Welcome to another instalment of Monday Musings – a fortnightly series devoted to random musings on the LEGO hobby, community, my collection and beyond.
(sorry, I missed last fortnight as I got a little caught up with work)
In case you missed it, Monday Musings can be long-form, or short bursts of whatever strikes my fancy, and be more traditional “blog-type” content. You may have noticed that I’m doing more news and launch posts, which I enjoy and still find ways to inject my opinions, instead of say, just drop a random gallery of images and call it a day, but I like writing, and want to give you guys a peek into how I’m perceiving things in the LEGO World – hence, Monday musings.
To check out my previous 2 posts, check out:
For Monday Musings #3, this is a fresh reaction to the reaction by some parts of the LEGO Fan Community to the UCS Republic Gunship, which was unveiled last Thursday, and which was the subject of my latest LEGO review.
Finishing reviews is fun for me, because it means I get to read everyone else’s reviews and turn off my social media filter. Yeah, for sets I plan on reviewing, I try not to read or watch other reviewers to form my own opinion, and not get my review get clouded by what others think.
Here’s some of my favourite reviews on the LEGO UCS Republic Gunship. Check ’em out if you haven’t already!
Waaaaaaaaa, LEGO doesn’t listen to the fans
There are a lot of voices in the LEGO community, and it’s very much like high school with many different cliques. You have your Instagram Leakers, always on the pulse ready to crowd the #legoleaks hashtag at a moment’s notice, old school Bloggers/LEGO Fan websites who tend to be a lot more chill, and laidback, LEGO Storytime-style Vloggers/Channels on Youtube who are mostly about positive vibes, and then you have the whiny, reactionary man-babies on Youtube who unfortunately, are the loudest voices, and command some of the biggest followings online.
The UCS Republic Gunship is one of the most important LEGO Star Wars releases this year, itself the culmination of a fan vote, and an almost-two year wait before its eventual unveiling. The hype was off the charts, considering it’s one of the first Prequel UCS sets in almost a decade.
The uh… conversation surrounding the Gunship has been a cesspool of toxicity, with more bad takes than an Uwe Boll movie and catching up on all the conversations has left me feeling quite puzzled.
The primary thesis put forward is that LEGO completely sidelined the fans with the minifigure selection, and the takes have been riddled with hyperbole, with many fans seemingly feeling personally insulted that their favourite Jedi Bob wasn’t in, and that the minifigures were a complete dealbreaker that has led to one guy quitting LEGO altogether.
I think this video is pretty genius, because I genuinely cannot tell if this kid is serious, or if this is just S-Tier satire.
10/10 delivery in either case.
Now the UCS Republic Gunship is far from perfect, and yes, the minifigure selection could’ve been improved slightly, but boy, the level of vitriol and entitlement emanating from some parts of the community has been comically bad.
Anyway, back to the common thread of gripes – LEGO doesn’t listen or care about their fans. I vehemently disagree here, and I’ll just rattle off a few examples.
LEGO UCS Fan Vote 2020
Without a hint of irony, the fact that all this negativity is coming out of a set that… wait for it… was put into the hands of fans by LEGO to choose the next UCS set is uh, startling?
Absolutely zero self-awareness here.
I also think that LEGO Star Wars, placing the choice of an Ultimate Collectors Series (the marque release in the Star Wars theme) set in the hands of its fans is something truly special, and fans just don’t realise how rare this is.
Imagine if Apple went out to its community/fanbase and asked them what colour their next iPhone would be.
Bricklink Designer Program Second Chance
People have extremely poor memories but this is literally about 10 days old.
Remember the absolute shitstorm that was Round 1 of the Bricklink Designer Program? Criticism was fast and furious from all corners of the LEGO Fan Community (including yours truly), and LEGO was out on full blast with just how badly they handled the rollout.
The result? LEGO listened, took on board the feedback and opened up the Designer Program for a second chance (except for the Castle..) on 3 August. In record time, mind you.
LEGO VIP Coins Restock
Remember VIP coins, and how quickly they sold out, with enterprising individuals re-selling them on eBay for ludicrous amounts?
Well LEGO seems to have well-placed spies across the globe, as they took on board the feedback that these were too limited, and will re-release the coins in greater quantities later this year.
LEGO has no love for the Prequels
What a sick upcoming lineup.
Re-releasing popular sets, keeping them alive well beyond their intended lifespan
Let’s also not forget LEGO artificially extending the life-span of two very popular LEGO Ideas sets, the 92176 Saturn V and 92177 Ship in a Bottle, even going as far as to give them new set numbers in a re-release.
A whole LEGO theme devoted to giving fans what they want
LEGO Ideas, you might have heard of the theme. Last I checked, it was pretty popular.
Does LEGO get things wrong? Of course they do. All the time. Remember the Ulysses Probe? And they will continue to mistakes, and missteps here and there. It’s only natural when you’re a behemoth of a brand/company, and you’re constantly trying to please millions of fans, new and old.
In fact, LEGO is running 2 surveys at the moment, seeking to better understand its adult fans.
One on learning more about what Adult Fans of LEGO (AFOLs) are passionate about, and another on a page on LEGO.com dedicated for Adult LEGO Hobbyists. Both surveys can be taken anonymously, and it’s a great opportunity for you to make your voice heard.
In some ways, being a fan of LEGO can feel a little like stockholm syndrome, especially in the face of rising prices, LEGO doing weird branded collaborations, and releasing weird sets like buildable sneakers. It may feel like LEGO is not listening to fans, by not giving us another proper LEGO Castle, or more Classic Space, or Bionicle.
But to confidently make an assertion that LEGO doesn’t care about its fans is dishonest.
In fact, I think LEGO sometimes cares too much about their fans, and takes too much stock in what certain pockets/cliques of the fan community choose as their drama flavour of the month.
But that’s the challenge of key decision-makers in large organisations like LEGO – separating the signal from the noise, and knowing when something is the result of whiny man-babies, or a sustained consumer trend.
They’ll get some things right, and they’ll get some things wrong, and in some cases, change might be slow to some as product development cycles are famously long in Billund.
I just feel like for LEGO fans who spend all their time on Youtube without any real-world experience, you can sometimes interpret silence or inaction as dismissiveness.
What do you think? As a LEGO fan, do you think LEGO listens to their fan community, and are they responsive enough?
Thanks for reading!
In case you missed it, be sure to check out my review of 75309 UCS Republic Gunship to see what the fuss is all bout!
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