The Quarterly LEGO Review: How does it work?

Last week, we shared details about how the LEGO Review of projects that reach 10,000 supporters will be held quarterly. To recap, the first quarterly review will take place this summer. All projects that reach 10,000 supporters before June 4, 2012 (midnight GMT) will be included in the Summer review. Future quarterly review deadlines will be will be early September, December, and March respectively.

When you see new LEGO set releases, you’re seeing our products in finished condition. You don’t see the months or even years of development and preparation to make the product. There are many phases in the life of a LEGO product, from concept development to model design, business case, license agreements (if applicable), box artwork and building instruction production, molding, printing, packing, and finally distribution. Only then can a new LEGO set make it to your doorstep.

To us this process is both a labor of love and a time-tested method to create quality products that people love. Since LEGO CUUSOO crowdsources the concept development by asking you to submit your ideas, once your project receives enough supporters the responsibility shifts to our team, and we must work our magic and create the product—quite an involved process!

Since it takes a tremendous amount of time and resources to make a new LEGO product, before we commit to producing your project as a set, we need to make sure it makes sense to produce it. Because the LEGO Group is a business, ultimately we must ensure that if we were to sell your project, we would sell enough to make it worthwhile and profitable for us.

Who performs the LEGO Review?
Each LEGO Review is performed by a “LEGO Jury” led by the LEGO CUUSOO project team within New Business Group. Jury members include a cross-section of roles, including a project manager, model designer, graphic designer, corporate counsel, licensing representative, brand management, and a production manager. Jury members participate and make a recommendation on the production of each LEGO CUUSOO project in review.

The LEGO Review doesn’t have a definite timeframe. Here’s why.
While projects can receive supporters quickly on LEGO CUUSOO, it takes time to research the feasibility of a new product and develop the final model. It’s relatively quick to perform a brand-fit review, but the other parts of the review—building a business case and securing any necessary licenses—can take several months.

Each project requires a full business case. This is interlinked with the model design, as we only determine the manufacturing cost after one of our LEGO model designers creates the final model. The outcome depends also on the model design itself; can we produce an attractive, stable design at the appropriate price point using available elements? Are new element molds or new colors of existing elements required? Designing new elements takes time, and every single new element endures its own rigorous review and is approved into the LEGO System. These factors can affect the outcome and whether or not we are able to create a product from a LEGO CUUSOO project.

For licensed projects, don’t expect the speed at which we turned around the Minecraft project to be the norm; in fact, it is the exception. The LEGO® Minecraft™ Micro World was a very special case as we were able to reach a license agreement in a couple of weeks. Most licenses are owned by large corporations, so striking an agreement requires many stakeholders and legal complexity. Also, some licenses can be exclusive or can forbid us from working with competing brands.

Each LEGO Review features these four phases:

Brand Fit Analysis (Approx. 2 Weeks)
The Brand Fit Analysis decides if a project or IP is appropriate for the LEGO Company to produce, and looks at potential conflicts with existing or planned products. Projects that pass advance to the next phase, and projects that don’t pass this phase are not considered further.

Business Case Development and License Agreements (Timeframe Varies)
The review team builds a separate business case for each project that passes the Brand Fit Analysis. At the same time, the Licensing department pursues an agreement for all projects requiring a license. During this process, the team analyzes supporter data from LEGO CUUSOO (demographics, desired quantity and price point), examines the market potential, and looks at any potential internal or licensing conflicts.

Model Design (3-4 Weeks)
Simultaneously to the Business Case development, a LEGO model designer creates official models based on the submitted LEGO CUUSOO project. This process looks to deliver an attractive, buildable, and stable model at the required price point. Our designer considers the “Play Promise” as well; how playable is the model, and how playable does the model need to be considering the target audience? When possible, we involve the fans who submitted the project to LEGO CUUSOO. After this process is complete, the cost of elements used in the model is incorporated into the business case.

Final Review (1-2 Weeks)
After all research is done on brand fit, business case, license agreements, and model design, the LEGO Jury reviews each project and the recommendations of the review to make a final decision on which products to produce. Once these decisions are made, we announce the results.

Phew, what a process! We hope that you now have a better understanding of what happens to projects once they achieve 10,000 supporters, and the various factors involved in the LEGO Group deciding to produce a project as a LEGO set.

This is the second post in a three-part series about the LEGO Review. The first post explained the quarterly review schedule. Next week the third post in this series will give you tips for increasing your project’s chances of passing the LEGO Review with flying colors!