Sunday, August 31, 2014

Hubble Telescope Completing its Mission
The Current LEGO Ideas Review deadline is in just 3 hours.

With quite an exciting surge in support, the Hubble is now a mere 85 support form 10,000.

Will be fun to watch.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Some Interesting Ideas

Personal Project


Monk is one of my favorite shows.  Saabfan approached me about collaborating on it and in the long run, I just could not resist.  This one was a LOT of fun.  

Pick of the Week

Chinese New Year Dragon
by Mibitat

This is one of those projects I have considered doing for a long time.  One reason being that I walk by a ad for joining a Dragon/Lion league every day.  

Mibitat has showcased a beautiful Dragon head (love the palms for the ears/horns) and a great, authentic looking body.

This design does appear to be a bit out of proportion with what I am familiar with.  I assume the awesome dragon head dictated the scale of everything else though, and I think Mibitat made the right decision in that case. 

Honorable Mentions

American Pickers
by Colin23

I am not directly familiar with the show but I know the type.  The use of Classic Lego references is what really sells me on this project.  That is knowing your audience.  

LEGO Architecture - Bank of China Tower (Hong Kong
by aleehc

Elegantly simple with clever use of elements.  


The Flying Dutchman Pirate Ship
Gorgeous and impressive, but so is the one in 9th ranking on Ideas.  It had two years to reach 6250 and has minifigure elements.   It will be interesting to see how this one compares in the long run.    
Red Arrows Folland Gnat
LEGO McDonalds in Korea
A complex and impressive piece of work.
Modular Parisian Drugstore
by Vean2
For best impact, at least for me, the exterior of a modular should vary from floor to floor, It should share elements from the other floors but each story should add more to the narrative.

Now I know that most multistory buildings are pretty much identical on every story, such as Parisian Drugstores, but these do not make for compelling modulars in my experience. 
Billund Airport (architecture)
A great idea for a small architecture build.
Clash of Clans
Very well done custom figures.  
Despicable Me Minion Workshop
The minions in this project seem pretty well designed but the photos are not in focus on the characters that the project hangs on.  Take your time to get that perfect shot so people can fully appreciate the hard work you have put into your project. 
LEGO Boardwalk
This project has a lot of very well implemented arcade elements.
The Hunter (SDA - 03)
I like this design a lot.  It suffers of course from not being rendered and also from being on the standard background who so many people are trained to ignore by the ho-hum projects that so commonly use them.
Animal Friends Brickfigures
A fun send up for the fans of Fabuland.
Tactical Forklift
by JanYap
These last two are more JanYap originals that combine creative concepts with impressive presentation
Rocket Mail
by JanYap

Friday, August 15, 2014

Ideas Editorial: On the Efficacy of Past Rejections to Predict Future Rejections

One of the most popular public comments rejecting a new project is "someone else already tried this and LEGO rejected it."  In some cases this has been reinforced many times.

cough-Zelda!-cough..excuse me, I can't fathom why I just typed a cough...anyway, where was I, ah yes.

Now, of course, I am not about to write an article in which I say, that people should never apply past experience to predict future events.  History, repeating, doom, yadda yadda yadda,  that is all good stuff.  The logical fallacy we have here is that excepting for a single subject (cough-Zelda!-cough) we don't have much history to repeat on and we are not privy to the exact reasons why LEGO rejected a project at the point that it did.  

The simple and most direct response to this statement of "previous rejection reinforcement" is that LEGO Ideas has bluntly stated, repeatedly that a project being rejected in a previous review does not mean, inherently, that a similar project will be rejected in the current or future review.

There are several viable reasons why LEGO might reject a product at one point and not later down the road:
  • Conflicting licensing agreement first time around
  • LEGO came out with a similar idea last year and they are still letting the theme "desaturate"
  • Maybe the guy who keeps rejecting a project finally left to work on something else.  
  • Upcoming event (Anniversary, Game Release, etc...) likely to renew interest in the subject
  • In the fullness of time, global acceptance of the subject matter lubricates Brand Fit (see LotR!)  
  • The subject matter is, on its own, making grounds into new markets
  • The subject matter is trendy now

There is however another reason that does not seem to get much air time in most discussions that I would like to take this soap box to discuss.  Ideas, with every product release to date, has fundamental proven itself to be a bad-ass. 

