“What is the LEGO® Ideas® Theme?”

The LEGO® Ideas® theme is a collaboration between The LEGO® Group and adult customers known as A.F.O.L.s (adult fans of LEGO®).  The way LEGO® Ideas® works is that a fan (1) designs a plan for a set, either (2) physically builds the set or virtually builds it with a computer program, (3) submits the plan submits the plan via https://ideas.LEGO.com with a fun description and pictures, and then promotes the plan both online and in the real world.  If a plan gets 10,000 votes, LEGO® master builders evaluate the plan and determine if it is feasible to bring the set to market.  If so, they begin to collaborate with the fan-designer. 

            Until 2014, LEGO® Ideas was known as LEGO® Cuusoo.  It is a partner of Lego System A/S (doing business as The LEGO® Group). 

            The partnership began as the Cuusoo Community in Japan in 2008.  Cuusoo means “I wish” in Japanese.  The host was the Japanese company Elephant Design.  It became a worldwide platform in 2011.

The licensed LEGO® CUUSOO kit Back to the Future DeLorean time machine (Set #21103) was initially available for purchase at San Diego Comic Con 2013 before being released worldwide.That set included Doc Brown and Marty McFly Minifigures™.

            Today, the LEGO® Ideas Website is operated by The LEGO® Group and Chaordix, Inc.    The Chaordix Community Platform enables companies to create a branded social network that is combination of public forum and insight panel.

            LEGO® Ideas succeeded LEGO Design byMe (originally known as LEGO® Factory), which allowed customers to design sets with the program Lego Digital Designer (which The LEGO® Group no longer supports) to create custom-made kits.  By its nature, most people found this process to be cost prohibitive.  The LEGO® Factory theme also included a few sets that were fan-designed.  This included Market Street (Set #10190), the second Modular Building kit released by The LEGO® Group.[1] 

In 2014, Roland Harwood of 100%Open in London, England described the re-branded LEGO® Ideas as “a new customer-led innovation platform.” Upon the launch of the LEGO® Ideas Website, Mr. Harwood stated, “The new LEGO Ideas platform launched today, built in partnership with Crowdsourcing experts Chaordix, one of 100%Open’s innovation service provider network partners.  It builds directly on the LEGO Cuusoo community and allows you to do various new things.”

Today, fans can use Studio 2.0 for Windows to build, render, and create instructions.  It’s integrated with BrickLink.

LEGO® Ideas® Ghostbusters Ecto-1 (Set #21108), released in 2014, included the original characters Dr. Peter Venkman, Dr. Raymond Stantz, Dr. Egon Spengler, and Winston Zeddemore.  That kit was noteworthy because The LEGO® Group followed it the next year with another licensed Ghostbusters kit that was not part of the LEGO® Ideas® theme or any other theme.  The LEGO® Ghostbusters Firehouse Headquarters (Set #75827) could accommodate the  Ecto-1 from Set #21108.  In addition to coming with four more Ghostbusters Mininfigures™, it also came with Minifigures™ for Dana Barrett, Janine Melnitz, Louis Tully, a Zombie Taxi Driver, the Library Ghost, and Slimer.  It also came with two additional more phantasmagorical ghosts.  That 4,600-piece set was made for adults and teen sixteen-and-over.

LEGO Design byMe and LEGO® Ideas are The LEGO® Group’s way of capitalizing on the phenomena of the M.O.C. (My Own Creation).  A.F.O.L.s and T.F.O.L.s (teen fans of LEGO®) return to building with LEGO® bricks as they had as children – not unlike adult model railroad builders – and while they may enjoy buying new kits and building the sets as the instruction manuals lay out, many turn to building sets of their own design, called M.O.C.s. To this end, they purchase kits just for the parts as well as whole kits (in new or used condition) or Minifigures™ or individual pieces from Bricklink, eBay, or Amazon Marketplace, and creating a tableau or tableaux.  Several small companies have sprung up to cater to these customers, making after-market alterations to LEGO® pieces to create kits that depict World War I, World War II, or more recent wars, or steampunk science fiction, or Prohibition era gangsters, for which The LEGO® Group never produced themes or fabricate detailed accessories for old themes, including LEGO® Castle or LEGO® Pirates.

The thirty-third and latest LEGO® IDEAS® set to be released is the LEGO® Ideas® kit Medieval Blacksmith (Set #21325), which The LEGO® Group released today, Monday, February 1, A.D. 2021.  The set is compatible with old kits from the LEGO® Castle theme (product line) for which The LEGO® Group released kits from 1978 to 2014.  I previously profiled the LEGO® Castle theme in “LEGO® Castle Product Lines, Part I,” “LEGO® Castle Product Lines, Part II,” and “LEGO® Castle Product Lines, Part III.”

In this case, the final product is based on the “Medieval Blacksmith” proposal submitted via the LEGO® Website by Clemens Fiedler, an A.F.O.L. user with the handle “Namirob.”  On July 1, 2019, The LEGO® Group congratulated Namriob on the proposal reaching 10,000 subscribers on the platform and announced the review phase would come next.  There was also a nice comment, “You’re quite the wizard when it comes to creating charming buildings filled with little details and interesting building techniques.”  In an update on February 12, 2020, The LEGO® Group announced the “Medieval Blacksmith” proposal had been approved for release, but the final design, price, and release date had yet to be worked out.  LEGO® designers Wes Talbot and Austin Carlson designed the final product, The LEGO® Group revealed in a press release issued on Sunday, January 17, A.D. 2021 (for transmission the next day).  Other LEGO® Ideas® kits that have been recently released were 123 Sesame Street, Grand Piano, Pirates of Barracuda Bay, Dinosaur Fossils, and Central Perk.

