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CUUSOO: more changes & an amazing maze!

by admin on May 9, 2012

in Featured Creations

(Written by Sarah)

For today’s post, I will talk about some more changes at LEGO CUUSOO as well as feature a really cool LEGO project; the Labyrinth Marble Maze. Jason, the creator of the LEGO project, contacted me and gave me the inside scoop on how he created the project, so read on.  ;)

But first, I sadly must address the death of the LEGO Winchester. Yatkuu, the creator of the LEGO Winchester has taken the news of LEGO’s rejection of the project like a true British gentleman: “I have no regrets here. I knew it was a long shot from the start but I learned a lot from this experience, met awesome people… it was all worth it. Thanks again to everyone who supported the project.” You can read more and get in touch with Yatkuu through his website: MakeTheWinchester.com 

The Death of the LEGO Winchester by Yatkuu

Though I am very disappointed that the Winchester was not approved to be made as a LEGO set, I am still 100% behind the idea of CUUSOO and the opportunities it presents to fans. I see this as another learning curve in the ever developing and evolving world that is CUUSOO. We’ve now learned that LEGO is still 100% dedicated to making kid-friendly products and that they will not make any sets that they believe are of a mature content. So it’s something we’ll need to abide by and remember when making LEGO CUUSOO projects.

Speaking of CUUSOO projects, I’m sure many of you have already seen this, but another four LEGO projects have recently made it to 10,000 votes:

:arrow: LEGO EVE Online Ships – Rifter by czar: CUUSOO EVE Project

EVE Online Ships – Rifter by czar

:arrow: LEGO Back to the Future by m.togami: CUUSOO BTTF Project

Back to the Future by m.togami

:arrow: LEGO Firefly Serenity Playset by tbone_tbl: CUUSOO Firefly Project

Firefly Serenity Playset by tbone_tbl

:arrow: LEGO The Legend of Zelda by MINGLES: CUUSOO Legend of Zelda 

The Legend of Zelda by MINGLES

CUUSOO has made a slight change to the review process in that they will do quarterly reviews of all projects that made it to the review phase in time. The next review will start in June. However, they have already decided not to go with the Firefly project since it is too mature. I am very excited for the rest though, and also keeping an eye on the LEGO Modular Western Town as it is very close to 10,000 votes. I hope it makes it in time for June! (If you haven’t voted on this LEGO project yet, you can do so my following the link: CUUSOO Modular Western Town)

Modular Western Town by mb_bricks

One last thing before I get to the very cool LEGO labyrinth, CUUSOO has changed their rules on collaborative projects. Before they didn’t allow it, but now they do. Rule 6 on the CUUSOO Guidelines Page has been updated to reflect the changes. In a nutshell, there is still one project owner, but all collaborators must have their own CUUSOO account and have clearly designated roles in the LEGO project. Everyone must contact CUUSOO within a week of starting the project and provide some basic info.

And now let’s talk about the featured LEGO CUUSOO project of this post: the LEGO Labyrinth Marble Maze! :D

Labyrinth Marble Maze by Touthomme

As explained on the project’s description page, this is a “fully functioning version of a Labyrinth marble maze, featuring interchangeable mazes, a built in removable ball-container and a travel-lock. The mechanics of the maze are actually quite simple; using a set of LEGO Technic axles and lift-arms to control the tilt of the maze”.  The great thing about it being LEGO is that you can customize it any way you want to, making it simpler or harder or adding themed elements.