Now, A bit of Backstory...LEGO challenges itself regularly to come up with new lines of products that shakes up the norm.  This was called the "New Business Group."  Architecture, Life of George, Cuusoo/Ideas, etc...Basically, this was kind of like LEGO being a venture capitalist inside its own company.   It basically established these "start ups" inside itself and game them a few years to get on their feet or, well, not.   

Obviously Life of George is no longer with us...but the other are.

Basically for the first few years of its existence,  Ideas/Cuusoo was a risky start up.  When you are choosing your products, under those kinds of restrictions, you go with the ones you know are going to succeed.  You go with the easy decisions.  You don't gamble.  A single loss could be the end of the whole program.

So, now,  Ideas has six globally distributed sets under its belt.  Of those six, four sold out immediately, one has spun out multiple sets and a full blown theme, and two appear to be selling fairly well with obvious fan appeal.

It is not often that LEGO sells out of a set while demand is still high.  That tells you that not only is Ideas "winning," it is exceeding the expectations of LEGO.

Why am I pointing all this out?  Well, one is just to do it...I am editorializing you know...but the other point is that in the early days of Cuusoo, the risk/reward equation pointed heavily in favor of the sure thing, products that would definitely find a comfortable profit margin and public acclaim.  With each successful product launch, Ideas has reinforced that it is not a fluke though, that it is successful business model.  Ideas at this point is "solvent."

At this point, Ideas can easily absorb the hit, both monetarily and in the arena of public opinion, if  a risky project fails to pan out.  So as Ideas keeps racking up the wins, don't be surprised if they pick a few curve balls to throw into the mix.  

Just another factor to ponder when you are considering a far out idea, or about to trash someone else's. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Brick Kickstarters in their final hours

Just a quick reminder that three interesting LEGO "compatible" kickstarters will be closing out very soon.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Some Interesting Ideas

Pick of the Week

Planetary Exploration

Probably no surprise to my regular readers that this is the pick of the week as I already mentioned how much I love this project in this posting here. You could go check that out, but I think you time would be best served just going straight to the project and supporting it.

Honorable Mentions

LEGO Pueblo

What a MOC!  Very novel too.  I would love a western themed MOC that respects Native American culture, especially 

Unfortunately, if I know my LEGO elements, that guitar is not a LEGO element.  There are electric style guitars sure but, much to my chagrin, nothing in the classic guitar style.

I realize that the guitar is a very small element of a very large and impressive project but it does endanger the overall success of the project.

Pan Am Worldport

One of the things I love about the LEGO Tower Bridge is the miniature cars.  I love this model for the same reason.  This is not only a great recreation a complex structure, but it is also paired with some great aircraft microbuilds. 


The Juno model is very nice, I really like the solar panels too.  The brilliance of this project lies less in the model though and more in Juno's previously existing association with LEGO.  If you don't know what I am talking about, check out the project.


Fossil Museum
The T-rex is pretty much the most popular dinosaur there is.  The only reason I can assume that one is not present in this project is because  Whatpumpkin has left it out so as to not be so on the nose with the Research Institute.

The fact of the matter is that, at least for the next year (or more) any project with a dino-skeleton in it, or a laboratory for that matter is going to be considered a reflection of the Research Institute.  If you are going to make a set that touches on Research Institute, or any existing set, don't hold back.  Fully commit to the concept, and take whatever knocks you are going to take.  If you are serious about the project, it will make for a better concept in the long run.

Course I could totally be wrong about Whatpumpkin's reasons for not including a T-rex but the project still makes for a good talking point on this subject.  

