LEGO Ideas Moments In Space Winning Build May Seem To Be Based On An Existing LEGO Set

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.

A portion of the building instructions of the Rocket Ship Arcade LEGO Manager Exclusive set from 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!

Another build inspired by the Rocket Ship Arcade (from Brickset forum member, elspankdog).

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.

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LEGO’s Lowered Profits in 2017 Attributed to Overstocking of Products by Retailers

So by now, the LEGO Group’s annual financial report for 2017 has played out and, as it seems, it was a bit of a downer revenue-wise. For the first time in 12 years, LEGO reported that their profits suffered a noticeable drop, with a net profit decrease of about 17%.

This turn of events, according to the Annual Results, was due to shrinking markets in Europe, particularly Germany, and surprisingly the US as well. But a spokesperson for The LEGO Group has also floated another reason for the sales slump: turns out their products have been overstocked across multiple markets.

Normally when new LEGO products are made available to retailers, they are quickly put on shelf display, with large numbers to entice buyers. However, if they still have significant stocks of older LEGO sets, the retailer would prefer to keep displaying them until they run out. This time, LEGO is competing for more shelf space.

“There wasn’t enough room to get 2017 toys into the stores,” the LEGO spokesperson said in this regard. To promptly have these older sets sold, retailers would try to reduce prices to attract buyers, but discounted prices mean a reduced gross, leading to lower revenues and profits for LEGO than before.

LEGO Group CEO Neils B. Christiansen followed up on this, saying, “During 2017, revenue in our established markets declined, primarily due to actions we took to clean up inventories.” There would be other contributing factors to this decline; but for now excess stocks and discount prices are held responsible.

On a more positive note, the LEGO Annual Results 2017 report also announced their top-selling themes, though they’re not entirely a surprise: LEGO City, DUPLO, Creator, Friends and Star Wars. LEGO Boost has also been getting a lot of attention thanks to its new compatible LEGO sets.

The Rumor Mill: Are We To See The Last of the LEGO Star Wars Buildable Figures?

Just now we have newly presented the latest big update on LEGO Star Wars products yet, with our first good look at the massive wave of tie-in sets for Solo: A Star Wars Story that are coming our way starting next month. Yes, that includes the Kessel Millennium Falcon (75212).

This first wave also includes one buildable figure, those brick-built poseable action figures often referred to as ‘constraction’ sets that are often major characters of licensed franchises. The one set that was part of the LEGO Star Wars Han Solo blitz was a wicked figure of the Darth Maul (75537). But there’s also a problem.

Back in December last year, LEGO had announced a couple of buildable figures coming out in 2018. Interestingly, their set numbers come immediately after Darth Maul (75537). They have been labeled as the LEGO Star Wars Super Battle Droid (75538) and the 501st Legion Clone Trooper & AT-RT Walker (75539).

Well, they’re supposed to be released this year. But rumors have manifested and are being discussed on Eurobricks, that the releases of the Super Battle Droid (75538) and 501st Legion Clone Trooper & AT-RT Walker have been canceled. The poster who shared this gave no reason for such a move. However, further down the thread, several reasons were offered, and some even gave their passionate rebuttal on the issue. For a comprehensive summary of the arguments presented, for and against the rumored discontinuation of this relatively new line of LEGO Star Wars playsets, you may want to check out the post shared by RebelScum.

As always, LEGO-related rumors will remain such until the company itself confirms or denies them. That also includes one last rumor that LEGO might be ending the buildable figures line by next year, though this has been bandied several times before. Meanwhile, let’s look forward to Darth Maul (75537) soon.

UPDATE: LEGO Star Wars Han Solo Official Set Images Released

UPDATE: I’ve included official images of sets 75210, 75535, and 75536, courtesy of Bouwsteentjes. The Dutch LEGO fan site mentions that these images were found on Amazon, though I couldn’t determine what particular Amazon regional site.  

We already saw some of these sets at this year’s New York Toy Fair, and we had a glimpse of their official product descriptions earlier last week. This time around, it looks like we have our first official images of the LEGO Star Wars Han Solo sets, plus a couple from the general Star Wars theme courtesy of Amazon France. It is should be noted that this is not the complete line-up since Amazon’s French website has not yet listed the LEGO Star Wars Moloch Landspeeder (75210), and the buildable figures of Han Solo (75535) and a Range Trooper (75536). I assume that this has something to do with Disney and Lucas Films plugging the leaks on some of the finer details of the Han Solo film, scheduled to be released in theaters on May 25. Well, truth be told, the images of these LEGO Star Wars Han Solo sets have been well distributed all over the internet for quite some time now, and such damage control from the part of these entertainment giants now seem to be just an afterthought.

