23 comments on “Barcode decoder takes the guesswork out of buying Collectible Minifigs (Series 1)

  1. Remi

    If you’ve got an Android phone, hit m.brickset.com and click ‘Barcode scan’, then scan the minifig pack; it tells you what’s inside. Easy and awesome. Works for most LEGO sets out there too.

  2. Catsy

    From what I’m given to understand, ShopSavvy for the iPhone works pretty well–if you have a 3GS. I have a 3G, and spent about half an hour at the Bellevue LS the other day trying it–and without the autofocus camera in the 3GS, it’s spotty at best.

    Thanks for posting this. I absolutely despise this kind of random “you don’t actually know what you’re going to get for your money” marketing gimmick–it’s bad for builders, bad for collectors, bad for everyone except speculators and the company who profits from it. Anything that defeats the intent of the gimmick while still driving sales to support TLC is a public service, as far as I’m concerned.

    I’m all in favor of special collectible minifigs, and I think most of them are great–but let people buy the ones they’re actually interested in.

  3. Magnus

    Isn’t this kind of against the whole idea and spirit behind something collectible? These are meant to be rare surprises, not army builder packs.

    Buy yourself some mystery packages, see what you get, trade with your friends. Of course, TLG should also have had the sense to avoid barcoding these individually – someone is always going to game the system if they can. I just don’t get why the vast majority of the AFOL community seems to be all about gaming the system with these figs.

    I feel like you just don’t get it. Or maybe I just don’t?

  4. Catsy

    Isn’t this kind of against the whole idea and spirit behind something collectible?

    No, but it is entirely against the whole idea and spirit behind the marketing gimmick of packaging a product so that you’re getting something random and have no way of knowing what it is. And I’m okay with that, because that gimmick needs to be defeated and discouraged wherever possible.

    Collectible != random.

    There are certain contexts in which this makes sense, no matter how little I like it: collectible card games, for instance, where different cards have different rarities. In that case it’s appropriate that you don’t know what you’re buying, because the whole point is the chance of randomly getting those rare, powerful cards.

    It makes no sense here. Each minifig is produced in equal quantities. Each has a roughly equal chance of being in the package. There is no disparity in rarity or inherent value that makes it necessary to hide which one you’re getting. Nothing in this scheme enhances the value of the minifigs. What makes them “collectible” is the fact that they are a limited run, not their randomness.

    It is a marketing gimmick, nothing more: a way of forcing people to buy many more than they otherwise would in order to get the one they want.

  5. Brad

    I don’t know how I feel about the barcode scanner, if only because I’d feel awful using it to pick out the figs I want. This is the scenario I imagine: I’d pull out the forestmen, and then I’d hear a little kid behind me say, “I hope I get Robin Hood!” I’d feel like an ass. Also, I don’t live anywhere near a Toys R Us or a LEGO store, so it is a moot point for me. I can’t really blame anyone else for using it, though.

    For my part, I’ve gone ahead and ordered a box in order to ensure that I’ll get what I want without spending a lot of money on second-hand prices. I’ll almost certainly use the barcode scanner to sort the box and sell extra figs on BrickLink. Is that any better than going to a LEGO store and cherry-picking? I don’t know. :P

  6. Brad

    @ Magnus:

    I agree with you: the randomness is meant to be fun. I’m anticipating opening the five figs I bought direct from Shop @ Home. What am I going to get? If I were a kid, I’d really enjoy it!

    On the other hand, I can also understand people who only want to buy zombies and cheerleaders (Zombies Ate My Neighbors MOC! Yeah!) and don’t want to spend a bunch of money on random packs or even more money buying them second-hand.

    I am wishy-washy like that. :)

  7. Catsy

    This is the scenario I imagine: I’d pull out the forestmen, and then I’d hear a little kid behind me say, “I hope I get Robin Hood!”

    Whereas the actual scenario at TLS the other day was three or four people rooting through the bin and sorting the figs into piles, with conversations like these:

    “I think this is a Diver.”

    “Oh, I’m looking for those, thanks. Seen any Spacemen?”

    “Yeah, there’s a pile right here.”

    “Cool. Can I take a look at your cheat sheet? My barcode app sucks.”

    “Sure, here.”

    “Hey guys, seen any Zombies?”

    “Not yet, I’ll let you know if I find any.”

    “Magician! Yay!”

