LEGO FORMA unveiled!

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LEGO has today unveiled a brand new theme which is supported by crowdfunding. The full press release is as follows:

Rather than concealing its new innovations inside its Creative Play Lab, the LEGO Group today announced a new strategic approach that will help foster open innovation and test ideas and concept experiences through pilot projects, the first being LEGO FORMA on Indiegogo.

A series of pilots are being planned to run in various locations and formats over the coming year to float new ideas, crowdsource others, and receive real-time feedback from consumers to evaluate whether concepts should be developed and scaled.

Over time, this more transparent approach to product development is hoped to de-risk and accelerate innovation by validating and iterating new ideas, helping to fast-track the time that new products go to market and not least to pave way for unique product launches that sit outside normal procedures and reach new audiences.

Tom Donaldson, Vice President of LEGO Creative Play Lab, says: “Continuing to push our innovation approach means nurturing ideas that we don’t always know the outcome of, encouraging risk-taking and finding new exiting ways to launch products that are a bit different compared to what you would normally see from the LEGO Group. Pilots such as LEGO FORMA with Indiegogo open up an engaged and creative community that we can take inspiration from, and vice versa.”

The first of these pilots is a collaboration with Indiegogo Enterprise, where an entirely new product, LEGO FORMA, will be tested among a 10 million strong community of early adopters, entrepreneurs, makers and creatives on Indiegogo’s online platform.

The fertile ground of Indiegogo Enterprise will be used to provide real-time insights and real-world validation of LEGO FORMA, which is a model based on the LEGO Technic building system designed for adults looking for creative activities. Inspired by nature, LEGO FORMA aspires to be a new theme where you can customise with different ‘skins’ – foil sheets - to create artistic interpretations of plants and animals.

Kari Vinther, Senior Marketing Manager and Head of Creative Play Lab Pilots Says: “LEGO FORMA is more of a creative project than a toy, and more about display than play. The young adults we speak to tell us they still feel the urge to be creative and enjoy the physical experience of making stuff – but life seems to get in the way. We want to help them rediscover the joy of building that children possess and unleash their imaginations for a couple of hours. We can’t wait to hear what people think and look forward to sharing some of the decisions that will be made along the journey based on consumer input.”

The product launches with one model of a fish with a variety of skins available, so it can change colour, species and even take on entirely new forms, unleashing the creativity of the maker. The model takes a couple of hours to complete and helps adults reconnect with their innate urge to be creative and encourages us all to prioritise recreational time.

Created as a limited short-run batch only, the pilot is primarily designed to learn whether there is an appetite and market for the product, more so than driving revenue.

Natasha Raja, VP of Marketing at Indiegogo adds: "Our platform brings some of the most efficient techniques used for startup research and open innovation to companies like the LEGO Group, who through our collaboration will be able to iterate and validate product offerings in real-time, with real users and real transactions.

Visit the page here: https://www.indiegogo.com/at/forma.

LEGO FORMA Fun facts:

  • 16 concept skins were explored before selecting the four final skins.
  • The model and different skins have been tested among adult consumer focus groups, fans from the LEGO Ambassador Network and LEGO employees outside the project team.
  • The LEGO FORMA project team consists of four people. Kari, Anne, Harald & Mikkel.
  • The extended project team consists of 25+ people.
  • Harald, the designer of the model, is left handed which is reflected in the way you turn the handle.
  • This is the first time the LEGO Group works with a crowdfunding platform.
  • Creative Play Lab works from four different locations: Billund, Singapore, London and Los Angeles.
  • 91% of adults say play is good for their own wellbeing*
  • 86% of adults say play helps them destress and unwind*
  • 87% of adults say construction toys such as the LEGO bricks help them be creative*
  • 76% of adults say construction toys such as the LEGO bricks appeal more to them than other forms of play*

* LEGO Play Well Report 2018


The current LEGO FORMA range consists of four products, which are as follows:

  • 81000 Koi Model - $45.00, approximately £35.00
  • 81001 Shark Skin - $15.00, approximately £12.00
  • 81002 Splash Koi Skin - $15.00, approximately £12.00
  • 81003 Ink Koi Skin - $15.00, approximately £12.00

They are only available in the UK and the US at the moment, via Indiegogo. You can also purchase the 'LEGO FORMA Super Box' which contains all four products and costs $85.00 or approximately £67.00.

These items are estimated to be delivered in January 2019.


More images are available on the set details pages.

Are you looking forward to LEGO FORMA and how would you like to see the platform develop in the future? Let us know in the comments.

105 comments on this article

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By in New Zealand,

I think this is a great idea all round. Good to see different ideas being tried.

Hopefully availability will improve over time.

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By in Australia,

1. Be one of the testers for the product
2. Never open the product
3. Tell Lego that their product sucks and they shouldn't make it
4. Lego don't make it
5. You have an incredibly rare and unusual Lego set in mint condition
6. Profit

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By in United Kingdom,

So Lego are crowdfunding!! Don’t they already have billions? Another clever marketing ploy, me thinks. Maybe I don’t understand the concept properly.

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By in Netherlands,

US & UK only??? Sorry, but that totally blows... This is gonna make a lot of people very unhappy including myself who believes Forma to be a very cool concept. My daughter would love these...

TLG -1 :(

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By in Singapore,

^ Agreed. I really want that shark.

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By in Slovakia,

^^^
Crowdfunding is also way how to prove "put your money where you mouth is", this is kind of a project that does not have broad appeal. Ideas have you vote, but you are not obliged to buy anything.
The thing is, in big strict corporations, to push some unorthodox projects in budget can be harder than doing them externally (which is not possible with LEGO trademarks ... at least in countries that follow IP rights )

Still, I'm kind of angry that it is UK/US only....

