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The LEGO Winchester Reaches 10,000 Votes!

(Written by Sarah)

We have another LEGO CUUSOO success story! First it was the LEGO Minecraft project, propelled to 10,000 votes by Minecraft fans, and now the Winchester from Shaun of the Dead goes from 1,800 to 10,000 supporters in only a few days – thanks to Simon Pegg speaking about it on the Conan O’Brien show. In today’s post we will discuss how the CUUSOO-project creator, Yatkuu, worked hard to get there.


I’ve been a fan of the LEGO Winchester since the first day I saw it, and it was one of the first CUUSOO projects I blogged about: CUUSOO – Where LEGO Dreams Come True. I can’t remember how many votes it had then, but it wasn’t very many. While I’m not a huge fan of the movie, I did enjoy it. What I really like about this LEGO project is the sleek design and attention to detail. This is a building that I would love to have on a shelf – with or without zombies – though I certainly prefer it with zombies.

Right after I saw the amazing news that this LEGO project had reached 10,000 votes on CUUSOO, I contacted Yatkuu, the project creator, to give me some insight into how this happened. He gave me a rundown of events from conception to success. Here is Yatkuu’s story:

I had been considering for a while to submit a project on CUUSOO, but I did not want to just post a picture and be done with it. I wanted to give this LEGO project every chance to succeed because I knew upfront that it would be very difficult to reach 10,000 votes.

When I started thinking about making a LEGO version of the Winchester in November of 2011, I had no idea that this build was going to be featured all over the Internet, and go as far as reaching Edgar Wright or Simon Pegg. I just wanted to make a cool LEGO model. The unexpected notoriety of the build gave me the idea to submit it as a CUUSOO-project because I knew it would not rely on a single fan base – appealing to both to LEGO and Shaun of the Dead fans – and that would be its greatest asset.

The LEGO Winchester was posted in haste on New Year’s Eve in the middle of the initial media-storm this LEGO project was caught in. I did not really kept track of the supporter-count. I can only tell you that we gained about 250 supporters over the first week so it did not really start super fast, but at that time the attention was on the pictures posted on my Flickr Gallery, not the CUUSOO project.

During the first days I sent out countless emails… I contacted about every blog that talks about zombies, movies or geek stuff. I also reached out to the biggest LEGO communities (Eurobricks, FBTB, Brothers-Brick). That’s also when I got in touch with you guys at theBrickBlogger. I also joined several forums around the theme – Peggster (the official fan page of Simon) Spaced Out (another forum for the fans of Pegg) Frost & Wright, BrickArms, etc.

Then, Edgar Wright picked up the story on his blog on January 3rd, Simon Pegg tweeted the CUUSOO link several times starting January 8th ,and we got our first big hit (that’s the second media storm and the first to be centered around the CUUSOO project directly). We gained about 1,000 supporters from it. It’s not that much when you think of it, but I believe the site had technical problems that caused registration issues (bad timing, bad luck).

The story was picked by a few other media-outlets as well. We got 1 page in a February edition of a French cinema magazine that helped us a lot. I also emailed every British Newspaper I could think of in the hope that they would do a paper on the story – since Shaun of the Dead is a classic British Movie; although 1 reporter got back to me, none published anything so far (maybe now they will!).

After that, things calmed down a bit. I started thinking of how to keep the pressure and promote the thing seriously. My first move was to reach out to some friends who are more experienced and active than me on social networks. Z-Magazine is the project of a very talented person, Eloise Knapp. I got in touch with her because she needed writers for her magazine and I submitted an article that ended up being published. When I asked her for advice, she is the one who suggested building a promo-website and Facebook Fan Page. She also offered to organize a promotional offer with her Z-Magazine; people supporting the LEGO Winchester could get a free e-copy of the magazine. I quote what she told me; “incentives are great!” I have to say, her help was instrumental in the project’s success.

