Friday, 8 March 2013

“Where’s all this stuff coming from?”

As Tom Sawyer found, when he managed to get a stream of Mississippi children to paint a 30-yard fence for him, if you tell somebody they can’t have something, they want it.

Whether or not they wanted it in the first place.

To a lesser degree, making something difficult to get ramps the need-to-acquire up from ‘Hmm.’ to ‘I want.’  At least it does until you think about it a bit.  But usually by that point you’ve spent the money. (1)

So when I looked through the Lego catalogue that dropped through my letterbox, I was interested to see that there were ‘Exclusives’.  Items that could only be bought from the Lego website, or Lego stores.  

Nowhere else. (2)

One such item in the catalogue was a 42006 Technic Excavator.  £49.99, and not available anywhere else.  As it happened, I’d just signed up for the Lego VIP programme, which was a variation on the points-for-purchases-which-can-later-be-redeemed schemes that just about every retailer runs these days.  For every £1 you spend, you get a point.  100 points = £5 that you can either save to your Lego account or use against a purchase.  So this would be an opportunity to grab a rare item, plus start my points account off.

Plus!  For a limited time only (until the next time), free Postage & Packing!

Oh.  Hang on.  It’s only free if you spent more than £50.  So I’d need to buy something else.

Wait a minute...  Could it be that retailers, whether they’re selling toys, cars or military hardware, secretly want us to spend more money?

Surely not.

Anyway, I ordered the 42006 Excavator and bumped the order over £50 with a 42004 Mini Backhoe Loader.  Clearly I felt that there was some digging to be done.

And it would appear that a lot of the time, Lego operate a ‘spend more than a certain amount this month and get a free polybag’ system.  When I placed my order, I receieved a free (deep breath) “Lego Legends Of Chima, Ewar’s Acro Flyer”, which probably has more letters in it’s name than it does parts in the bag.
Anyway, it’s free, and as we’ve seen previously, I like free stuff.

A shiny and new 42006 Technic Excavator.

Equally new and shiny 42004 Mini Backhoe Loader.

A few days later, the box arrived, to be met with a withering stare from my better half.

“What’s all that?”

I explained about the exclusivity.  I expounded at length about the free p&p.  I waved Ewar’s Acro Flyer (carefully - don’t want to split the bag) under her nose.  In a move that, on reflection, was clutching at straws, I even pointed out the useful sized cardboard box that the things had arrived in.

"Look dear!  It's Ewar!  He was free!"

Mrs Boo simply pointed to the slowly-but-surely growing pile of Lego in the corner of the living room, made some comment about ‘ebaying the lot when you’re not looking’ under her breath, and generally made it clear that she was not about to have the house turned into a Toys R Us satellite warehouse.

In case my beloved is reading this, the rest of this entry is a work of fiction, for entertainment purposes only.

The Technic range isn’t huge - around 20 sets at any one time, and they seem to have two waves of new releases a year, around February and August, give or take.  And when new sets are released, then others have to make way for them.  So acquiring my collecting habit in the New Year, as I did, meant that there were several lines that had recently gone EOL.  Even if you couldn’t find these on the Lego website, you could usually find them in high street retailers.  So eschewing the sets that had only come out recently, and so would be around for a while, I began to familiarise myself with the recently departed. 

It seemed that I’d fallen into Technic during something of a golden age.  There had been some fantastic sets over the last couple of years.  

I started making a list.

The range is fairly well balanced, with usually a small, sub £10 set, a handful of sets under £25, another, larger batch in the £50 - £100 range, and one or two flagship models, like the Unimog, which tended to hover around the £150 mark.

One of these flagship models, the 8043 Technic Motorized Excavator, had recently gone out of production, and judging by the reviews and comments of the on-line community, it had been a terrific set.

I got a bad attack of collectivitus…

A common behavioural trait that a lot of Lego forum people demonstrate, is that of sweeping the local area.  Pretty soon you get to know all the shops in a 20 mile radius that stock Lego, and it becomes a habit to ‘just pop in’ if you’re in the area.  Just in case there’s a bargain.  Or a member of staff has priced something incorrectly.  Or someone’s found an old, discontinued set in the warehouse, and put it on display, while it’s currently going for twice the RRP on ebay…

And so it was that I happened to be passing our local Toys R Us, which tends to have a pretty good Lego selection, but is notorious for having rather inflated prices.  Nosing about the Technic section, I pushed aside a Unimog, and Lo!  Not one, but two 8043’s. 
At the RRP of £142.99.

On one shoulder, a small me was yelling ‘Buy it!  Buy it now!  They’re going for £200 on ebay!’

On my other shoulder was a small Mrs Boo, arms folded, tapping her foot and giving me the sort of look that says ‘Don’t even think about it...’

I left the store empty handed.

And then sought some independent, unbiased advice from my new friends.  
On the Brickset forum.

A couple of days later, I went back and grabbed it.  And in the interests of domestic harmony, stashed it in the loft before my beloved got home.

This is not in our loft.

It’s fiction dear, fiction, remember?  No need to get that ladder.

And that would have been the end of that particular episode, except…

About a week later, I was in the department store just round the corner from the office.  The one in the chain that I work for.  The one that gives me 25% discount.

And there, on the shelf, was a mint 8043…

The shouting on my shoulders started all over again.

In the end, I reasoned it thus.  If I buy something with discount, I’m not allowed to resell it.  But the one from TRU?  I can do what I like with that.  And it’s already worth about £60 more than I paid for it.

I bought the second one, took it home (and owned up to buying it), and have now decided that the one in the loft will be sold at some point in the future for cold, hard cash. Potentially I could make enough on it to actually pay for the second 8043, but let’s not get carried away.

I am not getting into this as a reseller.  
Apart from the 8043.

Well. And the Imperial Shuttle.

But that’s it! (3)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

(1) See ‘Limited Edition’ cars for example.  A stripe down the side and the knowledge that there’s only another 299 like it on the road.  Really worth an extra £500?  
Probably not.

(2)  I’ve later discovered that most of these items aren’t nearly as exclusive as you’d think.  Sometimes they’re exclusive to Lego for a limited time, and then they’re available in the wider world.  
Sometimes I think Lego just make it up.

(3) It is, actually.  Having had a few attempts at selling things on ebay, I think it’s an awful lot of hassle, so I’ll probably end up selling the two sets above privately to another forum member.  Reselling sounds like a lot of work.

No comments:

Post a Comment