Project Swapfig - minifigure trading action
We want to hire a web designer to give Project Swapfig an essential makeover.
London, United Kingdom
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Project Swapfig: A LEGO minifigure trading website
If you like LEGO (particularly LEGO minifigures), you can swap/trade/exchange your unwanted figures for the ones you want.
How many times have you wanted a particular minifigure, but didn't want to buy a whole set - or spend hours feeling through packets and risk getting the wrong one? Wouldn't it be easier and less hassle if you could find someone to trade with instead?
Project Swapfig was created to bring people interested in minifigure trading together, as well as simplify the online trading process, and to introduce old and new fans of LEGO to the concept of trading.
The site launched on 1 May 2013, and to date there are almost 500 members, and over 200 completed local and global trades.
At the moment the site allows trading of LEGO's Collectible Minifigures range, but other minifigures will be added at a later date, as well as other LEGO items.
Check out the site right now at swapfig.com.
Why we're here
The site's future lies in reaching a wider audience of adults and children. To reach these people we have to give Project Swapfig a visual makeover - so I'm raising money to hire a web designer.
Working with a designer will let me focus on maintaining the site and adding new features, including expanding the list of items that can be traded. A designer will help make Project Swapfig visually appealing to both adults and children, which in turn will make the site easier to promote.
Redesigning the site
I will be working with the designer to come up with an overall look and feel for the site, and if everything goes well the new design will be in place by February 2014. How quickly the new design is implemented will depend on other changes to the site at the time, as well as browser and environment testing.
My vision of the new design would be clean and colourful: a cross between the site as it stands right now and something as colourful and playful as minifigures.lego.com (although with not such bright colours!). At the same time I want to keep things classy, so no gimmicks or Web 2.0 effects!
A consistent site design will help make the site easier to use for everybody, as less time will be spent trying to figure out how things work. It will also help to make the site distinctive, and have something for people to talk about, visit and come back to.
As part of the redesign I'm also introducing a responsive layout, for the benefit of tablet users and those with smaller screens, as well as a basic "adaptive" version of the site for mobile users. Many of the site's existing users (including myself) access Project Swapfig through mobile devices, and at present the site is one size for everybody.
This would be a great opportunity for a web designer to make their mark and have a fairly big project to put in their portfolio. If you're interested in being involved, let me know.
I'm collaborating with a few other LEGO enthusiasts to provide some great rewards, and there should be something for everybody. The highlight is our Chrome Gold "Swapfigure": devised especially for anyone who hasn't found the super-rare Mr Gold minifigure.
If you're short of money, you can take part in our raffle instead. For every £50 pledged through the RAFFLE option in total, one of these rewards is added as a prize:
- White Swapfigure
- Pink Swapfigure
- Chrome Gold Swapfigure
So for example, if £200 is pledged through the RAFFLE option, there will be four prize winners.
There's also a very special reward for whomever makes the most noise about this crowdfunding project! Just use #Swapfig and link to this page to be eligible.
Everybody who backs the project, no matter how big or small the pledge, will get:
- a special mention on the Project Swapfig site;
- a Sponsor badge and all trading limits removed if you're a member of Project Swapfig;
- an early preview of the new site design and any new features;
- a shout out on Facebook and/or Twitter.
Just for fun
Download the Project Swapfig logo below and play around with it in whatever fashion you like. If you send me your designs and I like them, I may occasionally feature them on the site.
My name's Drew, and I'm the guy who single-handedly built Project Swapfig. I've been what's called an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) for four years, and as well as collecting minifigures, I design and build models as well as review LEGO sets and third-party items, over on SilentMode.tv.
LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this crowdfunding project.
Current Status (21/07/2014)
Folks, I wish I could be my usual humorous self in this latest update, but I can't do it this time. In fact, I'm rather upset and embarrassed - and to make things worse I have no idea what to say. Don't worry though, I will try to keep my composure.
Let's get the most embarrassing thing out of the way first: all the rewards have been produced, except for the Gold Swapfigures... and that's because of a combination of fear, procrastination and indecisiveness about which should be completed first: the rewards or a functional version of the site. With only that one bit left, it's now obvious that I should focus on the Swapfigures.
Well there's a situation for you. Which would you have produced first: the site or the rewards?
If I'm honest, right now I don't think I can "win" or appease the angry mob with this current situation. You all should have had your rewards by now, and I'm upset that things have been so slow, because I know how impatient I can be myself! It was nice to think I could do all this by myself and still have time for other things, but it's certainly not been easy, and it's only gotten and going to get harder. The only thing I can do now is overcome my barriers and get the rewards out of the way as soon as possible. Don't feel any sympathy or empathy for me; it's my own doing.
I'm reminded of something I made clear from the beginning: that my reputation - what's left of it - is at stake. If it's what it takes, I'll refund everybody their money from my own pockets (although that would probably trigger the Hammer of Dawn over my spot!) if I'm unable to deliver.
I can't tell you how long it's taken to write this embarrassing update, but let this serve as a warning to anyone thinking of running a web site, or attempting anything like this: don't do it! Just stick to building with LEGO, or whatever it is you do, and lead a content life.
Current Status (01/07/2014)
Hello again folks. I'm posting this live from a Virgin Galaxy flight to the moon, funded by you the backer! No, not really.
I just wanted to show you a snapshot of the work in progress on the next level of Swapfig, which isn't pretty but will hopefully give you a better idea of why a rewrite is necessary.
There will be support for parts with the new site, which will potentially be incredibly useful: not only will users be able to obtain extra accessories for minifigures, but they'll also be able to trade bits of figures they don't want to keep.
My thought at the moment is to restrict the parts on the site to minifigures and their accessories, otherwise we'd be dealing with a lot more data than we'd want. My challenge right now is to figure out how to display users' haves and wants without slowing down the site too much, which is a problem the current site is facing.
Progress with the site and the production of the rewards has been slow due to other commitments, but I will be on my grind from now on, with the hope of launching something in time for this year's STEAM event.
By the way: last weekend I'd spotted The Bloody Oyster - which was also crowdfunded through Zequs - near the food market at Southbank. It was great to see them up and running!
