The Telegraph
Friday , February 21 , 2014
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Film does to toys what poster boy did to Taj

London, Feb. 20: If Shah Jahan were to make a return today, probably the first thing he would say would be an irritable: “So, where’s my royalty?”

The Mughal emperor, who showed his love for his queen Mumtaz by having the Taj Mahal built between 1632 and 1653, chose marble.

Lego, the Danish toy manufacturer, has used plastic to manufacture the 5,922-piece Taj play set, selling each box for about 250.

But the Taj was discontinued by Lego last year and is now only available on Amazon or ebay where today one model was being offered for nearly 14 times the original retail price at “3,437.71 + 7.66 UK delivery (will be dispatched from Japan)”.

The man responsible for this staggering rise in the price is the former England footballer David Beckham who revealed he had bought his Taj online.

When he said that he rather enjoyed building the Taj, its sales went through the roof — by 633 per cent immediately after his accidental and “free” endorsement of the product.

But that was in 2010 when, in a TV interview with Jonathan Ross, Beckham said that he spent his spare time in Italy while on loan to AC Milan constructing a replica of the Taj. He told the chat host that, were he not a soccer player, he would “like to be a professional Lego builder”.

No doubt, Beckham, who seems a genuine Lego fan, will be taking his sons to see the new film, Lego The Movie, which has proved a sensational box office hit in the US and is expected also to do very well in the UK and other territories.

Products linked to the movie are already in the shops — the “Melting Room” for 11.99 and the “Lord Business’ Evil Lair” for 59.99.

“As a fan of the product, David Beckham and his family have been invited to tour the Lego headquarters in Billund, Denmark, and contribute new ideas to the Lego Group,” said Emma Owen, a Lego spokesman in the UK.

In a Q&A with the search engine Yahoo, Beckham again spoke of his love for Lego: “It’s going to make me sound really weird but when I was in Milan I had such a big amount of time on my hands that I found online that there’s a Taj Mahal Lego that you can buy. So I bought it and started building it when I was in Milan.

“I only built some of it because I got injured halfway through... not building the Lego! I know it’s not a career but I love doing it. My boys are the same — they’re obsessed with building Lego.”

In an interview with The Sunday Times, London, he indicated that putting the Lego pieces together had a therapeutic effect after the intellectual rigours of leading the kind of life that he does. “The last big thing I made was Tower Bridge. It had about 1,000 pieces. I think Lego sometimes helps to calm me down.”

At the Westfield standalone Lego store in Stratford, West London, the Tower Bridge was available today for 274.

“We have a new UN headquarters for 49.99,” added Mathew, a helpful sales assistant. “And one of the Eiffel Tower for 29.99. We have play sets from Lego The Movie — the cheapest is 11.99, the most expensive 109.”

What about the Taj, queried The Telegraph.

“We don’t have it,” replied Mathew.

He looked up a catalogue and broke the bad news: “It was discontinued last year.”

At another Westfield standalone Lego store, in West London, a girl assistant, confirmed: “The Taj has been discontinued. You may get it either on Amazon or ebay but you may have to pay quite a hefty premium.”

Shah Jahan would have considered the Taj trade an opportunity missed.

On Amazon today, it was being promoted as the ultimate for the Lego enthusiast: “Designed for experienced builders, the LEGO Taj Mahal model features advanced building techniques. Includes rare elements, colours and realistic details of architecture.

Amazingly detailed model features the base, minarets, domes, finials, arches, and stairs in the front. Measures over 20” (51cm) wide and over 16” (41cm) tall.”

The prices ranged from 3,437.71 + 7.66 UK delivery to “1,650.00 + 30.00 UK delivery; 1,715.20 + 7.66 UK delivery; 2,348.14 FREE Delivery”.

The prices on ebay were, in comparison, more reasonable: “Brand new at $1,999.”

Sonya Corrigan, another Lego spokeswoman in the UK, drew The Telegraph’s attention to a report which said that “Funskool India, which has the national distribution rights for Lego in India, opened the first Lego brand store in Chennai” in August last year.

“Products are tailored to the countries,” she added.

Though she made no promise, Indian kids, aged 5 to 90, may look forward to the release of Bossy Boots and Fundo Man.