Yearly Archives: 2011

2012 LEGO Friends sets bring brick-based construction play to girls [News]

Since the news is making the rounds on the web at this point, most of you are probably already aware of the upcoming LEGO Friends theme in 2012. The response has been, shall we say, mixed. Since I’m sure there’ll be quite a discussion here and elsewhere, I won’t shy away from sharing my own opinion. Bottom line for me: I’m not a huge fan of the new figures, but they bring much-needed diversity to LEGO people, and the sets themselves appear to be entirely brick-built, with some interesting new colors.

For those of you out there who’ve made statements about gender stereotyping, take a look at this photo of set 3933 Olivia’s Inventor’s Workshop:

LEGO Friends 3933

That’s right — Olivia has invented herself a robot in her laboratory through the use of math and science.

The main difference is in the scale and shape of the figures, called “mini-dolls”. Here’s a comparison:

LEGO Friends vs. Minifigs

I’ve heard that the hair pieces are compatible with standard minifigs.

The buildings in the sets are built from standard bricks, rather than large, single-purpose elements:

LEGO Friends 3315

Here’s the official press release:

LEGO Group Declares New Year’s Resolution for 2012: Deliver Meaningful Play Experiences to Girls Worldwide with LEGO® Friends

Company brings classic construction play to the girls’ aisle with first-of- its-kind LEGO® mini-doll figure, three new brick colors and detailed interiors that reflect four years of research in play needs of girls

BILLUND, Denmark (December 19, 2011) – The LEGO Group, the world’s leading construction toy brand, today announced LEGO® Friends, a new play theme that tailors the iconic LEGO construction experience especially to girls ages five and up. LEGO Friends delivers on a girl’s desire for realistic role-play, creativity, and a highly-detailed, character-based world with the core values of LEGO building.

The LEGO Friends collection of 23 products ranges in price from $5.99 to $99.99 USD and the first 14 will be available for sale in select toy, discount merchandise, specialty and online stores beginning December 26, 2011 in the United Kingdom and January 1, 2012 in the United States. A rolling International launch will follow in the spring, with the remaining nine sets launching in the summer months.

“We felt it was time to test assumptions that girls aren’t interested in building and to breathe fresh air into a toy category filled mostly with pre-fabricated play experiences for girls,” said Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO, LEGO Group. “We focused on creating a play experience centered on the joy of creation, while heeding the way girls naturally build and play. We are incredibly proud of the solution we deliver with LEGO Friends, and are resolved to build this platform for years to come.”

LEGO Friends is the first 100 percent LEGO building experience fully optimized to girls’ tastes and interests. Thousands of girls and their mothers worldwide participated in intensive research that validated the desire for more beauty, realistic details, accessories and interior building and role play opportunities in a LEGO offering.

Introducing the LEGO mini-doll figure

Anchored by the introduction of a new mini-doll figure, LEGO Friends introduces a new LEGO minifigure platform tailored to girls’ requests for a more realistic, relatable and stylized figure. Designed to the same scale of the classic LEGO minifigure, the mini-doll figure stands roughly 5 millimeters taller than its minifigure sibling, yet features similar constructability, shares the iconic “claw” hand to hold the same accessories, can wear the same hair and headpieces, and is compatible with all LEGO building sets. A total of 29 different mini-doll figures will be introduced in 2012.

“LEGO Friends is one of the most researched LEGO projects ever and is a culmination of years of anthropological research with girls around the world to understand what they expect from a construction toy,” said Nanna Ulrich Gudum, senior creative director, LEGO Group. “In talking with girls and their moms, we understand that girls really want a LEGO offering that mirrors what the boys experience, but in a way that fulfills their unique desire for remodeling and redesign, combined with realistic themes in community and friendship.”

“Unlike previous LEGO toys for girls, LEGO Friends, at its core, does not apologize for being a construction toy and delivers, for the first time, a building experience in the same scale as our classic offerings,” Nanna Ulrich Gudum continued. “What LEGO Friends does differently is deliver the beauty, details, accessories, real world themes and need for strong interior play that the research revealed would make all the difference for girls ages 5 and up.”

Welcome to Heartlake City

The LEGO Friends story centers on the everyday lives and personalities of five girls in a fictional hometown called Heartlake City. Each of the friends—Olivia, Mia, Andrea, Stephanie and Emma—has a distinct personality and interests, such as animals, performing arts, invention and design, that are reflected in the models. Building sets reflect different parts of town where the girls’ adventures take place—downtown, suburbs, beach, camping grounds and mountains.