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By in Netherlands,

love these kinetic sculpture kind of things, but using a plastic cover like this feels like cheating... show me one of these with a brick build cover and I'm sold!

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By in Germany,

Yeah, make it exclusive to US and UK and show the big middle finger to loyal LEGO fans in other large markets.

Way to go TLG - to p*** off even more people.
Thumbs down from me and good riddance!

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By in Germany,

^ And you will be able to get it as soon as the shipments are done - for a horrendous price on the secondary market. Buying these limited fish on Indiegogo and selling them afterwards will be like printing money.

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By in New Zealand,

Oh dear, they can never get those bases quite right.

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By in United Kingdom,

It looks like it's not that difficult to reverse engineer. Then just print the image showing all the skins. Done.

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By in Canada,

Canadian fan here. Glad I'm not super interested in this product because I can say that this already puts a bad taste in my mouth. Only US and UK?

I'm sure there's a good reason for it, but I'm not sure it's good enough to qualm the frustration it's going to cause.

Bummer.

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By in Italy,

I think it's a great idea! A bit far from the general idea that people have of LEGO® but really very innovative! Who knows, maybe LEGO® will succeed in reaching a wider panorama of customers in the world. And it is also an educational project. I support that! Keep it up.

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By in Australia,

The whole idea of crowdfunding this project is to ensure it's completely risk-free for Lego. As much as I hate to admit it, the more countries that are excluded in this trial run, the safer it is. It's similar to when they limited CUUSOO to Japan to observe its success. It took off, so they expanded it to world-wide Ideas. We'll all be able to get these sets eventually, and if we can't, it's because they're no good, so it's still a win for us.

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By in Australia,

What a stupid idea. Seems very 'fishy'. Typical modern approach. Hey, Lego is about the System of Play so lets ruin it and 'try something different' we HAVE to 'be innovative and creative!' Whats wrong with normal Lego products??

And the crowdfunding is a bad idea. Lego Ideas tells Lego what the community wants to see, not this crazy mix of sail pieces and Technic.

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By in Poland,

@brickchap you really think putting out FOUR tiny sets that are a new approach is really going to ruin the other 800+ regular Lego sets that are produced every year? Trying new things is not stupid, the world is changing and so should the business.

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By in Puerto Rico,

They are taking a risk like they did with Ideas here, not a fan at the moment but I find those models cool.

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By in United States,

I like the concept of testing riskier sets through crowd funding since it allows them more freedom, but yeah, a plastic skinned fish isn't exactly blowing me away, I'll wait to see where this goes.

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By in United States,

If this model proves popular in the US and UK we could see an Opee Sea Killer from STAR WARS The Phantom Menace in the future!

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By in Netherlands,

I don't get it, AT ALL!

- What does this Forma have to offer that you don't get from building with existing Lego pieces? You can 'rediscover the joy of building' and 'unleash your imagination' using regular Lego (THE LARGE AFOL COMMUNITY IS PROOF OF THAT!). And from a model point of view: I bet you can build very similar fish models using existing System parts and Technic panels!
- Looking at, for instance, Jason Alleman's kinetic sculptures ( https://jkbrickworks.com/ ), how is Lego Forma so innovative?!
- Reaching grown-ups that have played with Lego as kids, works better (IMHO) if Lego is still recognizable as Lego.
- Hasn't Lego learned from past experience? Stick to what you know (or what your known/famous for).
- If building this takes you 'a couple of hours', you should build more often! ;-)

So, what's new/great about this?...

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By in Poland,

Everything is awesome, I like kinetic builds. But those skins definitely suck. It's so lazy and cheap idea...

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By in France,

At 294 pieces for 45 bucks and a snap on skin the PPP ratio is approx 10 cents is reasonable.

My gut says that this is going to become a scalpers dream and will totally skew any result that Lego is trying to understand. Rarity means profit.....

That said, the build looks pretty simple and the pieces (apart from the skins) are few and not rare so the skeleton should be fairly easy to make for any moderately competent Lego fan AFOL to recreate. Pretty sure you could brick build skins as well

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By in United States,

I’ve just ordered the full kit, will see how it goes.

Maybe a thread on the forum, and some nice UK / US members will order for members in other countries. And re ship them out ;)

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By in Switzerland,

Nice to see so many people just eat this up without asking questions, but I am disgusted by multi-million-dollar companies raising money on crowdfunding platforms. Same as Hasbro with their admittedly insane sail barge.
They already take our money, they should use that to research new projects, not take nonrefundable loans from people.

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By in United States,

It's interesting to me that this isn't going to be available in Japan. The whole "Lego model with folded paper skin" seems similar to the Lego Muji stuff that was released in Japan years ago.

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By in United Kingdom,

Both koi's look cool and so does the shark, lego hurry up and unveil the Overwatch and Zelda sets..

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By in Poland,

Dear Lego. We want B R I CK S, not "SKINS".

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By in United States,

Wow these look great and usually I hate TECHNIC sets

I could see this on my desk in my expensive office with all glass doors or something haha

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By in United Kingdom,

Love the models, like the ideas of what they are trying. Now to decide if I put in an order...

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By in Greece,

However much I like Lego bricks, this things feel like they were produced by a Chinese manufacturer rather than from TLG itself, so I will gladly pass. It is OK to experiment though so I am curious for the result. I can't stop wondering though how much more money would TLG earn if they bring back LOTR and castle series instead of these novelties

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By in United States,

If you give an AFOL a cookie...

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By in United States,

@legoavenger14: there are no Zelda sets coming, I'm sorry to say. It was misunderstood teasers for a Chinese Lego game called Lego Cube.

