I’ve been vaguely aware for some time of the Lego Ideas line. I was aware that users could submit ideas for new sets that may or may not then be taken up by Lego. Beyond that, I didn’t really know anything else until looking into it over the past few days. So, how does it all work?
Rather handily, Lego provides a nice, concise Getting Started guide. Let’s read through this first, and then we can discuss:
Yeah, I like this. We all have ideas for cool lego sets and it’s great that Lego gives a framework to express and share those ideas, even if it’s very unlikely that they’ll make it to store shelves. The guidelines page is actually really useful, as it answered most of the questions I had about Intellectual Property. I was aware that some previously published Lego Ideas sets had used IPs that were not previously associated lego, such as Ghostbusters, The Flintstones, The Beatles, and The Big Bang Theory. The guidelines page cleans this up and give you a good idea of what you can and can’t do.
When it comes to putting together your submission, you need to write a good description and then build your model. You can use real bricks and take some photos, or you can use software that simulates Lego bricks. The two most popular options seem to be Lego’s Lego Digital Designer (no longer updated) and Bricklink’s Stud.io. The two applications are similar in purpose but are quite different in some ways. LDD is a bit more user-friendly, but it’s also basic with fewer features. Stud.io might well have more going on under the hood, and there’s more you can do with it, but it will take more practice to achieve real proficiency.
Once you’ve put your submission together, it’s time to get people to support it:
You need 10,000 supporters before Lego will take a proper look at your project and decide if it’s viable for production. Much like with a Kickstarter campaign, you need to drum up interest and get people to like, share, and generally spread the word. Lego does warn you on their site that it can take a long time to get to the required 10,000 supporters.
If you’re lucky (and talented) enough to get the support, and if Lego likes your idea enough to publish, you then get to see your product hit the shelves. For your trouble to get the obvious bragging rights, five free sets and 1% of net sales. That probably doesn’t represent a huge amount of money, but it’s something.
I find the whole thing pretty interesting. Lego Ideas isn’t just a platform for budding master builders looking to see their ideas on toy store shelves. It’s also a free (or at least low-cost) platform for Lego to carry out research and development. Lego can use the Ideas platform to gauge market sentiment for new products and potential IP partners. It’s also a source of cheap labour in regard to design work. Not only will these wannabe designers accept a small amount of money for their troubles, but they will also do so with gusto! Given that most people engage with this platform simply to see their ideas on the shelf, it does feel like everyone wins.
There have been lots of really interesting sets that have come out of the Ideas platform. Here are a handful of highlights which show the talent of these amateur designers and also the fact that Lego can, if the idea appeals, seek out new IP partnerships based on proposed kits:
My favourite of these is the ship in the bottle. It’s a beautiful, display-worthy kit that appeals on multiple levels. As much as I don’t like The Big Bang Theory, I do like that set as well. I like how busy it is, and it’s not a simple, pristine room. It has a lot of personality.
There have been previous Lego Ideas sets that have carried a tabletop theme. This Maze set recreates a class dexterity game:
I really liked Maze when I was younger. I had a wooden version that I loved, and I’d spend hours tilting the board and trying to guide ball bearings through the maze. I think that, after years of practice, I could possibly have even managed it with my eyes closed!
Now, there’s another tabletop-themed set seeking supporters. This time, it’s a recreation of the classic board game, HeroQuest. If you’ve never played HeroQuest, let me just insert this video to give you an idea of what it’s about. It’s just a little over six minutes long. You watch, I’ll wait.
In all honesty, the game is a little dated. This is both in terms of rules and components. It’s still very playable though, and it’s still a lot of fun.
Created by KingGloriousSquirrel (wonderful name, by the way), this is a wonderful set. It seeks to recreate the board and all of the miniatures from the classic game. Here’s a great pic, showing an overview of the whole set in use:
Beautiful, isn’t it? I like the attention to detail. The minifigs representing each of the miniatures are really cool, as are the doors, accessories, and furniture. One of my favourite parts is actually the board. I love the patterns on the floor. It would have been so easy to just have a green room, a yellow room and so on. Instead, the author’s put real work into making some decently detailed patterns for each room. here are some closeups of the set in use:
Amazing. Just, really wonderful work. The author uploaded this in July of 2019 and has managed to get more than three quarters of the way to the required 10K supporters. I count myself among those supporters as well!
I’ve not bought a Lego set in years. I’ve been a little tempted recently by the new Hidden Side range, which really appeals to me. If this set were to come out, I’d be picking it up immediately. I don’t think it would be a cheap set, as there’s a lot of minifigs in there and the whole thing, although not tall, is still pretty big.
You should go and visit the product idea page for this HeroQuest set and add your support. I do wonder how complicated the IP side of things will be if Lego does look into producing this game. My understanding is that the game now belongs to Hasbro, whilst the HeroQuest is a trademark that belongs to Chaosium, publishers of Call of Cthulhu. With Lego’s guideline that they don’t use IPs associated with competing toy companies, of which Hasbro is one, I don’t know where they would stand on this idea.
Either way, I’d still love to see Lego HeroQuest reach 10k and be considered by Lego for publication. And hey, even if this doesn’t happen, it might prompt Hasbro to consider their own remake or reprint…