Brickset news archive: LEGO press release
LEGO has chosen Merlin theme park Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey to kick-off its Chima Challenge roadshow, that we mentioned back in December.
Here's the press release:
Monday 18th March 2013: It was announced today that new ‘big bang’ LEGO IP – Legends of Chima – will partner with Chessington World of Adventures Resort to launch its seven month experiential roadshow.
Launching on Monday 1st April 2013, the Chima Challenge Roadshow will hold a two-week residency at the Chessington World of Adventures Resort in Surrey. Following this, it will head off to various locations (including major shopping centres and LEGOLAND Windsor) throughout the school holidays and half-term breaks until October 2013.
The roadshow will highlight the new Speedorz sets – a social game consisting of fun, fast and furious challenges that can be played singly or with friends. Players use a rip cord device to race their Speedorz and during the tour children will be invited to take the Speedorz challenge, where they can race with Chima characters, culminating in a grand finale when the road show closes where it originated at Chessington. Costume characters Laval (lion) and Cragger (crocodile) will also be present to oversee proceedings.
‘The partnership with Chessington offers us the perfect location to kick off the roadshow in an engaging environment with an animal backdrop that is synonymous with the Chima brand’, said LEGO UK Senior Brand Manager, Sally-Anne Weekes.
‘Chessington’s new ZUFARI: Ride into Africa experience showcases species native to Africa – just as many of the Chima animal tribes. Animals are a universally popular theme and something that we haven’t had in the LEGO portfolio for several years. Legends of Chima fills this gap and where better to showcase it than with the tribes’ real-life counterparts!’
LEGO Legends of CHIMA launched on 26th December 2012 and is currently performing as the number two toy property within the UK market (NPD Epos Value YTD January 2013). The multi-play brand is one of the biggest ever launches from LEGO and includes collectible animal minifigures and highly detailed vehicles and models.
The statement I've hilighted in bold is particularly interesting, although perhaps not surprising.
"The LEGO Group has announced plans to build and operate its own LEGO factory in China. The factory will supply products for the growing Asian market. Construction is expected to begin in 2014." says the press release published today.
This is of concern to us here because we know that, currently, ABS parts made in China are 'different' to those made elsewhere due to LEGO being unable to import its usual supply of ABS granulate into the country, resulting in it using a locally produced alternative.
That may well change, of course, when this factory opens, but if it doesn't we might end up with two different qualities of product.
The press release does go on to say that "All products made in the new factory will be sold in Asia" so maybe those of us in Europe, USA and Australasia need not worry unduly when buying new products, but what about buying in the aftermarket? And what about those of you in Singapore and other countries in the region?
Now, when you buy, say, a Toy Story alien from BrickLink there's no way to know if you're buying a Chinese-made one from a magnet set, or a non-Chinese one from a regular LEGO set, which is a nuisance because one is 'different' to the other, as you may recall seeing in my comparative photos a while ago.
So, in future, if new sets made in China have regular parts made from Chinese ABS and they do end up being 'different' to others, you'll need to take extra care to determine the provenance of sets and parts before buying on the aftermarket.
I'm probably worrying unnecessarily, but it's food for thought...
Please note, before I get flamed, I am not saying 'stuff made in China is rubbish': I haven't actually said that it is, but ABS LEGO products made there are 'different' to the trained eye for the reason stated above).
The LEGO Group has just released their annual report for 2012, and as we would expect, they had a very strong year. Here are highlights of the report as directly reported by them:
"In 2012 the LEGO Group increased its revenue by 25% to GBP 2,549 million – nearly triple the sales of 2007. This represents the fifth consecutive year in which the LEGO Group delivered year over year revenue growth in excess of 15%.
Key facts from the LEGO Group’s annual report for 2012, which was published today:
- The year's operating profit increased to GBP 866 million against GBP 660 million in 2011, an increase of 40%.
- The operating margin increased to 34% from 30% in 2011.
- The year's net profit increased to GBP 611 million against GBP 484 million in 2011.
- The revenue increased by 25% to GBP 2,549 million against GBP 2,181 million in 2011. In local currency (i.e. excluding the impact of foreign exchange changes) revenue increased 20% year over year.
- The net cash generated from operating activities was GBP 680 million against GBP 430 million in 2011.
- In 2012 the Group paid GBP 208 million in corporate income taxes.
More than 60% of the LEGO Group’s sales are new launches every year.
“As a consequence we have huge demands on our development & supply processes. Year after year, we must be able to predict what will capture the interest of children and deliver this in relevant LEGO products – and in 2012 we succeeded,” said Jørgen Vig Knudstorp."