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By in United States,

I don't get the point of overpriced 'skin', but whatever. I'll ignore them until they are 75% off.

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By in Czech Republic,

Yea nice addition to scalpers, limited run set only sold in two countries, nice move TLG

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By in United States,

donutsftw beat me to it. First thing that came to mind when I saw this was the MUJI sets from 2011. I think they look like fun, so I just signed up to get the set with all 4 skins. On the picture with the design team give a better idea of the scale of these things, they are a lot larger than I expected from the pictures here.

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By in United States,

Given the cuteness and elegance of these models I wonder if they might appeal more to women than traditional Technic, which has always been heavily boy-coded in its design language, branding, and subject matter.

I don’t understand all the overblown criticism here. This is hardly a massive departure from traditional Technic building, certainly less so than the Bionicle theme was. And weirdly it feels like for every comment about this being reminiscent of LEGO’s reckless, expensive innovations in the late 90s and early 2000s like Galidor and Jack Stone, there’s a comment complaining about the risk management strategies LEGO is employing like using a crowdfunding model or launching it only in select countries.

If it fails, then so be it — it’s obvious that LEGO hasn’t staked their livelihood on this product line being the next City or Friends or Ninjago. They have plenty of much bigger, more reliable lines to depend on, many of which don’t depend on external licensing agreements, and while their growth has stalled out in the past three years, that’s hardly the situation they were in in the early 2000s, a period that came after over a decade of slow decline and a crisis of faith over whether kids even enjoyed building anymore.

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By in United States,

The Brick Fan never said the Nintendo sets were certain, they talked about How a LEGO Zelda game was rumoured and that most likely include sets. That was it. The Zelda game was never announced so the rumour, at this time, wasn't true.

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By in United States,

I'll probably pull a Tony Stark on this one - "buy it, store it."

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By in Australia,

I think they are really lovely. But I am not a target consumer as I prefer the bricks. I do think this is innovative and will be really interesting to watch.

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By in United States,

To me, this sounds like LEGO Ideas 2: Electric Boogaloo.

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By in Canada,

@Proteasome I'm in the same boat, the sets simply consist of a technic frames/boxes covered by several nicely printed plastic covers (that can't really be reused for something else). If these sets we're like the Ideas Birds sets...then I definitely be upset I don't have access to them.

I guess I'll see what else comes out of Forma

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By in Canada,

Bummer I would totally get one of these! Frustrating LEGO will only ship to its two main markets.

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By in United States,

This is actually happening! Don't care what anyone says these sets look awesome. Think how many other things you could build. Soon as i get it i'm making a snake.

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By in Canada,

absolutely awesome. I know a lot of adults who use Lego building as a creative outlet and it takes you away while you build. these models look great and will look great on my desk... very cool idea and well done Lego, good on you.

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By in Sweden,

@BeaR the Builder: when I first saw this, I actually thought they had finally given Jason Alleman his own theme of kinetic models. Bummed they hadn't.

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By in United States,

Okay, I just ordered the full kit. Very interesting concept. It's nice to see LEGO still trying fresh ideas that are a bit on the edge.

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By in Italy,

I would just love to fully order too, but - alas - we Romans do not rule the world anymore...

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By in France,

Lego Muji is back, in pog form

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By in United States,

LEGO has gone from designing models by building a Technic skeleton and slapping plates on it to building a Technic skeleton and slapping foil sheets onto it.

INNOVATION! :P

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By in United States,

The LEGO FORMA platform seems interesting, but I do like that LEGO is reaching out with new ways of product development and community feedback.

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By in Spain,

Omg.. Lego must STOP making sets and stuff available only in certain markets unless it’s very national-ish like ”year of whatever” in China. And don’t screw up again like you did in the beginning of the millenium. Stick to what you can best (bricks.., you know). And as others have said, what is new about this that you don’t get from regular pieces?! Give us sets like Jason Allemanns kinetic sculptures. - Then we’re talking!

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By in United States,

LOL, my work computer is so old I can't even open the indiegogo site without updating my web browser. Anyways, I think LEGO is onto something interesting here, and I definately wouldn't mind one of these on my work desk. I know my daughter would love coloring in the Ink Koi Skin, although 15.00 for some plastic coverings seems kinda steep, as does the initial buy-in. The exclusivity to the US and UK is a poor decision I feel. If anyone from overseas really wants one of these you can PM me, and I'll see what I can do to get you one. When I get home and on a modern computer that is lol.

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By in Ireland,

Nice to see a design geared (pardon the pun) towards a minority. Us lefties have had it hard

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By in United Kingdom,

"The model takes a couple of hours to complete[...]"

This is the sentence that I'm having the most trouble with swallowing. These look so simple... if they're targeted at people who haven't built with Lego for a while, that might explain a bit of a longer build time; but I can't imagine the process for something like this taking more than 30 minutes, at most.

Not personally interested in these, but I'll be very curious to see where this goes.

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By in United Kingdom,

Not for me, but I don’t understand the overly dramatic criticism that seems to have been unleashed.
If you don’t like it, don’t buy it.

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By in United Kingdom,

I think @Baby Yoda has entirely captured how this idea will be exploited.
Way to create an imagination, creativity and risk averse culture Lego & annoy huge portions of your market in the process. The Lego Group makes millions, try using some of it to build yourself a backbone.
Lego is creating a whole swathe of management who don't need to decide anything or have any gumption as they can just say let someone else decide or let someone else think of something.
Why is this described as a premium product (ie code for expensive) when it requires less risk and less investment and appears to contain very little actual lego. Presumably it is part economies of scale and part cynical exploitation. At that price the set should contain all 4 skins.
Only thing I like is the sound effect they added every time the actors pick up a lego piece in the promo.
The skins seem cheap but are oddly expensive and the motion seems a little off - more like a scurrying animal.

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By in United States,

I would rather just get a non-Lego fish/shark model rather than a Lego fish/shark "skin". Seriously they look cheap and flimsy.

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By in United States,

Looks like a good desk toy, not really for established hard core AFOLs but potential AFOLs who want something to dip their toes in.

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By in United States,

I really like this idea, both in terms of how they're doing it (the crowd funding), and the product itself. I can't wait to have this sitting on my desk at work.

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By in United Kingdom,

LEGO - welcome to the world of real crowdfunding. I wish you best of luck!

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By in United States,

Can someone give me a short version?

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By in United States,

Interesting--reminds me of something I might have tried with paper as a kid, which is a good sign. Anything that appeals to the "hey, I wish I had that as a kid!" side should be successful.

Also, @BabyYoda you're a monster.

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By in United States,

I love this. To me, it's like sails on a ship or glider. I'm totally fine with covering like this. Really nice!!

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By in United Kingdom,

There is a certain comic irony that on the funding webpage the worst quality photo of the Lego staff and the only one not to follow the corporate format & not have their whole head fit in the photo is that of the Packaging Manager.

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By in Canada,

@shaase I agree--when I first saw the photos I thought oooh more models like the Birds, this will be neat. Not as neat when the skins are the focus rather than the build. I also agree with the statement that if it takes 2 hours to build one of these you need to do more building. As well, Lego is already a creative, inventive, relaxing activity and this new product doesn't alter that at all. An interesting concept however I'd much prefer they be completely brick built. Having said all of that, they are attractive pieces for what they are.

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By in United States,

@shaase: I don't know why so many people are convinced that the plastic covers won't have other applications. From my experience, flexible parts in materials like plastic film, foil, cloth, rubber, foam, etc. can be extremely versatile by virtue of not having a fixed shape. Granted, they are the type of parts you often need to have in-hand to decide if they're appropriate for a particular context or scale since that lack of rigidity can make it hard to estimate the angle/spacing/part type the connectors and/or support structure need to be to make the part hold a particular shape. But they're loads of fun to play around with once you have them and have an idea of a type of model they might be suitable for.

Off the top of my head, as a general category, flexible parts like this are not only good for organic creations like these or some LEGO dragons that use cloth or plastic sheets as wings, but also for tents, awnings, decorative banners, clothing for brick-built characters, sails (though whether they lean towards realism or fantasy/sci fi would depend heavily on the shape and pattern), glider wings, etc. Even AFOLs have been finding creative uses for flexible parts like LEGO whips, hoses, etc. for decades. Why should that be any different with a flexible part that's produced in the form of a flat surface rather than a 3D shape?

@Deinonychus: I recognize your sarcasm but your statement is still genuinely true. I don't get where people get the idea that cloth/plastic sheet/foil/foam parts aren't real building elements but even more specialized stuff in unusual materials like most LEGO tires are. Flexible parts are not just an efficient way to add thin, smooth, curved shapes to a model, but they can also allow for types of build where a shaping made from thicker, more rigid elements might not be nearly as effective.

Just look at how articulated bodies/necks/tails of some brick-built snakes, dragons, etc can wind up with a weird segmented look that change conspicuously in width where they meet, not unlike some classic video game bosses that used multiple spherical sprites to allow serpentine movements (e.g. https://d1u5p3l4wpay3k.cloudfront.net/zelda_gamepedia_en/c/c6/TAoL_Barba_Sprite.png).

Plastic sheets not only have less surface area at the points where they're likely to collide, but also have enough built-in flexibility that two segments meeting doesn't necessarily stop the joint from bending further (this is also why flexible parts are great for clothing like capes on articulated characters — they won't restrict leg or arm movement to the same degree as a rigid part that's the same shape in a resting position).

@Chilis_no: I don't think the "stick to what you know best" mindset is very practical when you apply it so strictly as to mean "only use parts in traditional materials that function in traditional ways". So many of the LEGO Group's innovations have involved defying precedent: for instance, brick-built vehicles with bespoke wheel/axle pieces, electric parts like motors,specialized heads and arms for brick-built figures, minifigures that used no basic bricks, specialized floating boat hulls, fabric and string for sails and rigging, molded animals, ball-and-socket joints for posable figures (which eventually led BACK to more larger animals and monsters being brick-built), rubber bands for springier play features, rubber and soft plastic hoses for more flexible structures, etc. If LEGO didn't take risks with innovations that defied their previous standards, then we'd still be stuck with buildings that are microscale by current standards, basic bricks that are direct Kiddicraft knock-offs, an inflexible color palette, and toy cars that are virtually indistinguishable from other toy car brands other than using waxy-looking plastic rather than shiny die-cast metal.

As for the limited availability I suspect it's just meant to be a "soft launch", sort of like how LEGO Cuusoo began as a Japan-only service so LEGO could decide if it worked before taking the bigger risk of launching it globally, or how some LEGO sets a

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By in United Kingdom,

The concept is something interesting, the idea of making a technic body and covering it with 'panels' The execution is what lets this down.

The idea of it moving organically is a good one, but as demonstrated by the video, the execution looks a mess with janky and sharp movements.

Improvements needed;
• Re-work the technic system at the bottom to make it smoother, the connecting segments between the body to allow for smoother movement and maybe alter some of the panels so that the focus is less on being organic and more Lego-organic.

Sure it can be a Shark but integrate the idea of Lego into it more. The only tiny attempt seems to be the 'whiskers' of the Koi fish which are Lego pieces as opposed to the 'panels'. Having more of an integration between the two makes the 'panels' seem like less of a cheat method.

