This year has seen record-breaking numbers of Ideas projects reach the review stage. An eye-watering 26 models achieved 10,000 votes in time for the first 2020 review, while another 35 reached the second review. At the time of writing, at least 22 more projects are set to join the third 2020 review. For a theme that historically produces four or five sets per year, green-lighting all those proposals just wouldn’t be viable.
LEGO Ideas may have found a solution to that problem, though, with the BrickLink Designer Program. The pilot scheme will bring previously-rejected projects to life in bricks, giving fans another chance to get their hands on some highly-requested sets.
As you might expect, designs based on external intellectual properties won’t be eligible for the program. That still leaves plenty of projects on the table, though, including Nathan Sawaya’s Small YELLOW and Jason Allemann’s Pursuit of Flight – both of which we listed as rejected sets we’d buy from BrickLink.
The program’s roots lie in a survey run by the Ideas team back in November, which asked users if they’d like to see rejected 10K projects realised through BrickLink. An overwhelming 78% of respondents ‘strongly approved’ of the proposal.
If the ‘BrickLink Designer Program’ moniker sounds familiar, it should. This is the second iteration of the AFOL Designer Program that launched in 2018, the follow-up to which Head of BrickLink Marvin Park confirmed earlier in December.
This announcement confirms that the program will go in a slightly different direction in 2021, which BrickLink acknowledges may disappoint some AFOLs hoping to submit their own designs. However, the platform is promising to host ‘annual Designer Programs that best reflect voices of the AFOL communities’, which could well mean a return to the original format in 2022.
Of course, the new program also represents a deeper collaboration between the two companies – and one that’s likely only possible thanks to the LEGO Group acquiring BrickLink in late 2019.
The official press release indicates that ‘the goal is to continue to celebrate fan creativity by realising your dream sets through crowdfunding’, which suggests any rejected 10K projects that do come to the platform will need to gather a minimum number of backers to bring to fruition.
BrickLink will begin reaching out to Ideas users in January, so expect more information in early 2021.