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The idea I propose below is from someone who really does not care about:
- "collecting" (which I define as buying sets to keep unopened, unused, simply to "have" them with the intent of their increasing in value - but with genuine interest in the items collected)
- "speculating" (which I define as buying sets purely to resell at a profit, either immediately or in the future)
- "protecting collectors" or the "secondary market"
- Viewing Legos as any kind of investment, or anything more than toys
The intent is simply to get Legos into the hands of people who want them, for whatever reason, but probably to play with them or have their kids do so (or both).The Idea:
Make "out of print" sets available when sufficient demand has been established.
Think of it as how the "Ideas" program works, except people vote by putting up their money, and the designs are all Lego rather than customer-submitted. This mechanism might work as follows:
- Program is limited to VIP members only.
- Lego posts the "minimum demand" required to produce a run. This figure can vary by model and run, but once established for a particular run, would not be changed.
- Lego posts whatever price it wants for each copy in the run (optionally, with different prices for runs 1, 2, 3 or 10 years out).
- Interested parties can "sign up" for the run, indicating how many copies they want, and how long they're willing to wait for production to be confirmed (let's say, 1, 2, 3 or 10 years).
- Customers PRE-PAY for their order - including any shipping fees, based on the maximum price they would pay as indicated by their wait time (with early delivery resulting in the appropriate refund).
- Payment is NOT-REFUNDABLE unless Lego fails to confirm production by the customer's indicated wait time.
- If a customer's wait time is exceeded, customer is given the option to "renew" or take a refund (reducing the number of orders received).
- Once the required number of copies have been ordered, Lego would announce a "cutoff date" to get an order in for that run (orders received after the cut-off would go into the queue for the next run).
- Lego would begin production no later than 6 months after production is confirmed by order count, with customers guaranteed shipment within 3 months of production start.
Here is what I think would happen:
- Lego would develop valuable, accurate data on customer demand, which would both allow it to create "build to order" supply chain capability, and develop NEW sets based on demonstrated and proven demand.
- Lego reduces risk of producing unwanted sets that end up heavily discounted, damaging its brand.
- Lego collects enhanced revenue from "pent up demand", rather allowing re-sellers to collect that revenue. Essentially, Lego would OWN the secondary market (more or less).
- Lego books current revenue against future production.
- Average consumers who want "out of print" sets (including collectors) would have a chance to get them, without buying at inflated prices on the secondary market.
- Speculators would largely be driven out of business - with demand for their services largely reduced to the "must have it right now" crowd. This allows "real customers" a better chance to get current production items
- Current item production runs can be reduced (thus reducing risk), since speculators are no longer driving up sales based on pure speculation (simplifying forecasting).
- Collectors who are largely motivated by the "toys as an investment" philosophy would be pissed off.
- Collectors who are largely motivated by the "this stuff is cool, so I want it" philosophy would get more for their money.
- Collectors could actually un-box, build and play with their toys without worrying (too much) about losing value.
So, what do you think? If this program were announced, would you be for it, against it, or indifferent? Personally, I would immediately order two copies of every Classic Space and Castle set ever made, and indicate I would wait ten years (: