Medieval Micro Modulars by T-brick, plus answers from Cuusoo's Tim Courtney

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Micro builds are a popular subject on Cuusoo. It makes a lot of sense actually. The very popular Minecraft set was a micro build, the small form factors are ideal for having a lot of narrative content while keeping the costs down, and relatively small quantities of micro builds in the standard LEGO line keeps it novel.

T-brick's Medieval Micro Modulars are one of my favorite examples of the "theme" as its specific subject matter distinguishes it from the rest of Cuusoo mini builds, and it goes beyond the architecture and actually models a bustling street.

In addition to my regular posting, I have a few statements from Tim Courtney, LEGO Cuusoo Community Manager, who I was able to interview at SXSW Interactive.

First to clear up this "Modular" business, of course there are no Medieval Modulars in production (though that would be cool). The "Modular" in the name of this project is stated to show the correlation between this project's concept and the Modern Mini Modulars set 10230. Each of these five buildings is designed to stand alone, or fit together in various arrangements, just like the 10230's.

 

One aspect of this project that really appeals to me is that even though the scale greatly limits T-brick's building options, each of the five buildings is truly unique with minimal repetition of technique

 

Even beyond that and doubly impressive to me is that T-brick also populates the street in front of his city with an assortment of well crafted people, livestock, vegetation, and structures.

I must say, this donkey and cart is one of the finest minimalist mini builds I have ever seen.

T-brick does seem to be drawn to extremes though. If you like their miniature builds you should check out their 4000+ piece Neuschwanstein Castle

 

Interview with Tim Courtney

Tim Courtney is the Community Manager of LEGO Cuusoo. That means he does a little bit of everything: moderation, pre-publication review, short and long term strategy planning, and is for most intents and purposes the public face of Cuusoo.

He was in Austin Texas recently giving a presentation on Cuusoo at SXSW Interactive. While he was in Austin (my city of residence), I was able to catch up with him and ask a few questions.
The full interview can be found here but I wanted to share these highlights with the Brickset community.
To what degree does the fan-created model factor into the LEGO Review and the final product?
You take a lot of pride in the models you create, it’s what we at the LEGO Group call “Pride of Creation”, and it’s part of our Play Promise. So, it is natural to us that you want to see your own work immortalized as a LEGO set. However all products released by LEGO CUUSOO must follow the LEGO Group’s design standards, so it isn’t possible to release a model exactly as you design it. We see a lot of comments from fans worried about the model submitted and how it will be interpreted in the LEGO Review.
In our blog post “How to Pass the LEGO Review with Flying Colors,” the first point talks briefly about the function of a good LEGO model in a LEGO CUUSOO project. In the review, we do try to keep our concept models as close as possible to your creation, but in the end we apply our own building rules and quality standards to them. The process is actually quite forgivable; we don’t penalize a concept if your submission doesn’t precisely fit our standards. After all, those standards aren’t published, so how fair would that be? If your project is a strong contender, and we can make something work that both stays true to your original concept and fits our standards, we’ll do our best to do so.

