LEGO breaks own embargo by selling Treehouse ahead of its announcement

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In a bizarre turn of events, Beyond the Brick has posted this image on Instagram showing that LEGO is selling the as-yet-unannounced 21318 Tree House on its stand at San Diego Comic Con, thus breaking its own embargo.

We are anticipating being able to publish the press release, the official pictures and our review next week, unless sense prevails in the meantime. What with this, and it being sold in LEGOLAND Discovery Centres already, it won't be worth doing so at this rate...

64 comments on this article

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By in United States,

The best part of a new Lego product launch is seeing how they still manage to find new ways to screw it up. Always good for a laugh!

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By in Netherlands,

@Huw, seeing a review published immediately after the announcement leaves a bad taste in my mouth. You have the news and even the set, but you're supposed to sit on it. At least with games, you know about the game already, but the reviews are typically embargod until release.

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By in Slovenia,

Embargo was for publishing review, not for selling the set. There may be embargo on that too, but it could be different date for different sellers. Comic Con could have exclusive on that for now.

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By in United Kingdom,

@Cwetqo - The announcement of the set remains under embargo so it definitely should not be sold before next week. Evidently there was some breakdown in communication between different departments, hence its availability at San Diego Comic-Con.

Sets becoming available early is understandable as stores sometimes receive them before their announcement and it only takes one staff member making a mistake to put them on sale. However, in this instance there must have been an active decision, made by someone relatively senior, to sell 21318-1 Treehouse at the convention. Presumably that individual was either unaware of the embargo or simply decided to ignore it.

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By in United Kingdom,

According to information the fan designer signing of the set will take place on Friday, July 26, 2019, from 3 to 6 pm in the LEGO Store Saarbrücken and the VIP pre-sale for the set should start on the 24th of July and be available on the 1st of August 2019

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By in United Kingdom,

@rslotb, we do as we are told: reviews can go live when the press release does. We could wait until release but by then it would be old news and everyone will have read reviews elsewhere.

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By in France,

Product release embargos are about building suspense prior to the official announcement.

But as Oscar WIlde observed "There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about"... product leaks drum up early interest/speculation..

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By in Malaysia,

Is that a Lego stand though, or a Legoland stand? Looks like a Legoland one from the Beyond the Brick photos on Instagram, which could be why they're selling it.

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By in United States,

@Huw, I wouldn't worry about being first! I ran a review site for years in another field and was seldom first to review anything; but people liked the way my reviewers handled their job and read our reviews anyway. And commented prodigiously and supported my site economically. I would certainly wait to read your review over any number of competing sites' reviews!

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By in United Kingdom,

^^ BtB states it's LEGO selling it.

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By in Germany,

I mean it is not like every carton does not have a stamp in red that says "Do not put on shelf before $Releasedate" or anything...
It is not really important though, is it?

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By in United Kingdom,

Can't you say the review is from a guest reviewer named Sebastian Diego Carlos Cruz and he bought it direct from LEGO at SDCC.

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By in United States,

Nver underestimate LEGO's ability to screw things up.

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By in United States,

Looks great.

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By in Belgium,

@huw you do as you are told? Not really an independent site with independent reviews... But then again, its all about the money and free sets..

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By in United States,

@tomenadi, that's an awfully ignorant thing to say. They're respecting Legos embargos that they've put in place. We can question why they have embargos, but there's nothing wrong with respecting what the company wants. Brickset provides a very valuable service to you by working with Lego. That's why they get interviews with designers and reviews right away. They could ignore what Lego wants, and then not be sent sets for reviews and not be asked to participate in AFOL programs. Is that what you would want? Nobody benefits from them not respecting what Lego wants, regardless of what you think is going on.

I'm not sure why you are here if that's your opinion of things.

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By in United States,

From what I was told, when I contacted the LDC in Grapevine, was that the sets were immediately pulled from the shelf after that first was accidentally sold (and went viral online). It was an in-store (employee) mistake in putting them out for sale when they did. Otherwise I would have made the 3 hours drive to go buy a couple.

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By in United Kingdom,

@monkyby87, thank you, that pretty much sums it up.

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By in United States,

@Huw Since the only reviews I read are on Brickset, please don't skip a review because you're not the first!

