If you recall last month, the LEGO Ideas Team launched a contest that pools the best original ideas for the next Gift With Purchase (GWP) set through crowd voting within the LEGO Ideas community. Dubbed as LEGO Ideas Moments in Space, the contest seeks out the best build that may be adapted as the next GWP set to be offered sometime in 2019.
Exactly a week ago, a Grand Prize Winner has already been declared – the Cosmic Rocket Ride! (Coin Operated) by mjsmiley. This winning entry garnered the highest score amongst 1,000 and so entries with the following criteria in mind:
- Overall coolness and originality: 25%
- Most inspired details: 25%
- Relevance to contest theme: 25%
- Best use of LEGO elements: 25%
This is no easy feat, considering that mjsmiley’s creation bested more than a thousand other entries. The contest also gives special mention to 10 runner ups, and in case you’re interested to see these entries, just head over to the LEGO Ideas blogsite. Now I have to say that I really appreciate how mjsmiley’s Cosmic Rocket Ride turned out. From its color scheme, minifig scaled-build, crank play feature that allows the Rocket Ride to move, and its overall simplicity, in these aspects, this set is an absolute winner. Needless to say, it’s not hard to imagine how this nice, little cute build can become the next GWP set.
However, as it turned out, not everyone shares a common understanding if this is indeed an original work or not, especially for one keen AFOL, who spotted the apparent similarity of mjsmiley’s Cosmic Rocket Ride! to an already existing LEGO set. The case (or set) in question is the Rocket Ship Arcade LEGO Manager Exclusive set given away to attendees of LEGO’s annual Brand Manager Retail Conference back in 2016.
Rumors were rife when Brickset forum member Bumblepants called out how similar this winning entry is to that of the Rocket Ship Arcade. Now to be fair, there are still notable differences between mjsmiley’s work (who also goes by the name Mark, as I got to know his first name through one of his comments in my previous article) from the ground up: we have a slightly different base with plenty of modifications to make it more attractive, a relatively different color scheme (though there is still the conspicuous red and yellow pieces), and an over-all different rocket design.
But considering how samiam391 feels about it – the original uploader of the instructions for the LEGO Manager Exclusive set – he believes that someone have definitely benefited from his humble contribution in the forum. It should be noted though that samiam391 does not claim ownership for this set, for what he did was to only share the existing instructions to the Brickset community in the hope that others will appreciate this set as much as he does. To quote,
It would definitely seem that someone abused the gift and used the instructions for their own personal gain to win a contest.
If they truly did rip off the instructions then I hope one day they are challenged by their conscience.
It’s a shame, but life is much too short to get upset about it. At the end of the day, I’ve probably distributed close to 200 copies of the instructions and will continue to do so for as long as people request them. The true joy for me in all of this is getting to help my fellow AFOLs and friends add a fun little model to their cities. Keep building!
Now, I am not the one to judge the intentions of people particularly in a case like where a winning LEGO entry seems to have been called out for allegedly plagiarizing an existing work. Giving the benefit of the doubt to the designer and creator this LEGO Ideas winning entry, then one can argue that perhaps mjsmiley REALLY does not know that such a set exist, which leads to the possibility that this fan-made set is completely original. Perhaps it’s just by sheer coincidence that his entry is very similar to that of the LEGO Managers exclusive… so, what could be the odds about that happening? As I said, I am not in the position to pass judgment whatever mjsmiley’s motives are, but it certainly raises questions on how “original” an entry should be. Will simply replacing a part here and there from a copied work will already qualify it as an original work? Were the panel of judges of the LEGO Ideas Moments in Space contest aware of an already existing set that may look strikingly similar to what they have chosen to be as the winning entry? These questions may likely pass off unanswered.
Since LEGO has already made the announcement and will unlikely retract their decision for any reason, I guess only time can tell how much of the Cosmic Rocket Ride build will be modified or retained once the final design is revealed sometime next year.
So what do you think LEGO fans, do you believe the LEGO Ideas Moments in Space Grand Winner is 100% original? Share your thoughts in the comments below.