A few days ago, we and many other fan media reported that LEGO had launched a poll on the Ideas Blog to mark the upcoming 90th anniversary of the LEGO Group. Until January 25, fans can vote for their three personal favorites from 30 classical LEGO themes, for one of which LEGO will then launch a special anniversary set in 2022.
In principle, this campaign is a great idea and a nice fan service that should especially please the adult fans of the little bricks from Billund. Fittingly, the anniversary set is going to be released as part of the 18+ series. We fear, however, that this well-intentioned idea could prove to be a boomerang for LEGO and cause more disappointment than joy. In this commentary, which is also a kind of open letter to the LEGO Ideas team, we will shed some light on the problems we see.
This article was originally written in German and later translated to English. Please exuse any mistranslations that might have happened and let us know in the comments if you don’t understand something or if you find an error!
Fragmentation distorts trends
The basic idea of having the AFOL community vote on their favorite LEGO themes from the past decades and then releasing an anniversary set based on the survey’s results is a good one. However, as soon as the poll was announced, voices were raised complaining (and rightly so, in our opinion) about an unfair fragmentation of the theme choices.
For example, the “Space” theme is divided into a whole seven sub-themes, namely Classic Space, Space Police, Blacktron, M:Tron, Ice Planet, Spyrius and Exploriens. If you include Aquazone (because it was actually a Space theme, though marketed differently), there are even eight choices.
The “Pirates” theme, on the other hand, is far less fragmented, with only a distinction between Pirates and Imperials. The fact that there have been quite different factions in this theme over the years, too – e.g. Redcoats and Bluecoats, but also different versions of the pirates themselves (not even to mention the whole Islanders sub-theme) – is not reflected in the survey. Even though you can request a special sub-theme by means of a comment field, the votes are still all counted for either Pirates or Imperials.
We think this creates an imbalance, in this example in favor of Pirates, because fans of all “eras” can vote for the same selection, while the votes for the Space themes are much more diversified and thus carry less weight. The same problem, perhaps an even bigger one, exists with LEGO Castle, as there are seven sub-themes there to choose from as well: Classic Castle, Lion Knights, Black Falcons, Forestmen, Black Knights, Wolfpack and Dragon Knights.
We suspect, however, that many fans just want one thing: a castle! Due to the fragmented nature of the survey these votes get lost in the various subthemes. This brings us to the second problem: distortion through misunderstandings.
Classic Castle does not mean “old castles”
In the AFOL community, the terms “Classic Space” and “Classic Castle” are not always used accurately. Those who have been actively involved with the topic know that, for example, “Classic Space” is an umbrella term for the LEGO Space sets up to 1986, and that the subsequent series had their own distinct names such as Futuron, Blacktron, M:Tron, etc.
However, for many fans less deeply involved in the subject, “Classic Space” is synonymous with “old space sets”. Similarly, many are likely to associate “Classic Castle” simply with “old castles”. This is particularly problematic in that both choices appear at the top of the survey’s selection list, before the subtopics. We think it is possible that many users inadvertently, reflexively so to speak, select one of these options, although their actual intention was a different one.
Of course, this can also strongly distort the result. In our own survey, whose choices we deliberately offered in the same order as in the official LEGO Ideas survey, Pirates, Classic Castle, Trains and Classic Space are currently leading the other choices. And while Pirates and Trains are known to be extremely popular themes in the German AFOL community, we wonder, for example, if all those who have voted for “Classic Castle” really wish for a yellow castle with brick-built horses back.
The language barrier can also play a role here, by the way. The “Black Falcons,” for example, were not known by this name in Germany; in this country they were simply called “Ritter”, meaning knights.
In short: The survey, as it is posed, is problematic. If you still want to participate and haven’t done so yet on the LEGO Ideas Blog, you can do so until January 25. To participate, you have to navigate to the survey while being logged in to your LEGO Ideas account. Then click on “View Entries” in order to select your favorite three themes. As already mentioned, there is also a textbox available, in which you can request a special sub-theme.
A plea to the LEGO Ideas team
In order to avoid misunderstandings, misinterpretations due to different languages or the unfortunate fragmentation of some themes to distort the “spirit” of the survey and ultimately disappoint many fans, we would appreciate it if the LEGO Ideas team, in the second round of voting, would not simply have the users vote on the top 3 choices from the first round strictly and without further inquiries.
Maybe this problem doesn’t even arise, because the German market with its preference for Pirates and Castle is not necessarily representative – in America, for example, the Bionicle theme is og much higher importance than in Germany. But if it turns out that Classic Castle or Classic Space make it into the top 3, LEGO should dig deeper – and preferably with pictures. In the case of Classic Castle, for example, you could ask: “Which of these castles do you imagine when you think of Classic Castle?” and then, in addition to the yellow one, put the other castles up for selection again by picture. And if, for example, none of the Castle or Space themes make it into the top 3, the LEGO Ideas team should at least take a look at the total votes cast for all sub-themes.
In any case, we felt it was important to point out that the way the poll was posed, the results may not match what LEGO fans actually want. We hope that the LEGO Ideas team is now aware of this issue and is working on a solution to it, whatever it may be.
Poll: Are we mistaken?
Ultimately, the above assessment of the situation is of course only our subjective view in the StoneWars team. That’s why we would like to hear from you whether we are possibly mistaken and misjudge the situation. For this purpose we have prepared two polls, which we would be very happy to receive your answers for:
Note: We have created new polls for you, our English-speaking readers. You can find the current results of the corresponding German polls here.
What is your opinion on the issue and most importantly, do you have any good ideas on how the LEGO Ideas team could deal with it? After the first round of voting is over, how could they make sure in the second round that the results reflect the actual will of the majority of fans? We’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments!