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Sorry, there’s no LEGO Uncharted set because I started that rumour (for science)

uncharted 4 a thiefs end screen 02 ps4 us 09mar16

There’s an old adage that says never trust everything you read on the internet, and I think every now and then, I think it’s a fairly good reminder.

All those headlines and articles you may have stumbled upon on the rumoured LEGO Uncharted set, are unfortunately false, and have no basis in reality – because I started the rumour. (sorry, not sorry).

I’ve always had a fascination with #legoleaks, and the entire cottage industry that revolves around the sourcing, and sharing of upcoming, uncomfirmed LEGO sets and themes. If you spend a lot of time on Instagram, you’re probably following the #legoleaks hashtag.

It’s an endless flood of set numbers, retailer descriptions, and sometimes, questionably sourced grainy photos from factories, or unreleased minifigure parts, that somehow find their way outside LEGO’s manufacturing facilities.

I have a few side journalistic projects I work on, and this week represented an opportunity to put one into action, due to a whole bunch of 2HY 2022 (second half of 2022) set lists being dumped online, so I took the opportunity and ran with it.

Primer on where LEGO leaks originate

I’ve always wondered, how and where do LEGO rumours and leaks emerge from.

For most of LEGO Leaks, the primary sources are almost always those with connections to retailers, or those that have access to confidential LEGO retail catalogue.

That’s about 90% of where most leaks, set lists, and rumours emerge from, where someone is given access, or a look at either the physical catalogues, or online portal that LEGO retailers or stockists have access to, where you usually get to see grainy, confidential, non-final images, prices, set numbers and piece-counts.

LEGO Minifigures Series 16 Spy

Then there are the 10% of leaks and rumours out there, who usually have very well-placed sources, and I suspect come from within LEGO themselves, or one of their partners, that are usually a lot more juicy, and cover D2C/exclusive sets, often months in advance, which are usually not part of the stockist catalogues, as only and LEGO Brand Stores have initial access to them.

Back when toys shows were a thing, you used to also get access to LEGO’s booth, where some of these were shown off, either in a public setting, or for the really good stuff, behind closed doors.

Which got me thinking – could anyone start a LEGO rumour, and most importantly, how far could it go? Would any big LEGO or media site pick up and publish any rumour that’s floating around on Instagram?

Let’s go fishing.

LEGO Leaks Fishing

Starting a LEGO leak/rumour

A window of opportunity opened up with the dump of second half of 2022 LEGO sets, and the rumour mill and #legoleaks hashtag was in overdrive, humming with activity.

There had been plenty of rumours already about a potential LEGO Gaming subtheme, featuring, among others, the recently paused Overwatch 2 Titan set, and rumoured Horizon Zero Dawn Tallneck set, so I had a prime candidate – a LEGO Uncharted Set.

I figured, with the upcoming Uncharted live action movie in mid-February, upcoming launch of the PS5 remaster, a LEGO set based on the Uncharted franchise wouldn’t be too hard to believe, and I had a strong pitch about this as a set that was missing from the batch of set lists.

Lastly, I had one last crucial thing to do – check with LEGO themselves, through the LEGO Ambassador Network. When working with Intellectual Property (IP) partners, LEGO usually have to tread very carefully, and the last thing I wanted to do was to start a rumour of a set that was actually in development – which reflect well on LEGO.

After all… in 2018, I wrote an April Fool’s Joke about LEGO James Bond sets… which turned out to be partially true, as we did end up getting an Aston Martin DB5 that very year…

I got the green light, which was also probably confirmation that no, a LEGO Uncharted set wasn’t in the works at all – and I could push ahead with my plans.

Modus Operandi

So how does one start a leak? I had a few options – I could of course, just use the #legoleaks hashtag, but I didn’t want it to be traced back to me, so if I were to start an anonymous Instagram account, it would have zero credibility.

My main objective is for a “big site” to pick it up and run with the story, but to do so, I needed to catch their attention, so I had to go down one step the #legoleaks food chain, and try and bait some of the anonymous #legoleaks players to pick this one up.

I drew up a small list of accounts that I could feed this information to. Not exhaustive, but I did target a mix of big names, but also growing accounts. #legoleaks is hyper competitive, and breaking a rumour of set release will usually draw in more followers, so I had mid-sized accounts in my sights, as well as those often cited by the big guys.

LEGO 76077 Detroit Steel Strikes Agent Coulson Minifigure

So I started an anonymous Instagram account, and started DMing these accounts, offering them a highly confidential scoop of a LEGO Uncharted set.

I did leverage my LAN credentials, essentially lying that I had got the set to review, and could feed them information, and to establish some trust, shared a document that showed that I was part of the LAN to gain some trust.

I only reached out to a handful of accounts, and thankfully, I had one bite. I fed them a faked set number, list of minifigures and a brief description of the set, and we were off to the races.

How rumours spread

Again, really sorry for the deceitful practice… but here’s where it all began. One of my targets had took the bait, and was the first to break the story.

It started to pick up traction on #legoleaks, and it was then picked up by a large LEGO site, Brick Fanatics, who ran with the rumour story.

image 5

From there on, the rumour began to spread like wildfire, mostly among gaming sites, and also more mainstream outlets like Screenrant, citing Push Square, who cited Brick Fanatics.

It went on and on from there, with new sites and blogs just citing one another.

I did kinda feel bad for all the deception, but mission accomplished, I guess?

Surprising findings

LEGO Minifigures Series 14 Monster Scientist Fly Flask

This was first and foremost, a bit of a social experiment, so here are some of my findings:

It’s quite easy to begin a LEGO rumour – Self explanatory, but this was a small project I’ve been working on, and I didn’t put a ton of effort in, but still managed to meet my primary objective.

Some sites will publish anything with a rumour label – most sites are driven by clicks and page views, so will publish anything without even doing any fact-checking. Having a rumour label absolves most fact-checking, as they’re just reporting on rumours, but with so many rumours online, which can be started by anyone, is it really worth covering every rumour? Remember those rumours of LEGO Marvel Minifigures Series 2 that lasted for like, a week?

Respect for some leak/rumour accounts went up – not everyone ran with the story, and some were quite insistent on more proof, and didn’t really trust an anonymous Instagram account bearing unsolicited gifts. I think some did cross-check their own sources on the legitimacy of this, and didn’t publish the rumour

Those with legitimate sources, or a way to cross-check retailer databases, or even sources within The LEGO Group/their partners would’ve also easily debunked this rumour, so it was nice to see this being passed over by some LEGO sites and channels that I follow.

LEGO Ideas Uncharted

LEGO should start seriously looking into an Uncharted set – A surprising finding here, is just how excited Playstation and Uncharted fans were by this rumour. Reading threads on Resetera, and on social media, it was great seeing Uncharted fans (it’s a pretty good game), get hyped up for a LEGO set, and for a Nathan Drake minifigure. While the game is pretty violent, and is one of the “Inappropriate” IPs on the LEGO Ideas Platform, I think an actual LEGO Uncharted set would be pretty neat, and it has a massive fanbase that LEGO could tap into.

So LEGO, maybe pick up the phone and give the guys at Playstation a call to see if this happens? I’d buy one for sure.

Thanks for reading – I hope you enjoyed this little journalism project, I’m hoping the first of many for 2022 as I look to introduce more varied content on the blog.

What do you think of the LEGO Rumour Mill? Has there been any rumoured sets or themes that you got excited about but never eventuated? What can LEGO sites/channels do more to deliver more accurate content?

Also, a massive and public apology to FalconBrickStudios for tricking you about this – I really didn’t mean any ill-will with this.

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