Interview: How do LEGO® CUUSOO sets get reviewed and produced?

Want to know a little more about how we review your LEGO® CUUSOO projects to become LEGO sets? Today the ReBrick blog features an interview with our Business Manager, Daiva S. Naldal. She’s responsible for bringing LEGO CUUSOO sets to market!


Daiva has over ten years’ experience at the LEGO Group and has worked on products ranging from LEGO Castle, Sports, Minifigures, and was responsible for building up LEGO Architecture. Now she brings her passion and business savvy to leading the LEGO Review and producing sets for LEGO CUUSOO.

So, hop on over to ReBrick and read a little bit about how the process works, in Daiva’s own words.

Interview with Peter Reid, Creator of the Exo Suit

With the announcement of the next LEGO CUUSOO set still hot off the presses, we thought you might want to get to know the builder behind the project, Peter Reid. The final model is still being worked on by our designers, so as we wait for it to be produced, let’s learn a little about its history!

Exo Suit - Fan Submission, Not Final Product

Sara Moore: How long have you been building with LEGO® bricks?

Peter Reid: I’ve been playing with LEGO [bricks] all my life. It’s the best toy ever. I never stopped loving the brick.

SM: What inspired you to build this model and put it on LEGO CUUSOO?

exo suit hangarPR: I mainly build science fiction models, and decided to make a walking mechanical maintenance unit, to go with my expanding Neo Classic Space fleet. The Exo Suit was designed for heavy duty repairs and maintenance on the Federation colonies. I decided to put the model on CUUSOO because it’s one of my most popular creations.  The Exo Suit received a surprising amount of attention when it first appeared online, five years ago.

People have been asking me for instructions for years, but several of the parts are quite hard to find, and some of the connections fall apart quite easily. In its current form, it’s not suitable for production. An official CUUSOO Exo Suit will mean a more user-friendly version can be produced, and everyone can enjoy the model.

SM: Did you run into any challenges when designing this model?

exo trio in hangar

PR: I tried to make the Exo Suit look as cool as possible, which took a long time to get right. All models have their challenges but the joy of working with LEGO [bricks] is there are so many ways to solve them. Building is like a puzzle, where you know what you want the end product to look like. You have to find the right combination of parts to make it work.

SM: The road from publishing the model to reaching 10,000 supporters can be long. What did you do during this time to promote your project?

PR: I did a bit of social networking with Flickr, Facebook and Twitter, and was lucky enough to be featured on several popular geek websites. The project gained momentum fairly quickly, and reached 10,000 supporters in nine months.

SM: What advice can you give to other CUUSOO members with active projects?

PR: Keep on promoting your project when you can. Ask friends and family to support you.

Models based on existing properties (like Minecraft and Back to the Future) have a built in audience and a better chance of getting votes. The Exo Suit proves non-licensed models can also break through.exoback2

You just need to do whatever you can to make people see your project in the best light – spend time developing it, take good quality photos, think about your write up, and take advantage of social media. Do everything possible to get the message out there.

Editor’s note: The final design, pricing, and availability of the Exo Suit are still being determined, so stay tuned for further information leading up to the Exo Suit’s release in mid-2014!

Results of the Winter, Spring, and Summer LEGO® Reviews

It’s been a busy summer for us. We’re finally able to share the results of not one but three review periods: Winter 2012, Spring, and Summer 2013. We’ve looked closely at each of the ten projects in this these review periods, and here is what we have decided:

LEGO CUUSOO #006: Exo Suit

We’re thrilled to take Peter Reid’s original Exo Suit concept and create a LEGO® set based on it. The set is now in development, which means professional LEGO designers are creating the final version that will become the LEGO CUUSOO set. Final design, pricing, and availability are still being determined, and we’ll reveal the final product leading up to its release in 2014.

Exo Suit - Fan Submission, Not Final Product

We’re still evaluating the Land-Rover Defender 110

We’re still in the process of evaluating the Land-Rover Defender 110 by Sheepo. We’ll let you know once we have a decision on whether it will be released as a set!

All other projects in the Winter 2012, Spring and Summer 2013 Review periods will not be produced.

The LEGO Review Board has evaluated each project these three review periods according to our decision criteria. We’ve decided that all other concepts in the Winter 2012, Spring, and Summer 2013 periods (including the Thinking with Portals! project from the Fall 2012 period) will unfortunately not be produced as LEGO sets. Sometimes our best hopes and plans end up not working out. After a thorough evaluation, the LEGO Review Board has determined that we will not release a set based on any of these projects. We realize this is disappointing to some, so please know that this decision does not take away from the beauty and effort put into these projects by each talented LEGO fan.

Winter, Spring, & Summer LEGO Review Results

How do we make these decisions?

