2023 Retrospective

Here is the retrospective of 2023 with all the LEGO creations that I made, for me of for companies.

Regular creations (nico71.fr and rebrickable.com)

In addition to that, a new color for the Citröen Mehari, and two new motorized versions for the Western Star Truck (buwizz + Cada).

Commissioned projects for particular and companies

Some other are under NDA so I can not tell more but I am definitively very proud of the Oreca with the beautiful mockup / sticker made by Buildamoc !

  • LMP2 Oreca 07 (1/10, 1806 pcs)
  • Cooling Tower (1/15, 7649 pcs)
  • Lanz MTZ Tractor (1/12, 1048 pcs)
  • Evaporative Condenser (1/10, 7880 pcs)
  • Honda CRX Del Sol (USDM, 1/12, 1120 pcs)
  • Drag Car (1/15, 674 pcs)
  • Electrical Substation (1/43, 3045pcs) (presentation video here, courtesy of Buildamoc / BETA Engineering)

It should give you a great idea of what I can make in commissioned projects to reproduce vehicle and machine in LEGO form. If you are a company or particular, and want custom LEGO Technic models, see this page.

Personal Thought on this year

There were 7 new creations, 7 new instructions for old creations, and 8 commissioned projects (+some under NDA), for a total of 18 new building instructions, almost a new instructions every two weeks, not bad ! The biggest achievement was obviously 💒 my wedding in June, which took me away from LEGO for some months but definitively worth it.

Some project has been successful (1/8 Car Trailer, 42100 Model D) and some other were disappointing (Citroën Traction, Chevrolet Kodiak) but I am proud of everything I have created, no matter the sales or the reception. This is a great achievement for me to say that, rather than focusing only on the reception / sales of the creation, but more about the story of making them and what I learned during. I can not rely always of course on bad-reception creations, but I know now this is less dramatic that I though. Some creations find their way on selling months after the release so even if the reception could have been shy, I need to see on the long terms to judge its success.

It is more important on Rebrickable, when views / visibility / exposure is a great part of the sale with the featured algorithm for “hot moc” and “top selling moc”. Than is why I rewrote all the description of my model, by using a preformed structure, with adding GIF animations and divide the article in section to understand clearly what is the creation, how it works, key elements, and what I exactly sell. You can see and example here for a new creations, and here for an old one. I do not know if it helps a lot regarding the sale but I have to when seeing old description for old creations, I was a bit ashamed. There is many things to show and explain on every creations so it worth the invested time to better presents my work, even on old creations.

On my website, I did not mention in the previous 2022 Retrospective but I have redesigned my website completely at the end of 2022 / beginning of 2023. Initially it was more a WordPress Blog with buying option with cart and checkout to handle the PDF instructions selling. Now it is a website which showcase my LEGO activities : instructions, complete kits and commissioned project in a clean homepage and a dedicated shop beside. I reworked entirely the shop with categories, filtering by color, size, price, motorization and propose a cart / account / checkout experience. The blog remains accessible as it sums up many years of LEGO activities with plenty of content with instructions, but the new items are now published in product category on the shop over a blogpost. I reworked also the Design Service page to explain why LEGO model are good conclusive and didactic material for marketing purpose, as well as how it works and what I can propose with example. I am thinking of creating an online tool to make raw quotation for project in order that the potential customer can have a first look of what it may cost to buy a custom LEGO model. It was a difficult and long redesign, especially to no break all the old content of the website but I am definitively proud of it, as I made it all by myself. 

I rewrote the “buy my creations” page as I proposed now complete kits made of alternative bricks (Chinese bricks) on the website lesDIY. Which is basically the same functioning as Buildamoc but with Chinese Parts. So on this page you will find all the official retailers for Nico71’s products, as well as the legal statement for some creations I designed for brick companies. Regarding the sale on LesDIY, it is too soon to see if it worth the invested time or not but I would say it is more confidential in term of sale for now. Despite that, I think this is a great opportunity to propose my creations with non-LEGO parts for people who want them, as well as with genuine LEGO Parts on Buildamoc. They not antagonist store, just different options for different peoples with different prices and benefits.

Regarding the communication, I get rid off the newsletter on my website, as it costs way too much for what it brings. For the majority of Customers / Fans, you follow my work so you do not need to receive an email to present you my new creations. Nevertheless Rebrickable propose a mailing solution for the rebrickable users so I use it when I issued special discount code but I also published on my social media. So if you follow me on the social media, you are up to date on what I do. The most active one is Instagram with PM open (not on facebook).

On the social media, I was more present, with creating some exclusive content, especially the 16 years of LEGO retrospective [1], [2] and [3] but also by making an advent calendar. Each day of December I presented a creation, some old but also some new one. It was a way to me to create a sort of rendez-vous and present my work that surely many of new fan did not know, as I am active for now 16 years. Sometime I get some comment asking for building something, which I have already done in fact. So this is a good exercise to me to show a sort of portfolio of my best creations so far, as well make them discover to people. On the regularity, I tried to post every two days but I think it is too much. As I issue a new creation every two months, it gives many posts for the same creations (usually 9-12), with only different pictures. It’s helpful for me to explain on each image description how I designed the model, but that’s the role of Design Secrets so people aren’t really interested and usually don’t read the description. I think this dilutes the interactions I have with you a little too much. I will therefore return to a weekly publication, and will limit publications on new creations to 3 or 6 for example, to be more impactfull and not flood my account with the same content.

Back in 2022, I told you about a creativity crisis and how to deal it (or at least trying), I mention Notion which is a great tool. I would like to add that I changed a bit the way I use it, by completely removing date on it and use the Kanban view instead of a Gantt / Chronological. As an engineer, I obviously really like Gant’s timeline view which is the pinnacle of project management, but it creates pressure and stress, constantly showing dates and deadline. As I did not respect the dates (mainly because of the unplannable projects like commissioned projects that pop out), I spent more time always shifting the planning with the idea that I never meet my deadlines (of course I always respect the commissioned project deadline), which is absurd and unproductive for the creativity. So I decided to use the Kanban view which displays the project in cards with state, for instance : To do, LEGO creations done, Instructions done, Photos videos Done, Ready to Publish etc. And I just need to move the card projects from a state to an other when I work on it. This doesn’t change the overall productivity (I don’t publish more new creations) but allows me not to feel guilty by readjusting dates/deadlines on regular creations. I think it’s a more artistic way of working than calculating everything like a engineering project schedule.

So was remember of this LEGO year ? I was thinking initially that the year was not very important in terms of LEGO achievements, but as always, when I see what I have done, I am very happy with it and I couldn’t have done more. I think I have found my building style but also enhanced again my skills, in terms of LEGO Building, but also in instructions making, video editing and presenting (especially with a great attention on the video editing to make shorter and more impactfull video).

Basically, what you can see in this retrospective is the best I can do… for now ! Indeed, my goal is always to improve the quality of my work. With better creations, better ideas, better photos and videos, better instructions, etc. Will I succeed ? I don’t know. But I know that I will try the best I can !

Thanks for this year, to you, my Fans, but also thanks to my Friends, my Family and of course my beloved Wife 💖