Today LEGO launched a new initiative in cooperation with Bricklink called the AFOL Designer Program where fans can submit custom designs which will be then be produced and sold by Bricklink. (The term AFOL is an acronym that stands for “Adult Fan of LEGO.”) The creations will be judged by current LEGO designers, “crowdfunded” through pre-sales, then released as limited edition 60th Anniversary sets.
The one-time program will accept submissions through November 18, and the designs must be created in Bricklink’s new Studio 2.0 software. Up to 20 finalists will be selected for judging. The eventual release of the fan-designed sets is slated for April 2019, with 10 percent of the sales going to the designer.
The AFOL Designer Program appears to be very similar to LEGO Ideas, though more akin to the short-run LEGO Factory line. In this case the fan designs will not be modified by LEGO and the sets will be sold by Bricklink (no word yet if the sets will have the LEGO logo or a set number on them). Importantly, any creations must be new and are only eligible for one program, either LEGO Ideas or the AFOL Designer Program.
We asked LEGO what prompted the new initiative, and learned it is to celebrate fan creativity and to bring small-batch sets designed by fans to production as part of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the LEGO brick:
“The LEGO Group has started the AFOL Designer Program to celebrate AFOL creativity. Part of the program involves collaborating with others to realize more AFOL designs in small quantities. A key priority is that the AFOL Designer Program will promote initiatives of interest to AFOLs.”
There are no restrictions on what can be submitted, though each design will be rated according to originality, visual appeal, stability, building experience, use of parts, and several other factors. Non-themed minifigures can be included, though only one per every 250 pieces (so you might want to steer clear of existing intellectual property and themes). Designers must be 18 or above and can submit multiple designs for selection. Full guidelines can be found in Bricklink’s forum.
The pieces for the sets will be provided by LEGO, so creations must use an existing “palette” of bricks that are currently in production. According to LEGO, the company “maintains a large selection of elements that are used in current official LEGO sets. A comprehensive subset of these elements is included in the special builder’s palette in the latest version of Studio software.”
Selection & Production
Models will be rated by LEGO designers according to originality, visual appeal, building experience, use of parts, and several other factors. BrickLink will then produce instructions for the selected models and start packaging sets for sale. A maximum limit of 2,500 sets for each design will be produced.
Pre-orders starting in February 2019 will be used to determine interest in each selected model and to fund the creation of the sets. This “crowdfunding” will be the only way to obtain an exclusive premium edition version of a set, which are targeted for shipping in April 2019.
It remains to be seen if this program is a hit, though we expect interest to be high from the LEGO fan community, jumping on the opportunity to have limited-run sets produced. According to LEGO, “the AFOL Designer Program is currently being tested” and depending on the outcome it “may be more broadly implemented.” We certainly hope so.