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Chat with Jake McKee
Ben E. 17 I 04

This is a transcript of the first Classic-Castle question and answer chat with Jake McKee. I moderated the chat as [architect] Jake's chat name is [sink] Thank you Jake for having a chat with us.

[sink] hi!!
[architect] I would like to welcome everyone to this Classic-Castle Chat with Jake McKee. Thank you Jake for having this chat with us.
[sink] it's Jake
[Aggiesava] Howdy
[architect] I and the other admins will be moderating this chat. I will call on each person individually to ask their one question.
[C.] Hello
[architect] Please be polite. Remember that Jake does not have to answer any question, especially questions about future products.
[Red] Can we say hello to Jake, Ben?
[timberwolf] greetings
[architect] welcome Jake
[AdmMatthew] Hey
[architect] yes, you can all say hi
[sink] ha!
[Surge-FBTB] Hey-a Jake!
[legofreak] HIYA JAKE!!
[Webrain] Hi Jake, thanks for coming
[Red] lol, thanks. Hi Jake
[TTM] Hi Jake, thanks for taking the time, we appreciate it!
[Mookie] Hi
[sklar] hi Jake!
[AdmMatthew] Thanks for coming Jake!
[Stephen] Welcome Jake
[Jennifer] Hello Jake. Nice to meet you.
[jb] Hi Jake!
[sink] good to talk to all of you too.!
[sink] I have only a limited time today (about an hour), so let's get crankin!
[Stuifzand] hi

[architect] ok, I thought we could start with questions alphabetically

[architect] ok, adm matt
[architect] your turn
[AdmMatthew] Why does (I guess did now) LEGO sell WolfPack and Knight's Kingdom gear when there are no sets for it, like the swords, patches, shields, etc.?
[AdmMatthew] like at LEGOLand and the Brand Stores?
[sink] assume you mean the...oh you just answered
[sink] well, the lego stores/ and more specifically parks have a higher need for goods like those
[sink] since htey have castle parts of the parks, and those parts last longer
[sink] some type of content like that is needed
[AdmMatthew] I just remember going to LEGOland a few years ago and going on the dragon ride and having no sets to get

[architect] My question: Is there a next generation of the Kristiansen family that will help run LEGO in the future?
[sink] that's not something i know, or could answer if i did... that's something only the Kristiansens can answer

[architect] ok, casper
[C.] are you comming to The Netherlands next october again?
[sink] most likely!
[sink] it was too fun to pass up again!
[C.] Ok, nice

[architect] Devari can go
[Devari] I'm not sure if you can answer this, but will LEGO be adding Skin Tones to its licenced lines and possibly its regular system lines?
[Devari] Or is that something to close to future product info?
[sink] i can't really answer that one (future product and all) but I can say this:
[sink] we are in a new world with new desires by consumers and new ways that people (and esp. kids) look at the world
[sink] this is an open line of discussion
[Devari] Ok, thanks

[architect] ok, Duchessa
[Duchessa] Ok. Hi Jake!
[sink] hi!
[Duchessa] I have a question about Peeron.
[Duchessa] If I understand things correctly, their Color chart is Legos official color chart.
[sink] yeah
[Duchessa] assume that Lego has official set lists, as well as name of pieces.
[Duchessa] Why are they not public=?
[sink] well, for a number of reasons, but mostly: effort
[sink] there is alot of content to be pulled together
[sink] from multiple sources
[sink] since we have set info pre-dating the popular use of computers to track it, that's a lot of info to find
[sink] i've actually talked to a few AFOLs and colleagues about it
[sink] colleagues are interested in helping build an online DB, but dont have time to dedicate to it. THey've offered to have AFOLs come in and look through some stuff

[felix] Hi Jake. What are the water-cooler thoughts about all of the competitors castle-like sets? For example, if MegaBlock dragons do well, will this have a major bearing on future LEGO product developement?
[sink] can't say specifically (top secret and all)
[sink] what I will say
[sink] is that the market has a large influence on all our products
[sink] along with other criteria.
[felix] Thanks Jake.

[architect] ok, Jail - your question
[J1A3L5]I don't really have a question, thanks, I just got up, I'm groggy, and I just thought I'd check out other people's. Hi Jake.
[sink] heh. Hi!

