How does Lego crowdsourcing work? @GoldenNinja3000 talks us through his Ninjago success story

Lego, one of the most recognised brands in the world, is using crowdsourcing to empower fans to help develop new products and storyline concepts.

LEGO® World Builder, created in collaboration with Tongal (the content creation platform that powers the site), is their recently launched story development tool, that allows creatives to propose story worlds, shows, new characters - or other ideas - and to collaborate on them. Contributing fans are paid, if their idea is picked.

Uday Kataria

Uday Kataria, a student of Economics and East Asian Studies at McGill University in Montreal, is one of the first to succeed with his idea which he describes as, “The greatest villain in Ninjago returns and throws the ninja back in time, making them fight their way through alternate realities to fix the world.” Otherwise known as @GoldenNinja3000 on social media, Uday earned $2,600 as well as an opportunity to work with Lego’s entertainment team.

TalksForTeens caught up with him via Zoom to hear more about his success. “I got into Lego at around the age of 9, when new Harry Potter sets were launched. I was a huge Harry Potter fan and that really pushed me to get into Lego.” Uday is also a fan of the Super Heroes line and of course, the Ninjago sets.

On the platform, he saw that Lego was ‘looking for the next Ninjago story’, to celebrate the 10thanniversary of the six teenage ninjas. They wanted fans to come up with ideas on what should happen next. (For anyone who is unsure, according to historians, in real life Ninjas were once covert, Japanese, high-level martial artists, who would work in espionage or carry out surprise attacks on enemies).

Uday didn’t think his idea would get anywhere and it was ‘not on his radar’ at all once he had posted it. “I just did it for fun,” he says, “I just wrote what I would want to see as a fan, put it up and pretty much forgot about it.”

A couple of months later, after working a shift at his local Pharmacy, Uday arrived home and checked his emails at midnight. He couldn’t believe he had one from Lego, telling him they wanted to take his Ninjago idea forward!

He was invited to a meeting with the creative teams at Tongal and Lego and was able to be involved and learn every step of the way, as they planned to turn his written story into an animated short film. Tongal assured him, “We will have you with us every step of the way if you like.”

It was a very rewarding experience for Uday, who took on an editorial/consultancy role. “I learned a lot about the film-making process, which is really nice as I got to be in meetings with animators. I sat in on the voiceover recordings – it's very interesting how they change their voices.”

Currently, Uday is working with Tongal - which has other big-name clients like PayPal, Disney and National Geographic - as a LEGO World Builder Community Moderator, monitoring the site and helping surface new worlds for potential development.

His hopes for the future are that he ends up working for Lego, in any capacity (but ideally as a model designer), because he met so many great people there. “As long as it involves Lego, I will be happy.”

Good luck Uday! With your early success and incredible imagination as a teenager, TalksForTeens is confident you will make it!

Recommended reading

LEGO releases first fan-developed short film from LEGO World Builder | Brickset: LEGO set guide and database

Lego’s Next Build: Worlds and Characters Created by Its Fans - WSJ

Enterprise Crowdsourcing: Innovation Challenges Report | Deloitte UK

LEGO® World Builder (tongal.com)

Building Together: How LEGO leverages crowdsourcing to sustain both innovation and brand love - Digital Innovation and Transformation (hbs.edu)

Case Studies | Tongal