Introducing “Project Swapfig”

Growing ever so frustrated with trying to redesign SilentMode.tv, as well as trying to promote my CUUSOO projects (particularly one involving Gorillas), I’ve decided to take a break and attempt something else.

Basic inventory

You might have heard me referring to something called Project Swapfig on Twitter, which is literally just a few days old at the time of writing. Well, it’s my attempt at creating a dedicated web site for FOLs to swap LEGO minifigures. You can see the beginnings of the project in the above picture.

The project was inspired by an existing site (swap.minifiguresseries.com), which I checked out and have been using since it was mentioned on Brickset. It’s great that there exists a site where trading minifigures is encouraged (unlike BrickLink), and it’s long overdue, while being something hardly anyone thought of.

Project Swapfig is in no way meant to undermine or disrespect the amount of work that went into that site, but – being a web developer and a frequent trader – I was frustrated by some of the decisions that went into the site: little things such as the style-over-functionality Web 2.0 interface, and big things such as difficulty in keeping track of multiple trades (and the usage of ASP!  8) ).

Project Swapfig was a decision to build a minifigure-swapping site from scratch, focused on the trading/swapping experience, and (because I’m building it myself) there are bound to be numerous bugs and errors. I’m looking at implementing the following features:

  • Swapping official LEGO minifigures other than the Collectibles. A popular suggestion as of late is the ability to trade/swap Star Wars minifigures in a similar fashion, and Project Swapfig already has allowances for making different figures available to trade.
  • Multiple figure trades/swaps. Not only swapping/trading one or more figures at a time, but the ability to make those 2:1 or even 3:1 trades etc. Somehow even I don’t think it’s right for someone to trade a S2 Spartan for an S8 Pirate Captain.
  • Ability to keep track of trades. If you have more than one trade on the go, it would greatly help to know which ones are in progress, which are completed etc., and to be able to use the site to do so.
  • Trade counteroffers. How about the ability to negotiate on a trade/swap, instead of rejecting it outright? If someone’s not willing to let go of a particular figure they can offer something else, or propose an adjustment to the trade.
  • Ability to print address labels. One other problem I’d experience when trading figures on the other site, was that I’d received a couple of figures with no return address. Again, with multiple trades (confirmed and otherwise) going on at once, I couldn’t figure out who had sent what. Being able to print address labels with both the sender’s and receiver’s addresses, as well as a “trade number”, would hopefully make things a lot easier.
  • Restricting trading. Some people don’t want to trade outside of their country, or with certain people, for example.
  • Two strikes and out policy. Obviously we don’t want scammers ruining the experience, and we’re going to be one of the few places online that takes fraud very seriously. The actual process is something I’ll have to think about.

I will be looking for someone to help with the site design if this project ever comes to fruition, so if you’re a web designer (or know anybody who can do it) feel free to contact me. If you have any ideas for Project Swapfig, let me know and I’ll consider them.

Keep an eye out for Twitter posts tagged #Swapfig for the latest as it arises.