Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Weekly Cuusoo


Lego Cuusoo at SXSW

Tim Courtney and Peter Espersen presented at SXSW Interactive this Monday and I was lucky enough to attend the presentation Shut Up & Take My Money: LEGO Does Crowdsourcing.

The presentation was given to a packed room and well received.  Other than some numeric factoids, there was not much new for the Lego fans and Cuusoo hard-core that find themselves on this site.

That was of course to be expected as this was a presentation to introduce Cuusoo and inform others on how to crowdsourcing for their own markets.

The slides can be found hereI will see what I can do to clear up the lack of dialog but, as I said, it was not really targeted at Cuusoo users as much as a business piece.

Likely of more interest to Cuusoo fans, Tim Courtney and I are going to see if we can't get in a short interview while he is Austin.  We will have to see how that turns out.

Green Day No More

So, as stated many times, Cuusoo is very laid back about what people post.  I think it is wise, most projects don't get any attention so they don't really rock the boat at all.  Late last week though, Green Day fans finally cottoned on (yes that is a phrase and I use it all the time, not a typo) to the existence of this project and started to file in, netting them the third spot in the leader board no less.

I am not surprised that Lego has no interest in doing a Green Day set (don't get me wrong I love their music), but I was surprised to see it got taken down.  Usually this sort of thing happens at 1k, but this came down in the 700's with no comment, no archive, pure deletion.  Been a while since that has happened.  Apparently the project did not "Follow the Guidelines."  Not really sure what specific guideline it was breaking but that is really Cuusoo's perogative.

That being said I was always a bit bothered by this project for not using any Lego beyond the heads and headgear.  I have become more neutral on the point of using "bendy figs" to promote a project but if you look you will see that none of the equipment is even a little bit Lego with the arguable exception of the drum sticks.

Unofficial Cuusoo Wiki

Similar to other "more interesting" universal constants, If it exists, there is a wiki for it and Cuusoo is certainly no exception to the rule.  It can be found right here.  I may have founded the wiki, but its recent improvements are the work of Cuusoo super-user "DKong_5.4.12" and his compatriot "Doodlenaut3." Many thanks to them both.  Feel free to expand on the wiki, it is the point of the thing.

Also there is a chat feature.  I have not has the opportunity to try it out yet but I am lead to believe that you can "chat" on it ;).  Hopefully this will allow some of you to give Tim a break and talk "out" of Cuusoo. 

C.C.S. Gryphon  

I am proud to associated with this "Galaxy Command" project.  It is not only a well thought out and unique design but also represents one of the novel and unexpected evolutions of Cuusoo, a community.

Although this is the Gryphon, it is a spin out of a parent project, The Galaxy Command, which is a living storyline which seeks to build a whole universe out of Lego.  Reekardoo and KitBricksto helm this project and engage heavily with their fan-base using their fan's input to direct the content of the project. 

As for the Gryphon itself, it is one of my favorite "sci-fi" vessels on Cuusoo.  It has a great look to it, obviously but it has some clever play features too with pop out weapons pods integrated into the wings and seating for four figures. 

People trying to make cool stuff happen (A)

"A long time ago"...Veronica Mars Movie Kickstarter!

Although it is a common statement on Cuusoo, I have never before actually said "Shut up and TAKE MY MONEY" but this certainly deserves it  (for me anyway).

Veronica Mars was a 3 season tv series showcasing Kristen Bell as a snarky teen detective.  It does not sound awesome but neither does the idea of a Teen Vampire Hunter but the show is one of my favorites. 

One interesting thing about this Kickstarter is that no Kickstarter project ever has set a goal of $2 million before.  AND it is already at $1.25 million.  This kind of direct "ownership" by the fans could revolutionize the entertainment industry.

Another interesting couple of factoids dropped by it are some figures about Kickstarter.  

  • The average pledge on Kickstarter is $71. 
  • The most common donation amount on Kickstarter is $25. 

