The Rise of Lego Licensing

Tools used in this project
The Rise of Lego Licensing

About this project

Project Objective

The official challenge objective was to ".... stack your imagination and analytical prowess to piece together an interactive dashboard or visual that lets users explore the history and evolution of LEGO sets from the past 5 decades."

Initially I thought to provide an interactive report to look across multiple themes over the years, but time constraints made me focus more on a particular aspect of the dataset, and provide a static explanatory report instead of an interactive or exploratory report.

As such, I don't believe my report meets the official objectives, but I thought my idea was good enough to produce and add another portfolio piece, and maybe provide some ideas to others on analysing the data to create a story,


Data Completeness - what can I use?

I performed a quick analysis of the completeness of the data and saw there were some gaps in a few of the categories, particularly the retail price, number of pieces, age ranges, etc. This was mostly around the 70s and 80s. When the data moved to the 90s and beyond, there were less gaps.

So I thought that I could maybe look at some general trends over the 50 years, but if I wanted to look at things like price, ages and piece numbers, I might need to focus on the last 25 years.

Categories - should I asses them all?

Reviewing the categories, I noticed items like "Gear" and "Books". These aren't actual lego sets or pieces, but things like t-shirts, pens and.......er....books (surprise!).

I decided I wanted to focus purely on the Lego sets and figures, and not the "spin-off" merchandise.

Themes - how to focus my analysis?

To initially look at longer term trends, I decided to use the "Themes" category. After analysis, I saw around 20 themes over the time period. I thought this was maybe too many and decided to maybe group a few of the smaller or niche themes. For example, I grouped "Arts and Crafts" and "Education" into "Craft and Education."

This helped me reduce the number of themes down to around 11 "grouped" themes.

Initial Trends

Longer term

Using a few stacked line charts, I looked to see the longer term trends in production by these grouped themes. The licensed theme just stood out as this growth from around 2000 to the present time.

Licensed theme

Then, drilling into the licensed theme, I saw the timelines for the production of various sets associated with franchises like Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc.

Again, there were numerous subthemes, so I did a little more grouping. Star Wars was fine, but I combined the Marvel and DC characters, combined the LEGO movies into one, and Lord of the Rings and the Hobitt as "Tolkein".

Deeper Dive

After all the above grouping, I wanted to do a slightly deeper dive into the licensed theme, and see which franchises had the most sets, over the time period and look at aspects like cost and target age ranges.


My plan was to then keep this to a maximum of three visuals. I really like single visual reports, or those with one main visual and one or two supporting ones. You might be able to tell I am a big fan of the Visual Capitalist and the work they do. If you like this style, you should check them out.

So, I wanted one large stacked line or stream chart to show the production of themes over time. Although I wanted to show the other themes, I wanted to highlight the licensed theme. So I chose differing greys for those, and a yellow for the licensed theme (similar to the colour of lego heads).


Then I wanted something to show the relative production of licensed sets over the last 25 years. I went for a version of a dot plot in deneb. I opted to layer a square and a circle to give the effect of a birds eye view of a lego piece, and vary the size based on the number of sets. This would just give a relative comparison, rather than accurate numbers, which I believe is ok for this level of analysis and intent of the overall visual.


Finally, I wanted something to show the price distribution for each franchise theme, and maybe try and work in the target ages. A version of a beeswarm did the trick. I note that I only visualised sets where there was an associated price and a recommended minimum age assigned. I also bucketed the prices into $25 buckets. The beeswarm points indicated the number of sets, and the deeper the colour got to orange, then older the intended audience.

It was interesting to see some franchises were more aligned to producing cheaper sets for kids (Disney), and others catered more for older audiences with bigger budgets (Star Wars), which makes perfect sense when you think about it.


Bringing it Together

All of the analysis was conducted in Power BI, and the three visuals were made using the "deneb" app within Power BI. It is a free app that allows you to create customised visuals, but requires some knowledge of vega or vega-lite code.

I used this example to practise my coding and create these more customised visuals that are not really possible with native visuals.


So I once these were made and placed on the canvas, for the purpose of saving time, I exported the report to powerpoint and added the overlying text.

Looking at the structure of the report, I have the title at the top left. This summarises what we are about to see in a few words (with Luke Skywalker hiding in plain sight).

Then we look from left to right. The main visual starts from 1970 to 2022, and we can see the growth and contraction of themes over the years. I have added some notes pertinent to the story and highlighted a few major themes for context.

Using the yellow colour allows me to link from licensing into the next visuals. The arrows also help reinforce that. Most people will naturally look to the top right first, which is my intention. The title and notes are there to provide context.

Users are then hopefully drawn to the last visual, again with added notes and context.

undefinedAlthough this report doesn't align with the overall scope requirements, it was a good exercise for me personally in building an effective story based on analysis, appropriate use of visuals, context and structure.

Hope you enjoyed it. Thanks

Discussion and feedback(2 comments)
Chris Dutton
Chris Dutton
4 months ago
Stunning design as always Gerard – nicely done! This is another great example of why it's often best to focus on a particular theme or narrative rather than cover everything in a single report. Very cool to see those deneb visuals too, I'll have to play with those soon!

Gerard Duggan
Gerard Duggan
Project owner
4 months ago
Project owner
Thanks Chris, mirroring life, sometimes we have the choice to specialise or generalise in our work or hobbies, so we can do that in our analysis. There are pros and cons to each approach, but I enjoy finding an angle or story from the data and probing it a little more...
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