We do not have any price points yet in USD, and as it turns out as of this posting, Amazon France has listed these sets as temporarily out of stock. So we just have to probably wait until April to see more of these. For the meantime, check out these official images. A hat tip to The Brick Fan for sharing this info.

 

Jedi and Clone Troopers Battle Pack (75206)

Imperial Patrol Battle Pack (75207)

 

Yoda’s Hut (75208)

 

Han Solo’s Landspeeder (75209)

 

Moloch’s Landspeeder (75210)

Imperial TIE Fighter (75211)

 

Kessel Run Millennium Falcon (75212)

 

Han Solo (75535)

Range Trooper (75536)

Darth Maul (75537)

 

Annual Financial Results Report by LEGO to Be Live-Streamed on Tuesday

It’s usually around this time of the year that major companies would make their annual financial result . That too is the routine for The LEGO Group, hailed as the largest toy company in the world, and makers of our many favorite brick-building play-sets.

For LEGO, this is a major event. That means they’ve set up a live stream of their Annual Results 2017 announcement from their Billund, Denmark HQ for the public’s information. It’s scheduled for Tuesday, March 6, at around 10AM Central European Time, or about 4AM EST/1AM PST in the US.

This report will be very interesting to know, considering the problems LEGO has been having revenue-wise in certain key markets last year. Their mid-year report in September 2017 already noted some noticeable losses in that regard. This led to LEGO restructuring their company to the point of doing some layoffs.

But the LEGO Annual Results 2017 report isn’t just going to be about the business side of things. Also included in the announcement is a sort of “honor roll”, identifying the best-selling LEGO themes and sets from the previous year. Collectors would find that information useful for prospective future purchases.

Interested viewers may follow the live stream of Annual Results 2017 here. True, the broadcast time’s a little early stateside-wise, but sometimes it’s best to hear important LEGO news out of The LEGO Group itself.

“Sustainable” LEGO Pieces Made of Plant-Based Material to Start Being Used in 2018

When you’re a toy brand that been around for as long as LEGO has been, then you’ve had plenty of time to establish many advantages for your products that would draw consumers in. LEGO has done it from the beginning with its educational bent, but now they’ve another: environmental sustainability.

LEGO has recently announced its plan to begin, as of this year, to produce a certain line of building elements not out of regular plastic, but of plant-based material. And what better place to start making LEGO elements out of plant-plastic derivatives than with “botanical” pieces like LEGO trees, and other plant elements.

We’ve seen several LEGO sets with building pieces that make plants and flowers, like in the BrickHeadz Valentine’s Bee (40270) or the LEGO Friends Friendship Flower (30404). Both have pieces that, put together, make plants and blossoms. Future elements of that vein, according to LEGO, will be made of green.

To be precise, the new alternative material for these pieces is polyethylene plastic, made out of ethanol extracts from, believe it or not, sugarcane. The resulting material from this process is, while not entirely biodegradable, will most definitely be recyclable according to LEGO, and is as sturdy as ordinary plastic.

The LEGO Group’s vice-president of environmental responsibility, Tim Brooks, noted that this initiative was natural on the part of the company, constantly trying to make “positive change” in the world. “This is a great first step in our ambitious commitment of making all LEGO bricks using sustainable materials,” he adds.

LEGO Minifigure Factory (5005358) April Promotional Pays Tribute to the 40th Anniversary of the LEGO Minifig

The LEGO Store April Calendar is now available, and it highlights two LEGO Store promotionals that fans will be eager to have. Other than the availability of the LEGO Star Wars Darth Vader Pod (5005376) now set in to stone, we now have another April promotional which pays tribute to the 40th anniversary of the LEGO Minifigure. Other than the much awaited LEGO Collectible Minifigures Series 18 that commemorates the anniversary of the iconic minifig, next month will also feature the LEGO Minifigure Factory (5005358). This next gift with purchase (GWP) set comes in at 86 pieces and will be available from April 1 to 15 or until supplies last for a minimum single receipt purchase of any LEGO products worth $75 and above.

Based on the above image from the LEGO Store April Calendar, the LEGO Minifigure Factory features a conveyor type build including several nanofigs based on characters from the Classic Space sets, a police officer, and one that looks like to be from Ninjago. It also includes a minifigure wearing a yellow shirt which I suppose portrays the operator of this conveyor build. It also has a red cart, supposedly for the minifigure operator in transporting the nanofigs. Italian LEGO fan site Mattonito also gave us another glimpse of this promotional set which confirms the idea that LEGO Minifigure Factory will also make use of its cardboard packaging for its background art and deco, similar to its other promotionals such as the LEGO Seasonal Easter Bunny minifigure (5002249). The latter GWP will be offered this March from the 16th to 31st.