At the moment the appeal comes entirely from the 'panels' - so people would just bricklink the panels rather than get the set. If you improve the technic system and demonstrate the panels are not just a gimmick to take the focus, then it'd appeal to Lego fans more.

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By in United Kingdom,

I've read and re-read this article a few times, watched the video, and I just don't get it at the moment. It's a fish... okay then. Picking up on the 'nature' thing, though, it might be interesting to see what TLG releases as part of the theme in the future. Maybe big cats with switchable pelts...? Yeah, still not understanding it.

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By in Netherlands,

The idea is great and the execution is very impressive. I think it is good for TLG to try different things. I feel like it is different from what LEGO is right now, in a good way, and not too different that it makes me feel like it is not or should not be a part of LEGO. Maybe it leads to new ideas that could be implemented or added to 'normal' LEGO products/sets.

I like it, but it doesn't really appeal to me. However, I can see how it might appeal to other people and therefore I think this concept is going to be a success. Maybe dinosaurs would make me get some (if it is available in the Netherlands of course).

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By in United States,

Lego doesn't need crowd funding. Large, established companies shouldn't use crowd funding to basically make consumers pre-pay for products they can very easily develop on their own. ESPECIALLY for someone with pockets as deep as lego. I understand the benefit of these platforms for true startups/indie companies. This, however, is just ridiculous. And I really don't need paper (plastic?) cutouts from lego.

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By in Netherlands,

It’s not so much the product as the way it’s presented that bothers me. They make it sound like it’s somerhing very innovative for a target group they never focused on before; something so far ‘out of the box’ that crowd funding is the only sensible way to go...

According to the press release, slapping on a different skin (‘so it can change colour, species and even take on entirely new forms’...) ‘unleashes the creativity of the maker’... Come on, ANY other Lego product offers more creative challenges!

Had they done their market research and introduced it as a targeted-at-(left handed)-adults subtheme of Techic (‘Kinetic Sculptures’), my reaction would have been very different.

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By in Canada,

What are the left handed complaints about? In the video they show it with the crank on either side. And if you struggle to crank a wheel with one hand, a doctor visit might be in order!

The only offense I take to this is using indiegogo. If you want to do sales where a minimum preorder threshold is reached, integrate it into [email protected] God knows that site could use some work.

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By in United Kingdom,

£67 for the 200-piece set with the skins. Not exactly a bargain is it? I have at least one gift-with-purchase freebie from Lego that can better that

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By in United States,

@Aanchir - What you say is true, and I have no problem with flexible elements. I actually wish I had more and more useful ones for my own building.

My comment was more directed at LEGO's design practice of cramming Technic guts into everything, especially larger builds. I'll think that a model is going to be a satisfying brick-stacking experience and instead it ends up being a Technic skeleton with a brick and plate overlay. (The new Porg is a good illustration). This just seems like an evolution of that direction.

I also understand the reasons why they do it, but it doesn't make me like it.

I also understand that this looks to be in the actual Technic family, so that's fine as far as that goes.

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By in United Kingdom,

There is no risk. Stick a LIMITED EDITION badge on it, mention 15000 copies and it will sell out. Do it on the LEGO website and there are no crowdfunding fees either.

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By in United States,

@Scarilian: What makes you suspect this is aimed at existing LEGO fans? When LEGO launches a product line that's not just a different setting/theme than their existing products, but a different category of product (like, say, LEGO Architecture or LEGO Friends), it often is because it's aimed at a demographic that existing product lines aren't reaching.

@[email protected]: It's kind of amusing to see so much cynicism towards LEGO's first attempt at crowdfunding. I remember that when LEGO Cuusoo first went global and the LEGO Minecraft project got to 10,000 supporters in only 48 hours the prevailing reaction on Brickset and other LEGO sites was:
• that it was an absurd, pointless idea
• that the platform was "manipulated" by naive gamer fanboys from non-LEGO communities
• that those supporters clearly weren't real LEGO fans who understood good LEGO design
• that the supporters would never actually BUY a LEGO Minecraft set once the final design and cost were announced, particularly of stuff they could build for free in their virtual Minecraft worlds
• that at this rate LEGO Cuusoo was doomed to fail and cost LEGO lots of money in the process, and
• that the only way to "save" LEGO Cuusoo was if it adopted a Kickstarter-like crowdfunding model that forced supporters to put their money where their mouth is in the form of a preorder

By the time it passed review some people had become more enthusiastic/optimistic, while others just got more virulent, insulting what they perceived as the stupidity of not just LEGO Minecraft but also the game itself, its "lazy" creators, and the types of dumb little kids they perceived as its audience, who were without question too cheap and spent too much time online to actually buy and play with a LEGO set. At least one user dropped the R slur (really thankful Brickset moderation no longer puts up with that type of hateful language).

After the reveal? A little less virulence, but still the overall consensus was that it was a pointless, mediocre, overpriced (boo hoo, 480 tiny pieces for $35, what a nightmare!) parts pack with minimal appeal for buyers. And then post-release? It was a MONUMENTAL success, particularly in the United States, paving the way for three more Minecraft Micro-Worlds, and then a full minifig-scale play theme which is now in its fifth year and still seems to be going strong. Sure, a lot of AFOLs still think it's stupid, pointless, overpriced, whatever — but it was never meant to appeal to that subset of AFOLs to begin with.

