Congratulations to the LEGO CUUSOO Summer Review Qualifiers!

As of midnight today, June 4 (GMT), the deadline to qualify for the Summer review has passed. The LEGO CUUSOO team extends our warm congratulations to the following projects that have successfully achieved 10,000 supporters and will be included in the Summer Review!

Summer-eveSummer-deloreanSummer-zeldaSummer-westerntown

Our team will evalute each project for brand fit (is it appropriate?), strategy fit (does it conflict with anything we’re producing?), business case (can we sell enough of them profitably at the necessary price point?), model design (can we make an appealing model that adheres to our standards?), and other criteria. Though they are being reviwed at the same time, each project will be considered independently on its own merits.

Learn More about the LEGO Review
For background, check out our three-part blog series on the LEGO Review. The first post announces the quarterly schedule, the second outlines the phases of the review, and the final post shares our our cheat sheet on how to pass the LEGO Review.

 

Future quarterly review deadlines will be will be early September, December, and March respectively. The deadline to achieve 10,000 supporters and qualify for the Fall review is Monday, September 3 (midnight GMT).

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.

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!

Projects Reaching 10,000 Supporters Will Now Be Reviewed Quarterly

In just over six months of open beta, you’ve come from all corners of the Internet and created some awesome projects in hopes of getting your idea produced as a LEGO product. Wow! We can’t tell you how stoked we are at all of your incredible ideas. It’s hard to contain our excitement when we browse the kinds of things you’re making and supporting.

Opening ourselves to your suggestions is still new territory for us. Allowing you to build an audience for your ideas is both a huge opportunity and a risk. Our production abilities are still subject to the laws of physics (drat!), high costs of new molds, and distribution for toy retailers is planned out well in advance too. This makes it easier to sell one-off’s online like the LEGO Minecraft Micro World, but tricky if you want a playtheme or new elements in your project.

The LEGO Review will now happen quarterly
From here forward, we will conduct the LEGO Review of projects that reach 10,000 supporters quarterly. All projects that reach 10,000 supporters between now and June 4 (midnight GMT) will be included in the Summer review. Future quarterly review deadlines will be will be early September, December, and March respectively. Review periods do not have a definite end date due to the complexity of the process, which we will explain in our next post on this topic.

During the review, projects will be evaluated for brand fit (is it appropriate?), strategy fit (does it conflict with anything we’re producing?), business case (can we sell enough of them profitably at the necessary price point?), model design (can we make an appealing model that adheres to our standards?), and other criteria. Each project will be considered independently, but now we’ll review them at the same time.

We queue for production models that pass the LEGO Review
At the end of the review, projects will either be approved or not approved based on how they fit our review criteria. When we announce the review results, we’ll also reveal the final production models for each approved project. We can then potentially pick one project per quarter to put into immediate production as the next LEGO CUUSOO set. This potential set is chosen based on strategic fit and the business case from the review.

The remaining projects that pass Review will be placed in a queue where they will await an open production slot and may be chosen for production at a later date. The order in which they are produced is also dependent on strategy and the business case for each. As the LEGO Group alone takes on the cost of production and associated risk, we will choose LEGO CUUSOO sets for production at our discretion.

LEGO CUUSOO Remains in Beta
It’s important to note both the LEGO CUUSOO website and the operations that produce fan-inspired sets remain in a beta testing period. LEGO CUUSOO is breaking new ground for the LEGO Group, for LEGO fans, and for brand fan communities as a whole. As we work to produce your favourite CUUSOO projects as LEGO sets, it is important that we do so in a way that is scalable and sustainable as a business. Our team will continue to improve and refine this process, and we’re exploring possibilities that will allow you to share the risk of production costs so that your favorite projects can make it into production faster.

This post is the first of a three-part series about the LEGO Review. Look forward to the next post on this topic next week, where we give you an in-depth look at how the LEGO Review process works for projects that reach 10,000 supporters.

Brand Standards: What makes an appropriate LEGO product?

Ever since we announced that the Winchester, and now the Firefly Serenity playset did not pass the LEGO Review, there has been some speculation about how we will handle various LEGO CUUSOO projects that skirt the line of the LEGO brand standards.

