Lego will let you — yes, you — compete to design a limited-edition Lego set

Have you ever wanted to be a Lego designer? Now’s your chance — if you create an original Lego set starting February 1st, 2023, you can compete to be one of up to five unofficial sets that Lego will officially produce. Up to 20,000 of your set will be sold to fans around the world, and you’ll even get paid — designers get 5 percent of the proceeds.

They won’t come in a traditional Lego box, mind you, and they won’t be sold in stores. They’ll exclusively be part of the online “BrickLink Designer Program,” where the boxes look like this:

The Modular Lego Store in its Bricklink box, from an earlier competition.

The Modular Lego Store in its Bricklink box, from an earlier competition.
Image: lego

But make no mistake — these are sanctioned, sold, produced, and shipped by Lego itself, which purchased BrickLink back in 2019.

Last month, Lego announced that the BrickLink Designer Program (BDP) will now be a permanent competition, but it’s honestly quite a bit different (and perhaps easier!) than the program we told you about in 2021 and 2022. Not any fan could compete — the previous BDP was about giving the designers of rejected Lego Ideas sets a second chance to sell builds that wouldn’t sell or play well enough to justify Lego producing them in mass quantities.

Now, any Lego fan can design a set, as long as they design it in the BrickLink Studio software, use a limited “palette” of 8,500 parts, and follow specific submission guidelines like “parts shouldn’t break, collapse or fall off under normal building pressure” and “don’t insert a stud into a Technic pinhole.”

I kind of regret not purchasing the 1950s Diner, another BrickLink set.

I kind of regret not purchasing the 1950s Diner, another BrickLink set.
Image: pix027

While Lego / BrickLink will be the ones to ultimately determine which five sets make it to the crowdfunding stage, any fan will be able to vote on their favorites in an earlier round tentatively scheduled for February, and the judges will take those votes into consideration. That means you may want to get your creation in early rather than waiting till the February 28th deadline.

Once BrickLink has selected five designs, any set that reaches 3,000 preorders will get manufactured by Lego, tentatively starting in September. Each set will be a limited edition of 20,000 or fewer, though that’s twice as many as the 10,000 cap in previous BDP rounds. While Lego’s only offering 5 percent of the proceeds this time instead of 10 percent, it could even out now that you can sell twice as many sets.

Lego will also own the rights to your design, but only during the competition unless you agree to let Lego produce your set. “If your design is not chosen, all rights to the design will be returned to you,” writes BrickLink.

There’s a huge FAQ page with more details, but the most important remaining tip is probably this: unlike Lego Ideas, this isn’t a place to lobby for Lego to go get the rights to produce sets based on Legend of Zelda or The Office or what have you. You need to stay away from original intellectual properties, and Lego also doesn’t want sets that are too much like what it’s already selling.

“We are trying to avoid a perception that your design is a part of an official collection of sets, such as a specific Castle series, or a Modular building, for example,” writes BrickLink, while noting that “It is fine to create a model based on a classic LEGO genre or theme such as Space or Castle.”

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