For decades Lego has been working on designing new sets and ideas in secret, only revealing them to the public when they're ready to go on sale. Despite the fact Lego is such a big popular company that seemingly can't fail (these days, anyway), that sort of thing comes with plenty of risks. After all botched ideas that weren't profitable are part of the reason why Lego nearly collapsed. For that reason Lego has announced a new 'open innovation scheme' that brings Lego fans into the mix to hear what they think.
The idea is that Lego will launch a series of pilot programmes that will “float new ideas, crowdsource others, and receive real-time feedback”. The idea being Lego can get feedback from its customers about which projects should go ahead into mass production, and which ones should be scrapped before they flop and cost the company a small fortune. In a way it's similar to projects like Lego Ideas, which crowdsources feedback on sets designed by members of the public. Though in this case the company says its focused on unique ideas that lie outside the typical Lego product range, so there won't be any feedback on regular set designs.
Tom Donaldson, Vice President of LEGO Creative Play Lab, said:
“Continuing to push our innovation approach means nurturing ideas that we don’t always know the outcome of, encouraging risk-taking and finding new exiting ways to launch products that are a bit different compared to what you would normally see from the LEGO Group."
The first pilot programme to launch is called FORMA, a system that's designed for adult lego fans rather than as a toy for children. The point of FORMA is to help adults relax during the build process, while also embracing creativity and giving them something to proudly display. The initial test model is based on fish, with users building a Technic skeleton that can be decorated with foil skins. Those skins allow the final model to be displayed as a shark or one of three koi fish designs, one of which is called the 'ink' skin and lets you colour in the fish yourself.
FORMA sets are currently available to order on Indiegogo, which promises to ship to both the UK and US in early 2019. The base set is $46/£35 for us, with each skin costing $16/£12, plus a bundle of everything that costs $88/£69. Shipping is free, and we're only being charged $1 more per item than the Americans, which isn't too bad. No doubt that extra money has something to do with shipping costs or taxes. I should warn you that they're only available in limited quantities, so once they're gone they're gone.
Kari Vinther, Senior Marketing Manager and Head of Creative Play Lab Pilots, said:
“LEGO FORMA is more of a creative project than a toy, and more about display than play.The young adults we speak to tell us they still feel the urge to be creative and enjoy the physical experience of making stuff – but life seems to get in the way. We want to help them rediscover the joy of building that children possess and unleash their imaginations for a couple of hours. We can’t wait to hear what people think and look forward to sharing some of the decisions that will be made along the journey based on consumer input.”