At long last the Series 3 Minifigures from Lego have come into stock. These highly collectible little guys — 16 different figures in all — are packaged in what Lego calls “sealed mystery bags”, so you don’t know which you’ve got till you’ve opened it. The various figures are: Tennis Player, Hula Dancer, Space Alien, Samurai Warrior, Sumo Wrestler, Rapper, Fisherman, Tribal Chief, Snowboarder, Elf, Race Car Driver, Pilot, Baseball Player, Mummy, Space Villain and Gorilla Suit Guy. Each includes special accessories, display plate and collector’s leaflet. Each minifigure is CAD$2.99.
We’ve had customers try to identify which figure is which by feeling the contours through the opaque plastic bag … I’m not sure how successful they were, but no one so far has seemed disappointed even when it turns out that he has acquired a double (Lego comes right out and suggests that you “trade with your friends” when that happens.)
I have to say that I am happy with Lego so far this year; their themes for 2011 look quite promising (Pirates of the Caribbean in May! Huzzah!), and their delivery of product ordered (the fill rate, in retail-speak) has been pretty good. Their web-based order system is still unbelievably clunky and tiresome, but it seems to be improving (or perhaps I’m just getting used to it).
The one thing that I still have trouble with is the full-year order protocol; essentially, we place all our orders for 2011 now, with delivery dates staggered throughout the year. In and of itself, this is not a bad thing — it’s a model we follow with many of our suppliers. The difference lies in the fact that there is a slender-to-none chance of a top-up order later in the year for any given item, so you have to guess, and guess correctly, how many to buy. If we run out of something, even quite early in the year, we may not be able to re-order it (unless it was on one of the full-year staggered delivery orders, in which case we will get more). It’s kind of like planning the food for an Antarctic research team: you lay in a bunch of supplies before the bad weather sets in, and that just has to last you till the next supply plane can make it to you. Forecasting demand, whether of Lego sets or food items, becomes very important.
By the way, Series 4 of the Minifigures will be released in the Spring (May, I think) and Series 5 is projected for late summer or early autumn. We haven’t had any official word from Lego on the figures in Series 4, but there is a photo and list being circulated on the web as a Sneak Peek; I include them here with the warning that they may not be correct! The (unofficial) list of Series 4 characters is: Surfer Girl, Sailor, Garden Gnome, Kimono Girl, Rock Star, Monster/Frankenstein, Viking Warrior, Werewolf, Ice Skater, Hockey player, Skateboarder, Football Player, Radioactive Suit, Musketeer, Artist, Mad Professor/Scientist.
Time will tell.