Lego Now Taking Threadless' Crowdsourcing Lead

Okay, so "crowdsourcing" isn't exactly a buzz word anymore -- it's now a time-tested and savvy approach to marketing potential new products to your audience. But that doesn't make it any less surprising when a ubiquitous, older company suddenly embraces the approach.

Case in point: Lego, the makers of those stackable block toys, has just unveiled its crowdsourcing product platform.

It's called Lego Cuusoo, which is Japanese for "imagination" or "wish," and is named that because the model was pilot tested in Japan for the last three years. Even though it comes to us from across the other side of the world, it still works pretty much the same as what we're used to associating with crowdsourcing over here: Hatch an idea, and if it gets enough supporters (10,000, in this case), Lego will mass produce it for sale. Even though Lego only offers 1 percent of the total net sales on your design, that's still better than nothing.

That said, there do seem to be a few key differences in terms of user submissions on this side of the globe and what was coming out of Japan. Whereas Japanese Lego enthusiasts have had their designs of manned-research submarines like the Shinkai 6500 produced for sale, we have markedly different tastes over here: Though it's still a seafaring vessel, a Lego Love Boat somehow lacks the same kind of dignified panache. But hey, that's what makes crowdsourcing so fun anyway: Seeing what people come up with. Then again, all Legos are kinda the same when they're suddenly underfoot: painful.

Check out Lego Cuusoo at its official site.

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