Crowdsourcing is basically putting questions or tasks out in the open to a large group of people to receive their input for the sake of innovation. Toy bricks company LEGO is included in most search results of global companies that use crowdsourcing. After finding itself on the verge of bankruptcy in 2004 it introduced its LEGO IDEAS initiative to encourage fans of the toy to submit their own designs for new themed sets. Here are some top examples of crowdsourced toy innovations that came through the process.
How LEGO IDEAS works
The LEGO IDEAS platform focuses on crowdsourcing fan designs that align with existing LEGO themes and aesthetics. It fosters a strong community voting process and caters to a broad audience that enjoys seeing familiar themes reimagined.
Creators can submit their designs on the LEGO IDEAS website. Each design should be original, meet LEGO’s building standards, and consist of at least 500 pieces. They must come with clear and concise instructions that are easy to follow and accurate. Designs should be photographed from multiple angles with good lighting and resolution, and be accompanied by compelling description that explains the inspiration behind each idea and its appeal to potential users.
If a submitted design is approved, the project is published on the platform for other users to view and comment on. Each creator has a time frame (usually 60 days) to share their project on social media, and encourage others to support it. The threshold target is to collect 10,000 supporters for a project to proceed further. Previous successful submissions included a collection of top women at NASA, the U.S. Space Agency, designed by Maia Weinstock of NASA.
Recent submissions to LEGO IDEAS
49 product ideas submitted to LEGO IDEAS hit the 10,000 supporter milestone between early May 2023 and early September 2023. These crowdsourced innovations went forward to the next stage in which LEGO designers and marketing teams meticulously evaluated the design, market potential, and feasibility of each production. If selected, creators work closely with LEGO designers to refine the build, instructions, and overall concept. If everything goes well, a number of creations become an official LEGO set that is produced and sold worldwide. Creators receive a royalty on each set sold and recognition for their design.
Examples of successful themed sets developed through this round of LEGO Ideas include a red London telephone box designed by the UK’s John Cramp. He added some personal touches to his toy innovation, including a fictitious postcode on a road sign that uses his daughter’s initials, and a poster inside the telephone box for an event on his wedding anniversary. Other sets developed through LEGO IDEAS in recent years include a 50 centimetres tall motorized lighthouse designed by Sandro Quattrini from Canada, and a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar designed by Tomáš Letenay from Slovakia.
A further 42 product ideas achieved 10,000 supporters after the September 2023 deadline, and they became eligible for the current LEGO designer and marketing team review period which started on January 8, 2024. Results will be available Summer 2024.
Top LEGO IDEAS designs
There are several ways to establish an all-time Top 5 toy innovations. They could be ranked by total retail sales achieved, or the profit each set delivered to LEGO. However, we do not have access to such data.
What we can access is an estimated current value of LEGO sets released in the 2014-2024 10 year window, and compare those values to their original retail price. LEGO sets that are now considered collectors’ items can command high prices in the resale market. The prices quoted below are for an untouched set still sealed in its original packaging.
Top of the list, the most expensive set in a resale market, is a 778-piece Star Wars Resistance Bomber that was on retail sale from May to July 2019. The model includes a button-activated bomb release function, spring-loaded shooters, two opening rear gun turrets with space for a minifigure, elevating rear guns, a two-minifigure front cockpit with a detachable canopy and a removable top section. Its original price in the shops was $99.99. The current value for a new Resistance Bomber in its sealed packaging is estimated at around $1,894 (source: BrickEconomy). It was designed by Henrik Andersen who is from Denmark and has worked for the LEGO Group since 1998.
The rest of the Top 5 crowdsourced innovations are:
Löwenstein is a small town in Germany, and it did, in fact, have a castle (that was destroyed in 1634). However, designer Raziel Regulus’ Löwenstein Castle is not based on any one specific castle. He created a 2,015-piece set that included the castle, a knight, his family, and his animals. It originally sold at $199.99. Current valuation of a pristine set is $1,015, which represents a return of 508%.
Imagine it! Build it! was a 924 piece kit designed to extend a set builder’s creativity. It originally sold for $69.99 in February 2019. With a current valuation of $1,000, any owners of an unopened set could enjoy a 1,429% return. It is one of numerous LEGO sets designed by Paul Hetherington from Canada, who goes under the moniker “Brickbaron.”
Eight Studs was a 1,393 piece model of a modern housing unit that allowed for flexible re-designs. It was released as a limited edition of no more than 2,500 individually numbered sets, and originally sold at a retail price of $99.99 from February to April 2019. Its current estimated value of $856.70 represents a growth of 857%. It was a piece of crowdsourced innovation created by Christian Bechinie, who is a User Experience Designer at the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology.
A one-eighth scale model of a Porsche 911 GT3 RS sold for $299.99 when it was released in July 2016. Its current value of $816 represents a rise of 272%. LEGO worked with Porsche to replicate the build process for an actual GT3 RS, allowing Lego builders to follow Stuttgart’s actual production sequence as closely as possible. It comes with a 578-page instructions manual with a total of 856 steps. This toy innovation was created from an idea from Andrew Woodman, a LEGO Technic Senior Design Manager.
Do you have a favourite LEGO set? Or maybe you have been involved in LEGO IDEAS. Please let us know and we’ll share your feedback.