In which I have a conversation with Mette Hansen about the LEGO® Rebrick program: whats been popular, where in the world you can enter from, and the challenges of running contests when there is a seperate owner of the intellectual property. Of course things have progressed since this interview in June, and with the announcement of the new UCS Millennium Falcon, there is a new contest on Rebrick, with the new set as a prize!
I have mentioned some of the contests featured on Rebrick here previously. As the LEGO® Group’s official contest platform for teenage and adult builders, the prizes on offer for the contests can be quite exciting. As part of the Fan Media Days earlier this year, I had a chance, along with Christian Breinbauer from Revistabricks.com, to meet with Mette Frøkjær Hansen, one of the team who has been working with the LEGO® Rebrick platform.
Rambling Brick: So far we have seen competitions covering multiple themes, from Cars to Batman, Technic, Friends and Modular Buildings. The MiniModular competition, however, offered such an amazing prize pack it appeared to have a lot of interest online.[That is to say, the winner would receive the entire 10 year run of modular buildings from Cafe Corner to Assembly Square.] Was it the most subscribed competition that you have had to date?
Mette Hansen:It was actually the second most popular contest that we have had: the one that was the most popular, and got the most entries was actually LEGO® Bionicle, last year. We had that last fall, as an ode to the theme being discontinued.
Had the fact that the theme was going to be discontinued been announced at that stage?
No, at that time it hadn’t officially announced, but we wanted to do something for the Bionicle fans, because they are just so amazing, and so creative. The Bionicle contest got over two thousand entries! It’s sometimes hard for us. We have no idea when we publish a contest: will this get two thousand entries, or a hundred entries? Now, we are starting to get some more learnings, because the Rebrick platform has been around for a bit of time now, but it is still relatively new: we launched in March 2016 with this specific contest platform. We are still excited to see which contests will get a lot of entries, which ones are less popular. But for us it is not necessarily about the volume of entries. It’s also about people being excited about the theme, and if only fifty people or twenty people are really excited about the topic and they build something amazing and they contribute and upload and help to inspire the wider community, that’s enough. That’s Mission: Accomplished!
So, I am curious about the Modular contest, how many entries did you receive for that one?
It was around one thousand five hundred. But that was a closed contest – it was only announced through the fan media and the LUGs, it was not advertised on the Rebrick front page.
I thought that was such a fantastic tribute to to 10 years of Modular building.[The final result was a bit controversial: as a mini version of the Palace Cinema. There are so many anniversaries happening at the moment: Modular buildings, Technic, forty years of Star Wars. Next year we have 40 years of the Minifigure, and those classic LEGOLand building themes. Those ones were my thing as a nine year old.
Aaah: Nostalgia. LEGO® building is very much about nostalgia.
There have been so many themes that you have covered over the last year or so, but I have never seen a Star Wars competition.
No, That’s true.
Is that going to change?
Hopefully. We would love to. Of course we would love to. Hopefully we will see that soon. [Today, it became apparent that I should get this article out sooner, rather than later…]
Is that because there is a need for input from the other stakeholders such as Disney/Lucasfilm when designing the competition?
There is definitely some more complexity in running something like that, every time there is a partner involved. At the moment (June 2017) we have a Juniors Cars Movie Contest together with Disney-Pixar, and in the past with LEGO® Technic with BMW and Porsche, so we are used to running contests with other partners. It does of course add to the complexity, whereas with an [inhouse] theme such as Bionicle or Friends, we can control it a bit more: also timing and the like. To run such a thing where there is a partner, as there is with Star Wars: that takes a bit more time to plan and execute. So that’s also one of the reasons.
Of course we would love to do a Star Wars contest. Its one of the first ones on our list as well, so of course we are chasing for it, and we would love to do it. It makes a lot of sense in the community to be able to run one. What I will say is that we are working on it!
I suspect there are lots of people out there that would be looking forward to be able to do a Star something related to Star Wars for Rebrick.
I totally agree.
We look at what would be fun for the community to do, what would be a creative challenge and which concepts would create a lot of really great builds that would inspire the community and beyond .
What we would like to do would be to take the photos and videos shared on Rebrick, so we can share it on our other LEGO® channels so that it can inspire way more people: put it onto the LEGO® Facebook page, or into LEGO® Life.
So is there tight integration at this stage between Rebrick and LEGO® Life?
