LEGO building set features ‘sewer heroes’ while highlighting fatberg issue

Sept. 20, 2022
The latest LEGO IDEAS design from Berlin-based MOCingbird is not the first to draw attention to the wastewater treatment industry

A Berlin-based designer has developed a LEGO building set concept that draws attention to the wastewater treatment industry, while shining the light on the fatberg issue.

In “Sewer Heroes: Fighting the Fatberg,” a 360-degree underground cutaway display and play set features a mixed-use residential/commercial building with the "Burgers & Fries" restaurant on the ground floor and residential units above. Below the street level, members of a fatberg removal team are hard at work.

The creator, who goes by the moniker MOCingbird, first started contributing to LEGO IDEAS at the beginning of 2020. LEGO IDEAS is an online platform where users can submit their own ideas for the construction toy sets. Concepts that receive 10,000 votes become eligible for review by LEGO, and a select few will become commercially available sets. To date, more than 40 sets have been released via LEGO Ideas, including one for the International Space Station.

The creator’s first sewer-related model, "Basement & Sewerage" fostered their interest in the water/wastewater space. Though the design ultimately garnered 10,000 votes and 2,100 comments on the IDEAS voting page, it was ultimately not selected for commercial availability. However, the model’s popularity and comments from supporters led to the latest MOCingbird design.

“During the voting phase for “Basement & Sewerage" many people from the water/wastewater industry asked [about the fatberg] in the comments,” the designer says. “I think I had not even heard of that issue before and I didn't know what people were talking about, so I had to do some research. When the goal of 10,000 votes had finally been reached, I came up with the idea of building a ‘Thank you’ model dedicated to the water/wastewater community which had helped me a lot in the voting phase. That's when the ‘Where's the fatberg?’ comments came back to my mind, and eventually I decided I would just try to make a LEGO model about the topic.”

In the Fighting the Fatberg set, the sewer workers are dubbed "Sewer Heroes” the designer says, because “that's really what they are. All the water/wastewater professionals deserve a lot more recognition for the crucial work they do.”

Only 28 hours after the project went live on the LEGO IDEAS voting site, it had received 1,000 supporters. Almost a week later, the set hag received more than 5,000 votes.

“The water/wastewater community supported the project like crazy and shared the news about the voting everywhere they could, but what really surprised me was how much love the model immediately got from the LEGO community as well,” the designer says.

As far as MOCingbird knows, "Sewer Heroes: Fighting the Fatberg" is the first-ever LEGO IDEAS model featuring a fatberg in its design.

Today, the project has been featured in the "Most Popular" ranking on the LEGO IDEAS website and has received more than 5,300 votes. Voting is open now here, and will remain open through November 2024.

Though the designer hopes that the set will garner enough votes to be passed on to the LEGO IDEAS jury, even if it is not ultimately selected for production as an official LEGO set, there might still be a second chance. By getting selected for the "Bricklink Designer Program," some of the rejected 10,000-supporter projects are made available to buy online for a limited time.

“For now, I just hope everything will work out in the end,” MOCingbird says, “so that we'll all see ’Sewer Heroes: Fighting the Fatberg’ on retail shelves soon.”

About the Author

Alanna Maya | Chief Editor

Alanna Maya is a San Diego State University graduate with more than 15 years of experience writing and editing for national publications. She was Chief Editor for WaterWorld magazine, overseeing editorial, web and video content for the flagship publication of Endeavor's Water Group. In addition, she was responsible for Stormwater magazine and the StormCon conference.