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LDD Prices

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LDD Prices

Postby DerBum » Sat Feb 12, 2011 7:58 pm

I know that LDD is still going strong so my opinion may not be the majority, but I do need to get it off my chest...
I deleted LDD off my computer yesterday because it is simply a waste of time. The idea of ordering a boxed set that was designed by me or my kids was pretty neat, originally I bought several different designs to give away for birthdays and Christmas, that was when the prices were more reasonable. Currently, it isnt worth the time to design a set that might retail for around $10 only to have LDD price it out at over $30, even online PAB priced it at nearly $20. I think the idea of designing a set and then being able to give the actual packaged set as gifts is a great idea and for $15 (maybe even $20) it might be worth it in a box, there is no way the set below should run $30 even with a healthy profit margin (as comparison I designed the helicopter for my Nephew for Christmas several years ago and paid around $15 for it and it has many more pieces than this Castle design).
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Again, I am well aware that the program is going strong and I have the option of buying the bricks off of Bricklink for much less, but I can do that without LDD... the appeal is getting a boxed set, I shouldnt have to pay $10-$15 for a small cardboard box!
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Re: LDD Prices

Postby Frank_Lloyd_Knight » Sat Feb 12, 2011 10:39 pm

I've given similar comments to TLG in some survey or another. I think my suggestion was basically that they plug LDD straight into PAB and do away with the Design-by-Me area. I have to wonder if Design-by-Me actually earns enough money to support itself. But perhaps there are still plenty of people who use it despite the exorbitant premium paid effectively just to get a box.
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Re: LDD Prices

Postby Halberd777 » Sun Feb 13, 2011 12:34 am

Frank_Lloyd_Knight wrote:I've given similar comments to TLG in some survey or another. I think my suggestion was basically that they plug LDD straight into PAB and do away with the Design-by-Me area. I have to wonder if Design-by-Me actually earns enough money to support itself. But perhaps there are still plenty of people who use it despite the exorbitant premium paid effectively just to get a box.


Ok you guys can feel free to snicker at me but uhhhmm TLG, LDD, PAB, could I have a BLT with that please. Is there a dictionary for these terms or someone who would be willing to point me in the right direction so I can understand the conversation. Unless it is in code then I get it I'm not cool enough.
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Re: LDD Prices

Postby Handar » Sun Feb 13, 2011 2:42 am

TLG = The Lego Group (pretty self explanatory)
PAB = Pick a Brick (both refers to the bins of individual elements in a Lego store and the electronic version on Lego's site)
LDD = Lego Digital Designer (Lego's program by which you can electronically design a set and they'll send you the custom set)
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Re: LDD Prices

Postby Aliencat » Sun Feb 13, 2011 4:12 pm

Frank_Lloyd_Knight wrote:I think my suggestion was basically that they plug LDD straight into PAB

That is exactly what Design by Me is. With Design by Me you are buying parts straight from the PaB stock, in the same department.
The price-per-piece is therefor exactly the same as PaB, however, Design by Me adds a $10 starting fee, to pay for the box and the instruction book that you get. I have to say, by the way, that the instruction book generator is absolutely impressive in every way. I was very impressed with the way it deals with translating more complicated building techniques into understandable instructions.

That said, you can always just order your parts from PaB and save yourself the $10 for a cool printed-sleeved box and instruction book.
Between plotting to kill you all and chasing balls of yarn, I also build MOCs

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Re: LDD Prices

Postby Frank_Lloyd_Knight » Sun Feb 13, 2011 4:53 pm

Aliencat wrote:
Frank_Lloyd_Knight wrote:I think my suggestion was basically that they plug LDD straight into PAB

That is exactly what Design by Me is.
...That said, you can always just order your parts from PaB and save yourself the $10 for a cool printed-sleeved box and instruction book.


That is along the lines of what I meant. LDD doesn't give any sort of inventory or brick-count, and one can't take a model straight from LDD and order the bricks through PAB; You either have to pay a premium to go through Design-by-Me, or tally up the bricks by hand (which is what I have done in the past). But it sounds like there are plenty of people who find Design-by-Me to be worth it, and I'm probably among a minority.
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Re: LDD Prices

Postby gedren_y » Sun Feb 13, 2011 10:31 pm

Frank_Lloyd_Knight wrote:That is along the lines of what I meant. LDD doesn't give any sort of inventory or brick-count, and one can't take a model straight from LDD and order the bricks through PAB; You either have to pay a premium to go through Design-by-Me, or tally up the bricks by hand (which is what I have done in the past). But it sounds like there are plenty of people who find Design-by-Me to be worth it, and I'm probably among a minority.