The best-selling product lines, in order, were 1) City, 2) Star Wars, 3) Ninjago, and 4) Friends.
Sales of Friends was much better than expected and even with doubling their original planned production, they state that they were unable to fully meet demand. Since Friends was targeted at a new demographic, it's logical to infer that it played a large part in sales growth, and the image of Olivia's House adorns the LEGO news release, just like I've done here.
Though Ninjago was ranked third, the statement that over 60% of sales are from new launches sheds some light on why they seemed to have scaled back and invested heavily in Chima for 2013.
The investments in facilities closer to their core markets in North America and Europe were considered to have already contributed to execution success and TLG is continuing that trend in the future by closing packing operations in Billund and focusing on moulding and engineering at that site.
Asia is called out as being a prospective engine of growth. It will be interesting to see if LEGO is able to succeed in that potentially huge market, and whether or not they'll need to change some of their approaches to product and marketing.
LEGO has published a press release on its finances so far this year, attributing its success partly to strong sales of Friends:
The LEGO Group concludes the first half of 2012 with another very strong set of interim accounts. Net sales for the period were DKK 9,134m compared with DKK 7,355m for the same period last year – an increase of more than 24%.
Operating profit (profit before financial items and tax) for first half 2012 was DKK 2,877m compared with DKK 2,030m for first half 2011, an increase of 41.7%. At the same time the company’s equity rose from DKK 4,565m at the close of the first half 2011 to DKK 6,031m. Cash flow from operations was DKK 2,230m compared with DKK 1,703m during the first half of 2011.
Commenting on the financial result, LEGO Group CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp says:
“Once again the first half of the financial year exceeds our expectations, and the financial result is exceptional - especially in view of general developments in the world toy market. However, it is still too early to provide estimates on the expected result for the full year because the closing months of the year are crucial for our business.”
The LEGO Group’s strong result was achieved at a time when the global toy market is declining – it softened by a further 4% during first half 2012.
Astonishing sales on new products
The year’s big launch – LEGO® Friends, a product line targeted for girls – has done amazingly well since its launch in January. The Group sold twice as many LEGO Friends sets as expected during the first six months of the year. It has therefore increased production to meet the demand for LEGO Friends in the important Christmas period.
Reflecting on the launch of LEGO Friends, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp says:
“LEGO Friends is a result of four years’ development, and it has been amazing to experience the enthusiastic welcome that consumers have given the new range. Sales have been quite astonishing. With LEGO Friends we’ve managed to make creative construction toys more relevant for girls – and we look forward to developing the product line further in the years ahead.”
LEGO Ninjago, launched in 2011, maintained its success in all markets in 2012, with the ninja theme selling significantly better than expected. Classic lines such as LEGO City and LEGO Star Wars™ are still the LEGO Group’s biggest-selling product lines.
Broad global strength achieved
So far the weakening toy market has not had an effect on the LEGO Group, which enjoyed double-digit growth rates in consumer sales in virtually all LEGO markets.
The sales increase varies from region to region but is broad based. Sales in European markets rose by an average of just over 10%, while sales in the US increased by 23%. In Asia, sales rose at an even steeper rate, which is a continuation of the picture from 2011. The sharp rise in Asian sales supports the LEGO Group’s long-term ambition for making the region one of its core markets in line with Europe and the US.
Boosted by this growth, the LEGO Group increased its share of the global toy market to more than 8% – one percentage point higher than in first half 2011.
Increased capacity and bigger workforce
The LEGO Group has been expanding capacity in all areas of its business in order to be able to meet growing demand. This has taken place in several countries and the development continues in 2012, with the LEGO Group likely to hire approx. 1,000 new employees.
The LEGO Group’s factory in Monterrey, Mexico, has expanded its facilities markedly in recent years and has significantly increased its production capacity. In March 2011 work began on a major expansion of the LEGO factory in Kladno, Czech Republic, and will be officially inaugurated in autumn 2012. A brand-new factory is also planned in Nyíregyháza, Hungary, to replace the existing, rented facility in the same town. And finally, moulding capacity in Billund, Denmark will be increased in autumn 2012.
Activities designed to increase production capacity are expected to continue into 2013, and in addition the LEGO Group will remain focused on making the organisation even more adaptable.
BILLUND, Denmark – LEGO® Architecture, which uses the LEGO brick to interpret the designs of iconic architecture around the world, has added its first Asian landmark - the Gate of Exalted Ceremonies in Seoul, better known as the Sungnyemun.
Sungnyemun has stood in the heart of South Korean capital since 1398 as one of the most complete examples of Joseon Dynasty architecture. It is listed as the country’s foremost National Treasure.