On a personal note, I wish LEGO could have thrown in some additional pieces to recreate the background in a typical vignette fashion. It has a lot of potential (and unique nanofigures) to be a nice collectible set similar in scale to those of LEGO’s seasonal ones. All in all, the concept behind this set is nice, but I hope LEGO could have offered more.

 

“Unikitty” Animated Series Premiering This Monday on Cartoon Network UK

The Unikitty! animated series has been airing on Cartoon Network for quite a while now, with the program officially starting on January after the advance release of several mini-episode previews. This of course means Cartoon Network in the US, with CN Latin America only premiering Unikitty! in their program February.

Fans on the other side of the Atlantic of the near-bipolar cat-unicorn Master Builder and Princess of the Unikingdom, who first appeared in 2014’s The LEGO Movie, won’t have long to wait for her. Cartoon Network UK will be premiering Unikitty! on their own programming block this Monday, March 5.

As many fans already know, the series focuses on Unikitty and the happenings during her rule of the Unikingdom, both good things and bad. (Though if it’s the latter, watch out for the Princess’ temper!) Assisting her in ruling the realm are her dog-unicorn little brother Puppycorn, court scientist Dr. Fox and royal guard Hawkodile.

This animated series comes at just about the same time as the wave of Unikitty LEGO products, from collectible minifigures to full-on sets, that are set to debut this summer. Speaking of debuts, Unikitty! the series has yet to premiere in Teletoon Canada (March 17) as well as Cartoon Network Australia, this coming April 27.

Donald Glover Sees His Lando Minifigure Counterpart Up Close with Stephen Colbert

April is still a month off, and LEGO Star Wars fans are likely getting antsy at the wait, not only for Solo: A Star Wars Story (in May), but also to get their hands on the beautifully-colored LEGO Star Wars Kessel Run Millennium Falcon (75212) set that has been previewed this past month.

If you think that set hasn’t been hyped enough, then you probably haven’t seen last week’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on CBS. That Wednesday evening one of his guests was actor Donald Glover, and while their main discussion was on FX’s Atlanta, Colbert did ask him about Solo.

Glover, after all, plays the role of the young Lando Calrissian in Solo. At one point, Colbert brought out a LEGO minifigure of Lando, part of the included characters in the Kessel Run Millennium Falcon (75212). Host and guest actor then talked about certain aspects of the film, with “spoilers”.

After briefly musing if he’s allowed to say this fact, Glover confirms that, like his LEGO minifigure and original Lando actor Billy Dee Williams, he will be rocking a cape as part of his outfit in Solo. The actor expressed comical concern that Disney might “shush” him for that disclosure.

And according to Glover, he was such a fan of the Star Wars franchise that his father bought him Lando and Darth Vader action figures as a child. He recalls breaking the Vader toy by “biting” his lightsaber off. Incidentally, he also appears to break his Solo minifigure’s weapon, mid-talk.

In case your calendars aren’t marked yet, the LEGO Star Wars Solo tie-ins are expected to launch on April 20; that of course, includes the Kessel Run Millennium Falcon (75212). The film itself, starring Glover, Alden Ehrenreich and Emilia Clarke, will premiere in cinemas in the following month, May 25.

LEGO Marvel Super Hero Polybags at Wal-Mart and Target

On Saturday, March 3, the long-awaited LEGO Marvel Super Heroes sets that tie in to the next MCU film Avengers: Infinity War, were finally released for the consumption of Marvel and LEGO fans. While all these awesome pieces are being scooped up, other LMSH products are also hitting the market.

Today, we’re going to look at a couple of LEGO Marvel Super Heroes polybags that have just come into the shelves of LEGO’s major retail partners, Wal-Mart and Target. One’s a micro-scale set version of a full-sized model; the other’s a minifigure keychain part of the Infinity War product wave.

First off is the micro-sized Royal Talon Fighter (30450) polybag, a tie-in for the previous MCU installment (and still currently-showing film) Black Panther. It’s based on the vibranium-powered transport used to travel in and out of Wakanda, already adapted as the LEGO Marvel Superheroes Royal Talon Fighter Attack (76100) set. Search Wal-Mart’s Easter display boxes for this polybag.

Next is the LEGO Marvel Super Heroes – Infinity War Teen Groot Keychain (5005244). It first came out in Europe and apparently is only now appearing stateside, but not online at the Shop@Home. Collector “fikinbricks” noted on Instagram that it’s now available at his local Target store, and likely others too.

The Teen Groot Keychain (5005244) is priced at $5.99 each, and it along with the Royal Talon Fighter (30450) polybag is available for normal purchase without requirements. LEGO fans who follow the Marvel Cinematic Universe would most certainly love to have these in their collections. As polybags, they’re affordable enough.