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Is Cuusoo too easily taken over by Rabid Fandoms?


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#101 Aanchir

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Posted 20 May 2012 - 09:27 PM

View PostFaefrost, on 20 May 2012 - 04:42 AM, said:

I think a reasonable review standard for CuuSoo would be that the offered projects cannot currently be under license and production to another manufacturer, at least for the period under which they are seeking CuuSoo votes. At the very least that would clean up the hundreds of similar Dr. Who sets listed. A very simple and polite "as much as we like your idea someone else currently holds the rights to that property so we cannot pursue. Fell free to resubmit should those rights expire" would suffice. It would also clear the MLP controversy instantly, because regardless of whether or not Hasbro or Kree-o are making MLP sets, they do very clearly hold the license to do so, being the IP's owners.

Or is that just injecting common sense into the equation again?
The MLP controversy would not be cleared up until TLG actually tried to obtain the MLP license from Hasbro, since it is possible for TLG and Hasbro to cooperate on something if they think there will be a mutual benefit. It's extremely unlikely that it would happen, but that's just because Hasbro and TLG both happen to be major toy manufacturers. Since Kre-O products are already manufactured by an external company (the Korean clone brand Oxford), it's silly to assume that Hasbro would never give a toy license to any other toy company. The odds of them giving it out to a major company like TLG are just much less favorable than giving it out to a company like Oxford that doesn't present any competitive risk.

This might be part of the reason there is no "pre-screening" process for licenses. In a situation where obtaining a license is unlikely but possible, TLG will have a much stronger position in the negotiations if they have both evidence that a lot of people support the partnership and statistical data on what kind of people are among the supporters. Opening the negotiations before they have begun to build their bargaining position could be a lot riskier, and even media-based licenses with no licensing complications could end up being turned down if TLG's only supporting argument is that "a person on the internet proposed this neat idea!"

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#102 Faefrost

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Posted 21 May 2012 - 02:01 AM

View PostAanchir, on 20 May 2012 - 09:27 PM, said:

The MLP controversy would not be cleared up until TLG actually tried to obtain the MLP license from Hasbro, since it is possible for TLG and Hasbro to cooperate on something if they think there will be a mutual benefit. It's extremely unlikely that it would happen, but that's just because Hasbro and TLG both happen to be major toy manufacturers. Since Kre-O products are already manufactured by an external company (the Korean clone brand Oxford), it's silly to assume that Hasbro would never give a toy license to any other toy company. The odds of them giving it out to a major company like TLG are just much less favorable than giving it out to a company like Oxford that doesn't present any competitive risk.

This might be part of the reason there is no "pre-screening" process for licenses. In a situation where obtaining a license is unlikely but possible, TLG will have a much stronger position in the negotiations if they have both evidence that a lot of people support the partnership and statistical data on what kind of people are among the supporters. Opening the negotiations before they have begun to build their bargaining position could be a lot riskier, and even media-based licenses with no licensing complications could end up being turned down if TLG's only supporting argument is that "a person on the internet proposed this neat idea!"

Honestly, if Lego were to approach Hasbro about a MLP license, Hasbro would laugh themselves silly. Then the next call they would make would be to Kree-o ordering them to "make ponies now!!!" this is just a fact of business. All TLG seeking a licensing deal would do would be to essentially do market research for Hasbro. There is no situation short of an acquisition where this would result in a joint project. Hasbro would simply assume TLG was onto something, and make the product themselves.

This is different from an IP license holder seeking an outside vendor to manufacture a product for them, either as a blind OEM or as a co branded partner.  Hasbro could seek to partner with TLG, as unlikely as that may be, or they could request bids from various brick manufacturers seeking a partnership.

For existing toy licenses TLG really does not have to wait to inquire. They know what the major licensed properties are. At least the ones in current or recent production. They are one of the worlds largest toy companies, big sharks in the pond. They have people paid to know who has what licenses on a regular basis. Yeah some small or obscure projects may slip through an initial review and not be found until a later review or inquiry, but the majors will be spotted pretty quick.

Edited by Faefrost, 21 May 2012 - 02:07 AM.