The product collection

Half of the launch collection includes construction sets themed to introduce girls to each of the “Friend’s” personalities, including: Stephanie’s Outdoor Bakery, Emma’s Splash Pool, Andrea’s Stage, Olivia’s Inventor’s Workshop, Stephanie’s Pet Patrol, Mia’s Puppy House and Emma’s Design Studio. Girls are also invited to construct the Friends’ favorite locations in Heartlake City with larger building sets, including: Stephanie’s Cool Convertible, Olivia’s Tree House, Heartlake Dog Show, Butterfly Beauty Shop, City Park Café, Heartlake Vet, and Olivia’s House. The remaining nine sets launching later in the year deliver the same range in price and theme.

Immersive brand experience

Children will be immersed in the new world they can create with LEGO Friends through a variety of brand experiences planned for 2012. In addition to providing product information, the LEGO Friends website will allow children to explore the personalities of each of the five Friends and the different spots in Heartlake City. The site will also feature an avatar creator, mini-movies, games, video building tips, story extensions, contests, news and an events calendar. Also planned are Interactive building events and road shows, promotions, magazines, digital content, a mini movie, in-store experiences, books and more. Check for more information.

So, what do you think? Sound off in the comments.

Sava Railways Scenic Tours 2012 Train Calendar

It’s the end of the year which means Tony Sava (SavaTheAggie) has released another of his excellent calendars for sale to help fund RAILBRICKS and his trip to Brickworld 2012. I’ve already blogged a picture from this and it promises to be excellent. A fine addition to any LEGO fan’s wall, be they trainhead or otherwise.

Sava Railways Scenic Tours 2012 LEGO® Train Calendar

Sava Railways Scenic Tours 2012 LEGO® Train Calendar

Help support RAILBRICKS, the brick railroading magazine, with this gorgeous 13 month calendar. Each month features photos from Anthony Sava’s Sava Railways Scenic Tours photo series, showcasing trains and scenery built entirely of LEGO® bricks.

For 2012, Anthony has taken photos of his LEGO train MOCs based on the Texas State Railroad. From tall trestle bridges to scenes deep in the Piney Woods of East Texas, each photo captures a unique spirit and playfulness that only LEGO bricks can create.

This is not an official LEGO Product, and is not sponsored, authorized or endorsed by The LEGO Group.

Full disclosure:
Each calendar costs $12.99 to produce, and an additional $1 is collected by LuLu.

Of the $3.51 profit, 10% will be donated to RAILBRICKS. This is the same amount I donate to RAILBRICKS from my Bricklink shop. The remainder will go to help fund my trip to Brickworld 2012.

9 of the best LEGO Lord of the Rings models built by fans [Gallery]

Gandalf the GreyThe news today that summer 2012 will bring official LEGO Lord of the Rings and Hobbit sets made my day — maybe even my decade.

To me, this is as big a shock and as happy a day as the first time I heard about rumored LEGO Star Wars sets back in the 90’s. While my passion for Star Wars has rather waned in the intervening dozen years, my love of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth — and Peter Jackson’s movie incarnation of it — has never been stronger. Some of you may bemoan the increasing number of licensed themes LEGO is releasing, and I personally don’t care too much about DC Super Heroes, but LEGO Lord of the Rings is a Pretty Big Deal. I think it’s awesome.

In honor of the nine members of the Fellowship of the Ring, here are nine of my favorite fan-made LEGO models inspired by The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit (both books and movies) that we’ve featured here over the years. I can only imagine what LEGO fans will be inspired to build with official sets and minifigs.

1. OneLug’s 7-foot LEGO Tower of Orthanc & Last March of the Ents

LEGO Lord of the Rings Tower of Orthanc

2. Amon Hen & Beorn’s House by Blake Baer

LEGO Lord of the Rings Amon HenLEGO Lord of the Rings Beorn House

(Technically, this is two, for a total of 10, I know.)