  8. yellowcastle

    As I see it, the issue is that there isn’t a level playing field. To me, if it’s not a mystery figure for everyone, then it shouldn’t be a mystery figure for anyone. I would be perfectly happy if Series 3 shows up without these identifying barcodes but that’s not likely to happen. I’m ok getting a ton of crash test dummies if it were just due to luck but not if someone had already cherrypicked the box. Thus, and ironically so, it’s the fear of someone else cherrypicking the box that forces us to cherrypick the box. ;o)

  9. dsubspace8

    I’ve been carrying this crib sheet around with me for the past couple of weeks, but I haven’t seen the collectible minifigures in any NE Ohio stores: Target, Toys R Us, or Wal-Mart. The Toys R Us in Fairlawn apparently did have some a week ago, but they sold out. The TRUs in Cleveland on Som Center Road and Cuyahoga Falls don’t seem to have received any yet. If anyone spots them in the area, please post. Good luck on your searches!

  10. Ryan H.

    I don’t feel guilty using it because:

    1) You can feel through the packages anyway; even if they had the same barcode, feeling would be enough to tell. It’s just slightly harder.

    2) I only want one of each, so it’s not as if I’m cleaning out all the zombies.

  11. chapzzzz

    Thanks for posting the Barcode Sheet.
    I only want one of each and this hopefully will make life much more simpler.
    I saw a box of these in Target on Saturday and when I went to buy more on Tuesday they had all gone.
    Toy World has 120 coming in on 17/6/10 so I’ll be there early, with the barcode sheet of course !!!
    Regards
    Chapzzzz

  12. Daedalus

    “Thus, and ironically so, it’s the fear of someone else cherrypicking the box that forces us to cherrypick the box. ;o)”
    =============
    Dead on, yellowcastle. I’m past being annoyed/disappointed at this whole thing, but I really do wish Lego would have either made the packaging clear or a small box. At this point, I don’t mind feeling the bag I guess, but there’s no way I’m grabbing a handful at random.
    In the end, I think they shot themselves in the foot with the decision.

  13. notenoughbricks

    I did what I could do to ensure that I received a complete set the night the figs were placed on sale at my TRU. I bought 16 different bar codes. I went home and opened each pack with scissors and photographed the back of the pic with the bar code and the fig sticking out. I was thinking about placing these pics on my flickr but thought better of it as I feared it would be detrimental to LEGO’s bottom line and therefore defeat my interest as I’d love to see this line continue for years to come.

    The day after yellowcastle posted his cheat sheet on flickr and instead of bringing my camera to TRU to get doubles of the ones I wanted I just printed up his sheet. I have helped several parents and children get the fig they wanted as well as a TRU employee find a Zombie.

    This line of figs and accessories is just awesome! After buying doubles of some figs I am now trying to complete a 3rd set! I’m not so sure I would have done so had I not had the cheat sheet!

  14. Peppermint_M

    Or, you could just be mad like me and buy a box from somewhere.
    No fuss no muss, just 60 figures, three sets and 12 spares!

    Series 2 next! I wonder if there will be barcodes to use for ID on them?

  15. brickchicken

    I went to my local TRU today, but the barcodes were all the same. I had to feel all the packages to get what i wanted. I guess they changed things when they figured out people were “cheating” the system.

  16. Creative Anarchy

    I think TLG originally had this very scandanavian playwell idea where kids would end up with piles of cheerleaders and it would motivate them to trade with other lego fans across the world to get the figures they want. The design (Other than the barcode) seems to stress the randomness over collecting. All the communications I’ve had with lego employees about these things have been aimed to reduce the hype and obsession. I’m sure at some level people realized these would make money like cocaine but nothing about it feels mercenary to me.

    That said I’m totally in the camp with the barcode list being justified by the bar code list. There are figures that will be popular and there will be figures that won’t be. I’m very intimidated by the prospect of digging through a vat of 200 clowns and 1 zombie hoping the odds come out zombie. I really do hope that the reports of the barcodes disappearing are true.

    Interrestingly there is some other method of identifying to figures from the packaging. When I bought my ration of 5 from the lego store the clerk flipped the packs face down and scanned over them with her eyes, pulled one out of the group and told me it was a dublicate and I may want to get a different one. So either she’s a cyborg running the app or there’s some other clue.

  17. chapzzzz

    G’Day
    Went back to Target today and there were 2 boxes.
    Someone had allready opened a dozen or so packets…
    I thought the barcodes had different numbers but it’s the same number on all of them. There is another smaller barcode on the back so matching the barcodes by look alone was a bit harder but possible and quite easy.

    Thanks Again
    Regards Chapzzzz

  18. Jayko543

    Being a kid, and having parents that want to teach me not to blow all my money, this barcode find is great! I don’t think my parents want me to buy a whole box just to make sure I get one set. $30 some odd dollars sound a lot better to them.

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