Lego Shaun of the Dead Set a No-Go [News]

When LEGO fan Greg (aka Yatkuu) achieved 10,000 votes for his Cuusoo project based on the R-rated film Shaun of the Dead, we were all incredibly curious to see how LEGO would react. They’ve given it full consideration, and have determined that they will not further pursue turning this project into a set. This marks the first time that a Cuusoo project has reached the proper number of votes, but failed the review process. The official statement is below.

The LEGO Jury has completed the review of the Winchester – Shaun of the Dead project that hit 10,000 supporters on LEGO CUUSOO on March 31, 2012.

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.

Long before the Winchester received mainstream media attention, Greg (Yatkuu) contacted us in earnest to see if his project was acceptable. We recognized the potential conflict, but didn’t see a reason to remove the project. The model was presented tastefully and we thought it deserved fair consideration. With 10,000 supporters, the Winchester earned the opportunity to receive the full LEGO Review.

Greg has been a pleasure to work with throughout this process. We’re impressed by his model, grateful for his constructive approach with us, and we are sad to disappoint such a devoted LEGO fan.

We appreciate the passion exhibited for new product ideas on LEGO CUUSOO. Opening ourselves to new product suggestions invites popular ideas that don’t always fit our brand. This is the first time we’ve felt that we should turn a LEGO CUUSOO idea down, but we’re grateful for the spirit behind projects like the Winchester and for the opportunity to be challenged. It keeps us sharp and looking toward the future of the LEGO brick.

24 comments on “Lego Shaun of the Dead Set a No-Go [News]

  1. Parax

    Not a great surprise, but I had hoped that this would be a bit of a wake up for Lego, Adults want sets for Adults. Sets that are not sold in Toy stores, but on Firebox or through other appropriate channels.
    The Architecture series is specifically adult orientated and is working. Maybe one day they will ‘catch the cluetrain’ again, and give customers what they are asking for in their (Officially measured) Tens of thousands…

  2. iammacgyver

    At least it was a nice reply, and it seemed very genuine. Totally agree with Parax, but I also kind of understand where Lego are coming from.

    Bloody hell it would have been a good set though, I would have bought it at the drop of a hat. The movie was good, but in Lego everything is 10 to the power of 100 good.

  3. Blake Baer

    @Parax, I respectfully disagree. I really appreciate LEGO’s clean record in this regard. While the adult community may make up as much as 5% of the sales (, LEGO is still a kids toy, and LEGO understandably doesn’t want to blemish their record with an “adult oriented movie”.

    LEGO is respected for the wholesome, educational, creative, and constructive fun that the toy initiates. I for one think that this was a very good move on their part. If they accepted Shaun of the Dead, LEGO would lose standing in my eyes and in the eyes of many others.

    On a less opinionated note, it seems that this bar was too high for LEGO but it was a good step to establish some boundaries. Perhaps it established a cut-off at R-rated movies while allowing PG-13 movies; LotR, Spiderman, PotC, Indiana Jones, Prince of Persia, etc?

  4. Jean C

    So, LEGO “recognized the potential conflict, but didn’t see a reason to remove the project”, let the votes come in and then evaluated the conflict they knew about the whole time? Why waste everyone’s time?

    To be clear, I’ve no issue with LEGO rejecting it (I didn’t vote for it), I just think they drew the process out unnecessarily.

    10,000 is a lot of people to mislead, after all.

  5. Catsy

    Disappointing but not surprising. Keep in mind that any theme Lego produces has to be created with the assumption that their core audience of children might become interested in it. Even the more non-kid-oriented themes like Architecture are a gateway to an educational experience.

    While franchises like LotR and PotC easily have their share of graphic violence, plenty of families will not have a problem letting an 11-year-old watch them with a parent. Much as I dearly love Shaun of the Dead, it’s intensely gory and adult. Like, eating flesh and intestines from still-living screaming people gory. Like, dozens of f-bombs adult. I’d be surprised if part of the evaluation process didn’t involve everyone on the panel sitting down and watching SotD from start to finish and asking themselves, “so what happens when an 11-year-old goes ‘cool, Lego zombies, I want to see that movie’?”

  6. gigahound

    So long as Lego continues to produce Clone Wars sets, I will consider their “core audience” policy a sham. Except for the blood and gore, Shaun of the Dead is might even be more tame than Clone Wars has proven to be with its depiction of kamikaze suicides, point-blank executions, vivid displays of torture, murder, and even witches performing horror-level resurrection on a near-naked woman and their zombie army…fantasy role-play indeed.

