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LEGO Pick-A-Brick Wall changes follow-up

by admin on May 20, 2014

in Other News & Updates

(Written by William)

We have talked about the recent changes of the LEGO Pick-A-Brick wall section at LEGO stores both in pricing and part availability (see: LEGO Pick-A-Brick Updates & Changes). As several questions had arisen from that discussion I felt it was important to write a follow-up. I did what I could to ask a number of sources within the LEGO company to get some answers and clarifications. The following is what I was able to find out.

LEGO Pick-A-Brick Wall

WHO DOES THE LEGO PAB WALL CHANGES AFFECT?

The LEGO PAB wall pricing changes we have discussed previously in the article linked above affects all LEGO stores worldwide. Previously there has been a number of fragmented programs and system within the LEGO Group, and they are in the process of consolidating these – at least the ones that can operate under worldwide rules.

WHY THE CHANGES TO THE LEGO PAB WALL?

Many people have asked if the price increases are the result of inflation. The answer to this question is yes and no. As you may know, inflation is an ongoing process, so in that sense the answer is “no”; the recent price increase is not because of our most recent economic struggles. The real “yes” answer comes from how long it has been since LEGO has last updated their system and their pricing.

LEGO PAB CupAs I mentioned in the previous article, when I talked with a LEGO representative about the LEGO PAB wall, it was clear that the prices were out of alignment even two years ago. And I recently found out that in Europe pricing haven’t been adjusted since 2007 (which seems to be about the same time-frame for the North America market as well). So what LEGO is really being challenged by is not one bad financial cycle, but roughly 7 years of inflation that they did not adjust to.

Money aside, many decisions made about the LEGO PAB wall fall under LEGO’s marketing department. This means they may want to use the PAB wall to promote certain things at times. To do this, it may cost a little more in regards to logistics of how these promotions will be accomplished.

WHAT ABOUT THE LEGO PAB WALL BOXES?

In response to my previous article people wanted to know whether or not it was still worth purchasing the full PAB boxes (also sometimes referred to as K-boxes). The price on these was increased from $75 to $100 per box. The problem is that these boxes are not really meant for retail but for refilling the PAB wall, so there is no precise information about how much you get in one of these cases. When I asked about this, I was unable to get a definite answer. This is because the factors involved in these types of decisions fall to the marketing strategies employed by LEGO. However, there are a few things that can be assumed.

First of all, each full PAB box – no matter what LEGO piece is in it – is the same size. This is a fact. From here we can start assuming. Given the restricted size, we know that you typically get fewer pieces if they are large. It also means that small pieces may end up with heavier weights, because they can be packed in tighter. So essentially you end up with two criteria that may limit what is in a case from being full.

The first is weight; no matter how much LEGO can fit in a box, they may decide to stop if they exceed a particular weight. The other factor is cost to produce a piece. There are certain LEGO elements that are just more costly to make than others. This could be LEGO parts with printing, or complex elements like a LEGO horse. If a box exceeds a certain cost level, this may result in the need to short a case from its maximum capacity.

LEGO PAB Box Content

But just to give you an idea about the content of a LEGO PAB box for basic elements, there are right about 2,800 1×2 bricks in a PAB box according to flickr member Alex S. (see picture above) who recently got one. This means that there should be around 5,500 1×1 bricks, 1,400 1×4 bricks, 1,400 2×2 bricks, or 670 2×4 bricks in a full box.

ARE THE LEGO PAB WALL BOXES WORTH IT?

With the factors in mind mentioned above, it still comes down to deciding on whether or not this price is worth the cost. To answer this, you need to judge the importance of a single piece in high quantities. Ultimately, the LEGO PAB boxes are the cheapest way to get a bulk order of LEGO elements. The LUGBulk program comes really close, but you will still end up paying more for the same amount, and you do need to be a member of a LUG (LEGO Users Group). LUGBulk however offers a greater variety of choices when it comes to the types of parts and colors. (Image below is by BrickShelf member ErasureMode – see full gallery by clicking on the link.)

LEGO Pick-A-Brick Box Content

Also, you should compare prices to the secondary market like BrickLink, as you may find better deals. For example, nine out of ten times, any LEGO string component is cheaper to buy from resellers rather than buying in bulk through the LEGO PAB boxes. However, if you start to need thousands of a certain piece, the LEGO PAB boxes will most likely be the most reliable and cost effective solution.

CONCLUSION

Hopefully this update helps you to understand some of the decisions LEGO has made and why. Granted, it means the fans are the ones that have to pay for these changes, but the point is that the changes were not made haphazardly or just to make more money. This is not to say that money is not involved – after all LEGO is a business, and that’s what a business needs to do to be successful.

