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. 

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