The Inconsistency Of Australian LEGO Prices [Updated]

LEGO Money

In case you missed it 10245 Santa’s Workshop was officially announced over the weekend. It’s a great looking set and it is surely going to sell well, but after taking in all of the details there was one thing that stuck out in the press release; the Australian price of $119.99.

We are used to paying more for LEGO in Australia, and we all know that there are a lot of different reasons for this. What is harder to explain is the inconsistency in the mark-up that Australian consumers are charged.

To highlight the issue we had a look at a selection of sets. The criteria for our list was sets that were release recently and in a similar price range to 10245 Santa’s Workshop. We also made sure to include a mix of licensed and non-licensed sets.

Set #
Set Name
Theme
Licensed
$US
Converted
$AU
Markup
10245Santa's WorkshopCreatorNo$69.99$82.96$119.9945%
21109Exo SuitIdeasNo$34.99$41.48$49.9921%
60050Train StationCityNo$64.99$77.04$79.994%
42023Construction CrewTechnicNo$69.99$82.96$99.9921%
70147Sir Fangar's Ice FortressChimaNo$69.99$82.96$99.9921%
70164Hurricane HeistUltra AgentsNo$69.99$82.96$89.998%
75052Mos Eisley CantinaStar WarsYes$69.99$82.96$129.9957%
79116Big Rig Snow GetawayTMNTYes$69.99$82.96$129.9957%
76021The Milano Spaceship RescueGuardians of The GalaxyYes$74.99$88.89$129.9946%
42024Container TruckTechnicNo$79.99$94.82$99.995%
70815Super Secret Police DropshipThe LEGO MovieYes$79.99$94.82$119.9927%

Converted prices listed above use the formula of adding 10% tax to the US price and then converting that to $AU using the current rate on XE.com (as of 11/08/2014).

As you can see from the table above, the mark-up that Australian consumers pay varies wildly.

  • The Ultra Agents set and Chima set have different mark-ups, even though they are both priced at $69.99 in the US and are an original LEGO product.
  • The Star Wars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have a 57% mark-up, while the Guardians of The Galaxy only have a 46% price increase.
  • LEGO only impose a 4% premium on 60050 Train Station but the new Santa’s Workshop set has a whopping 45% mark-up, which is on par with a licensed set.
  • The mark-up varies within the same theme; 42024 Container Truck has only has a 5% increase, while 42023 has a 21% increase. Two consecutive set numbers, but a big difference in mark-up.

We aren’t going as far as to say that Australian consumers should be paying the straight converted price (there are a lot of other market factors), but I think we would all prefer for the premium that we pay to be more consistent. If LEGO can offer a small 4% mark-up on one City set, why is 10245 priced so highly? One possible answer is that LEGO is predicting a fall in the Australian dollar over the next few months, but then again 76023 The Tumbler is not released until September, and that only has an 18% mark-up (despite being a licensed set).

UPDATE After sharing this story with the Australian LEGO community it was suggested that we should look at some other metrics to try and find a pattern for the pricing. We were able to find weight information for most of the sets that we included in the comparison. Weight is a great metric to use for this sort of comparison, as larger sets costs more to produce and ship. Logic would dictate that heavier sets would have a higher mark-up to cover the increased cost of shipping those items to Australia. We chose weight over part count as part size varies greatly.

To simplify things slightly we have dropped any of the licensed sets for this comparison as the pricing of licensed sets has additional factors such as commercial agreements with third parties.

Set #
Set Name
Theme
$US
Converted
$AU
Markup
Weight
21109Exo SuitIdeas$34.99$41.48$49.9921%380g
60050Train StationCity$64.99$77.04$79.994%1221g
42023Construction CrewTechnic$69.99$82.96$99.9921%1060g
70147Sir Fangar's Ice FortressChima$69.99$82.96$99.9921%1139g
70164Hurricane HeistUltra Agents$69.99$82.96$89.998%2003g
42024Container TruckTechnic$79.99$94.82$99.995%1370g

Now that we have seen the figures, is there a logical pattern emerging? Not that we can see…

  • The heaviest set has the second lowest mark-up.
  • The second heaviest set has the lowest mark-up.
  • The lightest set has the same mark-up as one three times it’s weight.
  • 42024 Container Truck is heavier than fellow Technic set 42023 Construction Crew but has the much lower mark-up.
  • There is only an 82 gram difference between the weight of 60050 Train Station (4% mark-up) and 70147 Sir Fangar’s Ice Fortress (21% mark-up)

Weight information obtained via bricklink.com

11 Responses to The Inconsistency Of Australian LEGO Prices [Updated]

  1. Joel Finch says:

    I know S@H delivers individually, but the bulk stuff they get in for the department stores can’t be sent in one box at a time, surely? So weight’s a factor in postage, but I don’t think LEGO sets are blowing out the weight limit on shipping containers.

    Is there any pattern to the box sizes? Maybe they can fit more of some sets in a shipping container because of the box, and thus get more of them here cheaper?

    • Michael says:

      We had a look at box volume, but it didn’t show anything that we hadn’t confirmed with the weight data.

    • MrBadger says:

      S@h doesn’t deliver individually for me. They pack what they can into boxes. In one case they had polybag sandwiched between 2 other lego boxes in one box I got. Only exception is pick a brick where order always comes separately.

      • Joel Finch says:

        Sorry, should have been clearer – what I meant was that S@H orders are sent individually to each person, rather than waiting until they fill a shipping container.

        • MrBadger says:

          OK :) There is a return address in Sydney so wonder if some of the items are bulk shipped to there and repacked rather than always coming direct from Europe?

  2. glendo says:

    crosscheck a range. city vs SW sets etc.

  3. Niki says:

    Not to be nit-picky, but Santa’s Workshop in technically Creator, not City.

    Before reading the comments, I was also going to suggest looking at volumetric weight, as I know that’s the measurement used for calculating shipping costs by a freight forwarder I have previously used in tandem with a US mailing address. Volumetric weight certainly increases the calculated weight of LEGO compared to it’s actual weight, but as mentioned above, it probably doesn’t really alter the results of your weight analysis, as the size of the box would generally increase at a similar rate to the weight.

    This might be a bit off-tangent, but I struggle to reconcile how S@H can charge a premium for shipping if the shipping weight is also a factor in the general mark up of sets between USD & AUD. If you consider that Santa’s Workshop is essentially a S@H exclusive here in Aus, and the S@H shipping charge for that order value category is $35.00, the set is actually going to cost $154.99. In contrast, the US site charges $8.95 shipping for a $69.99 set, so if my maths is right, the markup blows out to nearly 66%!

  4. Joel Finch says:

    I did some more numbers based on box volume and you’re right, there’s no particular pattern.

    I am now suggesting in all seriousness that the local pricing is determined by how cool the local rep thinks the box looks. Take a look at the box images yourself – the licensed movie sets and the ones with clear action and robots are higher priced. The train stuff, the duller coloured Ultra Agents box, anything where the model isn’t immediately very clear as to what it is – all are low priced.

    I’m pretty sure we’re paying for someone’s assessment of “WOW” factor.

  5. lambertia says:

    Hi.

    I think you should repeat the experiment with the UK store. For example the cantina is £64.99 which converts to 115.52. So from that we have a small markup. I have read on the WP forum that USA sets are sourced from Mexico. Ours are sourced from Europe.

    So yes we are paying a lot more but for the complete picture I think you need to compare to Europe as well.

    • Michael says:

      Thanks for the idea. There is certainly more to investigate. I am in the process of pulling some data together for part 2 of this story.

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