Yesterday I had the opportunity to pay my local LEGO Store a visit and was happy to see a ton of new sets on hand—Lord of the Rings, Monster Fighters, Ninjago. Aside from all that, I was especially intrigued by some surprise products geared to minifig collectors and enthusiasts.
[Click the thumbnails above to see the products discussed below.]
- Modular Minifig Display Cases (850423): First there was the set of display cases pictured above. Each box comes with four buildable cases to highlight your little peeps and also come with a Classic Space blue astronaut with the unfortunate but sturdier new style helmet. They’re $9.99 and available in stores only. Unfortunately they’re open in the front, so if you’re concerned about dust, you’ll have to do some customizing.
- VIP Series 3 Collectible Minifig Boxed Set: Next up there’s the “VIP” assorted set of five previously released Collectible Minifigs from different series. Each box comes with five Series 3 figs: an Elf, Gorilla, Cyborg, Fisherman, and Mummy. From what I could tell, the figures come with everything they originally did when they were blind-packed as “collectibles” except for the stands. I was curious about this. Maybe it’s a way to sell off some figs that they still have a bunch of…or some that they think they still could viably market. Will we be seeing more boxed sets comprised of figs from other series? Who knows? But it’s interesting just to see that these figs are getting a second go of it. Oddly enough, my local LEGO store pulled this off the shelves last night. I stepped in today (nerd!) and was told that they made a mistake by putting it out yesterday; apparently they shouldn’t be on sale until June 1. All very interesting. Just as interesting is the fact that this pack will cost one $14.99, which, if you do the math and factor in the lack of the stand, might make you scratch your head a bit.
- Luau / Beach Party Playset (850449): On the pack-a-bunch-of-collectible-minifigs-together tip, also at the store was a little “Luau” set. (At least, that’s what the salesperson called it, because it’s not labeled that on the packaging.) It contains the Series 3 Hula Girl, Series 2 Surfer Guy, and a Series 4 Surfer Girl all packaged a buildable BBQ grill, some chicken, a parrot, a bench, bananas, and a tree. You’ll also be paying $14.99 for this at the LEGO Store. All my questions about #2 above apply to this set.
So what can we learn from this? What does it all mean? First there’s the obvious: there are even more cool LEGO-related things out there for
addicts fans like you and I to go out and purchase. Any big insights beyond that are all just a part of the big blogosphere guessing game. Only TLG knows truly what these products signify; the salespeople even admitted to me that some of these were true surprises to them. For what it’s worth, here’s my less-than-two-cents. It’s clear that minifigs are now an even bigger piece of the LEGO game than they were in a past. I’m talking in a way that wasn’t true before the Collectible Minifig phenomenon. I’m not the über-AFOL, but from what little I know, minifig display cases were not something offered in the past. I think TLG’s acknowledging and trying to serve the minifig-obsessed fans with that one. And with the other two products, it seems to me like the old “Life Savers Holes” marketing strategy is being applied to the Collectible Minifigs: repackage an essentially pre-existing product offering as something new and different in an effort to boost revenue. That’s not a judgment call, mind you. I, for one, am actually pleased by this. I’m hoping that this gets us one step closer to TLG selling us the Collectible Minifigs outright…ditch the blind-packaging charade. Getting dupes is a drag, and the aftermarket and the manufactured collectibility thing are annoying. Some have argued that this would make it harder to sell some of the more unpopular ones, but I’d argue that it would be much easier to figure out which figures are more likely to sell when people get to buy exactly the figs they want. (Including intentionally buying duplicates!) I say let’s stop beating around the bush already and blister-pack these things. Why not just call them what they are? Action figures. But, hey, what do I know, right?