The Bricklink Designer Program - Everything You Need To Know

6th February 2024

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The latest series of projects fighting for production under the Bricklink Designer Program (BDP) will go head-to-head tomorrow at 8am PT / 11am ET (if you’re in the US) or 4pm GMT / 5pm CET (if you’re in Europe).

With that in mind, in this article we answer every question you might have on the BDP if you're learning about it for the first time.

What is the Bricklink Designer Program?

The BDP started life out as the AFOL Designer Program, which launched in 2018 to commemorate 60 years of the LEGO brick and to celebrate the building talents of the AFOL community. This program invited people to submit LEGO set designs using BrickLink Studio 2.0, from which 16 finalists were chosen. The final designs were then put to crowdfunding and all that met 100% of their crowdfunding goal (which was 13 of the 16) went into production. These sets were limited to 5,000 orders and were only available in the US.

LEGO Bricklink AFOL Program

Three years later the BDP 2021 Invitational launched. This program made use of LEGO Ideas submissions to shortlist the finalists. Specifically, it was projects that had reached the 10,000 supporter milestone but had been rejected by LEGO during the review stage. There were three rounds and during each the first five projects to receive 3,000 pre-orders were produced, with a cap of 10,000 pre-orders per set. The limit was originally supposed to be 5,000 pre-orders, but due to an issue with the pre-order system, LEGO received more than 5,000 pre-orders for the Castle in the Forest. Instead of leaving some people disappointed, Bricklink chose to double the pre-order cap of the Castle in the Forest and all the other the projects too.

LEGO Bricklink Designer Program 2021 Invitational

The current BDP began in 2023 and introduced a few changes from the 2021 program. Firstly, Bricklink decided to make it an open competition again where anyone could submit a design, so you wouldn’t need to go through the rigmarole of getting enough supporters on LEGO Ideas. The second key change is that only five finalists are chosen for crowdfunding, while under the 2021 program there were between seven and nine fighting it out. As there are only five projects, there’s no competition between them as any project getting at least 3,000 pre-orders enter production.

Where Can I Pre-Order?

Pre-orders can be made on the Bricklink website. During this process, you’ll be directed to the LEGO website to submit the pre-order. Note that you won’t be charged until the order ships (around 6 months later).

How Long Until My Bricklink Set Arrives?

Bricklink states that the timeline from pre-order to shipping is typically 6 months.

Will I Earn VIP Points on My Bricklink Pre-Order?


Are They Good Value for Money?

The projects in Series 1 have a price per piece (PPP) ranging from 8 - 9c or 6 - 8p, which is on a par with non-licensed LEGO sets.

Set Name RRP Pieces PPP
Snack Shack $49.99 / £39.99 539 9.3c / 7.4p
General Store $159.99 / £119.99 1,906 8.4c / 6.3p
Old Train Engine Shed $229.99 / £189.99 2,331 9.9c / 8.2p
Parisian Street $319.99 / £259.99 3,532 9.1c / 7.4p
Mountain Fortress $379.99 / £299.99 3,995 9.5c / 7.5p

How Are They Different to Official LEGO Sets?

Successful projects will be shipped in Bricklink branded packaging, which has a stripped back feel compared to official LEGO sets, as the background is plain white. The Bricklink logo appears prominently on the front of the box as does the usual information, such as piece count, age range, set name, and set number.

It's not just the packaging that's no thrills, as inside the box you won't find any instructions. Instead, a digital set must be downloaded from the official LEGO app.

While each of the Bricklink sets goes through a refinement stage prior to crowdfunding, the designs have not gone through the same rigorous design process as official sets. Therefore, in some places the build quality may be slightly below what you’ve come to expect. However, this is a minor disadvantage that won’t stop you enjoying these sets, if you choose to build them…

Will They Make Me Money?

If you're looking at Bricklink sets as an investment rather than to build, history says you should look no further, as the limited production quantity of these sets stand them in good stead once they enter the secondary market. There’s also the fact that the projects are selected partly from a fan vote, so they represent what’s popular amongst the LEGO community. All this suggests some healthy RoIs.

However, don't go counting your profits just yet, as the latest Bricklink series has seen the production runs increased from 10,000 to 30,000 so they’re going to be three times less rare than the last series. This suggests RoIs will be much lower than we’ve come to expect, but they’re still likely to turn some profit. It’s also important to note that Bricklink has raised the number of pre-orders from 1 to 2 per customer, so they might sell out just as quick!

What About the Minifigures?

If you're only excited about minifigures, then these sets really aren't for you, as the ones included all make use of existing parts. No rare and expensive minifigures to find here then.

Do The Sets Contain Exclusive Parts?

No, like the minifigures, no unique parts used in Bricklink sets. This is designed to allow anyone the ability to build each model.

Hopefully that answers all you'll get ever want to know about BDP sets!

Posted by Graham on 6th February 2024

Graham is a passionate LEGO collector, who has a penchant for the Castle, Pirates, and Western themes. You can usually find him monitoring the latest developments and giving his opinion on what's hot and not in the LEGO world.