About Me

My photo
No Fixed Abode, Home Counties, United Kingdom
I’m a 51-year-old Aspergic CAD-Monkey. Sardonic, cynical and with the political leanings of a social reformer, I’m also a toy and model figure collector, particularly interested in the history of plastics and plastic toys. Other interests are history, current affairs, modern art, and architecture, gardening and natural history. I love plain chocolate, fireworks and trees but I don’t hug them, I do hug kittens. I hate ignorance, when it can be avoided, so I hate the 'educational' establishment and pity the millions they’ve failed with teaching-to-test and rote 'learning' and I hate the short-sighted stupidity of the entire ruling/industrial elite, with their planet destroying fascism and added “buy-one-get-one-free”. I also have no time for fools and little time for the false crap we're all supposed to pretend we haven't noticed, or the games we're supposed to play. I will 'bite the hand that feeds' to remind it why it feeds.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

News, Views Etc . . . The Evil Empire

No, no; not Star Wars! This is about the market-leading, stealers of Hestair-Kiddycraft's good idea; the interlocking building brick, none other than Lego; who may not be market leaders for much longer?


All these cuttings are from two publications, the 'i' Newspaper (surviving, and increasingly expensive, tabloid-rump of The Independent) and the Metro free-sheet.

And: have all been culled in the last three months.

There is more written about Lego in any given time-period in the British press (and I suspect elsewhere?) than is written about Hasbro, Hornby (Airfix, Corgi and Scalextric), Mattel, and Tomy -Takara . . . put together! This 'accidental' plethora of coverage is probably no accident!

Other, better systems exist!
Dr. Who from Character Options

While there is no evidence of collusion, other than the circumstantial evidence before our eyes in the first image, all that publicity - if paid-for as declared advertising - would be worth a fortune to some agency, and the fact is some of the other names have been having similar stories, without getting the same level of coverage.

Indeed, the board-room battles at Hornby Group this year (a UK-based company with several iconic names in its stable) were far more newsworthy than the Lego lay-offs, yet garnered no more than a few column-inches across the year - mostly confined to the 'i', while Lego's recent 'press' release got two pieces, in each paper.

All aboard the License please!
Lego - DC

And while these are the papers I take; I'm sure the picture is the same across the media.

Speaking of which, one of the stories with a more legitimate claim to column-inches was the TV series Lego Masters on Channel4 (second time I've mentioned them (C4) in a few days - I'll have to post against my own pro-bias next!), but I'm not sure it warranted the full-page, fully-illustrated, product-friendly fluff we actually got . . . "I'm a Legoista" wrote one journo-tosser; pass the sick-bucket!

Mega Blok's mini car; figure unknown
but probably the same maker's earlier efforts

Then we had to endure the excruciating pain of watching David Beckham spend three days building a castle you should be able to finish in a few hours . . . and I'll bet my shirt that was an on-line, global 'news' story, with social media live feeds, regular updates and sycophantic commenting, 'liking' and sharing to boot!

Then there was the 'good news' story of the little seven-year old who wrote to Lego asking for a job and got a day's 'work experience' at Legoland Windsor. Now - I don't know how many kids write to Lego every year asking for a job, or giving them 'ideas', but I bet if they were all given a day's work experience, Lego would become the largest employer of unpaid kids in the known universe, ever!

No; he was the lucky-one, drawn from the pile of hopefuls at random (or at 'photogenic' random!) by the press-office to provide a feel-good story the week [two days] before the redundancies were announced, it's not just hidden advertising - it's cynical, capitalist shit, generated by the Evil Empire, lapped-up by a supine media, that makes ME look like a happy-go-lucky, eternal optimist!

Lego 'technical' person.
Technically soulless!

Another way in which both papers (and the rest of the media?) treat Lego differently to other toy firms is in the fact that the letters sections often carry follow-up stuff, which you never see for the Hasbro or Hornby stories (when they occur); somehow Lego has a given for more column-inches than any other toy company!

There has been 'editorial' coverage of both Bricklive in Birmingham (over now, sorry but September went so fast I was expecting another week to get 'News, Views' out!) and the Hotel at Legoland Windsor, while a Serina Sandhu managed to write 19 column-inches in the 'i' about Ageism (!) which mentioned Lego more than four times!

Meanwhile over at the BBC World Service we had a 'reporter/foreign-correspondent' telling us her little-kid's non-Lego set (bought by [useless] husband - of course!) "Fell apart", naming the branded/licensed range so we'd know which brand she was talking about; well - I know the brand - it fits together just as well as Lego, indeed most of the clones are fine, while old Lego falls-apart just as easily as early clones.

Oh how the Legoland minifigure 'rules'
have been broken in recent years!

However it's not all bad-news and you won't have missed the big story - that sales are down, profits are falling, a second boardroom shake-up in less than twelve-months (Brit-out, Dane-in) was announced unexpectedly and 1,400 redundancies/not-to-be-replaced-wastage will occur in the global toy giant's staffing-levels (around 8% for the workforce)  in the near future.

We have seen in recent years companies which have become 'too big to fail'; European banks, US motor manufacturers and steel companies mostly; the odd airline (Boing last week!), but really, if you follow the tenets of Thatcherite-Raganomic, 'New-Blairist' free-market capital (that which we are all struggling under); they should be allowed to fail?

"Let the market decide" is the great cry from the establishment when people want to keep a school open, or save 'Woolie's' or BHS from disappearing, yet large corporation's run-off to government and explain (bitch, blub, threaten and cajole) that they must be bailed-out for the good of the economy!