At that point I also asked my AFOL friend Pixel Fox to partner with me in this LEGO project because I knew I was going to need his mad graphic skills, and also simply because I could not keep up on my own. Together we established a battle-plan; the website, an improved version of the LEGO building, a mini-scaled version of the Winchester, etc. Pixel Fox involvements were planned to be essentially around the creation of a 3D-comic based on the Shaun of the Dead characters and perhaps even a 3D animation – more ways to get the project noticed. At the end the only thing we got time to do was to rebuild the LEGO Winchester in LDD (LEGO Digital Designer) in order to create graphics for the website. Here is the 3D banner for the website:

We did not have the time to do the rest because of the third media-storm that followed the Conan O’Brien show on March 27th, 2012. We reached 10,000 votes by March 31st. But as you can see, we still had ideas to keep the thing going for a little while. We had also planned to shoot a video presentation in order to reach out to the YouTube community. We might still do that depending on how things turn out

If I were to give advice for someone who’s planning to seriously do something on CUUSOO, I would say this:

  • It is unfortunate but I think you need to be very realistic about the chances of your LEGO project. Not all themes have the potential to hit the necessary amount of supporters. It is true that there is no time-limit for a LEGO project to reach the target, but I don’t know if counting on “time to do the rest” would work. Chances are that your LEGO project will quickly be buried in the mass – but that’s just my opinion; maybe I could be proven wrong.
  • Plan carefully your LEGO CUUSOO submission with good pictures, multi-language presentation, clever tags. It may seem like a no-brainer, but there are a lot of good LEGO projects that lack these elements.
  • Be prepared to actively promote your LEGO project everywhere you can (I could not say how many emails and forum-posts I have written over these past 3 months – it’s huge!). Each person you convince can only vote once on CUUSOO, so you will constantly need to broaden the spectrum, and the time this will take is not to be underestimated.

These are just my own 2 cents. I guess you could do differently and still be successful on CUUSOO because the biggest key factor of all is still luck (and we got a lot of that!).

So, will LEGO make the Winchester? I don’t know, but I sure hope so. If anything, this story made a lot of people happy. The momentum was full of positive energy and it probably brought back into the hobby a few – if not a lot – of people who had forgotten how fun and entertaining LEGO can be, and that’s already an accomplishment. I also got to meet a lot of very interesting people, that also counts for something!

Thanks, Yatkuu, for relaying your story. I think it will be encouraging for others who also want to pursue putting a project up on CUUSOO and getting to 10,000 votes. It’s obviously not easy, but can be a very rewarding journey in unexpected ways. Anyone who wants additional tips, the CUUSOO staff has written a blog-entry on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective CUUSOO Project Owners.

To see all of the media coverage on the Winchester, check out the media page on MakeTheWinchester.com, and there is still a lot of conversation happening on the Winchester CUUSOO Page. Now we have to wait and hope that LEGO makes the LEGO Winchester a reality. If you want to see it happen, I suggest letting LEGO know. Post on the CUUSOO Project Page, blog or Facebook. Not sure what would happen if you emailed LEGO Customer Service, but it never hurts to try. This could be a big turning point for CUUSOO and may forever change the landscape for project creation.

So, dear readers, what do you think of this LEGO CUUSOO project and the process it went through? Are you encouraged or discouraged to create your own CUUSOO project? Do you think LEGO will make the Winchester? Please post your feedback in the comments section below. I’d love to know what you think!

If you would like to learn more about CUUSOO and other great fan-created LEGO projects check here:

{ 25 comments… add one }
  • nicolas-n. April 20, 2012, 11:12 AM

    Is this a set coming out?

    • Yatkuu April 20, 2012, 2:28 PM

      We don’t know yet! The project is currently under review… The feasibility from a commercial stand point, the theme with regards to LEGO standards, the licensing aspect and many more questions are currently being addressed internally. We should have an answer in 2-4 weeks.

      • Sarah April 21, 2012, 10:51 AM

        Good to know a time frame. I bet it’s been nerve-wracking, waiting to see what LEGO will say. I really hope they make your model some way, some how. I mean, I hope they don’t change it too much form your design, but I think it would be worse for it to not happen at all than to be changed some to make it reality.

  • Jacob April 20, 2012, 12:49 PM

    A good deal of people have brought up that LEGO may not make this, as the nature of what it is based off of is not really kid friendly. Although I agree with this to some extent, of all the sets that have reached 10000 votes, I wan this one the most. Despite not actually showing anything questionable on the box or in the set, people might be upset if a “Kid’s Toy” is done of this. One suggestion that I have heard is to make it available only on LEGO.com. I personally think that the amount of effort that was put into supporting the project was more than should be really necessary. Although I don’t mind that a high profile mention it shot up, there are many projects that could be considered “better” or just as good that may never get this high profile mention (the Western modular series for example).

