The LEGO Group is pushing new concepts in a big way, according to a recent announcement. New products will be trialled in pilots to see if they are worth rolling out, with the Creative Play Lab opening up its doors. If this sounds familiar, it is because it has been the modus operandi of the New Business Group for some years. Today, the new trial is for LEGO FORMA.
Almost a decade ago, the new product was LEGO MUJI. It entered Japenese markets in 2009, with a unique proposition – combining LEGO bricks with paper and hole punches. The hole punch would create perfect stud sized holes, with the intention being that consumers would add paper decoration to bricks. Pre-designed paper decals were included in sets, with the intention being that fans would also cut out and design their own.
At the time, New Business Group Senior Director Paal Smith-Meyer said, “combining these two creative tools with a LEGO system paper puncher, we will open up a new creative dimension for kids and their parents to explore and express themselves through.”
LEGO FORMA has a few similar properties. The building is done with bricks, and foil decals are added, seemingly attached using studs or pins. Foil will prove more robust than the paper of MUJI, but the idea of combining bricks and other material is similar to that previous theme.
“The young adults we speak to tell us they still feel the urge to be creative and enjoy the physical experience of making stuff,” Kari Vinther, Senior Marketing Manager and Head of Creative Play Lab Pilots said about FORMA.
A key difference this time is that the target market is adults, whereas previously families were mentioned. LEGO FORMA is very much aimed at adults who want to put together an attractive display piece that when complete is barely recognisable as something made from LEGO bricks. While MUJI was met with a collective shrug by LEGO fans, FORMA is having a smaller test run and may reach the exact market it is aimed at, perhaps giving it better opportunity for success.
Although details have not yet been provided, it looks like 81003 Ink Koi Skin will provide a blank skin for 81000 Koi Model. First, fans build the main set, then colour in the blank skin to attach to it, allowing for everyone who owns 81003 to have a unique fish on display.
This is quite close to the intention of MUJI, which is that fans would grab a craft knife and start making shapes from paper using their own colours or designs. It is easy to say how if it were around today, LEGO MUJI could have been an Instagram hit – as the LEGO Group no doubt hopes FORMA will be.
While there are similarities between the two, FORMA has clearly been developed differently to LEGO MUJI and in a new era. Rather than offering lots of different options that can be combined, the proposition is simple – one main set, with three alternate skins to buy as add-ons. Conversely, the set itself is more complex, offering a lapsed LEGO fan a challenging – albeit step by step – building experience.
It is always intriguing to see how traces of old concepts work their way into new ones, and LEGO FORMA certainly has a few traits that were found in LEGO MUJI. Where the theme could go next will depend on fan support, which will determine if in ten years’ time it is a theme that is still running – or if like LEGO MUJI, it is largely forgotten.
Graham was the BrickFanatics.com Editor up until November 2020. He has plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education.
Follw Graham on Twitter @grahamh100.