How My Love Affair with Legos Ended as the Christmas Season Began

November 30th, 2009

I’ve been meaning to post about my intense admiration for Legos’ marketing for nearly a year now, ever since my then six-year-old discovered the joy of assembling hundreds of tiny plastic pieces into intricate Star Wars ships.


No, they’re  not the “greenest” of toys, and though sometimes I shudder when I think of the plastic involved, I must say Legos are the ultimate in “Re-use.” Have you seen the re-sale market for these toys? Many of them actually INCREASE in value.

But that’s not what caused me to fall in love with Legos.  First, there’s the fun factor. Building Legos is  a great activity for both parents and kids. Legos stretch your imagination – as well as your patience!  You can never do anything “wrong.” If a little brother crashes a Lego Starship, why, you can just build something else!  And after you “get into” Legos, you discover that kids bond over building Legos. It’s as if they have a Secret Boy Society of Awesome Lego Builders.

If you’re lucky enough to live near a Lego Store, like the one in Tysons Corner, shopping for them is a huge adventure. Our local store sponsored a huge “Build a Yoda” contest, where kids gathered to watch a team of “Master Lego Builders” craft a giant Yoda – and even got a chance to help out!


Your child can  join the “Lego Club” or “Lego Club Junior,” to receive well written, imaginative magazines full of Lego pictures, of course, but also with stories written to grade-level, word puzzles, Lego building contests, photos of kids with their prize-winning Lego creations, and more.   And once you’ve been to a Lego-Brick Fest, like the one held this summer in D.C. – well, by then you’re a goner (like my dear friend who flew from California to DC to attend!)


LegoLand? It was on our wish list of “must -dos.”

And did you know there are even REAL Lego cars, like this one driven by the Lego Lady?


So I knew it would be a Lego-heavy Christmas this year. Last year Santa brought our son an MTT Troop Carrier Lego ship,  which would cost you about $100, if you had to purchase it instead of getting it via reindeer express.  That’s another unique thing about Legos – the first ones we bought were about $10, and as our son grew more skilled at building them, he would save his allowance for a really “big” one, that might cost $30 or even $60. There are even Legos for as few as a couple of bucks, and of course, for the adult builders, even more expensive items. Adult builders, you say? Who knew?

I suspect this is the last year that my 7-year-old will likely still “believe.” I’m sure he probably has a few doubts, as I did when I was a 7-year-old.  But for now, I humored him with the traditional, “What are you going to ask Santa for Christmas?” question.

Normally we “get off easy” at Christmas time. Back when Big Boy was just 3 1/2, he decided that Santa brought just three presents. Maybe it’s because the Wise Men brought 3 presents?  I don’t know, but we never disagreed, and he never questioned why his Aunt spoiled him with even more presents than Santa.

But this CyberMonday, when I set out to google the best prices for my son’s three favored Legos, I was shocked. The total price tag? $850  (And these were the ‘best buys” I could find. I’m sure you could spend close to $1,000 on the same items).

We’re not spending that kind of money on Christmas gifts from Santa.

But I never expected my son to learn that there is no such thing as Santa Claus because he didn’t get the three gifts he asked Santa for under the tree.

Yes, as a kid I didn’t get all the things I asked for either, but heck, I remember making long lists – with way more than three items!

I realize that through this “love” of all things Lego, I fell hook, line and sinker into the ridiculous Kid Marketing Juggernaut.  But what really makes me angry is the prices that Lego is charging for these much sought after toys that are the “in thing” with the elementary school crowd.

Now, I understand that there have always been high priced kids toys. I recall laughing at $400 kids’ BMW cars in the Neiman Marcus catalogue. But that’s to be expected, after all. Neiman Marcus – aka Needless Markup – is a luxury department store, squarely targeted at the elite. You expect to – want to – spend dearly for unique items when you shop at Neiman’s.

But Lego? Selling $200, $300, $400 and dare I say, even more expensive toys that they’ve marketed as the all-American boy “must have” toy seems somehow twisted, especially in this recessionary year. I’d love to know what the mark-up is on these items.

And that my friends, is my story of how I fell out of love with Legos on CyberMonday, 2009.

Now…anyone got a Jango Fett Slave 1 Lego, Imperial Star Destroyer Lego, or Death Star, you want to re-sell…cheap?