3. Kevin Walter’s 5′ 9″ Tower of Barad-dûr

LEGO Lord of the Rings Barad-dur tower

4. Dave Sterling’s Minas Morgul

LEGO Lord of the Rings Minas Morgul

5. Karyn’s Modulex Doors of Durin mosaic

LEGO Lord of the Rings Doors of Durin mosaic

6. Helm’s Deep by Bryan Hanonymous

LEGO Lord of the Rings Helm's Deep

7. Jens’ Oliphaunt battle

LEGO Lord of the Rings Oliphaunt battle

8. Astuanax’s Minas Tirith

LEGO Lord of the Rings Minas Tirith

9. The Hobbit Hole by CAI

LEGO Lord of the Rings Hobbit Hole

Finally, check out all the wonderful things LEGO fans have been building in the Tolkien LEGO group on Flickr.

LEGO Minas Morgul by Dave Sterling

With impeccable timing, Dave Sterling just posted a massive version of Minas Morgul from The Lord of the Rings. The angled buttresses (if that’s what they are) portrayed in the movie are rendered in brick with excellent skill.

LEGO Lord of the Rings Minas Morgul

The looming structure dwarfs Frodo, Sam, and Gollum as they hide outside.

Lego to Pick Up The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Licenses [News]

No folks, it’s not an untimely April’s fools joke. Lego is partnering with Warner Bros. to bring us what so many fans have asked for over the years — LEGO sets based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, including both The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit.

Warner Bros. Consumer Products and The LEGO Group Build on Partnership to Produce Construction Toys for THE LORD OF THE RINGS™ Trilogy and the Two Films Based on THE HOBBIT

-Building Sets Based on Epic Film Trilogy and Forthcoming Theatrical Release Slated for 2012-

BILLUND, Denmark and Burbank, CA – December 16, 2011 – Warner Bros. Consumer Products and The LEGO Group announced today a partnership that awards the world’s leading construction toy brand exclusive rights to develop build-and-play construction sets based on THE LORD OF THE RINGS™ trilogy and the two films based on THE HOBBIT™. The multi-year licensing agreement grants access to the library of characters, settings, and stories for THE LORD OF THE RINGS property, as well as films The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again. LEGO® THE LORD OF THE RINGS construction sets are slated for a rolling global launch beginning in June 2012 in the United States, with LEGO THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY scheduled for later in the year.

“Only LEGO, with their expertise in the construction category, is capable of doing justice to the incredibly imaginative environments depicted in the world of THE LORD OF THE RINGS and the two films based on THE HOBBIT,” said Karen McTier, executive vice president, domestic licensing and worldwide marketing, Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “These films give life to amazing worlds and characters and we are thrilled to bring fans these products that deliver an imaginative play experience befitting of these beloved properties.”

The LEGO THE LORD OF THE RINGS collection will translate into LEGO form the epic locations, scenes and characters of Middle-earth as depicted in all three films, including The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

In late 2012, LEGO THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY will give fans of all ages a chance to build and play out the fantastical story and new characters of the legendary Middle-earth adventures depicted in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey from Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson, slated to premiere December 14, 2012.

“Our collaboration with Warner Bros. Consumer Products has delivered numerous worldwide successes in the construction toy aisle with lines like LEGO HARRY POTTER and LEGO BATMAN, introducing us to loyal audiences who love great stories, strong characters and the toys that they inspire,” said Jill Wilfert, vice president, licensing and entertainment for The LEGO Group. “It’s particularly exciting to now be able to create sets based on the fantasy worlds and characters from THE LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and the two films based on THE HOBBIT, not only because we know they will foster collectability and creative play, but also because these are two properties that our fans have been asking us to create for years.”

Information about the sets and collectible minifigures from both collections will be unveiled at a later date at

Gran Torino in LEGO

For his local (Cologne) LEGO brand store recently, Joe Klang (-derjoe-) built a scene from Gran Torino. What I find particularly attractive about this scene is how inorganic it feels, while reflecting the movie so well. It almost feels like a platform game version of the film with the straight lines, diagonal grid and textural elements. And the neat suburban lawn feels even more sterile than in real life.

LEGO® brand store window box

Thanks to Alex Jones for the heads up

2012 LEGO Super Heroes DC Comics sets out now [News]

2012 Batman and Superman sets are out a couple weeks early from LEGO Shop online. The new sets include 6864 The Batmobile and the Two-Face Chase,icon which goes for $50 and includes five minifigs.


So far, the Man of Steel is only available in 6862 Superman vs. Power Armor Lex,icon which also includes Lex Luthor and Wonder Woman.


