LEGO’s first livestreamed event – LEGO CON 2021 is now done and dusted! Did you manage to catch it live or follow my Live Blog or Live Tweets of the event?
If not, don’t stress, here’s a recap of some of the major headlines, segments, announcements and also my thoughts on the entire shindig.
You can of course re-watch the entire live stream via video on demand on the LEGO CON website.
Major headlines & Announcements
LEGO Foosball Table will be a LEGO Ideas set
Probably the biggest announcement coming out of the night was the unveiling of the winner of the LEGO Ideas We Love Sports Contest – Donat Fehervari’s Foosball Table will be turned into a LEGO Ideas set!
It’s a really neat build, and we’ll get a ton of minifigures – hopefully monofigures! This is also further proof that LEGO are continuing to give us more brick-built every day objects.
The Mandalorian 2021 LEGO sets revealed
Now you can debate whether this is actual news, especially since the LEGO CON team did promise a new set reveal, but Michael Lee Stockwell, Design Manager of LEGO Star Wars did introduce and showcase three The Mandalorian 2021 sets – 75313 Imperial Light Cruiser, 75312 Boba Fett’s Starship and 75311 Imperial Armoured Marauder
One of the highlights was Michael swooshing the sets around, and also giving an in-depth presentation on some of the play features.
Check out the official photos of the new Mandalorian sets.
There was a snazzy reveal video for the Light Cruiser, with a girl dressed up as Ahsoka Tano, clutching a LEGO Grogu, using the force to re-assemble the smashed up Imperial Light Cruiser in the rain.
It’s up for debate whether these are truly “new set reveals” as they were unceremoniously revealed early by the Second Half of 2021 Catalogue in early June 2021.
Minecraft Minifigure Skin Vote
I don’t know much about Minecraft, or LEGO Minecraft but there was an extended section featuring Frederic Roland Andre, Design Manager for LEGO Minecraft and Lydia Winters from Mojang (and Nexo Knight Alumnus!) took us through some new LEGO Minecraft sets.
One highlight and great way to introduce fan/audience participation was when LEGO opened up a fan vote on Twitter to invite LEGO Minecraft fans to decide on a minifigure skin to appear in an upcoming LEGO Minecraft set next year.
LEGO Ninjago Seabound coming to LEGO Brawls
I don’t play many LEGO games, but another new announcement was that LEGO Ninjago Seabound would be coming to LEGO Brawls – the mobile multiplayer fighting game.
The Good Bits of LEGO CON
For the most part, I think you can consider LEGO CON a success – it definitely delivered most of what was promised – a 2-hour family-friendly livestream event, aimed more at younger kids, tweens than hardcore AFOLs who are up to date with all things LEGO, and just generally want bleeding edge news and announcements.
While there were a few technical hiccups (will address that soon), it was a pretty novel event and I think sets the stage for more of this type of content from LEGO, especially for LEGO CON 2022 and beyond.
For the casual fans who don’t hang on to every single announcement or set reveal out of LEGO, I can see the presentations and inside look at The LEGO House be quite engaging content overall, and it does meet the objective of lifting up the curtain to what’s it like in The LEGO Group.
LEGO Designers Features & Interviews
The absolute standout parts of LEGO CON for me were any segment involving someone from the LEGO Design team. Not only are these incredibly talented individuals articulate during their sessions – the one takeaway is just how passionate and knowledgeable they are about their jobs.
Hearing Marcos Bessa and Djordje Djordjevic banter over a LEGO Harry Potter Speed Build Challenge, Frederic Roland Andre proudly show off the Modern Treehouse set’s features, George Gilliat gush over all things Space, and Star Wars Design Manager Michael Lee Stockwell swooshing his heart out was just great to watch.
I also enjoyed the Day In a Life of a LEGO Designer featuring Junior Designer Ellen Bowley, who was paired with LEGO Friends Design Director Fenella Charity, who by the way is an absolute legend and is instrumental in getting LEGO Friends to the smash hit theme it is today.
The Master and Student dynamic was great to see.
