Marketing budget for Chima runs into millions

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ChimaActually, I made that headline up, but surely the money being spent on marketing the theme must be astronomical, and is probably unprecedented for LEGO.

This week, the Legends of Chima microsite launched, and very nice it is too. As well as all the the designer videos, promotional videos, Speedorz tutorials and so on, it has a cool selection of desktop wallpapers and posters, although why they insist on only producing the wallpapers in 4:3 format when surely everyone now has widescreen 16:9 monitors is a mystery.

Also this week, three video games were announced: a mini game for LEGO.com and iOS, one for Nintendo 3DS and PSP Vita, and a free-to-play online game. You can read the press release at Model Building Secrets.

Furthermore, according to that site, the TV series will be starting on Cartoon Network on 16th January (in the USA, in the UK we won't get to see it). View the trailer at LEGO.com. And that's not all. There's even a music video (which is not to my taste at all) but which must have cost a few bob to pull together.

Speedorz iOS game Anyway, back to the video games. I downloaded the iOS game Speedorz yesterday. I was expecting great things but I was disappointed.

It's a pretty standard pick-things-up-while-racing game, and it looks good enough but unfortunately the steering is accomplished by pressing the left and right arrows on the screen! This makes it pretty much unbearable to play given every other racing game uses tilt-to-steer. You can give the vehicle a boost by swiping down on the rip-cord on the right, but it's difficult to do so while steering. So great concept, but poorly executed.

I haven't tried the online version as it needs a hefty plug-in to play it by the looks of things.

The other thing of interest in the video games press release, is that one of the games is going to be a MMOG:. "In autumn 2013, LEGO Legends of Chima Online, a free-to-play, online world developed by WB Games Montréal, will provide kids with a safe and incredibly immersive connected game experience. Players will be able to build and customize their kingdom in the world of Chima, explore massive environments like the Falling Leaves Forest, take on missions to help Laval and his friends, uncover hidden secrets and treasures, earn rewards, and use LEGO bricks to build weapons, gadgets, and more!"

Do you get a sense of deja vu reading that? Let's hope the lessons learnt from the failure of LEGO Universe have been applied to this and that it doesn't end up being another expensive flop. I can see one lesson has been addressed already: it's free to play...

So, what do you make of all this? Way over the top, or money well spent?

43 comments on this article

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By in United States,

Eh...with their prices being as they've always been, i think they can afford high-budget advertising. I don't think they had that much of a problem with Ninjago anyway, and Hero Factory is doing well just as Bionicle was...i think, but it definitely isn't failing.

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By in United Kingdom,

The majority of the sets are not bad, but I am afraid that if one were to collect them all, in a year or so you will be left with a whole load of unwanted sets which are not selling on the aftermarket for all that much.

However, I think all of these marketing ploys will appeal to the target market so the sales of these sets should be good. I imagine this will be another winner for Lego as lions, gorillas and eagles fighting crocodiles, ravens and wolves is surely something which boys aged between 6 and 12 would enjoy? I know I would have.

I am not sure if I prefer this or Ninjago, the game element is certainly far more dynamic and fun in Legends of Chima, but I think the Ninjago sets were superior personally.

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By in United Kingdom,

I'm guessing the band are Danish? But you do get to see a few shots of the gorilla clan, which makes me wonder if they'll re-use the CMF gorilla mask with new printing.

The focus on the computer game aspects does smack of previous failure, but I'm sure they've learnt and changed things from previous efforts (namely that the online game seems to be free, and tie-in to an existing theme).

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By in United States,

By the looks of things though, the MMOG won't feature true brick building as much as just organizing Pre-built model segments. I view that as pretty disappointing. At least that means the program some of my friends and I have been working on won't go to waste... http://www.brickbuild.org/brick-build.html

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By in United Kingdom,

^ Brickipedia, if you look closely betwen the myriad of ugly adverts, seems to have found rhinos and bears from somewhere, too. http://lego.wikia.com/wiki/Legends_of_Chima.

I guess that's the beauty of the theme: more and more species can be drawn into the story as the conflict escalates over the coming years.

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By in United States,

LEGO Universe slight remake? 5 minutes ago: "Ah, Chima, another theme down the dump." Now: "CHIMA... LU... TIE WITH BIONICLE BABY!!!!!!!!!

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By in United States,

Certainly a hard sell in the January Lego catalog: Heavy paper Chima overwrap with an ad for the TV show, a fold out poster in the center, first four pages all on Chima, and a Chima polybag for free with orders over $75.

All wasted on me, personally.

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By in United States,

Chima MMO could end badly…
But wow TLG has been putting aton of work into Chima.

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By in Canada,

I'm not the least bit interested in the Legends of Chima but it will be a big hit for its target demographic - 6 to 12 year old boys. There are a lot of City and Super Heroes sets coming out this year that I'm interested in, not to mention the exclusives or Creator Expert as they're now called. I thought 2013 would be a down year for LEGO purchases but it looks to be another expensive year.

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By in United States,

Regarding the iOS game: even more puzzling than the arrows for steering is that I could not install it on my iPod which does not have a gyroscope.