As for what you can do to make sure that the LEGO PAB wall meets your needs, fill out surveys, talk to LEGO store employees, and meet and discuss this topic with LEGO representatives at the various LEGO conventions. As LEGO fans, we have an unusually strong community that has a surprising amount of power over a single business. As long as you make reasonable suggestions it is possible to compromise on some of these issues. As I have mentioned before, change only comes to those who asked for it… and you can always shop at the Online Pick-A-Brick.

LEGO Trees & Leaves at 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:

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

BLProductions May 20, 2014 at 10:15 AM

First comment! 🙂 I don’t need to get those boxes (I don’t even have ONE baseplate) b/c I have no wheres to store the pieces. 🙁 I really don’t like the price increase on the PAB cups, but it seems necessary, and I really need more parts, so I’ll still get a small cup.
Speaking of price increase, does anyone know if the $4 per CMF is a permanent thing now? 😕 This is possibly series 12, so I’d like to know: http://brickset.com/article/11273/rumoured-list-of-collectable-minifigure-series-12

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admin May 20, 2014 at 9:49 PM

As far as I know the new price is here to stay. 😕

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James May 20, 2014 at 10:52 AM

The price increase doesn’t bother me. It’s still a good value if you can find the pieces on the PAB wall that you want. I don’t buy the boxes, I have no need for thousands of anything.

Granted this is a small sample size, but the one time I visited a PAB wall since these changes were made, the one major change I noticed in inventory was more of the bigger pieces (2×6 or larger bricks). Maybe this is due to the ‘choking hazard’ concern. I mostly like to construct buildings, and thus like 1 x ___ bricks, plates, and tiles. There were fewer of these in the selection. Of course, this may have been an anomaly, it’s hard to say after one visit. Due to my travel, I’ll be visiting Lego Stores all over the east coast this summer. We’ll see if this trend holds.

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admin May 20, 2014 at 9:51 PM

James, that is interesting. What I have heard is that they always put the bigger pieces at the bottom bins where little kids can get to them. My understanding is that from now on PAB walls are “themed”. Meaning there will be times where the elements are mainly for building spaceships, or cars, or houses… etc. We shall see how this folds out.

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Lloydguy May 21, 2014 at 6:50 AM

Spaceship Spaceship SPACESHIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to build a SPACESHIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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admin May 21, 2014 at 9:29 AM

SPACESHIP! 😛

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Tom May 20, 2014 at 2:34 PM

I completely understand why they have done this – being able to pick up a few thousand 1×2 plates for 75 quid was a bargain! It is annoying though as I am scoping out a moc for a few months time and need 800 of the big green leaves. My cheap option has just disappeared!

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lego ff May 20, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Admin, can you give me a post to write up?

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admin May 20, 2014 at 9:52 PM

I normally don’t tell contributors what to write. It is best if you write out of your own inspiration. 😉

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lego ff May 21, 2014 at 7:50 AM

alright!

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Kim May 20, 2014 at 4:58 PM

I wish I lived closer to a Lego store. It would also be nice if there were a few more pieces on the online prick a brick. I haven’t done an extensive search but I’d like more torso, head, and hair options.

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admin May 20, 2014 at 9:53 PM

Kim, yeah, I know what you mean. The closest LEGO store is 2 hours from me and only have to chance to go a couple of times a year. But I guess everything has its plusses and minuses. I know I would spend a lot more if a LEGO store would be just down the street! 😛

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Tom May 21, 2014 at 7:55 PM

I think that this is a great idea, you can design a model and then buy the pieces, genius 🙂 Good work lego 😀

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Ryan May 22, 2014 at 10:17 PM

Thanks for following up with this story! I’m really not a fan of the LEGO online PAB–way too pricey and too long shipping and handling time. Bricklink has such a better selection and prices, and while it isn’t as convenient (dealing with multiple sellers) it’s still a better option. PAB cups are obviously the best, but I know a lot of people don’t live close to a lego store (and it’s hit or miss with selection).

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Nicolas June 17, 2014 at 10:27 AM

i finally found a PAB wall in south africa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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admin June 17, 2014 at 10:47 AM

You did???!!! Is it a new feture in your LEGO store?

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brancile September 25, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Where?! Please do share!

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Brickmaster August 15, 2014 at 3:11 PM

I personally love the pick-a-brick walls because of the quantity of pieces you are able to acquire. I have no Lego stores near me so I don’t go that often but when I do I’m able to use the pieces to create creations like this.
http://www.brickcommunity.com/2014/06/22/19th-century-london-home/

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admin August 16, 2014 at 8:59 PM

Nicely done! Yes, for large custom creations like that the PAB Wall is invaluable! 🙂

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