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#103 johnnyvgoode

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 01:14 AM

View PostFaefrost, on 21 May 2012 - 02:01 AM, said:

Honestly, if Lego were to approach Hasbro about a MLP license, Hasbro would laugh themselves silly. Then the next call they would make would be to Kree-o ordering them to "make ponies now!!!" this is just a fact of business. All TLG seeking a licensing deal would do would be to essentially do market research for Hasbro. There is no situation short of an acquisition where this would result in a joint project. Hasbro would simply assume TLG was onto something, and make the product themselves.

This is different from an IP license holder seeking an outside vendor to manufacture a product for them, either as a blind OEM or as a co branded partner.  Hasbro could seek to partner with TLG, as unlikely as that may be, or they could request bids from various brick manufacturers seeking a partnership.

For existing toy licenses TLG really does not have to wait to inquire. They know what the major licensed properties are. At least the ones in current or recent production. They are one of the worlds largest toy companies, big sharks in the pond. They have people paid to know who has what licenses on a regular basis. Yeah some small or obscure projects may slip through an initial review and not be found until a later review or inquiry, but the majors will be spotted pretty quick.

Very true. MLP is highly unlikely. I'd be extremely surprised if they bothered themselves so much only for a Cuusoo project. And that's without mentioning how specific is the target audience.

#104 Aanchir

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 02:16 AM

View Postjohnnyvgoode, on 22 May 2012 - 01:14 AM, said:

Very true. MLP is highly unlikely. I'd be extremely surprised if they bothered themselves so much only for a Cuusoo project. And that's without mentioning how specific is the target audience.
Well, MLP has done a remarkable job appealing even outside its original target audience, so I don't think that would be a huge problem. The young girls who are fans of the show and toys are a significantly loyal audience on their own. But when you have an adult fandom that pays hundreds or even thousands of dollars for custom-made character plushies on a regular basis, it's hard to imagine people simply ignoring MLP building toys, especially if they have the quality LEGO brand name attached to them. Not that that's likely to happen, but I'm confident that neither TLG nor Hasbro will have any reasons to think this product will not have strong demand-- at least, assuming that the LEGO Friends theme does its job and demonstrates that girls are a viable market for building toys.

I'm not going to lie: I want to see the MLP project reach 10,000 supporters whether it becomes a product or not, and I think it would be a good thing both as a member of the "brony" community and as a LEGO fan. If the MLP project is rejected, Hasbro is still certain to take notice of how much support it got, which might inspire them to make MLP building toys or other products aimed towards adult collectors (hopefully if they do so the figures won't be as hideous as the "Kreons" in their Transformers and Battleship lines). And I think it will be valuable precedent for LEGO Cuusoo to see a project get rejected for reasons other than inappropriate content.

Also TLG might create measures to encourage more feasible licensed proposals. While I think a rule against projects where licenses can't be secured would be pointless, stifling, and impossible to enforce, there are other possible solutions like perhaps giving licensed products some intermediate threshold after which they will enter into licensing discussions with the rightsholders and share the results of those talks as soon as possible.

In general there are a lot of Cuusoo proposals that "push the envelope" and could be valuable in further shaping the Cuusoo platform into a reliable form. The MLP project is one I can actually give my full support due to liking both the model concept and the franchise enough to actually buy such products. But it's far from the only project that could run into licensing issues but still gets my support. The Scrabble project would be an amazing product IMO, but it would have even more serious licensing issues than the My Little Pony project (since Hasbro owns the rights to the Scrabble name and concept in the US and Canada while Mattel, another competitor in the toy industry, owns them in the rest of the world). In my opinion, since the point of Cuusoo is to gauge demand for potential LEGO products, it isn't doing its job if users limit their support to what they believe is "realistic". I base my support purely on whether I would buy a product of any proposal, and I think the Cuusoo platform as a whole will benefit if others do the same.

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#105 johnnyvgoode

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Posted 22 May 2012 - 04:42 AM

View PostAanchir, on 22 May 2012 - 02:16 AM, said:

Well, MLP has done a remarkable job appealing even outside its original target audience, so I don't think that would be a huge problem. The young girls who are fans of the show and toys are a significantly loyal audience on their own. But when you have an adult fandom that pays hundreds or even thousands of dollars for custom-made character plushies on a regular basis, it's hard to imagine people simply ignoring MLP building toys, especially if they have the quality LEGO brand name attached to them. Not that that's likely to happen, but I'm confident that neither TLG nor Hasbro will have any reasons to think this product will not have strong demand-- at least, assuming that the LEGO Friends theme does its job and demonstrates that girls are a viable market for building toys.