  7. Andrew

    Well said, Catsy. And I’m surprised I’m the first person to say, “Told ya so!” :-P

    For once, I’m in complete agreement with a decision LEGO has made, but the press release reveals an issue with how they went about it that I find problematic, as Jean rightly points out. Let’s hope their new pre-screening process prevents this kind of thing from happening in the future, but there are plenty of other public/published projects on CUUSOO that they’ve said they’re not necessarily going to go back and review. This is bound to repeat itself again when a bunch of fans for an M-rated video game find one of the existing projects and rally around it the way Minecraft fans and Simon Pegg fans did.

    And that’s an important distinction — the two projects to reach 10K on the global version of CUUSOO so far haven’t been ones that the LEGO fan community rallied around; they’re ones aided by a huge community of <something else> fans who’ve voted for their own passion in LEGO form (rather than the other way around).

  8. Denyer

    Somewhat hypocritical given that DC Comics, Star Wars, etc. contain violent and sexual themes.

    On another topic, I’d be really interested to see what supporter cost estimates are like. People who aren’t active LEGO collectors would, on average, underestimate the probable cost IMO.

  9. Catsy

    Somewhat hypocritical given that DC Comics, Star Wars, etc. contain violent and sexual themes.

    Degree and context matters.

    I defy anyone to show me anything in the Marvel/DC superhero comics or Star Wars that even remotely compares to the spectacle of a human being screaming in incomprehensible agony as zombies pull their flesh from their body and their entrails out of their stomach and eat them while the person is still alive.

    I defy anyone to count the number of F-bombs dropped in Star Wars or a Marvel/DC superhero movie and compare that to Shaun of the Dead’s impressive tally. I’ll wait.

    This isn’t an academic discussion for me. I have an 11-year-old boy. There’s things I’ll let him watch that other parents wouldn’t. I’ll let him watch LotR. I’ll let him watch Star Wars. Hell, he loves Monty Python, and frontal male nudity in The Life of Brian. He’s heard grown-up words before.

    But he leaves the room if we watch The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones, and I wouldn’t let him watch Shaun of the Dead either. Lego zombies, cool. Lego zombies based on a movie I’d rather he not develop an interest in just yet, not cool.

  10. the enigma that is badger

    I’ll echo Catsy’s sentiments exactly: disappointing but far from unexpected or without understandable reasons. If anything, I’m still amazed LEGO has given us elements in this theme at all, particularly the zombie minifig heads. They obviously give careful thought to what is and isn’t appropriate for their brand, and I give them credit for exploring themes that appeal to both AFOLs and the core audience in ways that are appropriate for everyone.

    It’s sad we won’t ever see this on store shelves, but that doesn’t at all diminish the great work Yatkuu did in the original MOC or the efforts he and others put into raising awareness of the project. In addition, it certainly resulted in some nice positive coverage of our hobby to the general public, and hopefully that encourages a few people out there return to building or give it a try!

  11. JimmytheJ

    Ok, maybe LOTR and HP have more redeeming features, but people die in those too and I’m sure it’s not always very clean and child- friendly. At least with zombies kids will know how to kill them and be less afraid. But how to tell your kids that they’re safe from Voldemort… Heck, when I was little I was terrified of Mr Blobby. How the heck do you get a kid over that fear? Anyway. I’m a little bitter and rambling on a blog won’t change their minds. All I hope is that they still go through with the Monster Fighters theme after all this- there’s zombies in that. Fairly tame ones, compared to those in Shaun I guess. Got all their limbs, not covered in blood. I had a better design in mind for the Winchester anyway… So I guess we shall all have to make do with our own versions. And go buy the nessasary parts on bricklink. I just wish I had a better idea of how to do that curved bit at the front. And that sign! And more zombies! Augh! :P

  12. Chris Post author

    I’ve got to agree with Catsy and Andrew and the others who feel LEGO made the right choice here. There is absolutely a difference in the level of violence, language, etc, between the films for which LEGO already has licenses, and the levels in a film like Shaun of the Dead. I’m not making any judgments about the films themselves, but you have to admit that there is a substantive difference. That difference is precisely what the MPAA rating acknowledges.