[architect] James -
[jb] Do people at TLC browse sites like Brickshelf to see what people are doing with the product? Other than just for fun?
[sink] certainly. I often send around links to sites that colleagues (from a biz related or personal standpoint) might get a kick out of. I've also worked closely with our communications group and we are getting up AFOL stories on the intranet and our internal newsletter on a regular basis

[architect] ok, Jennifer
[sink] by the way
[sink] I have a new intern working with me (and helping out alot, i might add). She may be watching. Say hi!
[AdmMatthew] Hi!
[Jennifer] hi jake, i know that you sometimes read and respond on FBTB in the ask lego thread, do you read the forums here as well, on dear lego?
[architect] hi
[Jennifer] and hello intern, lol
[legofreak] hi intern!
[JPinoy] High!
[Devari] Hi!
[sklar] hello, intern!
[sink] I do. It's getting harder and harder and harder to keep up though! There is SO much community involvment and discussion these days (which rocks!) that i'm finding it harder and harder to keep up. I try to hit them all every week

[architect] ok, JP
[julespitt] Hello Jake, and hello to the intern, of course.
[julespitt] I'm wondering if there is a definite plan to do a trial of the bulk ordering that is being experimented with in Europe currently.
[julespitt] Here in the US, I mean.
[sink] doing it in North America you mean?
[julespitt] Yes.
[julespitt] New York City would be fine with me as well, if you want to start small.
[julespitt] ;-)
[sink] yeah, we are looking into that stuff now. There are so so many things involved with bring new projects out like that, but we're always looking at stuff like that. With the Direct commerce activites, if it's up and running for one, we've already been working on it for the other markets.
[sink] Direct rarely does anything for only one market. Might take a while to get to the others, but it will get there

[JPinoy] why all the "juniorization" of Lego sets?
[sink] Juniorization, eh?
[sink] while I would agree with you that true Juniorization got to be pretty bad in the mid 90s, I'd make the claim that we've recovered from that and have some awesome, non-juniorized products these days
[sink] are you talking about Jack Stone?
[JPinoy] no, I was refering mainly to the System sets
[JPinoy] if any line of Lego should be juniorized, it should be Jack Stone... I kinda see them as a go between for kids, transitioning from Duplo to System
[sink] then let me ask.... do you think that today's system sets are more juniorized than previous sets? (excluding mid 90s of course)
[sink] yeah, actually, that's exactly what JS is
[sink] it's a transition/bridge product between system and DUPLO. I love them. Don't get them for my AFOL building needs, but nor do I buy DUPLO for that purpose either

[architect] ok, Patrick's turn
[legofreak] Hi Jake -great to talk to you dude! -my question is about the pick a brick - how can I find the stores that carry them on the west coast? The official Lego site doesn't have a very good listing. Thanks
[sink] I *believe* that all the Brand stores now have them, or have them coming soon. If you are located near one, or planning on going to one, you can call ahead. I've even heard AFOLs are calling every month or so to get the list of new parts!

[architect] ok, Mookie
[Mookie] Hi Jake and his nice Intern
[Mookie] Do you really feel that LEGO is going to live up to their promise to return to the core building principles of the brick, and should be believe them when they keep turning out action figures and signing more licensed merchandise?
[sink] well, this is two questions: do I believe: Absolutely.
[sink] now the other question is what is "core"
[Mookie] the brick....
[Mookie] basic brick... not 5hi POOPS....
[sink] licensed merchandise and action figures, if based on the high quality vision of what toys should/can be certainly can be part of the core
[Mookie] I admit they've made great strides in this with the designer sets... though all they remind me of is what Lego was really like when I was young...
[sink] but "core" refers to the fact that we are first and foremost a toy company. That that is where our focus should be
[sink] well, and the design to return to core is not necessarily turning back the clock. There were some great things we did back in the day, but we also have to remember and recognize that kids today play different, or at least have a different pallette of toys to choose from

