Block bookings

The news that Lego has closed its order book, at least for the time being hasn't gone down too well with the independents. No warning, no 'get your order in by the end of the week', just banged shut.
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I'm lucky I still have a rep call from them, I know of a lot of indies who don't. Where do they stand now? We have lived with appalling deliveries from Lego now for three years: it reached embarrassment levels last year with shop displays, and customers asking if that's all we had.

Lego is selling better now. That isn't just down to sets, but also it has got the value in the box a little better. I wrote last month about getting value back in the box, two to three years ago Lego reached a price threshold where customers looked in the box with disappointment and anger. It's still not brilliant, but I don't get anywhere near the same amount of customers bringing Lego back because its full of air. As for Duplo, well best not got there.

But the other problem this brings is once something becomes short the eBayers come out to buy up anything you have on the shelf. They know that Star Wars Lego is like gold dust and we now only put one on the shelf, if any. If you restrict them to one per customer they bring the extended family along. Remember Britannia Bear a few years back? I was certain that we had one gentleman buy one, go home, shave his beard off, changed his clothes and come back again.

What will disappoint the independents is if they walk into the nationals to find stock to the rafters. This certainly was the case last year.

One last thing while on the subject of Lego: these half price promotion special lines - you know the ones, last year it was the Bridge Truck, this year it's the Classic Truck. How can a certain catalogue advertise this as half price, and how can Lego encourage us to do the same? The product would never be the inflated price it is advertised down from.

I will only sell these items as a 'special value set', not half price. I just hope that a disgruntled retailer who won't get his stock doesn't decide to go to Trading Standards and ask them to look into this. That's the last thing we need.



New kids on the block

At any one time, there is likely to be a number of start-up companies entering the toy industry. Katie Roberts chatted to a few of these ?first-timers? to find out about their experiences so far.

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