The LEGO Company sells construction toys for builders of all ages. Over the last ten-plus years, LEGO products for teens and adults have proven very popular, including LEGO Mindstorms, the UCS series, and the LEGO Direct Exclusives to name a few. Adult builders create incredible models that reflect their passions and interests. As the LEGO Company creates products for an older audience, we takes great care to ensure that everything we produce is appropriate for children and the parents who trust us.

LEGO CUUSOO has opened the floor for you to submit product concepts to us that we can consider for production. As of March 29, all new projects are first held in a queue and approved by a moderator before being posted to the site. We’re able to catch a lot more things this way, but some things are not obvious on the surface and we can’t give every project a thorough review. Projects that are obviously over the line will be caught, but some will inevitably pass through.

Our team is very aware that some potentially inappropriate projects remain active on the site; most of those projects were posted before we began approving new projects. We’re in the process of examining questionable projects and removing the inappropriate ones. This will take some time. Look forward to updates in the coming weeks that refine the Guidelines and House Rules as we work to communicate more clearly what is acceptable and not. Understand that we will not produce products that are related to these topics:

  • Politics and political symbols
  • Religious references including symbols, buildings, or people
  • Sex, drugs, or smoking
  • Alcohol in any present day situation
  • Swearing
  • Death, killing, blood, terrorism, or torture
  • First-person shooter video games
  • Warfare or war vehicles in any situation post-WWII to present
  • Racism, bullying, or cruelty to real life animals

The determination of how a project fits these above standards will be at our discretion. There’s always a chance that something will be approved, then removed from the site after being reviewed in greater depth, or not approved during the LEGO Review stage for projects that achieve 10,000 supporters.

Conversely, there are plenty of LEGO product ideas that appeal to older fans and do not skirt these lines. Our advice is to stick to what’s safe. Remember, some things are more appropriate for you to build with your own bricks and share online yourself. There are many great ideas out there, but not all make appropriate official LEGO products.

As always, best wishes with your LEGO CUUSOO projects!

Congratulations to the Firefly Serenity playset reaching 10,000 supporters! Here’s our decision on fit with the LEGO brand.

First and foremost, huge congratulations to tbone_tbl for reaching 10,000 supporters on LEGO CUUSOO, and toward everyone for all of the support of the Firefly Serenity Playset project!

LEGO CUUSOO gives the opportunity for adult LEGO fans to submit product ideas. You submit some incredible things, and we’re huge fans of all of your work. This is a beautiful model and a skilled rendition of the beloved Serenity from Firefly built with LEGO bricks.

When reviewing projects for production, the LEGO Jury first looks at how the concept fits the LEGO brand. We learned the IP was questionable regarding a brand fit, and since we anticipated this project reaching 10,000 the team got a head start and reviewed the project on these criteria.

LEGO produces toys for children. Therefore all LEGO products, regardless of age target, must be content-appropriate for this core audience. With this in mind we have decided that as cool as the Serenity model is, the Firefly TV show and Serenity film contain content that is not appropriate for our core target audience of children ages 6-11. While we know this news will disappoint those who supported the project, we will not be producing this as a LEGO product.

Opening ourselves to new product suggestions invites popular ideas that don’t always fit our brand. We are grateful for the spirit behind projects like the Firefly Serenity and for the opportunity to be challenged. It keeps us sharp and looking toward the future of the LEGO brick.

New Guideline and Instructions for Collaborative Projects

In the first six months of operating the global version of LEGO CUUSOO, we’ve seen an encouraging pattern emerge: collaboration on projects. Teamwork makes us smile. Some people are very good at building a model or illustrating a concept with good artwork. Others are good at promoting their project and gaining traffic from other websites to increase their supporter count. By working together, you can complement each others’ strengths and increase your success.

So, we’ve updated our Project Guidelines so you can “legally” collaborate with other builders and feature others’ work with permission. Projects are still owned by the project creator or owner. As a project owner, you can collaborate with one or more fellow CUUSOO users to build the LEGO model or concept artwork to communicate your idea. All collaborators must have a LEGO CUUSOO account and adhere to the Guidelines and House Rules.

To register your collaborative project, have each team member read Guideline #6 and register your collaborative project with us via the instructions. This way, we can log each collaborator so we know that they have given you permission to include their work in your project.

Happy Collaborating!