Though I’ve put on a brave face over the last few months, I was initially very bothered with the official BrickHeadz series.
BrickHeadz came in the wake of my Mascoteers series, which I’d spent the best part of 2016 showcasing and promoting. BrickHeadz were launched around a month ago, and the online LEGO community has been lapping them up since.
I’ve seen these “coincidences” between other AFOLs’ creations on social media, and official LEGO (sometimes Lepin) sets. I’d even seen an example of pilfering in one of those LEGO computer games. Never in a million years did I think it would happen to me, given that I’m a no-name (allegedly).
@SilentMode1 I think some people are far too generous on what qualifies as a creation being stolen.
— Nicholas Dreadman (@Nic_Dreadman) February 27, 2017
A cooler head has prevailed, however, and these days I think differently.
Thoughts on the official series.
In the above picture you can see the official BrickHeadz models, along with their rendered Mascoteers counterparts.
Although it was easy to get caught up in the idea of theft, what’s immediately obvious is the differences. BrickHeadz are roughly three times larger than Mascoteers, and far more detailed. Mascoteers were intended to be small yet recognisable, while BrickHeadz are mainstream collectables.
To me, BrickHeadz is LEGO’s answer to Funko’s vinyl figures. Funko makes a point of having numerous IPs under its belt, and LEGO has been licence grabbing with LEGO Dimensions.
The concept of brick-built figures is nothing new, and a search will reveal several different variations. But as mentioned previously, there’s no denying that BrickHeadz look suspiciously like a certain LEGO Ideas project.
The real problem.
First and foremost, anyone who believes that LEGO is incapable of “stealing” ideas is an idiot – and I mean anyone. How can a company spend years in such close proximity to its fans, and not gain any inspiration?
With that said: I don’t think BrickHeadz was a stolen idea, so much as a concept taken seriously.
Funko proved there’s a market for large inanimate figures, and LEGO has never had anything on a similar level. It could very well be that the Mascoteers, showcased at BRICK 2015, was the tipping point.
And because LEGO took it seriously, so did legions of AFOLs. Many of whom being the kind that only “gets” a concept if it comes with a red four-sided logo (or was built by someone they like).
An important lesson.
Funnily enough, the big takeaway from this experience originally came from an episode of Top Chef. In that episode, one of the chefs had “stolen” an idea from another chef’s food diary, and used it to win a challenge.
Because that last paragraph has clearly gone over your head, here it is in black and white:
Even if an idea is stolen, it still has to be executed.
Although LEGO would have gotten away with releasing their own Mascoteers series (because AFOLs would let them), they have to worry about product safety, model stability, part/colour combinations and selling the things.
As I’ve mentioned before: BrickHeadz is distinctive enough, and there’s nothing wrong with having more ways of building figures. In fact, many AFOLs have embraced the BrickHeadz style, and have already created their own versions of famous characters. Some are even on LEGO Ideas!
Although the Mascoteers have now been retired, I can at least be proud of having created something different… and still mine.
Even newer than BrickHeadz is JBF’s Chibz figures, which were announced just last month. They’re far more popular on Flickr than the Mascoteers ever were, and the models are actually being sold by the creator himself. I really hope it works out for him.