When Jason (aka. Touthomme) contacted me, I was very excited to see such an advanced LEGO model that could appeal to a wide variety of people due to is customizable nature. If this gets to 10,000 votes, I’m not sure what the final product will be, but I certainly hope it has some of those customizable elements that Jason has made. That’s jumping the gun a little, but it’s good to stay optimistic. For now, I’d like to share the process Jason went through in creating the LEGO maze and how it ended up on CUUSOO. Here is Jason’s story:

Labyrinth Marble Maze close-up by Touthomme

In November 2011, a good friend of mine posted a picture on her Flickr account of a teen’s bedroom made out of LEGO. When I saw the bookshelf, I immediately thought, ‘cool, that might be an interesting way to build a maze’. I threw together a little maze that night using some of those LEGO panels. I thought it was pretty cool, but then I thought, ‘ah, but wouldn’t it be cooler to make a bigger one that you could move a LEGO ball through?’ I was really into mazes when I was a kid, so it didn’t take very long before I was trying to make a full blown replica of the common Labyrinth ball maze.

LEGO Teen’s Bedroom by Deborah Higdon

My first prototype was actually designed to match the layout of the Labyrinth game as accurately as possible, complete with holes for the balls to drop through. It ended up being far too big and heavy to be practical though. There was way too much flex in the control system, it felt really bulky and unresponsive, and it just wasn’t much fun to play. So it was back to the drawing board.

LEGO Space Labyrinth Maze by Touthomme

I shrunk the LEGO maze down to 24×24 studs and dispensed with the holes. This made the maze much lighter, and simplified the construction. I went through many-many iterations and tweaks of the control-system to make it as responsive as possible. Somewhere along this process (which took a few weeks) I also thought it would be cool to incorporate interchangeable mazes, so I started working on a second maze.

I’m a big fan of building with LEGO in micro-scale, and had a few little micro space-ships lying around my building table from another LEGO project. When I was designing the second maze I thought it would be cool to incorporate some detailing and decided to add one of those ships. The result was the space themed maze you can see above. By the time I built the medieval themed maze, my girlfriend was also involved and demanded much more detailing. She was heavily involved in the design of the water-mill and insisted that I also build a dragon.

LEGO Medieval Labyrinth Maze by Touthomme

It probably took about a month from start to finish, and by the end of December, the LEGO project was complete. I definitely get the most excited when a project is in the prototype phase, when I’m solving problems and figuring things out. Taking pictures and posting them online usually ends up at the bottom of the priority list, as I get absorbed with building other things. So it wasn’t until April 16, 2012 that I finally got around to posting this LEGO project online.

I never thought to add the project to CUUSOO, but after posting it on Flickr and YouTube, several people suggested that I should. In the meantime, my original post was picked up by The Brothers Brick and tumbled through some other micro LEGO blogs like BrickUltra. On April 18, I put together a CUUSOO page and once it was approved, I went back and added links to my original posts. It seems to be quite popular with those who have seen it, and currently sits at 795 supporters as of this writing.

Obviously it’s a long way to getting 10,000 supporters, and my challenge now is to get the word out to people that might be interested in it. The LEGO community is pretty easy to tap into as there are many online forums that I can post it in. I’ll need to send requests out to some general interest/geek blogs that might also like to promote it. I’m sure there are a lot of people interested in Labyrinth and mazes in general, but I have yet to find a big online community to tap into.

So far, I have approached you guys at theBrickBlogger and Geekologie to write about my LEGO project, and there have been a few sites that have picked it up on their own: Tested and MakeZine.

Inside of the LEGO Maze by Touthomme

Thanks for the run-down Jason! As you said, here comes the next challenge – getting to 10,000 votes! The good/bad news with such a wide-appealing LEGO project is that anyone could be interested in it, but there’s no centralized place to gather fans. If you can get the word out there, it’ll easily get to 10,000 votes, but finding the right places is going to be tough.

So now, dear readers, I ask you for your help. Not only to support this LEGO project if you like it, but help spread the word about it (you can Like, Tweet, share on Google+ and other social media sites using the buttons at the end of this post). So, please tell your family, friends and online buddies about it. You can also directly vote for the LEGO Labyrinth Maze here: VOTE FOR THE LEGO LABYRINTH. And if you know of any places to promote this LEGO CUUSOO project, please post in the comment section. Also let me know what you think of the project. Do you have any suggestions for other themes or changes you’d like to see in the maze? :)

You may also like to read about other LEGO CUUSOO news here:

FREE Exclusive Holiday Set with purchases of $99 or more; set 1 of 2. Valid 10.1.14-10.31.14 or while supplies last.