Point here is that AFOLs in general and Bricksetters in particular include a lot of grouchy, cynical curmudgeons who tend to be dismissive of anything that they can't relate to 80s movies or LEGO themes. Judging from AFOL first impressions, Bionicle was garbage, Ninjago was garbage, Friends was garbage, Elves was garbage, Minecraft was garbage… heck, I don't know if ANY long-running themes except 70s and 80s have been met with positive first impressions from established AFOL communities. Sure, some themes that DIDN'T last a long time also earned a lot of AFOL hate, but if every new theme to earn a lasting presence gets the same reaction and comparisons to early 2000s disasters like Jack Stone, Scala, and Galidor, it doesn't say much for the strength of the AFOL communities' judgment. So do we ease up on the judgment, or double down on self-centered ignorance and knee-jerk reactions to anything we can't contextualize via the LEGO themes and popular culture of our own childhoods?

@BeaR the Builder: If you think more market research would have resulted in this being marketed under the Technic label then I suspect you don't understand the point of this product line. I see no reason to think this is being marketed at existing Technic fans.

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By in United States,


Whoops, my last comment got cut off for how long it was. Glad I copied and pasted what I typed. Continuing:

Let's be honest, except for themes largely rejected by today's Technic fans like Cyber-Slam or Throwbots, Technic is overwhelmingly aimed at thrill-loving motorheads, and usually male ones. The packaging is black, edgy, and serious, with angular letters and logos, dimly lit background scenery, and professional-looking rectangular feature callouts. The sets are based on beefy vehicles with an emphasis on speed, handling, bold colors, and raw mechanical power (not a lot of cute, sporty cars or leisurely vacation vehicles in gentler colors like you see so often in less testosterone-fueled themes like Friends, Creator, and even some City subthemes).

Even Bionicle, a fundamentally Technic-based theme which likewise tended to be aggressively masculine-coded in all of its incarnations, only promoted itself as a Technic subtheme for a year or two before the designers spun it off into its own theme, realizing that the kid and teen demographics enjoying it most weren't Technic fans and were looking for the Bionicle brand name first and foremost, while the teens and grown-ups enjoying Technic most generally had little interest in fantasy stories about magic robot warrior action figures, and instead craved serious models of machines from the real world.

As I've mentioned above, one thing that strikes me about this theme's design and branding is that it's MUCH less hyper-masculine than previous Technic-based themes like Mindstorms, Bionicle, or even the Technic category of the Racers theme. The boxes are a calm, clean white with colorful ribbons, fantastical creature motifs, and a bubbly blue logo. The sets themselves represent (or attempt to represent) the streamlined beauty and elegance of animal life. The lifestyle photos and videos show both men AND women enjoying a calm, relaxing building and play experience. The man is dressed in masculine flannel but his body language and staging in a relaxed home setting present his sensitive side — meanwhile the woman, rather than wearing hip, slightly masculine street fashions like the girls who appear in Ninjago ads, wears a basic, brightly-colored top. I think it goes without saying that like Bionicle, this is targeted at a VERY different audience than the Technic theme.

@Deinonychus: I don't tend to mind that so much myself, particularly in cases like the Porg where it's justified by a Technic-based function that runs through the center of the build, but also just because the sturdiness of Technic makes a good foundation for models like vehicles and sculptures that aren't built on a flat base directly on the floor/table. Granted, LEGO has gotten to a point where they have enough SNOT brackets that System-based structural locking is more viable, and we see it in some instances, but Technic still often tends to be one of the simplest and most efficient ways to reinforce larger structures.

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By in Australia,

Well the video shows this clearly being marketed to adults who haven’t rediscovered Lego yet, and it says you can use your creativity. But it doesn’t need creativity to build - you just follow the instructions and choose from four skins. So I find that kind of odd.

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By in United States,

The shark looks the worst in my opinion. I hope Lego is not doing a repeat of what happened in the late 90s to early 2000s.

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By in Hungary,

I thought it couldn't get any worse than Brickheads but Lego always suprises.

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By in France,

I'm not fan of the plastic sheet they use for sails. but it's nice they are trying different types of technic models, stuff like the technic toy soldier could be cool.

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By in United States,

First the rerelease of an obscure wind turbine and now this? What weird and wonderful surprises!

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By in United States,

I ordered mine. Can’t wait to get them.
Will be building extra frames for all the fish

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By in United States,

@Your future president: Don't worry… the situation of the early 2000s was a culmination of an enormous amount of poor business decisions and practices following over a decade of decline. Today's situation isn't remotely like that — LEGO's financials for last year are still stronger than they ever were pre-2015 (let me emphasize, this means that last year they generated more revenue and profits than they did the year The LEGO Movie came out), they have quite a large number of successful themes at various levels of complexity based around traditional LEGO building, they've achieved great success among girls and in Asian markets (neither of which they were ever able to reach so effectively in previous decades).

And of course, a lot of the safeguards they put in place after analyzing all the ways they went wrong in the early 2000s are still in effect, like exercising much stricter control over keeping sets within an appropriate budget for their price point (and over the number of elements and colors in the company's palette at any given time), taking extensive time to plan and test new themes before launch (rather than rushing them to market as they did with Galidor), making sure authentic LEGO building and play experiences form the foundation of any new play theme, finding new ways to reach out to fans of all ages for ideas, insights, and feedback, managing costs and expectations for new products and innovations so the company doesn't stake their bottom line on something that may not achieve long-term success (note how the failure and/or underperformance of experimental initiatives like LEGO Universe, LEGO Dimensions, and LEGO Fusion were far outweighed by the reliable success of other, more established brands), hiring talent from within the AFOL community who bring with them firsthand experience with the System of Play's value and potential, and maintaining healthy relationships with retailers.

@Fauch: I quite agree! A lot of my favorite Technic sets as a kid (either the ones I bought and built or pined after in books and catalogs) were mechanical creatures like the Bionicle Rahi or the Technic Control Center II T-Rex, sci-fi robots and battle machines like in Cyber Slam or Star Wars, and so on. It's made me happy that with recent sets like the Volvo ZEUX and the alternate build of the BMW motorcycle LEGO is once again showing a willingness to dabble in subject matter outside of current, real-world vehicles and technology, and now with this LEGO is pushing the possibilities of Technic builds into a totally different category inspired more by the elegance of nature than the power of machinery.