We know how hard you work, vote, and spread the word to see your favorite concepts become reality. Once a project reaches 10,000 supporters, our team is then responsible for deciding what sets LEGO CUUSOO will produce according to our criteria and business model.

By gaining 10,000 supporters, a fan-submitted project moves from the Idea Stage to the Review Stage, where it earns the opportunity to be considered as a future LEGO® set in a quarterly process called the “LEGO Review.” Gaining 10,000 Supporters is just the first step in this process.

During the LEGO Review, we take your vote and the the information you give us in the brief support survey into consideration. This contributes to the Review Board’s analysis of a project’s potential as a LEGO set.

The “LEGO Review Board” composed of LEGO set designers, marketing and business representatives, and other relevant team members across the LEGO Group examines each qualified project. They evaluate concept models and determine if the concept meets our high standards for what it takes to be a LEGO product; including factors such as playability, safety, and fit with the LEGO brand.

Every potential LEGO product, including those developed internally, goes through a process like this and must meet the same standards. The amount of time this takes varies due to all the factors involved, however, know that every set must be fully evaluated before we make a decision about its viability as a set.

The LEGO Review Board makes all final decisions on which new sets the LEGO Group will release based on CUUSOO projects.

Fall LEGO Review Results Coming Early 2014

The Fall 2013 Review results will be available in early 2014

We’ve already started our review of the seven projects from the Fall 2013 period, and we’ll share the results in early 2014. Our team is looking forward to bringing you the Exo Suit and considering more of your projects as they reach 10,000 supporters and qualify for review.

Happy building!

Congratulations to the SEVEN Qualifying Projects in the Fall 2013 Review!

That’s right, seven! Over the last three months we’ve seen the largest batch of projects qualify for the LEGO® Review to date, including several projects that rose in the ranks quickly after spreading via social media.  Here’s a list of the projects that qualify:

  • Female Minifigure Set – Alatariel saw a surge in support for her project in early June, after her concept featuring vignettes of women LEGO Minifigures in science and technology careers took off. After over a year online, it grew from 2,000 to 10,000 supporters in just under a week!
  • ATLAS Mini Model – Education Outreach Project – This project rocketed to 10,000 supporters in just a few days thanks to the support from a popular Facebook community (of people who really, really love science). Congratulations, SaMe!
  • FTL – Faster Than Light – CrashSanders and GlenBricker created this project that depicts spaceships from an indie game where players command a starships’s systems. Imagine owning your favorite micro-scale ship from this fun game!
  • Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary – Can you believe it’s been almost 30 years since Ghostbusters came out? BrentWaller artfully re-created the fire station, ECTO-1, and characters from the classic film. Ghostbusters fans online caught on and rallied support for this fantastic project.
  • Poptropica: Dr. Hare’s Lair – The creators of popular childrens’ game Poptropica are trying to hatch an “evil plan” by proposing this concept for consideration as a LEGO set. Dr. Hare’s Lair captures the essence of the hit online game in LEGO bricks. Will they succeed?
  • Ghostbusters – Another Ghostbusters project? We hear you loud and clear! Ghostbusters fans also voted up this great project that offers another take on the ECTO-1 and characters from the film.  Congratulations, TeeKay!
  • The Road to OZ – The road to OZ might be fraught with peril, but JeremiahKC, the road to 10,000 supporters was a breeze! And with his perfect capture of such a beloved story, it’s easy to see why. Nicely done!

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What is the Fall Review?
We take projects that reach have reached 10,000 supporters by September 2nd and put them into a batch called a “LEGO Review.” From there, we decide which projects will move on to become official LEGO sets. These review batches have a rolling deadline and happen once per quarter.

Check out these three posts for more information on that process: Projects Reaching 10,000 Supporters Will Now Be Reviewed QuarterlyThe Quarterly LEGO Review: How does it work?, and Cheat Sheet: How to Pass the LEGO Review with Flying Colors.

What about the other past Reviews? When will those results be published?
Our team is working on the past several review batches. Yes, there’s a lot of work to be done, and you can look forward to news coming in the not-so-distant future (Unfortunately we cannot say exactly when). For more on why these reviews take so long, check out check out the end of this article.

LEGO Review Batches in Progress

The Winter Review Deadline is December January 6th
We’re shifting the review deadline by a month to better align with our internal calendar at the LEGO Group. For us, it makes more sense to begin a review cycle when we’re freshly back in the office after the holidays, than it does leading up to a busy December holiday season.

As a result, you get another month to qualify this time! If your project didn’t quite make this deadline, you can still qualify for the Winter Review if you gain 10,000 votes by 12:00 a.m. GMT January 6th. That’s still only four months away, so get to it!

