A pillar of the classic LEGO Space community, Mark Neumann has emerged from myth and legend to bring us Universal Explorer LL2016. This 11-foot-6-inch behemoth of a ship is complete with giant guns, a science module, a motorized ring, interior lights, a huge cargo bay big enough to fit most official LEGO sets, and over a dozen smaller vehicles stored on board. We’ve sat down with Mark to learn a bit more about this incredible creation and Mark’s journey to build it.
It’s just four months to BrickCon 2016 in Seattle, and TBB is gearing up for our hometown LEGO convention. For our annual collaboration this year, we’re going to be putting together a dieselpunk display called World War II 1949. With the aircraft, vehicles, and buildings you contribute, you’ll help answer the question, “What if WW2 had not ended in 1945, and technology had continued evolving rapidly through the end of the decade?”
The LEGO Shop is also making room for the summer sets by discounting a number of great sets, with some cool promotions this month. VIP program members get free shipping on all orders over only $35 rather than the usual $75, with a cool LEGO City fountain on orders over $75
If you haven’t joined the VIP program yet, you can earn an extra 100 points toward a future discount. Click the banner below to see all the details about this month’s promos.
Back in April, TBB gave away the Millennium Falcon to one lucky reader in Texas. We took a breather from our giveaways in May, but we’re diving back in now by giving away 75094 Imperial Shuttle Tydirium! It’s a lovely set with a great set of minifigs and some fantastic play features. Click here to enter!
If you want to see more giveaways like this, you can support TBB by buying your LEGO after clicking through from Brothers-Brick.com.
Fine print: In order to make a global contest manageable, TBB uses the Contests app on Facebook. As a result, this contest is limited to TBB readers with Facebook accounts. Yes, we still love if you you’re on G+. For winners in locations that are very expensive to ship to, TBB reserves the right to substitute a monetary value equivalent to the cost of the set in your country. We’ll send you a cool TBB T-shirt either way.
Every once in awhile a LEGO model comes along that makes you pause, a little slack-jawed, and then scramble for your soon-to-be-empty wallet. There are a lot of cool sets in the LEGO lineup, but a rare few are targeted at adult builders with a larger budget and a thirst for a premium experience and finished product that serves as an office-decor talking piece. These are sets that aren’t just large and complex, but sets that can be called a work of art; an ABS sculpture. Few sets that I’ve encountered fit this bill better than the new Technic 42056 Porsche 911 GT3 RS. It has 2,704 pieces, and it’s available beginning June 1 online as well as in select markets. It will hit store shelves in the USA in August, where it will retail for $299 USD.
Amazon.com has put more than a hundred and fifty LEGO sets on sale, starting at 20% off. Check out the sale page for the full list, but here are some highlights.
The LEGO City 60052 Cargo Train set is 38% or $76 off, at $123.99 (down from $200).
Similarly, 60097 City Square is 36% or $67 off, at $122.42 (down from $190).
Although lots of City sets are on deep discount, it’s not the only theme getting some good discount love — Marvel, Technic, Creator, Friends, and even Architecture are on sale. Every purchase (not just LEGO) you make by clicking through from Brothers-Brick.com helps support the kinds of contests, giveaways, and event sponsorship that we do over the course of the year.
Now that the buzz from The Force Awakens has assuaged, and the hype for Rogue One hasn’t yet reached a fever pitch, the LEGO Star Wars line can turn its Goliath head toward older or smaller pieces of the franchise. Thus it is that this summer’s Star Wars wave contains elements from myriad sources, including the original trilogy, the prequels, Rebels, the Freemaker Adventures and, yes, even a little of The Force Awakens has snuck in. We’ll be looking at a few of these sets here on The Brothers Brick, starting today with 75150 Vader’s TIE Advanced vs. A-Wing Starfighter. This set is from the Star Wars Rebels line, and retails for $89.99 USD and contains 702 pieces.
A recent study from the University of Canterbury proclaims that depictions of violence in LEGO set catalogs and the number of weapons in LEGO products has increased significantly as the result of a metaphorical “arms race” between toy manufacturers. The article’s authors include Qi Min Ser, Elena Moltchanova, James Smithies, Erin Harrington, and Christoph Bartneck, builder of the life-sized Unikitty and author of The Ideal Order.