(And no, I haven’t forgotten about our giveaway of the SDCC 2011 exclusive minifigs. It’s just taken forever to scrub the comment data so I can properly — and fairly — randomize the entries. Apologies for the delay, especially now that you can buy your own Batman, but the person who wins him will still be getting the minifig on a card that was exclusive to Comic-Con, so hope you can forgive me…)

Remember, free shipping is now available for orders of $49, with guaranteed delivery by Christmas on all orders placed before December 18.

Receive FREE Shipping on any order of $99 or more.  Valid thru 12.13.11

First class speedometer

I would never have guessed that combining a first class compartment coach with a dynamometer was a real idea. But I trust Carl Greatrix (bricktrix) to have done his homework. Although I’m not blogging it for its unusualness but for its lovely looks. There a few touches that purists may not like but it’s a gorgeous old wagon however you look at it.

GWR Dynamometer car

PS. And no, speedometers are not the same as dynamometers. But the concept is much the same.

2012 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR by Malte Dorowski

We’ve featured a gorgeously curved Porsche 935/78 by Malte Dorowski here before, but Malte is a talented car builder whose LEGO models extend well beyond that one iconic German automaker. That said, I have a soft spot for Porsches, so here’s another great one — the new 911 GT3 RSR.

LEGO Porsche 911 GT3 RSR

Also, lime is always awesome, and this Porsche looks like it could talk.

The Cult of LEGO is a must-have book for every LEGO fan [Review]

With books about LEGO starting to fill up the shelves in one’s hobby room, how does the discerning LEGO reader choose which books to buy and read? John Baichtal and Joe Meno’s The Cult of LEGO is an easy choice for inclusion in your LEGO library.

When the book arrived from No Starch Press back in October (yes, I’m that backlogged), I was pleasantly surprised at how hefty it was — an unexpected contrast to the paperback Unofficial LEGO Builder’s Guide. For a book featuring hundreds of LEGO photos, I’m glad they released a hardback book with full-color, glossy printing.

John & Joe provide a solid overview of the LEGO hobby, from Bionicle and Technic to SYSTEM and Mindstorms, with sections dedicated to ApocaLEGO (including an appearance by Zombie Apocafest 2008), Steampunk, LEGO graffiti, and more. You’ll see a lot of the iconic LEGO creations that made the rounds of the ‘net a few years back — Henry Lim’s MC Escher LEGO, Sean Kenney’s Yankee Stadium, big LEGO battleships, the “No Real Than You Are” minifig, Hannes Tscharmer’s Jawa sandcrawler, and more.

As long-time LEGO fans and readers of this blog might infer themselves, the lists in that last paragraph support the justified critiques Nannan had about the book in his own mini-review.

Many of the featured models are the ones that merely happened to go viral on the web, not necessarily what we might consider “the best” of a particular genre. And with the exception of the sandcrawler (posted this past June, just a few months before the book’s release), nearly all of the LEGO creations in the book date to 2009 or earlier.

It’s also odd to see Brickshelf and LUGNET featured as two of the primary websites under “LEGO on the Web.” Yes, Brickshelf and LUGNET. In 2011. (And yes, TBB does make the list under “LEGO Fan Resources” later in the book.)

The Cult of LEGOBut I’m willing to forgive all these flaws in the face of lead times for printed books and the daunting task of making a niche subject like ours much more widely appealing. It was really lovely to see The Cult of LEGO on the Seattle Times’ front-page banner and included in Powell’s Books Black Friday deals as I shopped in Portland after Thanksgiving with my mom.

And for me, it’s those local, personal connections to the book that make it a must-have — seeing pictures from BrickCon, reading profiles of my friends, and thinking back to fun times with Lewis & Clark on the Pacific Coast (the late, great Mr. Pugsly even makes an appearance).

Despite all the pretty photos, John & Joe manage to weave a thread of humanity throughout The Cult of LEGO, so that in reading it you can step into this tight-knit yet simultaneously open-armed world of builders and bloggers, brick artists and LEGO engineers.

Whether you’re a casual LEGO fan or a hardcore builder, The Cult of LEGO has a lot to offer. The book isn’t so much about the unattributed pictures of viral LEGO models you’ve been sent a hundred times by relatives and coworkers as it is the diversity of real people and the community behind them.

My verdict: Find room on your LEGO shelf for The Cult of LEGO.