That's all for now.
Current Status (06/06/2014)
An update is long overdue, so here it is.
Having run into some difficulties with spray painting the minifigures about to become Gold Swapfigures, I've bought myself some better equipment to do the job. First to arrive was a pristine Iwata airbrush, which is an early birthday present, and just yesterday I'd received a portable spray booth for spraying indoors.
Both of these of course came out of my own money, and work on these figures will resume next week. I'm hoping I'm able to make them both work. This will be my first time using a dual action airbrush!
In the meantime I've also been pondering how to apply the printing to the figures. The original plan was to send them to a pad printer over in the States, but an alternative has come up in the form of custom-made dry transfers. They may not be as authentic or aesthetically pleasing as pad printing, but it would likely be less expensive. That's a decision to be left when and if the chroming process is done.
Work on the new site is continuing, although more and more things - namely other people's projects - are slowing things down every day. I will definitely be looking for people to moderate the site and add new items in the future.
That's all for now.
Current Status (28/04/2014)
This is Drew yet again, posting this update during my break in the Cayman Islands - and it's turning out to be a very busy year. I've successfully given up sugar for the 40-odd days between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and in just a couple of days I've obtained a complete set of the recently released The Simpsons Collectible Minifigures.
First and foremost, work has begun on manually creating our star reward, the Gold Swapfigures:
The materials for creating these figures arrived a few weeks ago, and to be honest I've been very nervous about the process.
As well as all the dangerous chemicals, fumes, and having somewhere to do all of this, the process depends heavily on how well the black gloss paint is applied. Because the parts had to be separated before painting (to address the issues of uncovered spots), I'm being as thorough as possible, while concerned about applying too much paint.
As you might expect, I've also been working on a number of other things, including the next level of Swapfig. There's a long way to go before a beta can be launched, but without giving away too much information, a couple of new features have already been implemented. The main thing at the moment is to build on what works, while addressing the issues, hangups and voids, with the current site.
Swapfig's 1st Birthday
The site was officially (and tumultuously) launched on May 1st last year, and Thursday marks Swapfig's first birthday. Cue spiel about how rough the ride has been, how I'm honoured etc. etc.
I wish the new site could have been launched by then, but to celebrate the occasion I'm going to be making a cake. If it goes according to plan you'll find photos of the cake in the next update.
Lastly, if you haven't yet voted: the DC or Marvel Super Heroes poll comes to a head tomorrow just before midnight. I have no idea how people have voted right now, and won't find out until Wednesday, but everything is ready to go for either side.
Current Status (24th March 2014)
Hello folks. There's been an interesting turn of events in "Swapfiguregate", so this update is mainly going to be about that.
Over the weekend I had a chance to examine my collection of minifigures, namely Mr Gold and some official gold figures separated from their keychains. It turns out they also have the insides of their legs uncovered with paint! This means (if this has suddenly become acceptable) I could go ahead with the next stage, which is giving the figures their facial and torso prints.
However, there's still an issue with taking care of another special figures: namely the one offered to whomever made the most noise about the campaign. These figures didn't do too well at chroming camp (yes, they are shiny figures too), so they will have to be redone anyway. I will be looking to do so within the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime I've been working on the new site. I'm planning to take the whole of April off of work to focus on building as much of it as possible - as well as doing some exercise - but I have no idea when I'll be able to put up a demo. It would be nice to launch the new site for Swapfig's first birthday (May 1st), but I can't see it happening.
That's all for now.
Current Status (27/02/14)
Greetings shareholders. Perhaps it's because it's the time of year where big companies like to rush out copies of their annual reports, or because you folks have shown me support, that I'm calling you shareholders. Who knows?
There's not much to report at the moment, except that work has started on the next level of Swapfig. If I haven't mentioned it before, it will use a new framework and be built from scratch, with a bunch of features in the works. I have no idea how long it's going to take at this point, as the day job (and probably more day jobs after it) are sucking the motivation out of me.
I've also made the decision to start over with the gold Swapfigures, as there's no way I can let the chroming issue slide. It would be the easiest thing in the world for me to say "hey, it happens" - but among other things that would do the whole campaign injustice.
I've been researching ways in which I can do the chroming myself, which would have the added benefit of being able to produce more gold Swapfigures if necessary, as well as being sure the process won't take a ridiculous amount of time. I may have found a solution, but I will have to make further enquiries - which may involve making a trip, which probably can't happen until the end of my current job - before going ahead.
So this update is for letting you folks know that I haven't disappeared to the Cayman Islands; literally the only thing holding your rewards up is the production of these gold Swapfigures.
Current Status (13/02/14)
At long last, the Swapfigures have come home from chroming camp, having landed at the sorting office on Tuesday and picked up yesterday.
It's been a long time since I got things started with the chroming process, but I'm glad they've finally come back.
Unfortunately there's an issue: while the arms had been taken off of [most of] the figures before the treatment, I'd completely overlooked the legs. As a result, the insides of the legs on each figure have been left uncovered, and it doesn't look good. The figures themselves would look all right as a display piece, but I know some of you will want to play with them.
In any case, the show must go on. I'm considering re-doing the figures myself at my expense (so I can be sure they're done well, and potentially produce some more!), or I could go ahead and have them sent to be printed (so you folks can have your rewards sooner).
Here's some good news though: due to popular demand, the Gold Swapfigures will have the new logo on the torso, instead of the "S" as previously shown. Someone had suggested it last week, and I liked the idea.
While things are being figured out, please keep your suggestions for things to add, remove and improve on the site for the redesign coming in, as there have been some great ideas.
Current Status (30/01/2014)
Hello folks. Long story short: some stress on my end and a lack of sleep have made me a very grumpy panda, but even as a very grumpy panda I'm keeping things rolling - very much inspired by the new logo for Swapfig, but also because I want to do everything justice.
Progress had slowed down due to some communication issues with chroming camp, but I've been informed that the Swapfigures will be coming home soon. The big hold up involved making a decision over whether or not to remove the arms from the Swapfigures before turning them into chrome, which would avoid the following effect:
It would have been the easiest thing in the world to take the easy way out, since LEGO have done a similar thing with Mr Gold - but I want the Gold Swapfigures to be of the best possible quality, so shortcuts weren't an option.
