Nope, this isn't a rant about the plastic credit cards I use to spend money (that doesn't tangibly exist) on Lego and other fine goods. This is a rant that may be somewhat based on the ridiculous oil prices, because the same oil that makes our gasoline probably goes into making everyone's favorite yellow people, and I ain't talking the Simpsons.
When I first saw images of this Lego set, 852331 Vintage Minifigure Collection (above), I got pretty excited. It's the Lego brick's 50th anniversary, the minifigure's 30th anniversary, and Lego is commemorating the latter event with the release of a set of five minifigures that were released over the past 30 years. Aside from commentary (which includes my own) on the fact that the helmet the red astronaut* is wearing is not the original helmet design for the space/diving minifigures, and the fact that the goofy mad scientist is included, the price is a bit ridiculous. I figured, like the new Castle series five-packs, this set would be around $13 American (a bit high, in my humble opinion). When I received today's (shrunken) catalog I saw that the set sells (if people actually buy it) for 20 clams. If I do some math for you here, that's...20/5=4. Four dollars each!? The little product description does not mention any additional accessories or bricks or anything. Perhaps there is some awesome display stand inside? A plethora of tools for the various figures to do their jobs with? I'll never know unless this set gets marked down adequately.
Despite the somewhat poor choice in figure type inclusion, I would like to have one of these sets, but additionally considering the base price, sales tax (Us New Yorkers have to pay sales tax on the items and shipping and handling fees and my Maryland sister prefers I stop having stuff mailed to her this avoiding this tax-I hope that's not illegal), and shipping, it's a no go for now, and maybe for good.
The Lego Shop at Home website now allows customers to post reviews for all the current products. Based on mostly ratings only (commentless feedback), only 75 percent of customers recommend this product. This may seem pretty good, but compared to many of Lego's other product reviews I've seen, this is a poor showing.
This seems like a set that's not worth opening, and a toy not worth opening isn't much of a toy at all. According to the Oxford American Dictionaries, the definition of a toy is as follows: an object for a child to play with, typically a model or miniature replica of something. The second definition is: an object, esp. a gadget or machine, regarded as providing amusement for an adult. It's difficult for me to make a judgment as a five-year-old, but I can't say this set makes me want to buy multiples to build up an army of scientists or gas station attendants. On the other hand, I could construct a nice prison scene, probably a riot, to express how I feel about how this set fails to meet expectations.
My first suggestion for maximizing sales would be to lower the price by at least five dollars. My second suggestion would be to revamp the concept for this line and have each set include the new figures that were released each year: a 1978 set, a 1979 set, a 1987 set, etc. Criticism on sites like Eurobricks, a, duh, European Lego fan community site, also point out a lack of variety, in that most of these figures are from the Town/City themes. There is no knight. There is no pirate. One could argue that the mad scientist is practically a Town/City minifigure as well (Though I believe he was a part of the Lego Studios theme, which was based on some classic horror and action movies). I think theming these sets in at least some way would make them sell much better, whether it's by system theme, like five town figures, five pirate figures, five castle figures, or as mentioned earlier, by year. The hodgepodge works better in a bucket of Lego at a thrift store, not on the web site.
Despite all this criticism, I still love Lego, their toys, their site, most of their ideas, but I'm lost on this set. The catalog labels this set as Volume 1. I'm hoping the second volume will be a much improved set. As it is, I'm looking more forward to the Advent Calendars that will be released come the holidays.
*Of course, the red astronaut is probably in reality a cosmonaut and this is all some Red trick to make us Lego fans, child, or adult, waste our hard earned capitalist money on a crappy, overpriced set.