The Scout camping project
Scouts are really just a 10k run waiting to happen.  Someday someone will get there.  
LL928 Comes Home
One of many Neo-Classic projects we have seen in the post Benny/Exo-suit era. 

While plenty of greeble has been added, and this is a fun recreation of the LL928, I would like to see a bit more creative interpretation.
A really great build.  Personally I would catalog Air Force One as a vehicle of war and not allow it, but to be sure, that is mostly because "war vehicles" are hard to define and I would lean towards a very strict interpretation to try to keep things easy. 
Halloween Street
Halloween builds are always a fun use of figs.
The Renegade: Micro-Scale Steampunk Airship
I can't wait for LEGO to finally create a Steampunk Airship.  Please vote for every one you can.
Frozen: Yeti Battle
The MOCs presented in this project are very playable and look like a lot of fun.  This would be a great MOC to see at a con and I know some people who would vote for this project based solely on the improper subject matter.

However, I never recommend anyone serious about getting produced expand an IP into new, unlikely, territory as part of their project.  Sure, make whatever project you like, but tying Disney IP to Cthulhu is just asking for trouble.

Batman Arkham Knight: The chase for justice
LEGO Ideas projects are not suppose to depict torture.  I have no idea how many project fail to get passed the exception.  I am surprised that this one has.

The project apparently depicts a police officer being dragged by a car.  I am not sure how LEGO defines torture, but this can't be pleasant. 
Calvin & Hobbes
by pinar
In my early days on Ideas (Cuusoo) I considered many times making a Calvin and Hobbes project.  I an a huge fan of the work.

Bill Watterson is however, famously against merchandising his creations and I respect that. 
Spirited Away: Dragon Haku
The model is pretty good, if a bit hard to see.  I always respect it when creators, like LordLEGOTube, go through the effort of recreating images that the fans can appreciate.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Ideas Editorial: The Big Stuff

Every time a "large" set gets to review phase, or even gets posted on a LEGO Blog, there are people who say things like "LEGO is never going to make a big Ideas set.  They should limit suggestions to (some number) of parts."

I have a lot to say about this, and instead of answering everyone every time someone brings it up, I figured I would do a single write up.

Never use Never

First off.  As a bit of life advice, and please don't take this the wrong way, I recommend avoiding the word "never" when talking about, well anything. 

For one thing, even if you are not, "never" is a word that makes you seem close minded, intense, possibly irrational, and potentially trolling.  You are going to get some people arguing with you just to prove you wrong.  Never is an easy thing to disprove.  Only one occurrence will entirely discredit a never, and you.   For all the same reasons, iron clad declarations should be avoided, as well, as they are really just variations on saying "never."

Instead use terms like "extremely unlikely,"  "highly doubtful," "almost never," etc...I know it takes a lot more effort to express the possibility of an unlikely thing happening (I am being serious here, it is actually psychologically difficult), but it is an extremely positive things to do.
  • It makes you look smarter as it informs that you have considered the likelihood of both scenarios. 
  • It shows you are reasonable as you are open to an event that defies your expectations. 
  • It does not incite people to attack your argument on base principle (Someone arguing against a "never" is trying to open a closed mind, someone arguing against an "almost never" is much more likely to come off as the irrational one, making anything you say more reasonable by comparison.)
  • You will almost always be right.  Lets face it, the reason you want to comment about something on the internet in the first place is to show how smart you are to strangers.  To add your brilliance to the conversation.  Well, Never can be wrong, but improbable just means unlikely.  You are not incorrect when something you said would be unlikely to happen occurs.  So go ahead, hedge your bets and don't use never.
  • Never destroys hope.  Don't be that guy.  Someone cares about what you are responding too.   Not cool bro.


What a Business Will and Won't Do

As far as a business and what they will/will not do is concerned, there are really only four questions that need be asked:

  • Is the risk low enough?
  • Is the profit high enough? 
  • Is it morally acceptable?
  • Is it something they want to do?
If LEGO can make money on a set, and the risk of any negative blow-back is low, and they can live with any of the moral quandaries its production and sale will create, they will make the product, that is unless of course, they just don't want to.

