Thursday, 16 July 2015

Can LEGO Make Star Wars Leaks Disappear?

What will the new Millennium Falcon look like?
Images of Star Wars: The Force Awakens product have been revealed by the long running website From Bricks to Bothans, but the website was quickly asked to take them down by LEGO. Is it realistic to try and erase these images from the public consciousness? Did half the Star Wars and LEGO fan communities not just see them? Are they not now on the hard drives of thousands of computers around the world?

The images released have created a lot of excitement over the Internet, as it is the first time finished, packaged product from The Force Awakens of real interest has shown up. But LEGO have requested that From Bricks to Bothans (FBTB), the site that received the images, remove them from their website. That’s a shame, as the images are now being widely circulated on the web without FBTB getting credit for the images.

Not the new The Force Awakens Millennium Falcon.
Can you imagine what that would like in LEGO?
It is fully understandable why FBTB removed the images. If your website is about nothing but LEGO, and LEGO ask you to remove an item, it would be tricky to argue against it. Especially as LEGO are likely under immense pressure from Lucasfilm, who would not be piling on so much pressure were they not owned by Disney (product image leaks seem to have been considered a fact of life up until this year).

The fault here lies not with FBTB, or other websites who have to decide whether to host these images or not. The fault lies with LEGO, Lucasfilm and Disney. Fair enough, have an on shelf date for your product. Fair enough, enforce that date and penalise anyone who breaks it. But if a website receives an image of a finished product, do not try and penalise the website for posting it. 

What will the new X-Wing look like?
As for LEGO: The fact is that these giant toy companies cannot control their production line to the extent that nothing will leak out. It is inevitable when working on this scale. If they don’t like leaks, they need to spend more money on security and ensuring that nothing is sneaking out the back door. If product does escape, it is not for websites to hide it on behalf of LEGO.

What will a Han Solo minifigure look like?
As for Lucasfilm and Disney: These guys need to look at the last ten years of toy collecting, even the last twenty years. Websites all around the world have published leaked prototypes, finished product early and eBay sellers in China have actually sold the stuff early. Lucasfilm and Disney know, for a fact, that images of product surface a few months before it hits shelves. They don’t know that it might happen, they know that it will happen. For a fact. It happens, it has happened time after time. 

They made an absolutely short sighted decision to release product on September 4th, which was driven by Disney’s fiscal year finishing at the end of September and supermarkets wanting the toys on their Christmas planograms. The Star Wars prequel releases saw product on shelf one month before the movie release, not three months. What this has led to is a situation where Lucasfilm feel that three months is enough time for everyone to see the product and figure out what happens in the film – so they refuse to announce the product in advance of its release – and then get annoyed when the stuff leaks!

Can you possibly imagine these guys in LEGO form?
The solution to this was obvious, which was to reveal the damn product at Comic Con, one and a half months before it hits shelves. Then, whatever will leak will leak and it would not have mattered. Now we are in this ludicrous position that Lucasfilm and Disney will not tolerate product images leaking, despite the fact that if their release date was not as early as September 4th, the leaks in all likelihood would not be happening yet.

At least the X-Wing has not been
officially unveiled in person yet
Of course the one other point to make is that this was also a very leaky film production, with images coming out of location shoots and concept art all over the place. It’s ironic that when images can be found online of the actual things from the movie, it’s the toys of those things that are causing consternation for Lucasfilm and Disney.

If there’s a message in all of this to LEGO, Lucasfilm and Disney, it’s come on guys. You know how the internet works. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Those images are out there now, and FBTB deserve the credit and glory for getting them first. If you want to beat them to the punch, just unveil it yourselves.

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