Mr. Fiedler joins the ranks of Pablo Sánchez Jiménez, who designed the Pirates of Barracuda Bay (Set #21322); Christoph Ruge, who designed the LEGO® Ideas International Space Station (Set #21321), released in 2020; Leandro Tayag, who designed the LEGO® Ideas Voltron set, released in 2018; Kevin Feeser from Nancy, France, who designed the Tree House (Set #21318), released in 2019; Andrew Clark, who designed the LEGO® Ideas The Flinstones set, released in 2019; and Máté Szabó, who designed the LEGO® Ideas Disney Mickey Mouse Steamboat Wlllie set, also released in 2019. This process can take several years.  The LEGO® Group stated, “LEGO Ideas offers fans the opportunity to submit their own brick creations with the chance to have their concept brought to life with the help of LEGO master designers and a share of the profits.” 

Figure 1 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: In a press release, The LEGO® Group stated, “True to the era, the LEGO® Ideas Medieval Blacksmith set includes bold period design features from the timber framed walls to the gothic lattice windows, providing much intrigue and interest to fans of medieval architecture.”

Figure 2 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: LEGO® Ideas® Exo Suit (Set #21009), released in 2014, included the eponymous exoskeletal suit, two astronaut Minifigures™ with the LEGO® Space emblem emblazoned on their chests, and a robot turtle.  The astronauts were characters, Pete and Yve, an allusion to Peter Reid, who proposed the set, and his girlfriend, Yvonne Doyle.




Figure 3 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: The seventh LEGO® Ideas® set to be released was Exo Suit (Set #21009).  It was compatible with LEGO® Space and the two Minifigures have on their space suits, as I explained in “Lego Space Product Lines.” This Exo Suit is not the first time The LEGO Group has manufactured exoskeletal suits because they were central to Roboforce and Exo-Force. 


Figure 4 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: This is the model of the Saturn V rocket from LEGO® Ideas NASA Apollo Saturn V (Set #21309), released in 2017. It measures over 39” (100 cm) high and 6” (17 cm) in diameter.

Figure 5 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: This is LEGO® Ideas Women of NASA (Set #21312).

Figure 6 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: This is the LEGO® Ideas kit Tree House (Set #21318) released by The LEGO® Group on August 2, A.D. 2019.  It is based on the proposal “Treehouse” by user “KevinTreeHouse” (Kevin Feeser from Nancy, France).

Figure 7 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: This is the LEGO® Ideas FRIENDS: The Television Series kit (Set #21319), which depicted the Central Perk café, released by The LEGO® Group in the U.S.A. on September 1, A.D. 2019 and in Europe on October 17, A.D. 2019.  It featured the characters Ross Geller, Rachel Green, Chandler Bing, Monica Geller, Joey Tribbiani, Phoebe Buffay, and Gunther.  The final kit was based on the proposal “The Central Perk Coffee of Friends” by user “Mric76” (Aymeric Fievet of Normandy, France).

Figure 8 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: This is the LEGO® Ideas kit Dinosaur Fossils (Set #), which The LEGO® Group released on November 1, A.D. 2019 (All Saints Day).  It is based on the proposal “Dinosaur Fossils Skeletons – Natural History Collection” by user “Mukkinn” (Jonathan Brunn).

Figure 9 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: This is the LEGO® Ideas International Space Station kit (Set #21321), released on February 2, A.D. 2020. The fan who submitted the proposal was Christoph Ruge.

Figure 10 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: This is the front of the box for LEGO® Ideas™ Pirates of Barracuda Bay kit (Set #21322), released in April of 2020.  It is based on the proposal “Pirate Bay” by user “Bricky Brick” (Pablo Sánchez Jiménez).  It is a two-masted ship designed to be constructed as a building strung out over four shoals, indicating it is a shipwreck and the pirates were supposed to be able to salvage enough material to convert the ship into a building.  However, it can also be built as an intact ship, the Black Seas Barracuda and a separate island base.  The set featured the return of Captain Redbeard from the old LEGO® Pirates theme.[2] 

Figure 11 Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: This is the LEGO® Ideas Grand Piano kit (Set #21323), released in August of 2020.  It is based on the proposal “Playable Lego Piano” by user “Sleepy Cow” (Donny Chen) and consists of 3,662 pieces.

Credit: The LEGO® Group Caption: This is a promotional video The LEGO® Group released for the LEGO® Ideas® set 123 Sesame Street, released in 2020.  The fan designer was Ivan Guerrero.  LEGO® Designer Ollie Gregory, LEGO® Creative Lead Sam Johnson, and LEGO® Graphic Designer Crystal Fontan designed the final product.  

ENDNOTES


[1] The LEGO Group now releases a Modular Building kit about once a year and the most complex kits are released under the LEGO® Creator Expert subtheme for adults and teens, such as Bookshop (Set #10270), which I wrote about in “Lego® will Release Bookshop in 2020.”

[2] I profiled the LEGO® Pirates theme, LEGO® Pirates of the Caribbean™, and other themes with pirate ships in “Lego Pirates Sets.”

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