Actually, the current version of LDD does have a piece count as you build. It is on the lower left of the screen. I have not bought anything with the LDD, but do find it useful in planning a complicated build. Also, with Universe Mode (see Eurobricks for details) I can create things with parts in colors that aren't even being produced.
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Re: LDD Prices

Postby DerBum » Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:30 am

That said, you can always just order your parts from PaB and save yourself the $10 for a cool printed-sleeved box and instruction book.


I priced some of the smaller sets I designed out with PAB and they were still very expensive. As I stated above, that little Castle set right at $20.00 thats around $0.25 per piece and well above comparably priced Kingdoms sets like: http://shop.lego.com/ByTheme/Product.aspx?p=7948&cn=640&d=70 which at $19.99 sits at about $0.10 per piece with a box and instructions. I understand that someone must be paid to pick, but TLG already makes a profit at $0.10/piece and this set would have been $0.25/piece, those PAB employees must make pretty decent money.

In the end it just isnt finacially worth buying the LDD sets from Lego with either Designed by Me or PAB and it takes way too much time to track all the various pieces down using Brinklink (becuase you often have to place orders with multiple sellers and yes I tried doing this for my LDD creations)... so LDD is gone and so is the frustration.
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Re: LDD Prices

Postby davee123 » Mon Feb 14, 2011 4:28 pm

Frank_Lloyd_Knight wrote:But it sounds like there are plenty of people who find Design-by-Me to be worth it, and I'm probably among a minority.


From what I've heard, LEGO has been looking for ideas to make DBM more attractive-- presumably because the prices are far higher than normal LEGO costs, and most people won't pay for it. What I heard from someone a long time ago (back when this was still in the very early planning stages) was that it's not really intended to make money. It's intended to get people's attention and be available. IE, LEGO can say "look at this great service we offer, isn't it neat?" It builds the brand.

I'm sure this has been discussed a zillion times already, but there's a reason the PAB and DBM are so expensive. The pieces need to be kept in stock-- they're not manufactured for a particular run of a given product, where they're guaranteed to be used. Instead, they sit there taking up valuable real estate. They also get picked by hand, last I knew. That means LEGO has to pay someone to go through bins one-by-one and count out what you need in your custom order. Again, it's not like an automated group of machines that can churn out counted and packed sets in a matter of minutes.

Combine that with the infrastructure needed to keep PAB parts up to date-- people need to order refills for parts that run low, they need to keep the prices updated online, they have to have moderators ready to keep an eye on people's content, and of course they need to keep the website and software up to date.

Add that to the printed instructions, box, and whatever else I'm missing, and you get a pretty high cost for PAB.

It's a far different story with typical off-the-shelf sets. Those cost much more in terms of overhead, but when the assembly line starts, each individual set costs peanuts to LEGO, because they're made in such high volume. The result is that they can sell you a Creator set with very similar elements for a fraction of the price of PAB or DBM.

In the meantime, DBM does get used-- just not often repeatedly would be my guess. It's a great gift to have a child design a LEGO set and feel like they really accomplished something in the process. I can easily see that it would get purchased for a special occasion, but it probably doesn't get much repeat business at an individual level.

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Re: LDD Prices

Postby DerBum » Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:10 pm

The pieces need to be kept in stock-- they're not manufactured for a particular run of a given product, where they're guaranteed to be used. Instead, they sit there taking up valuable real estate.


I was under the opinion that most of the online PAB pieces were left over from production runs of standard sets. This would explain why many pieces were available in sets from discontinued lines and why some pieces go out of stock and are not available again (in some cases even basic bricks or plates). I doubt that TLG makes special runs only for online PAB and they would either be warehousing these pieces, throwing them away, or selling them through PAB (which is the only way to make money back off of them).

They also get picked by hand, last I knew. That means LEGO has to pay someone to go through bins one-by-one and count out what you need in your custom order.


I did address this earlier, I understand that they need to pay someone to do this but online PAB prices for most of my designs was $0.25/piece and DBM was aroun $0.35/piece. Even if a picker takes their time finding the pieces in what must be a limited size warehouse which (must be fairly well organized) the cost does not justify the amount of individual time the employee uses. I suppose I can understand the $10.00 premium attached to a custom box and instructions, but it only makes fincial sense if the PAB prices are closer to the $0.10/piece price in a normal set. As it is 4 pieces averages $1.00 in most sets containing minifigures through PAB... that too rich for my blood.
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Re: LDD Prices

Postby davee123 » Mon Feb 14, 2011 11:13 pm

DerBum wrote:I was under the opinion that most of the online PAB pieces were left over from production runs of standard sets.


Well-- I think it's the same idea, with a different slant to it. I think it's more along the lines of:

"We have to make part X for sets A, B, and C. We need 200,000 of them for set A, 350,000 for set B, and 250,000 for set C. That means we need to do a production run of at least 800,000 elements. However, while we're at it, let's add an additional 200,000 for PAB, and make it the run a grand total of 1,000,000."

