Tuesday, 19 November 2019

COPPA, COPPA, I just can't COPPA!

Well its happening, it been a long time coming, the end of an era,
YouTube is about to implode on itself.

Big changes are happening at YouTube HQ and it will affect everyone who uploads to the site. It all revolves around a little organisation called The Federal Trade Commission and their bright idea for a Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. It turns out that YouTube have been breaking this Act, not the whole thing, just the part about collecting data on Kids who use the site.

Thousands of hardworking Blue Collar YouTube personalities are about to find that their job just got a whole lot more difficult. The new restrictions being imposed because of the Ruling by the FTC and COPPA mean that any content that could be Kid Appropriate will need to be labeled as such. YouTube will honor this Kid friendly label by not tracking information on the viewer... how nice of them! This will also mean no targeted ads, no comments either, also the possibility of no notifications for new video uploads. 

But the biggest kicker is around money, or lack of it. Because Kids videos can't have targeted ads placed on them it raises a serious question; who will advertise on them? Many companies don't want their ads run where they can be accidentally clicked by youngsters, they are paying per click after all.

So no Adverts = no Money. Why would creators put effort into making a video when there is no return? Sure; the casual up-loader or hobbyist will continue to make something interesting for the viewer here and there, but there is one more thing......

The FTC have one other small, tiny almost insignificant detail they need you to be aware of, its nothing really; quite unimportant. If you don't tick the Box saying your content is aimed at kids and they disagree with you; then there will be a little fine imposed..........$42,000.... per video. Holy crap! If that doesn't make you want to quit YouTube then I don't know what would.

I can see a future that very much resembles the past, where content creators host their own videos; on their own sites. They are then free to set their own rules, choose the advertising revenue they want, target the audience they want. It will be tough at first, but if we look back through internet history we will notice that were one platform drops off another is waiting to take its place.

Keep creating everyone!

Monday, 7 October 2019

LEGO Group Shuts Down 3D Printing!

BREAKING NEWS! LEGO Group issues Take-Down Notice on 3D .STL Sharing Sites.

LEGO has reportedly issues several take-down notices to freeware 3D Printing sites. The notice from what we can currently work out covers clone bricks and also anything that imply's the description of  being LEGO.

From what we can gather this is a global blanket take-down notice and will include any file that has or contains the description of being compatible with, copied from or being just like LEGO. As we can  imagine that this is a lot of files!

This seems to be the LEGO Group enforcing its brand identity on copycat products and descriptions.

The LEGO patents on Bricks expired a long time ago and they have no copyright over modded or MOC pieces, so we can only assume that this is relating to the use of the term LEGO. The LEGO Group has very strict usage for its company logo and brand name. I can totally understand the Group not wanting their good name applied to any old plastic brick creation.

I'm sure in time the .STL files from the 3D printing sites will reappear, albeit with new descriptions and search tags. This is very similar to several YOUTUBE take-down notices LEGO issued in the past couple of years. Even the mighty JangBricks was ordered to take down any and all LEGO Star Wars videos from his channel.

Sad times indeed for LEGO AFOLs, we grew up with a happy picture of the LEGO Brand in our heads. Now, it is slowly becoming clear just how powerful the LEGO Company is and how far it is willing to go to protect itself.

Please LEGO don't upset the fan base! Play nice!

Thursday, 3 October 2019

LEGO - A license to Print Money

 Brick-Chan Brick Store

A license too far!

I remember a time when LEGO was all about themes. It was about Knights and Castles, Pirates, Space Adventures, Airports and City Building.... ah the good old days!

Things have now moved forward and we are living in a new age of Brick Building where licensed product rules. Gone are the Pirates, the castles are in ruin and Benny's Spaceship is now a Space-X launch vehicle.

Lego using licensing is nothing new, back in the 80's we had Shell Branding on a number of city sets. This kind of makes sense when you look at it; Shell are in the oil business and Plastic is made from oil...simple's!

Now lets fast forward to today (2019-2020). What are Lego licensing now, well it might be easier to say what they aren't using; but here are just a few, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Powerpuff Girls, Marvel, Spiderman, Batman, Friends, Disney, Hidden Side... the list just keeps going!
There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these sets, the LEGO designers always do a good job. But why so many Licensing Deals, why go down this path....? Simple really MONEY and PROFIT! Sometimes people forget that Lego is a business doing business things. It is not a happy wonderland full of play, fun and cake, it is a business. I'm sure the employees like working there, find fun in their work and probably eat cake, but at the end of the day you gotta make profit.

So why use a License in the first place? When you buy into a Licensed product you are buying into a brand, an already established and proven concept. With this comes a loyal fan-base and this in turn is a loyal and guaranteed customer.

Lego also has another very good reason for investing into Licensed Product and that is Brand control. Lego has historically struggled to protect its Brick IP from being copied. All patents for studded interlocking toy bricks expired long ago and anyone can legally jump onto the bandwagon.

