Can (Should) Lego Learn Something From the Competition?

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I'm going to start this off by saying that I'm a huge Lego fan, and I feel that their company is far superior to any of its current competitors. But that said, I really feel that Lego is missing some opportunities of late, and could learn from what some of its competitors are doing.

There have been a few chinks in the Lego armor of late. There was a problem with the canopy on Poe's X-Wing, the egregious problem with Wall-E's neck, and the very questionable decision to re-release the Winter Toy Shop instead of producing a new Winter Village set. Correct or not, a lot of this has been attributed to the supposed idea that TLG shifted a lot of their resources to the current and upcoming TFA sets. I hope that's all there is to this recent series of missteps, but I also wonder if TLG is now simply stretching themselves too thin everywhere due to their continued worldwide success across so very many different properties.

Initially I was content to sit back and see how Lego does next year, particularly once TFA has come and gone. But this week/end saw the arrival of the 2015 NYCC, and with it we see the displays of not only TLG (primarily pushing Nexo Knights) but also their competitors. Looking through pictures from the displays of Mega Bloks and McFarlane, I see a couple of Lego's competitors doing things that TLG should be doing, or even doing things better than TLG, and I guess this concerns me a little.

The first thing that has caught my attention (and truthfully this has been out at retail for months before NYCC) are the sets that McFarlane has done that compose the Walking Dead prison interior. They've got three separate sets: The Prison Catwalk, Upper Prison Cell, and Lower Prison Cell. (There's a fourth, The Boiler Room, that may belong in this conversation as well) These three sets can be combined to create an entire prison wing, and the end result looks great! It seems for years that we've been asking TLG to produce several smaller sets that could combine into a larger playset/display, with the Death Star or Bespin usually being the suggested environments. Here McFarlane has produced three relatively inexpensive sets that each look good on their own, and then together they look great. Why is TLG still not doing this? It's very difficult to find the Upper and Lower prison sets at stores, so I'm guessing they're selling well. I believe that McFarlane is proving that this concept works, and I really hope TLG will follow suit. Maybe one could argue that the prison is an environment specifically suited to this type of repetitious set combination, but I ultimately believe that the concept is solid and could be applied to other, potentially less repetitious environments.

Then at NYCC we see Mega Bloks doing some really nice things with a couple of licensed properties; one that TLG used to have, and one that they should have sought, and they're whipping Lego on both accounts. Mega Bloks now has the TMNT license, and at NYCC they are showing off their figures as much as any set. And instead of handcuffing themselves to the current Nickelodeon cartoon, MB is showing off Rocksteady, Be-Bop, and late 80's/early 90's Turtles! They look outstanding, and I believe that with this simple change in strategy MB has already done more with the TMNT license than TLG ever did. When TLG first announced that they had the TMNT license (ironically, at the NYCC a few years back) I had hoped that they would eventually tap into the 80s-90s characters, and maybe even do one set based off the original comic. Instead, they stuck with stuff based on the current cartoon and the craptacular new movie, and the line died a swift death. With MB tapping into the older Turtles characters, I believe they will bring far more fans to the line than TLG ever did, and in so doing I think they will form a base of support from which they can do sets based on other TMNT incarnations. Of course, this is MB, so we'll see how their execution is, but it bugs me that something that seemed so obvious eluded Lego's entire time with the license, and MB jumps right on it. I fully believe that the Lego TMNT line would still be going strong if they had put some of their resources in this direction.

Then, as if the TMNT license weren't enough, MB also now has the Star Trek license. And right out of the blocks, they're showing off a great looking NCC-1701 Enterprise. It's at least a zillion times better than anything Kre-o did with this license (not that that's all that surprising; Hasbro doesn't do much right these days, least of all something they just started doing), and it really leaves you wondering why TLG didn't pursue this license, and what they could do if they had it. I'm sure TLG could do a better Enterprise than MB, and can you imagine how awesome a UCS Enterprise would be?! There are enough iconic ships in the Star Trek universe that TLG could do one UCS set a year and they would stay busy for at least a decade. And you've got to think that Star Trek would sell about as well as Star Wars, at least with the bigger sets. I think you're looking at the same people buying the UCS Star Wars sets that would buy the UCS Star Trek sets. But even beyond the UCS sets, I think there's ample opportunity to do a very successful Star Trek line with sets based on all the various TV series and movies. We see TLG having success with various older properties these days. Scooby-Doo's success is clearly based as much on the 70's cartoon as it is on anything being released currently. The Ghostbusters movies are 30 years old, and we get not only a great Ecto-1, but also apparently a huge D2C firehouse set. And the Simpsons stuff is tapping into a group of fans that watched the show 25 years ago, not folks that just started watching last year. IMO, TLG is proving that you can have a very successful line based on a property that really isn't doing anything worthwhile currently, and I don't understand why they don't get their hands on a license like Star Trek.