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

gid617 May 9, 2012 at 10:29 AM

That is a very nice maze! I have always wnated to build something like that myself, but I never seem to have the right pieces ;)

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Sarah May 13, 2012 at 11:57 AM

I feel that way about a lot of MOCs I see online. I just never have the right pieces, but hopefully with CUUSOO, if this makes it to production, we’ll be able to easily buy it and make it. :-)

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Jacob May 9, 2012 at 11:04 AM

One thing to note is that they had more explicit rules on what would be considered apropriate. Projects cannot contain:
“Politics and political symbols
Religious references including symbols, buildings, or people
Sex, drugs, or smoking
Alcohol in any present day situation
Swearing
Death, killing, blood, terrorism, or torture
First-person shooter video games
Warfare or war vehicles in any situation post-WWII to present
Racism, bullying, or cruelty to real life animals”
Although I am not really for any of these, If you look at all 4 of the Indiana Jones movies, they contain all of them save for the first person shooter. Granted, the sets were not explicit about most of this, and perhaps the point is that the physical sets cannot have them, while what there are based on (if they are based off of something) might (to an acceptable level.)

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Jacob May 9, 2012 at 5:14 PM

Sorry If I was not clear. When I said “I am not really for any of these”, I meant that I am against things like drugs, animal cruelty, terrorism, etc. First person shooters I don’t think should be completely off they table, at least in the case of things like Star Wars Battlefront. Sure the game is rated teen, but I don’t think they would have to explicitly state it was from the game. There are many different classes/ designs that are barley if ever shown in the movies, but would show up a bit in game and other places in expanded universe. The game “Republic Commandos” has Clone commandos that are really neat in design, and most expanded universe fans of Star Wars would like them. However, the game is a first person shooter (and fairly violent compared to battlefront). The commandos did make a cameo in the new Star Wars the Clone Wars though, so there may still be some hope.

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Jacob May 9, 2012 at 9:59 PM

Also, one final, final thing. Wonder if these rules be followed very strictly, or more of in the spirit of the rule. For example Portal and Portal 2 are E 10+ and is a first person “shooter”, but you don’t actually kill things with your “gun”. The worst you can do is destroy robots, most by tipping them over. Granted, there is some human death that is implied, but none of it is really seen, even if you are the one who dies due to falling, being crushed, etc. I don’t see it being too explicit (LEGO may have an issue with some of the humor because it is dark), but I don’t see it being as big of an issue as Shawn of the Dead, or even The Serenity.

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Sarah May 13, 2012 at 12:06 PM

Thank you Jacob for all your comments.

I think there will always be flexibility to rules, but it is up to LEGO as to what they will or won’t produce. Remember, they are a business and they have to look at the bottom line and they don’t want to offend their core market of kids 6-11. Or more realistically, they don’t want to offend the parents of those kids.

For licenses, I think it comes down to what the license is about. Even if the model doesn’t contain any of the offensive items, if the license does then LEGO doesn’t want to be associated with it. Like the Firelfy ship – it is just a ship, but the content of the show violates their rules.

And as much as we want to compare it to the licenses that LEGO already has, we really can’t. They’ve willingly entered into those agreements(which make them a lot of money) and they bend their rules for those licenses. For CUUSOO, LEGO doesn’t have to enter into the license if they don’t want to, for whatever their reasons are.

I’ve had my own internal struggle with this. I’m not happy with LEGO’s decision, but it makes sense for them. Some models should remain fan models and not made official by LEGO.

Thanks for your comments and for reading!

