I hear cries all the time from the casual Lego buyer about how expensive Lego sets have become, how they used to be cheaper...once upon a time. I've often wondered where these people are buying their Lego. Is it possible that their perception of price is simply because they are buying Lego from Toys"R"Us?
I usually avoid Toys"R"Us like the plague. Occasionally, always because of a promotion or exclusive, I will venture through the doors of the big box toy store to purchase Lego. It wasn't always this way. Even though I have always been a big Lego shop-at-home user, there is something to be said for going into a store to see all the products lined up in person. I used to do this almost exclusively at Toys"R"Us, until a few years ago when a Lego brand store opened adjacent to my normal shop.
After going into the Lego store on a regular basis, I started noticing the price differences. I found that sets at Toys"R"Us are generally a dollar or two more than they were at Lego. Sometimes they would be 5, 7, even 20 dollars more than the price of the same item at the Lego brand store.
While shopping at Target or Walmart, I would take note of their Lego pricing as well. It was the same retail purchase price (RPP) as I could get directly from Lego. Even when items are on Sale at Toys"R"Us, or when they run one of their buy-one-get-one 40% off sales, it sometimes only brings the pricing down to normal RPP. Here are a few examples:
City Camper Van (60057) - A smaller set and one of the best value sets that is out right now.
Sopwith Camel (10226) - This one is fairly exclusive. It is not even available at WalMart or Target and getting harder to find anywhere at all. A $25 markup by Toys"R"Us.
Defend the Batcave (10672) - Just sneaking in a few extra bucks on this Juniors set.
Minstorms EV3 (31313) - One of the most expensive sets that Lego puts out currently. Even on sale, this robotics set is also marked up.
- RPP - $349.99
- Lego - $349.99
- WalMart - $349.99
- Target - $349.99
- Toys"R"Us - $399.99 (currently on "Sale" for $379.99)
Water Scooter Fun (41000) - Reddit user tophrman pointed out this gem. Probably the largest percentage markup I have ever seen.
- RPP - $6.99
- Lego - $6.99
- WalMart - $6.97
- Target - Unavailable
- Toys"R"Us - $21.99 (currently on "Sale" for $20.99)
Why does Toys"R"Us do this? What makes the same toy more valuable because it is on the shelves of one store compared to the next? I'm not talking about only exclusive items here, I'm talking about the same sets that are available nearly everywhere that Lego is sold. These other stores sell Lego at RPP (or lower), while Toys"R"Us marks up dozens of sets.
How do we stop it while still having access to some of the cool exclusive stuff that you can only get at Toys"R"Us? Please discuss in the comments below.