Now here is the fun part, if you put a Star Wars logo on the box, no one can copy it... not even a little bit! If someone does happen to try and "Rip-Off" your Star Wars Licensed set you can sue them for damages. Now when you do take them to court as the Licensee not only can YOU sue them, but the Licensor can sue for damages as well.... double hit!

So it makes sense to work with big brand licenses, its safe, its profitable and there are always more of them.
 Brick-Chan Brick Store

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

The Good, the Bad and the Rip-off's.....!


Lepin were actually brilliant manufacturers of "LEGO Bricks"

Okay, that's a tabloid headline just to grab your attention!

Lets start this post in an upbeat kind of way... we all love LEGO! fact, its indisputable, its part of our childhood and it will be part of our children's childhood as well. Nostalgia runs deep with this one.
Sometimes though we have to face the truth; however difficult it may be. That truth is LEGO is not the only brick brand in the market; and it never has been. The LEGO group has always had competition. Some of the most well known competition has come from paces like Tyco Toys, Mega Bloks and Best-Lock.
More recently China has had a huge rise in "Rip-Off" brands that are literally trying to pass themselves off as LEGO. We're talking about the big bad Lepin company!
Now here is the kicker, Lepin were actually brilliant manufacturers of "LEGO Bricks". Their quality was 99% as good, in fact stick a LEGO logo on there and no one would tell the difference. They proved that it is possible to bring the part to price ratio down (Queue R&D argument) and even included stickers!

You see the problem is Lepin became the buzz word for every brand that was not LEGO, regardless of what brick IP they were producing.
All over the world you will find Plastic Brick brands doing their own thing, sometimes its good and sometimes its bad.The problem is Lepin copied and they were blatant about it. Now what would have happened if they didn't copy, didn't infringe on the LEGO copyright? What would have happened if they legitimately came up with their own IP and it was good? To answer these questions we don't need to go far, not very far at all in fact.
Names like Sluban, Xingbao, Oxford Block, Royal Toys, Panlos and Xipoo are doing wonderful things, original things, good things, their own things!
They are all working to the same scale and are interchangeable with each other; and of course they are compatible with LEGO.

We have to remember that LEGO doesn't own the copyright on building bricks, in fact this was proven in court. The Lego Group has attempted to trademark the studded appearance of the Lego brick, hoping to stop production of Mega Bloks. On 24 May 2002, the Federal Court of Canada dismissed the case, asserting the design is functional and therefore ineligible for trademark protection. The Lego Group's appeal was dismissed by the Federal Court of Appeal on 14 July 2003. In October 2005, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that "Trademark law should not be used to perpetuate monopoly rights enjoyed under now-expired patents" and held that Mega Bloks can continue to manufacture their bricks. (Thanks Wikipedia).

Lets look at the argument another way. Hotwheels are not the only toy car brand, Barbie is not the only doll, Airfix are not the only model kit company, Ford are not the only car builders. Every sector has its competition, it drives innovation and product development. Its how business works.

Okay, so in summary there are factories out there that are playing by the rules and genuinely doing great things. Lets embrace it, use it to enhance the building hobby. Lets not be brand snobs lets all play nice and remember it is only a toy. Check out Brickchan.com for your alternative bricks.
 Brick-Chan Brick Store

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Lets start at the beginning.

Who or what is Brick-Chan, where did it all start and where will it all end?!

A good place to begin is to talk about where things are as I write this post. Brickchan.com has launched and the social media accounts at Instagram, Facebook and Youtube are running along well.

Brick-Chan has evolved from a rekindling of a long lost passion for Lego, into a full blown obsession for finding and showcasing Brick Brands from around the world.

25 Years ago I ending my passion for Lego building. My once precious brick pieces were poured into a crate and packed away into the attic of my parents house. Here they lay dormant and undisturbed for the next 2 decades. By this time I was a full grown adult with a business to run, a mortgage to pay and kids of my own. The time was ripe to visit nostalgia lane, to unpack some of my once prized toys and show the next generation what they were missing out on.

First out of the vault was the box of Britain 's Farm Toys, a score! Next was my very first home computer the mighty Amiga 500(+), awesome! Then onto the main event my most treasured possession; a huge 3 feet x 4 feet crate of Lego; full to the brim, overflowing with plastic goodness.

The brick obsession spread to other younger members of the family; my mission was complete! Under the guise of  kids birthdays and Christmas I had the excuse to buy more new Lego sets, but things had changed. The challenge had gone, instructions were too simple and we now have specialist parts for every situation. Sure the new colors you can get are beautiful, and shiny new plastic is something everyone loves, but it was never about that. Lego was all about the creativity and problem solving.

From here I stay away from all but the most impressive interesting sets and focus on creating my own experience. I would search for bricks to make my own creations (MOC), hunt for MODs and alternative builds. My search has lead me far and wide, Norway to Denmark, Korea to China, Japan to America and beyond. You know what I found? I found brick enlightenment; Lego wasn't the only option. There are hundreds of other Brands out there, some good some bad and some breaking the rules.

I work on strict principals, find the best brands that enhance the Lego Brick Building experience and bring them to BrickChan.com for everyone to enjoy.