These segments didn’t feel like glorified product advertisements or commercials, and is really the secret sauce of The LEGO Group – passion, creativity and ingenuity in people.
They knew what they were talking about, understood the subject matter of the themes they oversee, and most importantly were just so expressive in their love of the brick, and aspirations of how consumers would enjoy their work.
More of this please – in fact, LEGO Designers should just run the entire show and get more air-time.
He’s not a LEGO Designer, but a big special shoutout to Astronaut Mike Massimino for talking about LEGO, space and the NASA Artemis mission.
Artemis is Apollo’s twin, and is NASA’s mission to get back to the moon, to pave the way for a human voyage to Mars. He talked about how many LEGO City Space sets, especially from the 2019 wave, were inspired by NASA missions, such as 60228 Deep Space Rocket and Launch Control.
If you feel like you’ve seen Mike from somewhere, it might be from this incredible video of him unboxing the LEGO Lunar Lander in zero gravity.
LEGO House Dots
The LEGO House Dots session, which blended virtual participation through the online LEGO Dots tool and a mural being created at the LEGO House in Billund, Denmark was a surprising highlight.
The concept of the activity worked remarkably well within the live stream format, as it successfully bridged the gap between online participation, and a tangible output on the other end.
I didn’t know about the virtual LEGO Dots tool, and it worked surprisingly well, where you can create designs on a white 6 x 6 plate, and decorate it with Dots, and someone at the LEGO House will take that design and incorporate it into a collaborative mural.
Amy Corbett is brilliant, and it’s always wonderful to hear from her on Dots – she’s the Design Lead for the theme, outside of her side hustle as Brickmaster Amy on LEGO Masters US!
AFOL pre-show content
The AFOL pre-show was a lot of fun, and I wish this was integrated into the main show. It was so good hearing from diverse parts of the LEGO Fan community, such as minifigure photography from @fourbrickstall, MOC lessons from @trickybricks, native tropical flowers from @iv_lego, finding success on LEGO Ideas from Donny Chen (Grand Piano Ideas designer), stop-motion design tips from BrotherhoodWorkshop, and staying connected through creativity by @ladieswholego.
My name/tweet got mentioned!
This is a little shameless, but my tweet admiring the LEGO CON coffee table got a mention on the stream (at about 1:34:50) which was quite cool.
I had read a few comments that all the questions and comments were scripted, but this was legitimately a surprise, and shows that they were taking questions/comments from the internet.
A small detail, but hey, now I can tell everyone that I was part of LEGO CON 2021!
Unfortunately, the stream went down several times during LEGO CON, which I was not surprised by at all – during the LEGO CON Roundtable with fan media, this topic of whether the servers could handle the load came up, and for the most part, I think the event went smoothly.
Live-stream events are notoriously challenging, and most people don’t understand the complexities involved with multiple camera setups, studios, and of course beaming it onto the internet in HD.
My only complaint (and I’m not sure if it was my internet connection) was that the stream got choppy a fair few times, and the resolution plummeted at certain points.
Some of the production and transitions were a little clunky, and I think they should have relied on way more pre-recorded content, to allow for smooth transitions as they tried to pack a LOT into the schedule.
Being on Twitter was a lot of fun, connecting through the #LEGOCON hashtag, but I would like to see a live-chat like Twitch/Youtube setup for next year.
The hosts lack of chemistry
I thought the hosts Melvin Odoom and Michelle Khare had pretty poor chemistry, and weren’t as engaging as they should be. Melvin was okay, given his experience hosting LEGO Masters UK, but I felt like Michelle wasn’t particularly interested, or inquisitive enough about LEGO.
Hosting a live-streamed event is not an easy feat, and with technical difficulties here and there, they did do a pretty good job, but I felt like they felt quite stilted at times, and I think the rushed jam-packed schedule also didn’t help as they had to flit from segment to segment which must’ve been hard.
Presenting is a hard job, and it’s tough to get the balance right, but I would’ve loved someone a lot closer to The LEGO Group, or fan community be involved as it just seems a lot more authentic.
