This is going to be a controversial post, especially for a weblog in its infancy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way to be honest. Personally I think it’s a lot better just to come out and say something – no BS.
The only LEGO CUUSOO project I’ve been pleased at all about reaching the full 10,000 supporters is the most recent achievement, the Back To The Future DeLorean project – and that’s because I like Michael J Fox and his accomplishments. I’ve been rather vocal (sometimes snide) about the other projects, especially that Minecrap one. Similarly, there have been quite a few projects that currently have a lot of support but I don’t particularly like, as well as some that shouldn’t be on there at all (IMO).
Here’s five reasons off the top of my head why I wouldn’t support a particular project on LEGO CUUSOO, and I’d expect to take quite a bit of heat for putting this list out.
1 – It’s an unrealistic idea.
One of my biggest pet hates on CUUSOO is when there’s a project showcasing a big, incredibly detailed model of something – and the poster wants it to be replicated as an official set. Bearing in mind that LEGO would review and adapt the project if it got the go-ahead, most of the time there seems to be no thought as to how they’d do so, as well as the resulting price tag.
At least with the Minecraft project, the proposed design (although a completely different design came of the review) was simple and a realistic candidate for a set. I guess that’s one of my faults: whenever I’ve designed something for a competition I’m restricted by feasibility.
Another school of thought would be LEGO’s own restrictions, given the recent news about the Shaun of the Dead project: not only would 12/15+ themes be out of the question, but probably certain franchises (such as those covered by clone brands).
2 – There is no idea.
Some projects aren’t really projects at all, but basically petitions: things such as bringing back old themes and sets no longer produced. Granted, there are some things I wouldn’t mind having the chance to get hold of (one of the older Modular Buildings, perhaps), but they’re more for petitioning LEGO directly than posting as CUUSOO projects. The main issue is that it could cause a problem with royalties.
Apart from those, there are some earlier projects that don’t really explain what they’re about: maybe a picture here and some brief text there, but nothing to communicate let alone sell the idea. LEGO CUUSOO has recently started an “approval” process for new projects, where they make sure whomever posts a project provides the relevant information (or so it suggests).
3 – Sheer fanboyism.
There could be a great idea, executed really well, and I would have no problem supporting it. The only reason I wouldn’t is if it’s attracted fanboys: people who bunch up in their thousands and start showing their support, not because they like the project, or even that they’re into LEGO (if they are), but because of what the project is. Minecrap, you’re guilty.
(There are fangirls too, but I use the term fanboy because such people like to wave their genitals around, and it’s a little easier to imagine men doing this. Such people tend to be male anyway.)
At the end of the day I’m all about great ideas, and fanboys/girls are all about following their “leader”. A really good (bad) example of this is with the Angry Video Game Nerd on YouTube, and quite frankly similar things are happening in the world of LEGO.
4 – It uses renders instead of actual parts.
There are some cases where renders may be necessary: either a lot of custom parts would be involved (such as the popular Legend of Zelda project), or the project would involve using parts in colours they don’t usually come in – but generally I prefer to see models made out of real LEGO (or at least have something made out of real LEGO as the main picture). I would agree that nothing beats seeing something actually built, even though most people are at a disadvantage with the amount of parts they have.
One thing I’ve found, when trying to create my own custom elements and designing things in LEGO Digital Designer, is that it’s easy to lose sight of how difficult certain designs would be to produce. I’m always amazed at how stable some of the official sets are, and it’s obvious a lot of thought goes into [most of] them. Particularly when real parts aren’t involved, it’s easy to get carried away.
5 – It’s heavily backed by other parties.
I’d make an exception to this reason if the project in question is one I think is good, but for the most part projects with heavy backing – either from someone famous (Shaun of the Dead) or from a bunch of very prominent web sites (the Modular Western Town) – turn me off.
My first gripe is that these projects usually become popular because of the people backing them, not because they’re good (or realistic) projects. Because of the promotion they receive as a result, people would feel compelled to show their support if they want to fit in to the community – or like the fanboys and fangirls, they’ll support it just to see it get to 10,000 supporters.
But my main gripe is that, for every one of these heavily backed projects, attention is being taken away – perhaps even being stolen – from other projects, which may be better or worse, similar or not. Although it’s absolutely possible to show support for more than one project (even similar ones), how many people will automatically believe they have to choose between projects? By default, people will vote for the ones that have the most supporters – ironically, the ones that are heavily featured (most popular, most comments etc.) on CUUSOO.
There, I’ve said it. Is there anything that you look out for when supporting (or not supporting) a project?