That is one of the things we would like to work at. Of course they are offered to different age groups: LEGO® Life is for twelve years and under, and Rebrick is aimed at thirteen years and older. LEGO® Life is designed to be a safe environment for kids to share there stuff. We do publish some of the great entries from Rebrick on LEGO® Life in different ways. So if it is a Minecraft contest, perhaps publish it in the Minecraft group, so kids can see it and the creators of the content will be credited in LEGO® Life. But we don’t necessarily want the kids to go to Rebrick and see all these amazing contests and discover they can’t enter them and say ‘This really sucks!’ We want to keep the kids in LEGO® Life, and take part in the challenges there. That is the kid-safe environment, whereas Rebrick is 13 plus, and not designed for kids.
Recently, in LEGO® Life, there was a group launched called ‘Advanced Builders.’ Basically a lot of the really beautiful creations from Rebrick are posted in that group. That’s really for the kids that are looking to expand their building skills a bit further, really get inspired by some amazing creations. While a lot of the content created by kids on LEGO® Life is inspirational, the stuff that the fans in the community create can be really, really special.
We see that at public expos when kids see some of the great AFOL created models, and they just go ‘Wow!’
What role does the ‘liking’ of entries by other contestants and fans visiting the site play in the judging?
The judges are always a panel of experts from the product group. So we in the Rebrick team facilitate the judging, but we do not advise. For example, in a Technic contest, the judges look at the criteria, they look at the entries, and make their decisions. They are not influenced the likes. There is often a high correlation between the number of like and the entries that do well. We do not look at the number of likes and put them into a pool for judging.
Rebrick is still a relatively new platform, and we are still looking for new ideas on how to run things. We could look at incorporating that in the judging in the future, but the mechanic is not used at present.
Do you have a main group of people that is using Rebrick? What do you know know about the demographics of competition entrants? Do you get information from the LEGO® Account details, eg 36 year old living in Sydney?
In fact we know surprisingly little about this at Rebrick. All we know is that the participants are over thirteen. And if you a winner between thirteen and eighteen, you need a statement signed by your parents. We know where our traffic is coming from, which is super interesting. The US is the main driver. Surprisingly we see a lot of traffic from Indonesia.
RevistaBricks: I wanted ask about the opportunities in South America: In Chile, we we don’t have any official LEGO® Store, and we don’t have access to the online LEGO® store, just third party retailers. Is Rebrick available to all audiences worldwide?
People can enter from around the world, even if there is no LEGO® Store. When we offer a shopping spree as a prize, we ask that the winner looks at the US online store, to make their selection, and we ship it from there to anywhere in the world.
When we send out the sets to the winners, we order prizes from here or the US store and send them anywhere in the world. There are come places that are a bit more difficult to ship to than others. That is out of our hands, but we always get it there. We had a winner in Mexico and the prize got stuck in customs, but we were able to work through the issues and get the prize delivered.
It is a global platform, and people can enter contests and win the prizes. The site is only in English, but is it open for everyone to enter. There are restrictions with regard to some countries that we do not engage with from a legal perspective [Ed: You may not enter from: Iran, North Korea, Myanmar/Burma, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Syria, any other U.S. sanctioned country and where prohibited or restricted by law. Contests are also not open to residents in the state of Quebec where the estimated retail price of the total prize pool exceeds CAD2000.].
Is plagiarism an problem on Rebrick?
I want to say “No.” It is not something we experience a lot of, but we have so many participants from around the world and you all get inspired by each other. Sometimes it can be really difficult. The community is really good at spotting if something is going on. It can’t be a little bit difficult for our moderators some times to know every model out there on the internet. Our moderators are experts and they catch about 99% of it, but sometimes the community will recognise if something is going on, and they may flag or report it.
Winners are obliged to sign off that their model is their own work. Sometimes it can be easy to pick when an image has just been downloaded from flickr or some other sharing site.
RevistaBricks: How about adoption of models by clone brands, who have occasionally stolen designs from the ideas platform?
We have been fortunate not to see this as an issue on Rebrick at this stage. It is really sad to see that happening on LEGO Ideas, because that is such a community driven platform, but for Rebrick we have fortunately not had that problem to date.
I was intrigued by the recent Classic competition, where builders were encouraged to bring out their paper, string, cottom wool and other household objects to incorporate in their Classic builds. I thought that was a brilliant idea. Has that competition closed now? What was the interest like?