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By in United States,

From above: "the LEGO Group today announced a new strategic approach that will help foster open innovation and test ideas and concept experiences through pilot projects"

This is cool stuff. Don't focus on the fishes. Maybe you aren't a fan of them. I'm brick-first and will probably always be, but Lego should always be trying new things.

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By in Netherlands,

@Aanchir: I get what you’re saying about marketing and, indeed, the target audience for these more gender-neutral sets (which I like!) is a differtent one than that for Technic sets. I guess the problem I have is, when I read the press release and watch the video, I feel ‘not taken seriously’. Like I said, as if this is SO new, as if they never made sets fir adults and as if there isn’t already a large AFOL (mixed gender) community.

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By in Switzerland,

Wow, I know lego had decrease in profit a while ago, but to go to crowdfunding... just wow.

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By in United States,

Wait, I pay money and might not even get anything? Oh man, a sucker truly is born every minute.

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By in United States,

@lippidp , I don't think there's any serious risk of 'not even getting anything'--Lego has put its name on the product, and no one is going to believe TLG can't figure out a way to mass-produce and ship what's on offer. A failure here would mean massive egg on an awful lot of faces. As for the details--there's a reasonable number of units on offer and the price is IMO reasonable, at least when compared to other niche themes like Architecture. (Or even Star Wars!) I'm buying the base unit and one skin to play with, but I'm willing to bet that you could make more skins out of index-card paper or similar materials rather than having to stick to what TLG provides. It will be interesting to see what other new directions might be found for the Technic building system once it's not limited to making vehicles or imitating action figures!

As to crowdfunding--why not? It's a fail-safe way to gauge interest in something a bit offbeat, and if you don't approve, don't join in! Having TLG use Indiegogo isn't going to prevent anyone else from using the platform, and may well encourage some late-adopters (like myself) to try crowdfunding for the first time.

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By in United Kingdom,

The real question is - will LEGO ever be brave enough to release a set so experimental that it becomes a non-seller?

I see no major risks being taken at the moment, seems like a publicity stunt to me.

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By in Ireland,

This looks great to me honestly. Sure it's a bit over-priced, but these kind of organic animal models have been lacking and it's great to see something more appealing than vehicles (IMO) being done with Technic.

Shame on anyone who exploits this to resell the sets for a premium though. LEGO is trying to see what we established fans and other adults would like --- this was made for AFOLs to build and enjoy.

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By in United States,

@Sepulchre: Depends on what you mean by a non-seller. Even in the past decade they've certainly had products that didn't perform well, like LEGO Fusion or LEGO Life of George or LEGO Universe. But it's ambiguous how many people DID buy these products, let alone how much they cost to develop, so there's no telling how much money LEGO might have lost on them.

The most conspicuous failure I can recall in recent years was https://brickset.com/sets/21206-1/Create-and-Race from LEGO Fusion, where both the app gameplay and the physical play integration were a huge disappointment to buyers and reviewers even compared to the other confusing and buggy LEGO Fusion sets/apps. It was so bad it was pulled from both store shelves and the App Store/Google Play well before the other three Fusion sets.

In a lot of cases, though, the idea behind these types of more experimental products is less about staking a lot on their success and more about testing new concepts on a limited basis and then seeing what aspects are well-received and what aspects might need to be developed further in order to apply the stronger aspects more successfully in the future. There's a reason so many of these types of products only launch with a fairly small line of one to four sets, and often either starting out or remaining limited to specific markets that are perceived as a strong test audience. Even the potential financial loss for initiatives this small and short-lived is usually small enough that they're vastly outweighed by revenues and profits from much bigger and more reliable themes like City, Creator, Classic, Friends, Duplo, Technic, Ninjago, and Star Wars.

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By in United States,

"to evaluate whether concepts should be developed and scaled."

I see what you did there :)

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By in United States,

I can see this as working to test the water with new themes, and with themes with fans, but limited appeal compared to regular line sets, but these aren't for me. Besides, I don't see $45, let alone $55 worth of components in these.

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By in United Kingdom,

@Aanchir

Indeed, risk hedging is not the reason for crowdfunding (say hi to 25+ people already on the team/payroll), and neither is it about gauging interest - that sample size will produce few helpful responses. The "long-term creativity for adults" angle is also debatable beyond short-term passing interest.

This leads me to believe that seeking publicity, reaching new audiences and overall creating buzz is the aim of this undertaking. A marketing chieftain is seen presenting the product rather than a creative director!

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By in United States,

While I'm not overly fond of the examples they have here and don't think they're all that compelling, I don't have a problem with their crowdfunding type of situation here. It's the best method of having people put their money where their mouth is. A lot of people may say they want a set like this and would buy it, but ultimately they don't for whatever reason. By doing it this way, they know who is actually going to buy and how many.

A poster earlier mentioned Haslab and the Jabba's Sail Barge. Their Haslab program is the ONLY way something like that would be made. If people want something, then prove it by fronting the money. It's not a big risk for Lego, and those that do want it can get it. This is the problem Lego Ideas runs into a lot; people say they want a certain set and vote on them, but don't actually buy them. That's why we get questionable entries and sets that get made. The end results would be quite a bit different if people had to prove they wanted a set with their wallet up front.

Nothing like Lego doing things differently to bring out the entitlement of AFOL's...

