There will be another chance for LEGO fans to order four of the five BrickLink Designer Program sets – but not the super popular Castle in the Forest.
LEGO fans have expressed their frustration at the BrickLink Designer Program, a scheme from the company designed to offer very limited runs of sets designed by fans that didn’t pass the LEGO Ideas review process.
Round One of the scheme offered seven set designs, with the first five to reach 3,000 pre-orders going into production. Each set was billed as a limited edition of 5,000 items. While a 40 day period was allocated for the sets to be ordered, in fact they sold out within hours. Forest in the Castle sold out within minutes. As well as the sets selling out, there was widespread frustration that BrickLink.com crashed, meaning many fans couldn’t even order the sets they wanted.
BrickLink CEO Marvin Park and Community Engagement Director Tanja Friberg told media outlets that in actual fact Forest in the Castle was oversold, with orders for 10,000 sets accepted rather than 5,000.
Read more about the BrickLink Designer Program in Blocks. To get the LEGO magazine for fans every month – at a discount and earlier than the shops – order a 12-month or 24-month subscription. Direct debit payment options are available too; to find out more get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Despite now being part of the LEGO Group, BrickLink’s plans for the BrickLink Designer Program were only based on data from the AFOL Designer Program that the website ran in 2019.
‘We have only data for the similar programme,’ Marvin told Blocks. ‘As you some of you might remember, we had AFOL Designer Program that was run by BrickLink a couple of years ago. We have had a much lower limit, 2,500 maximum quantity, and the crowdfunding threshold was much lower, like $10,000, but still but still some of the projects didn’t meet the threshold.
‘Of the fifteen, two of them didn’t make it. So based on that we considered adding extra quantity – double of the quantity – that will meet the demand.’ On that basis, BrickLink determined that 5,000 editions of each set would meet demand. ‘So now I can tell that was completely off. But the data we had indicated a different story.’
Now, 10,000 sets will be offered instead of 5,000. On August 3, orders will open again for Kakapo, Great Fishing Boat, Sheriff’s Safe and Pursuit of Flight – but not Castle in the Forest, as 10,000 sets have already been allocated.
In a statement, BrickLink said: ‘We appreciate that this approach may not satisfy everyone, but we had to balance meeting users’ expectations with offering a fair outcome, so all designers had the chance to sell the same number of sets and the potential to dilute some of the exclusivity that comes with doubling the number of set available. We hope you understand.’
Due to the increase in production, the additional Round One sets will ship next June and Rounds Two and Three will be delayed.
While 75% of customers only ordered one copy of any given set, only 5% ordered the full limit of five sets. As a result, BrickLink will now reduce the limit available to purchase to one set per person.
Tanja was keen to make clear that the LEGO Group did not intend to make the sets artificially scarce: ‘We’re doing this for adult fans. This is that is the purpose of trying to do more, have more creative outlets, make more of these interesting designs available to the fan community. The scarcity comes from it being limited to 5,000. We’re not trying to drive that, we also just made a decision to double that number. However, there’s production capacity to take into account.
‘But there’s also something else that is important to understand here, we have a programme by fans for fans. And it’s actually very literally, for fans – it is not meant for the general consumer. And the more sets we produce, the more it ends up spilling into the general consumer base. And they will then have a product in their hands that hasn’t gone through LEGO quality testing the same way a LEGO product has, it will have a model in there that you can build, because you’re our expert builders. But it might be for a consumer really frustrating and complicated to build.’
As noted above though, BrickLink’s press release mentioned ‘the potential to dilute some of the exclusivity’ of the sets – implying that the exclusivity, the scarcity, is indeed something that is intentionally built into the BrickLink Designer Program.
That exclusivity and scarcity is also being illustrated when it comes to the instructions for the sets, which will only be available to those who buy the products. It was originally claimed that the reason for leaving out paper instructions was environmental, but during the roundtable Marvin gave some different reasons:
‘We couldn’t meet the time of returning and perfecting the instructions that can be printed on – so that is one reason. And another reason is that we saw internal data that user satisfaction of digital instruction is far better actually than the paper version instructions. Then considering the complexity of building these models, we could utilise new technologies to show the model built in with animation in different angles.
‘We believe that we can actually provide a better building experience, but we understand the concerns about not being able to keep it forever. But we can say that we will, as far as this company exists, support the digital building instructions. They will be downloadable to set owners and we want to restrict the access of these building instructions only to set owners and we will create unique QR code on the on the thank you notes.’
