81,711,327!
That's the estimated number of Lego sets produced in a year. Let this sink in for a minute.
Almost 82 million Lego sets are produced in a year.
How did I calculate this? It's actually fairly straightforward. Using 2012 data:
1. I found an estimate online for the number of bricks produced by TLC in a year: 19 billion
2. I divided this by the average number of bricks included per set according to Brickset's 2012 set list: 221
This yielded a "gross" number of sets produced in 2012 assuming all the bricks produced went directly into sets: 86,011,923 sets.
3. I threw in a reduction factor to account for bricks produced that didn't make it into retail sets: 5%
This yielded the current estimate for the number of Lego sets produced in 2012 of almost 82 million.
That's an incredible number of sets produced by TLC - it's not surprising they're the largest toy manufacturer in the world! Once I had this number, I divided it by the number of models with at least one brick produced in 2012: 508. This yielded an average of 160,849 sets made per model number in 2012.
Armed with this information, I thought it would be intersting to come up with a mathematical model that predicts the number of sets produced based upon the model's piece count. As you may imagine, this was a little more difficult than figuring out how many Lego sets are sold in a year. Here's the mathematical model I came up with for the line of best fit (where x = is the piece count and y = the number of sets produced by model number).
y = -295x + 226,014
So, we can use this model to estimate the number of sets produced for a given model number. For example, 79003 An Unexpected Gathering has a piece count of 652. Plugging this into the equation will give you a estimated production total for An Unexpected Gathering of
=(-295)(652)+226,014
= 33,674 units produced
While this was an interesting exercise, the model has some obvious and severe restrictions. The most notable flaw is the basic premise that Lego bases production runs based on piece count. This simply isn't accurate. Another limitation is that it breaks down for sets with high piece counts. Plugging in any set greater than 766 piece count gives you a negative production number, which is impossible. We can probably assume that the mathematical model is likely a curve with limits at the y-axis, and some minimum production run quantity above the x-axis (I would guess it's 10,000 for sake of argument).
For those that would like to play with the Excel spreadsheet I used to determine the line of best fit, I have attached it.
WithIn the context of the controversial discussion regarding the Limited Edition 4x4 Crawler, you can see that a 20,000 unit production run is actually larger than the production run predicted by the model (which, I know, is negative - see model limitations above) based upon plausible data points. According to the model, 41999 would fall into the "negative production run" area, which means it would be in a group that would likely receive a minimum production run with a quantity based upon some breakeven production cost.
The model works for what it is: an estimate of production quantities by model number based upon a production run. Hopefully, this has provided at least some scale and possible limits of an average lego production run. My biggest takeaway was the average production run per model of 160,000. After checking out the spreadsheet, let me know if you find any other insights or issues!
- ProductionRunModel.xlsx (129.56KB) : 33
- 1
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