Caution: Moderately salty language ahead. This is your obligatory language warning.
Earlier today, LEGO revealed the first 2017 San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) minifigure exclusive on Facebook – Vixen from The CW show Legends of Tomorrow. To get the Vixen minifigure, LEGO will be giving them away via random draw at SDCC on 21, 22, and 23 July 2017.
If you’re new to LEGO San Diego Comic Con exclusives, let me explain how this farce works. This time every year at SDCC, LEGO makes the mind-boggling decision to screw over 99.9% of its fanbase by releasing exclusive minifigures.
Exclusive as in, there are a limited number of these highly-sought after minifigures AND you can only* get your hands on them if you are physically present at San Diego Comic Con.
*LEGO also typically runs a giveaway of these on Twitter for all us plebs worldwide. I’ve actually won a LEGO giveaway before so it does work if you’re really, really lucky.
UGH. Just UGH. I really hate this because I really want this. But I promised myself to not support the scalpers and resellers. This is going to be worth a fortune in months. UGH. 🙃
Since last year, LEGO have also started releasing exclusive BrickHeadz sets in SDCC as well to rub salt into the wounds of legitimate LEGO fans. This year, they’re releasing a Supergirl & Martian Manhunter Pack and a Spider-Man & Venom pack, both of which have exclusive printed elements so you’re out of luck if you want to collect all the Brickheadz.
Because stuff you, that’s why.
As a toy company, and most powerful brand in the world, this is simply an unacceptable practice in this day and age.
Artificial scarcity from a company that mass-produces toys is such a fundamentally flawed practice that only serves to penalise actual fans and enrich scalpers.
I am a big fan of both LEGO Marvel and DC Super Heroes, having collected most of the sets since the inception of both themes. I consider myself faithful in the sense that I buy most of the retail sets even if they’re mostly poor value because I enjoy having my favourite comic book characters in LEGO form.
For years, LEGO have been gatekeeping some of the most sought-after Marvel and DC characters all in the name of Comic Con exclusivity. Let’s name a few – X-Men’s Phoenix, Bizarro, GOTG’s The Collector, Spider-Woman, DC’s Shazam and Spider-Man in his Symbiote costume.
Y’know, massively popular and iconic versions of some of the biggest names in DC and Marvel.
Artificial scarcity and manufactured exclusivity is stupid and doesn’t serve to benefit anyone, except those that are privileged enough to live in San Diego or have the means to travel to Comic Con.
You want to know who this incredibly backwards practice benefits? Scalpers and resellers who are looking to prey on some of LEGO’s most passionate fans, all in the name of making a quick buck.
Just look on eBay to see how much it’ll cost to buy these SDCC exclusives. In the next few days following Comic Con, check eBay and you will see a flood of sellers flogging off their Comic Con exclusives.
I mean, if you could make a quick and easy $300 just because you were lucky enough to be at San Diego Comic Con and win one of these sought-after minifigures, why wouldn’t you?
This practice is prevalent in other hobbies and isn’t exclusive to LEGO and toys alone. See the Sneaker reseller market, which has spawned a $1 billion dollar industry.
I mean for apparel, I can kind of understand, because exclusivity is part of fashion and building your band (see: Supreme) but these are toys we are talking about! Toys!!!
Am I salty because I’ve had to overpay for Comic Con exclusives?
You’re damn right I am.
These were purchases from 2015 where I was a bit more gullible, but I’ve since stopped because I cannot justify dropping hundreds of dollars on minifigures. That and I matured and didn’t want to play a part in this unscrupulous game any more.
Going through LEGO’s Facebook post (which is shared globally), you can read through dozens of comments from fans disappointed with this practice. It’s a cruel tease, really, sharing this to their 12 million fans on Facebook, most of which will never get the chance to own these SDCC minifigures.
Look, LEGO, I get that you need to make it special and reward fans for visiting the LEGO booth at San Diego Comic Con. I am not entirely opposed to exclusives for special events.
They’re cool ways to commemorate milestones, or events where LEGO have invested a lot of time, energy and resources to participate in.
But be clever and most importantly, fair about exclusives. Give them out in commemorative boxes, display cases or packaging, but also release them to a wider audience at a later date. Don’t include exclusive parts in brick-built sets, to allow fans to recreate their own versions if they want to.
This year’s Star Wars Celebration set, Detention Block Rescue was a really elegant and classy way of doing it right. LEGO released the set in a really snazzy, premium box that’s a collector’s item in itself, but introduced no exclusive elements which meant that Star Wars fans who couldn’t make it to the event could build their own versions and not miss out.
Give out other kinds of exclusive memorabilia that aren’t minifigures. Give out oversized minifigures, plushies, or heck, make the minifigures special by handing out exclusive SDCC-printed plaques or baseplates, but release them to everyone else in the world so that us regular folk can get a chance at adding these minifigures to our collection.
I am continuously disappointed that LEGO are still engaging in this awful practice. Please stop screwing over your most passionate fans while you enrich resellers and scalpers. It’s anti-fun and anti-fan behaviour.
What are your thoughts on LEGO Comic Con exclusives? Should LEGO stop this practice or should they get a bit smarter and more equitable with this? Let me know in the comments.
Maybe if enough LEGO fans kick up a stink and take a stand on this, LEGO will finally get the message that these SDCC exclusives only end up hurting their fans in the long run.