Double Death – Brickheadz and the new VIP System

The new LEGO VIP points system went life with zero warning and little info (I’m still waiting to receive the official e-mail announcement even *lol*) and to call it a debacle would be doing favors. How could anything go so wrong?

Individual people (temporarily) losing their accumulated VIP points is to be expected and a common issue in systems when going from one metric to another. It’s regrettable, but seems unavoidable. Lucky enough it’s something that support by phone appears to be able to fix. Personally I perhaps should count my blessings and not complain since it did go without a hitch on my few measly points, but then again the count being so low I wouldn’t have missed out on much. what’s more  critical however is how you are supposed to use those points and that’s where it gets interesting.

I don’t know what kind of people work at LEGO, but calling the new method an utter brain fart would again be a kindness just for the sake of using even stringer language. It really sucks – you’re supposed to trade in your points for some abstract voucher code and only then you can apply it to your purchase, a process which for the time is limited to applying exactly one code for each order only. As a result, there’s a lot of stories where people did tens of separate orders just to be able to apply their codes.

Worse still, the same method applies for physical purchases in a LEGO store as well. no longer spontaneously trading in points on the fly from your account. Instead you are supposed to generate a code and take it to the store. Who does that? When I was at the official LEGO store in Leipzig yesterday as part of making the rounds with my endless medical appointments, I overheard a conversation with another customer and an employee explaining the situation and the guy was seriously gutted.

Whoever concocted this convoluted procedure needs to be fired – seriously. It’s definitely not what I wanted when filling out those VIP surveys and I’m pretty sure even the most hardened long-time fans didn’t want it this way, either. It’s just ridiculous. I never was much of a a VIP user due to my financial restrictions making it difficult to buy LEGO stuff at full price in their stores, let alone expensive exclusive sets, but as it is, now there is even less incentive to do so. The exact opposite of what they intended. It’s simply not worth putting up with this crap.

On that note: In the same conversation, and directly feeding into my argument about stuff to buy at the brand stores was another very disappointing bit of news: Brickheadz are no longer sold directly in those stores. Here in Germany this basically means that this series is dead as a) a lot of those sets were LEGO-exclusive to begin with and b) many of the non-exclusive sets were never widely available at other retailers, making it nigh on impossible to get even some of the more trivial stuff like seasonal sets.

LEGO‘s new strategy seems to be to selectively distribute them as thematic tie-ins with specific partners for very short periods only and keep them rare. This ultimately makes it utterly pointless to even go chasing them as prices will explode quickly to collector levels even for the most mundane of sets. It’s really laughable insofar as they have gone from one extreme to another – first flooding the market with too many sets and now making them extremely scarce. Neither to me seem a viable strategy to keep this sub-brand alive. You know, that old gag of pissing off fans no matter what you do.

I also don’t get the financial logic behind it. Some Brickheadz may not have sold like sliced bread and some only ever were relevant and interesting with discounts, but others were real burners selling out quickly even at full price at the brand stores. Why would you lose that, given that it was a simple to maintain series with very likely a not so bad profit margin – almost prototypical, mostly identical construction every time with a predictable use of a limited set of parts and a nearly unlimited choice of subjects? You even could have done some Hidden Side figures with bright green hair. It’s really hard to comprehend.

So as you see this perhaps hasn’t been the best of weeks for LEGO in terms of how it affects the users and parts of their fan base. It’s not even that this is “they’ll fix it in the long run” stuff, more to the point they need to revert and revise their decisions right away…