Monday, 30 April 2012

LEGO CUUSOO rejects Shaun of the Dead Project

One of the latest LEGO CUUSOO concepts to reach the magical 10,000 votes threshold is ‘The Winchester – Shaun of the Dead’ project. LEGO have reviewed the model, however, and decided not to go forward and turn it into a product. With Shaun of the Dead co-writer and star Simon Pegg promoting the project on national TV, only for the project not to go ahead, is there really no such thing as bad publicity?

This started off as a popular My-Own-Creation (MOC) uploaded to LEGO CUUSOO, and Yatkuu had many positive comments about the quality of his MOC. What pushed the project to reach 10,000 votes was an appearance by Simon Pegg on the Conan O’Brien show. There, he told Conan and viewers about the project, and suggested that this was a way to have a Shaun of the Dead LEGO set produced. Now first I wish to make clear that Yatkuu should be immensely proud of having the star and co-writer of the film so impressed with the model that he wished to share that with the world. To have someone who inspired your model then congratulate on it is a huge honour. 

The bit that makes me a little uncomfortable is how this fits in with LEGO CUUSOO as a fan-driven concept. My understanding was that CUUSOO is designed to bring projects from the AFOL community that are supported by fellow fans to market. Grassroots projects that wouldn’t get made in LEGO form otherwise. I am not suggesting that this did not begin as a community project, and again Yatkuu should be congratulated on the quality of his campaigning to gain such high-level support. What I am questioning is that if Simon Pegg wants LEGO to produce sets from his films, should he be using the CUUSOO process or should he be contacting LEGO about setting up a licensing deal? 

Either way, the project did hit the 10,000 votes mark as a result of his intervention. After the consideration process, however, LEGO decided that the set was not appropriate for production.

LEGO CUUSOO gives the opportunity to submit product ideas, however all LEGO products, regardless of age target, must be content appropriate for our core audience. With this in mind we have decided that – good though the model is – the film Shaun of the Dead contains content that is not appropriate for our core target audience of children ages 6-11. -  LEGO CUUSOO

This is not particularly surprising news, as I suggested in my previous article on LEGO CUUSOO that the review process could easily throw out any projects that were not considered LEGO-appropriate. It’s understandable that an adult comedy film is not what LEGO consider a suitable basis for a product, as they are a company producing children’s toys. Yatkuu makes an excellent argument that LEGO have produced sets based on the rather violent Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, however these are both considered family films, whereas Shaun of the Dead is indisputably not. 
Where this is slightly embarrassing, however, is that Simon Pegg announced the project being a possibility on live television. All of his fans who pushed this to 10,000 were probably less aware of the way LEGO make decisions, and assumed that should they reach the target the set would be produced. Gaining all of the publicity from a celebrity discussing the project, and then having to reject the project, is not exactly great PR. 

The broader issue this raises is the use of LEGO CUUSOO to promote licensed products – is that what it is there for? The project with the greatest number of votes at present is based on Back to the Future. But surely all of the companies and individuals who own the rights to these movies can get a licensing deal with LEGO if they want it? Isn’t CUUSOO a great opportunity for LEGO fans to unite around really great models that really talented fans have built? The irony for the Winchester project is that had Yatkuu taken away the mini-figures and simply had it be a non-Shaun of the Dead based building is that LEGO would have had no reason not to produce it. On the flip side, it would not have had the support of film fans to push it past 10,000 votes.

This dilemma will likely inform how LEGO CUUSOO develops going forward. If licensed projects keep hitting the high numbers and cool, original designs don’t then I suspect there will be some rule changes. I have focused throughout the article on what this all says about LEGO CUUSOO, but I would like to end by congratulating Yatkuu on reaching his goal, and that it’s a great shame he got so close but can’t see his model sold. Whatever the debates around whether it’s appropriate for LEGO, it’s a great model and to see more of it and a more detailed history of the campaign you can visit Yatkuu’s website here

All images courtesy of

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