Well, no! While I'm not suggesting Lego would seek a rescue package from the Danish Government, and it's not got to that point yet; still, Lego grew too big, too greedy, too litigious for a company with basically one product, a product they stole and which they saturated the market with, at prices well above their competitors

So if they go bust they should be left to disappear, to - hopefully - create space for a hundred new companies to have a go? That's free-market, entrepreneur-driven capitalism! Not a few behemoths kept-going beyond their years - and yes - I am also thinking of the recent Toysaurus storyline!

Kill'em-off, kill'em-all-off and lets go back to little toy-shops, back in those currently-empty retail-units littering our high-streets and malls, selling toys sourced from a hundred suppliers, from local craft sources, from catalogues with an internet portal and - why not - a local drone- delivery service!

Action-figs, not Minifigs
Mega Bloks do Marvel & Halo

Lego also featured in stories about super-heroes recently while the TfL (Transport for London) 'travel page' of Metro managed to push us Lego stationary like little multicoloured acid-tabs!

Another good news story is Mayka Tape (maykaworld.com) - designed in Cape Town, SA, by Anine Kirsten and Max Basler of Chrome Cherry Design Studios - an adhesive tape on a roll, with studs gauged to marry with the blocks of 'all leading brands' of building block. It's one of those 'Why didn't someone come-up with this 30-years ago and why didn't I think of it first' moments!

You can run the tape up walls, across work-surfaces, out the dog-flap into and around the garden, next-door and back (seek parental approval first!) obviously there will be distortion on corners or curved-surfaces, but just use single-stud bricks to anchor things, or cut for sharp-corners! There are base-plates with the same re-usable, low-tack adhesive in the range as well.

Zuru (the New Zealand company marketing Mayka) says there are already 30/40 Chinese factories producing knock-offs of the originally crowd-funded tape for the Christmas rush - thus it ever was! And you can bet some of them will be using that crumbly synthetic rubber being used for erasers at the moment, totally the wrong material for high-stress brick-clicking!

Clockwise from T/L; mad-dog Lego's called-in a vet!
Hagrid threatened by Mega Blocks rats!
Boom goes Lego and the Wizard's outta-here!

There are those who think I shouldn't 'do' politics, there's even one bloke out there who thinks I shouldn't do polictic (I don't know, some sort of nervous condition he thinks I develop when I eat Polenta?), but this stuff is our lives, and no man . . . or 'thing' is an island; one of the biggest threats to Liberal Democracy is 'fake news'.

The fact that so many Lego stories are being carried, whether or not you compare them to other stories about other toy makers, is either because someone is paying for all the stories (in which case it would be False Advertising - in law - without the 'advert' notifications) or because the journalists . . . aren't.

Journalism'ing, that is, and I fear it is a case of the latter with lazy journalists and lazy editors; sucking-up every story pushed-out by a consummate PR operation; whether based in Denmark or the UK.

"What's on the wire?"

"There's a Lego-PR thing just come in Boss - some puff-piece about a Dachshund who howls if you take his Lego away?"

"Yeah? Great - run with it, fluff it to six column-inches, add imagery - four-by-two - page 15, and use Septimus Fuckwit as a byline - everyone loves Lego!"

"For the headline Boss: Sausage-dog Serenade?"

"Err...no . . . try: Lonely Lapdog Laments Lost Lego"

"Oh good-one boss, you're the best!"

When you see such obvious 'fake news' you realise these awful Trumpundbreixt right-wing loons (as the Germans are calling them!) actually have a point, which legitimises their parochial, flag-waving, false nationalism and xenophobic desire to return to the golden-haloed uplands of 1950's rationing, small cars, long hours and the cane!

The media are responsible for what's happening with the West's crisis of confidence in liberal democracy, by dint of their A) giving-up on actual journalism and B) giving all sides an easy-ride under some misplaced PC belief in equal coverage which leaves someone like Farage (rhymes with C**t) being invited on to serious political magazine programs as often as people from the two/three main parties!

And yes; in a world where 'all publicity is good publicity', I am well away of the hypocritical incongruity of this post - so buy Cobi, buy Mega Bloks, try Mayka, buy those big sets for bugger-all money in Wilko's or the Works, or even Poundland, it's all just ripped-off Hestair-Kiddycraft interlocking building bricks!

Next time you see a Lego piece in your 'newspaper'; ask yourself if it's a legitimate news story, or just a page-filler because no celebrity-bimbo's had a nipple-slip in the previous 24 hours, neither of the Delavigne sisters left the house over the editorial print-period, no UKIP'er was caught doing a Nazi salute, no cow was rescued from flood-water, Boris kept his mouth shut for a day . . .

Tear-down the Lego wall, and demand better news!


Terranova47 said...

Hugh, the second picture of this entry shows how evil the Daleks are! They are mobile LEGO Cones. That's what those round things are up their bodywork.

Hugh Walter said...

Evil Daleks from the Evil Empire! You could be on to something there Terra....where's a doctor when you need one!


Terranova47 said...

After Brexit The Doctor as an alien will not be able to intervene to save the UK. LEGO WILL DOMINATE

Hugh Walter said...

Don't laugh . . . some of the guy's going to the Chicago show were turned away at the airport and had their Visa's revoked, after years of same-old-same-old, same flight, same hotel, same room, same routine; the insidious fingers of what the Germans are delightfully calling Trumpundbrexit extend everywhere as the little gauleiters get the power they crave to fuck people about!