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  1. Voltron, Defender of the Universe, just would not stand up. ”This was heart-wrenching. It was a possibility that the model might be declined, as it was far from meeting The LEGO® Group’s strict quality requirements,” Samuel Johnson, design manager says of the first Voltron exploratory model. LEGO Ideas 21311 Voltron started its journey as a fan model built by Lendy Tayag. Lendy submitted his model to LEGO Ideas, where it gathered 10,000 submissions and entered the LEGO Ideas Review. But you probably already know that part. As part of the review, LEGO Designers explored the feasibility of the model. Could it be built? Was it stable? Are the elements used still active in the LEGO portfolio of elements? “A few of the designers had looked over the photographs of Voltron and each of them had the comment ‘It can’t be done!’… Overhearing this, I said, ‘Give it to me! Of course it can be done!’” says Sam. Sam’s wish was granted and his team got to work – only to find creating Voltron was harder said than done. “Lendy’s model looked fantastic and was ultra-poseable, which was super eye catching, but when we tried to replicate it by building our own copy, the model would just NOT stand up,” Sam explains. The first exploratory model So they built another one – which stood up better, but had a tendency to lean forward…a lot. So that wouldn’t do either. “It was at this point that we had seen Lendy himself building smaller Voltron models, so we got to thinking, ‘maybe ours should be smaller,’” Sam recalls. Hoping this would fix the stability issue, the design team started experimenting with a different scale. Designer Niek van Slagmaat built the model on the left, while at the same time, designer John Ho built the model on the right. Which lead the design team to… Which stood up! But was a far cry from Lendy’s project…. “So, we sat back and all agreed that this little thing was definitely NOT what Lendy or the 10,000 voters wanted,” Sam recalls. “This is not our Voltron. We have to go big or not at all!” The team rallied, and aspired to create the model the project deserved. Pictured the Design team (left to right starting at the top): Samuel T. Liltorp Johnson, Design Manager; Niek van Slagmaat Designer; Mark Tranter; Graphic Designer, Hans Henrik Sidenius, Model Coach; Jean-Marc Laniox-Warrer, building Instructions Developer They returned to Lendy’s original model, and with great care, attention to detail, input from the IP partner and a whole summer of work, Niek created… Ta-da, the almost final model. It still had to go through a vigorous round of quality testing. This includes testing with young kids and teens to see if the transformation was easy enough, and also to ensure the model could be handled by consumers without breaking. Then, the model was heat tested to look for weak points which were corrected and… The LEGO Ideas 21311 Voltron you know today was born! “The volume of elements used is so complex that we used 16 bags to create the build flow,” Sam explains. “This is one of the first times that a ‘sub-build’ in a LEGO set has its own artwork on its building instruction manual.” This means you could build the model yourself, or with a team of up to five people building simultaneously, because, as Sam says, “team work is the true essence of what Voltron is all about.”
  2. When you work at the LEGO Group, there’s opportunities to play in your daily work. However, as a company we reserve one day a year just for play – Playday. Across the globe, employees stepped away from their day jobs to get in touch with their inner playful self. At the US Enfield Hub, this meant a trip to “Sonny’s Place” an amusement park not far from the LEGO Office. At Sonny’s Place we found play activities such as arcade games (including one virtual reality game I was terrible at), go-kart racing, bowling, laser tag, pottery painting, and bowling. Although it was an overcast and chilly day, that didn’t stop us from enjoying afternoon ice cream and using the zipline. There was also a brick based “escape room” (or escape box?) in which we were challenged to crack the code using clues before 20 minutes - we finished with 2 minutes remaining, no big deal (it was a big deal). Billund In Billund, the weather also didn’t encourage playing outside. However, inside tents, colleagues sported wrist bands and enjoyed building activities, cupcake decorating (jealous of that) and even a silent disco. Naturally in Billund they had a few more high profile attendants. Inside one tent, there was even a section to highlight how AFOLs “play”! Shanghai In Jiaxing and Shanghai, China, the sun shone on Play Day. Of course, all play activities were inside anyway…. As it was a smaller office, employees all got matching shirts rather than wrist bands. Activities included life sized Mahjong, and whatever is going on the second picture below. We hope you take some time to play every once in a while too.
  3. On May 14th, 15th, and 16th, the AFOL Engagement Team journeyed far and wide to attend our regular Department Meeting. This year, we traveled outside of Denmark to the border town of Flensburg, Germany. As a team, we discussed challenges we face, provided feedback for our overall strategy, learned about the hard work Jackie is doing in China and Kevin is doing in APAC, took a lesson about being agile and discussed a number of confidential plans I cannot comment on in this blog post. Sanne did a presentation on some of the past LEGO Ideas sets she’s worked on, sharing fun stories such as talking with Margaret Hamilton while working on 21312 Women of NASA and sneaking around the Central Perk set at California’s Universal Studios while finalizing the agreement for The Central Perk Coffee of Friends LEGO Ideas set. Kim also shared trends in the AFOL community (thank you everyone who provided insight on that thread). It was a whirlwind, but as a global team, it’s invaluable to be able to get everyone together, even for just a few days.Until next time.
  4. Children and adults dream of working for the LEGO Group, building 20 foot tall dinosaurs and giant minifigures. Around the world the LEGO Group has teams of model builders who do just that! Statues are being built every day for a variety of occasions such as comic-cons, LEGO Store openings and brand campaigns. Once the campaign or event is over these statues often make their way to a warehouse where they are stored till the next time they are called upon. Some of these creations will be hidden for decades, others continue to make appearances, and some are moved to a "permanent" residence such as LEGOLAND®. These statues can hold an emotional connection with some LEGO fans just like building a LEGO set. I found a couple models that are located in storage at the Enfield, Connecticut warehouse. I am not certain of the story behind these models but hopefully you will recognize a few from different events, magazine articles or brand campaigns. Please share any information you have. Maybe you even have a picture or a story about your experience with these or other LEGO models that had an impact on you. For more behind the scenes stories, follow the blog by clicking the "Follow" button at the top of the page.
  5. Working at the best toy company in the world has its perks. Not only do we create and play with bricks in meetings and at our desks but we also find any opportunity to celebrate with food and dressing up! There might have been some awkward Skype meetings, job interviews or serious meetings with HR but "play" is in our culture in all aspects! Perhaps you can spot a few famous LEGO Designers and members the AFOL Engagement Team Different locations and departments around the world celebrated the occasion differently including brick built pumpkin patches, costume contests, crafts and character parades. Did conduct interviews today but sadly out of costume The Series 18 Minifigures VID_72210213_113358_971.mp4 For the past few years our LEGO designers have treated us to seasonal LEGO sets. The 2018 seasonal sets are in the style of Brickheadz and include a Valentine's Day Bee, Easter Bunny, Halloween Witch, Thanksgiving Turkey and Mr and Mrs Claus. Get these before they are gone at your local LEGO Stores and LEGO.com. For more behind the scenes stories, follow the blog by clicking the "Follow" button at the top of the page.
  6. Employees at the Enfield office were encouraged to take a quick break from work today to celebrate the recently announced Sustainable Packaging goal and the new recyclable paper-pulp trays for Advent Calendars. The Local Community Engagement team helped us to turn these trays into planters, supplying basil, kale (ew), and spinach seeds with fresh soil and water. Also, cupcakes. I'm the opposite of a green thumb, so here's hoping something will grow! Please remember to follow the blog by clicking the "Follow" button on the Blog main page for more great articles.
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