    • Yatkuu April 20, 2012, 2:39 PM

      In what concern the distribution of the set, CUUSOO is still too young to tell.. but it looks like the sets are exclusively distributed online and with limited runs. I agree with you that this principle solves a lot of the concerns raised by the people who do not find the theme appropriate for kids.

      As Sarah pointed out the CUUSOO initiative and perhaps even more generally LEGO as a company has reached a defining moment with this project… In many aspects it is unlike anything they have done before, now will they go for it? It’s not just the question of making this set or not… and that’s what is making this situation so exciting!

      • Sarah April 21, 2012, 10:55 AM

        I know there are a lot of pessimistic folk out there about this project and I don’t blame them considering LEGO’s past. But this is a defining moment. They will be setting a precedent here with whatever they decide. And as Yatkuu points out – that’s what is making this so exciting!

        The big question is: What will LEGO do? There are so many ways they can go beyond the two obvious ones of making it as is or not making it at all. I mean, look at Minecraft. What they finally decided to produce was not like any of the pictures posted in the project. So that shows that LEGO is willing to work on making a product.

        So I think the better questions are: How much will LEGO change this to make it a set they are comfortable with? And what will that mean for future projects like this one?

        • Yatkuu April 21, 2012, 2:21 PM

          Good point Sarah… What could they do with this, what are their options if they give the project a green light. After MineCraft I don’t think they could replay the microscale card… if they did, CUUSOO would no longer be “where your dreams come true” but “where your MOCs turn micro”!
          This project is really meant to be a modular house so I don’t know what else they could do other than that. A Zombie/Shaun battle pack? I would actually love to see the Win rebuilt by a LEGO designer… see how he/she would solve the different challenges.

          • Sarah April 21, 2012, 2:27 PM

            You’ve got a good point too – they shouldn’t do micro scale, it really is about it being a modular building. Hopefully they stick with that. It would be very cool to see how/if they redesign it. I just wonder if they’ll downplay the connection to the movie, but I worry that that will lessen fans’ desire for it.

            It really is a fine line that Lego walks, and I just have no idea which way they’ll go.

  • Yatkuu April 20, 2012, 2:25 PM

    Thank you Sarah for giving me the opportunity to share this story! the BrickBlogger has been supporting the project since the begining and I am really grateful for all your help! CUUSOO is not only about MOCs and ideas it is also about creating and reinforcing the links of the LEGO fan community by helping each others.

    • admin April 20, 2012, 5:12 PM

      Nicely said about CUUSOO being a platform for creating and reinforcing relationships in the LEGO community. I agree totally. Your project has been very inspiratinal. 🙂

      • lloyd zx April 23, 2012, 2:42 PM

        I do not like the theme. I hope lego does not adopt it, because of the r-rated content. Lego could come under fire from families with young children who may want it i disagree completely!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Yatkuu April 23, 2012, 3:36 PM

          I understand and respect the fact that some people do not like the theme or the build but I don’t understand why you would actually wish that this would not happen seeing that so many people want it! I don’t like everything LEGO does, that does not mean I want them to stop doing what I don’t like.
          If LEGO goes ahead with this it will be a clean set, not an R-rated set!
          This is not aimed at young kids.. it’s probably never going to be distributed in regular toy shops but exclusively online for a limited run… and even if a kid asks his parents for this.. Well, it’s still the parent responsibility to choose if it is appropriate or not.

        • admin April 23, 2012, 6:25 PM

          Lloyd, your opinion is appreaciated, at the same time please remember LEGO is not just for kids! There is a whole world of adult fans and collectors out there. Also, this project got 10,000 votes for a reason; there are at least 10,000 people who liked it! 🙂

          If LEGO makes this into an actual set, there are plenty of ways they can market it to older LEGO fans. It doesn’t have to be in the isle of your local toy-store, or at your regular LEGO-magazine. This is a niche item, directed to adult LEGO collectors and can be sold online and at specialty hobby-stores. At least that’s how I see it. 😉

    • Sarah April 21, 2012, 10:57 AM

      You are very welcome!

