Exploring the online world of AFOL (adult fan of LEGO), I stumbled onto CUUSOO. First I thought it was just another LEGO fan page – not that there would be anything wrong with that – but it turns out to be quite a bit more. According to Brickipedia, CUUSOO is a LEGO partner in Japan that specializes in the production of community supported sets. The co-operation with LEGO is very recent, apparently dating back four years to 2008 – first in Japan only and recently internationally in beta form. The resulting products are even newer than that, the oldest set having been released in 2011.
It works like this: Anyone over 18 can upload their own LEGO creation to the CUUSOO website. Then, anyone over 13 can vote for the submissions. If the creation receives 10000 online supporters (used to be 1000), it will be reviewed by TLG (the LEGO Group) for possible manufacturing. While targeting an older audience is allowed, all designs must still be suitable for the primary LEGO target market, which is children ages 6-11. Indeed, TLG has made a few notable rejections based on this criteria.
As far as I could determine, so far three sets have made it into production: 21100 Shinkai 6500 submarine, 21101 Hayabusa satellite and the upcoming 21102 LEGO Minecraft Micro World. Beyond that, the CUUSOO site is full of interesting concepts, perfect fodder for MOC (my own creation) inspirations. My favorite is the Dark Bucket. Awesome!