Rebuilding the site from scratch
I've begun the process of rebuilding Swapfig from scratch, using the Laravel framework (somewhat similar to the setup the site uses now), in preparation for the new site design. It's a great opportunity to clean things up and implement new features, as well as get rid of things that don't work. Fingers crossed: the new site will allow logging in via Facebook and Twitter, as that's what I've been working on this week.
As I've mentioned in the Facebook group: if you have any suggestions for things to remove and/or add to the site, now's the time to be heard.
That's all for now.
Current Status: (24/01/14)
I finally made a decision earlier today, and what you've just seen is going to be the brand new logo for Swapfig.
It was a fairly tough decision between two designs (the other being the one with the large minifigure head, of which I liked the colours), but the cleverness of the minifigure hands forming the "S" won me over.
Thanks to everybody who took time out to vote for their favourite design. From here on in, if you see someone on Brickset or anywhere else complaining about either logo, please introduce them to the Trout of Shame.
Current Progress (18/01/2014)
Hello again! It's time for another update about the goings on in the wake of the crowdfunding campaign.
There's been a small hiccup with producing the Gold Swapfigures. the person doing the chroming was kind enough to warn me about a potential issue: that the areas directly under the arms wouldn't be covered, meaning the plastic underneath would be revealed. The solution would be to remove the minifigure arms before chroming, but as a layer of material is added to the plastic, it could mean the arms wouldn't be able to fit again.
On closer inspection of my Mr Gold from Series 10, LEGO had indeed left the arms on the figure when they did the chroming, leaving an uncovered patch on the sides.
I haven't yet received a sample back from the person, but I'm going to have to make a decision on whether to have the arms taken off the torsos or not. Even though it would be easier to go ahead with the chroming, I want the figures to be of the best quality possible.
There is some good news, in that the White tiles and the torsos for the White Swapfigures have arrived - courtesy of minifigforlife.com.
By the way, I haven't forgotten about the Facebook/Twitter shout-outs - I will do those as soon as the other rewards have been produced.
The new logo
Probably the biggest news at the moment: as mentioned in the last update, Project Swapfig will be getting a new logo as part of the redesign. I've taken the challenge of designing the new logo over to designcrowd.com, where a number of very interesting designs were submitted. Right now I can appreciate how awkward and challenging a project manager's role can be: it's not easy trying to get a vision across.
I've selected my favourite designs of the ones submitted, and now I'm asking for your help in choosing the new logo (though my decision is final!). Make sure you check out the following poll when you have a moment:
Once the new logo has been decided on, work can begin with creating the look and feel of the new site design. The last couple of weeks have been spent getting to grips with AngularJS, which has a steep learning curve (even for me), but I think will be a better long-term solution for Project Swapfig.
That's all for this update.
Current Status (02/01/2014)
First of all, a Happy New Year to everybody reading this update right now. 2013 had its ups and downs, but things are going to get really serious (hopefully in a good way!) this time around.
All the minifigure parts have been obtained - and just in time too, as I hear that prices have increased at LEGO retail stores! - and the assembled figures are going to be sent on their way to finishing school, where they'll be challenged and polished before graduating as Gold Swapfigures. This is the second most concerning part of the reward production, and my fingers will crossed.
The main reason for this update is to make an announcement that only the campaign backers will hear about. I've been doing some more tinkering with the site, and more than ever I'm eager to begin the redesign of the site. That is why...
Project Swapfig will have a new logo.
What does this new logo look like? I have no idea, but that will be the first step in redesigning the site. At the moment I'm considering offering the challenge on a site such as designcrowd.com, as I was responsible for the current Project Swapfig logo.
In other news: the site has accomplished over 400 complete trades, with the next milestone at 420. You're now able to get your fix of The LEGO Movie minifigures on the site, and you should be able to find someone to trade with if you have them to offer.
Hello folks, hopefully you've had a great Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year. Let's play a game and count how many lazy companies use the slogan "New Year, New You" (like they did last year!).
Anyway, the point of this update was to briefly bring up the subject of crowdfunding setbacks.
It was prompted by a video on YouTube I came across yesterday morning, about a successfully crowdfunded project being cancelled because of the campaign owner's "lack of experience". [link] The video was recorded all the way back in July of this year, but prior to getting into crowdfunding I had come across a couple of other stories.
There was also some recent bad news about Mechabrick, another (wildly) successful LEGO-related crowdfunding project, regarding their product. The update is only visible to people who backed the project over on Kickstarter, and I won't try to paraphrase what the issue is because I'd do it injustice - but it's a setback rather than a cancellation.
I bring this up because of my own fears about this campaign falling short somehow, whether it was with producing the rewards or not achieving the level of success I'd envisaged with the redesign. The easy parts are out of the way, and the chroming and printing are the parts I'm most concerned about.
The great news at the moment is that I'm still in the black, and provided the most expensive parts of the reward production go smoothly there isn't anything to worry about. If I do go over budget for some reason, the difference will come out of my pocket.
There has been one minor setback, in that my PayPal account has been temporarily restricted (i.e. I can't send payments to anyone until it's been restored) because the campaign had succeeded. I have no idea when the restriction will be lifted, but in the meantime I have other means of getting things done.
Current Status (19/12/13)
What's good, yo.
Today has been rather menacing, hasn't it? I was held up by the suspension of the Jubilee line (someone under a train) and then a cancelled Overground line (vehicle striking a bridge) earlier today, then narrowly missed getting caught in a brief thunderstorm arriving back at the dungeon. Then I hear on the news about the incident at the Apollo!
In any case, the show must go on... and go on it shall. I've been working to obtain all the necessary parts for making our signature Swapfigures, and it looks like I've finally managed to. LEGO's own parts ordering service (Pick A Brick) didn't quite have the bits I was after, so a combination of purchases from a well-known site and LEGO retail stores - as well as going through my collection - means that I'm now able to have something sent to the factory.