People trying to make cool stuff happen (B)

Here is a novel approach to 3d printing, getting rid of the robot but keeping the extruder to make a "matter pen"

The 3Doodler is something in-between a toy and a tool.  It heats up a bit of ABS (what most Lego is made of) and spits it out.  It is effectively a hot glue gun so it is technically nothing insanely groundbreaking but like many inventions it is the application, not the technology that makes it interesting. 

I asked Daniel, one of the Creators about the resilience of the structures that are produced and he had this to say:

"The flexibility vs. brittleness is really up to you as the creator. You can make pieces thicker by going back and forth and joining the strands, or you go very slow to make a thick strand that will be less flexible, but at the same time stronger and more able to support things. 

In the converse, you'll create more brittle strands if you move the pen faster, but the thinner strands tend to be very flexible. If thinner, they are not easy to break, but they cannot support other objects." 

Not as exacting as Lego of course but it looks like a bit of fun none the less.

By the way, these guys are at $2.2 million of a $30,000 dollar goal, so they are sitting pretty as far as funding goes. 

FTL now the 9th Most supported project on Cuusoo

by CrashSanders

One last note before moving into the weekly review.  FTL just reached single digit ranking!  It has been a crazy week for me indeed!

Pick(S) of the Week

Ghostbusters Ultimate Collection
by C3brix

Support Level: 135

This is a very impressive recreation of the Ghost Buster station full of playable details.  It does have some creative license for the sake of viability (the containment unit is on the first floor instead of a basement level) and Ecto-1 can't fit in it but these are the types of compromises that are often found in Lego.  What it does have is the sleeping quarters, equipment room, and containment unit / reception area.

I think the only thing I would change about this build is to replace the fireman's pole with a thin rod, like the one used in the fire station modular.

I would love to see this in a modular line-up.


Barnes & Noble and Starbucks Store
by Wooootles

Support Level: 153

I started out not loving this modular but in the end, I just cold not resist.  Excluding one point five problems I had with it, each issue I brought up against it was later knocked down upon closer observation.

This is quite frankly, gorgeous.  On the blatantly lovely side, the coloring is great and I am always a fan of the curved entrance.

I originally did not care for the repetition of the book displays but I have found at least four variations in the design, not to mention a shelf for Lego (which they sell at many Barnes and Nobles).  I was also thinking there should be places to sit down and yes, those exist on the top floor.  The roof even has air conditioners and there is a trash unit behind the store!

Make sure to check out the flickr pages

What (1.5) problems to I have with it.  The escalator is a fine touch, and well designed but takes up an enormous amount of room.  The build actually appears to be a shell wrapped around an escalator in fact.  Personally I would take out one of the middle rows of the escalator and bring in the banister at least one more level as well.  Given how much you take out of the banister this would give you anywhere between 2 and 5 more rows to add fine details.

The final issue is a bit of nit pick, there is no way to get to the roof...I know, a bit lame, but of all the modular I have seen, their is a way to get up there...

Out of preference as well, I would have put the coffee shop on the middle level.

"Very" Honorable Mention

Lord of the Rings Set: Edoras/The Golden Hall
by Nujumetru

Support Level: 201

This was almost my pick of the week, I kept waffling between it and the Ghostbusters set.  Although the scale makes the Ghostbusters a little less likely, my love of Ghostbusters overcame in the end. 

This Golden Hall looks like a great build with a lot of play potential.  It is not a castle or what not but that is kind of the point.  We have tons of castles and thankfully a few more rustic builds recently but this is still a fresh face that would work well in any medieval setting.

On top of that the scale of the build is rather respectable for Cuusoo, though perhaps pushing the boundaries on minifigs.  The coloring is also very attractive with a good mix of golds, browns and tans.

One of the best things about this set which gives it a very "authentic set" feel that many overlook is that the there is a lot of variation in the build.  To get a better feel for what I am saying here, compare it to   

Honorable Mentions

The Castle of Cagliostro ルパン三世 カリオストロの城
by Kaveve

Support Level: 6

I love Castle of Cagliostro and Lupin the Third for that matter.  This is a fun build recreating a key scene from the film.  Not sure how legal it is but you can find the sequence here.  Note there is a vulgarity in the sequence (very brief) but I am pretty sure there would be some brand issues between Lupin the Third and Lego. 

