For reasons that will go unmentioned, I’ve been tracking the price of the Lego Strata/Creator 1000-piece tub. Last week, you could purchase this tub at Walmart, Toys-R-Us, Amazon and a bunch of online toy stores for $14.99. Over the course of the last two days, the price at every single one of these places has jumped to $19.99 or $20.99. Froogle is still listing some $14.99s this morning, but those are cached. Walmart was the last to fall, some time between midnight last night and 10am this morning. Actually, Stewart Toys is still holding the line somewhat at $17.99, but that site looks a little shady to me. Then again, they do put forth a novel story: they’re an online toy seller that turned into a brick and mortar toy store in Oklahoma. I’d be more convinced if they had pictures.
You might be tempted to cry “price fixing!” And if you did, I would applaud you. But this kind of fixing… um, gouging… um, exploitation… um, “value perception uptick response” is completely consistent with market economics. Because if you’ve ever tried to buy Lego around the holidays (as I have–again, don’t ask), you’ll notice that the shelves go bare right around… well, today, actually. You can get the $199 bio-mega-mecha-transformer-T-1000 Lego chopper-moonbase up until Christmas Eve, but the plain old block sets, the ones that don’t need instructions because you can make whatever the hell you want out of them, those are gone.
I can expand this observation into my general theory of Christmas shopping: if you haven’t completed it before Thanksgiving, you’re totally screwed.
Update: Here’s one solution to the expensive Lego problem: just make up your own price!