In addition, I've been giving a lot of thought to the redesign of Project Swapfig. There are a few speed and feature improvements that have to be made, but right now I'm toying with the idea of rebuilding it using AngularJS, which basically means turning it into a web app rather than a web site, and also adding one of the latest trendy keywords to my skillset. (Unfortunately it's not enough to just be able to build sites any more: as a freelance web developer I'm forced to constantly be experienced in new things, or go back to permanent work.)
I've had some thoughts about how I want the site to look, and ultimately decided there has to be a new logo. It will be a job for the designer, I think, as I haven't been able to come up with anything. It will mean that the end result will be just as much of a mystery to me as anyone.
If you've visited Project Swapfig recently, you'll find there are over 500 Star Wars figures available to trade... and only a few people trading them! That's right: it took a very long time with hours of problem solving, but I've finally managed to list them all (until the new ones for 2014). By the way, I'm looking for a Darth Vader minifigure if anyone has one going spare.
Finally, Project Swapfig has celebrated its 400th completed trade. 400 trades through the site in seven months! Let's see if we can make it to 1,000 by the end of next year.
Current Status (12/12/13)
The t-shirts have arrived! I wasn't expecting them to arrive this early, but they have and they're very crisp.
I made a small effort to order men's t-shirts for the male backers, and female t-shirts for the female ones (or those I suspected of being female).
I've managed to find some minifigure parts, both in my collection and at the store, for assembling the army of Swapfigures - but there are still more to obtain.
Current Status (10/12/13)
The last month or so has seen things looking up for me personally, although there have been some hiccups: recently I've been ill, to the point where I didn't have any energy or motivation... but I'm back up now, and still on my grind.
Some great news in terms of rewards: our artwork postcards have been produced, courtesy of moo.com. I visited their store in Shoreditch last Friday to pick them up in person, which was a very pleasant experience (despite being slightly ill at the time).
There's some even better news: instead of the two designs that people voted on prior to the campaign, there will be five postcards in each set. I'm having to have some more produced as there's a shortfall (caused by confusion as to how many postcards I had to order).
I've also pushed the button for the t-shirt rewards, of which six people will be receiving. For those who didn't get back to me regarding their t-shirt sizes, you'll be receiving one in size L.
The ball is also rolling on White Swapfigures as well as the printed tiles, but I'm having to wait until next Wednesday before I can source the remaining minifigure part. By the way: anybody who didn't get back to me with their preferred glyph on the torso will be getting an "S" Swapfigure.
If I haven't mentioned it already: the raffle will take place after all the rewards have been produced, and with 11 "tickets" having been pledged for there will be two prizes.
Current Status (02/12/13)
Hello again folks. To confirm I haven't skipped the country with your hard-earned money, I thought I'd let you know where things are at present.
Over the weekend I've been looking for possible sources of minifigure parts to create our signature Gold Swapfigures, as well as blank tiles to be printed. I've placed orders for the tiles and minifigure heads, but both the legs and [plain] torsos are proving to be a challenge. There is a possible solution if I'm able to wait a few weeks, but it does mean that the production of these rewards will be greatly slowed down.
The artwork postcards have been taken care of, with the designs having been sent to the printer. There should be enough for all the backers who pledged for one, as well as those who entered the caption contests over in the Facebook group.
In addition to the two designs chosen before the campaign, I'm also adding this masterpiece (courtesy of HJ Media Studios):
Finally, someone had reminded me about the raffle. The drawing hasn't taken place yet; this will happen once I have all the rewards produced. Eleven "tickets" were pledged for in total, which means (provided everything goes to plan) someone will stand to win a reward.
This update is basically to keep everybody in the loop about what's currently happening. There are some gruesome stories on the Net about campaign owners running off with their supporters' money, but that's definitely not the case here (too many people know where I live).
If you haven't visited Project Swapfig recently, you wouldn't have heard about our latest addition: Star Wars minifigures. These were added in response to the backer who claimed the DIBS! reward, and was a completely different choice to what I was planning. It also introduced a few challenges I hadn't forseen.
There's also a lot to do as a result of crowdfunding success. I haven't yet received the funds (as far as I know), but once that happens the chaos will begin.
The first stage will be obtaining enough minifigure parts to create our signature Swapfigures, as well as finding suppliers for the t-shirts and postcards. The Swapfigures lucky enough to be turned into gold will be sent to a special place for their treatment, before reuniting for a long trip abroad.
Of course, the second stage will be putting some wireframes for the new site design together, as well as finding a web designer to work with - which is what this whole thing was all about.
As soon as the situation changes on my end, I will be in touch to ask for your specifics (i.e. t-shirt sizes and White Swapfigure glyphs), as well as announcing the outcome of the raffle.
WE did it!
Apologies for the late response to the good news, I have been occupied with some other things as of late. But as you might have heard, thanks to you we've managed to reach our funding target! I really appreciate it after all the ups and downs of the last couple of months.
From here it's all up to me to get the rewards produced, as well as find a suitable web designer to give Project Swapfig the makeover. As backers of the campaign, you'll also have the option to purchase any extra rewards at a lower price than for the non-backers!
Many thanks once again, and stay tuned.
Sólo cinco días restantes!
(or just five days left)
Things could still go either way, but to help things along here's today's photo to be captioned. Join in over on the Facebook group.
9 Days Left!
(I don't think I'll ever get used to the size of that text...)
There are only nine days on the campaign left, so I really want everybody who receives this update to find just one person they know who can make a pledge. Whether it's just £1, £5 for a raffle ticket, or that little bit more, every bit counts.
Speaking of rewards: we've replaced the higher-end rewards with two new ones:
- the Gold Swapfigure option is now at £50, where you'll get a gold Swapfigure in addition to the White Swapfigure option;
- an Everything option at £75, with the new Gold Swapfigure option and a Project Swapfig t-shirt.
You can also win some exclusive Project Swapfig artwork postcards by entering today's caption contest over in the Facebook group: today's photo is shown here:
10 Days Left!
Folks, in case you've missed the inexplicably big writing above, there are just 10 days to go before this crowdfunding campaign is over, and we are so close to reaching the target. With your help we've managed to reach 65%, with just £521 left to raise - but this is all or nothing, so anything less than 100% won't do.