“Sungnyemun survives as a symbolic marker of a lost place in time,” says the architect and designer of many of the LEGO models Adam Reed Tucker. In capturing the essence of Sungnyemun in LEGO bricks Adam looked at the aesthetics rather than engineering, especially the use of colours, patterns and materials that define the ‘spiritual DNA’ of a culture.
Construction of Sungnyemun started in 1396 and was completed two years later. Further alterations and renovations continued over the next 600 years. In 2008 the wooden structure was completely destroyed by fire and it is expected that the restoration – using traditional hand tools – will be complete at the end of 2012.
LEGO Architecture products feature well-known buildings, and the work of important architects. Aimed at inspiring future architects, engineers , designers and architecture fans around the world, the range contains a booklet featuring step-by-step building instructions prefaced by history, information and photographs of each iconic building, its design origin, its architect and its architectural features.
The LEGO 21016 Sungnyemun will be launched officially at the Danish Pavilion during the EXPO 2012 exhibition held in Yeosu, South Korea. It will be available for purchase from June 1 in LEGO brand retail stores, LEGOLAND Stores and online at http://shop.lego.com. The product is designed for ages 12+ and includes a booklet with facts and history about Sungnyemun. Recommended retail price is $34.99 in the US and €34.99 in most European countries.
BILLUND, Denmark –The legendary Sopwith Camel, the aircraft flown by WWI aces and one of the most recognisable British aircraft to take to the skies, has been recreated as a LEGO® Exclusive model.
The biplane that took on the Red Baron Manfred von Richthofen and his flying circus has been turned into an authentic model with moving parts that captures the Sopwith Camel’s classic looks.
“Getting to design it was a real treat,” says Jamie Berard, Lead Designer for LEGO Exclusives. “We made a Sopwith Camel in 2001, but that was more of a visual model, beautiful to look at but without any functionality.”
Just like the real aeroplane, the joystick in the cockpit can move the ailerons and elevators using string rather than gears or levers. “The string goes up over the wings and can operate the ailerons on both wings at the same time. It was a real challenge to work on,” says Jamie.
The powerful rotary engine that gave the Sopwith Camel its distinct look has also been recreated and features a rotating propeller and rotating engine cylinders.
The model has 883 bricks and includes rare dark green, dark tan and metallic silver elements. It measures over 15” (40cm) long and has a wingspan of over 19” (50 cm).
The scale was carefully chosen to take account of the size of the large, powerful engine that drove the plane and so that the string could function properly with ailerons. “That allowed us to make a bigger wingspan more true to the original aircraft and a wider body that makes it easy to hold as you fly it around.”
In addition the Sopwith Camel has many sought-after parts including some metallic parts on the cowling and new 1x1 round tiles. “We’re also introducing the 1x1 brick in dark tan, which was on our top ten list of elements that our fans want and we give you quite a few of them,” adds Jamie. “We have tried to avoid stickers wherever possible and have a brick-built rudder in the characteristic red, white and blue of the original. Also included are dark green 8x16 plates and 1x3 tiles in the same colour.”
The marketing blurb reads:
10226 Sopwith Camel Ages 14+. 883 pieces, US $99.99, CA $129.99, DE 89.99 €, UK £79.99, DK 799DKK
Relive a classic era of aviation history with the Sopwith Camel biplane!
Recreate your very own piece of aviation history with the historic Sopwith Camel. This detailed replica of one of the most recognizable British single-seat biplanes ever to have graced the skies. Features include a realistic rotating propeller and engine cylinders, hinged tail rudder, realistic tension wires, functioning wing ailerons and tail flaps that can be controlled from the cockpit – just like the real plane! The detail doesn’t stop there; this authentic model has over 880 bricks, including dark green, dark tan and metallic silver elements.
- Features include a rotating propeller and engine cylinders, hinged tail rudder, functioning wing ailerons and tail flaps that can be controlled from the cockpit
- Includes dark green, dark tan and metallic silver elements
- Recreate a piece of aviation history
- Turn the propellers and see the cylinders rotate
- Model measures over 15” (40cm) long and has a wingspan of over 19” (50 cm)
Here's the designer video:
The set was unveiled today. Here is the official picture and press release:
BILLUND, Denmark –The LEGO Group and Mojang have released purchase details and pictures of the LEGO® Minecraft™ Micro World today.
The new set, which was the first to receive 10,000 votes of support from users on the global LEGO CUUSOO idea collection platform, will be available for purchase in summer 2012, but can be pre-ordered from today, exclusively through Mojang retail partner Jinx.com for $34.95/€34.95/£34.99 at http://www.jinx.com/LEGOMinecraft. The sets will also be sold in select LEGO brand retail stores and the LEGO online shop from summer 2012.
