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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Winning LEGO Idea: Sonic Mania Green Hill Zone Set Coming!

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Unlike the plumber LEGO sets, this one appears to be pure in intent. Here's how LEGO Ideas work.

When I first heard that there would be a Sonic the Hedgehog set by LEGO, I was worried. After all, you look at the harm caused by the collaboration between LEGO and Nintendo with LEGO Super Mario (which is summarised from KoopaTV's GOTY 2020 article's Best KoopaTV Series of 2020 award), and the idea that SEGA could be joining in for double mascot trouble is terrifying.

But then I actually read LEGO's press release about the LEGO Sonic Mania Green Hill Zone set, and I thoroughly investigated the backstory of their announcement, instead of relying on incomplete (and bad) gaming media reporting. I'll share what I've found out with you so you can have complete and good reporting, which leads me (and will lead you) to the conclusion that this is nothing like the LEGO Super Mario project.

At the core of understanding this announcement—LEGO and SEGA are working together to develop this design, which currently has no defined price point or release date—is understanding the LEGO Ideas platform. Per some guidelines, creative LEGO fans (and these are an intense and dedicated bunch) can submit LEGO sets for community voting, and it takes very little to join the community and be eligible to vote. The LEGO set, which gets a description and updates akin to a Kickstarter campaign, has a certain number of days to get supporters, in several different stages. (60 days to get 100 supporters, another 365 days to get 1000 supporters, 182 days afterwards to get 5,000 supporters, and finally another 182-day extension to reach a total of 10,000 supporters.) There's the skill of taking photos and having structural LEGO integrity, and then there's the skill of being able to market and promote your campaign.

Then the LEGO company will meet three times a year to consider any project that has met the 10,000 supporter threshold and decide whether your idea should become a real product. In the case of the Sonic Mania Green Hill Zone by Viv Grannell (also known as toastergrl), she opened it up in February 2019. She got to 10,000 supporters as of March 2020, which is a timeline entirely before the LEGO Super Mario announcement ever happened. Then the announcement that it'll be a real product happened February 2021. This is a long-term ordeal.

LEGO Ideas Sonic Mania Green Hill Zone set Viv Grannell toastergrl
I don't think I'm authorised to repost the clean image on KoopaTV, so here's this version.

You should also understand that it's extremely common for people to submit designs based on third-party franchises that they have no rights to. This may or may not result in disaster. Back in 2014, someone else submitted a Sonic the Hedgehog Green Hill Zone project, and the LEGO team aborted it 1,000 supporters in, saying that another non-LEGO company has the licence to Sonic construction toys and LEGO can't possibly get it. LEGO maintains a whole list of licence conflicts that they know won't be valid for the LEGO Ideas platform, either because they've already been done, or because they know they can't do it. Sonic the Hedgehog is already on there, updated right after their announcement. (For your information, Seinfeld is on there because that's also a winning and approved LEGO Ideas project, and LEGO was able to successfully acquire that licence.) Sonic was once on the no-list years ago, then was removed and made fair game, and now toastergrl used the chance to get her idea through. She's quite talented, of course.

All of this is saying that the entire LEGO Sonic affair is bottoms-up and driven by a passionate fan, and not anything like the top-down, corporate, evil-from-the-start LEGO Super Mario. Also, as far as what's announced, Sonic's getting one set. LEGO Super Mario has multiple sets and expansions and a real-life gacha mechanic, and it actively instills poor values in children.

By the way, there are many other people actively trying to submit projects based on videogame intellectual property. One based off Animal Crossing: New Horizons also got to 10,000 supporters, but was recently rejected by the LEGO Review board.

LEGO IDEAS Second 2020 Review Results Vincent Van Gogh Animal Crossing New Horizons
Out of dozens of projects that got 10,000 supporters (including Animal Crossing, second row first from the left), only one was accepted.

While that one failed, maybe this Animal Crossing New Horizons Airport project can succeed? Orville and KoopaTV's Best New Character of 2020 Wilbur feature in it, and it has 2,846 supporters! Meanwhile, this Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney project from a few years ago only got 10 supporters before expiring. Big disparity, and it's all in marketing.

It makes me think of how Draven and the League of Legends subreddit ruined the GameFAQs Character Battle IX vote by rushing in tens and tens of thousands of people to vote in polls in a matter of a few hours, even crushing champion Link. There's no Draven-specific product idea in the LEGO Ideas platform search function or archive, but I could totally see that easily getting to 10,000 votes if the fanbase wanted it. It'd still be less evil than LEGO Super Mario.

...That was supposed to be a cool end to the article, but there actually is a general League of Legends idea in progress that I found after I wrote that, and there's a Draven mini-figure in it, but there's only 347 supporters. And it actually DID get posted to the League of Legends subreddit, but then the link got deleted by the moderators because NOW messages with calls to action are banned from that subreddit. Definitely wasn't the case in 2013. But if it was 2013, this definitely would've gotten to 10,000 supporters, easy. I guess random big YouTube or Twitch influencers could get their followers to an easy 10,000 as well. The LEGO company claims that many more projects are reaching that threshold than ever before, apparently because people have nothing else to do while they're staying indoors from the Chinese Communist Party virus. Yet the company only has so much production capacity!

What do you think of the Sonic design? Is it much less scary than LEGO Super Mario? Ludwig may or may not be jealous that he can't just summon 10,000 people to do his bidding and support his projects. 10,000 people don't even land on KoopaTV in any given month, though definitely within the two-year-long time-span that LEGO would be asking for.

Despite getting traffic to the page, Ludwig still couldn't even get anywhere close to a fraction of 10,000 people to vote for him in an opinion poll as the most troublemaking Koopaling over the span of two years, so he is demonstrably incapable of the kind of influence necessary to win at LEGO Ideas.
LEGO and Nintendo are next officially collaborating on a Luigi set. Not voted by any fans, though.
That Seinfeld set is now released!
This Sonic set released on January 1, 2022.


  1. You know that there was a Lego Dimensions set for Sonic, right? This deal was more of a when, not it.

    1. Yeah, and the creator of this winning set acknowledged that in her interview with LEGO, saying, "LEGO Dimensions gave us a single minifigure and absolutely nothing else."
      And then " And yes – Sonic was an active license at the time back at the beginning of *2017*, thanks to the previous LEGO Dimensions wave. It was taken off the list around the beginning of 2019, so I was able to move forward eventually."
      (That's referring to the no-list that Sonic was on and then off.)

    2. Oh that's interesting, I didn't know that. Thanks for letting me know. It's always cool to see different collaborations actually going through successfully.

    3. Yeah, so as far as LEGO was concerned, the LEGO Dimensions thing was limited to a few years and then that collaboration expired.

      Now it's renewed again.

  2. Lego ideas has got to be one of the smartest company choices ever. They are literally guaranteed sales in nearly all aspects. Even if only the 10,000 people who wanted the set bought it, I'm sure they could still make money off it considering many of the building pieces are already in production. Especially if it's not a licensed product. While i'm not too into sonic, i'd totally buy a kirby lego set. Especially if they make a lego Dedede.

    1. Reminder that all it takes to "support" a design is a LEGO account.

      There's no purchase commitment!

    2. Of course, but It's not like this person is some YouTube legend, so the people supporting this actually care about the product idea. And hey, if they made an account they must like Lego more than the average kid, so I'd say even though it can't be 100% confirmed, it's at least a solid 75%.

    3. I question how much R&D and other time and costs it takes to assemble and ship out this sort of set and what their break-even point is... but maybe that's why LEGO sets are so outrageously expensive.


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