The Wal-Mart Side Effect, part 2: Winning a Fight, but Losing the War

So I didn’t intend to write a blog follow up to The Wal-Mart Side Effect, part 1 just yet, but this is related…

Here’s something I think is funny… so I’m on eBay this morning, and one of the new features is displaying items similar to what I’ve searched for in the past… when I see the following mixed in with the results.

What I suspect, with LEGO outsourcing many things to China, China is fulfilling the quota of parts, but making a few extra on the side, in the process — I doubt there’s any agreement in place to what the machinery does after the quota is fulfilled — so minifigures are being sold to different distributors and repackaged.
I also suspect, LEGO Retail is waging a war with BrickLink sellers — seeing the amount of money being spent on after market LEGO — LBR is using this to justify reducing discounts and many policy changes — damaged sets use to be on discount at 20%, now it’s 10%; opened & returned sets use to go into grab bags, to which many LUG used to help bulk up collections; etc.  But honestly, I think LEGO is losing the war — the amount of money they’re losing through discounts to North Americans vs. outsourcing to China, has got to be comparing a trickle of water to a tsunami.

You can’t use the quality argument for not buying any of the above — I suspect the makers of the above make the same quality of parts for LEGO.  Unless I do a side-by-side comparison, would there be any differences?  If it’s minor, would it matter in a large fan display, considering if I bought some of the above at 50% of LEGO’s price or better?  I makes you think if TLG & LBR has their priorities a little backwards.