If you've read through this entire post to this point, I apologize for the length. I guess I'm fairly passionate about Lego, and I hate to see them make these mistakes that seem fairly obvious to my amateur eyes. I understand the counter argument that TLG is very successful, and thus it's clear that they know what they're doing better than I do...but it just seems that there are opportunities for success and improvement that they could, or should, be capitalizing on. I don't want to see them resting on their current success, while other companies close the gap.

Thoughts? Comments?
 
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Didn't Hasbro buy Megabloks anyway??

So, Kreo and MB are essentially owned by the same company?
Sometimes companies will go into money losing ventures for market share, something a successful company may not do.

On the other hand, Lego being a privately owned company rather than a publicly traded corporation, doesn't have to adhere to shareholder protection laws which find corporations doing things that are frankly against the betterment of society in exchange for profit. They get to pick their projects without people screaming that they aren't maximizing return.

I think most Lego fans would LOVE the Star Trek franchise. But we don't know answers to questions like "what does Star Trek want out of this" that may impact pricing.
We already hear enough about expensive Lego prices despite the ppp can be lower than it was for some sets in the 80's without looking at inflation.

I get that Lego wants to be conscientious when it comes to violence though, their private ownership allows them to be picky.

I'm going to start this off by saying that I'm a huge Lego fan, and I feel that their company is far superior to any of its current competitors. But that said, I really feel that Lego is missing some opportunities of late, and could learn from what some of its competitors are doing.

There have been a few chinks in the Lego armor of late. There was a problem with the canopy on Poe's X-Wing, the egregious problem with Wall-E's neck, and the very questionable decision to re-release the Winter Toy Shop instead of producing a new Winter Village set. Correct or not, a lot of this has been attributed to the supposed idea that TLG shifted a lot of their resources to the current and upcoming TFA sets. I hope that's all there is to this recent series of missteps, but I also wonder if TLG is now simply stretching themselves too thin everywhere due to their continued worldwide success across so very many different properties.

Initially I was content to sit back and see how Lego does next year, particularly once TFA has come and gone. But this week/end saw the arrival of the 2015 NYCC, and with it we see the displays of not only TLG (primarily pushing Nexo Knights) but also their competitors. Looking through pictures from the displays of Mega Bloks and McFarlane, I see a couple of Lego's competitors doing things that TLG should be doing, or even doing things better than TLG, and I guess this concerns me a little.

The first thing that has caught my attention (and truthfully this has been out at retail for months before NYCC) are the sets that McFarlane has done that compose the Walking Dead prison interior. They've got three separate sets: The Prison Catwalk, Upper Prison Cell, and Lower Prison Cell. (There's a fourth, The Boiler Room, that may belong in this conversation as well) These three sets can be combined to create an entire prison wing, and the end result looks great! It seems for years that we've been asking TLG to produce several smaller sets that could combine into a larger playset/display, with the Death Star or Bespin usually being the suggested environments. Here McFarlane has produced three relatively inexpensive sets that each look good on their own, and then together they look great. Why is TLG still not doing this? It's very difficult to find the Upper and Lower prison sets at stores, so I'm guessing they're selling well. I believe that McFarlane is proving that this concept works, and I really hope TLG will follow suit. Maybe one could argue that the prison is an environment specifically suited to this type of repetitious set combination, but I ultimately believe that the concept is solid and could be applied to other, potentially less repetitious environments.

