Sunday, 31 October 2010

Paper Chase

All hail the UK Daily Mirror. I have to confess that it's not my choice of daily newspaper, but every now and then they run a promotion whereby they give away free LEGO with the newspaper, which really can't be bad. We're in the midst of one of these promotions right now - 10 free sets on 10 consecutive days, rounded off with a collector's box and a playmat. There are some really neat little sets in the line up this time round, with my personal favourites being a Christmas Tree and a Snowman (just in time for Christmas), and a splendid parrot. Just buy the paper, take the voucher within to WHSmiths or TRU, and they'll give you a free set (assuming they have any left). And if you can't get to one of these stores, collect 8 different vouchers from the newspaper, send them off with a cheque for £8.99, and they'll send you the goodies instead.

Set 30008 Snowman - just in time for Christmas

I think it's fair to say that the Mirror caused a mini riot last year when they had a similar promotion focused on LEGO Star Wars - 6 different sets on 6 consecutive days that time round, including a few sets which had never previously been available anywhere (Set 30005 Imperial Speeder Bike and Set 30006 Clone Walker, both shown below, and set 30004 Battle Droid on STAP). Honestly, the feeding frenzy that accompanied that promotion was truly something to behold, with outpourings of angst when eager collectors pitched up to collect their sets only to discover that there were none left.

30005 Imperial Speeder Bike

30006 Clone Walker

So bravo to the Mirror for running such splendid promotions, which are a great chance to get some nice little sets at a bargain price (i.e. the cost of a newspaper). But that's not really what I wanted to focus on in this posting. No, the real reason for this posting is to talk about the kind of behaviour that these promotions seem to foster. I'm talking about the compulsion to hoard these little sets. Loads of them.

Before going any further, it should be acknowledged that the hoarders have a team of willing accomplices - there's no doubt that sympathetic staff in WHSmiths and TRU facilitate this hoarding behaviour. Not once did a member of staff actually remove the voucher from my newspaper when handing me my set, thus leaving me theoretically free to visit any number of other WHSmiths or TRU stores and obtain further sets if desired (which I admittedly didn't do, although I could have done). Actually, I'd go as far as saying that some stores seemed positively desperate to get rid of the sets, occasionally handing out multiples without even being asked. I remember one shop assistant who, on being asked whether he had any unclaimed sets left over from previous days, disappeared into the back of the store and returned with a shopping bag full of sets which he thrust into my arms. He commented that they were cluttering up his store, and seemed genuinely delighted to be rid of them. Hell, I left feeling like I'd done him a favour ! No better reinforcement of hoarding behaviour than that.....

Hoarding during these promotions is rife. I remember checking out one of the online LEGO forums on the day that the Mirror gave away the parrot set. One guy on the forums was boasting that he'd managed to secure 40 parrots that day. FORTY of them. When I'd finished shaking my head and wondering quite how he'd managed to do this, I started to consider what could possibly have motivated him to spend his time trying to hoard 40 parrots. And just to be clear, this guy is far from alone in behaving like this - people the length and breadth of the country do seem to be relishing the opportunity to pick up ridiculous numbers of these sets.

Set 30021 Parrot - you can seemingly never have too many of these....

So hoarding these promo sets is clearly endemic, then, but why ? Well, you only need to look on right now to see where at least some of these promo sets are ending up - on sale. Some for a pittance, others for a laughably high price, eBay is currently flooded with these sets, so simple opportunism, and the ability to make a bit of money, is as usual one of the major motivators. Other individuals sell off the parts that these sets contain via Bricklink or elsewhere.

But what of those individuals who get hold of multiple sets and don't sell any of them ? What's their motivation ? Well, some of them raid the sets for the parts they contain, to use in their own LEGO creations (MOCs).

Set 7808 Yellow Airplane - another 2010 Daily Mirror giveaway

This however leaves the final group - those people who get loads of sets, don't sell them, and don't even open them for parts. These are the true hoarders, those tortured individuals who, if given the opportunity, will continue to accumulate sets until they eventually drown under the weight. I've written about these hoarding tendencies in a previous blog posting and would be willing to bet that a fair proportion of people fall into this category.

Set 30012 Microlight - part of the October 2010 promotion

So thanks again to the Daily Mirror for feeding our lust for LEGO, and also for filling the eBay LEGO listings.....


  1. Anonymous31/10/10

    Saw the 'MOC' link to your Glossary. Have you considered linking to pages in the Tabletown Bricktionary ( instead?

  2. @iadams : thanks for the link and the suggestion, but in a word, no. I try to use relatively few abbreviations on here, and as such can keep the glossary short and sweet rather than subjecting people to an encyclopaedia.

  3. Jabba the Taff31/10/10

    The assistance from WHS staff can vary. In my local, most of the staff are now rigorous about at least crossing out the voucher in the paper. And I think it depends a lot on the size of the store, the few times I've got a promo set from a large WHS they've had loads of boxes behind the counter. But my local has had one box of each and has run out by 10:30 each morning. I would like to see some sort of consistency between stores.
    Also, I do wish more people would look on them as a nice little bonus. Maybe get a spare or two, but 40?!!!

  4. Man, that's a brilliant promotion if I've ever heard one. I'd be liable to subscribe to some papers over here if I knew I could actually take something away from 'em...

  5. I think I single handedly make up for at least a dozen hoarders as a MOCer.

  6. Anonymous16/5/11

    The Sun is currently running a Lego promo and i've noticed that a seller on E bay has sets for sale that haven't even been released yet. He has photos of them and claims he will post them out the day they are available in Smiths or TRU. How is he getting them before anyone else???

  7. Anonymous31/7/12

    wait a minute - 40? That's just mean.