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(Wired)   Science finally answer the question that has plagued us, lo these many years. Why is Lego so expensive?   (wired.com) divider line 41
    More: Interesting, Lego, standard deviations  
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5816 clicks; posted to Geek » on 11 Jan 2013 at 2:17 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-01-11 12:15:37 AM
On that last graph the guy really should have excluded the few highest points and made the rest of the info larger. And if he wants to know whether the price is directly related to the number of blocks, he should have checked the correlation coefficient.
 
2013-01-11 12:22:17 AM
And verily it was written in the sacred parchments: Whatever the traffic shall bear
 
2013-01-11 12:26:22 AM
I was promised science, not math.
 
2013-01-11 12:30:07 AM

Gig103: I was promised science, not math.


oh, a purist, eh?
 
2013-01-11 12:30:47 AM
Someone has WAY too much free time on their hands.
 
2013-01-11 01:38:01 AM
Because manufacturing tolerances are razor thin? Because the company passes the cost of licensing popular franchises into Lego kits on to their customers? Because they have a practical monopoly, both in branding and in product (lots of knock offs, but everyone ALWAYS compares those to how well they fit a Lego piece)?

I'm just spitballing here.
 
2013-01-11 01:41:48 AM
That and northern european labor rates.
 
2013-01-11 02:24:02 AM

Asa Phelps: That and northern european labor rates.


haha. Yeah. I'm sure they don't just use immigrant labor like everyone else.
 
2013-01-11 02:34:50 AM
Gonna copy some old-school instructions off the internet and build so many sets when 3D printers let me just print the pieces.
 
2013-01-11 02:38:45 AM

DD44Dostivei: Gonna copy some old-school instructions off the internet and build so many sets when 3D printers let me just print the pieces.


That sounds prohibitively expensive.
 
2013-01-11 03:00:07 AM

fusillade762: Someone has WAY too much free time on their hands.


Someone posted a school project.
 
2013-01-11 03:07:36 AM
Megablocks are like the Open Office version of Lego. They kinda look like they do the same thing - but when you try to do something complicated, it all falls apart.
 
2013-01-11 03:10:39 AM
Kinda puts the lie to the whole "Mass production makes things cheaper" line.
 
2013-01-11 03:28:23 AM
 
2013-01-11 04:19:08 AM
You want to get a kid's mind started early - get your kids Legos. You cannot get too many. The more complex the parts, the better. Just make sure they don't eat them. At first you may need to play with them, and Legos are awesome at all ages anyhow.
 
2013-01-11 04:32:46 AM
Those ridiculous production tolerances probably aren't necessary, given that 20 year old bricks that are nicked, chewed, bent, and generally beat to hell, fit together just as well as brand new parts out of a box. I never once had any trouble with even my most ancient, hand-me-down bricks, nor with Mega Blocks.

Actually I rather liked Mega Blocks, they had some neat pieces and they made them in metallic colors and military camo, which it took years for LEGO to do (at least for my generation, maybe there were some antique sets with pieces like that). Not quite as good as LEGO but still decent quality. The other knockoff brands though, yeah, utter crap.
 
2013-01-11 05:40:55 AM
Because the price of Eggos has also gone up, making it difficult to lego one's eggo.
 
2013-01-11 07:12:08 AM

Cthulhu_is_my_homeboy: Those ridiculous production tolerances probably aren't necessary, given that 20 year old bricks that are nicked, chewed, bent, and generally beat to hell, fit together just as well as brand new parts out of a box. I never once had any trouble with even my most ancient, hand-me-down bricks, nor with Mega Blocks.

Actually I rather liked Mega Blocks, they had some neat pieces and they made them in metallic colors and military camo, which it took years for LEGO to do (at least for my generation, maybe there were some antique sets with pieces like that). Not quite as good as LEGO but still decent quality. The other knockoff brands though, yeah, utter crap.


GET OUT YOU GODLESS HEATHEN! OUT! OUT! OUT!
 
2013-01-11 07:22:18 AM

Snarcoleptic_Hoosier: Because manufacturing tolerances are razor thin? Because the company passes the cost of licensing popular franchises into Lego kits on to their customers? Because they have a practical monopoly, both in branding and in product (lots of knock offs, but everyone ALWAYS compares those to how well they fit a Lego piece)?