I'm not going to lie: I want to see the MLP project reach 10,000 supporters whether it becomes a product or not, and I think it would be a good thing both as a member of the "brony" community and as a LEGO fan. If the MLP project is rejected, Hasbro is still certain to take notice of how much support it got, which might inspire them to make MLP building toys or other products aimed towards adult collectors (hopefully if they do so the figures won't be as hideous as the "Kreons" in their Transformers and Battleship lines). And I think it will be valuable precedent for LEGO Cuusoo to see a project get rejected for reasons other than inappropriate content.

Also TLG might create measures to encourage more feasible licensed proposals. While I think a rule against projects where licenses can't be secured would be pointless, stifling, and impossible to enforce, there are other possible solutions like perhaps giving licensed products some intermediate threshold after which they will enter into licensing discussions with the rightsholders and share the results of those talks as soon as possible.

In general there are a lot of Cuusoo proposals that "push the envelope" and could be valuable in further shaping the Cuusoo platform into a reliable form. The MLP project is one I can actually give my full support due to liking both the model concept and the franchise enough to actually buy such products. But it's far from the only project that could run into licensing issues but still gets my support. The Scrabble project would be an amazing product IMO, but it would have even more serious licensing issues than the My Little Pony project (since Hasbro owns the rights to the Scrabble name and concept in the US and Canada while Mattel, another competitor in the toy industry, owns them in the rest of the world). In my opinion, since the point of Cuusoo is to gauge demand for potential LEGO products, it isn't doing its job if users limit their support to what they believe is "realistic". I base my support purely on whether I would buy a product of any proposal, and I think the Cuusoo platform as a whole will benefit if others do the same.

Well, now that you mention it, I think that if Minecraft has a target audience big enough, then probably so does MLP.

And you do bring about a valid point. It's important that Lego gets to know what we would like, regardless of some other factors.

#106 Faefrost

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 02:43 AM

Interesting. I just noticed that all of the hotly debated My Little Pony projects seem to have disappeared quietly from CuuSoo. I guess that answers that question.
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#107 questforcastle

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 09:06 AM

I think the original poster does make a fair point, even though some of the people disagreeing also have a point.

Fandom or brand-loyalty unquestionably does drive (and distort) online votes, this is evident all over the Internet. Hence it must be factored in as a distortion. If there is a popular brand (or even one with a small but zealous following online) attached to a CUUSOO submission, it is more likely to attract this type of voting than a submission without such a brand. This is not just a risk, I think it is a matter of fact.

On the other hand, the same fandom does - even if to a lesser degree - drive sales of mechandise too. It very likely provides LEGO exposure on brand/fan channels that otherwise would never cover LEGO. And it is quite possible, that this approach might attract new future AFOLs as well as one-time impulse buyers. Clearly there is an upside to attaching LEGO (and CUUSOO) to some other well-known brand.

So, I think boths sides of the argument have merit. But the big question is: What does this unquestionable dynamic do to CUUSOO - and to larger extent LEGO? Is there room for original ideas and great LEGO design without some external brand to attach it to? All the CUUSOO sets released so far have been based on a popular brand, the two first local Japanese technology heroes, third a video game. What do licensed themes do the LEGO in general?

Could the setup perhaps benefit from some administrative segregation? Different requirements for non-brand-based CUUSOO sets? Maybe every other CUUSOO to be released would be without an external brand, just to keep the diversity and creativity up? Is there merit in trying to maintain a balance, even if it has to be done artificially? Do too much brands drive away creative builders? A good question.

I guess most of us would hate it if all CUUSOO becomes is a vote on whose favorite brand gets built into LEGO. First and foremost it should be about great ideas for LEGO building, not about brands.
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#108 Legocrazy81

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 11:14 PM

Well, the Modular Western Town made it without a brand name, although obviously not the norm. But, it proved it can happen. It really is too bad the support for non licensed projects don't get the same amount of love. Theres great projects with very little support.

I don't think making every other release a non licensed. That way, it could hold up a great model, either way. I don't mind seeing the different licensed models being released. There's no real reason for that.
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#109 88high

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Posted 13 June 2012 - 11:55 PM

I completely agree

#110 Faefrost

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Posted 16 June 2012 - 07:55 PM

View PostLegocrazy81, on 13 June 2012 - 11:14 PM, said:

Well, the Modular Western Town made it without a brand name, although obviously not the norm. But, it proved it can happen. It really is too bad the support for non licensed projects don't get the same amount of love. Theres great projects with very little support.

