The die has been cast, and the LEGO Games theme will be wound down this year. After a big launch in 2009 that took the board games sector by storm, it seems that since then the popularity of the line has decreased. Four years is longer than most LEGO themes manage, but this was seen back in 2009/2010 as a line that LEGO hoped would be a supplement to the regular building sets.
The news is as yet unconfirmed by LEGO, however the 2012 line up of LEGO Games products will be the final sets released. The current range will be available until all supplies are depleted, however the Games that were due for release later this year are all cancelled.
These are the cancelled sets:
50006 Legends of Chima
50004 Story Mixer
It is surprising to see the cancellation now as at London Toy Fair the new Story Mixer (50004) was being talked up, and the sales team were still promoting the ever-popular Creationary (3844). If the team at LEGO are smart they will keep Creationary available despite the line ending, as that particular set was consistently the clear best seller. Other retailers in the UK were frustrated that it was an Argos exclusive product back when it was launched.
The success of Creationary is perhaps what has kept LEGO Games alive for so long. Like all board games, they only tend to sell well at Christmas. That’s why the rest of the year LEGO Games can be seen on sale a lot. But even at Christmas, Creationary would vastly out-sell the other LEGO Games. Creationary was seen by parents as exactly what a board game from LEGO should be – it was a family game, it involved building and could be enjoyed by adults as much as children. Retailers identified on many occasions that Creationary was the one to watch, and the rest of the line didn’t sell anywhere near as well.
LEGO explored releasing games tied into other themes and licenses, such as Atlantis Treasure (3851), Ninjago (3856) and Harry Potter Hogwarts (3862). For some reason these were used by UK supermarkets in the run up to Christmas as loss leaders, with prices heavily discounted even when they were new. This likely hurt the sales in toy shops, and meant that the sets seemed popular to the supermarkets but not to toy retailers. The problem with this is that the supermarkets only stock a tiny selection, whereas the toy stores stock the entire range.
The licensed LEGO Games seemed to sell through reasonably well, and it seemed a good strategy to mix up regular LEGO Games with those tied in to other themes. Unfortunately, an attempt to bring a fantasy role-playing subtheme with Heroica was unsuccessful. These sets regularly didn’t sell and ended up discounted frequently. Other sets, such as Maya Mystic (3867) and Phineas and Ferb (3868) were cancelled despite being fully designed which perhaps suggested that things haven’t looking great for LEGO Games for a while.
It is a shame that LEGO Games will be coming to an end, as the sets have been well designed builds and satisfying games too. The theme has been notable for using printed tiles and baseplates, both of which are usually in short supply. It is a shame that the remaining sets will not see release, particularly as Batman and Chima games would both have probably been popular. Hopefully LEGO will have learned a few lessons for the future, and other themes that start with a big bang will get the continued market support with their subsequent years.
LEGO have been contacted for comment, no response as of yet.