Thank you so much for all the great LEGO and TBB-related questions that have filled our mailbag this past week. I’ve got some answers for you below. But if you don’t see your question below, or my answers lead to more questions, the mailbag is still open on our original post.
What’s your opinion on non-Lego building block sets for designs not sold by Lego? I collect Speed Champions, and there are a lot of non-Lego sets available mainly from China that seem to me to be designs taken from Rebrickable and then sold commercially, presumably without any credit or payment to the original designer apart from maybe purchasing their design, and using “clone” copies of Lego elements. Personally I’d rather pay the designer through Rebrickable and buy parts through places like Bricklink, but I can see why some people go for the convenience of a third party supplier instead. I also don’t want to use third party elements. To me it’s ripping off both the designer of the MOC and Lego themselves, but I’d be interested in other views.
– Rich (thelegostig)
There’s a lot to unpack in this question, so I’ll try to handle it piece-by-piece. I won’t speak for the whole staff on their opinion of non-LEGO elements, but I’m not a fan personally. That said, I don’t judge anyone for working in parts across the building-block spectrum. All of us artists are allowed to pick the medium of our choice.
Secondly, and more definitively, design theft is never something to be taken lightly. This website is here because of all the excellent original work produced by this great LEGO-building community. A group that exploits that creativity for its own financial gain is a threat to said community. The key here will always be proof of the theft, however. Presumptions can lead us to vilify those who acted above-board, cooperated with the designer, or developed the same concept separately. It’s always best to take a beat before pointing fingers.
Tips for appearing on TBB
How do you find builds to highlight? Do you follow popular builders to get updates when they post new stuff? Do you scour the internet with the “Lego moc” keywords? How would you go about discovering an awesome build done by someone completely new to the scene and thus not yet popular enough to be featured by algorithms?
This is a great question. We utilize Flickr, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, and sometimes even word-of-mouth to find the best builds to highlight on TBB. But the best way to get noticed is through Flickr, remembering to appropriately tag your work. From experience, this is the least-algorithmic search method we have for finding new talent. For Instagram and other social media sites, there is far more dependence on catching the creation “in the moment” before it disappears behind the veil of the algorithm. We also see far more traffic of older builds, pictures of sets, minifigure art, etc. on those other sites compared to Flickr. We certainly do keep an eye on Instagram et al, but we’re more likely to miss greatness through that site. As I tell all new builders I meet, start an Instagram page for the public and a Flickr page for your peers. For more specific questions on photography technique and build quality, give our guide to getting featured on TBB a look.
The vast majority of solicitation requests we get to feature someone’s creation come with something along the lines of “Please help support my LEGO Ideas project.” And you’ll note that I didn’t mention LEGO Ideas or Rebrickable in the above list at all. The Brothers Brick isn’t here to play favorites when personal profit is involved, and instead believe that the community’s creations in these forums should stand on their own merit without explicit promotion by our site. Yes, we have blogged plenty of fantastic creations that also happen to be available through Rebrickable or up for a vote on LEGO Ideas (or were entered onto these sites after being featured here). But we do so without mentioning those programs or directing traffic to vote/purchase, and only when unsolicited (making it a non-factor in the decision to feature the creation). The only exception we’ve made to this policy, to my knowledge, relates to LEGO Ideas contest submissions where a fan vote wasn’t relevant in determining a winner, thus not putting our thumb on the scale.
And before we leave this topic, I want to make one final point. Before I became a contributor for TBB, I only ever had one of my builds featured on this site. Admittedly, I spent years chasing the goal of making something TBB-worthy, trying to get noticed. It was only after I stopped chasing that achievement that I was able to advance my skill with the brick and my photography abilities. Make sure you’re building for you, working to make the next creation better than the last. Take notes from your peers, keep improving, and the recognition will come eventually.
Representation on the site
Why is there so little representation on TBB of both women builders and women contributors? The pandemic has brought many new people into the hobby, especially women, as seen in building in such events as ‘Friendshiptember’, Mosaic Mondays, ‘Let’s Build Series’ and Habitat build series.
I’m very glad this was asked. Gender diversity is absolutely a concern at TBB, and something I’m actively working to address. We aren’t representing the community well if we’re neglecting some of the voices within it. Our inability to sift through Instagram like other sites (see above) definitely hinders our ability to find those excellent #minifigurehabitat or #friendshiptember creations that we should be talking about. But I don’t write this as someone who has all the answers, or knows exactly what we need to do to succeed in adding a diversity of voices to the LEGO hobby. But I am someone who’s willing to listen, willing to learn, and willing to change in order to meet that goal. We’re in the middle of a recruitment campaign right now, and if you’d like to help with the gender imbalance on our staff and in our content, please consider applying. Or if that’s more than you can manage right now, reaching out through our contact page with specific thoughts and suggestions is always appreciated.
How do you decide which sets to review?
We were asked this question in a number of forms, and let me first say that you all had some very nice compliments for us. Thank you, and know that we pride ourselves here at TBB in providing high-quality reviews of LEGO sets. You’ve probably seen the following below the cover images on our review posts: “The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.” Most of the sets we review on the site are provided by The LEGO Group, though we occasionally cover a set outside of that if we’re particularly passionate about it. As the statement implies, it’s up to them initially to decide if they’d like our opinion on a set.
That said, clearly you all are looking for our opinion on sets we haven’t reviewed yet based on some of these questions. So I’m offering to our readers the opportunity to pick a LEGO set we missed out on previously for us to take a look at. Down in the comments, let me know the set (currently on LEGO store shelves) in need of a TBB review, and I’ll cover the most-popular choice soon.
Thank you to everyone who submitted a question! Once again, we’re leaving the mailbag open, so keep those questions coming! And remember you can also reach out through our contact page or via any of our social media sites. I’m looking forward to more of these in the future.