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LEGO® Designer Mark Stafford transformed Peter Reid's LEGO Ideas Exo Suit project into an official LEGO set. We sat down with him to find out how he did it.
Peter's original model - full of illegal and out-of-production goodness.
When LEGO Ideas came calling to ask Mark to work on transforming Peter Reid's Exo Suit into an official LEGO set, he jumped at the chance. He and Pete have known each other for nearly a decade, even before Mark became a LEGO designer. They met when they both exhibited at LEGO World in 2005, bonding over a mutual appreciation of robots and spaceships. In fact, they've even worked together on a spaceship model once, the Enlightenment.
NA-311 Enlightenment - photo by legoloverman (Peter Reid), from flickr
A collaboration between Peter Reid and Mark Stafford
Making the model a legal build that holds up to the LEGO Group's rigorous playability standards was no easy feat. Mark wanted to remain true to Pete's original and Pete had used quite a number of elements that were no longer available. Mark's goal was to find a way to retain the look and the spirit of Pete's model in a way that was compatible with LEGO standards.
It all started with a big pile of elements.
Mark started by working on the body. After a number of iterations, he sent some photos to Pete to see what he thought. Pete was blunt, it was rubbish. But he understood precisely what Mark had done wrong and gave great feedback that enabled Mark to make adjustments and fix the issues. Next up were the Exo Suit limbs. Mark created and rejected too many versions to count.
Various arm and claw versions
Although it hadn't been done before with a LEGO Ideas project, Mark invited Peter to come to Billund to work together on the model. This was possible as Peter was already under NDA with LEGO, having done some early sketch models for the Atlantis theme. When asked what he thought about the experience, Peter Reid said, "It was awesome to visit the inner sanctum, and build alongside Mark. We worked on solving a number of design and aesthetic issues, which was lots of fun. I'm very pleased with the finished product. It feels like a true collaboration."
After extensive work, three versions of the arms were sent to LEGO's Design Lab, the team that reviews and tests all new LEGO set designs. Design Lab came back and said two of them were still illegal builds because elements were being stressed in ways that weren't allowed. Then, a new element - a 2x2 round tile with a hole through it - became available and with it, as well as some connections hidden inside the much-discussed barrels, Pete and Mark were able to solve the arm problem.
Official "new" elements in new colors in the Exo Suit set.
It's a general policy that LEGO Ideas sets cannot contain any new elements, but they can contain existing elements in new colors. Mark was able to incorporate a number of new elements from other lines, including a bowl and the handlebars from the LEGO Friends line. The slopes used on the feet are quite new as well, according to Mark. Being able to include a lovely set of brand new elements in colors not seen before was important to Mark. The five official new pieces/colors are:
- green torso with Classic Space print
- green helmet
- green oxygen tank
- medium stone grey 2x2 dome
- silver metallic wheel cover
Everyone assumed that Mark would utilize the new mini ball joints found in Mixels and Chima sets in this design, but he didn't. The reason was twofold - one, production capacity was completely taken up and they were simply not available; and two, and even more importantly, it was truer to Pete's original design not to use them. Mark told us again and again that he wanted to retain the spirit of Pete's heavily-greebled design to the extent that was allowed. What's greebling, you ask? According to Wikipeda, "A greeble is a fine detailing added to the surface of a larger object that makes it appear more complex, and therefore more visually interesting."
A number of color combinations were tried before the silver and grey version was settled upon.
While Peter's original LEGO Ideas proposal didn't include a turtle, Mark and the Ideas team thought the Exo Suit needed a companion. Mark knew that Peter was famous for his turtles, which populate his Flickr photostream, so it had to be a turtle. Mark built several solutions and sent them to Peter, but they weren't right. In the end, they returned (mostly) to Pete's original design and as Mark told us, "The turtle is purely Pete."
Early prototypes of the green minifigures
Perhaps the most exciting part of all, for both Mark and Peter, was being able to introduce a new color of Classic Space minifigures. Mark told us that each of the original colors of Classic Space minifigures had a specific job: white for pilots, red for soldiers/explorers, yellow for scientists, blue for commanders and black for spies. None of those really fit the category of mech pilot. Thanks to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IP, all of the necessary parts were there in green, so Mark called Pete and said, "How do you feel about doing a new color of space minifigure?" Pete was, understandably, ecstatic. It had, after all, been 30 years since LEGO had done a new color of space figure. And now Pete and his girlfriend Yve find themselves forever immortalized in LEGO Space.