Collectible Harry Potter Minifigures
by Dh123

Support Level: 31

This is one of those projects that Cuusoo consistently lets on for some reason that promotes a series of individual figures when Cuusoo makes it absolutely clear that they are about releasing sets.  That being said, this project stands apart in that the creative talent behind it is the prolific custom figure crafter  tin7.  This is not the first time tin7's work has been on Cuusoo, but it is the first time it has been on Cuuso with his permission.  In the early days when plagiarism was rampant, this custom figs were constantly showing up.   

Star Wars: Imperial Missile Boat
by Krispijn

Support Level: 35

This is a novel design from the extended Star Wars universe and the build is quite dedicated to the source.

There are two changes I would suggest, one would be to make the "missiles" (it is in the name) more evident by putting "warheads" on the individual pods instead of  1 x 1 tiles.  Also, the ship appears to have vents (for some reason) on either side of the cockpit.  I would like to see this feature represented in Lego by at least a grill if not something a bit more complex. 


Country Hardware Store
by Lightning51

Support Level: 13

I like the internals of this a lot and the design choice is rather unique.  My one problem with it was the lack of windows.  When I read this design is based on a chain called CO-OP Agro Centres I was giving it the benefit of the doubt that the aesthetic choices that did not agree with me were based on recreating a common construction technique in the chain.  Using a google image search though, I could not find any images that looked like this build (except this build of course).

If you are doing a build that is very dedicated to a real world structure, I always recommend, at least,  linking to some corroborating source material so that people can see how accurate your design is. 

That being said, you really should check out the internals

Star Wars Trade Federation Landing Craft
by Haweebo_ii

Support Level: 28

A very accurate recreation of an iconic Star Wars vessel that has not gotten any Love from Lego with some nice play features built in as well.    There are some design issues that haunt the ship though, like the large, bland base structure.  These are not Haweebo_ii issues perhaps as much as the actual ship design the build is based on

Pokemon Professor Oak's Lab
by Samiam

Support Level: 46

This is a really fantastic build based on just a bit of low res, almost 2d art.  The brick count is very high though.  The figures do not really appeal to me though, they all look very angry.  Also, no pokemon?  I mean, sure, I get that this is before Ash gets a pokemon, but that is like having a Luke Skywalker Moisture Farmer set.  Use a bit of creative license and step it up a bit. 

by Bricosoft

Support Level: 25

This is just adorable!  Using the droid heads for fingers is quite genius.

Lego Stargate SG-1: M.A.L.P.
by Maxxhine

Support Level: 23

While this design if very reflective of the M.A.L.P. and thus my recognition of it, the scale is totally out of proportion.  The M.A.L.P. is shorter than a person and this thing almost looks like it could carry the group. 

Week of Cuusoo

Lord of the Rings Set: Edoras/The Golden Hall
by Nujumetru

Support Level: 201

see above

Barnes & Noble and Starbucks Store
by Wooootles

Support Level: 153

see above

Ghostbusters Ultimate Collection
by C3brix

Support Level: 135

see above

Pokemon Professor Oak's Lab
Support Level: 46

Support Level: 25
Lego Stargate SG-1:  M.A.L.P.
Support Level: 23
Mr. Freeze's Laboratory
Support Level: 22

Polish skyscraper
Support Level: 21
Drop Ship
Support Level: 20
Taj Mahal - Architecture
Support Level: 18

Alphabet Blocks (Classic)
Support Level: 16
Micro Wipeout
Support Level: 14
Lego Stargate: Atlantis
Support Level: 14

Iron Highway
Support Level: 14
Country Hardware Store
Support Level: 13
Norwegian Freight Train
Support Level: 13

ironage round house
Support Level: 8
Kon Tiki
Support Level: 6

Young black phantom
Support Level: 5

Ninja Rally Racer
Support Level: 4
Transformers Grimlock!
Support Level: 3
Support Level: 2

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