[architect] ok, Dawn
[Red] k, not sure if you can answer this. Has the MOC line been discontinued in a way or is it just a lull? Also, is it intended to go into a bit into each theme or is there no real plan?
[sink] the plan for the MOCs is a bit "not to plan"
[sink] there are new things that happen and popup all the time
[Red] ok, but it hasn't become obsolete?
[sink] so we want to keep an open mind about what gets considered, while trying to balance the selection
[sink] and no, it's not gone. The MOC program will always be a slow process because of the nature of how it works
[Red] I just feel it's nice to see them on a regular basis. IMO, it gives AFOL's a goal
[sink] but no, it's not gone

[architect] ok, Matt
[sklar] Ok... Hi jake! Why is that when shopping from S@H, the cost of products is listed in the currency of the country you are shopping in, but when shopping from Canada, the prices are in US dollars?

Chat server crashes and pandemonium ensues ;) 14 minutes later:

[sklar] Hi jake! Why is that when shopping from S@H, the cost of products is listed in the currency of the country you are shopping in, but when shopping from Canada, the prices are in US dollars?
[sink] good questiron. I'm not sure, but email me ( and I'll get an answer for you from my colleagus
[sklar] thanks.
[sink] typically when stuff like this comes up, there's some wacky international law/tax type issue. They're a smart team, and don't let stuff like this slip by unless they are required
[sklar] oh. cool

[architect] ok, Stephen
[Stephen] Hi Jake, I am mostly interested in collecting more parts. Will TLC be continueing the Legends line? If so, how are those sets chosen?
[sink] No, the Legends will not discontinue. Like the MOC line, it can be a slower process sometimes than developing a new set... lots of things to track down. After a rough year, we may not do as many "extensions" as we have, we may do more. Not sure yet. But no, it's not going away
[sink] as far as how they are chosen
[sink] we listen, we watch, we ask the AFOL crowd. Then we factor in what sets would have the most broad appeal, and be the best sales-wise. Also what "fits" with our overall product assortment
[Stephen] thanks

[architect] ok, Austin
[Surge-FBTB] Alright, thanks Ben
[Surge-FBTB] Hey Jake, hey Jake's intern!
[Surge-FBTB] I've got a little bit of a three-part question, but it's an easy/fun one
[Surge-FBTB] If there was a Jake mini-fig, what would it look like, what would be its Lego accessory of choice and what set would it come in?
[sink] now, that is probably the funniest question I've gotten so far
[Surge-FBTB] I try.
[sink] well, Tim Courtney and Steve Barile told me once that the Engineer Max train fig (a fig, that I helped design, by the way) was the "JakeFig". I didn't model it after myself or anything, but it turned out to look a little like me.
[sink] So the JakeFig already comes in sets, but I would love it if it came in a set I designed! and was holding...hmmm...
[sink] probably the screwdriver. That's one of my favs
[Surge-FBTB] Megablocks, I had you figured as a buzzsaw man. Thanks, Jake.

[architect] ok, Timberwolf
[timberwolf] greetings jake and thanks for chatting with us
[sink] np! My pleasure
[timberwolf] here is my question. How does the process of set design and production function. i.e. how does the idea for a new theme/sub-theme/set go from someone's imagination to a store shelf?
[sink] wow... that's a really big question
[sink] i'll try to make it a quick answer
[sink] basically, it's a team effort, and it works in stages. About a year before you see things on shelves, sometimes longer, colleagues start brainstorming, researching what is/was selling well at TLC, as well as in the market
[timberwolf] roger that
[sink] we look at what consumers were happy with, we do surveys, etc.
[sink] then over a period of time, the designers and creative types create designs in various forms, and they run the gaunlet of input from high to low within the company
[sink] by the time it gets to final products, they are based on our best research, design, input from consumers, sales trends, and gut feel
[sink] does that answer your question (without spending all day on it! )
[sink] ?
[architect] also, you could check the ultimate lego book pgs 30-31 they talk about developing a theme
[timberwolf] very interesting! thanks
[sink] oh yeah. I think there is some content on the Web site
[sink] heh