I don't think making every other release a non licensed. That way, it could hold up a great model, either way. I don't mind seeing the different licensed models being released. There's no real reason for that.
The non licensed stuff sort of falls into a weird area unfortunately. It either has to be a theme that sparks a lot of attention from the more traditional lego audience (hence a Castle, Pirates or old west theme doing well) or it needs to be over the top spectacular to get noticed. And the problem with the over the top spectacular ones is they tend to be excessively large, expensive or are so elaborate that they are not a good fit for CuuSoo to produce. CuuSoo ideally needs small to medium sized kits of fairly basic subjects. The Japanese deep sea sub and the Hayabusa space probe were almost perfect in that regard. They are something recognizable that someone can design a good mid sized set around. The licensed stuff has similar benefits as there is a clearly identifiable source that can be narrowed down to a simple set. (ie the deLorean). Whereas if you just tell we the general public to come up with something original, chances are we will end up creating a suggestion for a theme, and not a set. We don't really appreciate how difficult it is to narrow down the idea for a theme or a setting or a story into a produceable, marketable set.
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#111 Marty McFly

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Posted 17 June 2012 - 04:05 AM

View PostFaefrost, on 16 June 2012 - 07:55 PM, said:

And the problem with the over the top spectacular ones is they tend to be excessively large, expensive or are so elaborate that they are not a good fit for CuuSoo to produce.

This is the real challenge for budding Cuusoo builders - make a spectacular set which can fit into a $20-30 pricetag. It's one thing to make an impressive model with thousands of pieces, the skill is being able to do so with 250 bricks.

I think the BTTF set works well in this regard, it's only a small set but uses detail rather than scale to impress.

#112 Lieutenant_Colonel_Fifi

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 04:19 AM

View PostDavid Thomsen, on 27 April 2012 - 02:05 PM, said:

Also, who on earth plays Minecraft any more?

This - is - SPARTA!

How can you say that? If you'll go look at the official site, someone buys the game, like, every 3 seconds. The game IS NOT from ten years ago, it was created in 2010 and released in 2010, too. Get your facts straight!

And, BTW - I'm no fanboy. Being called a "fanboy" of something got me into fights at school 14 years ago.
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#113 Hive

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 10:26 AM

View PostLieutenant_Colonel_Fifi, on 01 July 2012 - 04:19 AM, said:

The game IS NOT from ten years ago

It does look the part, though.

#114 Ricecracker

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 03:50 PM

Please stay on topic. There are many forums out there to discuss MineCraft. This is not one of them.

#115 Lieutenant_Colonel_Fifi

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 07:33 PM

View PostMcLovin, on 01 July 2012 - 03:50 PM, said:

Please stay on topic. There are many forums out there to discuss MineCraft. This is not one of them.

I'm not talking about the game itself.. but rather why the OP is wrong.

And, the c in Minecraft is not capitalized.

View PostHive, on 01 July 2012 - 10:26 AM, said:

It does look the part, though.

*facepalm*

It's an art style, and it's a darn good idea. It's not advertised as a 'retro game' or anything. Look at the amount of games that are pixelated.
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#116 Ricecracker

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 07:42 PM

View PostLieutenant_Colonel_Fifi, on 01 July 2012 - 07:33 PM, said:

I'm not talking about the game itself.. but rather why the OP is wrong.
You were talking about the game, and you still are. It's clearly not the intent of the topic. Please stop.

#117 Lieutenant_Colonel_Fifi

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 09:11 PM

View PostMcLovin, on 01 July 2012 - 07:42 PM, said:

You were talking about the game, and you still are. It's clearly not the intent of the topic. Please stop.

I am simply bringing up the fact of why Minecraft should be in Lego form - but I'll bugger off because you obviously don't care.
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#118 Spider-Man

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 03:06 PM

He might care this just isn't the thread to talk about it Fifi no need to get offended  :classic:

Has anyone seen the Portals project on Cuusoo? This is fandom at it's finest. Over 4,000 supporters in 4 days all because it was placed on some gamer websites. I have never really played the game, but I think it has to do with walking through portals so just how exactly does that transfer into LEGO? It looks like a cool set still I guess?
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#119 Darth Hagrid

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 06:17 AM

Is CUUSOO to easily taken over by rabid fandoms? Well, I have an opinion, so I guess I'll share it.

