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!

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 BTTF.com.

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.

LEGO Minecraft Micro World now shipping and Hayabusa Available Soon

We’re happy to announce that LEGO Minecraft Micro World is now shipping! If you pre-ordered your LEGO Minecraft set on J!NX, they began shipping pre-orders in the order received starting June 13, so if you have not received it yet, look forward to it arriving soon.

If you haven’t gotten yours yet and are you are purchasing other Minecraft-related merchandise, your best bet is to order your Minecraft set from J!NX. If you’re ordering other LEGO sets or are building up your VIP Points, you can order from LEGO Shop at Home. LEGO Minecraft Micro World retails for $34.99 / €34,99.

We’d love to see what you build with your Minecraft set! Send us a tweet @LEGO_CUUSOO or post to the LEGO Minecraft Facebook page.

Hayabusa Available July 8
Hayabusa, the second LEGO CUUSOO set, is on sale now in Japan and will be available to order from shop.LEGO.com starting July 8 and will be sold online to all 23 countries that shop.LEGO.com services and retail at $49.00 / €49,00.

July 13 Update on Hayabusa Availability
After a short delay, Hayabusa is now available in the LEGO Shop in North America. We’ve received updated information about a delayed launch in other markets including the UK, EU, and Asia. Thank you for your patience, you’ll be able to order Hayabusa soon and we will update you once we have confirmation.

21102_box21101_box

Cheat Sheet: How to Pass the LEGO Review with Flying Colors

Today’s post is the last in a three-part series about the LEGO Review. Last week we explained in detail the phases of the LEGO Review and how it works. Before that we revealed the new quarterly schedule for review periods. This week we give you tips for building your project so it has a better chance of passing the review once it reaches 10,000 supporters.

There’s no secret formula to passing the review. We make our decisions on many factors, and some of the reasons behind decisions won’t be readily apparent to the public. The tips in this post are not a checklist for guaranteed success. Nor does not following them a guarantee your project will fail. These tips are to give you a leg up and help you increase your chances of a favorable outcome.

  1. A good LEGO model helps, but it’s not required. A good model helps you get supporters and also helps us in the model design process. If you submit concept art or photos, we have to design the model from scratch ourselves. The evolution of an idea to final product can take many twists and turns. The more precisely you describe your concept with LEGO bricks, the closer the end result will be to your original concept. If your project reaches production, the final product will be designed by a LEGO model designer, so know that the product won’t be your exact design.
  2. Your model can actually be too good for CUUSOO. What? Blasphemy! Actually, some advanced building techniques common in the AFOL community aren’t used on official products because it’s too complex for the builder following instructions—even on large models for ages 16+. If your model is a particularly tricky build, our end product could look significantly different—or not pass review at all. LEGO CUUSOO isn’t a place to canonize the best MOCs as official sets, instead, building your CUUSOO model closer to how we design LEGO sets will make it easier to turn your concept into reality. Need help knowing what techniques aren’t allowed? Re-create your model using LEGO Digital Designer.
  3. Consider your model size and potential cost. While we’re known for building large models, not every large model is practical for us to produce from a business perspective. We will not rule out a large model initially, but it might run into trouble when we build a business case.
  4. Models should not depend on new LEGO element molds. While we love considering new elements, if a model depends on a new element, there are more potential factors on which it can fail review. All new LEGO elements go through a very strict design and review process before they are accepted into the LEGO system. An existing element in a new color is OK, but a new element in one set isn’t likely.
  5. Go wide. Projects that feature new ideas and new categories have greater potential. We have planning cycles and we review CUUSOO projects in light of our upcoming products. Even if there isn’t a direct conflict, categories might overlap, and like any smart consumer business we are conscious of cannibalizing our own sales. Projects that extend a current playtheme or a license run the risk of not being approved, as these lines are pre-planned and produced over longer periods of time. Licensed products also require approval by third parties, which is not guaranteed. While we love watching your enthusiasm for current LEGO themes and licenses, remember that LEGO CUUSOO is oriented toward new and original ideas.
  6. Think in terms of individual sets, since playthemes are planned well in advance. Many of the playtheme projects on LEGO CUUSOO are very well done, however LEGO CUUSOO is oriented toward producing and selling individual products (or SKUs). On the upside, the conceptual and story work that goes into developing a playtheme helps build a project with depth and character that can compel people to support. We allow projects to propose playthemes as they help communicate a concept, but remember that our team makes the final decision on what will be produced, and we are set up to produce individual LEGO sets.
  7. Keep your concept kid-appropriate. We’re adult LEGO fans too, but LEGO is still a toy company. We decide what concepts and IPs are appropriate for us to put our logo next to, and LEGO CUUSOO is not a way to force us to release a product that doesn’t fit our brand. If your project is based on an IP like a movie or game, make sure the IP itself is kid-friendly. In the borderline cases, we decide. While we have our own framework, the balanced reviews on sites like Common Sense Media can give you an idea of which direction something might go in a borderline case. They provide a more nuanced system by ranking various types of content.
  8. Suggesting a new license introduces factors outside of our control. Understand if your idea is for us to produce a new licensed item, you’re introducing factors into the review process that can diminish your chances. 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. Note that if a license doesn’t work out, we will not produce a project as an unlicensed version, since the supporters would have been gained because of the license. While your chances are slim, if your licensed project succeeds you’ll be a hero to fans of your favorite brand!

Succeeding at promoting and building an audience for your project is just the first step. We hope you find these tips helpful in understanding what will carry your project through the LEGO Review and on to the ultimate goal as a LEGO product.