The LEGO Group Buys Out BrickLink.

No, it is not April the 1st!

When I attended my first LEGO®️ Fan show as an adult, a little over 10 years ago, I discovered two things: One was that it was OK to be both an adult, and a fan of LEGO. The other was that I could find almost any set or element from the past or present at a online marketplace called Bricklink.

Bricklink has been one of the resources that has enabled hundreds of thousands of LEGO fans to realise their creative vision, through providing access to the widest palette of parts. And for some, it has also allowed people to recoup some of the costs incurred with purchasing sets for specific elements, by selling on leftover elements. And then there are the ongoing ways that Bricklink has set out to value add for AFOLS: MOC Shop, Stud.io and the AFOL Designer Program. Bricklink has managed to fill many of the gaps left behind by LEGO, through vintage sets, obsolete parts and por ongoing support for LDD software.

In recent years, LEGO have also become more engaged with Bricklink, with the AFOL Designer Program recently delivering some amazing sets, designed by members of the AFOL community.

And then today, we hear the most incredible news coming out of Billund…

BILLUND, Denmark, November 26, 2019:  The LEGO® Group today announced it has acquired BrickLink Ltd (www.bricklink.com), the world’s largest online community of adult LEGO fans from NXMH to strengthen its connection with its important adult fan base.

The BrickLink platform has more than one million members and comprises an online marketplace of more than 10,000 stores from 70 countries; a digital building software where builders can design and showcase their creations; and a vibrant online community where fans share ideas and builds. 

The platform was founded in 2000 by Dan Jezek as a way to connect like-minded adult LEGO fans from around the world.  It was acquired in 2013 by NXMH, which is owned by Korean entrepreneur Jung-Ju “Jay” Kim. BrickLink is headquartered in Irvine, California.  

The LEGO Group CEO, Niels B Christiansen said: “Our adult fans are extremely important to us.  They are passionate, committed and endlessly creative.  We have worked closely with the community for many years and look forward to deepening our collaboration.  We plan to continue to support BrickLink’s active marketplace and evolve the digital studio which allows our talented fans to take their creativity to the next level.”

Jung-Ju “Jay” Kim, owner of NXMH, said: “It has been a privilege to lead the transformation of BrickLink during the past six years.   I am grateful to the community for being so welcoming, supportive and constructive.  I am constantly amazed by everyone’s endless creativity and their love for building.  I am confident the platform will be in good hands with the LEGO Group. As a fan myself, I can’t wait to see what’s next.” 

The LEGO Group’s Chief Marketing Officer, Julia Goldin, said:  “BrickLink provides the LEGO Group with a unique opportunity to connect with adult fans through new channels and exciting experiences.  We’ve recently collaborated with BrickLink on a range of crowd-sourced sets to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the brick.  We learned a lot and are keen to explore more ways of working together to create value.  We look forward to collaborating further with our adult fans, while retaining and nurturing the independent spirit of the digital platform.”

The acquisition also includes Sohobricks which makes small batches of building elements.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Closing is expected to occur before the end of 2019. 

It is rapidly obvious as to why the LEGO Group might view Brick Link as a way to access more information about their adult fanbase…

These are early days, and full details are still coming to light. The Bricklink Perspective can be read here. The Brothers Brick and Brickset both had the chance to interview the LEGO Group’s Chief Marketing Officer, Julia Goldin in advance of the announcement.

They raise some interesting aspects with regard to the platform, including potential issues for third party accessories that may or may not be in line with LEGO Brand Values; the future of sohobricks, as well as issues with regard LEGO now having an ongoing income stream through the ongoing selling and reselling of both regular sets, gifts with purchase, and event exclusive sets (such as those from comic-con).

At this point, the LEGO Groups seems happy with the robust nature of the market place on Brick Link, and does not seem to wish to shake things up too much. The ongoing development of Stud.io seems to remain important, and perhaps there might be a need to redevelop the website for ensuring a more global accessability.

It is still early days before we see the full implications of this takeover. For the time being, LEGO appear to be happy to leave the existing management of Brick Link alone, but will they start mining transactional data to better manipulate the hearts and should of AFOLs? Potentially increase transaction fees? Will BrickLink ultimately become less independent, leaving a virtual monopoly?

Time will tell.

This will certainly be an interesting topic to follow going forward. What do you think? A transaction for good or bad? leave you comments below, and until next time,

Play Well!

4 thoughts on “The LEGO Group Buys Out BrickLink.

  1. On the one hand there are potential concerns about the marketplace side of bricklink but on the other hand this can’t be anything but good for the catalog side.

    Also will certainly give them insight into such things as which elements/colour combinations they might want to do new runs of/include in new sets.

    Ultimately it will really depend on how hands on LEGO will want to be with the running of the business. I’m sure legal will be furiously working on updated terms & conditions to make it clear that LEGO are not responsible for the sellers prices or items.

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      • I’d hope that they won’t want to start selling any designs we just upload to get a wanted list for our work and change (i.e. destroy) our business in the process. If we ‘publish’ the work it may be different but don’t mess with it too much TLG or you might be biting the hand that feeds you. Happy to wait and see where this goes for now….

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