Why lego feels hollow now

Okay, so to preface this, grew up in the 2000s-early 2010s, so if you like you can write all of this off as just the ramblings of a nostalgic “Old man” that doesn’t like change.

In many ways lego has begun to feel… hollow, to me. Now, this can obviously be explained by “You’re just not interested anymore!” and in a way, yeah, I am, but not for the reasons that you would think. I would also wager I’m not the only one who does.

In many ways, modern lego (by modern I mean, post 2016-2017 or so) simply has lost its appeal to me. Before anyone says I’m just nostalgia blind, I find the 20th century sets (man that’s weird to say) to appeal greatly to me as well. M-tron, Knights Kingdom 1, Aquazone, all of that appeals to me just as much as say, mars mission or Fantasy-era Castle. I never even saw those sets as a kid, let alone played with them or had any emotional attachment to them. The reasons for this are not going to be what many think I’m going to say: no it’s not a lack of story themes, or a lack of what I in particular want, no I think the reasons why is that lego feels, in many ways, like it’s phoning it in.

Now, what do I mean by this? Let me explain. When I say phoning it in, I don’t mean the builds are lazy, incompetent, or not creative. Not at all, in fact I find many of the sets mind-bogglingly impressive in what they can accomplish. No, what I mean is that lego no longer needs to try with it’s branding and themes, it no longer has put in the effort to make sure things will be a success.
Let’s elaborate upon this. Now, many lego themes are lego’s ‘version’ of a given idea. Agents/Alpha team was its take on superspies, Space was well, sci-fi in general, etc. but now, lego has the licenses to many of those properties. It doesn’t need to come up with its own take on sci-fi, they have star-wars now, they don’t need to come up with their own spies thing, they have mission impossible (if they ever take the time to use it).

Notice how, whenever Star Wars released a movie since they acquired the liscense, space disappeared for a little while? The last space set from the original, contiguousrun of space since the 70s was Life on Mars. When did it release? 2001, and the first space theme after that was Mars Mission, which began in 2007. What happened in the meantime? The Star Wars prequels. From 1999-2005. The last space theme so far was Galaxy Squad, and what happened not 2 years after it’s release? The first of the Sequels, and Star Wars has not slowed down since.

Simply put, lego doesn’t need to put in any of the effort, they don’t need to put in the work to develop, market, and sell their own themes beyond Ninjago and Monkie Kid, and those are both such monolithic entities in their respective markets, and they don’t step on any licensed toes. There’s a reason City/Ninjago have become such black holes, sucking in all the other themes, because there’s nowhere else for them to go.

Counting on Lego’s website, I count 16 themes that are not entirely licensed. (Architecture is it’s own weird thing. That’s: Boost, City, Classic, Creator 3-n-1, Creator Expert, DOTS, Duplo, Friends, Mindstorms, Minifigures, Monkie Kid, Ninjago, Power Functions, Powered up!, Serious Play, Technic and Xtra.

Now, let’s trim these down a bit shall we? Boost and Mindstorms, are both their own thing, and are single set lines, so let’s cut them. Serious play is just an excuse for Businessmen to play with lego, and aren’t really sets in the traditional sense, cut it. Xtra, power-functions, and powered up! are all essentially add-ons, cut them.

That leaves us with city, classic, Creator 3-n-1, Creator expert, dots, duplo, friends, minifigures, monkie kid, Ninjago, and Technic. Out of 40 themes laid out on the website (Vidyo is dead best as we know, and “lego Originals” Is just that wooden minifig), traditional lego themes, that are not licensed, make up 27.5% of the roster.

There is no space, no castle, no pirates, nothing that isn’t “generic” for lack of a better term beyond City, Friends, Ninjago, and Monkie kid. That’s only 10% of their repertoire.

Lego doesn’t make their own products anymore, outside of Ninjago and Monkie Kid, they make merchandise for other more creative companies, and it simply just feels hollow.

But please, what are your thoughts? Do you agree? Disagree? Please, tell me below!

Addm: To be clear, I’m not anti-licensed theme, I just think it’s a problem past a certain point. It’s like tracing a drawing. You can be extremely proud of the quality and complexity of your trace, but in the end you’re just copying someone else’s design work.

Addm 2: To elaborate a bit, I don’t think Lego necessarily needs to make more “story” or even “premise” themes, they just need to not just duplicate what others are doing.