I'm just spitballing here.


You missed one: Because they are *WORTH* it.
 
2013-01-11 07:23:43 AM

Cthulhu_is_my_homeboy: Those ridiculous production tolerances probably aren't necessary, given that 20 year old bricks that are nicked, chewed, bent, and generally beat to hell, fit together just as well as brand new parts out of a box. I never once had any trouble with even my most ancient, hand-me-down bricks, nor with Mega Blocks.

Actually I rather liked Mega Blocks, they had some neat pieces and they made them in metallic colors and military camo, which it took years for LEGO to do (at least for my generation, maybe there were some antique sets with pieces like that). Not quite as good as LEGO but still decent quality. The other knockoff brands though, yeah, utter crap.


The point is, that even when a Lego is beaten,chewed etc, it still will fit (depending on the mangle)
really well with another block.And they are pretty hard to destroy. I had some lower end BricksBlocks
as a kid, and they were more thin, and were somewhat easily broken..I don't know what kinds of force
it would take to break one of those single square Lego blocks..But I can imagine it would take some
pretty major force.
 
2013-01-11 08:18:11 AM
Yeah, the tolerancing on Legos, and the fact that they have seeming figured out the "JUST RIGHT" plastic compound for the bricks to work is pretty amazing, really.

My wife did find another company that seems to have *finally* figured out what the Lego secret sauce is....and have made even tinier bricks. So when you step on them, they actually embed themselves in your skin. Again, unlike almost every other knock-off Lego brand, these guys have the same precision tolerance and plastic compound. And some remarkably cute animal models, too! (And their pricey-ness is pretty much in line with Lego).

I present to you:Nano-Blocks!
 
2013-01-11 08:22:49 AM
That was astoundingly uninteresting...
 
2013-01-11 08:40:40 AM
I like how he starts with a question in the title, completely throws it out in the first sentence and then partially answers something completely different. Actually, I don't like that at all.

In my school, Associate Professor of Physics at Southeastern Louisiana University, Rhett Allain, that would earn you an F.
 
2013-01-11 08:43:33 AM
the exterior dimensions are the least important, within reason, and easiest to control part to a lego brick.s precision. what I would find interesting is the measurements of the precision of the locking features. small interior features are always the most difficult to get just right in injection molding
 
2013-01-11 08:52:27 AM
The author is really bad at making good plots.
 
2013-01-11 08:55:03 AM
ABS costs $1.29 per pound in when bought by the gaylord.

USED Lego goes for about $5 a pound on eBay, more if it includes a lot of Star Wars series pieces. I think new retail it's close to $20 a pound.

The difference is in the dies. I've seen the production line and they run it slow, which means they're probably getting really fancy in the heating and cooling of the dies. Combine that with being very specific in your ABS batch specs gives you high dimensional control. Do this for decades and you have a reputation at the end, and much like Apple you can charge what you want for your products.
 
2013-01-11 08:55:51 AM

Cthulhu_is_my_homeboy: military camo, which it took years for LEGO to do (at least for my generation, maybe there were some antique sets with pieces like that)


I read years back that originally, Lego blocks were made in all colors, except for green, due to an aversion the post-war makers had for people to make military items, like tanks.

/how does i grammar?
 
2013-01-11 09:46:33 AM

wildcardjack: ABS costs $1.29 per pound in when bought by the gaylord.

USED Lego goes for about $5 a pound on eBay, more if it includes a lot of Star Wars series pieces. I think new retail it's close to $20 a pound.

The difference is in the dies. I've seen the production line and they run it slow, which means they're probably getting really fancy in the heating and cooling of the dies. Combine that with being very specific in your ABS batch specs gives you high dimensional control. Do this for decades and you have a reputation at the end, and much like Apple you can charge what you want for your products.


This would also mean the dies last longer and stay in tolerance longer too..They aren't hammering them
constantly trying to over produce to lower the cost.This is something many American and pretty much
every Chinese company has not learned.Just because something is made well and can be handed down
for generations, doesn't mean you will have no market.Lego shows us that by having diverse and new
products that are in huge demand while still maintaining quality.
 
2013-01-11 09:58:52 AM
The set he used is from 1981. You can look up any set information if you know the code.