“LEGO Minecraft Micro World is designed to celebrate the essence of the LEGO concept and the Minecraft gaming experience,” said Paal Smith-Meyer, Head of the LEGO New Business Group. Each set features four cubic modular vignettes that can be connected to recreate the Minecraft experience in LEGO bricks. One Minecraft block is represented as one 1x1 LEGO plate with a tile on top - not a perfect cube, but the best approximation at the chosen scale.
LEGO Minecraft Micro World includes two of Minecraft's most iconic characters, Steve and a Creeper, represented as "Micro Mobs." The model presents a standard for building a Minecraft world that can be configured any way the builder likes.
The surface of the modules comes off to reveal mines and hidden resources beneath. Fans can build their own landscapes, stack cubes on top of each other, to build the world of Minecraft as they wish.
The product was developed in collaboration with four LEGO fans: Chris Malloy, Michael Thomas, Kyle Tingey, and Bjarne Panduro Tveskov. These fans developed concepts alongside LEGO designers and helped shape the product into its final version.
Upon seeing the physical model the first time, Mojang founder Markus “Notch” Persson exclaimed: “Woohoo!”
LEGO CUUSOO is a website where LEGO fans can submit their ideas for new LEGO products and collect votes to make their ideas become a reality. They can also vote for other users’ ideas. It can be found at http://lego.cuusoo.com.
Ideas that are supported by 10,000 votes have a chance of being selected to become part of the LEGO Group’s product portfolio. Consumers who have their ideas chosen will earn 1% of the total net sales of the product.
Mojang will donate the 1% proceeds from LEGO CUUSOO to charity.
For more on the co-creation process for LEGO Minecraft Micro World, see the LEGO CUUSOO blog at http://legocuusoo.posterous.com.
I actually think it's turned out better than we might have expected. I don't know a lot about Minecraft but it seems to be faithful to the concept and a fairly interesting LEGO set. However I suspect many of us could build something very similar from our own collections, though. The 6x6 standard that's been created may well form the basis for countless fan-created Minecraft modules and we might see whole Minecraft worlds being created as collaborative builds at LEGO shows in future, which would be cool.
We received a press release today about the closure of yet another of LEGO's online services:
"The LEGO Hero Recon Team will be going 100% digital in April, replacing the current physical ordering service with a new 3D version of the LEGO Hero Creator that will offer a better digital experience of building LEGO Hero Recon Team figures online.
"Unfortunately, that means that from April 11 we will take the last orders for physical Hero Recon figures. In its place, the digital building experience will be completely revised and concentrate on the strengths of the LEGO customization experience.
"As with LEGO Design byMe we have seen high traffic to the Hero Creator service, but only a small percentage of the heroes designed have been ordered as physical products to consumers. We are accepting the fact that most visitors prefer to build digitally and therefore improving the options available. Freed from the need to ship physical products, we can now offer a larger palette of Hero Factory elements, making even more building choices. From April Hero Recon figures will be able to go undercover wearing the villains’ masks, armour and weapons."
Reading between the lines, I suspect kids like playing with the designer but then find out that the resultant model is too expensive to actually buy, although to be honest I've never completed a model to see how much it actually costs.
Have you used it? Will you miss it?
LEGO GROUP DECLARES NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION FOR 2012: DELIVER MEANINGFUL PLAY EXPERIENCES TO GIRLS WORLDWIDE WITH NEW LEGO® FRIENDS
Company brings classic construction play to the girls’ aisle with first-of- its-kind LEGO® mini-doll figure, three new brick colors and detailed interiors that reflect four years of research in play needs of girls
BILLUND, Denmark (December 19, 2011) – The LEGO Group, the world’s leading construction toy brand, today announced LEGO® Friends, a new play theme that tailors the iconic LEGO construction experience especially to girls ages five and up. LEGO Friends delivers on a girl’s desire for realistic role-play, creativity, and a highly-detailed, character-based world with the core values of LEGO building.
The LEGO Friends collection of 23 products ranges in price from $5.99 to $99.99 USD and the first 14 will be available for sale in select toy, discount merchandise, specialty and online stores beginning December 26, 2011 in the United Kingdom and January 1, 2012 in the United States. A rolling International launch will follow in the spring, with the remaining nine sets launching in the summer months.
“We felt it was time to test assumptions that girls aren’t interested in building and to breathe fresh air into a toy category filled mostly with pre-fabricated play experiences for girls,” said Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO, LEGO Group. “We focused on creating a play experience centered on the joy of creation, while heeding the way girls naturally build and play. We are incredibly proud of the solution we deliver with LEGO Friends, and are resolved to build this platform for years to come.”