Here is the full statement provided by BrickLink:
BrickLink’s response to feedback regarding the BrickLink Designer Program Round 1 of Crowdfunding
Thank you for the incredible interest you showed in the BrickLink Designer Program. We have been blown away by the response. As with any new endeavor, some things went well, and others don’t go to plan.
Based on our first round of crowdfunding, we believe the BrickLink Designer Program has strong potential. Your interest exceeds all our expectations. The portfolio of products is strong, and the designers are a joy to work with. We are looking forward to preparing for rounds 2 and 3.
However, there are a few things we need to address urgently with Round 1.
What needs to be improved
Thank you to everyone who has shared comments and feedback with us over the past week. While we understand many of you are frustrated, we are grateful for your quick and clear input.
There are four areas we want to address:
1. Site performance
2. Limited production of 5,000 units of each set & ordering glitch
3. Order limits of 5 sets per customer
4. Shipping limited to countries serviced by LEGO.com
Site performance & server capacity When the crowdfunding went live on Thursday July 1 traffic to the site overloaded BrickLink’s servers. This meant some users couldn’t place their orders in time and for many, the site ground to a halt. We apologize for any disappointment this caused. We are currently reviewing server capacity.
Limited production and ordering glitch
The limit of 5,000 units per set was based on the AFOL Designer Program run in 2019. For that release, we produced 2,500 sets which didn’t all sell out. We obviously underestimated the appeal of the Bricklink Designer Program sets and because of that, we will double the limit for future releases.
The high level of demand was compounded by the site performance issues. An ordering glitch meant that people were able to pre-order 5,000 additional Castle in the Forest sets, which means we’ve received orders for 10,000 sets.
We have talked to many of you in the community about how to address this and have decided on the following actions:
1. Produce 10,000 of the Castle in the Forest sets so we can deliver to everyone who ordered.
2. Re-opening pre-ordering for round 1 on August 3rd to allow the four projects Kakapo, Great Fishing Boat, Sheriff’s Safe and Pursuit of Flight to also sell up to 10,000 sets.
3. Increase production for Crowdfunding rounds 2 and 3 to 10,000 each to meet demand.
We appreciate that this approach may not satisfy everyone, but we had to balance meeting users’ expectations with offering a fair outcome, so all designers had the chance to sell the same number of sets and the potential to dilute some of the exclusivity that comes with doubling the number of set available. We hope you understand.
Increasing production will delay shipping and future rounds of crowdfunding. Since we are doubling the production run, the additional 5,000 sets for Round 1 will be shipped in June 2022, as opposed to January 2022. This will also delay the release of Rounds 2 & 3. The final plan for this will be communicated at a later stage.
If, because of these changes, you wish to cancel the sets you’ve pre-ordered, please contact LEGO Customer Service.
Order limits of five per customer
We initially set the maximum order quantity at five per customer. Unfortunately, we saw a very small number of opportunistic customers hoarding sets and re-selling them for inflated prices. We’re disappointed by this as it wasn’t our intention to enable such behavior. We want everyone to have an opportunity to get a hold of a set, so going forward, we will set a maximum order limit of 1 set per customer. This will apply from when we re-open Round 1 to additional orders and to future crowdfunding rounds.
It’s important to point out that 75% of orders for Castle in the Forest were for one set– so we’d like to thank you for being considerate of other fans.
Shipping limited to LEGO Shop countries
We have decided to sell BrickLink Designer Program sets through the LEGO.com shop to give you a smooth shipping and support process. Unfortunately, this also limits the countries to which we can ship. For now, we plan to continue to use LEGO.com and not offer additional shipping destinations.
1. For Round 1, we will increase the number of sets available from 5,000 to 10,000. Castle in the Forest has already reached this amount. The four other sets will re-open to additional pre-ordering on August 3rd, but it will not be possible to pre-order additional Castle in the
Forest sets. The additional production run will delay in shipping and release dates for crowdfunding rounds 2 and 3.
2. All future pre-orders will have a quantity limit of 1.
3. Unfortunately, in the current LEGO.com setup we are not able to ship to additional countries.
Again, we apologize for any disappointment and hope that the steps outlined above go some way to address the concerns raised.
Thank you for your patience, feedback and support for the BrickLink Designer Program. We look forward to building a better experience moving forward.
The BrickLink Team