Since there's just ten days left on the clock, we're running a caption competition every day for the next ten days over in the Facebook group. As with other similar competitions, all you have to do to enter is give us your best caption for the photo. The first photo was posted a short while ago, and here's a shot:
The winner of each day's competition will receive a set of Project Swapfig artwork postcards. I will be doing the judging: you don't have to make any references to Swapfig, but funny (and somewhat juvenile) captions will go a long way. You can also enter as many times as you want.
And as always: please continue to spread the word, and let's work at reaching our target! It's definitely possible.
Don't move: it's time for another campaign update.
To everybody who recently came via Brickset: where the heck have you been? But seriously, thank you all for coming around eventually and showing your support.
Thanks to a kind post about the campaign, site visits and support have grown significantly, and the £1,000 mark is in sight - but I don't think any of us will be satisfied until the target is - for lack of a better term - destroyed.
That said: I had this article come over the wire just last night, and thought it might interest you.
Attack on Project Swapfig's logo
swapfig.com - The Swapfigure community has called an emergency meeting in the aftermath of an unprovoked attack on Project Swapfig's logo around two days ago.
The assault was led by Dr Nay - the Swapfigures' mortal enemy - with the aid of an army of iGrees, and is the first salvo of its kind to be directed at the site. Though nobody was harmed or injured as a result, concerns were raised over increased awareness of Project Swapfig, which was said to have prompted the attack.
A spokesperson for the Swapfigures issued a brief statement today:
"Our logo embodies our struggles against adversity: we stand behind it and its design, although we welcome proposed alternatives as part of our growth."
Project Swapfig's logo was created during the site's creation, and is comprised of glyphs from the Swapfigures' language, representing different stages of the trading process. Dr Nay publicly lambasted the logo, which has been widely interpreted as "SWAPFiG", as being "unreadable". At least one iGree was at hand to agree with the statement.
The controversial decision to expose Swapfigure glyphs to the outside world followed a ruling by The LEGO Group that Swapfigures - who highly resemble LEGO's own minifigures - were prohibited from being used as part of branding.
In all seriousness, how would you go about designing a logo for this kind of web site? And what does an iGree look like anyway? If you have any suggestions, please forward them to me.
PS. have you seen the site's 404 page? I hope not.
Update time once again!
Raising money for Project Swapfig this time around is as much about the merchandise - the postcards, t-shirts, printed tiles and Swapfigures - as it is about web design.
One thing I really wanted to do is offer chrome Swapfigures in colours other than gold, because not everybody actually likes gold. That's why I came up with this little picture last night, to demonstrate how different versions might look...
Unfortunately they're only computer renders, so the awesomeness hasn't come through... but hopefully you can imagine how cool these would look as actual figures. From left to right: we have orange, red, blue, silver (or plain chrome), the Gold Swapfigure and green.
Should we reach the target in just over three weeks' time (and there's no reason why we shouldn't!), I will look into options for having some of these variants figures made... and if it's possible, and people want them, everybody who has pledged will get dibs.
In addition, I've decided that everybody who pledges/has pledged £40 or more will receive a free Gold Swapfigure in addition to their chosen reward, if we reach the target. How does that sound?
If you're as excited about these developments as I am, now's the time to get involved. Let's encourage other people to make pledges - do not let them wait! - and get talking about the campaign on social media and in weblogs.
The last couple of weeks have been incredibly rough for all kinds of reasons (as you might have noticed!), but in the last few days we've had more support come our way, to take us to 44% of the total. A big thank you to everybody who has chipped in, but let's not stop there! Let's not be satisfied until we're collectively stomping on 100%'s beaten body!
Vivid terms aside, I wanted to talk about the issue of crowdfunding for a web designer. Most crowdfunding campaigns are for new products, movies, or already famous people getting to live their dream - but many people I've asked for support were apprehensive and dismissive about pledging for something they think I should pay for myself while they benefit.
Web design isn't just about pretty pictures, fancy graphics and special effects... and above all else it's not easy when done right. Web design is also about how a site functions, how it's structured, how intuitive (or easy to use) it is, and ultimately about whether or not people want to see what else you have. It's another one of those things that a lot of work goes into, but people take for granted.
I've had a go at creating a wireframe for a redesign of Project Swapfig's home page (shown above), in preparation for the redesign. You'll also notice that a mobile "version" of the site will be on the cards.
The web designer I'll be working with will take each wireframe, along with some other guidelines, and create a look and feel for the whole site: this includes colour choices, typefaces and any fancy graphics.
If the design were left up to me, especially since the aim is to attract other people to the site, it would take months to come up with anything I liked - and longer still to implement it. Remember: I've worked on this project entirely by myself from the beginning, and I think it deserves an equal level of attention toward the design, which can only really be provided by a web designer.
I also think that the designer (provided they do a good job!) should be paid for their work too. Having been a web developer for almost a decade, I feel that being expected to work for cheap - or in some cases for free - is, among other things, out of the question.
So why am I crowdfunding to hire a web designer, and not paying for it entirely by myself as many have suggested? Because Project Swapfig is a site for everybody, and I want people to be and feel part of the whole thing, because other people are why the site has 600+ members. If I did and paid for everything myself, it would be my site - and nobody would like that!
Like in the movie Crocodile Dundee II: when people ask you where you were when Project Swapfig came up, you can tell people "we didn't do nothing"... or you can tell them how you helped grow an insanely popular web site, just by making a pledge.
Even if you disagree with crowdfunding to hire a designer, just think about the rewards you can pledge for. Especially if you've pledged for a Gold Swapfigure (and there are still four early bird rewards left!), you'll get to be the proud owner of exclusive Project Swapfig merchandise... and when people ask you where you got them from, you can thumb your nose at them and say "you should have made a pledge!"
Hello again folks.
Yesterday was absolutely horrible, and I'm using the word horrible because there may be kids around. Going into why today was so horrible won't do anybody any good, but I will briefly talk about what will happen if this campaign doesn't succeed: the subject of this update.
The short version of it all is: nothing.
The more accurate version consists of the following:
- nobody gets any of the rewards, including the shout-outs and early design previews. This is because the money raised will go toward producing the rewards as well as hiring the designer.