In a word, yes.
It only takes a single post on a messageboard, or a single tweet by a celebrity to bring in thousands of votes. However... Is it a bad thing?
Well... No. Some people may be annoyed by all the licensed projects clogging up the successful list, but that's really about all the harm they do. Well over half of the projects will probably never be made into sets anyway, and if they do, you don't have to buy them if you don't like the source material.
I've never really understood all this fuss. People voting on licenses won't draw others away from non-licensed projects anymore than CUUSOO's poor layout does anyway. If they're not gonna vote on non-licenses, they're not gonna vote on non-licenses.

View PostDavid Thomsen, on 27 April 2012 - 02:05 PM, said:

Also, who on earth plays Minecraft any more?
You know... Maybe the ten thousand people who voted for the project? Just a guess.

Edited by Darth Hagrid, 07 July 2012 - 06:21 AM.

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#120 AndyC

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 09:58 AM

View PostSpider-Man, on 02 July 2012 - 03:06 PM, said:

Has anyone seen the Portals project on Cuusoo? This is fandom at it's finest. Over 4,000 supporters in 4 days all because it was placed on some gamer websites. I have never really played the game, but I think it has to do with walking through portals so just how exactly does that transfer into LEGO? It looks like a cool set still I guess?

The Portal one is quite interesting, because it actually highlights that having a large licensed fanbase isn't enough on it's own. How? Because there is a similar Portal project that has been on there for considerably longer and yet has garnered a mere 785 votes. I actually think the biggest issue with Cuusoo is that there are too many people who think all it requires is that you have an idea, stick it on there and it's job done.

If you want a project to succeed you have to present a compelling pitch. You actually have to market your idea. Now that may be easier for a licensed property, because it's easier to target the right kind of audience, but you still have to pitch a suitably well thought through and well presented idea if you want people to pay attention.

Edited by AndyC, 07 July 2012 - 09:58 AM.

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#121 Hive

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 11:22 AM

View PostDarth Hagrid, on 07 July 2012 - 06:17 AM, said:

In a word, yes.
It only takes a single post on a messageboard, or a single tweet by a celebrity to bring in thousands of votes. However... Is it a bad thing?
Well... No. Some people may be annoyed by all the licensed projects clogging up the successful list, but that's really about all the harm they do. Well over half of the projects will probably never be made into sets anyway, and if they do, you don't have to buy them if you don't like the source material.
I've never really understood all this fuss. People voting on licenses won't draw others away from non-licensed projects anymore than CUUSOO's poor layout does anyway. If they're not gonna vote on non-licenses, they're not gonna vote on non-licenses.

I disagree. LEGO can only do x number of Cuusoo sets each year, and if all of them end up being licensed sets due to voting invasions from those fanbases, it will of course mean that there'll be less unlicensed sets for people to enjoy. And just because an licensed idea initially gets more votes, it does not necessarily mean that it will get more buys in the long run. I dare say that many, MANY of those fans voting on a licensed Cuusoo idea aren't necessary going to buy the product, as they may not care about LEGO at all, but merely want to support anything that helps spread their fandom.

I would really really like to see Cuusoo with a redesigned webpage with better categories and search options, and a division between licensed and unlicensed ideas.

#122 Faefrost

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 01:50 AM

View PostAndyC, on 07 July 2012 - 09:58 AM, said:

The Portal one is quite interesting, because it actually highlights that having a large licensed fanbase isn't enough on it's own. How? Because there is a similar Portal project that has been on there for considerably longer and yet has garnered a mere 785 votes. I actually think the biggest issue with Cuusoo is that there are too many people who think all it requires is that you have an idea, stick it on there and it's job done.

If you want a project to succeed you have to present a compelling pitch. You actually have to market your idea. Now that may be easier for a licensed property, because it's easier to target the right kind of audience, but you still have to pitch a suitably well thought through and well presented idea if you want people to pay attention.

This! No really This!

Ultimately we, the dedicated Lego fans are almost worse for CuuSoo than the rabid fanboys. I said it somewhere above. The problem is dilution.