LEGO Friends is the first 100 percent LEGO building experience fully optimized to girls’ tastes and interests. Thousands of girls and their mothers worldwide participated in intensive research that validated the desire for more beauty, realistic details, accessories and interior building and role play opportunities in a LEGO offering.
Introducing the LEGO mini-doll figure
Anchored by the introduction of a new mini-doll figure, LEGO Friends introduces a new LEGO minifigure platform tailored to girls’ requests for a more realistic, relatable and stylized figure. Designed to the same scale of the classic LEGO minifigure, the mini-doll figure stands roughly 5 millimeters taller than its minifigure sibling, yet features similar constructability, shares the iconic “claw” hand to hold the same accessories, can wear the same hair and headpieces, and is compatible with all LEGO building sets. A total of 29 different mini-doll figures will be introduced in 2012.
“LEGO Friends is one of the most researched LEGO projects ever and is a culmination of years of anthropological research with girls around the world to understand what they expect from a construction toy,” said Nanna Ulrich Gudum, senior creative director, LEGO Group. “In talking with girls and their moms, we understand that girls really want a LEGO offering that mirrors what the boys experience, but in a way that fulfills their unique desire for remodeling and redesign, combined with realistic themes in community and friendship.”
“Unlike previous LEGO toys for girls, LEGO Friends, at its core, does not apologize for being a construction toy and delivers, for the first time, a building experience in the same scale as our classic offerings,” Nanna Ulrich Gudum continued. “What LEGO Friends does differently is deliver the beauty, details, accessories, real world themes and need for strong interior play that the research revealed would make all the difference for girls ages 5 and up.”
Welcome to Heartlake City
The LEGO Friends story centers on the everyday lives and personalities of five girls in a fictional hometown called Heartlake City. Each of the friends—Olivia, Mia, Andrea, Stephanie and Emma—has a distinct personality and interests, such as animals, performing arts, invention and design, that are reflected in the models. Building sets reflect different parts of town where the girls’ adventures take place—downtown, suburbs, beach, camping grounds and mountains.
The product collection
Half of the launch collection includes construction sets themed to introduce girls to each of the “Friend’s” personalities, including: Stephanie’s Outdoor Bakery, Emma’s Splash Pool, Andrea’s Stage, Olivia’s Inventor’s Workshop, Stephanie’s Pet Patrol, Mia’s Puppy House and Emma’s Design Studio. Girls are also invited to construct the Friends’ favorite locations in Heartlake City with larger building sets, including: Stephanie’s Cool Convertible, Olivia’s Tree House, Heartlake Dog Show, Butterfly Beauty Shop, City Park Café, Heartlake Vet, and Olivia’s House. The remaining nine sets launching later in the year deliver the same range in price and theme.
Immersive brand experience
Children will be immersed in the new world they can create with LEGO Friends through a variety of brand experiences planned for 2012. In addition to providing product information, the LEGO Friends website will allow children to explore the personalities of each of the five Friends and the different spots in Heartlake City. The site will also feature an avatar creator, mini-movies, games, video building tips, story extensions, contests, news and an events calendar. Also planned are Interactive building events and road shows, promotions, magazines, digital content, a mini movie, in-store experiences, books and more. Check www.LEGOFriends.com for more information.
From the accompanying fact sheet:
LEGO® Friends tailors the beloved LEGO construction experience especially for girls ages 5 and up. LEGO Friends delivers on a girl’s desire for realistic role-play, creativity, and a highly-detailed, character-based world with the core values of LEGO building. The LEGO Friends collection of 23 products ranges in price from $5.99 to $99.99 USD and the first 14 will be available for sale in the girls’ toy aisle of select toy, discount merchandise, specialty and online stores beginning December 26, 2011 in the United Kingdom and January 1, 2012 in the United States
NEW PRODUCT FEATURES
- LEGO Mini-Doll Figure: tailored to girls’ requests for a more realistic, relatable and stylized figure, the new mini-doll figure stands roughly 5 millimeters taller than its minifigure sibling, yet features similar constructability, shares the iconic “claw” hand to hold the same accessories, can wear the same hair and headpieces, and is compatible with all LEGO building sets. 29 different mini-doll figures will be introduced in 2012.
- New Colors: three new LEGO element colors—two blues and a lavender—and three new deco colors—two greens and another purple—were added to create LEGO Friends.
- Rich World: the LEGO Friends story centers on the everyday lives and personalities of five girls—Olivia, Mia, Andrea, Stephanie and Emma—in Heartlake City. Each girl’s personality and interests are reflected in the collection.