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Jacob May 9, 2012 at 11:14 AM

As for the marble maze, it looks really good and well made. However, and this is my own personally biases based off of where I live, the LEGO games in general don’t seem to sell well, and I don’t see it making profits like many of the other Cuusco projects could. The price, based off of what LEGO normally sets the price of sets today, looks like it would put off a good number of people, as even a conservative estimate looks like it would be at least $35. In my experience (granted, my experiences do not reflect everyone else’s), the version of the game I had was more of a novelty, and though it was not bad, I don’t really see it selling well at the price it looks like it would go for.

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Sarah May 13, 2012 at 12:08 PM

I think this is very different than the other LEGO games. Namely, this is a recreation of an long-existing game. It’s not new, other than now it’s made out of LEGO and can be customized by themes.

How well it will sell, I honestly don’t know. I do know it will have a wide appeal and can be one of those fun gifts that would work for non-LEGO fans as well as LEGO fans. Time will tell. :-)

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admin May 9, 2012 at 1:50 PM

The first picture is so sad. I know Yatkuu always effectionately referred to his Winchester project as “The Win”. It was such a fitting name for a CUUSOO project that supposed to be a winner. I do understand LEGO’s decision not to get behind it, but it is still sad. With a name like that, this baby should have had a long and succesful life. :cry:

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Yatkuu May 10, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Ha, so true! With such a name it should have ended differently! That being said, my main goal was always to promote the AFOL hobby and in that perspective I still consider it a “Win”! ;-)
Thanks for the kind words!

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admin May 10, 2012 at 5:34 PM

Yatkuu, you are taking this all with a stride! Very much appreciate and admire your attitude. You are the win! ;)

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Sarah May 13, 2012 at 12:10 PM

I definitely think the Win succeeded in promoting LEGO and CUUSOO. Several projects made it to 10,000 after the Win got so much publicity. I firmly believe it because of Yatkuu’s hard work that there are so many people on CUUSOO now and voting for projects.

So a big thank you Yatkuu!

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Nick the Brick May 9, 2012 at 3:44 PM

The marble maze is for me the type of project that captures the essence of the CUUSOO project.
Suitable for all ages, fully functional as well as being a beautiful model in its self. Will not cost the earth due to the part count.
There are no licensing rights to negotiate and offers an expansion of the product range with different mazes with varying levels of difficulty or simply build your own levels.
Where this game differs from current LEGO games is that when you look at it for the first time you will already know how to play.

I think there is a sentiment that is often forgotten in the AFOL community that is LEGO is first and foremost a children’s toy and therefore has to appeal to LEGO’s core demographic if it is to be a CUUSOO entry that will pass the review process.

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Sarah May 13, 2012 at 12:12 PM

I agree with you Nick. This maze is much more wide-open to who would like it. And as much as us adults tend to forget, LEGO is a kid’s toy and we have to remember that.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

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admin May 13, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Sarah, just a thought that came to me while I was reading the comments here; one challenge I see with the maze (and similar CUUSOO projects) is that it is nothing more than an object from an other hobby made out of LEGO. An awesome model for sure, but it does not promote, encoruage and inspire building with LEGO elements. It’s sole purpose is to be built once and used as a maze.

I think this is a wonderful MOC, but I’m not sure it would make a great LEGO set. I’m really hoping that the projects coming out of CUUSOO are going to be more than just LEGO-built objects, and will also incorporate the creative building process; encouraging alternate models and building and playing in different ways.

Maybe if the maze would include alternate building-instructions for the insertible trays (rather than just having to buy them as extra accessories with one fixed design) it would be more in line with the LEGO experience.

I think it is okay for LEGO to sometimes go outside of their core audience to attract fans of other hobbies (modelers, video-game fans, movie fans, etc.), but unless in these models they emphasize the unique aspect of LEGO (which is building and taking apart), they will only get disappointed customers. :(

I can’t tell you how many emails I have gotten from irritated parents complaining that the LEGO model they bought for their child have pieces falling off; because they thought they were buying an action toy or a model that needs to be glued together. In fact I have been also asked several times what type of glue to use for LEGO. Yeah I know… scary… but this is the result when LEGO ends up in the hands of people who are by nature not builders and simply got LEGO by accident. :?

