LEGO Ideas - The good and the bad

LEGO Ideas is a website where anyone can submit a LEGO model, which if it gains 10,000 supporters will be formally reviewed by LEGO, and may become a real set. In which case the original creator gets 1% of royalties.

The website was launched originally called LEGO Cuusoo as a beta, with its name changed to LEGO Ideas in 2014 and the formal launch of the site.

Sets are reviewed in quarterly phases with each review period taking between 6 and 12 months. Most review phases have had more than 10 sets reviewed with not all reviews producing approved sets. Since 2011 there have been 13 sets announced. A number of which feature original concepts such as:

  1. 21109 Exo Suit
  2. 21301 LEGO Bird Project
  3. 21110 Research institute
  4. The as yet unreleased Labyrinth Marble Maze

The remaining sets are all LEGO adaptations on existing concepts such as JAXA Satellites, Mars Curiosity Rover, WALL-E and Back to the Future DeLorean.

Minecraft Micro World

Minecraft Micro World

Some concepts have resulted in a new LEGO theme, with the originally approved Minecraft Micro World’s the predecessor to the main Minecraft theme. LEGO Ideas is also responsible for LEGO gaining the licensing rights to Dr Who with its first set having been released late last year.

Any user on the Ideas website can support a project, and when you do you get a chance to comment on how much you might pay for it, how many you would buy and a few other indicators that LEGO use in their consideration of the project. During the review phase LEGO assess the project for viability which includes the cost to produce and sell and if there are any licensing constraints.

Dr Who

Dr Who

The premise of LEGO Ideas that anyone can submit their design and it may become a LEGO set caters to a long wished desire for many people. It allows LEGO fans and LEGO to gauge interest in different ideas or sets.

My main criticism of LEGO ideas is not the concept or its process but the content submitted. The guidelines state that your submitted idea should not be from any existing LEGO themes or Intellectual Property brands. Yet a casual glance will show a heap of Star Wars sets or people trying to revive sets that are no longer produced. The other large portion show digital only mock-ups of the model. A set really catches people’s eyes if you have actually built it and can prove it can be built.

Some examples of what is available. Not that I am saying all or any of these are bad!

Some examples of what is available. Not that I am saying all or any of these are bad!

I also fear that the site is full of ideas that are quite simply rubbish, tiny silly designs that aren’t even complete. LEGO need to improve their process to refine out designs that are not going to ever get up – be it because of existing themes or major flaws in the design. I feel that this would help clear the site up and let people focus on some of the truly amazing ideas currently up for consideration. I am glad they introduced a 12 month timeframe for ideas to gain the required supporters as this will help clear things up.

Now I have fallen into the trap of wanting and hoping something I designed will get up so I won’t criticism people’s enthusiasm. I just wish people could be a little more complete about the designs they come up with. Here is my list of ways to catch my eye with a LEGO Ideas creation:

1.       Be original

Don’t just build a new and big Star Wars set, or something under an existing LEGO theme.

2.       Take photos

Don’t have a digital mock up using Digital Designer, get the pieces and build it. Not only does it show me what the set looks like in the flesh; but when you are building it you may uncover problems or issues that need to be resolved and addressed.

3.       Be realistic

If you are suggesting a life size titanic model, you may not have much LEGO. The same can be said for an incredibly detailed building or scene. Think about how the set could be played with, displayed and built. Does it require an engineering degree to construct? Are the construction techniques super advanced?

I would love to hear what LEGO Ideas sets people should get behind at the moment.

Here are a few of my favourites.

  1. Merchants House
  2. Particle Accelerator
  3. The Adventures of Tintin