The study looked at LEGO sets produced between 1978 and 2014 (excluding Duplo and Junior lines) and found that nearly 30% of today’s LEGO sets contain at least one weapon brick. It also explained that the chances of observing violence in LEGO catalog pages has increased steadily by 19% each year. Currently, around 40% of all catalog pages have some type of violence. “In particular, scenarios involving shooting and threatening behaviour have increased over the years. The perception of nonverbal psychological aggression increased at a similar rate. The atmosphere of the violent acts is predominately perceived as exciting.” The study concludes that “violence in LEGO products seems to have gone beyond just enriching game play” in attempt to attract more customers.
Turning to the online LEGO community, both the photo above by Brick Police and the one below by Hammerstein NWC use LEGO minifigures and weapons to create graphic, violent scenes that may be considered offensive or unsafe for children. But these images highlight a huge oversight in the University of Canterbury’s study: builders, many of whom are adults, who want to incorporate realistic weapons into their builds cannot get them from LEGO directly. The Danish company refuses to sell such weapons even though there is a high demand for them. Instead, builders must turn to third-party companies like BrickArms, BrickWarriors, Citizen Brick, or Modern Brick Warfare to get their fix of tiny, plastic violence.
If a metaphorical “arms race” among toy manufactures truly exists, LEGO is finishing dead last. As the Canterbury study pointed out, LEGO competitor Megablocks offers sets based off violent games and films like Terminator, Call of Duty, Halo, and Assassin’s Creed, while LEGO refuses to partner with such franchises. And there are no plans for LEGO to overtake their competitors in the arms race. Mads Nipper, LEGO’s former Senior Vice President in Global Innovation in Marketing declared that “We will never produce realistic toys for playing war.”
There’s no denying the facts of the study. LEGO has included more and more weapons and scenes of violence on their products over the years, starting with the introduction the very first LEGO weapons in the 1978 Castle theme (sword, halberd, and lance) and obviously continuing with trademarked themes like Marvel and DC. But the study leaves several important questions unanswered. Should we shield children from violent toys? Is there a causation between violent toys and games during childhood and actual violent tendencies in adulthood? Should LEGO reduce the number of weapons and scenes of violence in their products? And would such a change impact customer satisfaction positively or negatively overall?
What do you think about all of this? Let us know in the comments!
Ah, LEGO Minecraft… Some consider it the perfect pairing of the physical and virtual worlds of building, while others are left scratching their heads at what they consider glorified basic brick boxes with Minecraft branding. Either way, the latest offering in the LEGO Minecraft line is the largest one to date. It’s a playset version of one possible arrangement of a village randomly generated when loading a new Minecraft world, a recognizable landmark for even an occasional player like myself. How does 21128 The Village, with 1600 pieces, eleven minifigures, and a price tag of $199.99 USD, hold up to a LEGO fan like myself, or to a hardcore Minecraft fan?
Issue 20 of Blocks magazine is already in subscribers’ mailboxes and will be in shops May 19th. This month there’s a comprehensive look at the new Speed Champions range, including an exclusive interview with the man behind a real life Audi. Elsewhere, Simon Pickard introduces us to his brand new technique for building mind-bending roads, while Daniel Konstanski finds out what goes into a LEGO racing car.
It’s not all about the wheels this month, however, with a look back at some classic LEGO football sets and reviews of the latest Ninjago and Super Heroes releases. This issue also celebrates the premiere of two new blockbusters, with a pair of whimsical Alice in Wonderland builds and instructions for some superpowered X-Men Mighty Micros.
LEGO’s Sydney Opera House was released in 2013, but now LEGO has finally announced their next Creator Expert model of a famous piece of architecture, that grand icon of England, 10253 Big Ben. It will retail for $249.99 USD, and will be available beginning July 1, just in time for Big Ben’s 137th birthday.
Now that LEGO’s Disney Collectible Minifigures are available in stores around the world, if you’re anything like us you’ll be furiously digging through cases in the store, trying to feel the blind packs to get full set of the 18 figures, or maybe just your favorites. Never fear, we’re here to help, and having already sorted quite a few ourselves we can offer some tips to help ensure you get the figures you want.
As we mentioned in our review of the Disney Collectible Minifigures, they come in a case of 60, with each case containing three full sets plus some extras. A case breaks down like this:
Three each of Aladdin, Alice, Ariel, Buzz Lightyear, Captain Hook, Cheshire Cat, Daisy Duck, Donald Duck, Maleficent, Minnie Mouse, Peter Pan, and Ursula.
Four each of Genie, Mickey Mouse, Mr. Incredible, Stitch, Syndrome, and the Toy Story Alien.