Legos? You’ve been warned.


Postscript: After re-reading this, I looked more closely at the toys in questions. Two are marketed for boys 8 -12 and 9 -14, but the Death Star is for age 16 and up. So I can foresee Santa writing Big Boy a note explaining he’s too young for the Death Star (which incidentally would set Santa back a cool $400).  As for the others….I’m sure I’ll think of something. Now I’m wondering…was this post just a cranky, late Cybernight Monday rant, or do I have a point? What do you think? Meanwhile, gotta prepare that non-commercialization of the holidays post! :)

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

15 Responses to “How My Love Affair with Legos Ended as the Christmas Season Began”

  1. Tweets that mention Organic and Green Mom Blog | How My Love Affair with Legos Ended as the Christmas Season Began at Organic Mania -- on November 30, 2009 10:50 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Green Moms Carnival, Lynn Miller. Lynn Miller said: How I fell out of love with Legos on #cybermonday (from blog) […]

  2. Lisa @ Retro Housewife Goes Green on December 1, 2009 9:28 am

    I don’t have kids so not sure about that part but I did have to say from talking to Jennifer (The Smart Mama) legos are a pretty good green pick. Not sure all you said but also they are PVC free and safer plastic. Now if only we could get them to use recycled plastic! :) But they are strong and I’ve yet to see one break so they can be used over and over, and unlike some toys if you lose pieces you can get new or just make something else. One of the best mainstream toys for a green factor.

    As far as the Santa thing I don’t remember believing in Santa (though I didn’t tell my parents I didn’t for a LONG time because I thought I would get less gifts lol) but maybe you could hint around and see what other things he wants, maybe if he still got 3 things he really likes he won’t notice.
    .-= Lisa @ Retro Housewife Goes Green´s last blog ..Making Your Christmas Green =-.

  3. Lynn on December 1, 2009 9:55 am

    Thanks, Lisa, for the thoughts. Yes, I suppose you could consider Legos a “light green” Christmas choice…prob one of the best for mainstream kids (ie, kids not immersed in life at a Waldorf school or living in an ecovillage or somesuch!).

    Actually, my DH and I always give him a few more gifts than Santa so that he realizes that once he stops believing, he’ll always still get gifts. This is the way my husband’s father did it, and it seems it was a nice way to go.

  4. Organic and Green Mom Blog | Greener Traditions: Ye Olde Advent Calendar & The Reading of the Christmas Books at Organic Mania on December 1, 2009 8:36 pm

    […] Taking away the focus on crass materialism has never seemed more important, especially now when so many families are suffering in this continued deep recession.  (That’s one reason I fell out of love with Legos this year, as I blogged here). […]

  5. Jennae @ Green Your Decor on December 1, 2009 8:53 pm

    We’ve been able to dodge that bullet by telling our daughter that Santa is a character, much like Mikey Mouse or Hannah Montana, instead of the person who actually delivers the gifts. We do this so that she doesn’t ruin Christmas for some other child who believes in Santa by telling them he doesn’t exist. We also put on the gift tags that the gifts are from Mommy and Daddy, so it’s not difficult to understand when she doesn’t get everything she wants. My 3 stepsons are older, and we tell them the same thing. We always ask them what they want and get them what we can afford.

    In your case, I think explaining that the most expensive gift is for older kids will get you out of that one. But I still find it completely amazing that Lego sets are so ridiculously expensive! $400?!?! That’s crazy! For the other gifts, maybe you can get him a comparable, but less expensive, set and explain that Santa got his wires crossed. He may or may not figure out that something’s up though :)
    .-= Jennae @ Green Your Decor´s last blog ..My Simple, but Festive, Thanksgiving Table =-.

  6. Lynn on December 1, 2009 9:00 pm

    Thanks, Jennae! That was a great idea re the character! I found some small miniature versions of the big toys…we may get those and a more moderately priced Lego. At times I think perhaps he has the Santa racket figured out…I remember that in-between stage around 7. But then tonight he asked me such a sweet question, I just knew he still believes. Now I’m thinking of telling him that Santa is old, and sometimes forgets things (like his Grandma). Hmmm……

  7. Green Bean on December 1, 2009 9:54 pm

    Hear hear!! Legos are the only actual toys on my kids Xmas lists this year – which I count as a good thing but holy Skywalker, those things are expensive!
    .-= Green Bean´s last blog ..Adventures in Experimental Cooking from Scratch =-.

