."
Gone. I did hope for more lime parts and we got them in Ninjago.

"I suspect, as many others do, that the Star Wars line will continue."
Ten more years. Still comes at a premium price, still loaded with new parts that can be spread across other themes and colors. Nice alternative until Lego decides to give us more original stuff in the Lego Space line.

"Hmm...Creator, Racers, Technic, Town/City, all still going strong. Even Bionicle, though it has now been relaunched as a new franchise with a new story and new characters will likely continue to do well. If only those silvery parts would be produced in solid grays..."
Same old, same old. Still wishing for more silvery parts to appear in proper greys.

"Prince of Persia and Toy Story will likely not see new sets next year, but that's a long time from now. Well, not so much really, by August/September we will see leaks of 2011 sets, so not so far off I suppose. Still, you never know. Being a Disney license anything could happen. Would like to see some other Pixar stuff though..."
Both lines are done but we got Cars...I think, suddenly I'm not sure what the release date for those sets was...

"Indiana Jones seems to be on hiatus, supposed to be a fifth movie in the works so we might still see more from this line."
Lego moved on to it's original adventures line with Pharohs and now Dinosaurs. Good move.

"Won't miss Pirates" I did some odd rambling on this one but I mentioned Pirates of the Caribbean and that's what we got.

"Lego Universe...we will see some sets come from this game, mark my words on that. There is no way in God's green Earth that Lego would design an entire digital world full of Lego creations without intentions of putting some of that stuff on the shelf."
This needs a post of it's own. Not only was I dead wrong but Lego missed a HUGE opportunity.

"So, we are left with Atlantis, I suppose. It is a very nice line."
Gone but not forgotten.

Not a bad score, I was right more often than wrong. I guess that's a win?

Say What?

Did I really go an entire year without a post?

Yes.

Yes I did.

Went through a lot this past year.

Got a new job. It was pretty tough for me, very physical and I was on twelve-hour shifts. Had some weekend time but was too exhausted to do anything with my hobbies. Played some World of Warcraft and pouted a lot. Besides, the Legos were in the garage and it was unheated in the winter and uncooled in the summer.

Had some emotional issues to work through. Still working them out. Thankfully my wife is understanding and my kids are sort of easy to please...mostly.

Been using a CPAP machine for Sleep Apnea for about eighteen months, lost a LOT of weight, about eighty pounds. I almost died before getting a sleep test and the diagnosis. Had no idea how close I was. The nurse came in and ended the test within about an hour and a half. Said I was 'off the chart" then hooked me up to a machine for the rest of the night. Best sleep I could remember having for years.

Lego is in the house now, still not really building. Caught up on a lot of sets I had missed throughout 2011. New job meant more money but had a lot of catching up to do so I couldn't buy any sets for most of the year.

Job changed to eight hour shifts and now I'm working six and seven days a week. This is my third day off in about six weeks. Having time after work is a mixed blessing. Sometimes would rather have the whole weekend off. Still getting used to the extra daily time.

So that's about it, I suppose. Got lots of Lego thoughts to share in upcoming posts.