Ask a LEGO Fan

The Cost of Color

Posted in Marketplace, Product Quality & Safety by lfanquestions on March 8, 2010

Brad writes:

Is it accurate that certain LEGO colors are more expensive to produce as opposed to other colors?  For example, is a 2 x 4 brick in dark blue or dark green more expensive to produce than a 2 x 4 brick in red?

If indeed certain colors are more expensive to produce, do you know what is the most expensive color(s) and the least expensive color(s)?

Do you have any knowledge of the cost difference between the most expensive color and the least expensive color (using a 2 x 4 brick as the standard)?

Love the blog!

Thanks!

Dear Brad,

Certain colors are more expensive to produce than other colors.  Identical elements in different colors may also have different weights.

Red is one color that is extremely difficult to produce consistently.  Transparent bricks are also more expensive to produce than standard ABS bricks.  Black is the least expensive color because recycled ABS plastic can be used in its production.

We do not have a list comparing the cost of colors. Please check out online Pick A Brick: http://shop.lego.com/pab You can compare prices of the same element in different colors.

Sincerely,

LFan

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Purple Elements

Posted in Product Quality & Safety, Set Design by lfanquestions on February 8, 2010

Mike writes:

Do you have any idea why purple bricks are so rare, compared to the other main colors?

Dear Mike,

It is difficult to achieve color consistency with purple.  This is why these elements are less common and rarely used together in one model.  Fans complained about this consistency issue with the Harry Potter Bus set:

http://www.brickset.com/detail/?Set=4695-1

Sincerely,

LFan

Winter Toy Shop, Round 2

Posted in Marketplace, Product Quality & Safety by lfanquestions on January 25, 2010

Joe writes:

An update, for the curious… I didn’t see Joanie’s kind suggestion in time and missed my chance to buy from any of the LEGO stores (despite calling several across the country).

I’ve contacted LEGO directly, and they’re not forthcoming with their plans on this set. The set is selling for (on average) $110 on the secondary market — almost twice it’s original price. They’re currently selling the set to Europeans, but not to the US market.

It’s logical to assume that the set may be released again this Christmas, but if that doesn’t happen, the re-sale price will have skyrocketed by that time.

I’m pretty frustrated at the whole thing. The set was available for a matter of weeks, then disappeared without warning. When I received my Holiday catalog with the set on the cover, it had already sold out.

I think it’s pretty disgusting that so many people bought this set in order to re-sell it. Why should the end-buyers (me) lose the chance to buy a great set because re-sellers bought them first? If LEGO plans to re-release the set in the US, what’s the harm in letting us know ahead of time? And why isn’t the set available in the US currently?

Dear Joe,

I do not think you should blame people who bought this set for resale.  Currently only 48 sellers on BrickLink are offering this set.  LEGO was an extremely popular toy for families this year.  They are the ones who kept this set as a top seller and caused it disappear so quickly.  The set offered exclusive minifigures, hard to find elements, and had a very reasonable price per piece ratio.  It could have been sold by LEGO in the $80 USD range.

Fans and brick resellers were both surprised at how quickly this set sold out.  TLG  underestimated the popularity of this set and should have made a larger original run.

TLG is very secretive about future product offerings, even if it involves bringing a product back.  This is done to prevent the competition from producing similar competing products.  The one good thing about high sales is that LEGO will likely sell this set again or a similarly designed set next year.

Sincerely,

LFan

Leaked Set Images

Posted in Product Quality & Safety, Set Design by lfanquestions on December 4, 2009

Bobby writes:

What is the best place to find the most recent, hot info and pictures of upcoming sets? I want to see what’s coming out next year!! Is there a forum or a website that has scans or photos of sets that have not been announced officially yet by LEGO? I don’t mind if the pictures are blurry. Just steer me in the direction of a place I can add to my bookmarks and check every now and then to see what cool lego stuff is eventually coming my way.

Dear Bobby,

A variety of sites posted leaked product images and discussed leaked information regularly in the past.  Most will remove this information if requested by TLG.

http://www.brickset.com/

http://www.brickshelf.com/

http://www.e-klocki.com/

http://www.eurobricks.com/forum/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/tags/lego/

Other fan sites have policies guarding against spreading leaks since this information could be beneficial to competitor and clone companies.

Sincerely,

LFan

LEGO Quatro?

Posted in Marketplace, Product Quality & Safety, Set Design by lfanquestions on December 4, 2009

Mike writes:

As I purchased a set of the big Megabloks bricks (ages 1+) this weekend, I wondered what happened to Lego Quatro? I remember them, and thinking they would be great for young kids, being bigger than duplo, but now as we’re expecting our first child, they are no longer available.