I remember getting some knock-off lego in the early 80's. I don't remember what they were called, but they worked great with the lego bricks at first. After a few years, the knockoff pieces would become brittle and break, or bend really bad. It makes me think of mega blocks. They look great now, but how many Mega Block pieces will be around in 20 or 30 years?
 
Ant
2013-01-11 10:58:24 AM
Knock-off Lego bricks suck. I farking hate them. They never stick together correctly.
 
2013-01-11 10:59:23 AM
My niece plays with the same lego sets my brother and I used 25 + years ago. Those things are built to last.
 
2013-01-11 11:13:23 AM
I also assume it takes a non-trivial amount of time (thus, money, cost) to come up with the sets. I bought my son about $500 or so of LEGO City recently and they really do make excellent re-use of parts despite the fact that the various vehicles look quite different.

No matter why, they are an excellent toy with extremely high quality (especially compared to mostly everything else) and are worth it. The only thing I dislike is that in Canada, they sell the mini figures in mystery packages, so you end up with a lot of duplicates. You can buy specific ones straight from Amazon US, but not CA. It may be time to start looking at different places online (brick link?)
 
2013-01-11 12:42:19 PM
1) Because people will pay it.
2) Because competitors have not managed to do it as well, justifying the higher price in the eyes of the consumer (back to #1).
3) Because they're a cool company who does things like giving figures to a kid who lost his (a story on here a few days ago), and that does indeed cost money to do. But it makes people think Lego is a cool company and worth paying more for, so back to #1 again.
 
2013-01-11 12:46:01 PM
I gotta kick out of watching my 5 year old son put together his first LEGO set all by himself recently. The Ninja Turtle bike one with Raphael. He did the same thing I did once he finished and there were still extra pieces, he freaked out and went back through the instructions to find where he missed putting them in. HA!

/LEGO always includes a few extra pieces in every set.
 
2013-01-11 12:47:01 PM

daveinsurgent: I also assume it takes a non-trivial amount of time (thus, money, cost) to come up with the sets. I bought my son about $500 or so of LEGO City recently and they really do make excellent re-use of parts despite the fact that the various vehicles look quite different.

No matter why, they are an excellent toy with extremely high quality (especially compared to mostly everything else) and are worth it. The only thing I dislike is that in Canada, they sell the mini figures in mystery packages, so you end up with a lot of duplicates. You can buy specific ones straight from Amazon US, but not CA. It may be time to start looking at different places online (brick link?)


Try going to Link
 
2013-01-11 01:21:34 PM

tdyak: The set he used is from 1981. You can look up any set information if you know the code.


Correction: He used the instructions for that set. I had that set as a kid. There wasn't much blue in that set aside from the clear blue pieces on the top.
 
2013-01-11 02:36:02 PM
daveinsurgent:The only thing I dislike is that in Canada, they sell the mini figures in mystery packages, so you end up with a lot of duplicates. You can buy specific ones straight from Amazon US, but not CA. It may be time to start looking at different places online (brick link?)

It's the same worldwide, actually. The specific ones on Amazon are usually ones from 3rd parties that were already opened. Some 3rd party sellers sell unopened specific minifigures, though I don't know how they identify them. (Weight? X-ray?)

Lego stores have a "make your own minifigure" buffet where you pick your own. You get a container and pick parts for three minifigures.
 
2013-01-11 03:21:55 PM
Science may have answered that question, but the article sure as hell didn't.
 
2013-01-11 03:30:16 PM
Meh. Try buying Lego in south america. 2x the USA prices!!!
 
2013-01-11 06:34:40 PM
stephansmithfx.com

I think this might have something to do with it.
 
2013-01-12 10:56:33 PM

gund goat: the exterior dimensions are the least important, within reason, and easiest to control part to a lego brick.s precision. what I would find interesting is the measurements of the precision of the locking features. small interior features are always the most difficult to get just right in injection molding


Not only that, but notice how there are almost never any parting lines or draft on interior (or exterior for that matter) pockets. The dies they are using are extremely well made, and as such require plenty of cash to design, make, and check.

At my previous job I checked parts from a major toy company's automotive division. These were injection molded parts with silver-plated copper circuit bridges inside the molding, and they went into new Ford and Chrysler transmissions. There were several high precision bends and holes made by dies. From a hopper of plastic pellets and sheet copper it takes them a dollar to make it. Ten lego bricks. Blows one's mind, huh?
 
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