What is the biggest misconception about Cuusoo that you would like to clear up?
There's no way to game the system and guarantee a positive outcome by building a model a certain way. Also, while we try to be consistent (and try to make forward-looking decisions), past precedent doesn't guarantee a similar decision in the future. My community management team makes all decisions about the Guidelines and House Rules, and the LEGO Review board makes all final decisions about what gets produced as a LEGO CUUSOO set.
LEGO CUUSOO isn't a way to force us to do something that doesn't work for us. What that means is, any product we produce must be in the best interest of the LEGO Group, and we're the only ones who can decide that. While we can give you guidelines and a framework for how to help your project succeed, we pick what gets made.
These are probably frustrating things to hear because I know how badly people want to see their ideas become a reality. But know this; everyone here at The LEGO Group is passionately on your side and we want you to succeed, even though sometimes we must deliver disappointing news.
What single piece of advice would you give to Cuusoo project creators?
Promote, promote, promote. Don't be shy to share your project with blogs, fan forums, magazines, companies, and anyone you think would have an interest in helping you reach your goal. Also, be persistent - sometimes people need to be reminded multiple times before they will make the effort to support you. Just make sure to do your promotion off-site; please don't spam other projects' comments with your links. :-)
The projects that succeed in reaching 10,000 connect to passionate interest communities outside of the "traditional" LEGO fan community. We see that as a good thing; it identifies new markets and audiences for our products and creates a better business case, which makes it easier for us to say yes to producing your project.
What would you change about Cuusoo?
I'd like to be able to share more with everyone about the limits of what is possible. For example, people frequently ask if there's a size/price point limit (there is none, but model size does affect the business case). As we refine our processes through the beta, I hope we can more transparently define the scope of what we can make, to help you submit more effective projects.
That said, it's in our interest to keep the scope wide and allow you to challenge us. We do consider each project that reaches review thoroughly and honestly and even if we say no, we appreciate that your project caused us to stretch our thinking of what could make a good LEGO product.
What is your favorite, non-Cuusoo, LEGO set?
Of all time? The 6923 M:Tron Particle Ionizer from 1990. It was one of my first Space sets and I love all of the play features on it including the gun (sorry, “laser tool”) in the front, “helicopter” blades, robot, moveable wings, and magnetic cargo container. It sits on the shelf above my computer next to my Minecraft set, so I look at it every day.

 

A week of Cuusoo

This week, my favorite new project was the C.C.S. Gryphon followed closely by a Totoro homage and a uniquely scaled typewriter. A very impressive U.C.S. T.M.N.T. was also published that is certainly worth a look for any fan.

My review of these projects, a showcase of most of the projects that came out in the last week, the rest of my interview with Tim Courtney, and a few images of my latest personal project, The Discworld, can be found here.

10 comments on this article

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By in Canada,

Re: "Modular" - I always accepted modular in the sense that the buildings could be used in any number of configurations by moving each "module" around a layout. There are lots of creations built to fit in the "modular" system that do not open up or allow for swapping of sections of the buildings themselves. Multiple meanings of the word should not be dismissed so casually.

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By in United States,

@tedward,

My statement was only meant to imply that these are not miniature versions of Large Scale Lego Modulars. That the name is indicative of their interchangeability, as you point out.

I have slightly altered the content to better reflect this.

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By in United Kingdom,

10230 is called Mini Modulars not Modern Mini Modulars. The official LEGO name should not be changed to fit in with a cuusoo project.

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By in Portugal,

The gryphon ship is gorgeous!

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By in Iceland,

Wow. Is there anything more to say?

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By in United States,

A link, maybe? (to the Medivial Modulars)

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By in United States,

It's great to see this covered here. This has been one of my favorite projects on CUUSOO. My favorite detail is the guard with the halberd under the arch.

@lego613master: Click on the images to go to the CUUSOO project page.

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By in United States,

All you need to do is click on one of the pictures to go to the project. I always work on those links and forget to add an text based one ;)

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By in United States,

"That said, it's in our interest to keep the scope wide and allow you to challenge us. We do consider each project that reaches review thoroughly and honestly and even if we say no, we appreciate that your project caused us to stretch our thinking of what could make a good LEGO product."

This has been my attitude about LEGO Cuusoo for a while now. Sure, it's a disappointment when a project gets a lot of supporters and can't be made, but by supporting the projects we love anyway we as fans are helping to improve our own understanding of the LEGO Cuusoo platform as well as that of the Cuusoo staff. In some cases, sure, it can be more or less assumed that a project will face huge obstacles once it reaches review. But by getting it to that point we're putting the LEGO Cuusoo platform to the test, and how the review team responds will affect the future of the platform. Maybe submission rules and guidelines will be fine-tooled to encourage more feasible projects. Maybe the LEGO Group will work to reject projects in a more timely manner so there isn't so much time for people to get their hopes up for a doomed project. Or maybe, just maybe, someone at TLG will find a way to make a project whose hopelessness people took for granted into something that actually works, without going against the spirit of the submission. It's always worth the attempt in my book.

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