- nobody gets any kind of say in what gets added to the site.
- it would mean two straight crowdfunding failures, and there won't be another crowdfunding campaign - ever.
Most importantly, it means I will be forced to redesign the site myself, which - as a non-designer - could take months. During that time I'd still have to maintain, debug and improve the site, and that's assuming the site is still here in a few months time.
Here's a good example of why a web designer is essental for Project Swapfig's redesign: my attempt at redesigning the site logp with fancy design techniques.
Hello again everybody.
One thing people should know about me is that I'm not a believe in "positive thinking", miracles or any such intangible but highly subjective theory for success; I'm sold on the power of conscious choices and taking action as well as responsibility. With that said, today's update is about doing whatever's necessary to get results.
First and foremost, my talk on Project Swapfig that I gave last week is finally online! You can watch it right now on YouTube, along with the other talks I filmed during the event.
The talk is a good example of doing things I'm normally uncomfortable with to get results: in this case the aim was to promote the web site. I'm not a public speaker, and I'm not actually used to having so much attention, but I put myself forward for the talk because - as well as being the best person to do it - nobody else would have done it.
In fact, the whole crowdfunding process is laden with things that make me uncomfortable. It's a long story, but unlike many people I grew up around, I actually don't like asking people for money. I'm also reluctant to ask for help, which is also a long story.
But since it's the only way I'm going to get pledges, I've posted on social media and have sent emails anyway. Today I've contacted some old and current work colleagues about the campaign; let's see what happens.
There's a whole bunch of things I'm having to do for this campaign, and it's a lot harder this time because of the first failed attempt. Now I'm going to ask you guys to do something:
Find one person and encourage them to visit the campaign page and make a pledge - even if it's just for GBP 1. If you can encourage two people to donate GBP 1 each, you're officially a legend.
That's all for this update, and I will be back soon.
Hello again listeners.
First of all a big belated thank you to Rich of Brick Fanatics for posting about the campaign: although we haven't met, he's been very supportive from the very beginning. You can check out the post here:
Also a big shout out to Louise, another big supporter, for posting about it on two of her sites:
Today I paid a visit to the "urgent care centre" of a local hospital, as I've been having issues with my left wrist. While I'm grateful for the NHS, I didn't like having to wait 90 minutes for three minutes with a doctor whom I could just about understand - but it turns out I have what's called a ganglion. It's not serious but it definitely hurts, and nothing has to be done except wait for it to shrink.
The time spent at the hospital was an opportunity to reflect on things, including my future plans for Project Swapfig. I had thought about the possibility of having users be able to buy minifigures and items through the site instead of trading them, which sounds simple on the surface but can easily spiral out of control. That, and allowing monetary transactions would put the site in competition with other, far more popular sites.
I was also reminded that I'm very much in control of the whole thing. As a web developer, adult fan of LEGO and a collector/buyer/trader, I've seen how other web sites operate, and I knew how I'd operate things if I were ever a site owner. It also reminded me that, even though I listen to feedback and suggestions from others, I have the final say in what gets implemented. It's incredibly dangerous to jump through hoops for other people, especially when they've got no skin in the game.
Project Swapfig is my biggest and most ambitious web project to date, and I've worked all four butt cheeks off to get this far. It would be great if I could bring someone in to help, and that's what this crowdfunding campaign is all about.
Hello folks. Today it's been raining and has been a lot darker than usual... we're definitely in October!
While some of you may be debating over or hesitating to make a pledge, today's post is going to be about the DIBS! option: a reward at the GBP 50 level, of which there's only one available.
Since the first crowdfunding campaign, a few people have been asking me about adding other items to trade on the site, such as minifigures based on licences (Star Wars, Lord of the Rings etc.) and polybag sets (LEGO sets that come in bags, which also make good collectors items).
Though I've mentioned it several times in various places, the plan from the beginning was to trial Project Swapfig with the Collectible Minifigures series, then add other items as the site grew and became more stable. (By the way, many other frequently asked questions are answered in the site's FAQ section.)
There's still a little work to do with adding support for other minifigures and items, with the most important being to find photos/pictures of them all, as well as determining how they'll be affected by user trading levels. However, I will be introducing them at some point after this campaign is over.
Probably the most important thing about the DIBS! reward is that whomever pledges for it will get first choice of which set of minifigures gets added to the site. The different licences and themes will be gradually added to the site, so that everybody (especially myself) can keep up. To sweeten the deal even more, that lucky person will also receive a Gold Swapfigure.
But as with all the other rewards, nothing will be produced - and no claims will be granted - if the campaign fails to reach the target.
If it does succeed, and nobody goes for the DIBS! option, the decision will be left up to me - and two things you should immediately know is that my choice won't be Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Super Heroes or anything based on a licence!
So right now the DIBS option is still available, but there's only going to be one. Who's willing to put some money down for it?
After letting off some frustration-flavoured steam yesterday, it's business as usual. I'm about to update Project Swapfig yet again with some fixes, and I'm also uploading three videos to YouTube of talks that took place at last weekend's exhibition. They're in HD quality, which means they're going to take an age to put online.
Today's update is going to be about the Gold Swapfigures being offered as our featured reward, and how I aim to have them produced.
First of all the idea came directly from someone who mentioned they could chrome LEGO elements. Chroming is the process of giving an object a shiny metallic appearance, and there are a few ways this can be achieved, although the whole thing is new to me. Unfortunately their suggestion came after the first crowdfunding attempt had ended, but when I'd decided I would give crowdfunding another shot, I got back in touch with this person to see if we could work something out. I hadn't yet found Mr Gold at the time, but we both agreed it would be a great idea if Project Swapfig could offer its own version to people who weren't able to obtain that figure.
While some lucky finders of Mr Gold were only interested in reselling for a profit (a few sold on eBay for around USD 1,000 at their peak!), many other people offered their own alternatives to the elusive minifigure. Some simply used gold-coloured parts, but most of them are similarly chromed minifigures with waterslide or transparent decals applied to the head and torso. There are even some variations on Mr Gold, including Mr Silver: a plain chromed minifigure with a similar decoration.
