Following feedback from the LEGO Fan Community, particularly on the topic of regional exclusive sets, the LEGO Group released the following statement via the Ambassador’s network last night…
…but I don’t think it is as good as it sounds.
Dear AFOL Community,
It has become apparent to us at the LEGO Group that you are dissatisfied with the recent launches of regional exclusive products. We’ve received a lot of feedback on the LEGO festival products to mark the Chinese New Year (sets 80101 and 80102), the LEGO The Movie 2 Brickheadz (41634, 41635,41636 & 41637) in the US as well as the LEGO Star Wars 20th Anniversary Darth Vader Bust (75227). Because of this feedback and concerns from you, our dedicated and most loyal fans, we have decided that regional exclusives launched after May 1, 2019 will become widely available via LEGO Brand Retail stores and LEGO Shop at Home after a limited period of time (3-6 months) of the initial launch.
In the following areas we will still be launching products, which will have a certain limitation to availability and production runs:
-Pilot projects, such as Forma, to check out markets and opportunities without being able to make them widely available.
-Gift With Purchase campaigns through LEGO Shop at Home and LEGO Brand Retail.
-Products only sold in certain experiences (for example LEGOLAND, LEGO House & LEGO Brand Retail stores).
-Special Event Sets (Comic Cons, LEGO Inside Tour).
This means that after an initial period of exclusive regional distribution, we can expect future releases of regional exclusive sets – for example next year’s Asian Spring Festival sets – to become more widely available through shop.lego.com, and LEGO Brand Retail store. I am playing with semantics here. The wording of the announcement says ‘AFTER’ 1st May, not ON 1st May, when another regional exclusive (80103) is said to become available. Time will tell with regards to whether this set will become available generally or not..
However: there remain a few unanswered questions:
- Does this availability extend to Certified Stores and Stores associated with LEGOLAND discovery Centres (where we have seen these sets available in their local markets)?
- How long will it take for this general release to occur?
- What will the stock availability be like for the wider release?
- How long should we expect these sets to be available?
I am positive about this step forward, but it will be interesting to see how it works in real life. These sets will still have a degree of ‘rarity’ as not all markets are served by shop.lego.com to LEGO Brand Retail.
But will it alter the landscape with regard to US Retail Giant exclusives such as 2018’s Bean There, Donut That? Restricted to a single retailer (Target) in a single market (USA) – Somehow I suspect that we will not see a change on this front. I suspect it won’t prevent exclusive arrangement for future ‘celebration sets’, such as those seen at Walmart last year as part of the 60 Years of the Brick Celebration, which are, technically, special event sets.
We have seen some positive trends with 2018’s San Diego Comic Con Exclusive sets containing elements that were not exclusive to those sets (75512,75996,75997), and indeed, this year’s Darth Vader Bust 75227, available at Star Wars Celebration, contains no exclusive parts (although some might not be easily available this week). This at least means that if you want to build the models, you can – and the availability of the instructions certainly helps here. Certainly, you miss out on owning the set, intact with its box and instructions BUT you are still able to get the ‘building experience’.
So, what’s the take home message from this announcement?
Future regional exclusive sets will ultimately receive a more general release, but still won’t be available everywhere to everybody as soon as they want. Comic-Con exclusives (and similar) will remain, and continue to be something for fans to hunt down. Hopefully the recent practice of these event sets, with generally available parts, will continue.
What do you think? It is unlikely to affect this year’s Chinese New Years Eve Family Dinner, Dragon Dance or the May 1 release, but should be different, going into the future. Share your thoughts below, and until next time,