For over two years (since he was 6 years old) my son has been asking me to buy LEGO Mindstorms for him. The program used to be recommended for children over the age of 12, so I put it off. I also spoke to some mothers whose children owned it and they said the programming was difficult. I was frank with him and stated it was an expensive program that would not be good to buy only to find out it is too difficult for him to use, plus, by the time he got old enough to use it, LEGO may have come up with a new and improved version.
In August 2006 LEGO has released a new, updated, and revised edition of Mindstorms which they call Mindstorms NXT. We promised my son this would be his birthday gift (he recently turned nine years old).
I went to order it yesterday and had some decision making to do about where to buy it online. I have never seen it in a local retail store, so that is out as an option. I wished I could have found it for a discount. I did want it to come from a reliable and responsible retailer. So my goal was to find the lowest shipping fee from a responsible and reliable vendor.
I checked Legoshop.com and saw they were selling it for full retail ($249.99). I did an order to see that they were charging $17.95 for shipping plus 6% state sales tax as I am located in the state where their corporate headquarters is. I cancelled out that order before I finalized it as that seemed too high to me.
(Note: usually in November and perhaps for some of December, Legoshop.com offers a free shipping ‘holiday’ sale to inspire people to shop there for Christmas and Hanukkah, so if you want to buy from them at that time and get free shipping, just check the site to see if they are running a ‘free shipping’ special.)
I then checked Amazon.com who sells it through Target. The price was still full retail ($249.99) but the shipping was just $4.99 and there was state sales tax as there are Target stores in my state. So I put my order through.
My husband asked why I didn’t buy it from eBay as I have purchased stuff from them in the past. I checked around a bit and realized a few things. I wanted a brand new, in the box item, which I know can sometimes be found on eBay. I wanted to order it and have it done and over with, not fooling around with bidding on online auctions. There were a bunch of open auctions, and I didn’t want to take weeks or months to keep bidding at some low figure only to most likely, be outbid by others at the last minute. I also see that some people are doing “buy it now” for OVER full retail which I completely don’t understand at all, yet keep seeing with some products on eBay.
I am happy to have ordered through Amazon. I hope the shipping process is fast. The item was not allowable through Amazon Prime so there will not be 2nd day shipping for me (darn).
My son is waiting on pins and needles for his Mindstorms NXT to arrive. Note also they have simplified the program and it now says that it is for children aged 10 and older. Hooray.
By the way another reason I am not hesitating to spend such a large amount on this product is that to me it is not just a toy, it is educational and challenging. If I took a few minutes I could come up with a whole list of ‘educational content areas’ that are covered by using and creating robots with LEGO Mindstorms NXT. In other words I can justify the expense on this rather than on other regular toys as it has other benefits to using it which I think will be good for my son (plus if I were trying to impress some school official about our homeschooling, those things would make great additions to our homeschool curriculum, academic goals, etc.).
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