A real maze is always going to be better than a LEGO-built maze for someone who is not a LEGO fan. Same with chess-sets, vehicles, Star Wars sets, etc. A LEGO built set needs to be built, it falls apart if you drop it, it is heavy and awkard in many ways, and hard to keep it clean when only used for display. So I think it is always important to highlight the uniqueness of LEGO as a building toy, rather then hiding that feature and only focusing on the end model being built.

To be fair, LEGO itself has been guilty of producing sets with no alternate building models like in the past. I think the only sets that still come with alternate building instructions are the Creator and Technic sets. I don’t know if you remember this; but Star Wars sets also used to have alternate building instructions. Yeah, that was a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far away… :roll:

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Sarah May 13, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Very good points. I also hear that a lot from my co-workers about the LEGO sets falling apart and how messy it is to keep it all together. And yes, some of them feel they should glue it together. @_@

I think LEGO has partially dug a hole for themselves with the licenses as those sets do not promote rebuilding. They only promote build once and play with as is. A lot of parents don’t get that LEGO is a building toy for creativity. And it’s because most sets don’t teach thinking outside the box. The creator, technic and the MBA are rare examples of what LEGO used to be. I’ve actually had a few parents ask me why there aren’t more different box of LEGO pieces. Just pieces, not sets. I kind of miss the old idea books, myself. I had a few of those as a kid and enjoyed them.

I guess for LEGO to make money and stay in business they had to go with licenses, but it’s destroying their core purposes…

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Nick Nox May 10, 2012 at 2:52 PM

I certainly hope the LEGO Modular Western Town gets its required votes and goes into production. I voted for it today :-) Really beautifully conceptualised and a Cowboys theme has long been overdue ;-)

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admin May 10, 2012 at 5:27 PM

Very much agree! Would love to see this project get into production! :D

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Sarah May 13, 2012 at 12:13 PM

Great thing is that it has made it! :-) I knew it would. It just took time. It was the turtle in the race, slow and steady, and now it’s made it to the finish line.

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lego chronicler May 11, 2012 at 12:26 PM

OMG I think there should be LEGO pinball! That would sell really well!

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Yatkuu May 11, 2012 at 1:33 PM
admin May 11, 2012 at 5:29 PM

Woohoo! That looks like lots of fun! :D

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Sarah May 13, 2012 at 12:13 PM

Yeah, that looks like fun!

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Sarah May 13, 2012 at 12:16 PM

UPDATE:

The Western Modular project has made it to 10,000 votes! Yay! And something interesting to note, that may just be a mistake, but this project has already been labeled as a “LEGO CUUSOO Product”, rather than “In Review”. Check out this link to see what I mean: http://lego.cuusoo.com/all/1

Also, there’s a new blog entry from CUUSOO that addresses the appropriateness of projects and that they’ll be refining the guidelines and removing projects that don’t fit. http://legocuusoo.posterous.com/brand-standards-what-makes-an-appropriate-leg

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admin May 13, 2012 at 3:03 PM

Sarah, I’m also very excited about the Western Modulars! Interesting notice about it listed as a CUUSOO product rather then in review, although I don’t see that following your link. Perhaps it has been changed? Or the link is wrong? :?

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Sarah May 18, 2012 at 2:17 PM

It’s been corrected, so now it looks like a product in review. Probably just an error.

At any rate, it’ll be neat to see how long the June review will take for all these projects. And whether any more will make it to 10,000 before June.

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DX ZX KENDO NRG PWR JAY-MOUTH OF LIGHTNING May 18, 2012 at 8:46 PM

That is AWESOME

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Sarah May 19, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Glad you like it. :-)

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Chris Ethan July 27, 2014 at 5:25 AM

That is a very nice maze! I have always wanted to build something like this for me but I haven’t found something like this..

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