As the LEGO Group gearing up to release its latest £400+ game, we’ve drawn a line with another company that makes things you don’t need, but really want, and found they’re not that different.
They design and manufacture products that are sold in countless places around the world. In addition, they have their own destination stores with a unique design language. Walk into any branch and you immediately feel at home. It is comfortable. Family. There are products ready to look at, to examine, to touch. The staff is friendly and engaged. For them, it’s not just a job. They are fans of the products. Like you.
Welcome to the Apple store.
And somewhere else, maybe in the next town or city, sometimes a few doors down from a faceless mall, there is another store that shares those same traits. While one Apple store is a temple of effortless cool, a design statement in wood and glass, the other store is a riot of primary colors. Predominantly a bright and friendly shade of yellow, it’s like a child’s coloring book come to life.
welcome to the lego store.
On paper, a line drawn between the two companies, one a maker of children’s toys (well, toys) and the other a maker of high-end computer equipment, is a tenuous connection at best. But look a little closer and it becomes a little stronger, a little clearer. They both exist as big fish in large, competitive ponds. They both take pride in designing products that are not just ‘good enough’ but great. They innovate where others copy. And both engender something akin to fanaticism in their target audience.
Have you ever found yourself outside a new WHSmith branch, or Sainsbury’s, on opening day, sitting on the pavement from 5am, waiting for the store to open its doors for the first time? I doubt it, and frankly, if it is, then I’m judging you a bit right now. But if Apple or the LEGO The group opens a new store, arrives at 5am and you’ll probably find yourself surrounded by dozens, sometimes hundreds of other people, all looking for that shared ‘being there’ experience.
In fact, the only difference between the two is that in a lego store opening, the talk is constant. there are few things LEGO fan loves more than arguing LEGO with another fan. “What are you here to buy?” “What was your last build?” “What is your favorite subject?” and so.
Opening an Apple Store, on the other hand, tends to be a more sedate affair. It’s 200 people all looking at their phones.
When it comes to products, fans (it seems wrong to call either group ‘customers’) tend to adopt a similar mindset about their beloved brands, which is to keep the faith. If you look at a typical Mac user, it’s pretty much a given that their phone will be an iPhone and their tablet, if they have one, will be an iPad. There are many other, generally cheaper, compatible products available, but they won’t even be on the short list.
and for him LEGO fan, there may now be a proliferation of compatible ‘build systems’, but to breathe its name, let alone suggest that a LEGO collection could be contaminated with such products, it amounts to heresy. Other brands, I won’t mention them here, but we all know what I mean, will be ridiculed in Internet forums and Facebook groups with a wink in the eye and a smile on the writer’s face.
It’s just a bit of fun, don’t really hate those other brick systems. How can you hate a toy? But I guarantee you that if you were to look at his collection it would be nothing more than 100% original. LEGO items. Sure, they laugh, but deep down, they’re deadly serious.
Lately another parallel has emerged, that of the halo product. The astronomically priced item that grabs the headlines and goes beyond the world of fandom and into the real world. One would think that these days the mobile phone was so ubiquitous (there are reports that 5.3 billion phones will be thrown away by 2022) that a new one hardly deserves a mention.
But the hype around the new iPhone 14 makes it sound like the second coming. And Apple knows full well that for every £1000+ phone it launches, it draws another set of neophytes into the family, most of whom will buy cases, cables, chargers and more. Yes sir, I can accept payment right here, no need to queue.
the LEGO The group also seems to be going down that path. Not too long ago news of a £250+ game was a once a year event, twice a year at most. the LEGO the community would collectively stop to gaze in awe and, more importantly, discuss this new offering in depth online. Which often generated enough buzz online for the media to publish some ‘How can a LEGO set costs so much???’ headlines Did someone say free advertising? It doesn’t matter if we do.
These days a £250 outfit barely raises an eyebrow, so the LEGO Group has upped its game, and its prices, and now £400 seems to be the minimum price to spark amazement and outrage in the community. (Watch 76210 Hulkbuster.) And the more people talk about LEGO, more are buying it. Maybe just a £20 set here or a £40 set there, but the LEGO The group will drink that all day.
In fact, one of the few differences between the two brands is how people view their older products. In most cases, a LEGO the set that is no longer produced will increase in value, as those that were lost the first time look to the aftermarket to fill a gap in their collection. Older Apple products, on the other hand, don’t seem to enjoy the same reverence.
A few years ago I took a MacBook to an Apple store. It was working perfectly fine aside from a charging port failure. I explained the situation to an attendant and asked about a repair. He glanced at the laptop, then looked at me with the kind of pity reserved for those who use an Apple product that was almost five years old. “I’m sorry, sir,” she said. “We don’t deal with old items.”