Building this site means making a lot of small, invisible decisions. Lets make them visible.
No. So far I've found 115 reviewers of interest, and out of those I've checked 78. Some didn't make the cut - 36 to be exact. You can follow along on this Trello card. Here's my current progress:
Brick Insights is a review aggregator for LEGO sets. We gather reviews from all over the net and bundle them together on a single set page. By doing this we hope to tell you if a set is good or not, so you can figure out if it's worth your money.
It started with me walking through the store and looking at some sets, and I kept asking myself if I should buy it. I made some initial mockups called shouldibuythisset.com, where I discovered a few important factors, and reviews were a huge part. It all went from there.
Most definitely! The initial direction is greatly inspired by game review aggregator OpenCritic, and much functionality is shamelessly copied from that site and adjusted to work for LEGO sets.
No, I'm just a LEGO nerd doing my best. If I've made any errors, please let me know!
The #1 thing that you can do to support Brick Insights is to let me you know you like it. Tell me what I do well and what I can do better on communities like /r/lego, Eurobricks and Flickr.
The #2 thing is to tell other people about the site and keep coming back.
The #3 thing is to write reviews. On your blog, on forums, on community sites - we need reviews for this site to be interesting. Make them thoughtful, make them as critical as they need to be.
All of these things are small. It might sound silly, but Brick Insights is a very personal project. Little things like page views are small in isolation, but in aggregation, they help me learn and validate if I'm moving in the right direction with this site.
If you like what I'm doing so much you're interested in making a financial contribution someway, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll discuss it. Much appreciated!
Hah! No, not at all. It costs me money every month, but I enjoy working on it so that's okay. I get a small commission when you buy things after clicking on links to Amazon and LEGO Shop, which help cover some costs. So please do that! :)
At least two scored reviews. This means a set can have reviews without being scored. We discovered that individual reviewers skewed the comparison if a set only needed one scored review. We might tweak this number as we go along.
No, they're not. Sites like Rebrickable and The Brother's Brick that doesn't issue a score are not used when calculating the rating - only explicit scores are.
Indeed, some reviewers prefer letter gradings. I had discussions with Just2Good, a prolific reviewer who uses these, and we decided the following conversion would be suitable:
On Brick Insights, the following reviewers use letter grading as their primary method of rating: Just2Good.
It's an indication of how good they are, statistically speaking. Here's our article on statistical distribution in the LEGO world.
Oh boy, it wasn't easy to figure out a good way to do this! Brick Insights consider a review a recommendation if:
If we couldn't figure it out - yet - we mark the review as "Unknown" and don't include it in our recommended by % reviewers calculation. Here are the possible recommendation types:
My goal with this feature is to find the really awesome sets. It should be pretty difficult to get a recommended rating, so expect this to be tweaked as we go along.
Time! I added that feature in 2019, after importing a huge number of reviews. I've updated all reviews for sets from 2019 and forward, but doing so for all reviews - ever - is simply too time consuming. Sets with a score is calculated as recommended or not automatically, however.
PPP stands for Price Per Part. PPM stands for Price Per Minifig. Different figs and parts have different costs, but these values can be valuable indicators as to whether or not you get the most for your money.
A set needs to have at least 5 parts and a retail price. Once we have that, we simply divide the price with the number of parts.
The same is done for minifigs.
Convenience. The site could calculate PPP and PPM for all known currencies, but that would lead to us showing 24 different results which would clutter the set page. We might revisit this decision later on, but having these values in USD gives a good enough overview for now.
Since late 2019 Brick Insights also display older monetary values adjusted to inflation. If you don't know what inflation is, it's basically a way to say that money changes value over time. Say you paid $20 for something in 2017. In 2018, that same item might cost $21 or $19 depending on inflation. Here's a good article if you want to understand what this means and how to calculate it. Think of inflation adjusted values on Brick Insights as what would this set cost if I wanted to buy it today. This is the value we use when we calculate the average for each category and explore LEGO cost over time.
For all of you savvy types, we use the yearly average from this site which is collected from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
It's an investment to build the technology to get your reviews on Brick Insights, so we're looking for sites that are into this for the long haul. If you've reviewed sets for 6+ months, have more than 10-20 reviews and create good reviews™ you're welcome to get in touch. Bonuses: if your site has a good API it's much easier to get the information, but it's possible to work around that.
A good review™ is well written, use well-lit and clear images, and is more than just a description of the set - it contains a well-expressed opinion. A review does not need to contain a score. Some leeway are given to older sets where reviews are rare.
In addition to this, we currently only accept reviews written in English. If we figure out a good way we'd love to add other languages as well in the future.
Forums are tricky, since the quality varies wildly between posts. At this point in time we only accept forums that have programs to help people become better reviewers. At this moment that's only Eurobricks, and even then we only index good reviews™ as described above.
Yes, if they represent two different authors and viewpoints. This is common for forums like Eurobricks, for instance, but less likely to happen for magazines and blogs like Bricknerd.
Brickset, Amazon, Brickpicker and LEGO Shop are examples of this. We do it for two reasons: pragmatism and community bias. We can't extract individual reviews from all of them, and as such it's better to handle all such sites similarly. Brickset, for instance, allows us to extract all reviews individually, but Amazon does not - but they both get to contribute one score. A positive side effect of this is that the score thus represents what the community on a particular site thinks about the set, and prevents a single community from completely dominating the average score.
When it comes to set data, images and categorisation Brickset is the place to go. All set data is used from them, imported daily via their API. It's a fantastic site that made this one possible, so go there and check it out!
We add additional data from a couple of other sources as well, most notably lego.com, Bricklink and Amazon.
From people like you and me, through various sources. Check out our reviewer list for details. I'm eternally grateful for all of them! It's hard to write great reviews - they deserve all the credit they can get.