UPDATE: LEGO and Bricklink have provided an update, which includes a second allotment of Round 1 sets to be released. Read the full statement in my latest Bricklink Designer Program post.
On the 1st of July, Round 1 of the Bricklink Designer Program Crowdfunding round opened up, with 7 previously rejected Ideas getting a second chance via this program to be crowdfunded into LEGO sets.
Only 5 out of the 7 sets would make it through Round 1 and there was a limit of 5,000 for each set.
Well, this was entirely by design, and I have evidence of artificial scarcity being the original intention behind this program – during the recent Recognised LEGO Fan Media Days 2021, we sat in a Q&A session with the LEGO Ideas and Bricklink team where they talked about this program, so read on to hear what Marvin Park, Head of BrickLink / VP at the LEGO Group has to say about this project, and why these limits were put in place.
The Bricklink Designer Program officially opened at 1am on Friday, 2 July here in Melbourne, Australia. and I had a long day on Thursday, so I wasn’t really up for staying up so late just to get my hands on the sets, even though I really wanted the Castle in the Forest set (pictured above).
I got up early on Friday to see what was remaining, and wanted to crowdfund some of them, but by then the Castle in the Forest and Great Fishing Boat had sold out already – not surprising, those were the most impressive builds out of the 7 options, but I was quite disappointed that I missed out.
Speaking to people who stayed up, it seemed like the Castle and Fishing boat lasted about 30 minutes each.
FOMO kicked in, and I wanted to also back the Safe, but was hit by this peculiar message – the maximum limit hadn’t been hit, but what we were not told was that there was arbitrary limits allocated to each region, and most projects in Australia had already been exhausted.
Not to mention the lack of certain countries that could be shipped to such as Singapore, which I imagine is disappointing, especially when LEGO’s APAC Hub is located in that very country. Nope, you’re out of luck there.
Which reminded me of my conversation with Marvin Park, Head of BrickLink / VP at the LEGO Group that we spoke to at RLFM Days 2021, where purchase limits, and the 5,000 quantity was brought up.
Here’s a transcript of our Q&A:
Henry from German Youtube channel Klemmbausteinlyrik.de raised concerns first:
There will potentially be plenty of resellers due to the limited number of sets worldwide. Do you think that crowdfunding might be over in after 5 minutes? What will you do with people who are unsatisfied that they missed out in the morning?
Marvin: We have data from previous programs. This time might be different as we’re taking great designs from LEGO Ideas. We anticipate a little faster corresponding time, but I don’t think all the quantities will be sold out in 5 minutes and it will take much longer than that.
If that happens that is a very happy problem to solve. We’ll limit purchase quantity to 5 for each account. That restriction is not only by user IDs but we’ll also check address/credit cards, so it won’t be easy for someone to purchase large quantities of the set.
I believe it will give enough time to fans. We have a real-time platform so that people can see how fast projects go and respond accordingly.
Jay: you mentioned that there was a limit of 5 sets per account. If you get to a point where the 5,000 cap gets filled instantly, is it possible to increase that based on demand? We’ve seen throughout this year that LEGO as a whole – forecasting has not been the strongest point when it comes to LEGO.
Could 5,000 be a lowball estimate and what are contingency plans if demand surpasses what you have to supply?
Marvin: We wish we could produce more if demand is high enough but that constraint comes from the manufacturing side. As you can tell, LEGO Group is trying to meet overwhelming demand, not only from LEGO Ideas or this channel but even regular LEGO set production which has reached overcapacity.
I don’t believe we can increase the quantity of these sets.
It also serves the purpose of owning a limited edition set. If we increase the quantity, the owner of the pre-ordered sets – their satisfaction levels will go down a little.
Another Bricklink/Ideas person (can’t recall his name): Its also worth pointing out that the Bricklink Designer program is also a pilot for us to learn whether there is sufficient interest in something like this and see how AFOLs react to sets that are produced in this way.
Obviously if they manage to sell out, it’s a good indicator and it gives the BL team the necessary information about this program.
So yeah, that’s what was said to us, and it’s disappointing as I specifically raised the prospect of LEGO underestimating demand for these sets, and not having a contingency plan in place.
Personally, the 5 per account limit for each set was the most out-of-touch part of the entire program. With limited numbers in place, I don’t get why you wouldn’t limit the purchase quantities to 1 each to ensure that as many people get a fair shot at the sets.
Secondly, I remember being stunned by Marvin’s admission that this entire pilot program was designed with exclusivity and artificial scarcity in mind, and that there is the thinking at higher levels of The LEGO Group that “satisfaction levels of fans who pre-ordered might be reduced if more people get access to the set”.
I was pretty gobsmacked when I heard that and with the huge customer dissatisfaction caused (there’s a big thread in the LEGO Ambassador Network forum currently going) where ambassadors are voicing their community’s displeasure about the rollout, that this completely didn’t register in their heads.
Especially in a year where the LEGO VIP Ulysses Probe controversy blew out into astronomical proportions.
Thankfully, Bricklink put out this statement on Facebook, and an update would be coming next week, so maybe they’ve seen the light and will be making more available.
Or you could’ve just listened to us ambassadors when we raised concerns directly to you at RLFM Days 2021 that this would go exactly the way it would…
Did you manage to crowdfund or get your hands on any Bricklink Designer Program sets? What do you think of the entire program and how it was run?
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