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By in United States,

Regardless of when the set is unleashed upon the masses, I shall read my review here on Brickset and will wait until Christmas to buy. After the sorted mess/master plan I put into place for obtaining a large set during Amazon Prime I'm off of buying big sets until Christmas anyway. I believe it's called LEGO Shoppers' Jail...

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By in United Kingdom,

It seems quite a strange choice of set to sell at a comic con. It has nothing to do with comic books, movies or their characters for a start. Plus it is fairly large so not great for anyone travelling to the convention. It seems the only thing exciting about it at the moment is that it is not meant to be sold. Surely most people would hold off and buy it when it is easier to get it home.

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By in United Kingdom,

Generally its always better to play fair. Respect for each other scores brownie points. And points means prizes! When did doing and saying what ever you want win votes in this world? ... ... ..... ....... .......................................................

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By in United States,

@Phathead, them selling to the "scalpers" doesn't apply here because it will be on sale elsewhere for everyone. It's not an exclusive to the convention, so them selling early to them really doesn't affect much, aside from upsetting you for whatever reason. It's a weird situation, them selling at the convention before any announcement, but it's not a huge deal. It's not as if this happening has somehow prevented everyone else from buying it later on down the road.

I do agree that the new VIP program was changed for the worse and isn't as consumer-friendly as the old system. But I strongly disagree with your "royally screwed over" sentiment. Inconvenienced, absolutely. But not screwed over.

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By in Germany,

But the embargo TLG set on this set's review is just for the copy they sent out for free. If somebody of the brickset team went to SDCC and bought the set, you could review it today.

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By in United Kingdom,

^ Yes, indeed.

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By in United Kingdom,

^^ As noted earlier, I'm fairly sure guest reviewer Sebastian Diego Carlos Cruz was there.

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By in United States,

I could have tried to make it there, but the drive’s a little long for me!

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By in United States,

They had the yet to be announced Aquaman set available at SDCC last year.

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By in United Kingdom,

That was a regular retail set though, with no stated embargo or press release scheduled.

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By in United States,

The reddish brown (I think?) looks a lot less realistic than the dark brown used in the original build. Other than that, it looks fairly similar. I wonder why they chose to change the color?

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By in United States,

@shikadi: Dark Brown is one of the darkest colors Lego has other than black. I imagine Lego might have opted for Reddish Brown both because more useful parts exist in that color already, and because it shows detail much better than Dark Brown in a wider range of lighting. Some of the pictures of the original model on Lego Ideas were certainly hard to make out detail on, and looked more foreboding than inviting.

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By in United States,

@Lyichir, I agree about the color. The dark brown from the original model was a little too dark for my tastes and wasn't very exciting. This is definitely a more pleasant themed set.

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By in United States,

I usually ignore all the paid/sponsored reviews that are released the minute the announcement drops (though I do check the set photos). I actually prefer this.

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By in United Kingdom,

We don't get paid to post reviews and they are never 'sponsored'. We are provided with sets ahead of time occasionally, but we are certainly not obliged to write a good review, or even any review.

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By in Belgium,

@Huw:

“We are provided with sets ahead of time occasionally, but we are certainly not obliged to write a good review, or even any review”

Ok. But since you said “we do as we are told” in regard to Lego’s wishes, what would you do if Lego would urge you to provide positive reviews on a set?

Honest question, not saying Lego would ever do that.

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By in United States,

When you say you are "provided" with the set, do you mean you purchase it early? Or you receive a fee copy? Because I absolutely consider a receiving $200+ worth of product for one review for free to be payment and/or sponsorship.

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By in United States,

@stupibea@yahoo.com, this discussion has been had many times before. Lego often sends out copies of various sets to websites and individuals as part of their AFOL program. It benefits to engage with AFOL's and their websites/communities to help promote Lego and keep people interested. Brickset isn't forced to publish reviews, and I doubt Lego even says "here's a free set, please write a review". But Brickset, and many, many other websites do indeed publish reviews as a service to the community. They have often published reviews of sets they bought themselves, simply because they like Lego. As we all do (though I question it sometimes with the negative posts people make). They aren't being paid or sponsored or anything close to that. I know you, for some reason, think that way, but it's not true. Call me an apologist or fanboy, but Brickset and many other websites are an invaluable resource to the Lego community. Lego may hope they publish a review, positive or negative, but they aren't required to.

