There has always been a frustrating strand of fandom online. The kind of fan who claims to be such a fan of something, that all they can do is gripe and complain about whatever it is that they are a fan of. They are often referred to as “haters”, “fanboys” or less generous names. But in a ludicrous over-reaction to these fans, there is an even more irritating form of fan out there… the uber-apologist. They come out with ridiculous comments such as “it’s their company, they can do whatever they like” and make excuses for anything the subject of their fandom does. And with their attitude, the producer of the product faces no culpability for upsetting loyal, long term fans whose passion fuelled the success of the product or brand in the first place.
Bringing this back to LEGO. LEGO turn up at Comic Con with a cool display of sets, products and big ass models to wow fans and get them all excited about LEGO. Makes sense. They reveal exciting new products to be released, get the jump on rumour mongers (damn those people!). Makes sense. They give away awesome unique fan desired mini-figures in quantities of no more than 350. Makes sense. Sell a small set for a stupidly high price and limit that to only 1,000 of each. Makes sense.
Hold on… those last two don’t make one bricking bit of sense do they? Only 200 Black Suit Superman exclusive mini-figures were given away. Apparently this is to generate publicity for LEGO. How does this do anything but generate bad publicity for LEGO? This is the press release version of what LEGO say at Comic Con:
Loyal LEGO fans from around the world! Some of you are children who love playing with LEGO, some of you are adults who have been collecting LEGO for years, some of you are members of LUGs who we claim to value. Almost none of you, however, will have the opportunity to own a LEGO Black Suit Superman!
Here at LEGO we think long and hard about how to distribute a LEGO product that fans would adore. So we decided the best way to reward loyal, out of pocket LEGO fans would be to manufacture just 200 of a desirable mini-figure and give them away to 200 people who can afford the airfare and hotels in San Diego. For those who make it to San Diego and then miss out, there are also overprice unnecessarily limited exclusive Star Wars and The Hobbit sets available for purchase.
Oh, and keep hunting for Mr Gold.Please note that the above was entirely my fictitious imagining of what the LEGO Comic Con press release would say, rather than anything the company has or would put out. But it highlights the way it is impossible to see how these uber-limited exclusives work in the favour of LEGO. They come across as irritating to fans rather than exciting. If LEGO wanted to keep fans around the world happy, the simple solution would be to give away mainline mini-figures early at Comic Con. Then anyone who is so over the top that they can’t wait until the January sets can pay crazy prices on eBay, and everyone else can still enjoy a complete LEGO collection without resorting to paying hundreds of dollars for a mini-figure.
Perhaps rather than looking to impress LEGO fans at Comic Con, LEGO are looking for positive relations with eBay resellers? Because the only people who benefit from what LEGO do at Comic Con are those who win the figure and sell it.