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By in United States,

Geez, what is it with LEGO and wanting to do MMO games all the time?

It's like eating a food you're allergic to, getting sick, and saying, "Gee, if I try it again, maybe this time I won't get sick!"

MMOs aren't even that great anyway...

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By in Sweden,

Didn't lego say that Chima would be backed up by the biggest marketing campaign in the company's history?

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By in Sweden,

The news section on the microsite says that "the world of Chima has become a battleground for EIGHT animal tribes." which certainly would suggest that those bears and rhinos seen in the music video will be getting their own sets in time as well.

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By in United States,

Well all the advertising still hasn't changed my opinion that this theme is a load of crap.

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By in New Zealand,

A million gets you very little in marketing these days once you take all the channels into account. I would expect it to be well over 10 million, probably much more.

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By in Canada,

I hope it's money well spent, I don't want LEGO to have the theme flop. Not that I like the theme, but just because it's LEGO.

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By in United States,

@TooMuchLEGO: MMOs are hugely popular with a certain audience which has a decent amount of overlap with TLG's core audience. Unless there were some compelling reason to believe that MMOs as a platform are less compatible with LEGO than, say, cartoons and single-player video games, then there's no reason TLG wouldn't keep attempting them.

I don't really care for MMOs at all myself (hardly have the attention span for video games in general, to be perfectly honest), but that doesn't mean I'm just going to dismiss something a lot of people are passionate about as worthless. And neither should TLG.

The failure of LEGO Universe was disappointing but frankly it's a bad idea for any company to have an attitude of "because we couldn't make this work the first time, it must be impossible to make it work".

@mars4life: A lot of people could have said the same thing about Life On Mars. Just because a theme doesn't appeal to everyone doesn't mean it doesn't have redeeming value. Personally, I think the Chima sets and story are brilliant, though I'm still debating how much and how soon I want to invest in the theme. It doesn't seem like the kind of theme I'd dislike but it also doesn't seem like the kind of theme where I'll be kicking myself later if I don't get into it right away.

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By in Canada,

*Flush*

That's the sound of money Lego will never see again.

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By in United States,

My munckins and I saw the ads between Dragon Riders of Berk. "It's like Ninjago, but different." I'm still not excited, but I am pretty sure we will all get sucked in once we see the series. I'll have to preview it before the kiddos watch it; Lego has always made great programs appealing to all ages. I am however very excited to see Lego's The Yoda Chronicles. Here is a link I found to the Yoda preview http://starwars.lego.com/en-us/Movies/Default.aspx

Yoda Chronicles premiers 01/11/2013 on Cartoon Network.

As for the sets I never thought they had any wow for me either, but I must say the minifigs are have grown in appeal to me with the reviews.

-I really didn't want to buy into another theme... grr... curse you LEGO marketing!

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By in United States,

When I was setting up for NYCC I met one of the people who do Lego's trade show booths and such and he was stoked about China, told me they were working on huge projects for it. I really like what I've gotten so far, great sets.

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By in United States,

I believe the money is very well spent, while ninjago is on a hiatus, Chima is scheduled to take its place, that means replacing ninjago's animated show on TV with an animated Chima show, creating all of the site and behind the scenes looks along with tutorials for speedorz in replace of spinners, and getting the rest of the kids attentions away from ninjago to the new theme of lego with mass advertising. It may be costly, but necessary to keep focus on lego while ninjago is taking a break. This also brings along the thought of adding new characters to the theme while time goes by, extra armour for the ninjas and color change along with more gold weapons, but in Chima, more 'chi' power and different species of animals like Huw mentioned above in the news (rhinos and bears and such) the universe of chima will bring attention to it, and to keep children preoccupied with lego while the threats of techonology and video games loom to them, lego shall bring chima into the virtual world, a very strong move, so that not only will the kids want to buy the sets, the games shall clamp them on too. So, in brief, the money is defenitely not being wasted

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By in Canada,

Legends of Chima was immediately more appealing to me than Ninjago. I can't deny the popularity of Ninjago — it's certainly a massive hit with its target market — but for me, the cool animal characters trump the multicolored ninjas.

However, like Ninjago, Legends of Chima sets themselves don't really speak to me and I'll likely be content to pick up smaller sets with key minifigs. Oh well, as long as these new themes continue to drive the development of new bricks and new colors, I'm a happy fellow. :D

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By in United States,

Ninjago never appealed to me. However, for some crazy reason, I really like the Chima minifigures and the animal theme. (Maybe I'm more of a 6-12 year old inside than I thought). Some of the new parts for Chima are also very appealing to MOCers (wings, etc.). And there are bears and rhinos coming? Cool! It's like Fabuland with weapons!

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By in Canada,

I understand that Lego really needs to promote their never been seen or heard of new theme, however what will say 2016 and 17 look like if Lego throws all of their current investments into a theme that if follows in Ninjago's footsteps will barely make it to the dawn of 2015 and possibly not be successful at all. Hopefully it is successful and earns Lego some money back because even though I do not like this theme and don't want anything to do with it, I really don't want to see my all-time favourite toy company crash and burn because of silly Chima.

Go strong but don't last long please Chima.

