12/22/10

Rumor Mill: 2011 Space Theme and Glued Magnet Sets

Over the past few weeks, there's been a lot of discussion on two topics, discussion that many would not have seen unless they read the comments. I thought it might be interesting to bring some of the findings to a forefront, specifically relating to a new 2011 Space theme and a possible reason 'why' the magnet sets are now glued.

The first rumor started a few days back (for me) when FBTB posted their invite to the LEGO meet-and-greet at this year's US Toy Fair. There were two minifigures pictured that had not been 'designated' to any known LEGO sets. I guessed that the female spacer and green alien (pictured here) may have been attached to Series 5 of the Collectible Minifigures, but I'm starting to doubt that prediction now.

It seems that the Sci-Fi community on Eurobricks has been debating this for a little over a month now when someone shared this description of a set seen in a pdf given to dealers for 2011 sets:

'Also, there was some strange battlepack for what seems to be a new theme replacing Space Police III, something along the lines of Alien Invasion or something, I can't recall the name exactly. Saw 2 aliens, different heads but a rather disgusting colour of green with 2 what seems like Power Miners suited soldiers and a Civilian-like figure.'

At the time, the forum members didn't have the recent pics, but speculation started that this could be an 'Alien Invasion' theme. The pictures seem to corroborate with the description above. Also, note the female spacer has a logo on the torso that looks like the letters 'ADF' - Alien Defense Force, perhaps?

It is very likely that no one will 'really' know until February what sets these figures are actually attached to. I'm personally hoping that if there's an Alien Invasion theme there will be some soldier figs in dark or sand green to represent a military defense for planet earth (those pot helmet molds from Toy Story have to be reused somehow). We may also see Naval military minifigs using the new sailor elements from Series 4, and don't be surprised if the Radioactive Man from Series 4 doesn't make an appearance in these sets along the way.

The second rumor deals with 'why' LEGO decided to glue the magnet minifigures to their bases. A lot of the initial response was along the lines of, 'the license partners are unhappy', 'they were hurting set sales', and 'LEGO/Lucas/Disney/WB is just greedy'. Although along some of these lines, there may be more detail on why one license partner was unhappy, specifically Lucas. Even to point the finger at Lucasarts is not quite fair, it seems that Lucas has an agreement with Hasbro relating to the sale of 'action figures'.

What I have heard is that because the minifigures could easily be removed from the magnets, this crossed the line in the eyes of Hasbro as being on 'their turf'. Lucas not being a business and not a charity, asked LEGO to change practices. LEGO agreed, but it would be a logistical nightmare to have some magnet sets glued and some not. Hence, why all magnet sets starting with Pharaoh's Quest will be glued.

I have to believe that the magnets were having a negative impact on set sales. I used to track the prices of minifigures on BrickLink. I noticed that minifig prices would drop on BrickLink by 30% to 40% once a magnet set featuring that fig debuted. Good old supply and demand. LEGO may have jumped the gun and not managed the rollout of the magnet sets sufficiently, however. Magnet sets should not debut in the first wave with the sets that feature them. If anything, they should come out in the late second wave or third wave of play themes. Why would you buy any of the pricer sets when on the same day they launch, you can buy all the minifigures in a $14.99 USD magnet set?! Prince of Persia was the first set to do this, and the same thing has happened with Harry Potter. I'm certain if timed right, the economics of the magent sets would have worked! There is a silver lining to all of this...we will likely see more 'battle pack' offerings in the future across all lines.

That's all for now. Looking forward to continuing the conversation...

3 comments:

  1. I'm sure you may have seen this already, but the link has pics of the new Alien Invasion set.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/57393885@N03/5287322111/in/photostream/

    In the bottom set you can see the blue spacesuit fig. Pretty sure the green alien is from here as well.

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  2. Another page in the book is here...

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/57393885@N03/5287920694/in/photostream/">

    Looks like the theme is called "Alien Conquest". Looking forward to what looks like a fun theme, especially with the throwback to 50s sci-fi a la War of the Worlds with the flying saucers and tripod robot thingies.

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  3. @ka.lego - Thanks! Yes, I found out yesterday about Alien Conquest. Looks pretty cool...

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