(Written by William)
At the beginning of last month LEGO fans heard about changes coming to the LEGO Pick-A-Brick Wall. Initially many people thought this news was a joke since it came out on April 1st. For those living in countries that don’t celebrate April Fools’ Day, it’s a day when people pull pranks on each other. At any rate, the LEGO Pick-A-Brick Wall changes were not a joke. So today we will explore what the changes are and how they work. (Photos by Allen from the BrickFan who also wrote an article on the topic.)
➡ WHAT IS THE LEGO PAB-WALL PICK-A-MODEL?
If you ever visit a LEGO brand retail store you will find an entire wall filled with colorful cubbies. Each of these cubbies contains a single LEGO piece in a single color. The idea is that you can grab a cup and fill it with all the random parts you want from the PAB-Wall. You can fill your entire cup with just one piece, or mix and match elements. This is a great way for LEGO fans to get pieces for their own custom projects. Last month LEGO introduced a new feature at the PAB-Wall called Pick-A-Model.
The Pick-A-Model section takes up several rows of the PAB-Wall cubbies with specific pieces that enable LEGO fans to gather parts to make a featured model. Usually there are at least two options to build. To participate in this activity, simply grab a blister-pack and follow the instructions on which pieces to get and how many. When you are done, you take your pack to the register and pay $5. Ideally the parts that are for this activity are not to be taken for the normal Pick-A-Brick cups. Generally it is there to engage kids who want to have a hands-on experience in creating a model.
➡ HOW LEGO FANS RESPOND TO PICK-A-MODEL?
Overall, LEGO fans are not thrilled to have a fairly large section of the PAB-Wall taken up by this new program. The PAB-Wall represents one of the best ways to gather bulk parts for large LEGO creations, and now the selection has been limited due to the Pick-A-Model section.
In addition, many people feel the price point is too high for the Pick-A-Model packets. Considering the fact that one model is roughly 30-40 pieces and the cost is $5. This means that pieces on average are 13-17 cents per piece. That’s high, especially compared to LEGO polybags which usually have a better selection, better price/piece ratio, and often include a minifig as well.
➡ HOW LEGO PICK-A-MODEL REALLY WORKS?
Before I wrote this article I really had to see it for myself how the LEGO Pick-A-Model concept worked. So at the beginning of this month I visited my local LEGO store. I will admit that I was not happy with the Pick-A-Model section taking up so much space, and I would have also felt disappointed not being able to add the parts to my Pick-A-Brick cup. However it seemed like nobody was actually following the rules. People were adding the parts from the Pick-A-Model section to their PAB-Cups, and in fact several of the parts needed to make the models had completely empty bins. Which meant I couldn’t make the models even if I wanted to.
The issue is the employees do not have the time or manpower to enforce the new rules of not adding the parts to their regular PAB cups. Then the question arises: if I can’t make the model because some needed pieces are unavailable, are the other pieces for the model still banned from being added to a normal PAB cup? Also, if no one is policing the PAB-Wall, what’s stopping someone from putting twelve of the sets in a large Pick-A-Brick cup? (A large PAB cup costs $15.99.)
What I have heard is that these Pick-A-Models will stick around for roughly three months before they are rotated out. So what happens to any leftover elements? Do they shift to the official PAB-Wall, thereby shrinking the normal selection even further?
In my opinion the Pick-A-Model idea is both overpriced and poorly planned. Interestingly, LEGO tried a similar idea in the past and it didn’t work. Looking at how things are now, it still seems like they don’t have logistical aspects of the program in place. Essentially the idea has merit, but it lacks both realistic features and proper implementation.
➡ HOW SHOULD LEGO PICK-A-MODEL CHANGE?
Whether you buy from the PAB-Wall purely for bulk LEGO elements, or you want to have a building experience, trying to fit both type of customers in the same space feels like a mistake. Therefore, my suggestion would be to turn the PAB-Wall back over to how it was, and let the employees build a few models with the parts available.
This would facilitate very unique designs in every LEGO store, and would also give young and new builders help in being creative with the PAB-Wall selection. At the same time bulk buyers would not be limited by either what they can place in their cup, or what is available on the PAB-Wall. And this solution would also mean that employees are not held responsible when the program goes pear shaped – which it looks like it’s heading towards.
My question to you is, what do you think about all of this? Have you had a chance to check out the PAB-Wall since the changes? The new Pick-A-Model program has been in effect for a little over a month, so those who live close to a LEGO store should have had a chance to check it out by now. If you do like it, what works for you? If you don’t like it, how would you change it? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below! 😉
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