LEGO® Back to the Future™ at San Diego Comic Con, On Sale August 1 Globally

The fourth LEGO® CUUSOO set is finally here! Today we’re proud to show you 21103, LEGO Back to the Future.™

The Back to the Future Time Machine was submitted by two fan builders and selected last December to be the next LEGO CUUSOO set. Based on the 1980s film trilogy starring Michael J. Fox, the LEGO Back to the Future Time Machine was chosen due to its broad worldwide appeal and that the model lends itself to challenging and creative building for both children and adults.

Fans whose LEGO CUUSOO ideas are selected for production earn one percent of the total net sales of the product. Fan collaborators on this LEGO CUUSOO project, Masashi Togami and Minifig Builder Sakuretsu, will donate royalties to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

The Model
This set features such details as the Flux Capacitor, a time display tile, the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor, and LEGO Minifigure versions of Marty McFly and Dr. Emmet “Doc” Brown. You can build all three versions as featured in the Back to the Future™ trilogy, right down to the printed OUTATIME and barcode license plates. This unique set also includes a fascinating instruction booklet containing production notes, original images and fun details from the movies.

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The Design Process
The original model submitted by Togami and Sakuretsu provided a strong starting point for the product you see today. Veteran LEGO designer Steen Sig Andersen crafted the final set design based on the fan submission, input from Universal Studios Partnerships & Licensing, and the official Back to the Future fan website

On Sale Soon Now
LEGO Back to the Future is available this week in limited quantities at the LEGO booth at San Diego Comic Con and participating European LEGO stores. It goes on is for sale globally August 1 in the online LEGO Shop, LEGO Stores, and select retail partners, at a recommended price of $34.99 / €34,99.

Back to the Future Films are trademarks and copyrights of Universal Studios and U-Drive Joint Venture. Licensed by Universal Studios Licensing LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Editor’s note: Thank you to those who have reported the spelling error on the Flux Capacitor brick. Please see this Knowledge Base article for more information.

Interview With Perijove, Creator of the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover

If you haven’t heard by now, the results are in and the next LEGO CUUSOO set to be released is the 21104 Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover submitted by Stephen Pakbaz, or Perijove as he’s known on LEGO CUUSOO. The set wouldn’t be available until 2014, but you can get an insider scoop on the model by getting to know its creator.

Stephen Pakbaz's original project design

Stephen Pakbaz’s original project design (Note the final product is subject to change).

Sara Moore:  How long have you been building with LEGO® bricks?

One of Stephen's sketchesStephen Pakbaz: I have been building with LEGO bricks since before I can remember, beginning with LEGO DUPLO sets.  The earliest set I can recall was the LEGO DUPLO 2700 Freight Train.  Later, I had a big red brick-shaped bucket full of basic bricks.  My first LEGO System set was the 6833 Beacon Tracer from the M-Tron theme that I received on my sixth birthday.  I still have it on display in my LEGO room.  In middle school, I began to acquire sets with my allowance, expanding my collection and creating more complex models.  In high school, I enjoyed learning about space exploration by designing my own concepts for manned missions to the moons of Jupiter.  I used graph paper notebooks to sketch out LEGO models of these spaceships.  To this day, I often use graph paper as part of my design process when developing my next LEGO creation.

SM:  What inspired you to build The Mars Science Curiosity Rover and put it on LEGO CUUSOO?

SP:  When I built this model, I was working on designing some small parts and performing tests on the real Curiosity rover at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.  It was my first real job as a Mechanical Engineer and the first spacecraft I worked on.  My favorite mechanism on the rover is the offset-differential rocker-bogie suspension system, which allows the rover to stay balanced and keep all six wheels on the ground as it travels over the rough Martian terrain.  Since the real rover was still under construction, there weren’t any toys or models yet.  Taking the real rover out for a joyride was definitely not an option, so I decided to build my own out of LEGO bricks.  I discovered that it was also a useful tool for explaining the features of the rover and demonstrating how it worked to friends and family.

After the LEGO model was completed, I brought it to my first meeting at the LEGO Users Group Of Los Angeles (LUGOLA), which is one of the many fan clubs, located around the world, that regularly meet to share models and participate in various LEGO displays and community events.  The other members liked my rover, told me about LEGO CUUSOO, and encouraged me to submit my model.

The rover out on displaySM:  Did you run into any challenges when designing this model?

SP: The first challenge was choosing a scale.  I began with LEGO Minifigure scale, which is about 1:40, but it was too small to incorporate a working suspension system.  Back then, I didn’t have enough pieces for a larger TECHNIC style model.  I found a nice balance in between by using a scale of 1:20, which is the same scale used for the Miniland displays at the LEGOLAND theme parks.  Another major challenge was the suspension system.  It required a lot of fine tuning.  If any piece was too long or too short, the body of the rover would lean back too far or droop forwards.  Some parts needed to be positioned to within half the thickness of a single plate.