That is one where we were testing things a bit. Because who knows what people will do with there household objects. We had entries from a few hundred people. It provided an opportunity for people who were not necessarily masterbuilders in the community to take some Classic bricks and do something creative at home. I know the Classic team was super excited to see the level of creativity.
Thank you so much for your time.
It was great to be able to spend time talking about Rebrick with Mette. In recent days, as I suspect you are aware, a new UCS Millennium Falcon 75192 has been announced. With a new Star Wars Film, The Last Jedi, due to be released in December, is comes as little surprise that LEGO® Rebrick and Disney have been able to work out a way to incorporate a Star Wars based competition into the Rebrick Platform:
Freighter Wars: Build Your Own Star Wars™ YT Corellian Light Freighter™
What is a YT Corellian light freighter , you ask? You might recognize one very famous one, the Millennium Falcon ™! In this contest, we ask you to build your own YT Corellian light freighter with the iconic disk shape of the Millennium Falcon. Enter and you could win your own Millennium Falcon and more!
Han Solo™ might say she’s “not much to look at” but the Millennium Falcon has worked its way into our hearts. Now it’s your chance to pay homage to the iconic freighter by building your own YT Corellian light freighter in any size or scale you wish. Remember, this isn’t the Millennium Falcon you’re building, just the same type of ship, so channel your own intergalactic smuggler and make some modifications!
Prizes include the 75192 Millennium Falcon, in conjunction with the 6176782 Escape the Space Slug, with the grand prize winner also receiving Artwork signed by artists from Lucasfilm.
There will also be bonus prizes awarded randomly to 21 other entrants.
Submit your entry no later than October 11th 2017 at 10:00AM EST.
A panel of judges will select the grand prize winner and 2 runner ups based on:
- Overall coolness and originality (25%)
- Most inspired details (25%)
- Relevance to look and feel of the Star Wars YT Corellian light freighter (25%)
- Best use of LEGO® elements (25%)
In addition, 21 other bonus prize winners will be selected at random, please see the prizes section for further details.
- Build your YT Corellian light freighter, either using LEGO Bricks or a digital LEGO® building tool such as LEGO Digital Designer.
- Your entry must be easily identifiable as a YT Corellian light freighter
- Your entry cannot be the Millennium Falcon, although it can resemble the Millennium Falcon. If your entry closely resembles the Millennium Falcon, please state the differences in your entry’s description or as a comment on your entry
Otherwise, most of the rules are fairly standard for Rebrick:
- Entries with military, religious, or alcohol themes will not be eligible for the contest
- Entries containing defamatory or degrading elements will not be eligible for the contest.
- Entries consisting of or containing copies of any existing third party work or creation or infringements of any third party intellectual property right will not be eligible for the contest.
- Use of any brick parts not produced by the LEGO Group will result in your entry being disqualified.
- Entries can be previously built, but cannot be submitted previously in any contest of any kind.
- Each entry must have been made by the user submitting it.
- Entry photos should show your creation only, and should not show recognizable features of any person or any commercial product other than those of the LEGO Group and Star Wars.
- Entries must not contain LEGO elements which have been modified from their original form, including painted or cut elements.
- Entrants must be at least 13 years of age at the time of entry.
- If you submit multiple versions of your model, all but the most recent version will be removed.
- Entries which are too dark or blurry will be removed from the contest. To ensure easy judging of your entry, we recommend taking pictures on a neutral background free from background clutter, with your model well framed.
- The contest is not open to residents of Iran, North Korea, Myanmar/Burma, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Syria, any other U.S. sanctioned country and where prohibited or restricted by law. The contest is not open to residents in the state of Quebec.
I see this as saying ‘Any YT- series Corellian freighter’ Ideally, any that don’t look identical to the Millennium Falcon. I would recommend a quick Google Image search or visiting a reference for Star Wars Extended Universe such as Wookieepedia for an indication of just how many options already exist. eal and virtual construction techniques are allowed.
For full details go to the Rebrick website: http://rebrick.it/FreighterWars
What a great opportunity. While I suspect I lack the technical ability to submit a winning entry myself, I look forward to seeing the entries that others submit over the next couple of weeks. What about you? Are you going to enter this competition? Have you entered other LEGO® Rebrick contests? Why not leave your comments below.