The Manifesto won’t typically be covering new product releases, at least not in the traditional sense because it just doesn’t interest me that much and I don’t have the kind of access required to scoop other sites who are better at the task anyway. I like new sets as much as the next builder, but talking about them bores me to tears. What does interest me is when LEGO introduces a set that bears a more than passing resemblance to a fan-made MOC or building fad. So let’s compare, shall we, LEGO’s latest pandering to the fanboy market with their new line of superhero “BrickHeadz” to the fan-built figure “CubeDudes” craze from a few years ago by AFOL Angus MacLane. Angus also happens to be an acclaimed director whose films you may recognize like the Pixar short Burn-E and the recent hit film, Finding Dory. First up is LEGO, with their stubby little heroes whose design also bears a striking resemblance to the dead-eyed Funko brand vinyl figures that enjoy a large commercial following….for some reason.
Now let’s check out the fan-made CubeDudes which really should have been CubeDudez for maximum impact with the youth demographic. Wake up Angus! Although new builders may not be familiar with the design, 7 years ago everyone was building Cube Dudes, it was one of the biggest fads I’ve seen in the hobby and it continues to this day. While the Dudes lack the custom printed tiles and soft edges of the BrickHeadz, I don’t see much difference in the two designs. Sure the Dudes have their heads rotated so a corner of the cube points forward, but that’s about it. I’m no lawyer and I’m not making any formal accusations, LEGO is highly litigious and just might reach out to a tiny blog like mine with some kind of cease and desist bullshit. Even if they were inspired by Angus and his CubeDudes I’m sure LEGO changed the design just enough to protect themselves. Although I’ve never heard him say as much (Angus has been interviewed quite a bit), it’s possible that he swiped the idea from the Funko figures himself. Hell, I don’t even know if Angus cares about the similarities at all. I reached out to him via Flickr, but as of this posting he has yet to respond. If he does, I will update this post.
It’s worth pointing out that Angus and LEGO have worked together before, to produce several official CubeDude sets (both Star Wars themed) that were available only at Star Wars and comic conventions as far as I know. Angus was quoted in an interview speaking about the sets: “I found the whole experience to be a total joy.” So maybe there is no conspiracy here at all, perhaps it’s another collaboration, but I have not seen Angus’ name attached to the BrickHeadz product anywhere.
Always remember that the company we are enslaved to is not your friend, it’s your dealer. So what say you, constant reader? Are the BrickHeadz thinly disguised CubeDudes? I love a good conspiracy theory and I hope you enjoy this regular feature on the Manifesto.