Dear Mike,

When TLG was restructuring in 2006 after near collapse several years earlier, they decided to discontinue the Quatro line.  Currently they are only focusing on the 2+ age range with Duplo sets.

You can find these sets and pieces in the secondary market:

http://www.bricklink.com/catalogList.asp?v=1&pg=1&catString=537&catType=S

http://www.bricklink.com/catalogList.asp?catType=P&catString=537

Prices are reasonable but shipping could be expensive.

This is the one area of the construction toy market that Mega has firmly established.  My guess is that TLG could not generate enough business selling more expensive, but higher quality, bricks to parents of one year olds.

Sincerely,

LFan

Rare Bionicle Masks

Posted in Collecting Bricks & Sets, Marketplace, Product Quality & Safety by lfanquestions on November 16, 2009

The Lego Obsessionist writes:

Dear LFan,

As a active bionicle fan I can tell you where most any given bionicle element comes from.  This is not to say the brickopedia in my head is flawless- every once in a while I will be baffled by an odd piece.  But across the web I have seen an abundence of odd- colored Mata and Nuva masks- for example, white Mirus or red KauKaus.  These masks are not in any set, Toa, Matoran, Rahi, or otherwise (I checked).  Where did these come from, and where might I get some?

Thanks,
The Lego Obsessionist

Dear Lego Obsessionist,

Rare colors are usually in house prototype pieces that were not intended for public release.  It is a safe assumption that most elements have been produced in a wide variety of colors in house.  Fans view these elements as rare and collectable.  Designers do not share this opinion.  They think of how they can use the pieces in new sets.

There are several ways elements like these have made their way into the secondary market.  Rare colored elements and occasional prototype elements have been sold at LEGOLAND theme park Pick-A-Brick walls in the past.  Other mold test elements, such as the red ghost, were not properly disposed of and made their way into circulation.  Finally, some employees must be giving out elements to fans.  Certain BrickLink.com sellers have a wide variety of rare elements that they would not be able to sell without a reliable source.

In order to find these parts, I would suggest reviewing the available Bionicle elements on BrickLink: http://www.bricklink.com/catalogList.asp?v=1&pg=1&catString=235&catType=P

Sincerely,

LFan

Legality of Custom Elements

Posted in Marketplace, Product Quality & Safety by lfanquestions on November 12, 2009

Joe writes:

LFan,

I understand that selling LEGO items can be a sticky situation
legally. My question: under what conditions does LEGO allow sales of
custom-made LEGO-related items?

Thanks,

Joe

Dear Joe,

The LEGO Group is very protective of their iconic bricks (ie: red 2×4).  They do not like custom, clone, or competitor elements that have studs which match the same size as LEGO products.

This appears to be somewhat hypocritical since they originally copied the 2×2 brick size, studs, and stud location from Hillary Fisher Page’s Kiddicraft Bricks ( http://www.hilarypagetoys.com/ ).  They did not buy out that company until over a quarter century later.

Producing true LEGO Company innovations such as the “tube” design under the bricks and the minifigure would certainly lead to legal disputes even though the copyrights on some of these elements have expired.

A majority of current “custom” elements are minifigure accessories such as modern weapons, castle fantasy elements, historic weaponry, and headgear.  Elements such as these seem to be tolerated since they would not be produced by the company anyway.  Of course fans need to be very clear that their products are not affiliated in any way with TLG.

I believe that most fan innovation is a positive influence.  Dan Siskind and other fans created large custom sets in the early 2000’s.  Now TLG produces a variety of large exclusive sets for AFOLs.  Jeff Byrd of Little Armory Toys created blasters from a galaxy far away.  Later TLG added appropriate blasters to the Star Wars licensed toys.  The guys at BrickForge created pigs, sheep, and cows that fans love.  Soon thereafter TLG made cows and a line of farm sets.  BrickArms sells army figures, modern weapons, and military helmets.  Preview pictures of one Toy Story set for 2010 includes four green army men with helmets.

Sincerely,

LFan

Flame element alteration

Posted in Construction Techniques, Product Quality & Safety by lfanquestions on November 3, 2009

Paul writes:

Dear Lego Fan;

Why did Lego change the design of its flame piece?  It seems less useful now:

http://www.e-klocki.com/2009/11/01/dear-lego-now-you-screwed-up-the-flames/

Dear Paul,

According to LEGO, the original “tabs” were used to connect the flame in the old dragon’s mouth.  Now that those dragons are not being produced, the tabs are not necessary.  The tabs are not a standard size stud, bar, or axle connection.  This type of connection is an “illegal build” for company sets.

Flames have been released in over 250 sets.  Even the less common colors are still quite affordable: http://www.bricklink.com/catalogItem.asp?P=6126

Sincerely,

LFan