Sunday, May 6, 2012

CUUSOO takes off

In just the past few weeks, a steady stream of CUUSOO projects have hit the needed 10,000 votes to move forward to the review stage of the process. They include a ship from the video game EVE online, the Back to the Future DeLorean, a set based on The Legend of Zelda, and the ship from Joss Whedon's Firefly tv show/Serenity movie. That's a ton of sets in just a short period of time, and could be a sign that interest in the CUUSOO idea is taking off.

However, the type of sets that are reaching approval may actually only signal that certain fandoms are organizing behind projects. That means popular properties are running up votes from people who normally would have no interest in LEGO and may not actually even buy the models if they were produced. Obviously, this is something that will be discussed in the review process.

Some have argued this is a bad thing. I don't think that's true though. The beauty of non-LEGO fans checking out CUUSOO is that they might gain an interest in existing themes. They may then buy currently produced sets and join their local AFOL communities. Honestly, CUUSOO may just end up being a viral marketing machine TLG can use to promote its brand a little. If it works and gets more people interested in collecting, that's great. If non-LEGO fans get mad because their fan set didn't get made, then there's no real loss either. I see the whole concept really only having an upside for LEGO, as long as they don't green light a set that bombs.

I do think it's unfortunate though that some great non-licensed ideas are struggling to pick up the votes they need. For example, this amazing modular western town has slowly ticked along towards 10k while projects based on licensed themes have taken off. This is something I see doing far better as an actually produced theme than the few one shot licensed sets people seem to be supporting right now.

Ultimately, I think the AFOL community recognizes that LEGO is not going to make sets they don't feel will be profitable. If nothing else, CUUSOO provides an opportunity for designers to showcase their ideas and maybe gain some recognition for their MOC work. It also gives LEGO a great opportunity to get some market research in and identify themes that might actually prove to be worth pursuing. If that's the case, then the whole experiment is probably long as people don't get bent out of shape if their project doesn't get approved.

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