  13. Chris Post author

    I think Ghost in the Shell is a much harder one to call. I honestly don’t know how LEGO would react to that, but I’m certainly eager to find out.

  14. aidanrinku

    I think what would have been a good idea was to take certain ideas or portions of the set, and put them in other sets. I really like that telephone booth, for instance.

  15. SavaTheAggie

    I find it interesting how many really thought this would be a set. I also find it interesting how many think what chances any set that receives 10,000 votes will become a set. As a personal opinion, not based on any true facts but only my observations and experiences with the LEGO group over the years, I believe when viewed through the prism of history we’ll find that the vast majority, maybe as high as 75%, of all models that reach 10,000 votes will never become sets. Yes the first three sets to ever reach this milestone have become sets, but the first two were done while the program was in beta, and the publicity from the third did LEGO well. But I believe from this point forward anyone who immediately assumes a set that gains 10,000 will automatically be made a set will be frequently disappointed.

  16. smackfu

    “let the votes come in and then evaluated the conflict they knew about the whole time? Why waste everyone’s time?”

    Essentially you’re just arguing that the review bar should be lower than 10K votes, since the LEGO review at 10k is a clearly stated part of the Cusoo system.

    And actually I would agree with you. Do a review at 1k votes and shut it down if it’s not a viable product. Otherwise it stays open and if it hits 10k, then it gets made. Not perfect but a lot more predictable.

  17. Denyer

    “I defy anyone to show me anything in the Marvel/DC superhero comics or Star Wars that even remotely compares to the spectacle of a human being screaming in incomprehensible agony as zombies pull their flesh from their body and their entrails out of their stomach and eat them while the person is still alive.”

    Batman’s teen partner being assaulted with an electric drill in an overtly sexual context? A recent issue of a relaunched book ending with a character’s face apparently being cut off and pinned splayed to a wall?

    Context does matter. Shaun of the Dead is to some degree a comedy, although it does shift in tone later in the film, and the fantasy the cannibalism is presented in doesn’t measure up to static images of more realistic violence.

    The difference is that DC has tried to court both audiences, and tends to get a pass with parents until they discover Little Jonny with a library book featuring Barbara Gordon naked in a pool of blood.

    Not a fan of SotD, for the record.

    Agreed that review at an earlier stage would be a good idea. The current system’s just building up large groups of people (some of which will overlap, some of which won’t) who think a bit less of LEGO each time a project’s allowed to run for so long before being turned down.

  18. Daedalus

    Lower the support number too much, though, and you wind up reviewing a *lot* more sets. It seems the number is intentionally high to limit the number of sets that need to be reviewed. To those frustrated with TLC’s decision to retain and later reject Yatkuu’s concept, consider the ramifications of canceling the set prematurely. If they decided to remove the project before it got 10k votes, there would be backlash, warranted or not. It’s also setting a sticky precedent, potentially needing to field requests from every builder with a borderline concept. That they considered it at an early stage and decided to let things play out as intended was both the safe call and respectful to the builder.

    I think it’s important to keep in mind that this program is (as far as I know) completely unique among major companies, not only giving consumers great input in product direction, but profit sharing. That’s huge. Between that and the fact that this whole thing is still a pretty young process, I think TLC deserves the benefit of the doubt here.

    I’m also surprised at the continued reaction to the minecraft line. It’s a huge plus for the brand; from my experience, probably about half the people playing minecraft played with Lego growing up. As we all know, for most people all it takes it buying one set to bring you out of your dark age. The sets might not be exactly innovative, but the potential to grow the AFOL community is tremendous, which in the end is great news for all of us.

  19. BrikkHedd

    The DC bashing is a little bit unjustified in the fact that DC distinguishes between it’s demographic markets and caters for them specifically: DC Lego, Batman the Brave and the Bold and Young Justice for younger fans, while the comics lines are obviously for older fans. Seeing as how most children see particular films with their parents blessing I would assume that parents would also check out comics before handing over their money for their kids to read them.

  20. Bricktopia

    I could not agree less with LEGO on their reasons to reject this project. If we take a look at the newest sets from “Monster Fighers” we find Zombies being run over by some sort of car with a plowshare (Set 9465) and lots of other sets including graphical violence or at least enough detail to help your imagination catch on …

    Nonetheless I do agree with what Badger said in some detail. The build and idea itself is great.

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