The key thing in all of the projects that made it to the end (possibly excepting the "Dark Bucket" which I still can't comprehend the support base), is that they were marvelously polished and completed projects. They weren't just an idea plopped out on LDD and never worked through again. They were and are complete, fully documented projects. Good quality stuff that have a business case built into them. The fans of all types know and support quality, regardless of license or theme.

Now the Rabid Fandoms have an advantage on CuuSoo. Concentration. There may only be 1 or a handful of projects that spark their interest. So they all go there. Whereas for the Lego fan... well CuuSoo is 210 pages at 18 projects per page. All of them projects targeted towards Lego fans. What then escalates this and further dilutes it is far too many of we Lego fans treat CuuSoo as some sort of "Show off my MOC" site, and not the serious business proposal site that it is meant to be. People will stick any old thing up there to get feedback or in the slightly lower than winning the lottery chance that it might get made. And while it is not readily apparent, using CuuSoo in that manner does harm everyone else. It's what pads out those 210 pages of projects to the point where most never get seen by human eyes. And being seen is the entire point of what it takes to get a really great project made.
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#123 Aanchir

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 02:06 PM

View PostFaefrost, on 08 July 2012 - 01:50 AM, said:

This! No really This!

Ultimately we, the dedicated Lego fans are almost worse for CuuSoo than the rabid fanboys. I said it somewhere above. The problem is dilution.

The key thing in all of the projects that made it to the end (possibly excepting the "Dark Bucket" which I still can't comprehend the support base), is that they were marvelously polished and completed projects. They weren't just an idea plopped out on LDD and never worked through again. They were and are complete, fully documented projects. Good quality stuff that have a business case built into them. The fans of all types know and support quality, regardless of license or theme.

Now the Rabid Fandoms have an advantage on CuuSoo. Concentration. There may only be 1 or a handful of projects that spark their interest. So they all go there. Whereas for the Lego fan... well CuuSoo is 210 pages at 18 projects per page. All of them projects targeted towards Lego fans. What then escalates this and further dilutes it is far too many of we Lego fans treat CuuSoo as some sort of "Show off my MOC" site, and not the serious business proposal site that it is meant to be. People will stick any old thing up there to get feedback or in the slightly lower than winning the lottery chance that it might get made. And while it is not readily apparent, using CuuSoo in that manner does harm everyone else. It's what pads out those 210 pages of projects to the point where most never get seen by human eyes. And being seen is the entire point of what it takes to get a really great project made.
Very good observation. AFOLs are already a "house divided" in some respects, favoring very different themes and having very different sensibilities about how those themes should be presented. But if what we like in common is LEGO, then seeing what we like, but made of LEGO, comes with the territory. There's no "novelty" to it, and so it's a lot harder to pile our support on any one concept.

Another reason "rabid fandoms" might support projects with more fervor than typical LEGO fans is that they might look at the projects with less of a critical eye than a LEGO fan might look at a non-licensed project. For instance, a fan of The Legend of Zelda might support a Legend of Zelda project just for the novelty of it, especially if it's presented as a good-looking and realistic-looking project. On the other hand, a LEGO fan will look at a licensed or non-licensed proposal a lot more critically. They will be judging it not based merely on how much they like the concept, but also on how it compares to existing LEGO sets-- how high its quality is, how well it "fits in" with other sets, and at the same time how it manages to set itself apart from existing sets.

Something I've noticed in addition is that I've had a lot of difficulty coming up with project ideas myself, and part of this has to do with figuring out what AFOLs will like. Some of my personal favorite ideas, like a modular road system or Hero Factory re-imaginings of the original six BIONICLE characters, would be incredibly divisive. Other ideas are difficult due to worries about "brand fit". Most of my building tends to be within existing themes, and the trouble with doing that is that you then have to compete against the sets in those themes-- both in terms of support, since people will not support a themed proposal they consider weaker than the sets already available within that theme, and in terms of the final product design, since TLG might reject it if they consider it too similar to what they already plan to have on store shelves.

The easiest way to get around these concerns is either to dig up an old theme that hasn't been touched in a while but still has a lot of appeal, like the Modular Western Town proposal, or to make up your own theme. But making up your own completely original theme is hard, especially when you know that there will likely be only one actual product released-- not much to base a theme on. It's much easier in some cases to turn to a licensed theme. With those, the hard work of making something that stands out against the tapestry of ideas has already been done for you, and the challenge becomes taking those ideas and making them into a compelling and well-presented product design.

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