What We Do Know About LEGO and Ideas

  • Of the 8 projects produced via Ideas/Cuusoo the most expensive was $49.99 and has 508 elements 
  • LEGO has produced sets with nearly 6000 elements
  • In the LEGO Ideas price range survey, there are four categories: $10-49, $50-99, $100- $199, $200+.  This means there are two categories higher than anything Ideas has turned out and one category which touches only the extreme end of the option.   
  • Using the $0.10 each piece equation we can estimate that a $200+ set would be 2000+ elements
  • In the LEGO Ideas complexity range survey, a modular is depicted as the highest complexity range
  • Staff Picks have consistently displayed projects much larger than what Ideas has produced to date (although yes, Staff Picks do not influence the review)
  • LEGO has repeatedly stated that scale does not inherently reject a project in review


Pros and Cons of LEGO Allowing Large Projects on Ideas

  • People like to see extreme LEGO builds 
  • It is free press for the site
  • It is free press for LEGO 
  • Extreme project bring people to LEGO Ideas who then have a chance of supporting other projects that might interest them
  • Extreme projects spark people's imagination about the high end possibilities with LEGO at absolutely no cost to the company
  • The project may inspire observers to buy massive amounts of LEGO in order to re-create the project on their own
  • Larger projects are riskier and thus less likely to be produced and therefore increase the chances that the supporters will be disappointed if the project is rejected

Pros and Cons of LEGO Not Allowing Large Projects on Ideas

  • People will stop complaining about projects over a specific scale reaching the review phase
  • Ideas staff will need to vigilantly review projects for part counts prior to approval to the site
  • Ideas staff will need to respond to people reporting projects for having too many parts whether those report are accurate or not
  • Ideas staff will need to address that fact that many projects in the system would be in excess of the new cap
  • Submitters will have to be very aware of their part counts prior to submitting
  • Some really interesting ideas will not get shared
  • Opportunities for making profit could be missed
  • People will complain that the new restriction is too harsh
  • People will get very upset if Lego every produced a LEGO Ideas set in which their own production model exceeded their established limit.


By adding restrictions to the system, LEGO will loose out opportunities for profit, free advertising, and just plain looking cool while putting undo burdens on their staff for the intended effect of not disappointing quite as many people when an unlikely project to get produced, gets rejected.

In my opinion I find it highly doubtful that LEGO will move to implement a part count restriction.  It appears, to me, to create more complications than it would serve to eliminate while reducing the sites overall potential to the company.


Please feel free to call me biased.  I have posted, collaborated on, and supported many projects over the $50 price range.  Here is my profile so you can see for yourself. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Ghostbusters HQ Reaches 10,000
The Ghostbusters HQ has reached 10,000.  This will be the third Ghostbusters themed project to reach the review phase.

If it has been a while since you have checked out this project, make sure click on the updates. Sergio512 has been busy populating the inside.

The Ghostbusters HQ is the seventh project to enter the review that will start September 1st.

It will be joining:
Unless LEGO fans start putting their support behind front runners like Labyrinth Marble Maze or Piano or perhaps some long shots like the Food Truck or The Drake's Head Inn, this will be the first review since Fall 2012 that has not has at least one non-IP project.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Lego Idea: Planetary Exploration
It is not often I see an Ideas project that I just feel like sharing immediately but this one certainly makes me take the time to do a quick write up.

Sure with Benny and the Exo-suit we have had a lot of space lately but this one is much less Neo-Classic and more of a "Firefly" vibe which every Browncoat with one foot in reality knows we are not going to get any official LEGO for.

The theme enough would get me interested but check out the amazing part use!  There is a little transmitter dish made with the paint-roller and a micro-tie fighter windshield.  So brilliantly obvious!
Make sure to check ouf the project, there are several really fascinating images to go with it that should inspire LEGO fans of any ilk.