But if you don't like how Lego or Brickset does things, create your own website.

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By in United Kingdom,

@Legorides - LEGO does not seek to dictate the content of reviews and such instructions would be ignored. There is a considerable difference between adhering to embargos and following theoretical guidance for the content of our reviews. The latter situation would be unacceptable while the former is simply a courtesy to LEGO, the creators of a product we all appreciate.

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By in United States,

I don't see how stuff like this is not supposed to leave a sour taste in my mouth, especially when it happens with such (increasing) regularity. Plenty of longtime fans are waiting to buy this, but can't yet, because it's not supposed to be released. Nothing wrong with that. I personally have a lot of people waiting for me to show this and give my thoughts, but I can't buy it either. Again, that's basic, fundamental, a non-issue. Brickset has the set in hand, built, but can't even show a teaser photo of it on Twitter, under threat of receiving a swift nastygram from the company and the potential of removal from the Recognized LEGO Fan Media program entirely. That's just how the deal works, and all members have to abide equally. They have to wait until the official announcement of the product. This is all above-board.

Meanwhile, now three (as far as I've seen) retail locations have put the product out for sale to anyone who stops by to flip on eBay for $400+ USD*, one location being an official LEGO store at a LEGOLAND location, another set up and run directly by LEGO itself.

Huw & Brickset team, please do continue to highlight this hypocrisy and scalper-perpetuating behavior to LEGO. I know plenty of employees are regular readers. I also know it must be exasperating to have your own hands tied by the terms of RLFM when members of the general public who happen to be in one or another specific geographical location randomly get unfettered access to "unreleased" products with no restrictions whatsoever.

*Three sold at this level from California SDCC so far, plus one last week in Texas.

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By in United States,

So apparently the set has been pulled and an employee said it was there by mistake... how does that even happen?

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By in Netherlands,

I'm eagerly awaiting for this to be officially released so i can get it into my hands, i've been looking forward to it since they approved it. Hopefully Lego steps up their professionalism a serious amount because stuff like this is way too amateuristic for such a big company, especially when you combine it with their continued IT problems everytime they do something with their website.

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By in United States,

@Paperballpark:
From what I understood in the more fiasco-ey years past, the LEGO booth at SDCC is supplied by The LEGO Company, and staffed by LEGOLAND. This helps explain how TLC could be protesting that they couldn't possibly be rigging the minifig giveaways, even while FBTB needed three articles to explain all the underhanded dirty-dealing that was witnessed in 2014 (from someone posting a photo of a bag full of dozens of The Collector a day before it was even given out, to line staff making sure to only give one child per family a winning ticket while giving every other child and every adult a ticket from a separate supply of losing tickets). So, they didn't lie. TLC couldn't possibly rig the system because they handed it off to someone else to run as they saw fit. I think the iPad system was rolled out the very next year.

@tomenadi:
I ran a site for a few years back in the early '00's. We didn't get sent free sets (well, I did get the entire first wave of Galidor characters sent to me, but otherwise I think I only got one free Rahkshi). It gets expensive to buy everything and review it, so getting advance review copies is a huge deal. But you don't get any if you blatantly violate their conditions. You can post bad reviews, and that's fine. But you can't break the embargo or you're done.

@CCC:
It's a perfect set to sell at SDCC. The only thing they're going for there is moving as many bodies through the LEGO booth as they possibly can, and any set that has not been released is going to generate traffic. That's also why they keep stabbing their customers in the heart with these exclusive minifigs. They don't care that most of them are flipped on eBay before they even leave the building. They don't care if fan backlash causes them to actually skip buying sets because a single minifig from the same theme was given out at SDCC, or to simply give up buying any LEGO sets ever again. All they care about his how long the line is so they can prove the booth was a "success".

@Legozebra:
Slopping programming. I've heard of Target putting sets out early, only for them to ring up as being street-dated and unable to be sold. All you have to do is actually put in some work on the front end, and the system will prevent you from carrying through on a mistake like this. No, it won't keep you from shelving them, but you won't be able to sell them. The thing is, LEGOLAND has operated a bit outside of LEGO Brand Retail's sphere of influence. If they couldn't get TRU and Walmart and Target to abide by street dates, it's not surprising that they can't get LEGOLAND to either. However, with the recent change in ownership, it's entirely possible the LEGOLAND park system could be tied more closely to LBR, and that could result in some major changes in the way they operate. We shall see.

