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Dear LEGO: Please DON'T make a ____ theme

Open message to The LEGO Company. We make no guarantee that anyone from LEGO will actually read them, let alone respond!

Postby Athos » Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:20 pm

Part of why Star Wars suceeded where Harry Potter failed is with Star Wars, its vehicle based and you can make a complete good looking set for $10-$20, like the Desert Skiff.

When you get to Harry Potter, it was location based, so you can't make a complete good looking set for less than $30 (Hagrid's Hut). Anything else looks really open, silly and pointless.

I think this will be part of the problem with Indy. Sure there are a lot of great set ideas (u-boat, mine chase, bazaar fight, etc.), but to the do them right will take at least $50.

You need a line that has good vehicles and good characters.

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Postby Bruce N H » Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:31 pm

I wrote:Dear LEGO,
About every six seconds someone somewhere posts "Hey, LEGO should make a theme out of xx" where xx=the latest video game...


LordZode wrote:Now, I don't even own a Wii myself, but I can just imagine if LEGO teamed with Nintendo to make a special line of Smash Brothers themed sets.


Pardon me if this sounds rude, but I'm going to go beat my head against a wall for a while.

Blueandwhite's point is well taken (and dang you for using me against me! -shakes fist-). I can see that a more structure based comic heroes line would run more expensive than most non-AFOLs would want to pay for the sake of getting their favorite hero in minifig form. So as a way to appeal broadly beyond the bounds of normal fans this probably wouldn't work too well.

On Ben's list of characters, I agree these are all cool, but am not sure how many of them will drive a set by themselves without Indy, in the way that the Tie/Y set gave you Darth Vader, or the Escape Pod set came with just the two droids, etc, all without Luke. Just wondering aloud, how many HP sets came without Harry?

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Postby Peppermint Pig » Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:40 pm

Great post...

And I agree with architect: Indiana Jones is thus far riding on the momentum of the new movie, but I think the fans would like to see more of the characters... So Lego, rather than stop the Indiana Jones line after the movie, consider simply slowing down, and releasing 2 to 3 medium to large sets a year with a more comprehensive set of notable characters from the movies, with a scene + vehicle type of setup.

One, maybe two more sets from the first film.

For temple of doom, I'd make a case for...

Priority: Lesser
Opening scene, with a window and vehicle with short round.

Priority: Higher
Plane crash raft + village.

Priority: Lesser
Palace w/ hidden death trap room

Priority: Higher
THE temple of doom, with the 3 stones (3 dark orange 1x1 round bricks with printing on them, and maybe a second set of Trans-yellow, with some fiber optic lighting in the skull???)

Priority: Average
Railcar chase. If I were to be bold, I would suggest lego make vertical sloping railroad track. It would sell like crazy. Otherwise, the set can be a skimpy one using 3mm tube as track, but I want red baseplates (LAVA), lots of tubing, and a jump at some point. 3 railroad carts with at least 4 bad guys.

Priority: Higher
Bridge Scene, with alligators. For structural reasons, this scene requires blue baseplates, possibly some boat weights (i like weights!).
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Postby Peppermint Pig » Tue Jun 17, 2008 7:55 pm

Sorry for the double post, but this is a separate idea:

1. A licensed theme should tap into a proven long term product, so it's not just a flash in the pan that will be on the clearance shelves in six months.
2. A licensed theme should be broad in scope - not just limited to a particular movie, but rather into a whole universe surrounding that theme. That way you won't run out of set designs after a year.
3. A licensed theme should appeal to both kids and adults. Bonus if there is already an established collector/geek community among adults.
4. A licensed theme should provide something that a non-licensed theme does not. Ideally this should be more than just minifigs.
5. A licensed theme should have a variety of build possibilities - ideally both vehicles and locations.


