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! :)

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