Friday, 19 April 2013

Mr Gold Arrives to Shake up the Minifigures

Fans of LEGO have embraced Collectible Minifigures, feverishly collecting each series and enjoying either displaying the gang together or inserting them into existing LEGO displays. Young and old alike have been putting together each series of 16. But to celebrate ten series LEGO have decided to add a 17th character, the super-rare Mr Gold – in a move that is likely to delight all of these loyal fans…?

Collectible Minifigures are actually quite an annoying prospect. Usually, you buy a LEGO product, and there’s a nice picture on the box of what’s inside. Simple. But with the Collectible Minifigures, it’s a lucky dip – you get one of sixteen different products, and have to trade or spend to complete the set. The reason collectors put up with this is because they are all relatively easy to get – each box of Minifigures contains a few of each, with some slightly rarer than others. The price is the other factor – for the sake of £1.99, completing a set doesn’t break the bank.

So those who have collected since Series 1, all the way to Series 9, will have a total of 144 Collectible Minifigures. Or 153 if the Team GB series is included. So now, Series 10 is hitting stores around the world with a 17th inclusion… Mr Gold. How many Mr Gold mini-figures are going to be available, in the whole world… a whopping, a huge grand total of… 5.000. No typo – it’s not 50,000.It’s 5,000.

There are around 550 toy shops in the UK according to an online directory. If they had two boxes of Collectible Minifigures each, and many will have more than that, that’s around 66,000 Collectible Minifigures out there in the UK. Triple it as supermarkets, pertrol stations and WH Smith sell them too – 198,000. That’s a minimum number of Collectible Minifigures in the UK. And there will only be 5,000 Mr Gold mini-figures worldwide.
So having established how pitifully small that number is, why would LEGO do it? Why produce something that hardly anyone will own? LEGO are there to make money, so clearly it is intended to drive sales. Here is Mr Gold’s biography from the official LEGO website:

Rumor has it that somewhere out there is a very special Minifigure known as Mr. Gold. Shining and golden from the top of his tall top hat to the tips of his toes, he may be discovered in all sorts of unexpected places, but he never seems to turn up exactly when and where you’re looking for him.
According to legend, Mr. Gold will bring you luck if you happen to spot him…or is it that you’ll need to have a lot of luck to find him? Either way, everybody wants to find the mysterious Golden Minifigure – but only a fortunate few will succeed!

Particularly for a company that is associated with something more than cash grabbing, this seems extremely unethical.  To encourage children that Mr Gold is out there, when even if they spent their pocket money on a full box of 60 Minifigures they would most likely not get one, is fundamentally wrong. 

By bringing in chase variants to Collectible Minifigures, LEGO are ensuring that very few can truly collect the entire set. All that happens to these chase variants is that they end up on eBay, or wherever else, for hugely inflated prices – and the seller makes a lot of money. So LEGO have created a product that only the very wealthy can own, and will only benefit the re-sellers who get hold of one. 

If this product was one-per-box at the least, it would seem more reasonable and fans would probably swallow it (not literally, there’s a choking hazard ya know). They probably wouldn’t be overjoyed, but at least it would be findable and the second market price would be more affordable. Instead LEGO have gone down a ridiculous route that serves no purpose other than to piss off the entire market for Collectible Minifigures. The clue in the Collectible. Generally, those who buy them want to collect them all.

Congratulations LEGO. You have royally upset everyone who enjoys collecting Collectible Minifigures. Just announce that all LEGO bricks will be manufactured in China from now on and the entire LEGO community can join in…

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