Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Why LEGO Should Not Change the Rules Now

Christmas is coming (in a few months anyway), and it’s time for a new Winter Village set to add to the collection. Except it’s not. It’s time for the Winter Toy Shop (10199) to be re-released with a few changes as 10249. Brilliant news for those who missed it originally? Superficially maybe, but actually this might completely muck up the concept of collecting LEGO.

So let’s examine what LEGO do. They release a set. It’s out for two to three years – sometimes only one, sometimes more than three, but usually two to three. They stop selling it.

That’s what happens. That is what has happened for decades. There are a small number of exceptions when LEGO has re-released sets, such as the Legends line. But there have been no cases of this at all over the last ten years, LEGO seemed to have put to bed the notion of reissuing older sets.

So in the knowledge that sets definitely get retired, and don’t come back, collectors pay a premium on the aftermarket to buy sets that they missed. Anyone who coughed up big money for the 10199 version of the Toy Shop in the last couple of weeks is going to be pretty unhappy right now. Because after they just spent that money, LEGO have changed the rules on them.

How unfair would it be to all those who have paid hundreds – even thousands – to own the UCS Millennium Falcon (10179) if LEGO were to re-release it next week? Collectors buy this stuff for insane premiums because they know that LEGO do not re-release old sets. 

If LEGO are going to start re-releasing old sets, then it will change many things in the hobby. One change will be buying habits. AFOLs will start trying to second guess which sets are likely to get a reissue down the road, and not worrying so much about those. Another problem, which already exists in some cases, will be when rifling through a second hand lot of LEGO – have you found the original set or the reissue? Only a few parts are different, you won’t be able to tell easily.

There is also the problem for completist collectors, who own the entire Winter series up to this point. There are brilliant new minifigure torsos and faces for the carol singers – so by being an early adopter and buying the original, collectors miss out on them. If that Toy Shop sign turns out to be printed, it really is time to go apeshit. Good luck to all those with the dilemma of whether to buy the re-release for the changes or not…

There are strong arguments against LEGO releasing and retiring sets the way they do. But as this is the way LEGO have broadly operated forever, and completely operated for a decade, fans have adapted to this and understand it. If this is going to change, then so will the nature of the hobby.


  1. Agree with everything you said. Just want to point out that the sign is indeed printed. It was specifically pointed out in the designer video.

  2. I don't really see the AFOLs really debating as heavily on what to buy as you think they will. I think re-issues will be far less common than you are imaging. I know personally I would not take the risk. Especially knowing it will be many years down the road, and at a higher price.

    This is going to affect the speculators, re-sellers, scalpers whatever you call them. Selling retired sets is big business. As you know there are people that make their living doing just that. Whether you like them or not those people buy multiples of a lot of sets, Lego must know this is at least a noticeable piece of their business.

    Personally I do not care about them, I am in it for the love and have never made a dime off my collection. It will be interesting to see what happens with all of this.

  3. Thanks BrickBlogger - I will certainly have to buy the part even if I skip the set.

    Ken - I take your point that reissues will never be too commonplace. I would suggest though that even if only a few AFOL-targeted sets such as Winter Toy Shop are reissued it will make it difficult to know how best to collect.

  4. What idiot buys a Lego TOY for thousands of dollars? What are they thinking the value will increase even more? That's a big no. They're more likely people who were too young to buy it the first time. Now, the POS "collectors" are price gouging the plastic TOY capitalizing on fans' memories. If the person just wants to collect everthing without ever opening it or selling it then why does it matter if they make more? Time goes on Legos business is to sell Legos. If people want to invest in something buy a low risk Roth IRA like everyone else. Nimrods. Who the hell is really paying thousands to display a Lego model anyway.