LEGO Ideas team admits it’s ‘manufacturing discontent’

As record numbers of projects reach the LEGO Ideas review stage, the team behind the crowdsourcing platform has admitted that its current setup is ‘manufacturing discontent’.

A whopping 57 individual projects racked up 10,000 votes apiece to qualify for the first 2021 review, breezing past the previous record of 35 proposals in a single review. And while that undoubtedly has something to do with the increased membership the LEGO Ideas platform has seen over the past year, it’s really the engagement of those new members that’s proving to be the catalyst.

“It’s not just that people are joining the platform, but they are readily coming back and being active on the platform,” Engagement Manager Hasan Jensen explained during a recent roundtable session. “So they are logging in continuously, in higher numbers than before. And not only are they logging in, but they are publishing projects like never before, they are supporting projects like never before.

“That all leads to a huge increase in the number of 10K projects that we see on the platform. And that’s a ‘luxury problem’, because obviously it creates some more work, but at the same time, it gives the review board a larger pool of potential options to select from.”

LEGO Ideas First 2021 Review Projects

It’s not just the Ideas team who have to contend with the fallout of this increased engagement, though: it’s the fans, too. More projects may be reaching 10,000 votes, but we haven’t seen a parallel increase in the number of projects being approved.

Case in point, 34 of the 35 proposals in the second 2020 review were rejected in February. That means the LEGO Group has disappointed not only the individual creators behind those 34 projects, but the masses of Ideas users who voted for them to reach the review stage.

“In some ways, you could say that over the years, we have been manufacturing discontent, or creating unhappiness through the way LEGO Ideas works,” Hasan said. “Those 57 projects in the next upcoming review represent almost 500,000 supporters, if not more. It’s pretty significant.

“And of course, it makes us curious as to whether this is just a trend that’s happening because of lockdowns, or if this is the activity that we’ll see moving into the future. We know that we can’t make everybody happy, but at the same time, we know that there’s really strong demand for many of these really cool creations.”

For the moment, the Ideas team’s solution to the increased number of rejected projects is the BrickLink Designer Program, which will see a handful of unsuccessful concepts produced and sold through the secondary marketplace. Fundamental changes to the core Ideas process were also being weighed up as early as September last year, but it remains to be seen whether those will ever come to pass.

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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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