SM: The road from publishing the model to reaching 10,000 supporters was long. What did you do during this time to promote your project?

SP: I began promoting my project by choosing an ideal time to post it.  I submitted it just before the real rover launched on its way to Mars.  This made it easier to bring attention to the model and get an initial boost from the overall media exposure.  Shortly afterwards, I moved across the country to a new job at Orbital Sciences Corporation in Dulles, Virginia.  One of the first things I did after moving was join the Washington Metropolitan Area LEGO Users Group (WAMALUG).   Through this group, I was able to participate in public LEGO displays at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.  It was the perfect place to engage the public about the rover and its mission.  The museum expressed interest in my model, which inspired me to create seven Curiosity kits that I ended up donating to the museum as well as several other institutions to use for their own educational outreach efforts.  To create the kits, I used digital models and made step-by-step instructions.  In addition, I posted them online so anyone could build the Curiosity rover using their own pieces.    Meanwhile, I spent a lot of time promoting my project through various space websites, blogs, forums, friends, and other social media sites.  Timing worked in my favor again when my project achieved 10,000 shortly after the real Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars.

SM:  What advice can you give to other CUUSOO members with active projects?

The seven rover sets

SP: Promotional effort, enthusiasm, and especially patience are crucial components for a CUUSOO project.  This applies to the project creators and the supporters.  My advice is to enjoy the journey.  During my experience, I had a lot of fun meeting and interacting with others who shared similar interests, whether it was LEGO building, the Curiosity Rover, or both.  It was also very satisfying to be able to contribute to the educational outreach effort for space exploration, even before the project reached 10,000 supporters.

Want more from Stephen? Follow him on CUUSOO to see what he’s up to next!

Results of the Fall 2012 LEGO® Review

We’re excited to share the results of the Fall LEGO® Review. In September, three LEGO CUUSOO projects entered the second quarterly review period for projects that successfully reach 10,000 supporters. These three projects—Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover, UCS Sandcrawler™, and Thinking with Portals!™—have been being considered for production by the LEGO Review Board.

Today we’re thrilled to announce the results of the Fall LEGO Review in this video:

21104 Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover
It is with great pleasure we reveal that the next LEGO CUUSOO set will be the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover, based upon the LEGO CUUSOO project by Perijove.

This project rose to popularity in late summer 2012, when the real Mars Curiosity Rover approached and landed on the planet Mars in its historic mission. The model designer, LEGO CUUSOO user Perijove is a Mechanical Engineer who worked on the actual Curiosity rover at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Perijove writes that he built and submitted the rover to further the educational outreach of the Mars Curiosity rover’s incredible mission, and to encourage greater public support for space exploration.

The final product is still in development. Exact pricing and availability is still being determined, so stay tuned on this blog and LEGO CUUSOO for an update on when you can buy your own LEGO rover in the coming months.

What does the review process look like?
The LEGO Review process goes through four distinct stages; Brand Fit Analysis, Business Case Development (including License Agreements if applicable), Model Design, and then a Final Review, where the findings of all prior stages are reviewed together. Check out this blog post for a more detailed description of the review process.

How did we arrive at our decisions?
We know you’re looking for a bit more information about the decision process, and what has happened with each project. We can’t share all details, so here are our comments on the three projects:

Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover
by Perijove
After analyzing the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover project, we learned that this product has niche appeal and strong demand from the space and education communities. The product aligns well with the LEGO Group’s mission to “inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow,” including those who will build our future in outer space.

Like the Back to the Future Time Machine, which was approved in the Summer Review, the model presented in this project is built very closely to the LEGO Group’s design standards and so the final product will be very close to Perijove’s original design. It has a high play value, it fits well with voters’ price expectations, and we’ve secured the rights from NASA to release this project as the next LEGO CUUSOO set.

For these reasons, the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover project has passed the LEGO Review, and has been selected for production as the next LEGO CUUSOO set. Pricing and availability are still being determined.

UCS Sandcrawler™
by mb_bricks
This is a project of epic proportions; a Sandcrawler that could potentially dwarf even the Taj Mahal, currently the largest LEGO set ever produced. Unfortunately we can’t approve this project in the LEGO Review based on our ongoing relationship and collaboration with Lucasfilm on LEGO Star Wars.

Thinking with Portals
by Brickthing and Team Jigsaw
When this project was posted, Portal™ fans showed up in force to vote this to the top. As of today, the test results are not yet in; we’re still looking into the possibility of releasing a set based on the Thinking with Portals! Project. Once we have a decision, we’ll share it with you here.

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Other Reviews in Progress
The earlier review batches are in progress; you can find a summary of the projects in review on our blog. The next review deadline is Monday September 2, 2013. Best of luck on your favorite projects’ journeys to 10,000!