No! We will not be posting the leaked late 2009 LEGO set pictures [Editorial]

By now, most of you who don’t rely exclusively on The Brothers Brick for your LEGO news have probably encountered all the grainy, blurry photos marked “Confidential” circulating on Flickr, Brickshelf, and elsewhere. With no specific policy in the past, we’ve pointed you to these now and then. We ourselves have never been a source or conduit for such leaks, of course, but we are a LEGO news site, and we’ve felt that these were newsworthy enough to share with you.

With this post, I’m announcing that The Brothers Brick will no longer be posting pre-release set lists, retail catalog scans, leaked prototype photos, and other very early LEGO set news.

Here’s the thing. Solving LEGO’s information security issues isn’t up to consumers like you and me; the LEGO Group needs to figure out how to keep confidential things confidential. Nevertheless, LEGO frequently asks fan sites to remove leaked photos, explaining that these leaks can enable other toy makers to come out with competing products earlier and hurt LEGO sales by making fans hold off on buying sets now in favor of sets later. (For the record, The LEGO Group has never attempted to exert editorial or any other kind of control over The Brothers Brick. Update: Okay, just once.)

But none of that is why The Brothers Brick won’t be posting links to these scans and photos.

When photos of the Power Miners sets were first leaked, the comments about them were nearly universally negative. When higher-resolution photos became available, opinions started to turn, and with the actual release of the sets, it feels like many of us have actually found a lot to like in this new theme.

It can be fun to say, “How much do you think it will cost?”, “Do you think it will be available here in Mozambique?”, “Wow! Is that a new X piece?”, and the standard “Meh.” Following the comments on the most recent set of leaked images, I see this pattern repeated over and over.

Discussions about very early LEGO news are speculative at best and frequently seem to be proved wrong in the long run. Therefore, I believe they add little value to the conversation taking place within the broader LEGO fan community. I’m announcing this decision in an attempt to raise the level of discourse between all of us LEGO fans.

Who am I to dictate what you talk about and how you talk about it? I’m just a blogger and a LEGO fan, but I hope that The Brothers Brick and you our readers can lead by example with the sort of mature, thoughtful discussions we’ve been having lately with the Power Miners designers.

So, what think you, dear readers? Cop-out? Cave-in? Sell-out? Or can you get on board with this? Let us know in the comments on this editorial.

75 comments on “No! We will not be posting the leaked late 2009 LEGO set pictures [Editorial]

  1. Chris

    Andrew — I appreciate TBB’s decision. Posting leaked pictures is kind of like the little brats that unwrap their Christmas presents in advance then wrap them back up before anyone notices. It takes away some of the “specialness” about the whole thing as well as the healthy anticipation we *should* have as we get ready for that special day that we’ve been awaiting … whether it be Christmas morning or TLG’s official release announcements.

  2. David4

    The pictures are some of the worst pictures we have ever gotten. If they looked like final pictures, that’s one thing but the Star Wars pictures might be 2 square inches in size. The Castle ones have a “flash” in the middle of them. The City ones are the best and look like I forgot to put my glasses on.

    So to people you might not have seen them, they are terrible anyways.

  3. Dave Shaddix

    GREAT decision here. I would much rather see you guys as a source of credible information or discussion. Thank you for staying true to your readers. Stay above the fray my brothers!

  4. Andrew Post author

    @Jai: I thought my references to the poor quality of the images implied that that was part of the reason, but perhaps I should have made that more explicit. Yes, absolutely, the poor image quality is a huge part of why they don’t belong here on The Brothers Brick.

  5. Bladi

    Jeeez guys, ever notice the regularity and consistency of these ‘leaks’ year after year? Make a chart; figure it out. Good grief.

  6. Will Will

    Hmmm… hard to say how I feel about this decision. I’m a little concerned BB has been gently coerced into this for some reason. Just a gut feeling.

    I personally like seeing what’s coming down the pipe(s) in the next year or so — helps me not get ripped off trying to round out my collection by over-paying on ebay (i.e. 15 bucks for an IG-88 minifig that gets released in a battle pack a year later).

    I also feel a little “cool” being on the cutting edge, and the LEGO guru of my social network. It’s fun. :)

    Whatever BB does in this matter is cool with me — as long as it’s not a puppet of TLG.

    By the way, PowerMiners suck hard — no amount of interviews or sugar-coating is going to change that… just saying…

  7. Jacob

    “Who am I to dictate what you talk about and how you talk about it?”

