Interview with Team BTTF

In case you haven’t heard, the results of the Summer LEGO® Review are in, and the next LEGO CUUSOO set will be the Back to the Future™ Time Machine based on the project by Masashi Togami (m.togamiand Minifig Builder Sakuretsu (sakuretsu). But who are these builders? Take a minute to get to know Masashi and the team that inspired the the next LEGO CUUSOO set.

Team BTTF tells us they aim to use LEGO® products to re-introduce the world to the movie “Back to the Future.” With that goal in mind, they created the “BTTF Time Machine.” However, this is only the beginning for Team BTTF; they actually have three other projects in the Idea Stage on LEGO CUUSOO and say they are working on more. Perhaps you have seen the remote control-operated BTTF UCS Time Machine, the micro-scale Hill Valley Courthouse, and the minifigure scale model of villain Biff Tannen’s Ford.

How does the team work together? Masashi Togami is the team leader and in charge of the team’s product concepts and managing PR activities to gather supporters. Sakuretsu is in charge of model building and customized LEGO Minifigures. However Legohaulic built the BTTF UCS Time Machine. Before beginning a project they decide as a team which role each member will take, then they work together, each member bringing their own unique personality and skills to the project.

Interview with Masashi

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

Masashi Togami: A little under 30 years. I first began playing with LEGO bricks at age 5.

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

MT: When I was in elementary school, “Back to the Future” was the first movie I ever saw. BTTF, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2015, continues to provide hope and dreams to viewers today.

From the present to the past, and to the future. Since I was a child, I always believed that the BTTF Time Machine was a perfect match for the world of LEGO [bricks]. Using bricks, I attempted to create the BTTF Time Machine countless times. However, I never had enough of the necessary bricks and, as a child, I lacked the building skill necessary for such a detailed project so I never succeeded.

20 years later, after becoming an adult, I met a LEGO minifigure builder (customizer) named Sakuretsu. He listened to my childhood dream, and in 2011 we added the BTTF Time Machine to LEGO CUUSOO.

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

MT: Sakuretsu specializes in sample builds and the customization of LEGO Minifigures so I asked him to answer this question. There are two major points to discuss:

  1. Customized figurine configuration. First, I sketched some ideas for clothing and hairstyle while watching the movie, and tried to reproduce them for a LEGO Minifigure. The hairstyle in particular is entirely handmade and cannot be reproduced. I used a magnifying glass while creating the parts so that they would appear just like those in the film.
  2. Sample build configuration. The characteristics of the time machine change slightly between each of the three movies, which made it difficult to replicate. I edited the gull wing doors and the operation of the tires from part 2 over and over. Personally, I wanted to create it as an actual 2 person car so instead of using the usual size (6stud), I used one size larger (8stud).

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

MT: It was a long and hard road to reach 10,000 supporters. In general, we sought to gain supporters through the following three steps:

  1. Improving the quality of sample builds. Several users left constructive comments about the sample build on the project page which Sakuretsu took into consideration. In reality, the quality of the sample build from the debut of the project and that of the sample build from after we gathered 10,000 supporters is quite different.Even after the decision to produce the design is made, Sakuretsu maintains a strong desire for improvement. He went on to develop an even more accurate sample build. See here for more details.
  2. Developing a strong relationship with various media sites. We searched for community sites, blogs, Facebook pages, etc., that have a connection with LEGO or BTTF and regularly contact the managers of those sites with details about Team BTTF. They often post about our team projects on their sites. We keep a record of all articles about us on this page.Famous sites such as Gizmodo, Engadget, and Wired had a huge impact. After they posted articles about our team, we always made sure to express our thanks through an e-mail to help them remember our name and our activities.
  3. Increasing the fan base of Team BTTF. We created a Facebook page at the end of December 2011 and began updating about the status of our projects and support numbers. The people who “like” our page could be thought of as our die-hard fans. As of January 2013 we have gathered more than 1,000 “likes.” We hope to gather 10,000 “likes” in the future.

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

MT: The film Back to the Future taught us the following:

“If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything.”
“Your future is whatever you make it.”

If you haven’t yet seen the Back to the Future trilogy, we hope you’ll take the time to see it. In order to make your dreams come true, it is important to always fight for them. Even if you fail you must always view failure as a step closer to success.

We hope that all of your wishes come true.