The green space minifigure is probably the most meaningful aspect of the set for Mark. He has met both of the original designers of the Classic Space sets (both are elderly men now and live in the Billund area) and to have the opportunity to carry on the tradition they started was a real privilege. "This is my childhood I'm adding to," he said, "it's really special to me."
Lastly, Peter, who has added to the LEGO Classic Space story himself with LEGO Space: Building the Future, the book he co-authored with Tim Goddard, has revealed to us exclusively that he will add to it again, as there will be a follow up to the popular book. But first, he and Yve will get up to plenty of LEGO adventures with their Exo Suit and their turtle.
The Exo Suit is available in LEGO Brand Stores and on LEGO.com from August 1.Read post
Fan-designer of LEGO© Research Institute Ellen Kooijman, better known to the community as Alatariel, stopped by the LEGO offices in Billund to meet the LEGO Ideas team and to talk to the LEGO designer Steen Sig Andersen about the product details.
She got a chance to look at the final designs and check out the Minifigure scientists first-hand. She was even the very first person outside the LEGO Group to build the set! Read her own review here.
This awesome set featuring a chemist, an astronomer, a palaeontologist and all their cool equipment is on track to hit the shelves early August 2014.
As you can see, the Research Institute scientists can’t wait to get started…. It’s time to get excited!Read post
We hereby present LEGO® Ideas #007 the Exo Suit by Peter Reid.
This video was co-created with LEGO fan Chris Salt.
The Exo Suit will be available in early August.Read post
Yup, you’ve got it! This is the results of the Winter 2014 LEGO® Review. Six projects from the Winter Review and one still under consideration from the Fall 2013 LEGO Review have been considered from every angle. Here’s what we have decided:
LEGO Ideas #008: Research Institute
We’re very excited to release Ellen Kooijman’s Female Minifigure set, featuring 3 scientists, now entitled “Research Institute” as our next LEGO Ideas set. This awesome model is an inspiring set that offers a lot for kids as well as adults. The final design, pricing and availability are still being worked out, but it’s on track to be released August 2014, so keep an eye out!
All other projects from the Winter 2014 Review periods will not be produced
The LEGO Review Board has evaluated each project according to our decision criteria. We’ve decided that all other concepts in the winter 2014 review period will unfortunately not be produced as LEGO sets. This decision, however, does in no way take away from the incredible talent put into these projects or the passion supporters have shown.
How do we make these decisions?
Getting 10,000 votes for on a project is a huge accomplishment in and of itself. But it is really just the beginning of the project’s journey, because the 10,000 supporter milestone means the project enters the LEGO Review Stage.
During the LEGO Review, a team of specialists within The LEGO Group – including LEGO set designers, marketing and business representatives, and other relevant team members – investigate and evaluate the project to determine its potential as a LEGO set. This involves analyzing the votes and information you give us about your project as well as looking at things like playability, safety, and fit within the LEGO brand. This takes a while and the timing varies because of all the different factors involved in the decision process. Every potential LEGO product, including those developed internally, goes through a process like this and must meet the same standards.
The LEGO Review Board makes all final decisions on which new sets the LEGO Group will release based on LEGO Ideas projects.
First 2014 LEGO Review Results Coming Late Summer/Early Fall-2014
The first 2014 LEGO Review is well underway, and you can expect results late summer/early fall. Remember we have updated our review schedule to three times per year. We’re very excited about bringing you the Research Institute set and look forward to considering more of the amazing projects reaching 10,000 supporters and thereby qualifying for the LEGO Review.
From LEGO CUUSOO to LEGO Ideas
As you may have noticed, LEGO CUUSOO changed its name to LEGO Ideas. We are grateful for the many years of collaboration and experimentation between our two companies and wish CUUSOO Systems continued success, building CUUSOO as an open crowdsourcing platform for brands to connect with their fans on cuusoo.com.
But the name is not the only change! We introduced a new and improved website, complete with responsive design and the possibility of embedding videos into your project. We’ve also changed a few rules… For instance project creators now can be 13+ rather than 18+. We’re excited to see what the younger audience will bring of fresh new ideas and great builds. Also, a project is now only given year to reach 10,000 supporters. This means that you (yes, you) need to start campaigning in order to make the deadline. A worthy challenge!