It was quite clear that Michelle was there to “do the job”, but she’s a Youtuber/influencer and it just feels like an odd fit, where her enthusiasm felt quite manufactured, especially when you contrast that with the LEGO Designers who live and breathe the brick.
There are tons of great talent within The LEGO Group, or even within the fan community, and next year, I’d love to see someone that truly represents the community host LEGO CON 2022, instead of some random content creator who has a lot of internet klout.
The lack of any substantial reveal
It honestly boggles the brain how LEGO completely missed this golden opportunity handed to it. I think it was a big gamble to use the 3x Mandalorian sets as the “never before seen” LEGO Star Wars reveal, when general release sets almost always get leaked/revealed beforehand.
This was such an easy win for LEGO, and with the impending release or launch of the UCS Republic Gunship, I can’t understand why this wasn’t included or even mentioned.
For what it’s worth, I was not expecting a FULL reveal of the UCS Gunship. With the early reveal of the LEGO Star Wars sets, I thought LEGO would pivot and ensure that fans got something fresh as a reward for tuning in to LEGO CON.
I was expecting maybe the reveal of one or two minifigures from the Gunship, followed by a date to look forward to when the full reveal would happen. If we weren’t getting any Gunship news, I would’ve been okay with the upcoming Mandalorian Forge set, which we’ve already seen minifigures of, but haven’t seen the full set yet.
LEGO had the golden opportunity to use the inaugural LEGO CON and make it especially memorable with a cool reveal, like how big brands like Apple, Blizzard, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft use their big gaming keynotes/conventions for.
Improvements I’d like to see for LEGO CON 2022
The LEGO Agency (LEGO’s in-house creative team that came up with LEGO CON) were clear that LEGO CON 2021 was more of a pilot and test, so hopefully they take on plenty of feedback on.
Just check out the #LEGOCON hashtag on Twitter or replies to this tweet to see how fans generally responded, and that tells you that most people were not that happy with LEGO CON.
Here’s 5 things they could do to improve LEGO CON 2022:
- More Budget: The production and tech issues can easily be solved with more budget. Hiring a production team that lives and breathes livestreamed events (like e-sports) to run the show would go a long way, and also help smooth out many of these issues. In case you don’t know what large live-streamed e-sports productions look like, check out this video from The International, which showcases just how much resources are required to put on a livestreamed event)
- Less is more: I felt like they packed way too much into the schedule, and 2 hours seems quite short to cover Minecraft, LEGO Super Mario, Technic, Dots, Friends, Star Wars, Games, Ninjago, Vidiyo, Harry Potter, LEGO House and more. It felt rushed at times, so either do less, or extend the run-time.
- Embrace Fan Service: I know the target audience is kids, tweens and families, but The LEGO Group’s secret sauce is its passionate fanbase, and LEGO fans were loud and clear that they wanted news on the Republic Gunship, or even Skywalker Saga (which seems plagued by issues). Next year, I’d like to see LEGO really lean in on their fans, and give them what they want, because isn’t that the point of conventions? This year, it felt like LEGO was completely disconnected from the wants and needs of its fans, even if it was meant to be 10-12 year olds, which by the way, probably makes up 90% of Mandrproduction’s audience – and they all wanted Gunship news.
- A “One More Thing” moment: Apple invented the “one more thing” presentation, where after a slew of announcements, saved the jaw-dropping reveal for last. This has to be a big, earth-shattering moment, and LEGO CON lacked that, so next year, I hope LEGO gives us something that will forever define LEGO CON that year. This year, it felt like the main takeaways were “No new news/gunship news” or “technical issues”
- Collaborate with fan media/LEGO community: I would love for LEGO CON to feel more organic and authentic. Many parts seemed like it was made for a commercial, and there’s glaring areas where LEGO could’ve done so much more if they had tapped into fan/community sentiment, even if it is targeting families/tweens. The AFOL pre-show was a glimmer of hope, but on the broader show, I think it would be good for them to have fans actually consult and be able to influence the overall program to deliver a LEGO CON that befits the LEGO motto – Det bedste er ikke for godt
Anyway, that’s my thoughts on the inaugural LEGO CON! Lots of promise, and most importantly, plenty of learnings on how to improve LEGO CON 2022 – which is all but confirmed as it was announced on the stream.
