Crowdsourced toys: get your Lego thinking hat on

A couple of weeks ago we looked at an example of crowdsourced art. Today I want to show you an example of crowdsourced toys: Lego. Yes, the traditional, brick-y, plastic-y toy producer of our youth has turned out to be one of the most innovative companies in the market. And their most game-changing innovation of all? Turning to their market for toy design.

In 2008 Lego launched Lego Cuusoo (“My Lego Wish” in Japanese, or so I’ve been told) in collaboration with the ideas crowdsourcing company Cuusoo (perhaps more on them in another post), to collect ideas from its fans for a new collection of Lego designs. Although the initial site was only available in Japanese, in 2011 the international Lego Cuusoo was launched, and in April of this year, the concept became the more pronounceable Lego Ideas.

medieval marketplace lego set

A medieval marketplace, under review

The idea is this: anyone can submit a Lego pack idea to the platform. The ideas are then voted on by the community (=anyone who’s interested, which in the last count was about 600,000 people). If an idea reaches more than 10,000 votes, the Lego team considers producing it for retail distribution. The creator receives 1% of the net sales revenue.

The advantages are pretty obvious: not only does Lego get access to a huge bank of creativity, that also happens to be aware of incipient trends and marketplace gaps. It also gets to effectively pre-market test an idea. If an idea receives a lot of votes, it’s likely that it will sell well. There is in effect a significant built up demand by the time the product hits the shelves. Lego gets a more profitable product launch, and we get funkier Lego packs to play with test our building skills.

This is one of the most recent product launches, on shelves in the US since last month:

Lego Research Institute

21110 Research Institute, on shelves but good luck finding an affordable one

Female scientists. You have a paleontoligist, a chemist and an astrologist. They each come with a figure, a pack of tools, and their respective workspaces. I want this set. Seriously.

Except that I can’t have one because it sold out of everywhere almost right away. Sniff. It is available from some re-sellers at about 7x its initial retail price of $19.99, but I don’t think that I can go there… Meanwhile, I can get my dose of the antics from a hilarious Twitter account which describes the trials and tribulations of the trio:

LegoAcademics Twitter account

Follow @LegoAcademics on Twitter!

Other excellent ideas (in my opinion) that ended up getting produced through Lego’s crowdsourcing scheme are:

Minecraft Lego:

Minecraft Lego set

The Ghostbuster kit, complete with car and figures:

Ghostbuster Lego kit


Some interesting options currently under review:

The Big Bang Theory Lego set, complete with figures and Leonard and Sheldon’s living room (and even the Rubik’s cube tissue box and a miniature Lego Death Star!) – Lego people, please produce this one:

Big Bank Theory Lego kit

Dr. Who:

Dr. Who Lego kit

An Apple store (the brand, not the fruit… product placement, much?)

An Apple Store Lego kit


Some possibly interesting options currently in the voting process (sign up and vote here!):

From the film Frozen:

Frozen Lego kit

From Terry Pratchett’s Discworld (I’m a huge Terry Pratchett fan, I voted for this one!):

Terry Pratchett's Discworld Lego kit

Lord of the Rings:

Lord of the Rings Lego kit


And some that got a lot of votes but were rejected:

Sherlock Lego (inexplicable, really…)

Sherlock Lego kit

The Adventure Time Project (my kids would definitely have bought this!):

Adventure Time Lego kit

The Legend of Zelda:

Legend of Zelda Lego kit

From Portal, the video game (there was also a project for League of Legends):

Portal Lego kit


Far from being relegated to the toy bin with the rise of video games, the Lego brand has (with the odd dip here and there) managed to maintain its relevancy and appeal in an electronic age. Rather than bank on increasing sales to the younger generation, it seems to have focussed on broadening its appeal to all ages and social groups. I personally know several adults who salivate over the traditional kits (ok, me included, I’m seriously thinking of buying myself one for my birthday). And the new designs coming out are breaking ground for their niche appeal that at the same time has a broad support base. And therein lies a very important key to success in this social age. Apart from the advantages of crowdsouring the ideas that we already discussed, another significant win is any marketer’s dream: the fan base is most definitely engaged.

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