Last week, the LEGO Group officially unveiled 123 Sesame Street, the latest set in its fan-created LEGO Ideas theme. Other fan-sourced sets include the NASA Apollo Saturn V rocket, The Flintstones, Steamboat Willie from Disney, Central Perk from the Friends TV show, and many other ingenious builds.
As an Adult Fan of LEGO (AFOL), I admire how the company navigates the potentially treacherous waters of co-creation and crowdsourcing. LEGO Ideas effectively taps into the creativity of the brand’s passionate fanbase to the benefit of both.
BIG IN JAPAN
The LEGO Group’s crowdsourcing endeavors began in 2008 when the company launched a pilot project with Japanese crowdsourcing platform, CUUSOO (meaning “fantasy”). After maturing for three years in Japan, LEGO CUUSOO went worldwide in 2011 and was renamed LEGO Ideas in April 2014.
In the platform’s twelve years of existence, the community has grown to well over one million members, with more than 30,000 ideas submitted for consideration and more than thirty-five build-and-display sets approved for production.
HOW IT WORKS
LEGO Fan Designers submit ideas for consideration through the Ideas website. Each submission must include photos of a sample build of the model and a thoughtfully written description about why it would make a great LEGO set. The company provides a set of straightforward guidelines to help creators understand the attributes of a successful project.
If a submitted project reaches a threshold of 10,000 supporters from the online community, it enters a review period by the LEGO Group, with a chance to be made into an official LEGO product. The designer of an approved project is paid 1% of net sales for their idea and the set is packaged, marketed, and sold through the same channels as internally developed products.
Review periods take place three times a year and sets often progress from approved concept to available for purchase very quickly, with a meantime of roughly six months.
To garner support for a submission, an individual creator must evangelize and sell their idea within the LEGO Ideas community. Crowd support provides LEGO with a barometer of an idea’s commercial viability before production. Just as importantly, it gives the company insight into the types of build suggestions their fans are interested in. Beyond bragging rights and royalties, successful fan designers get the thrill of engaging directly with a brand they care deeply about. In this way, LEGO Ideas succeeds by providing mutual value to both the company and the community.
The LEGO Group accepts Ideas submissions on a rolling basis – the process of creating and submitting could be a great pandemic project for a LEGO fan in your life.
Todd Coopee is Editor-in-Chief of Toy Tales, an online publication that covers toys and games past and present.