    You, Andrew, are one of the bloggers on the juggernaut of LEGO fansites. Your readership is in the thousands, and, as some have said already, this is the only LEGO site many people visit. Maybe you’re just being modest, but either way, what you do has a big impact.

    I think we should respect LEGO’s requests, whether for security or because they just want to keep them secret.

    “… on a blog that allows anonymous commenting you should expect at least some people to act like douchebags.”

    Well said, Rocko.

  8. Zepher

    I’m sure all of what I’m aout to say has already been said, but I love my two cents more then anything ;)

    I would like to compliment you for making this choice. I like to read about the new sets when they come out in the magazine.

    I like to wait for the sets to really be known before I think about them.

    I think that as fans it is our job to help Lego out, NOT damage them.

    I think this is a mature and proper step for Brothers-Brick.

    Props guys.

  9. David4

    We will have pictures of 99% of the sets this year in three weeks when the NYC Toy Fair begins. I think it’s the 14-17th or something.

  10. Andrew Post author

    David4 is absolutely correct. Toy Fair (February 15-18, with a Collectors Preview for invited LEGO fans on the morning of the 15th) will reveal much — if not all — of the stuff that’s currently circulating in leaked form.

  11. Chris

    I’m going to be the devil’s advocate here—I would like to know how posting images (however poor) of these sets to TBB actually “damage” the Lego Group? Especially if those pics are already all over the Internet?

    I can appreciate the decision not to be the first to post these kind of pics (i.e., if an inside source emailed you them to you). You’ve built up a rapport with the company and you’d certainly earn their scorn for disrupting their marketing plans.

    However, once the images are all over the Internet, I think the damage (and I use the term loosely) is already done and posting them is fair game. You state clearly that it’s not your responsibility to take care of the company’s security problems, and I couldn’t agree more.

  12. Chris

    I have read the full editorial; I suppose I was speaking to some of the most recent posters rather than you directly.

    In an earlier comment I more directly addressed your editorial, saying “I respect your decision, but I don’t fully appreciate your reasoning. You will always have people decrying a new product, whether it’s a different line of Lego or strawberry-flavored Kleenex. It’s just a fact of life on the Internet and I find it difficult to believe that it negatively affects the Lego Group. In fact, I think it’s quite the opposite; it gets us excited about upcoming products and encourages conversation. Folks like us—folks who seek out these pics—are loyal fans of Lego.”

    Having had a day or so to think about it though, I can appreciate your exasperation at the reactions you see in the forums. The constant negativity must be difficult to mitigate, and in that light, I can see why you would like to put an end to it.

  13. AFOL

    Simply leaking the names of sets, which Lego itself does, allows competitors to begin copying ideas. And for licensed lines like Star Wars, “Endor Battle” conjures the same images for most people. So the best solution for Lego if they don’t want images leaked it not to produce them in the first place. If they must then they should just learn to live with the consequences or find the leak themselves and impose Non-Disclosure Agreements on anyone who has access to preliminary photos.

    P.S. Power Miners sucked before the final pics were released and still sucks now that the final products have been revealed. Juniorized garbage!

    P.P.S. That FBTB comic sucks even worse.

  14. Gambort

    This policy spells out politely the reason I’ve so rarely (if ever) blogged leaked information. As an editorial decision I applaud it. Those who want leaks can go find them and whinge elsewhere.

  15. Riley Hunter

    Hey, it’s your blog. Besides, I think I can relate. For a while I tried to get people to not say ‘Legos’ and use something like ‘Lego blocks, Lego bricks, Lego sets’ etc. They didn’t seem to want to be bothered by it.

    I won’t stop visiting because of your decision. Keep up the good work and thanks for all you do!

  16. Ramone

    First let me just say that Brothers Brick is one of my favorite blogs. I visit it daily and I come here first and foremost for any/all Lego news. I’ve come to learn more about the hobby through this site and I thank you for that!

    I respect your decision on the leaked photos thing, and I think it’s admirable that you’ve chosen to take a stand one way or another.

    However, pulling the pictures seems very drastic to me. I can’t imagine Lego is so naive that they would think a news site would NOT publish the photos. My fear is, in the long run, this stance will diminish BB. It seems like the site is caving to the wishes of a company that hasn’t taken care of business.

