LEGO ‘came close to cancelling’ 21337 Table Football in fraught development process

The LEGO Ideas team ‘came close to cancelling’ 21337 Table Football during a development cycle filled with ‘real highs’ and ‘very deep lows’.

It’s no secret that 21337 Table Football – revealed earlier today – is markedly different from fan designer Donát Fehérvári’s original submission, which pitched a full-scale foosball table with 11 players per team. In contrast, the final product pares things back to two teams of five-a-side, with only two rows of players per team.

According to the LEGO Ideas team, that’s the result of a fraught development process that began with a problematic sketch model, and ultimately led to an ‘awkward meeting’ on how to progress with the set.

LEGO Ideas 21337 Table Football 22

“When deciding on the winner of the ‘We Love Sports’ contest, I constructed a model and thought it was fine,” LEGO Ideas Design Manager Samuel Johnson told Brickset. “That was before passing it to product development, where they found some problems, which came after we had announced that the Table Football had won.”

An intense development cycle followed, during which the team ‘extensively tested’ different designs at Fehérvári’s original 11-a-side scale.

“This is probably the most tested LEGO model of all time,” Johnson explained. “We have been through some real highs and some very deep lows with the development, to the degree that we came close to cancelling it at times. The game is not necessarily as relaxed as we might hope, so we built loads of 11-a-side models and they were all utterly destroyed in testing.

LEGO Ideas 21337 Table Football 15

“We found that cross axles, which were the obvious elements to create the control rods, were actually bending and even snapping at times. From there, we were trying to strengthen the walls, but honestly found ourselves just moving the same problems around. We have had every designer on the adult team helping us to reach this stage with the model.

“At one point, we thought we had found the solution by assembling square beams with Technic beams overlapping, but even that bends a great deal.”

Marcus Rashford and Thierry Henry launch LEGO Ideas 21337 Table Football
LEGO explains why 21337 Table Football leaves behind yellow minifigures

Eventually, the team realised that keeping the intended scale of Fehérvári’s product submission was impossible – which resulted in an ‘uncomfortable’ situation for the LEGO Ideas crew.

“We did have a bit of an awkward meeting,” said Senior Marketing Manager Monica Pedersen. “We are fortunate enough though to have the best designers in the world on LEGO Ideas, so there was a range of different possibilities from which to pick. One of those was a miniature version that would still allow people to play, so it was not a difficult decision to make, but before then it was uncomfortable.”

LEGO Ideas 21337 Table Football Thierry Henry Marcus Rashford 1

“We really tried to give everyone what they voted for, exactly like the fan submission,” Johnson added. “Ultimately though, we want to keep the fun and we want to keep the game intense, so we chose to build the table football at this smaller scale.”

Scaling back the set couldn’t prevent a further compromise with the goalkeeper, however, which – in contrast to real foosball tables – sits on the same rod as the defenders. According to LEGO designer Antica Bracanov, that’s because the set’s four control rods use the longest Technic axles currently available – and a goalkeeper would need to go beyond even those.

“We considered including the goalkeeper on a separate rod, but they would need to traverse the furthest and need a longer axle,” she explained. “For that reason, we positioned the goalkeeper between the two defenders instead.”

21337 Table Football launches November 1 for £214.99 / $249.99 / €249.99. Click here for more details and a full gallery of images.

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Chris Wharfe

I like to think of myself as a journalist first, LEGO fan second, but we all know that’s not really the case. Journalism does run through my veins, though, like some kind of weird literary blood – the sort that will no doubt one day lead to a stress-induced heart malfunction. It’s like smoking, only worse. Thankfully, I get to write about LEGO until then. You can follow me on Twitter at @brfa_chris.

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