Commentary by Jennifer K. Bauer
We have thousands of Legos at our house. I prefer them to other toys because I think they require attention to detail and inspire creativity. Since he was old enough to snap them together or pry them apart with his teeth, my son has agreed and attacked every set he’s ever received with rabid enthusiasm.
The problem is that the sets are expensive and hardly ever stay together, meaning we have tubs of unused Lego parts taking up space, so many that I dread adding to the pile – but now it’s the only present our 8-year-old asks for.
The toy company Pley rents Legos, Knex and robotic educational toys for a monthly fee. Just like Netflix, toys are shipped in a returnable envelope, or box, depending on the size. Intrigued, I signed up. When I explained the concept to my son it was like I’d just told him we were going to Disneyland or in his case, Jurassic World.
I stressed he would have to be very careful to not lose pieces but I didn’t have to be too worried. The policy agreement states that you can lose up to 10 pieces without penalty but after that you are charged a 95 percent replacement fee.
Pley has 400 Lego sets available for rent, for all ages. There are two monthly subscriber rates, the $20 Builder plan or the $50 Master plan. For the lower plan you get access to small, mid-sized and some large sets. The $50 plan offers the huge sets with thousands of pieces that retail for more than $100 in the store. Both plans offer “unlimited” access but how many you get depends on your speed of return and your mail service.
I went with the Builder plan. Online you can create a list of the sets you want to receive. The variety is stunning – Ninjago, Mindstorms, Lego Friends, City, Lord of the Rings, architecture, the newest Star Wars sets – the list goes on and on and includes rare sets.
When the first set arrived it was like Christmas. It came with an agreement for the child to sign, which was helpful to impart the importance of keeping things in good condition.
As the months passed, it was the same reaction every time. Since we began subscribing in early October he’s received and returned eight sets. This is more than I would ever buy in the same time frame. My Pley.com dashboard claims I’ve saved $101 and reduced Co2 omissions by 90 pounds by renting these toys instead of buying them. Pley makes it easy online to give the service as a gift to someone else or provide gift cards for continued service.
When the sets are on their way you can track them online to get an idea of their arrival date. Pley tracks them on their way back and you can choose your next set from what is currently available as soon as they detect it in the mail.
A common question is how do they keep these sets clean. According to Pley.com, they use a commercial grade washer/sanitizer and dryer each time. The sets we’ve received have been meticulous, with only one instruction book visibly creased and wrinkled.
The site also says that missing pieces are very rare. Sets are weighed with a digital scale to make sure they are intact but it does happen. A minifigure’s head was missing in one set we received. When there is a missing piece you are asked to report it online, a quick and easy process.
People have the option of buying sets you rent at a reduced price. So far my son has never asked to keep a set. He’s ready for a new challenge after a few days, which makes me think that renting Legos is the way to go.