Some Interesting Ideas

Personal Projects

Samurai Jack
by DarthKy

This is another fine collaboration between DarthKy and Myself.  Samuriai Jack is simply put one of the greatest action shows to have ever existed, period.

I could tell you the back story, but, believe me, you will enjoy this telling of it much better.  If you have Netflix, you can stream the second season. 

Inspector Spacetime!

Inspector Spacetime was a lot of fun to work on.  For those not in on the "joke" Inspector Spacetime is a fictional show.  To clarify that I mean, it is a show that exists within the show "Community."

Obviously it is a spoof on Doctor Who.  It is fascinating to see how fans of a concept will just take it and run as far afield as they can.  References to Inspector Spacetime can be found all over the place, and now I have added my little piece to this web of geekery. 

As a final note I will add, the top of this phone booth was a real challenge.  You can't see it from the outside but there is quite a bit of snotting going on there. 

Pick of the Week

Micro Airliners

What an amazing collection.  This set would be a great introduction to microbuilding.  It would help showcase how slight variations in parts and configuration can really bring out different personalities in a build.

Additionally, I think every youth who touches LEGO eventually builds a plane about this size with basic bricks, not this detail of course, but it in a clever transition.   Showcasing how more specialized bricks can bring out character and defining qualities.

Honorable Mentions

1949 Cadillac Series 62 Convertible

The grill alone on this deserves special recognition.  This build is a tremendous feat of SNOT work and the ability of the doors, hood and trunk to open add to this.  I really dig all the details in the console.

One thing.  I know that for some builders, color is a personal choice, and for others it is about part availability.  I realize the quarter dome parts don't come in very many color options, but I think this car would look amazing in Black, or one of the dark variants of blue, red, or green. 

A3 Submarine Project

Wow, just, WOW!  The greeble work is amazing, the details are superb.  This looks like an impressive, vehicle ready to take on the depths of the ocean.

The only reason I didn't make it the pick of the week is because the very first LEGO Cuusoo set was a Submarine of a similar concept if not actual LEGO implementation.  Does this seem pretty arbitrary? Sure, but it comes down to these factors when I am comparing the apples and oranges that Ideas has to offer.

Gravity Falls - Mystery Shack
by 34Ian34

I love Gravity Falls, probably my favorite show on television right now.  Very well done recreation of the Mystery Shack.    

Prince of Persia 1989

Extremely well done MOC sure to jump start the memories of the more mature gamers. 




Emmet's Apartment from The LEGO Movie
I am always surprised when these movie based sets make it onto Ideas.  The rules are clear that the builds are to be your own creations.  I could accept it if this was a unique rendition of the apartment but the submitter of this project indicated "We feel this version is about 90% accurate."

I don't understand where Ideas is drawing the line between posting a photo of someone else's work OR copying someone else's work and posting. 
Defender power suit Mk.III
A great example of using a background to your advantage.  I would have repositioned the object in the foreground for best view of the power suit.
Star Wars UCS C-3PO Bust
Quite beautiful.  Look at all that chrome gold!
Lego Jenga
There are several project that attempt to recreate a functional thing in LEGO.  I never quite get those things that totally remove the LEGO aspect to accomplish this.

Classic Space Micro-scale Beta II Ship
by Colin23
I always like the idea of micro-sets, even toyed with the idea of doing them myself,  but they never seem to catch on with the public.  I think the issue is that the FOL fans of the theme like them, but not general FOLs and the non-FOL voting public does not see why you would want a tiny set.  Just a speculation.  I am not giving up on this concept though. 
Spy Car with Gadgets - Classic 1962 Ford Zodiac
Eddiecat007 shows how you can faithfully demonstrate the details of your ideas using a simple video.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Book Review: LEGO SPACE: Building the Future

Later today I will be stopping by the LEGO store to put my vardo in the LUG window and pick up Peter Reid's  Exo-suit and Ellen Kooijman's Research Institute.

In honor of this auspicious event, I have dusted off my review of Peter Reid and Tim Goddard's book, LEGO SPACE: Building the Future, published by No Starch Press.