Would you believe, there was even a Kickstarter project offering minifigures made out of real gold! Amazingly they came incredibly close to succeeding, too.
Anyhow, should we succeed at crowdfunding this time, the aim is to have a whole bunch of minifigure parts chromed by the expert himself. Once that happens, the plan is to pass those parts to a professional customiser, who will use pad printing to apply the head and torso designs. Pad printing is a similar process to what LEGO does to decorate their parts, so we should end up with a very high quality custom gold Swapfigure.
At the moment only Gold Swapfigures will be produced, but I've been very eager to look at other chrome colour options. Who else would like to see a chrome green, or even a chrome blue Swapfigure? But let's concern ourselves with reaching this target first.
The following update is going to be reposted on my site, because hopefully it will be a game changer in a positive way: not just for me, but for anyone in my position (i.e. a nobody) going down the crowdfunding route.
Even though there's less than 37 days left in this campaign, I've been concerned that activity has ground to a halt over the last few days, and everything's gone silent, despite my efforts. Just today I'd posted an update in the Facebook group, asking people who haven't yet made a pledge if there is anything I could do to encourage them to do so - and very strangely it got two "likes" but no comments.
The silence has cast my mind back to the aftermath of my first failed attempt, and the people who didn't support that campaign coming out of the woodwork with all kinds of - let's call them - reasons as to why they did nothing. So I'm compelled to say the following, while it's early days:
- If you really want to see the project succeed, or even if you're just after one of the rewards, make a pledge right now for whatever you're after. Don't wait until x days before the end - do it now. The more green there is in the progress bar, the more likely other people are to want to make a pledge... and the more likely you are to get what you're after!
- If money is tight at the moment (and I'm not asking you to go broke in supporting the campaign), make a GBP 5 pledge for the RAFFLE option and get yourself a ticket. You'll still be contributing to the total, and you may even end up winning a prize! You can always make an even bigger pledge (or pledge for more raffle tickets) if your finances improve.
- If you can't spare GBP 5, make a GBP 1 pledge. Every single contribution counts, no matter how small, and you'll still get all the perks mentioned on the campaign page (i.e. a shout out on Facebook/Twitter, a preview of the new site design etc.) if we reach the target.
- Another option would be to make a joint pledge with other people for one of the rewards. Remember: if we reach the target there's the option of purchasing more White/Pink/Gold Swapfigures at a discount, so you can get plenty for anyone who isn't able to take part.
- If you don't see any rewards you like, or you think everything's too expensive, tell me what you want to see that would encourage you to make a pledge. I've been listening to people from the very beginning, and I'll consider just about any suggestion or idea you can come up with.
- If you can't (or won't) spare any money at all, tell other people about the campaign. You can help immensely by writing a weblog post, tweeting about it using the hashtag #Swapfig, and pointing people to the brand new crowdfunding landing page (http://swapfig.com/crowdfunding or http://bit.ly/swapfigcf) on Project Swapfig, so they can tell other people or make a pledge with ease.
Doing any of these things will literally take a couple of minutes, and if you tell enough people who make a pledge themselves, you could win something! Even letting just one other person know can make all the difference.
- If you have any questions about the campaign, or you want to interview me, you can email me at drew[a]swapfig.com. I can also be reached on Twitter @Swapfig or @SilentMode1, and of course through the contact form on the Project Swapfig web site (http://swapfig.com/contact).
- If you're not willing to do any of these things, then you simply don't want the campaign to succeed - meaning there's nothing I can do, or could have done, that would change your mind.
I get it if you really hate the idea/concept I'm crowdfunding for, or if you have a problem with me personally for whatever reason - but the absolute worst kind of person at this level is one who's just planning on freeloading, whether the campaign succeeds or fails. You know, the "why donate when you can get it for free"-minded person.
To end this rather militant-sounding update (and my apologies to those who've already shown their support), I'm going to drop a quote that came to mind after the failure of first attempt:
"The only valid reason for not supporting something is that you didn't want to; anything else is an excuse."
Check you later.
I've still been recovering from the weekend's activities, but it's very much been back to reality today. As well as updating and debugging the site, I'm also looking for somewhere [else] to rent - and being reminded of why estate agents get on my nerves sometimes. If all goes well I will be relocated within the next month.
The past couple of days have been spent thinking about people and places, outside of the online LEGO community, who I could contact about the campaign. Even though the enthusiasm and support from fellow AFOLs has been great, it's apparent that reaching the target can only happen with outside backing.
One place I've contacted so far is .net Magazine, who seem to have changed from general Internet use to specifically about web design - but I thought about them because they used to have a spot where a web designer was challenged to redesign an existing web page. I'd sent them an email asking for their input.
Other thoughts include toy shops, or places that sell LEGO's Collectible Minifigures and other collectible items (even if it's just to make them aware of Swapfig's existence), or somehow being able to communicate with design students at colleges and universities. The only thing holding me back is figuring out how to do so.
Here's a recent post I discovered by accident from The Brick Fan:
Here's an interview I did a while back (during the first attempt at crowdfunding) with Kollectobil:
Very interestingly, Worth of Web suggests swapfig.com is "worth" just under $14,000:
TRIVIA: the minimum number of packets I've had to buy to complete a Collectible Minifigure series was 42, for Series 11.
What's up folks.
I've been maintaining Internet silence over the weekend, for reasons I won't go into on this update, but I am back from the Great Western LEGO Show at the STEAM Museum in Swindon. I was too tired on getting back to post this update, but it really is back to reality now.
(Note to self: only bother travelling first class by train during weekdays, as they seem to let anyone in the carriages at weekends.)
The event itself was great, and I'd met several people from the online LEGO community I hadn't seen before, as well as some familiar faces. It was every bit as hectic as was described by others: as well as setting up my own display of models, I made a point of taking lots of pictures and filming the talks, as well as giving a talk myself on Project Swapfig.
The first time doing the talk (on Saturday) I was more nervous than a Mega Bloks representative would have been, but the next day it was more comfortable. Both talks had a decent audience, and from what I heard they went well. I'll be posting a video of the talk on YouTube sometime this week.
