Saturday, November 05, 2005

More Could-Be-Longer Tail: An Unusual Risk

by Tom Bozzo

In the discussion from a few months ago of the "long tail" implications of LEGO Factory (design your model using a CAD program, upload it to, then buy the custom set), Scott of Semiquark asked, "Does that mean that there will soon be a semi-official Thomas the Tank Engine with ray guns?"

At this point, my unofficial answer is no. LEGO Factory is currently limited by a risk-reducing decision to limit the assortment to the parts bags from a small number of conventional sets currently in production. So they're lengthening the tail by effectively sellng remixed components of sets, but not quite going the whole way to customization. The sets in question don't include the Thomas the Tank Engine Duplo line that my Thomas-besotted toddler knows exist yet strangely doesn't ask for fifty times a day. (They're neat, but we have three toy/model railway gauges in the house as it stands, and we don't really need a fourth.)

However, that doesn't mean there aren't some possibly unforeseen consequences for the owners of the Thomas intellectual property rights of having Thomas bricks that interlock with regular old Legos.

Behold — the rampaging Thomas-Bot (via Lugnet)!

The Thomas-Bot looks like it would need to be reprogrammed for Real Usefulness.
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