      Good point about CUUSOO strengthening the LEGO fan community. I think it will take time, as there are still so many pessimistic folk out there who think this is a failed platform. But I think this is an amazing opportunity and I plan to be here every step of the journey to see how CUUSOO evolves. I can really see it succeeding in helping fans create the sets they’ve always wanted. We just need more people who believe it can work. 🙂

  • Amos April 20, 2012, 5:59 PM

    I really hope they make it. The chance is very slim because of the graphic nature of the film but this is one amazing LEGO set and people would definitely buy it. I love the LEGO company to death, so it hurts me to say this but if LEGO doesn’t make it, you can always pitch it to Megablok. Megabloks are crap compared to LEGO, they’re cheaply made and don’t stick together right but at least people would still be able to get the set lol

    • Yatkuu April 21, 2012, 7:04 AM

      As much as I want to see this thing happen I’m afraid I’ll never fall for the Dark Side of the brick…
      I’m working on some detailed building instructions with my friend Pixel Fox, worst case scenario if this gets a “no go” people who really want it will still be able to build it themselves from BL.

      • Sarah April 21, 2012, 10:58 AM

        lol! Say no to the Dark Side. 😉

        That’d be really great of you to post the instructions if this doesn’t go through at all. The building is a really great design. Like I said in my post, I’d love to have it on my shelf – with zombies. 😉

      • Matthew April 27, 2012, 11:02 AM

        Sorry to hear about this getting shot down by Lego 🙁 BUT really hope you do find the time to make the building instructions!! Please keep us in the loop on this!
        Thanks for you time

  • Kevinhink April 20, 2012, 8:24 PM

    Very nice article! At first glance, I simply thought you guys were just late in posting the news about the Shaun of the Dead project hitting 10,000 votes. 😉 The in-depth interview with Yatkuu, and his process to help promote this project, were very interesting and helpful! Keep up the great posts!

    • admin April 21, 2012, 9:37 AM

      Kevin, Sarah actually wrote the post a couple of weeks ago, however it took me some time to post it. We only publish one article a day to make sure it gets enough front-page view. TBB is not so much a news site with short-blurps (there are plenty of other LEGO fan-sites for that), but more like a place where LEGO-fans can share both their knowledge about LEGO and their thoughtful articles on different aspects of the LEGO hobby. This is why we use a blog-format, rather than a forum. Recently a lot of young readers stepped up and wanted to publish their own articles, so there was a bit of backlog, but we should be catching up soon! 🙂

    • Sarah April 21, 2012, 11:01 AM

      I probably should have titled it something else knowing that it would be a bit before it got posted. But I really did want to tout his success.

      And TheBrickBlogger has come a long way from when Will and I first started. It’s gotten a lot busier, which I’m very happy about. But it makes planning timely posts a little more challenging. But I think Anna’s doing a wonderful job handling it all. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to write about LEGO without me doing my own blog in obscurity. 🙂

      • admin April 21, 2012, 11:10 AM

        Sarah, yeah, I have been trying to juggle the order of posts. There are several factors I take into consideration, so there is a method to my madness, but still I could do a better job at posting timely posts faster. Since I normally don’t read submissions until I’m ready to work on posting them (I like the surprize effect!), one thing that should help is noting in the title of the sumbission-email that the post is urgent. I do have some room to shuffle things around so timely posts get priority. We can try that and see how it goes. 😉

        • Sarah April 21, 2012, 11:16 AM

          Sounds like a plan. I’ll tell Will about that too. Most of our posts aren’t urgent or timely, but I’ll make note if one is. 🙂

  • Dave e April 23, 2012, 7:02 PM

    Cool but Not at all apropriate for young kids!!!!!!!!! LEGO COULD GET SUED !!!! NNNNNNNNNOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! 😥 😥 😥

  • Sarah April 27, 2012, 12:00 PM

    For those who may not yet know, LEGO did not approve the Winchester to be made. It comes down to it not being appropriate for their target audience. I knew this would be a deciding moment and no matter what LEGO did, it’d be setting a precedent. And it doesn’t surprise me that LEGO stuck with their core business model and that’s kids. LEGO will not make a separate line or even one set that is mature. Adults are just not in LEGO’s book.

    Here’s CUUSOO’s blog about it: http://legocuusoo.posterous.com/results-of-the-lego-review-for-the-winchester

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