I don't think it that it's filled via excess leftovers-- that would be more like:

"Well, we needed a run of 800,000 of part X, and we wound up with 850,000. I don't know what we'll do with that excess 50,000, so let's put it into PAB."

If that were the case, I think you'd see virtually every element that LEGO makes appear on PAB until the stock ran out. But I don't think that's what happens.

DerBum wrote:This would explain why many pieces were available in sets from discontinued lines and why some pieces go out of stock and are not available again (in some cases even basic bricks or plates).


That's exactly correct. LEGO gets that extra (say) 200,000 part run for PAB, and it just sits there until it gets too low, at which point they remove it from PAB. The fact that so many are still hanging around is probably a testament to how well they're selling (IE, they're not selling well!)

DerBum wrote:I doubt that TLG makes special runs only for online PAB and they would either be warehousing these pieces, throwing them away, or selling them through PAB (which is the only way to make money back off of them).


For "core" elements, like red 2x4 bricks, LEGO will ALWAYS make sure that PAB is fully stocked. There are certain elements that LEGO simply needs to offer through PAB. So, whenever LEGO does runs of 2x4 bricks, I would guess they'd take an inventory of the PAB selection, and "top off". However, for other elements, I certainly don't think LEGO would make special runs just for PAB. Setting up a production run is a large cost, so I would expect that PAB simply piggybacks on existing part runs.

DerBum wrote:Even if a picker takes their time finding the pieces in what must be a limited size warehouse which (must be fairly well organized) the cost does not justify the amount of individual time the employee uses. I suppose I can understand the $10.00 premium attached to a custom box and instructions,


I'd guess it'd take your average person around 15 - 20 minutes to pick elements for an order, which probably puts the actual person *picking* cost somewhere around $1.50 and $2.00 extra. But let's not forget that it's not JUST the picking cost. It's costing extra because:

1) People are being paid to pick parts (this also involves turnover, training, management, facilities, etc)
2) PAB elements are stored "indefinitely". That is, it's unknown whether or not a particular PAB element will ever sell, so it can sit there on a shelf, unbought for a long time.
3) There's maintenance on the web system needed to submit and process orders, as well as track inventories
4) There's overhead on developing software and interfaces for users to submit models, etc.
5) There's a custom box printed for each order in DBM
6) There's a set of custom instructions printed for each order in DBM.
7) There's additional staff that have to individually process mailing out orders (that's higher than sending out one palette of 1000 sets to a single store, it's sending 1000 sets to 1000 different addresses).
8) There's maintenance required to re-stock and evaluate inventories, including ordering more parts, keeping the system organized, etc.
9) LEGO needs to make profit-- they can't just break even.

But, even with all that said, we're still missing the REAL reason. The REAL reason isn't that PAB are so much more expensive than the cost of a LEGO brick-- it seems expensive because boxed LEGO sets are GROSSLY cheap. And that's because of the MASSIVE quantities that LEGO makes of normal boxed sets, where it can afford to sell "normal" LEGO at ludicrously low prices around $.10 per piece.

Unfortunately, that gets you, the consumer, into the mindset that ALL of the bricks LEGO produces should be similarly dirt cheap at $.10 per piece-- but that's simply not true.

DerBum wrote:but it only makes fincial sense if the PAB prices are closer to the $0.10/piece price in a normal set. As it is 4 pieces averages $1.00 in most sets containing minifigures through PAB... that too rich for my blood.


I think that's the story for most AFOLs. Buying from PAB online doesn't make sense for us. But then again, it's not MEANT for us. It's meant for kids, and it's meant for that "special occasion" purchase where you want it to look like you designed a LEGO set. It's not meant for bulk purchasing.

In the meantime, we have FANTASTIC alternatives for AFOL purchasing-- LUGBULK and BrickLink. There's no way LEGO will ever compete with BrickLink (especially in terms of rarer parts), and there's no way they could make LUGBULK open to the general public. PAB and DBM simply aren't where you should go looking to make your purchases if you're looking to get a great deal.

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Re: LDD Prices

Postby Hikaro Takayama » Tue Mar 01, 2011 1:38 am

I use LDD for roughing-out parts of MOCs I'm having trouble with/don't have enough pieces for so I can get them right, then I either order the parts through PAB or get them off BrickLink....

...That said, I will admit that I made a post on the Design By Me/LDD forum on the official LEGO website requesting a feature to generate a brick-list (like what's included on offical LEGO set instructions), much like what Frank_Lloyd_Knight was talking about, but never received any kind of reply one way or another. :roll:
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