As for Project Swapfig: having checked the site statistics just now, we've reached over 600 active users. Sadly I'd missed a trick with promoting the crowdfunding campaign, as only one other person had backed it over the weekend - and as we didn't reach £750 over the weekend, it also means that trading limits will stay in place.
In any case: I have to remember there's plenty of time left for people to support the campaign, and we're almost a third of the way to the target. My job right now is to promote the campaign as much as possible, bearing in mind that I went HAM last time.
You can help advertise/promote the campaign by sharing and tweeting about the link to the campaign (http://www.zequs.com/campaign/project-swapfig-minifigure-trading-action), as well as by word of mouth. If you have any suggestions on people or web sites I can approach, please get in touch.
That's all for now!
What's good everybody.
As I speak I'm on the way to the STEAM Museum in parts unknown, for this year's Great Western LEGO Show this weekend. I'm going to be exhibiting some of my models there, but what you might not know is that I'll also be doing a talk on Project Swapfig.
There really isn't a better opportunity to get the word out about a LEGO-related web site, and indeed a crowdfunding project - but the thing is, it's my first time doing any kind of public speaking in years. I'm used to being underground, and this weekend is going to expose me to a whole bunch of people. Nerves are starting to increase, as you can imagine.
But thinking about why I signed myself up to do a talk all those weeks ago, I remembered something I repeatedly told myself during the first crowdfunding campaign:
"If you're not behind your project, nobody is."
This isn't one of those feel good quotes that only makes the person saying it feel good: it's a reminder that I have to do just about whatever it takes to make Project Swapfig a success.
There were times when I wanted to give up, whether it was with debugging code, dealing with server issues or someone badmouthing my efforts online. I also couldn't help thinking that someone else being behind the project would have had a lot more success. However, I always remembered how far I came with the site, and the fact there IS support for Project Swapfig, even if I'm the one building it. Who better to give a talk on the site than the person who was there from the very beginning?
If you're at STEAM this weekend, you can see me give my talk at midday. While you're at the event, come and say hello, and pick up one of my promotional business cards for Project Swapfig - then tell everybody you know about it, perhaps directing them to either swapfig.com or to this crowdfunding campaign. If you're lucky, I'll also give you a promotional pin badge!
Also remember: if we reach £750 by midnight on Sunday, I will remove trading limits on the site for everybody. That means you can trade as much as you want with other people!
To everybody who has made a pledge so far, thank you very much.
Hello folks, this is Drew (the guy behind Project Swapfig and this crowdfunding campaign) with another update. So far things are going very well!
One important thing came up this morning, as I was thinking about what would be required to start adding other items to the site. My biggest concern was with trading limits: right now there are limits to how many items can be added to one half of a trade, based on each user's trading level.
Trading levels are in place to restrict the amount of damage that rogue traders can do to others, and for users to build trust among each other. However, a problem arises with how to set trading limits for LEGO parts and polybag sets; the current system doesn't take sizes and weight into account.
So while I try to figure out a solution, I'll throw this challenge your way:
CHALLENGE #1: If we reach £750 (50% of the total) by midnight on Sunday, I'll remove all trading limits on the site until the redesign.
That essentially means there won't be any trading limits when the first batch of non-CMF (Collectible Minifigure) items are added, so you can trade as much as you want at a time.
TRIVIA: apart from the expanding sections on the My Trades page, Project Swapfig's current design doesn't use any arrows.
About ten minutes ago I decided to push the button on this second attempt at crowdfunding, thanks to the very helpful people at PleaseFund.us/Zequs. I wasn't sure whether to try again after the first time, but eventually a lot was learned and I was encourage to make another go at it.
To show I'm not just sitting back and asking for hard-earned money, I've put some of my own into the campaign. That should get things going!
If you have any questions, please get in touch.
Good Luck. The site is great and I hope people realize that not everything is free.
Good luck drew, chipped in again because it is a great campaign!
C'mon drew! Le'ts build!
you're doing good work - hope you hit the target!
Good luck drew you are getting there!
BEN AND ED
Best of luck Drew!
Hope you get there, Drew. It's a good contribution to Lego-kind
I hope you'll be successful !
Well done Drew. This is a great idea and deserves to succeed. Ed & Sian Hockaday, Perth
HJ Media studios
This is a great idea; let me know if you need any renders, animations, etc. I'd be willing to do some stuff pro bono to help your awesome idea out.
BEN AND ED
Hi Drew! i do a pledge this morning. Thank you for all you do to us. snowjonh
All the best Drew!
Keep up the great work Drew!
Good Luck This Time Drew
Love the gold one - hopefully i'll get one for christmas - good luck my man - amazing stuff
Keep going Drew, it is a great idea and an awesome site for lego enthusiasts!
Great idea Drew... I'll register later on!
Thanks for setting up Swapfig and sticking with it. It's been great trading with others and helping fill in my collection :-D
Great campaign, love it!
£5 gets you one chance to win one of a White Swapfigure, a Pink Swapfigure, a t-shirt or a Gold Swapfigure in a raffle-style draw.
One prize will be added for every £50 pledged in total through this option.
Estimated delivery: Feb 2014.
a high-quality postcard size print of some Project Swapfig artwork, signed by me.
Estimated delivery: Dec 2013.
PRINT option AND two 2x4 printed tiles (one Black, one White) with the Project Swapfig logo.
Estimated delivery: Feb 2014.
"early bird" GOLD SWAPFIGURE
a chrome gold Swapfigure + WHITE SWAPFIGURE option.
Estimated delivery: Feb 2014.
TILES option AND your very own White "Swapfigure". You can choose which letter (S, W, A, P, F, i, G) you want.
Purchase more of these figures at a discount!
Estimated delivery: Feb 2014.
TILES option AND a Project Swapfig t-shirt.
Estimated delivery: Feb 2014.
GOLD SWAPFIGURE option
A limited edition chrome gold Swapfigure + WHITE SWAPFIGURE option.
Estimated delivery: Feb 2014.
A Project Swapfig t-shirt
+ GOLD SWAPFIGURE option.
Estimated delivery: Feb 2014.
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