We hope you are as excited about the new LEGO Ideas as we are. And while we know that some transition time is required, we know that LEGO Ideas will be an even better community with more amazing projects than before!
As the sun sets slowly in the west, we wish you happy building!Read post
Thank you all for a great first week on LEGO Ideas! Our team is busy catching up on approving new projects, and we’re working on small fixes and improvements uncovered since launch.
Before diving into responses to your questions about changes on LEGO Ideas, I’d first like to give a huge shout-out to our development team! These world class men and women engineered a system that migrated the entire LEGO CUUSOO activity history over to LEGO Ideas, writing 6.3GB of data to our database, and importing and converting about 400,000 images, totaling almost 39GB. The migration brought over…
- 578,668 User Profiles
- 283,008 Avatars
- 60,173 Projects (including drafts)
- 227,768 Comments
- 283,903 Comment “Likes”
- 1,438,537 Supports for Projects
…and 174,559 Friendships :-) (when people follow one another). WOW!
Changes on LEGO Ideas
A wise person once said, “The only constant in life is change,” and a wise minifig once said, “I know that sounds like a cat poster, but it’s true.” LEGO Ideas brings a few changes from the LEGO CUUSOO open beta; some have been warmly accepted, and others slightly less so. Here’s our response to your most prevalent comments and questions:
- LEGO Ideas is built using responsive design and re-formats when you are on a desktop, tablet or mobile phone. You can submit projects from a desktop or tablet, but not from a smartphone, as our experience has shown projects submitted on smartphones are of much lower quality (spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc).
If you experience any issues with the site (for example challenges on different devices), please send a description of what you experience along with as much information as you have (screenshots, operating system, browser, device, and version information) to us at support.ideas@LEGO.com, and we’ll forward this to our development team to investigate.
- Video links now appear embedded automatically when you include a YouTube video URL into your project. We feel this adds to project pages since many of you like to create video promo reels of your projects. Just remember that the videos must comply with our Project Guidelines and House Rules for your project to be approved. Some projects that were migrated from LEGO CUUSOO included hyperlinks to videos in the middle of a sentence, and those have unfortunately generated some formatting issues. If that has happened to your project, please write us at support.ideas@LEGO.com and our team will clean up the video placement in your project as we’re able.
- Projects are now given one year to reach 10,000 supporters in order to create urgency, enthusiasm, and raise the bar to be considered as a potential LEGO product. The LEGO Review Board creates a business case for each project in Review. We’ve set the one-year benchmark to show there is sufficient demand to invest (time, money, people resources, and market priority) in producing a LEGO product. As a project creator, we encourage you and your fans to get out there and promote your project so it reaches 10,000 supporters within a year.
- Projects can no longer be edited, only updated. On LEGO CUUSOO, you could edit your project as much as you like. Some members went so far as to change their projects entirely, all while keeping their supporters. This made the project’s original supporters unhappy, and made it impossible for us to determine exactly what the supporters counted toward.
Going forward, you can no longer edit your project, as it is a proposal for a potential LEGO product, and we must ensure the concept you are asking people to support doesn’t change its nature throughout the process. Therfore we encourage you to take time and submit your very best images, and thoroughly proofread and edit your project before submitting. For former LEGO CUUSOO members we know this will take some time to get used to, but if you want to improve upon or refine your work, please do so in the Updates tab.
Note: If you have projects brought over from LEGO CUUSOO with formatting issues, such as awkwardly-placed embedded videos or outdated mentions of “LEGO CUUSOO” you may contact us to make very limited edits, at our team’s sole discretion, as priority allows: support.ideas@LEGO.com. We will not edit new projects on your behalf.
- Clutch Power (which includes both your points and badges) is awarded going forward. Since Clutch Power is new to LEGO Ideas, your past activities on LEGO CUUSOO don’t count toward your Clutch Power - unless your project reached 1k, 5k, or 10k supporters of course, as that’s a really big deal. Our team will add these badges to project owners’ profiles in the coming weeks.
Both our community and development teams are already improving LEGO Ideas based on your input. We’ve noted your other questions and concerns not addressed here, and we’ll respond as the need and priority allows. Launching LEGO Ideas as a complete LEGO brand experience is the LEGO Group’s commitment to innovating on products with you, and we’re looking forward to where we go together. If you have any feedback or challenges, please write us at support.ideas@LEGO.com.Read post