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The Glorious Sound of Whining Scalpers

Post by mwcarlson on Nov 1st, 2017 at 09:58 am
Lego recently announced that they will be re-releasing set number 10256, the Taj Mahal, and a great commotion ensued amongst the Lego scalpers who were pricing this $370 set in the thousands of dollars. Forced to either reduce their prices to the $369.99 Lego would be selling the set for, or to pull their absurdly overpriced listings and await discontinuation part deux, they immediately set to whining about Lego undermining their immoral attempts to line their pockets with gold.

I, however, am greatly encouraged by this move, and I am hoping it signals a willingness to release yet other previously retired sets back to the line. I'd be all for seeing some of the prior Lego Creator Expert sets come back to retail at MSRP, as I simply cannot afford the costs they scalpers want to charge. Twice MSRP may be a profit, and tacking on shipping justified, but once you get to 4x MSRP and more, you know you are just scalping.

What do you think of Lego's move? Are you one of the many scalpers who are up in arms over the move?

Post by Deinonychus on Nov 1st, 2017 at 10:12 am
The whole culture around buying collectables as an investment is ludicrous. You really have to understand that as an investment there are always risks involved. So, they're learning a real-world grownup lesson Smiley

I think it's cool that LEGO is re-releasing the set. Gives more people an opportunity to own what is a gorgeous display piece. The only downside of it is that it is a greedy shelf-hog in all three dimensions.

Post by incalcatore on Nov 1st, 2017 at 07:26 pm
Not a single brick difference from first set.

However I've the taj-mahal, but I chosen the economical version (lepin).

About collection, his value is zero, but a very good clone and 140 aren't the 499 (italian price) of the lego preprint

Post by mwcarlson on Nov 2nd, 2017 at 10:08 am
If only I could, in my obsessive compulsive focus on Lego, bring myself to buy Lepin. It would certainly save me a few bucks and allow me access to a wider array of older Lego Creator structures. Alas...
« Last Modified by mwcarlson Nov 7th, 2017 at 12:59 pm »

Post by Deinonychus on Nov 2nd, 2017 at 01:53 pm
I bought the Nebulon-B frigate from Lepin and it's more than decent.

Brick quality is a little sketchy in places, and the instructions were a challenge (which was actually better then LEGO's hand-holding one piece per-page efforts) but overall I'm pleased with it as a display piece. I will buy an official set of something if available, but some of the stolen fan designs Lepin has put out, plus the paid-for fan designs their more legit arm XinBao are doing are worth getting.

Post by Caracho on Nov 3rd, 2017 at 11:52 am
Nov 1st, 2017 at 07:26 pm, incalcatore wrote:
Not a single brick difference from first set.

Really? I doubt that, because Lego certainly wouldn't miss the opportunity to put their hands into the pockets of the serious collectors again.
If there's just a tiny bit of difference in the re-release, they would have to buy the whole set again just to complete their collection.

I certaily will not buy it again, as I already own it (opened and assembled of course, not sitting MISB on some shelf waiting to become more and more valuable ...)

Btw, I also didn't buy the re-release of the Death Star (which only had a minimal change, mostly different minifigs).
The re-releases was shortly after (in the same year) the original was discontinued, so the reason for the re-release was certainly not to give people a chance who didn't get it the first time, but just to make more profit by selling it to collectors twice.

Post by mwcarlson on Nov 7th, 2017 at 01:20 pm
I recently had several exchanges with members of a Facebook group devoted to the Lego Creator Expert modulars, in which they were committed to denying me the right to even object to the present practice of selling modulars at overly inflated prices. Many simply dismissed my comments as the whining and told me, more or less, to simply suck it up.

I got the "It's just economics," or "Supply and Demand," and objecting to the practice won't change it. In fact, these "investors" are actually doing to collector community a favor by extending the availability of these sets well beyond discontinuation. I was told to simply pay the cost, or not, as I might chooose; but to stop whining about the practice.

I offered an argument by analogy, noting that society as a whole seems to hold as axiomatic the position that it is unacceptable to take advantage of another for profits sake. I offered as an example the disagreement over healthcare and that politicians have literally been able to universally vilify the insurance industry by presenting them as profiting on the suffering of others. I noted that if I had offered a similar response to those objecting the the overall cost of care, I would most certainly be shouted down as calloused at the very least. It's simply economics I might say, the rules of supply and demand. If you really want procedure X or drug Y, then just suck it up and pay for it. Or, if you can't afford it, do without. But by all means, stop whining. I can just imagine the backlash of such a statement.

Now, sure, there is certainly a difference between a life-saving course of medical treatment and the purchase of what amounts to a trivial pile of plastic, but the point is still made by the analogy. It is universally unacceptable to take advantage of others.

Granted, re-sellers deserve to make a decent profit given the inarguable value they provide. After all, they put forward the capital to obtain more than one set, they store it, and then they resell it once the set is no longer available, but just what sort of a mark-up is reasonable versus unreasonable. Two times MSRP? Five times MSRP? Ten times MSRP? When does the value they provide to the community become a burden via their desire for profit?

Of course, as many of the respondents noted, these considerations are entirely academic, as there is no way to regulate the seller. They have, you want, so you pay if you want. However, this ignores the power of the consumer to insist on a fair price. If we don't buy, they also can't sell. Sitting on a priceless set does little for them.

It was both interesting an frustrating.

Post by Deinonychus on Nov 7th, 2017 at 09:13 pm
The problem is, traditional supply and demand economics have been rendered irrelevant because of the internet.

Previously, the value of a collectable was based on rarity, inherent value, and desirability. Price would end up being whatever the market would bear. Unfortunately, now the value is usually set by the highest price something has sold for. And that price is what the one or two people who desire a particular item at any cost would pay for it.

As with most of the internet, it's the most extreme acts and individuals who end up setting the standard, and not a societal median like in reality. (or how reality used to work)

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