Then at NYCC we see Mega Bloks doing some really nice things with a couple of licensed properties; one that TLG used to have, and one that they should have sought, and they're whipping Lego on both accounts. Mega Bloks now has the TMNT license, and at NYCC they are showing off their figures as much as any set. And instead of handcuffing themselves to the current Nickelodeon cartoon, MB is showing off Rocksteady, Be-Bop, and late 80's/early 90's Turtles! They look outstanding, and I believe that with this simple change in strategy MB has already done more with the TMNT license than TLG ever did. When TLG first announced that they had the TMNT license (ironically, at the NYCC a few years back) I had hoped that they would eventually tap into the 80s-90s characters, and maybe even do one set based off the original comic. Instead, they stuck with stuff based on the current cartoon and the craptacular new movie, and the line died a swift death. With MB tapping into the older Turtles characters, I believe they will bring far more fans to the line than TLG ever did, and in so doing I think they will form a base of support from which they can do sets based on other TMNT incarnations. Of course, this is MB, so we'll see how their execution is, but it bugs me that something that seemed so obvious eluded Lego's entire time with the license, and MB jumps right on it. I fully believe that the Lego TMNT line would still be going strong if they had put some of their resources in this direction.

Then, as if the TMNT license weren't enough, MB also now has the Star Trek license. And right out of the blocks, they're showing off a great looking NCC-1701 Enterprise. It's at least a zillion times better than anything Kre-o did with this license (not that that's all that surprising; Hasbro doesn't do much right these days, least of all something they just started doing), and it really leaves you wondering why TLG didn't pursue this license, and what they could do if they had it. I'm sure TLG could do a better Enterprise than MB, and can you imagine how awesome a UCS Enterprise would be?! There are enough iconic ships in the Star Trek universe that TLG could do one UCS set a year and they would stay busy for at least a decade. And you've got to think that Star Trek would sell about as well as Star Wars, at least with the bigger sets. I think you're looking at the same people buying the UCS Star Wars sets that would buy the UCS Star Trek sets. But even beyond the UCS sets, I think there's ample opportunity to do a very successful Star Trek line with sets based on all the various TV series and movies. We see TLG having success with various older properties these days. Scooby-Doo's success is clearly based as much on the 70's cartoon as it is on anything being released currently. The Ghostbusters movies are 30 years old, and we get not only a great Ecto-1, but also apparently a huge D2C firehouse set. And the Simpsons stuff is tapping into a group of fans that watched the show 25 years ago, not folks that just started watching last year. IMO, TLG is proving that you can have a very successful line based on a property that really isn't doing anything worthwhile currently, and I don't understand why they don't get their hands on a license like Star Trek.

If you've read through this entire post to this point, I apologize for the length. I guess I'm fairly passionate about Lego, and I hate to see them make these mistakes that seem fairly obvious to my amateur eyes. I understand the counter argument that TLG is very successful, and thus it's clear that they know what they're doing better than I do...but it just seems that there are opportunities for success and improvement that they could, or should, be capitalizing on. I don't want to see them resting on their current success, while other companies close the gap.

Thoughts? Comments?
 
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Didn't Hasbro buy Megabloks anyway??

So, Kreo and MB are essentially owned by the same company?
Hasbro owns Kre-O and Mattel bought Mega Blocks.

Star Trek is not a recognizable theme to kids which seems to be Lego main focus. I liked how the Kre-O line was improving and the mini figures looked great along side Lego mini figures. It's a shame that the line didn't do well since I would have liked to have owned the wave 2 Trek figures that never made it to the U.S. Mega Blocks Star Trek line does look good but it looks like the figures won't be able to fit inside them.
I like what I see with the MB Turtle line which I may get into. Hopefully MB plans on going forward with the He-Man line and hopefully a Thunder Cats theme is in the works.
 
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Thanks for the clarification, I always thought they were the same company after hearing a list of brands that Hasbro owns including Parker Brothers and Tonka.

Hasbro owns Kre-O and Mattel bought Mega Blocks.

Star Trek is not a recognizable theme to kids which seems to be Lego main focus. I liked how the Kre-O line was improving and the mini figures looked great along side Lego mini figures. It's a shame that the line didn't do well since I would have liked to have owned the wave 2 Trek figures that never made it to the U.S. Mega Blocks Star Trek line does look good but it looks like the figures won't be able to fit inside them.
I like what I see with the MB Turtle line which I may get into. Hopefully MB plans on going forward with the He-Man line and hopefully a Thunder Cats theme is in the works.
 
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