    I work in PR. Sparring you the boring details, I can say that when we experience a leak, we’re well aware that the flaw is internal and not the responsibility or fault of outside entities (like media outlets). Those entities act in accordance with their purpose and we deal with them on those terms. We try to cover the leak as quick as possible and exert some influence. It’s almost always too late–so the solution is to update procedures, enforce policies internally and retrain employees. That’s the BEST we can hope for.

    With respect to the examples of the power miners and pirates being susceptible to competitors–I’ve not seen any sets from other companies either before or after Lego released their sets. Is this a problem more outside the US? Without seeing any actual competition, this argument on the part of Lego seems without merit to me.

    Also, as far as the power miners negative-turned-positive reception, I can see your point on the “value” of the comments. But then why not just disable comments on those announcements? There is still value in seeing the photos, and certainly fans will find other ways to discuss their opinions. But this feels like more of a ‘punish the fans’ approach.

    While I’ll begin looking elsewhere for news and photos of new sets, I hope that BB reconsiders this stance. I hope this is more of a growing pain of the relationship between BB and Lego that will need to be worked out. (It seems more of a Lego pain than a BB one). They seem to have unrealistic expectations of their fans and the sites that support them.

    I don’t agree with the policy, but I will certainly continue to enjoy the wonderful MOC creations on this site, support my fellow Lego fanatics, and participate in lively discussions.

  17. Andy

    Is it the business of a news vendor to post only rose-colored good news?

    AFOLs have their favorite lines and regularly dump on the kid’s lines. The cycle of comments is what it is and will always play out the same. Speculation is and should be treated the same as “I wish they’d make … set.” It is fluff reading without any meat. As for being in the pocket of TLG, I will note that news agencies regularly post “news” at behest of their owners.

    As to small, grainy pictures, that is part of the cycle. Many fans want to see those. Some others don’t. That is a personal choice and does not change the fact that it is “news”.

    “Raising the level of discussions” only says that you want to avoid controversy. The maturity of the readers hasn’ really changed. I didn’t think that you were bothered by individual comments. Frankly, I don’t see the pain of controversy starting with the new set picture freaks. Honestly, I can only see the pain coming from legal action by TLG or fans that “Respect the Brick!”

    It is fairly apparent that TLG does have a hard-line on this issue. It is reflected at many sites. Eurobricks is aligning more with a “Respect the Brick” policy. rebelscum.com shows:
    “Unfortunately, LEGO has advised us they do not value the Star Wars collector that buys Star Wars LEGO as much as the LEGO fan that buys Star Wars LEGO.
    We don’t believe it serves our community well, and no longer dedicate resources to covering Star Wars LEGO.”

    Of course, the simple message is “We got tired of dealing with this. Stop bugging us to post pre-release pictures.”

  18. Logan

    This discussion, when broken down to its simplest parts, reflects two sides of a point:

    1.- People who prefer discussing rumors.
    2.- People who wait for fact before discussion.

    There are merits to both sides of the equation… it’s simply deciding which part of “peanut butter and jelly” you like better.

    That said, I personally prefer blurry prelims where they belong… the National Enquirer, along with the NASA photos of Bigfoot, and Nostradamus coming back to life to say the world is supposed to end every other Monday.

    Show me a catalog, I’ll talk about it… Show me something that I can’t see, and to me, I’m just shoving one foot in my mouth and the other in my behind if I say anything remotely concrete.

  19. LH

    “these leaks can … hurt LEGO sales by making fans hold off on buying sets now in favor of sets later”,

    but that is exactly why I look up leaked images, so I can plan what to buy a few months down the line, sometimes you might think a certain January set is good, but then you see the summer line up and change your mind, and lego is an expensive hobby with a stingy company, and on top of that they want us to buy without planning ahead?! I’m glad I’m not a starwars/legostarwars fan!

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  23. Creative Anarchy

    I’m honestly baffled by the notion that leaked photographs of upcoming products somehow hurt it’s release. I’ve heard that argument in a broad number of geek-associated forums and it just doesn’t hold water. Every time information about upcoming products gets in the hands of fans of the product line there is tremendous publicity. It builds excitement for the product and keeps the consumers energized until the release. It doesn’t cause people to avoid spending on models on shelves. If anything it spurns then to purchase more. News about Space Police boosted sales of Mission to Mars Legos because of the perception that the line was being replaced. Even if people have a negative initial reaction they still look at the released product with every but of objective scrutiny they would were no pictures leaked. I think that attempts to suppress leaked information is entirely about primadonna advertising reps feeling threatened that their job could be done just as well by accidentally dumping poorly shot photographs of the product on the interwebs.

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