Editor’s note: Be sure to follow Masashi and Sakuretsu on LEGO CUUSOO and check out other projects from Team BTTF! If you’re looking for more information on the upcoming 21103 Back to the Future™ Time Machine, hold tight please. These things take time and we will share details when they are ready.

Results of the Summer LEGO® Review

At long last, we’re thrilled to announce the results of the Summer LEGO® Review in a video message to all of you. In June, four LEGO CUUSOO projects entered the first of what will be regular quarterly reviews of projects that successfully reach 10,000 supporters. These four projects— Back to the Future™ DeLorean™ Time Machine, EVE Online™ Ships – Rifter, The Legend of Zelda™, and the Modular Western Town—have gone through a lengthy review process.

21103 Back to the Future™ Time Machine
It is with great pleasure we reveal that the next LEGO CUUSOO set will be the Back to the Future Time Machine, based upon the LEGO CUUSOO project by m.togami and Sakuretsu. As one of the earliest projects on the site’s global open beta, headlines of a potential Back to the Future LEGO set was seen on popular sites including Gizmodo and Brothers Brick, helping LEGO CUUSOO gain massive appeal.

The final product is still in development in coordination with our license partner, Universal Partnerships & Licensing. We’ll show the final model and you’ll be able to order your own copy when it becomes available in mid-2013 (exact dates and pricing to be determined).

What does the review process look like?
The 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 more detailed description of the review process.

How did we arrive at our decisions?
We know you are interested in more information about the decision process, and what has happened with each project. Though we cannot share all details of our business decisions, here is what we have decided to share about each project:

Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine
by m.togami* and Sakuretsu
After analyzing the supporters of the Back to the Future project, we learned that this product has a broad, worldwide appeal. The model presented in this project is built very closely to the LEGO Group’s design standards and has therefore provided a strong base to design the final product. It has a high play value and it fits well with supporters’ price expectations.

For these reasons, the Back to the Future project has passed the LEGO Review, and has been selected for production as the next LEGO CUUSOO set. The final product, pricing, and release dates are still being determined.

EVE Online Ships – Rifter
by czar
The supporters we received for the EVE Online Ships – Rifter project allowed us to examine the feasibility of another gaming-related product. However the Rifter presented a more challenging business case when considered alongside other potential products in this Review period. Therefore, the LEGO Review Board has decided that this project does not meet the requirements for the business case.

Modular Western Town
by mb_bricks
The Modular Western Town project conflicts with an ongoing project at the LEGO Group. As a result, the project does not meet the business case requirements and has not passed the LEGO Review.

The Legend of Zelda
The Legend of Zelda project shows broad support among gaming enthusiasts . This project has provided great inspiration and concept work for what could be a very nice product.

However, multiple new element moulds would be required to create the minifigures for such a product, and the expense of these moulds means that the Legend of Zelda project does not pass the LEGO Review on the basis of the business case.

Please note: If a project does not pass the LEGO Review please do not interpret that as an indication that we will not consider similar projects in the future.

Fall Review in Progress
The Fall Review is currently in progress, and the Winter Review period has started as of Monday, December 3. The next review deadline is Monday, February March 4, 2013. Best of luck on your own projects’ journeys to 10,000!

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.

* Disclosure: The BTTF project was one of the first projects on the global version of LEGO CUUSOO, beginning during the closed alpha version of the site in the summer of 2011. One of the collaborators on this project, Masashi Togami, is a part-time contractor of CUUSOO System, our partner company that operates the LEGO CUUSOO platform. Masashi will donate his 1% royalty to the Michael J. Fox foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Status of the Summer and Fall LEGO Reviews

Just as you’ve been anxious to hear the results of the Summer LEGO review, we have been chomping at the bit to share the news with you about the results for EVE Online Ships – RifterBack to the Future DeLorean Time Machine, The Legend of Zelda, and the Modular Western Town.


The LEGO Review board is still working on some of the final details of the Summer Review, which must be complete before we are able to announce any of the results. Projects in each quarterly review happen in batches, so we announce the results for each project at the same time. We’re sorry that we cannot yet commit to a date where we will share the news.

Fall Review has Begun
In the mean time, we have begun the process of the Fall Review, which includes the UCS Sandcrawler, Thinking with Portals, and the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity Rover.

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!


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).