As well as being the person behind UNDERATED for LEGO Ideas, I also contribute to the Big Ideas section of Bricks magazine. You could say I have an affinity for LEGO Ideas: I like the idea of someone fulfilling their wildest dream of having their model become an official LEGO set.
I’ve had three failed LEGO Ideas projects in the past, with the oldest receiving just over 100 supporters in a year. After months of trepidation, and seeing just how much there was to filter through on the Discovery tab, I decided to give it another shot.
One thing I’ve come to appreciate is how nerve-wracking it actually is to submit a LEGO Ideas project. It’s easy to stand around and complain about how much trash there is, or about those unrealistic ideas that get thousands of supporters. It’s another thing entirely to take something you’ve created – especially an original, non-IP idea – and release it into the wild.
Recently LEGO Ideas had announced even stricter criteria for submitting projects. (I’d hazard a guess they’ve read and taken notes from my criteria for featuring projects on UNDERATED.) I’m particularly pleased about the new rules concerning large models, and copycats of successful projects.
The proverbial wall
Following the surprise “success” of my Mascoteers display at BRICK 2015, I decided to submit the concept as a LEGO Ideas project – if anything to show other people “how it’s done”.
The overall idea behind an official Mascoteers set was to introduce the building technique behind them, which would hopefully encourage other builders to create their own characters. A small number of original characters would appear in the set to demonstrate how figures can be made.
Despite adapting and reworking the project a total of three times, someone over on LEGO Ideas had decided each time that I was pitching a theme or series as opposed to a standalone set, hence why it was rejected three times.
I wasn’t convinced it was worth the time or effort to clarify even further that this was intended as a standalone set. Combined with the additional belief (from past experience) that the project wouldn’t even get 100 supporters, I gave up after the third rejection.
The bright side
One thing that made me extremely nervous about submitting the project was the last step, where it’s required to hand over the commercial rights to LEGO. It’s not going to be so much of an issue to people who submit ideas based on Star Wars or some other IP, but it’s a whole different ball game when your own ideas – in my case my own IPs – are involved.
As disappointing as it was that the Mascoteers won’t become an official LEGO set, it helped me realise that it’s a concept that belongs “underground”. There’s nothing stopping me from taking the concept further myself, whether it’s making my own kits to sell, or just creating more characters.
Having gone through the submission process myself, it takes a solid belief in your idea – and a complete willingness to put it in someone else’s hands – to get through it without any discomfort or anxiety.
Going for LEGO Ideas gold is a like going to university: it’s not for everybody, and neither should it be. If you do decide to go for it, be aware that the long battle starts even before you get your first (other) supporter.