[architect] ok, Yaron
[Webrain] Hi Jake, thanks for the chat. I guess I'm last, really need to change nick to something that starts with A:-)
[Webrain] My question is do you know why Shop@Home does not shipping to Israel? Is there away they'll start?
[Webrain] Everytime I import from S@H I have to pay 200% per set because of the 3rd party delivery and LEGENDS and bulks aren't available any other way
[sink] this is a pretty common question, replacing Israel with another country we don't ship to.
[sink] the answer is pretty simple really. Each and every country has a different set of laws, taxes, and customs issues. We have to choose the places that make the most sense to spend time setting up businesses in (from an effort and potential market standpoint)
[sink] however, as you've seen last year, we are constantly adding new countries, and will continue, I'm sure
[Webrain] do you know if Israel is one of them?
[sink] Since you can't do everything all at once, you have to choose, and, unfortunately for you, Israel is not on the 2003 list. I'm not sure if there are plans, but I would suggest emailing customer service with your request. We pay alot of attnetion to the call center/email records
[sink] (your voice combined with others from Israel can speak much louder than yours alone)
[Webrain] ok, thanks Jake
[sink] np!

[architect] ok, who hasnt asked a question yet and still wants too?

[architect] jail
[architect] you start first
[J1A3L5]Well I saw OR's post and was wondering the same thing so I'll quote him - "How does TLG feel about bricklink? They must feel that they're missing out on part of the market because Pick-a-Brick was invented, seemingly to compete."
[sink] good question, here it goes
[sink] PaB was not invented to compete with BL, rather because the things that make BL successful are things that make PaB successful with non-AFOLs
[sink] TLC feels fine about BL. It's great to see what can happen when the community bonds together to solve a shared problem
[sink] and no, I/we don't feel like we are missing the boat.
[sink] jsut like we can't be in every market, we can't produce every part
[J1A3L5]Ah, okay, and I guess all the pieces have to start at LEGO anyway. Thanks.
[sink] and it's great to see that people can still get parts.
[sink] and more importantly, it's a great example of
[sink] the community bonding and solving, and not relying on anyone but themselves
[J1A3L5]Thanks Jake.
[sink] np

[architect] ok, Robo - your turn
[Robo] I saw a flesh-colored minifig in a new HP-Set. Woll all minifigs get flesh-colored heads?
[sink] we actually talked about this earlier. Can't comment on new/future products, but I can say that the world is a different place, and the mindset of people, and esp. kids is much different from when the yellow minifig was created
[sink] as such, we are continually discussing this question
[Robo] ok, thanks

[architect] ok, JPinoy
[JPinoy] what is Lego's opinion on fans making custom parts, such as minifig weapons molded from ABS plastic, but has totally different designs than Lego's
[JPinoy] *i.e. ABS plastic pellets
[JPinoy] or melted MegaBloks :-D
[sink] we love creativity. So long as you aren't branding it as a LEGO product, then go for it!
[JPinoy] thanks
[architect] ok, I believe Tony has the last question - unless Jake can continue
[sink] i can go another couple questions
[architect] cool, we have a few follow up questions - and one fun question from Austin
[sink] ok
[Aggiesava] Hey Jake, I know you may not be able to answer this, but this has become a subject of some debate on the forum
[Aggiesava] Recently people have posted to Lugnet and elsewhere about the new large Knight Kingdom figures, and how their shields are made of cardboard. In the recent toy fair pictures, the minifig versions of those shields also looked to be cardboard. Can you tell us if those minifig shields are ABS or not?
[sink] i'm honestly not sure
[sink] i'm guessing now, but I think they are plastic
[sink] but don't quote me
[cc] (and why they would even consider using cardboard, even for the big ones)
[Aggiesava] would it be information that you could pass along to us if you found out for sure?
[sink] sure
[Aggiesava] thanks

[architect]ok austin has a good question
[Surge-FBTB] Alright, Jake, myself and a few other readers here were wondering: why the log-in 'sink'? Is there some type of mystic logic behind it?
[sink] nah... long story short...
[sink] in college, i had a lot of mechanical engineering and drafting and named my fictious company (that I branded drafting projects with) "countersink DG"... it just got shortened to "sink" online

[architect] ahh, and Troy hasnt asked a question yet - he is next
[cc] Was TLC expecting such a strong negative reaction about the gray color changes, and do they have a contingency plan in place for dealing with Non-AFOLs complaining that the colors don't match?
[sink] well, all good questions.
[sink] my colleagues didn't have an understanding of what or why this was a big deal. I'm going to EU next week, and will be discussing more with colleagues. I'll have a better answer to this question then
[sink] as far as non-AFOL customers, we haven't seen a huge reaction through our channel of record... customer service