  8. Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama on December 2, 2009 8:36 am

    Hey Lynn. That Death Star was on sale at, and there is a free shipping and 20% coupon code floating around, so it ends up being $260 shipped. Probably still more than you want to spend . . . . but just so you know. The prior release of the Death Star, which is now no longer made, went UP in value dramatically . . . .
    .-= Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama´s last blog ..Countdown to Christmas: Green Gift Ideas =-.

  9. Nicholas on December 2, 2009 9:45 am

    Start picking on one of my favorite toy companies and I’ll coming running to defend it!

    You seem to suggest Lego is pricing their kits to take advantage of the kits’ demand. I looked at the pricing of the Star Wars kits, and also a couple other themes, as a function of the number of pieces. The price is pretty much $0.11/piece and $3.32 for the packaging. This is over a range of 50 to 5000 pieces and $10 to $500. Truly an honest case of you get what you pay for.

    Plot here:

    Lesson here: never raise the ire of a statistician, and I really need to focus more on my work.

    Cheers Lynn, sorry to miss you on Thanksgiving. But do you think we could have fit 4 more people in my Dad’s trailer?

  10. Amber on December 2, 2009 2:33 pm

    I understand that Lego was in serious trouble and almost went under at one time. Now they’re focusing more on these kits, which come at a mark-up. I understand why they’re doing that, and perhaps they’re just charging what they have to charge to cover their costs. But it is pretty frustrating.

    I hope you find a solution that works for everyone.
    .-= Amber´s last blog ..What I Learned in November 2009 =-.

  11. Gina on December 2, 2009 3:50 pm

    I was under the impression that the Death Star was really for full-grown men with jobs and money. They like putting it together and letting it sit on a shelf as an accomplishment and a boo-yah to their boyhood. At least that’s how it is for three grown men I know.

    I picked up some random Legos on Ebay for just $5/lb. A big 10-lb box. That should last us for my son’s entire childhood. And then I will resell them.

    Don’t forget all the free Legos you can get–the first Tuesday of every month the Lego store (incl the one at Tyson’s) holds a free Lego mini-build. Walmart was hosting them on Saturdays through the year too.
    .-= Gina´s last blog ..WFMW: Best Gift Tips =-.

  12. Condo Blues on December 2, 2009 8:01 pm

    I understand your love of Lego. It’s one of the few toys not made in China. The factory is in Germany but the company is Danish.

    We have a Lego store and I have to admit, those kits can get pricey. I believed in Santa as a kid. My parents let it be known that Santa couldn’t always give me everything that was on my list or there wouldn’t be anything left for the other kids. Can you try something like that? That way I didn’t really get upset if there was some pie in the sky gift I wanted (like that Death Star) or wasn’t age appropriate for me. Although I think pointing out that some of the big things he wants are too old for him and that Santa knows that because you can’t lie to Santa. He has his magic Naughty and Nice lists after all.
    .-= Condo Blues ´s last blog ..The Low Key Christmas Party – a Green Holiday Favorite! =-.

  13. Organic and Green Mom Blog | Yes, Lynn, There is a Santa Claus! at Organic Mania on December 29, 2009 8:40 am

    […] Claus! December 29th, 2009 Yes, Virginia – I mean Lynn – there is a Santa Claus.  My post about the horrible expense of Legos struck a nerve, with scores of people either commiserating or offering alterate gift  […]

  14. Organic and Green Mom Blog | Teaching Financial Literacy & Values: Allowances at Organic Mania on March 10, 2010 9:57 pm

    […] it’s the charity thing we’ve had the hardest time working on. Somehow, my complaints about Lego’s exorbitant prices have been misinterpreted. He became convinced that Lego must charge so much because they need the […]

  15. Organic and Green Mom Blog | I Should Have Known It Was Bad When He Couldn’t Open the Legos: How Do You Know When A Child Is Seriously Ill? at Organic Mania on October 11, 2010 9:36 pm

    […] eight-year-old son is a Lego fanatic, as I’ve blogged here, here, and […]

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