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I agree with pretty much everything here, but I can see why it’s happened.

From what I can recall, Galaxy Squad performed abysmally when it was on shelves. The sets were regularly discounted for more than 50% off everywhere I went. I think John Lewis ended up selling the Galactic Titan for just £30 by the end of the theme’s run! Making original themes isn’t really a viable business option anymore now that kids are far more likely to opt for licensed options.

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Indeed. I get it. (Though I do think Galaxy squad had as much of a marketing among other things. it also fell into the Ninjago-black hole which is it’s own issue.) They only way to compete is to make it just as exciting as star wars. But unfortunately, the reason for this I can’t get into without edging into cultural politics.

Suffice to say this new era of corporate brand loyalty and endless nostalgia baiting, there’s only one way to make money and that’s to latch onto properties from the 20th century. They’re safe, and guaranteed to (usually) at least make a return on the investment. It’s just good business, and a liscensed property will always make more money than a Evergreen theme ever will, unless it become the monolith ninjago has.

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Totally 100% agree with this.

On a more personal note I also have a problem with how even when they make stuff that is targetted towards adults that is more generic its all just a 80s and earlier nostalgia pandering or a car or two preferably from the 50s or 60s. If its anything else it needs to be an 80s property depiction and the earliest piece of media released for that property.

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I blame bad parenting.

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honestly i do agree - lego has gone downhill a bit…

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grew up in the 2000s-early 2010s, so if you like you can write all of this off as just the ramblings of a nostalgic “Old man” that doesn’t like change.

I’m older than you and this sounds like an old grandpa wrote it…

“When I was a kid, lego was clearly better! We had Johnny Thunder and he was far superior to that poser Indiana Jones! Johnny had a revolver in his pants and all Indy had was a whip! He couldn’t hit a target five yards away with that thing!”

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I mean, i was always called an old man at heart. :sweat_smile:

My intent wasn’t to say one was necessarily better than the other, solely because it was old. Just that I don’t think it’s healthy for the company or us, the consumer, to rely primarily other companies IPs. Moderation, moderation is key.

Competition is usually better for us the consumer, than collusion.

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The issue is stagnation. Sticking to brand name recognition as a source for creative design will ultimately fail.

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What does parenting have to do with this?

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Bad parenting is responsible for virtually every problem humanity has created. :stuck_out_tongue:

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So after reading this entire topic, and the main post, the complaint being lodged here is that there aren’t any original LEGO themes any more.

Nexo Knights, Chima, Bionicle G2, Hidden Side, Galaxy Squad.

There’s one common trend among all these themes - they all died hated. Some sold better than others, but by the time they closed, they were despised by fans.

Now in my opinion, Bionicle G2 was the best Bionicle has ever been (cry about it) and Galaxy Squad was a more modernized Mars Mission in terms of aesthetics and set concepts (weep bitterly) but I can’t deny these themes absolutely underperformed despite Hidden Side having some of the most detailed sets of recent years and Bionicle being, well, the return of Bionicle.

Yes there are always going to be a number of factors that can kill a theme, such as marketing, subject matter, conflicting with the bloated sore called Ninjago dominating the market of ninjas, dragons, automobiles, airplanes, giant mechs, and apparently now centaurs, but the common denominator is they all were original themes that sold poorly and died hated and rejected by the majority of LEGO’s primary audience.

Why in the world would LEGO make more financially risky and possibly hazardous original themes multiple times a year when the 7th redesign of the millennium falcon is a guaranteed money machine?

also Johnny Thunder was based

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You see, this millennium falcon has a dark orange kohrok kal shield in it and that puts it in a higher tier than the other millennium falcons as now it has use for a bionicle customizer. You should know by now that k̶i̶l̶l̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶m̶u̶d̶b̶l̶o̶o̶d̶s̶ buying themes doesn’t matter to me anymore.

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Unfortunately the quote from you at the top may have indicated this was directed at you - it was not. I completely agree with you here.

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Bring back LEGO Castle and I will personally make sure LEGO remains financially stable with an original theme.

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Lego is adapting to a fatherless audience.

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look just because I didn’t pay winger’s child support doesn’t mean I wasn’t there for him

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he wasn’t there for me

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no-one was…

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