This is very much a sign of the times, and a very small, but engaged pocket of the online LEGO fan community and zeitgeist, but I’m just so fascinated by this.
A relatively new-to-the-scene LEGO leaker going by the name of @legohio on Instagram has just come clean following a long-running and super elaborate stunt, which led to a whole bunch of 2022 LEGO Star Wars rumours and “leaks” being declared false.
Following a concerted campaign publishing a whole flood of content on Instagram, @legohio was single-handedly responsible for the following rumours, which are now dead in the water. You might’ve seen some of them on social media:
- Drum Lacquered C-3PO supposedly coming with the UCS Landspeeder
- UCS Landspeeder’s new windscreen
- Minidoll Taun We
- New Force Ghost piece
- Master Builder Series Yavin 4
- Un-masked Din Djarin (The Mandalorian)
- Book of Boba Fett Rancor vs Scorponek droid
Apologies ensued after coming clean.
LEGOhio’s playbook was pretty damn impressive, and he fooled many established LEGO News Sites and Youtubers, first with this Force Ghost rumour.
At first glance, it looks like you run of the mill “rogue new element” that somehow makes it out of the factories, but LEGOhio revealed that these images were all rendered in Blender, a highly capable 3D-rendering software.
It’s a really well done render, with great lighting, multiple angles and even a “dark shot” to establish some sense of believability.
With the highly convincing force ghost piece, he then launched into other seemingly believable and plausible rumours such as a drum-lacquered gold C-3PO that was going to be included in the UCS Landspeeder, as well as more very well-made renders of the supposed new windscreen that would be included in the UCS Landspeeder.
And most recently, a rumour that we’d get a Yavin 4 Rebel Base LEGO Master Builder Series set.
As I demonstrated earlier this year with my LEGO Uncharted stunt… it can be incredibly easy for faked rumours to gain credibility and hit the mainstream consciousness, especially once amplified and given credibility.
Despite originating on Instagram from a fairly new account, it didn’t stop the likes of large Youtubers like MandrProductions to pick up on these rumours, or even established Recognised LEGO Fan Media like Brick Fanatics to consciously publish these stories.
Granted because of the lack of legohio’s track record in this space, some skepticism was applied, and the usual “this is just a rumour, and not officially confirmed yet” disclaimers were used, but does that make it right?
Personally, I think large LEGO channels and publications should have a responsibility to fact-check, and not needlessly contribute to the rumour mill by amplifying and broadcasting unfound rumours.
There’s a very fine line between fan excitement and speculation, and just publishing every single rumour that hits the #legoleaks hashtag without doing a modicum of due diligence, but when huge view counts, and ad revenue is at play, you can see why many larger channels and publications go down this route.
There’s always the option to not publish unfounded rumours, but in the highly competitive #legoleaks landscape, you’ll see enterprising channels and publications latch on to all sorts of hearsay, for the sake of clicks and views.
I also had a hearty chuckle when serial leakers, German publication Promobricks sent out this passive-aggressive Instagram story last night. They have a fairly solid track record of leaking some really big upcoming announcements, so I could see why they would be peeved that large (and supposedly trustworthy) news publications and Youtubers run with these rumours.
I have to give props to @legohio for the work they put in, and their exceptional skills with Blender to pull this elaborate scheme off. I wish I had half the talent they have, and it really does make you question if you can even believe visual element leaks that float around on the internet.
Understandably, in the comments of his coming clean post and apology, quite a few people were upset at the revelation, and many who covered the rumours and gave it a stamp of believability were dumbfounded that they could be duped so easily.
Personally, I don’t really cover LEGO leaks and rumours religiously (out of respect for LEGO and the teams that work on these sets), and as a Recognised LEGO Fan Media, I try to hold myself to higher standards. I will indulge in speculation if I think there is some legitimacy and public interest in news, but I’m not really interested in the clicks and views from sharing every LEGO leak or rumour that hits the internet.
I am endlessly fascinated by the #legoleaks community and ecosystem, as well as the small but rabid group that treat it as an olympic sport, and base their entire LEGO hobby around the monitoring, study and proliferation of leaks and rumours.
It’s a valid part of the hobby as we all the new, shiny and upcoming, but at the stakes get higher and internet clout and advertising revenue come into play, it’s quite revealing what some parties (big and small) will resort to all for the click$.
So yeah, this is just to document a particularly interesting microcosm of the online LEGO community in 2022, and I hope this makes people be more responsible with choosing what types of content to amplify.
I have to give kudos to Mandrproductions for acknowledging being convinced by these images, as well as issuing a cautionary warning to not trust rumours and leaks until LEGO officially reveals them. Very mature and cool, and I really enjoyed watching that particular video, as he also took responsibility to inform his viewers, and community that those images were in fact, not real.
Thanks so much for reading, and hope you enjoyed this little meta-analysis of a small sliver of the LEGO Fan community online! As always, would love to hear your thoughts on this, and whether you were aware/excited for some of these fake rumours.