Pondering for a moment:

Magic: The Gathering might fit the criteria. Geeky, popular with kids and adults, not too popular generally speaking, but has players around the world and an endless supply of ideas. Fans of the game could see some of the classic creatures envisioned in Lego form (Craw Wurm). It could compliment rather than obstruct the castle line, by being a kind of creator set series that does double duty, being a scuplture set as well as a pose-able action set. Each set would contain enough pieces to build multiple creatures (to varying scales). Each set MUST have 1 minifig (to establish scale for at least the largest creature in the set), which would represent a humanoid type of creature from the game universe (Prodigal Sorcerer? Benalish Hero? Royal Assassin? Maybe even a black or white Knight with a horse? Or some elves? (more elves, the better XD ) ).
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Postby Tedward » Tue Jun 17, 2008 8:51 pm

Athos wrote:Part of why Star Wars suceeded where Harry Potter failed is with Star Wars, its vehicle based and you can make a complete good looking set for $10-$20, like the Desert Skiff.


Interesting viewpoint. I always looked at the smaller sets as pointless, inaccurate and useful only as a vehicle for getting different minifigs. :)

But to your point I thought TLC blew it totally with the HP line because they failed to use the strength of the HP books and depended too much on the movies. The movies succeeded (as much as they did) because they brought (will bring) to life the books. By tying so closely to the movies rather than the books they were working too far removed and lost huge opportunities.

An example of the approach they should have taken is the Batman line. Using the movies as one source of designs but also the other sources (live action TV, comics, animated TV) they can present a wider range of options. Now, to be fair, they are still very vehicle-based but that has always been TLC's strength. It seems like every set I had growing up as a kid had a car, truck, airplane, spaceship or boat involved. Even today most sets seems to have some sort of vehicle.

Imagine if they had used the kind of thinking that went into the modular houses when designing the HP line? As you say, the books are based on characters and locations so why not use those very aspects? Can you imagine Grimmaud Place or Privet Drive or especially that huge stupid series of Hogwarts Castles in a more modular style? Sure you could keep facades if you had to for cost but make them detailed enough to be worth "filling in" at the back. Escape from Privet Drive was a fantastic set almost destroyed by a crap building. The car was a masterpiece but why make a useless pseudo-house?

But that said they also were incredibly stupid with the vehicles. Ie: I would have sold each part of the Hogwarts express separately with two-four figures each, mixed so as to require a complete set to get all the important characters:
    Hogwarts Engine: Driver, primary character, secondary character
    Passenger Car: conductor, primary character, secondary character
    Baggage Car: primary character, secondary character, secondary character

There were lots of opportunities for building sets that frankly they threw away by crap design.

OK, that rant went a little off the tracks but I love HP and LEGO and the bungling of the line still ranks as one of my biggest LEGO disappointments of recent years.
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Postby Quickblade22 » Wed Jun 18, 2008 12:10 am

Great thread Bruce. I think the problem with some of the licensed themes is actually in the marketing. I'm not gonna harp on this aspect, it's just my own opinion. What I do see with licensed themes is the potential to expand on Lego's own creativity as spin offs. So what if IJ sets don't last after a year or two. It'll pave the way for more JT in the future. The licensed Batman and Spiderman theme could pave the way for Lego to make their own superhero line after their runs are up. Which is kinda what the Agents theme is doing now. They just need to market it better maybe with some sort of card game. Some of the best decisions of Lego is to not go with a licensed theme. Look at the current Castle theme as opposed to a LOTR theme. They just need to capitalize on what will sell with keeping true to what they are capable of like Pirates instead of Pirates of the Carribean. Star Wars is the necessary evil though :wink:
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Postby LordZode » Wed Jun 18, 2008 1:04 pm

Bruce N H wrote:
I wrote:Dear LEGO,
About every six seconds someone somewhere posts "Hey, LEGO should make a theme out of xx" where xx=the latest video game...


LordZode wrote:Now, I don't even own a Wii myself, but I can just imagine if LEGO teamed with Nintendo to make a special line of Smash Brothers themed sets.


Pardon me if this sounds rude, but I'm going to go beat my head against a wall for a while.


That is very rude. You took part of my post out of context.

The point was that whether you like it or not, LEGO sets featuring iconic classic video game characters, locations, and vehicles as found in Mario, Zelda, Metroid, fit all of your criteria, are relevant to both children and adults and would be extremely popular.

These characters are made for children but appeal to adults, they have been around for over twenty years and are not the latest flash-in-the-pan creation, they are known world-wide.
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Postby Athos » Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:13 pm

Quickblade22 wrote: So what if IJ sets don't last after a year or two. It'll pave the way for more JT in the future.