Spoiler Alert:  The book is awesome.  It is the definitive work on Neo-Classic Space LEGO.  It also teaches you one very important fact about Peter and Tim...they must have a massive collection of minifigs with no hands!

What is this about?

What this book is, is brilliance and untold hours of dedicated work.  Since LEGO Space started in the late 70's, It has gone through several themes.  Blacktron, Space Police, Ice Planet, etc...While LEGO now fully integrates narratives into its themes, this was not always the case, especially for this time period.  LEGO SPACE not only re-imagines these themes with extreme techniques but creates a unique narrative to explain how the Space sub-themes engage and flow into each other.

The Builds

The MOCs in this book are quite simply mind blowing.  There are 216 pages of SPACE:  Actual Space Builds (Sputnik, Voyager, etc..), spaceships!, robots, space stations, microbuilds, high-tech stations, alien vistas, EXO-suits, all inspired by LEGO SPACE themes but tricked out with advanced techniques and part counts not intended for economic feasibility if you know what I mean.

If you are like me, you can sit and stare at each page for minutes at a time absorbing the fascinating interconnects that Peter and Tim have evoked from these simple bricks.  Not only is this the definitive book on Neo-Classic space, it is also the go to primer for greeble

Beyond the MOCs, The book includes about 10 instruction sets.  These mostly comprise of robots and micro-builds as well as Sputnik and a command center.  There are not any instructions for the full size ships, understandable considering their complexity and part count, but the instructions that are included expound on wondrous and clever techniques that you would not find in your average set of LEGO instructions.  Almost every instruction set taught me something game-changing and that is not a common thing to encounter. 

For purists I must warn that there are a few "illegal" techniques.  First and foremost of these s the "severed hand" technique (using a minifig hand for greebling) which is used with utter abandon. 

I must also take a moment to point out the the builds are presented as lovingly as the builds are crafted.  Each image is professionally photographed and, when appropriate, photoshop is applied for technical details (view screens, laser blasts, etc...) or cinematic space vistas.

On a final note about the builds, something needs to be stated about the scale of effort presented in this book.  It bring to my mind the Bendis and Bagley's run on Ultimate Spider-Man.  There are, to be sure, many books out there regarding the MOCS of the FOL community.  But this is 216 pages by just two people, in just one theme.  It is always a treat to see a consistent visual narrative of design over such a grand scale.       

The Narrative

The purpose of the narrative thread in this book is to tie to the Space Sub-themes together into a cohesive history and the book succeed admirably at this goal.  The book reads somewhat like light historical propaganda for the "Federation." This is an excellent approach for a book such as this, but those looking for a complex space opera or high action space western may be disappointed.

Who is this book for?

Obviously this book is for any fan of LEGO Space.  About the only thing it lacks is those giant space ship builds you run into at the cons.  

This book would be a great addition for anyone looking to add nuanced geeble to any "high tech" build they might be working on.  So, this is a visual experience for the very young and an excellent technique guide for maturing builders.

I would also add that this would make a fantastic gift for anyone you know who reminisces about playing with LEGO Space sets when they were a kid, whether they consider themselves to be a FOL or not.

Parting Words

You know how you sometimes think back nostalgically about the cartoons you used to watch as a kid...they were so cool.  Then you track down a copy of those ancient episodes and watch it and to your horror discover that it is embarrassingly bad.   The Lens of Nostalgia has falsified your memories...well, this book is like seeing, as an adult, what your child saw in those sets as a child...that is a rare and precious thing and I thank Peter and Tim for creating it.

My Son's Review

Him:  (looks at cover) "WOW! DAD! Can we build that!?!"
Me: ."..uh.."
Him: (opens book)  "WOW! DAD! Can we build that!?!"
Me: ."..well.."
Him: (turns page)  "WOW! DAD! Can we build that!?!"
Me: ."..maaaybeee.."
Him: (turns page)  "WOW! DAD! Can we build that!?!"

this basically caries on for 214 more pages, you get the picture...