(Written by William)
There has been several recent changes to the LEGO Pick-A-Brick (PAB) wall at all LEGO store locations, so I thought it was important to write an update on what you can expect next time you stop by at your local LEGO store to get some LEGO elements.
LEGO PAB WALL PRICE CHANGES
The first and most impactful change is the price for the PAB cups. Each will be increased by a $1 USD, so the small cup is now $9 and the large cup is $16. Obviously, this has a bigger effect on the smaller cup as you roughly get half the volume of the large one. The LEGO Group (TLG) will also be increasing the price of the full boxes of elements you can buy, from the previous price of $75 USD to $100 USD. If you are unaware of what I’m talking about here, that’s no surprise. Normally LEGO employees don’t tell you, but TLG allows you to buy an entire box of a LEGO element you see on the PAB wall, provided they have more in stock. This is ideal for those attempting to make a larger scale LEGO model.
A couple of years back I had a conversation with a LEGO representative, and we talked about the PAB wall. This conversation was partly started due to the poor selection at my local LEGO store. He told me that the PAB wall was something TLG needed to change. It was inconsistent on how it was run, and the full boxes of parts at $75 would often mean they were losing money (depending on the part). He did admit that raising prices was looking to be one of the solutions.
LEGO PAB WALL SELECTION CHANGES
In the past LEGO stores had two options for choosing what went on their PAB wall. The first choice – often the default -was when someone who had very little to do with a particular store would just send out a selection of parts to that store. The second option was for the store manager to elect to pick out the parts they wanted, and hope they got them. Even for the stores that selected pieces there was no guarantee they’d get what they have liked. This is why you saw things in the PAB wall like door-frames with no doors or windows with no window-frames. Apart from this, it was up to the store to stock whatever they had.
Later TLG put all their LEGO stores under the same system where every store had to select pieces for their PAB walls. There were still a few restrictions, but we’ll talk about those more below. The most recent change is going to build off of the more consistent application of every store choosing their own PAB wall selection. This change involves every store being obligated to carry certain types of pieces. In addition, those pieces will contain advertising, such as “this goes great with LEGO Star Wars sets”. So what you end up with is a system where parts are partly pre-determined and consistent across stores, and then each store has some options after that.
LEGO PAB WALL STORE RESTRICTIONS
Remember when I said that the store must work within restrictions? There are policies in place that all the stores have to follow in regards to their PAB wall. First, on the bottom-most rows, larger pieces like 2×4 bricks must be stocked so that they do not pose a choking hazard for smaller children. Another restriction, that may or may not be still in place, is that they had to have the basic parts to make a vehicle; this meant tires, wheel-hubs, a connector piece to attach the hub to, and possibly a steering wheel or windshield. For a while they tried expanding on this idea by having other builds you could make from parts on the wall. However because PAB walls are not all equal in size and storage-capacity, this idea didn’t work out.
Chances are that with the latest change TLG may stick with the vehicle parts option plus a bit more, as this would limit the stores ability to order a larger variety of more specialized parts. Unfortunately this is not great for adult LEGO builders, but we have to remember that TLG’s priority is young children and their priorities (kids love vehicles!).
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
So with all the changes happening to the LEGO PAB wall, the question is, what can you do as an adult LEGO fan to have the best experience? The most important thins is to get to know the employees at the store; the store manager is especially key. They hold regular meetings and provide feedback to the company on how customers are responding to any given change. In addition, LEGO stores employees are often open to hearing what you want. This may mean being able to talk with the person in charge of picking out pieces for the PAB wall. Letting them know what you would like gives them some guidance on what should get stocked.
Also, don’t forget to bring back your old PAB cups to refill. This could save you $0.50 for each one you re-use. It’s not a big discount, but it does help to reduce the price-increase a bit. Finally, do fill out the surveys on your receipts. This obviously has a bigger impact on smaller LEGO stores compared to the large Disney or LEGOLAND stores, but your opinion does shape how decisions get made. This includes things you really like about the store and never want to see leave. Point in case, LEGO stores used to carry grab bags, but since the complaints far outweighed compliments, the program was discontinued. So keep in mind, change only comes to those who asked for it… and you can always shop at the Online Pick-A-Brick.
What do you think of the LEGO Pick-A-Brick wall changes? Do you use the PAB wall regularly to shop for LEGO elements? What about the Online Pick-A-Brick selection? Do you use it? What do you like to see in the PAB wall? Feel free to share and discuss in the comment section below!
And you might also like to check out the following related post:
What’s at the LEGO Pick-A-Brick Wall?