I'd be surprised if that was the case. JT was so close to Indy, that it'd be hard to do Indy, then abandon it, for an Indy clone. Might create bad blood with Lucasarts, since it wouldn't be getting the license fee anymore.

Best case, they might be allowed to expand into the EU of Indy.

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Postby rgurskey » Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:24 pm

Consider this: Tintin.

Interesting characters, vehicles (shark sub, swing wing passenger jet, tramp steamers), locations (all over the world) and the books have been translated into 50+ languages.

It seems like a natural fit with LEGO to me. Maybe the licensing fees are too high.
How many books do you own?
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Postby Azaghal » Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:26 pm

Athos wrote:Best case, they might be allowed to expand into the EU of Indy.
That's actually not a bad idea. Can somebody say, "Red Baron Triplane"? :D In minifig scale, no less . . .
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Postby Donut » Wed Jun 18, 2008 5:07 pm

rgurskey wrote:Consider this: Tintin.
It seems like a natural fit with LEGO to me. Maybe the licensing fees are too high.


The problem with Tintin is that it is not very popular here in the US (I am not sure about its popularity in Europe). Three weeks ago, I wanted to buy a Tintin comic book from BN and upon asking the customer service desk where it was, they gave me a weird look. They have never heard of it and I haven't seen it on TV since a few years back on HBO.

Anyways, I do agree with you that Tintin does have that natural fit with LEGO for all the reasons you mentioned, however LEGO seems to be only buying licenses from films or shows that' are airing or about to air in movie theaters or on TV.
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Postby RichardAM » Wed Jun 18, 2008 5:42 pm

Something worth mentioning I think is the upcoming/current Star Wars sets.

This year sees the release of spaceship and character designs that until now, many will find new. Taking inspiration from the extended universe and the upcoming 'Force Unleashed' videogame may be a goodway to continue the general theme of Star Wars and please the fans, but for those who've merely watched the films or have limited Star Wars knowledge as it is, is this really a good means of continuing the line? Won't it just alienate the existing fans and consumers, or do you think these sets will be welcomed?

Star Wars already has masses of inspiration to design sets around already, but by reaching into the extended universe material the theme seems even further removed from that core license which fans have already identified with and recognise with (in the case of AFOLs) nostalgia. These new sets aren' strictly speaking, as licensed as their predecessors for example, if many don't understand or recognise what the actual source of inspiration of these sets is to begin with.
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Postby Athos » Wed Jun 18, 2008 7:00 pm

RichardAM wrote:Taking inspiration from the extended universe and the upcoming 'Force Unleashed' videogame may be a goodway to continue the general theme of Star Wars and please the fans, but for those who've merely watched the films or have limited Star Wars knowledge as it is, is this really a good means of continuing the line? Won't it just alienate the existing fans and consumers, or do you think these sets will be welcomed?


I'm not interested in them. If they have useful parts and are on clearance (which I'm hoping for) I may pick them up. But I have no real desire to buy them. Half the time, I don't have any idea what they're supposed to be.

But, I've pretty much given up on the prequel sets, anyway, and don't really want anymore remakes. I'm a strong advocate for putting Star Wars out to pasture.

rgurskey wrote:Consider this: Tintin.


Tintin is pretty esoteric in the US. I'm familiar with it, but have never actually read any of the books. I doubt, if I asked 10 people, that anymore than one or two of them would have any idea what I was talking about. Certainly not enough to support a license.

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Postby LordZode » Wed Jun 18, 2008 7:19 pm

I am a fan of the original Star Wars trilogy, most of the prequels seemed to go off the deep end a little bit - they were cool, but still. I was very excited to see the new special edition Death Star but the epxanded universe holds no interest for me whatsoever.
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Postby miniflea84 » Wed Jun 18, 2008 7:31 pm

The major appeal of licenses to me is getting minifig versions of characters I known and loved over the years. Star Wars is great for this, as are the batman and spiderman lines.

Of all the possible videogames ideas, I like the classic Nintendo one. It has the advantage of not being the latest popular thing, there are plenty of characters who have been around (and very popular) for years. I have no idea what the sets could be, perhaps iconic levels from metroid/mario/zelda/whathaveyou, mostly I'd just like to see the figs.
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