Ask a LEGO Fan

Set Availability

Posted in Marketplace by lfanquestions on September 2, 2009

Alywin writes:

As referred by The Brothers Brick, I have started reading your blog for more than a week, finding your answers and views very informative and insightful. Thanks for your sharing.

I have two questions about distribution of LEGO products to markets.  Although I heard some ideas about my questions in the past (which I don’t know true or not), I still would like to know your insight on them.

1. We don’t have Shop@Home and Pick a Brick services available in all Asian countries, including even Japan which, I believe, should be quite a large market.  Do you have any idea on why?

2. Some sets are not available in U.S., while others are not in Europe and/or Asia, etc. What factors affect the availability to a particular market?  Is it the LEGO headquarter or the local company, say LEGO England, which decide on what products are available?

Hope you could share your valuable view with me.  Thanks in advance.


Dear Alywin,

Expansion into new markets is a slow process for LEGO.  The company may not have the resources at this time to establish a new department, warehouses, and shipping facilities in a country.  This means that fans have to rely on toy distributors.  Distributors have a limited selection and raise prices much higher than Shop at Home retail prices.

Purchasing sets is problematic for many AFOLs.  I suggest making friends in other countries who will ship sets to you.  Shipping will be expensive, but it may be more affordable than the distributor’s prices.

Three factors influence set availability in established markets.  The first factor is the LEGO Marketing department for a country.  They work with large retail chains to decide which lines will be available.  Several years ago TLG thought that North Americans would not purchase Vikings Sets and Europeans would not buy Dino Attack sets.  Fans gave feedback that they wanted to purchase these sets.  Eventually the lines were picked up by retail chains and Shop at Home.   I hope that TLG saw that fans want all product lines to be available in all countries.

Product testing is the second factor.  When LEGO branches out to a new idea such as the LEGO Games line, they want to test it out in one market first.  Limited release decreases the risk of financial loss if a new line fails.

This final factor is an exclusive promotional deal made with another company.  Promotional sets have been made for companies such as Kabaya, Maersk, Velux, Vestas, etc.  These sets are usually only available in a single market or to company employees.



One Response

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  1. alywin said, on September 2, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Thanks, your reply is very informative and insightful.

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