At some point in your life, you’ve probably stepped on a piece of LEGO with your bare feet. Well, what if you had somewhere to angrily mail that brick back to? Because you had, in fact, rented that LEGO to begin with?
The idea behind Pley is that you can queue up LEGO sets like Netflix DVDs and build and exchange to your heart’s content. I was ridiculously excited about this idea, so I decided to check it out, JUST FOR YOU GUYS. (Okay, and also because LEGO IN THE MAIL! WHEE!)
The way it works is, you sign up, set up a queue by choosing from 260 available LEGO sets, and Pley mails you whichever set is available first near the top of your queue. You put it together, try to avoid stepping on it in the middle of the night, and send it back whenever (they provide you a pre-paid box.)
You can get a free trial, but it’s only for 15 days, and then they start charging your credit card. I immediately signed up hoping I could build one of those ridiculously expensive Star Wars sets, take a thousand photos of myself with the finished product (possibly some semi-nudes?), share them all over the internet, and send it back without having to pay anything for the experience at all. I’m frugal (and hate pants) like that.
There are three membership levels: “Fan,” “Super Fan,” and “Mega Fan.” They run you $15, $25, and $39, respectively. Shipping is free, but you can only rent one set at a time, no matter how much you’re paying, so unless you can build really fast it might not be worth it to spend $40 a month to put together the Death Star.
Other bad news: They don’t ship outside of the U.S. So I can’t invite half of my dorky friends who would dig this sort of thing.
Then there’s the problem I ran in to with the free trial: The highest level you can achieve without ponying up some cash is “Super Fan,” which sounds great unless, like me, you signed up just to build the Millennium Falcon and then maybe “lose” the Chewbacca minifigure. (Your kids can legitimately lose pieces during regular play and not be charged for the set, that eventuality is part of the cost of a membership.)
What’s available with the basic “fan” plan? Oh, let’s see, there’s
and let’s not forget the Battle of Endor mini set that includes
(OK, so the Endor set also includes a speeder bike. But, you know. TREE.)
Meanwhile, if you want to pay $39 a month, you can build stuff like the White House, the Black Gate of Mordor, Wayne Manor, or a Super Star Destroyer. I picked the “Mirkwood Elf Army” because it looked sort of complicated for a mid-level set, plus a couple of other things (see “My Pleylist”, above.) But if none of those things are available in the next 15 days I guess I get to cancel my free trial without ever having received any LEGO? Which would be pretty dumb.
The other thing I found frustrating is that they’ve allotted some of their “fan” level sets to things like
Seriously, you’re going to spend $15 a month to rent a storage box for the LEGO sets you already own? Because you can’t rent two things at once, so you’re just renting a container.
There are a couple of cool things about the service I can see so far, the first is a built-in gallery so you can upload those partially naked selfies of you and the Brandenburg Gate. Of course, most people have Twitter or Facebook and will probably share their photos there, first, since the gallery is only visible to other paying members.
Then there’s the matter of how grody is a LEGO set that a buncha kids or one middle-aged naked woman have been messing around with? The answer is not much at all, because they sanitize each LEGO set with high-powered industrial washers.
According to Pley, you can save $1000 a year by using their service. I mean, if you spend over $1000 a year on LEGO, that is. A basic yearly subscription to them is $180, and even though I love LEGO, I’m not a $180-a-year LEGO fan. I’ll let you guys know if I ever get one of their sets and how big of a hassle it is to cancel your membership. FYI, if you want to peruse what they have available to rent, you have to sign up to the site anyway.