[Mookie] What happened to the Poly Bag sets?
[sink] poly bag sets?
[Mookie] the small sets with a few pieces and a fig
[Mookie] usually hanging at the end of the lego aisles....
[architect] the small $2 bagged sets?
[Mookie] going for 1.49ish....
[Red] grocery stores too I think, in the past
[sink] small $2 sets are still around
[Mookie] Wallyworld and Target and K-mart never seem to have them anymore...
[architect] ok, freak
[legofreak] what do you build jake? and do you have pics?
[sink] I usually build trains and town. and really wanting to build more space and castle, and mech....

[JPinoy] did Lego's policy against making military sets change? (considering that the Red Baron and Sopwith Camel are World War 1 military planes)
[sink] not changed, really... we just don't do any modern military or true "war" sets complete with realistic blood
[JPinoy] so WW2 would be "ok"?
[sink] WW2 is still "modern" in the sense that there were people alive who fought it. That's the way I've personally thought about what "modern" means
[JPinoy] thanks

[Stephen] What's the best way for us AFOLs to make our desires and suggestions known to TLC?
[sink] easiest/best way to get thoughts to TLC is to continue posting online (in a reasonable, well mannered way :) ) and contacting customer service. We really really do pay attention to the call center reports!
[Stephen] thanks

[architect] ok, Sklars turn
[sklar] Are there ever going to be PaB's in Canada?
[sink] I can't comment on new store openings. I will say that we have big plans, and we are looking at all big markets
[sklar] ok. thanks

[architect] ok, yaron
[Webrain] A castle question for a change:-)
[Webrain] What do you think a bout the new Knight's Kingdon sets?
[Webrain] Do you think they will be as a big succsess as castle once was?
[sink] i've seen the castle products in person, and personally I thought they were awesome. Sure they aren't as dull and realistic as the previous ones or real life ones, but they are cool. Of course I loved a Knights Tale, if that tells you anything
[sink] in fact, I liked them so much that when you guys were upset about them, I was more than a little confused why. (I understand now)
[Webrain] ok, Thanks

[jb] Jake, what is the difference between "not available" and "sold out" on S@H?
[sink] sold out is most likely coming back, not availiable may come back, butnot likely
[jb] Thanks!

[architect] ok, Jails turn
[J1A3L5]Well I was just going to ask about when you said you built train and town, do you have a brickshelf gallery or some sort of gallery?
[sink] i do have a BS gallery, although I haven't added to it lately. I've been working on the Trains book too much. you can check out my web site though:
[sklar] jake, you organized bricksonthebrain? cool!
[J1A3L5]Oh! That's your site? I didn't know that...thanks.
[sink] yep. that's me
[sklar] i submitted i think 20 BI's there
[sink] and better hurry! The big prize is about to be given away!! We're almost to 800 BIs!
[architect] hehehe

[architect] ok, adm matt
[AdmMatthew] Is there any way to stop people on from stealing other peoples models?
[AdmMatthew] Someone has been stealing several people's LOTR models
[AdmMatthew] (at least it appears that way, the member says he is 12 and has put up pics of Bruce NH's stuff)
[sink] not really any good way, other than reporting it after the fact. I could download your MOC pics and post them as my own if I wanted to. On my site, BS gallery, not really any way to stop that until the technology changes, unfortunately
[AdmMatthew] ah ok

[architect] Thank you Jake for having this chat with us
[legofreak] THANKS JAKE!!
[Stephen] Thanks for spending time with us Jake. (And intern )
[sink] no problem!
[legofreak] AND INTERN!!
[sklar] thanks Jake! and intern
[Webrain] Thank you very much Jake, it's been fun
[AdmMatthew] Thanks JAKE!
[J1A3L5]Yes, thank you very much.
[sink] no problem. talk to you guys soon!
[Jennifer] Thanks Jake.
[Mookie] Thanks Jake, it's been fun! And thanks to your Intern too!
[architect] bye Jake

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