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By in United States,

I really don't know... LEGO has put so much into it. They're really betting on it selling well. This might go like Ninjago did, or it might only be a one/two-year theme, which would cost LEGO seeing the amount of promotion they've given to the new theme. The sets are decent, the minifigures different from practically all previous ones for this targeted age group (which could go either way for LEGO), and it's heavily promoted. I am actually feeling better about it now than I was originally after seeing the catalog/CLUB magazine. Shows what a little good promotion can do, though I doubt I'll get that many sets. As for overall popularity and commercial success, only time will tell.

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By in United States,

Lego is a billion dollar company. Losing a few million on a bad gamble on Chima (which almost definitely won't happen) is not going to bankrupt the company.

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By in United States,

@Lego613Master - brilliant. Ingenious. Now if we could convince them to do it ...

Honestly, if Chima keeps Lego afloat financially, things will be okay. But why does Chima have to be the new Lego lifesaver????

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By in United States,

I was at the Lake Buena Vista LEGO store last night and plenty of Chima stuff was heading off the shelves and out the door. The staff had work aprons that had CHIMA stitched in 6" letters on it. As a classic Lego fan I am very biased toward City, Castle and Trains and my only concern is that they are moving away from the themes that are the brand's foundation and focusing too mush on licensed or specialty themes.

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By in United States,

Looking at everything for Chima, i feel they are going over the top a
Little. But it may get the exposure out there for people who may never
like Lego or buy it. I can't blame them for trying an mmo again. If i was a kid
still China would be on my wish list. I may pick up a few for the minifigs.
But I'm still such s big space fan all my budget goes to that.

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By in Israel,

Its just the winged characters that interested me, mainly ;)

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By in Canada,

I happen to think Chima is a lot worse than NinjaGo. My one complaint, dating back to NinjaGo, was that (without seeing the show I guess) I couldn't possibly understand all the Skeleton and Snake vehicles. It's not that I have no imagination or that I don't recognize how well built they actually were, it's just that they didn't seem to fit well with my collection because I couldn't relate with what they were. Chima is everything I hated about NinjaGo. It has ALL its sets as themed vehicles (yuck), and the Spinners have just been replaced by some even more expensive Bike looking things. I knew Lego had a market to fill when they said they were winding down with NinjaGo, but I was hoping they'd go a different direction... more in the area of dragons and airships, as opposed to vehicles with themed faces. If they'd given us something which felt more like fantasy, and not science fiction, I would've been much happier. Lego could've branched into some more interesting designs by doing something related to mythology (Norse, Greek, etc) or even doing steampunk.

As for the Chima figures, yeah they look like fun. My '2011' ended a long time ago, so I don't purchase a set based only on whether I want the minifigures. That's how I ended up with a closet full of sealed boxes, $1000 over budget, and a very bad annual buyer's remorse. I'll be damned if I end up purchasing more than two sets for anything over 20% off.

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By in United States,

Guys, I can guarantee that TLG isn't making any wagers on Chima lasting more than two or three years. Obviously they'll be hoping it can last longer, but they're not going to invest a bunch now that they don't expect to see pay off in the short term.

Think of BIONICLE. It's initial plans were for the first story arc to conclude in 2001 if it proved necessary, then later they left the option open of wrapping up in 2003. Similarly, Hero Factory was planned for a three-year run, but the designers were prepared to extend it further if sales remained strong. Even Ninjago was planned for a conclusion after 2012 or 2013, yet was extended on account of its groundbreaking sales and viewership numbers.

Longevity isn't something that can be invested in in advance very effectively. Granted, there are ways to leave the option of a long-term commitment open, like designing molds that can remain useful and versatile for years to come rather than making them very specialized in function. But a strong marketing budget for a theme's initial year isn't a way of planning for permanence. It just guarantees the theme won't come and go without being noticed by its intended audience, and that those who do begin to follow the theme will stick around for the ride. It's not going to ensure that the theme will have long-term appeal, though, because that will hinge on how well the theme can meet the expectations of a changing audience year after year.

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By in United Kingdom,

It seems odd that the iPad game doesn't use tilt steering as I've just tried to install it on an iPad 1 and it refuses because of the lack of a gyroscope.

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By in United Kingdom,

I got the game free took 60 seconds to download but won't let me go on it looks so good though i really want it.

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By in United States,

the "hefty plug-in" is worth it, let me tell you.

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By in Slovakia,

what for they not relese that game for android too

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By in Germany,

You just have to look at the LEGO.com homepage to see how much effort they are putting into it: It's covered top-to-bottom with Chima links. :P

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By in United Kingdom,

Looks like they're at least a week late launching this site, as they've been promoting these sets to buy in emails since the very beginning of the year.

The biggest difference it seems to me about the MMO is that they've clearly stated it's to promote a current line of toys, rather than spending years tugging it one way then the other, trying to decide whether it should stand on its own and take payments or not. One hopes the game framework could be re-used for other themes. And hopefully it's a less bug-ridden system than LU.

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By in United Kingdom,

DOESN'T WORK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!STUPID GAME!

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By in United States,

I'd like to point out that it's "PS Vita" not "PSP Vita".

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