Lego Cuusoo…

Lego Cuusoo… after the break…

Lego Cuusoo…

Most kids encounter the Lego toy line at some point in their life. For those who may have lived under the proverbial rock, Lego (sometimes spelt in all capitals, LEGO) is a toy line consisting of plastic blocks of varying sizes, shapes & colors that can be attached together to make various shapes and constructs. At this point, there are so many different types of LEGO bricks that, quite honestly, someone could construct virtually anything out of them and a lot of enthusiasts have done precisely that.

Before a group of young men became creepily attached to an obviously child-oriented show called “My Little Pony,” a similar pre-Internet obsession occurred with the Lego brand that has only increased with the Internet. To be fair, the Lego company has placated this clearly more adult-oriented fanbase with appropriately minded product lines. Of course, nothing is cheap in Legoland – Expect to shell out a considerable amount of cash if you want to hang with the “Brickheads” because Lego has long since gone boutique to the point that criminals have gone far out of their way to create rather sophisticated ways of stealing the Lego kits.

For the past two years, LEGO has held a sort of pseudo-online competition as to what the company would produce next. The pseudo-competition is called “LEGO CUUSOO” and it is part “American Idol,” part “Kickstarter” and part “White House Petition.” Personally, I’m not certain as to what purpose the competition serves except to placate the die-hard adult LEGO fans but it’s not my passion so maybe I’m not seeing the phenomenon correctly.

In brief, people sign up to display their proposal on the LEGO CUUSOO website. Other users get to vote their support of the proposal and if your proposal gets 10,000 votes, a LEGO committee reviews the proposal for a really long time before handing down a verdict of whether or not it is worthy of having an official LEGO kit made out of it.

Based upon what I have seen, the concept could use some revising.

First, the contest is only open to adults which, in a dry and legal sense, is perfectly logical. Children can’t sign contracts and LEGO apparently isn’t going through all of this trouble just for good public relations. At the end of the day, the stated goal is a product to put on a shelf and not place a ribbon on some kid’s chest like it’s some sort of county fair competition. However, if this is a competition for adults by adults then what’s the point? LEGO is still primarily a children’s brand and what is the appeal of “Adult Lego sets” beyond the diehard Brickheads? Yes, Lego sets (especially the boutique adult sets) are far from cheap but if the sets are going to be novelty sets then why all of the hoop jumping and hand-wringing to find “the concept”?

To be clear, there have only been five approved designs out of the seemingly thousands submitted so far. Those odds aren’t Lottery Ticket long odds just yet but, after two years, you would think that the ratio of “kit on shelf” to “fat chance in heck” would be a little greater then that. Also, those five approved sets don’t appear to be setting the world on fire when it comes to paradigm shifts in Lego construction. Right now, the five approved sets is a reproduction of a space satellite, a reproduction of a deep sea sub, reproductions from the “Minecraft” video game, the Delorean from the “Back to the Future” movie and the latest NASA tinkertoy, the Mars Science Laboratory.

Second, the part of the contest where you have to acquire 10,000 approvals (and, remember, your target audience are people over 18 years of age because they’re the only ones with accounts) from fellow LEGO CUUSOO users is a bit extreme and it’s the LEGO CUUSOO management who gets to decide who a “real” user is and who isn’t. So, if all you want to do is show your support for, say, a Lego rendition of a baloney sandwich… You might be regarded as an illegitimate user? I don’t know. A lot of these projects don’t seem to even garner 1,000 approvals, much less the 10,000 necessary to launch a project to the next phase of the competition. You would think that, early on, the threshold would be a little less just to get a few more projects into the pipeline and fully demonstrate how the process works and, even, give some of these prospective designers that success isn’t futile.

Finally, even if you are somehow get to 10,000 approvals, the process to discover whether or not your proposal is accepted takes longer than a baked potato to bake in the oven. It appears that the review process is performed quarterly and that announcements for those results run longer still. So, in other words, save those high-fives for next season and stop waiting by the computer for that congratulatory E-Mail, text, or whatever the kiddies are using nowadays. As a final cruel twist of the knife, projects seem to be rejected over the simplest of reasons: One project was rejected because LEGO was working on a similar concept and another was rejected because of existing licensing terms with the holder of the Intellectual Property that the proposal was based upon. This brings up yet another criticism – Communication. Perhaps LEGO ought to tell these proposals that they are dead in the water before they begin to amass serious support? Seriously, how hard would it have been to have told these people – “Hey, we already have an agreement with such-and-such a company and they won’t go for it” or “Yeah… We’re working on something similar to that… Have you thought of another genre?”

LEGO, curiously, won’t allow certain types of proposals to begin with. That totally rad rendition of an M1A1 Abrams tank? Nope. That really cute and snarky reproduction of the Crystal Lake campground from the Friday the 13th horror slasher film series? Not happening. Given that this is a competition for adults by adults, you would think that some of these guidelines would be a bit less strict.

Overall, I’m not sure what the point of the competition is. I suppose it is nice for LEGO to make the attempt but it seems as though the process is too restrictive for it to generate any meaningful products other then niche products that only other Brickheads would be interested in. I’m not certain that there are a cadre of young boys scrambling to get a space satellite or a deep sea sub.

FLEA MARKET HAUL:

Overall, another trim week at the flea market. Again, too much heat and humidity drove vendors and buyers away.

  • MTV’S CLUB DEAD – $2.00: This was my only purchase from the flea market. Disc in original jewel case plus the manual, no box. It’s an older game and a full-motion video adventure game from the early-to-mid 90’s to boot. What can I say? I’m a sucker for early cyberpunk and the kitsch value of early FMV only goes up with time.

WHAT I PASSED ON:

  • WARHAMMER: SOMETHING OF THE SHADOWED RAT OR WHATEVER – $10.00: I never “got” into the Warhammer IP and I don’t think that I ever will. The box was there but the CD wasn’t in the original case and I can’t recall seeing a manual. I don’t part with $10 dollars unless I truly want something and I just couldn’t get over the “Warhammer” hump, amongst other obstacles.
  • KING’S QUEST VII – $10.00: Everything was there, nice big box, manual, original jewel case, CD… But I already have this. It’s a nice adventure game but, again, already have this. Maybe if it is there next week and there are no oter viable options, I’ll haggle… Or maybe not. I just couldn’t generate a lot of enthusiasm for this title.
  • CRYSIS: WARHEAD – Unknown: Someone got this before I could consider buying it or not. I don’t like modern games and I especially don’t like modern games that have Internet DRM with them. However, given the dearth of options this week, I considered this briefly. No great loss.
  • DESCENT II – $2.00: For $2 dollars, I better be getting something more then a disc in a generic jewel case unless I really want that game badly. No offense but Descent, at it’s core, is a flying game which is a genre that is not a top priority of mine. I didn’t even bother to haggle.
  • QUAKE 4 – Unknown: A nice game, a genre that I like… Which I already have. I hope that game went to someone who appreciated it. I had no interest in acquiring another copy so I didn’t even ask for a price.

THE REST OF THE JUNK:

There wasn’t the same volume of background noise as before – Lemonade Tycoon was still there from last week as was a lot of other items but a lot of vendors just weren’t there. Hopefully, next week is a lot better in terms of heat and humidity. The last few weeks have been rather thin.

 

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