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By in Serbia,

Sites that receive advance copies to review have to send a report to TLG within a certain deadline including a link to the review itself, or risk not receiving future advance copies. So, while writing reviews is not *mandatory*, it's encouraged ;)

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By in Turkey,

I think it's due to poor scheduling on Lego's part. Maybe they should have announced the set before SDCC.

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By in Netherlands,

My two cents: TLG is run by people and people make mistakes. Some of them seem structural (S@H/stocking issues to name one) and I wish TLG would address them. But then there's the kind of mistakes that happen because of unfortunate coincidence, misunderstanding, a 'crack' in one single link in the enormous chain that is TLG (or that TLG relies on). Yes, these mistakes can be frustrating but in this case, does anybody get penalized? Worst case an ignorant consumer* will spent too much money for a set that (and this is my main point) will soon be available to everybody!

* and I think the chance of these buyers being ignorant consumers is next to nil…

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By in Malaysia,

The other possibility of course, is that as a huge company, one part of the Lego group simply has no clue what another part of the group is doing. You may scoff that this could happen, but I've seen companies a lot smaller than Lego where the arse has no idea what the elbow is doing.

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By in United Kingdom,

@Paperballpark I noticed your Brickset country has changed. Is this now official?

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By in United Kingdom,

@ Huw and the Brickset team,
please keep on with the reveiws even if they are "late" I love to come on here and check out your thoughts about a set before I buy it. If you've got to wait then thats fair enough, I'd rather wait and get a genuine opinion from you you guys than a rushed one from anywhere else.
Thanks so much for all your hard work :)

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By in United States,

@Sammael, I suppose if a copy is sent for the sole intention of making a review, then I can understand them wanting a report. But in this case, Lego sends out copies without requiring a review. It's merely sent as a goodwill and AFOL engagement gesture. They probably anticipate a review will come out, but again it's not mandatory.

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By in Serbia,

@monkyby87 - how do you know which category this falls into? I understood (from another registered media source) that all these advanced copies of big reveals are sent for review purposes. Maybe I was told wrong...

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By in United States,

@Sammael, in this comment section alone Huw and CapnRex101 have said that the copies they get are not sent for review purposes. Lego sends them probably assuming they'll get reviewed, but there is no obligation to write a review. Other places may have different agreements, but Brickset does not.

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By in United Kingdom,

If people can buy these at retail prices and sell them on including shipping and make a profit, then it shows that there must be people out there willing to pay a premium for early access. Why doesn't LEGO cash in on this? Charge people 50% over retail and they get the set 4 weeks early or 25% over retail and you get it 2 weeks early.

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By in Serbia,

@monkyby87 - I reread the comments and this is not the conclusion I've drawn. @Huw - do you report the reviews to TLG?

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By in United States,

I'm not trying to argue, but in one comment @Huw specifically says "...we are certainly not obliged to write a good review, or even any review". That indicates to me that they aren't instructed to write a review, even though Lego probably assumes they will.

But this comment section has gone way beyond the subject matter that should be at hand, which is the Lego Treehouse.

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By in United States,

lol, a year ago i lived through the very real threat of a takedown. This just makes me shake my head and know what I already knew. You can't make this stuff up.

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By in United States,

Well not sure how this info would be of interest, but my local lego store has received the treehouse set, which probably means that this set will release next Wednesday for VIP members.

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By in United Kingdom,

The sets are sent to us to review and there is an expectation that we will do so but we are not obliged to. If a set is terrible we might choose not to.

We do report back on views etc. afterwards.

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By in New Zealand,

^Has there been an instance where the set was ‘terrible’ and you have chosen not to?

Can a terrible set still have a ‘good review’?

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By in United Kingdom,

We didn't bother with all the unikitty sets we were sent. I gave them to Fairy Bricks to raise money for the charity.

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By in United States,

This is a perfect return to form for Lego, whose D2C has been up and down this year. It pairs nicely with the Old Fishing Store, Medieval Market Village, or maybe even the Ewok Village. The SDCC release is a fun surprise and one way to stick it to the counterfeiters.

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