That question has been heavily bandied about the LEGO Ambassador’s Network for the past week (it’s been a discussion for years actually) and recently hit a fevered pitch when LEGO starting rolling out exclusives that were unobtainable by the majority of fans.
I have always been a proponent of inclusivity but I do know that LEGO is a business as well and these marketing pushes are necessary which was posited by The Brick Architect in his article here.
This was compounded with the fact that there hasn’t been much in terms of ‘exclusives’ with regards to the Black VIP card. So far it has only been a poster blueprint of the UCS Y-wing and a LEGO Star Wars Black VIP card holder.
Fans across the pond voiced their unhappiness as well when the LEGO Spring Festival sets, Lunar New Year Reunion Dinner (80101) and Dragon Dance (80102) sets were released only in Asia. There were some stock that made its way to parts of Europe but it never made it States side.
But lets put things in perspective shall we? There was a period of time when we in Asia would only get our sets six months after their release in the United States and Europe markets. And these are just the regular sets mind you, none of the D2C stuff would make it to our shelves unless it was parallel imported.
This actually lead to the rise of the reseller (ie. Black Market) industry here in Singapore and the rest of Asia as there was a lot of money to be made in that six month window between the USA/Europe and Asian launches.
Current polybags are still not officially available over the counter in Singapore like in the United States and Europe where you could walk into a Walmart or Target and pick up one or even fifty if you so desire. Polybags are distributed only through gift with purchase promotions at the LEGO Certified Stores.
There still isn’t the LEGO VIP programme in South East Asia so we do not enjoy any of the benefits that comes with it including the use of VIP points. We couldn’t even get any of the gift with purchases (eg. Christmas Seasonal) that came with the programme unless we bought it online off eBay or Bricklink.
While I can understand that the recent exclusive promotions are a disappointment to those in the USA and European markets, we here in Asia have seen the strides that LEGO has taken even out the different markets that it wants to develop.
Due to the LEGO Certified Stores, we now have access to same day releases, polybags through gift with purchases promotions and even things like monthly builds and pick a brick which up to four years ago, were not available here in Singapore or other parts of South East Asia.
I’ll be the first to admit that there are still things I would love to see improved at LEGO (ie. Pricing, selection of themes) but at the same time, I also feel that we should always approach each issue with a fair and balanced perspective. The LEGO landscape has changed so much in the last five years, especially for Asia and I feel that overall it has been a marked improvement.
There are numerous LEGO Certified Stores all across Asia and South East Asia. There are now two LEGO Brand Retail Stores in China, one in Shanghai and the other in Beijing. While there are definitely things to work on, it is also prudent to acknowledge the initiatives that LEGO has done by listening to the fans. Just my two studs worth.
Anyway, LEGO is actively looking for feedback on this topic so chime in below with your thoughts on whether LEGO is losing its touch with its fans.