If you missed it, you can re-watch the entire stream on LEGO’s website. You can also relive my live blog which has live reactions during the stream!
Did you watch LEGO CON? Let me know what you thought of the entire event, and what you’d like to see from LEGO CON 2022!
Thanks to everyone who already contributed their thoughts on my Facebook page!
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Bill McQuown says
I think you made some excellent points. Foremost is getting hosts who live LEGO, who’ll gush over it with authentic excitement and point out stuff that true fans would understand and appreciate. Second, more behind the scenes/engagement with set designers and fans of LEGO. They’re the ones that have people buying sets and investing their time on sites like Flickr and LEGO blogs such as yours to see sets and MOCs and other LEGO news. Knowing the story behind a set or a MOC, and knowing a bit about the folks building these amazing things, is always interesting and adds an additional dimension to the hobby. Too, have a little section in there to show off some kids’ creations; isn’t promoting children’s creativity what LEGO’s all about? Better reveals; TLG have people engaged in watching the net for leaks and such, so they should be abreast of what’s already out there news-wise. Plan accordingly, and like you said, use this opportunity to spring a big reveal on fans to get them excited. Nix the mute DJ. I get it- he’s there for the kids, but he had so little air time, due to the very busy schedule, that he had little impact, and his inability to engage the audience except through gestures made him superfluous and cheesy. And hiring an experienced production company who specialize in online events is a must. The show cut out on me several times, and that just shouldn’t be the case with the world’s most well-known and lucrative toy company.
Thanks for sharing your insights, Jay, and giving fans like me a place where we can share ours as well.
Yeah, I did like Melvin as he has some history with hosting LEGO Masters UK, and you could tell he was pretty comfortable around the brick, but Michelle came across as quite inauthentic, and that her enthusiasm felt pretty forced.
All in all, I think the first LEGO CON had more pros and cons, and I’ve been told the team are taking every bit of feedback on board for next year’s, so I’m hopeful that they can bounce back and apply all the learnings.
The AFOL segment was widely praised by all parts of the community, and yeah, it does show the hobby off in a really good light, especially with showcasing the talent, passion and creativity of what can be done with LEGO!
Thats a good recap Jay!
After i watched it live i was sour a bit. Disappointed overall although there was some good highlights as you’ve mentioned. I pushed my self to watch it again with different eyes so to speak. If this is a pilot they have a framework but i feel they didn’t have a direct audience. Trying to please kids, tweens and afols just didnt work all at once. Love the pre show, to be honest that and the designer chats were my favourite parts.
Thanks Bilsy! It really did meet the expectations they set, and unfortunately, fans were expecting a lot more. You can’t blame them as LEGO fans are unnaturally passionate!
That said, from a marketing perspective, there was so much they could do to negate the bad feedback.
And yes, hopefully next year’s target audience would be much much better. Don’t know about you, but tweens and kids are pretty mature these days, and I think would like to be talked to like young adults, instead of talked down to or have things dumbed down because of their age.
Honestly for the target audience it did everything it was supposed to (bar the technical difficulties)
what the “fans” need to realise is that this is a product for kids, made for kids, made to be played by kids…..they don’t read LEGO news sights religiously, they don’t follow ‘legoleaks’ on Instagram, they don’t care about blurry released images from a catalogue or whether or not a minfig has arm printing….so the reveals were HUGE no doubt for the regular consumer of LEGO.
Maybe what LEGO need to do is a presentation for the AFOLs, the hardcore fans who follow news and leaks every day. How that works and what that looks like…who knows.
Yeah, exactly. There’s been a lot of great feedback from families, and like you said, not everyone is super engaged. In a way, it did feel like a “live and interactive” version of the LEGO catalogue.
James Wynne says
Thank you very much for a thoroughly detailed review of LEGO CON 2020.
Keep up the exemplary work.
Thanks so much – glad you enjoyed the recap!