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By in United States,

Personally, I feel like these could look really nice on a desk as a stand alone model, but all in all I am not too excited by this. First, the price seems like too much, and overall these don’t stand out to me as an amazing Lego theme. Obviously it’s great that they are trying new things, but I’d much prefer system stuff over the Technic.

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By in United States,

@Sepulchre: I don’t think the number of preorders is the only way this model helps LEGO gauge interest. For example, there’s how quickly they hit their goals (this is a big thing I know the Ideas team also looks at… a project that hits its goals rapidly probably has potential to reach a bigger and more passionate audience than one that takes months or years), how many and what kind of social media impressions it generates, and in the aftermath of the publicity you bring up, how much press coverage it gets and in which countries, demographics, or interest categories (this is another thing that’s a big deal in the Ideas review process).

Considering the design and packaging are not yet fully locked down, it’s also possible that the short-term outcomes of the campaign might impact those as well, along with things like the merchandising strategy: what types of stores should carry the products? Where do they shelve them that they generate the most attention? Will more stores be interested in carrying a LEGO product so unconventional and potentially risky LEGO product after seeing excitement on Indiegogo, other social media, and in the press? All of these are ways that LEGO can generate value from the campaign and get as much of the product’s launch working in its favor to minimize the risk of failure.

A bad merchandising strategy can kill even a fun, innovative product that does well in testing. I’ve read about this being an issue for Hasbro’s recent music-mixing game/creative toy, DropMix. A lot of retailers were unsure whether to shelve it as an electronic toy, a collectible card game, a board game, a video game accessory, or something else entirely. And was it for kids? For adults? For gamers? For popular music fans? Hasbro also was able to license a big portfolio of popular music for the game, but other musicians and publishers they reached out wouldn’t enter an agreement until Hasbro would show some sales figures or data showing the game was a hit. As a result of all this confusion and a lack of a unified direction customers often didn’t know where to find it even at stores that carried it, and a lot of stores chose not to carry it because they thought it didn’t fit in with the types of other products they carried or the ones they had previous success selling.

This is also why so many retailers are more resistant to toys that defy other forms of market segmentation like target age group, gender, etc, even if manufacturers are more open-minded. Retailers don’t just want to know whether the product will sell, but who it’s most likely to sell to, where those people tend to shop, what products it will be competing with for their attention, etc.

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By in United States,

I see people complaining that LEGO is crowdfunding. Don't think of it that way. Think of it as a crowdfunding platform being used in a different way, which is to allow them to produce this set to order. They clearly have functional copies of the set to tinker with, so there really isn't any product development necessary. They can crank out a few thousand minifigs to give away each year at SDCC, so they don't need to raise capital to actually fund the production. What they do need to do is develop the Forma platform. Like Ideas coming out of Cuusoo, I suspect this is something where they'll tap into Indiegogo until they prove the concept, and then they'll pull the entire process in-house. For _this_ group of sets, I get the impression that it will be produced to order, meaning they don't want to be sitting on any leftover sets once the dust settles. This means nobody gets to scoop them up on discount because there won't be any left to clearance.

The one killer drawback is the exclusive new pin they mention. It looks like the frame and stand are pretty basic and can be easily recreated via Bricklink, but you'd need more of the pins (or something functionally equivalent) to attach one of the skins. However, I do see now that the skins each come with 28 of the new pins. Each skin consists of 10 individual sections, so it looks like they're giving you enough for a minimum of two pins to attach each piece to the frame (stuff like the head will require more), and you just have to pick up the common pieces. What this also means is that for those who really like this idea but balk at the price, you could just pick up one of the skins and see if you can pull together the rest of the components on the cheap. You know, assuming you're not after the regular koi skin.

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By in Austria,

It's interesting to see how Lego is brave enough to produce something out of the ordinary, and yet not brave enough to own it completely so Crowdfunding method is chosen. With it they are making an approach of partly marketing, partly risk management, in my opinion.

I don't have a problem with the strategy or what-so-ever approach to launch a new product. Given how flexible Lego is from the past, i.e. venturing into video games, board games, tv shows etc. It's not surprising.

The only part whereby I am truly wondering is the appeal of such sets. Personally for me it's a 30 mins build, 10 mins play, and many years of dust collecting object.

Maybe the materials of the skin can be made from something more interesting or shinny, than plastic? Or maybe the arts and drawings could be made by some famous designer or painter? And hiding away the studs and connectors could also be a good idea. In order to reach a true Artistic form that is nice to display and to look at.

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By in Germany,

The new strategy is to not test sets "in the market" anymore, but just make it available to a selected group of people via a crowdfunding site? Wow, this is seriously an absolutely new low.
Way to enable scalpers, too.
And only UK and US? Because those markets are so important? Can we have a bit of data about that, please? I very, very much doubt Germany is a smaller market than the UK.

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By in United States,

@Mickitat:
I'd be surprised too. It's not inconceivable, but consider that until 1998, Germany was the largest consumer-nation of LEGO product, and it was only the release of LEGO Star Wars that pushed the US into the #1 spot. Of course, given the huge disparity in population, the US is probably well down the list in terms of per-capita LEGO purchasing, after European nations like Germany, the UK, and Denmark. Simon Liu once told me that the reason LEGO is so popular in Germany is because they were the only toy company that would actually deal with Germany immediately post-WWII, so little kids growing up in the late 40's didn't really have any other options besides LEGO sets to play with. With that kind of a monopoly, it's only to be expected that parents who grew up with LEGO would pass their collections down to their own kids, and buy them new sets to go with them. Over time, that lock on the youth market should lessen, but it will probably remain one of the strongest for quite some time.

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By in United Kingdom,

Thats a big team compared to what JKBrickworks can do with just a few people! But, yeah, I've handed over money....I quite like them!

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