Advance just released their latest classic LEGO commercials! Town fans get twice the love this time, with two commercials, and the third features Belville. Each of them has their points of interest but my favorite this time is the one for the City Precinct. Gotta love controversy!
LEGO SYSTEM 1993 City Central Precinct
This was shot in Los Angeles and features a storyline that generated a lot of Grand Theft Auto-type controversy. It features a thief called Max who steals a car and is pursued through the city by police. In the end he escapes and we see the police precinct set from above. There were no CGI effects here – everything was built from scratch.
LEGO SYSTEM Belville 1994
Belville was an early attempt from LEGO to move into the girls’ market and is still available today. This spot is a somewhat surreal girls’ fantasy universe with lots of horses and mum and dad are still perfect sweethearts. The only time you see a boy is when the girl pushes him out of the picture.
LEGO SYSTEM TOWN 1998
This was done before we had 3D graphics so we used 2D animation. The spot features two ‘live’ animated figures while the rest are static mini-figs. At 00:10 and 00:16 we see the chopper in the air without any hands holding it – something that wouldn’t be legal today.
In this fourth installment of classic LEGO commercials by Advance, we have Black Monarch’s Castle, a journey through time and space and, lastly, an adventure in Egypt inspired by Indiana Jones.
LEGO System Black Monarch’s Castle – 1988
This was an extremely simple set-up — it was just the castle set depicted on the box transferred to a studio, just LEGO trees, a cardboard hill and a cardboard background. We made the background the same colour as the box to create the playful effect when the box appears. Notice the name of the play-theme 00:15 “LEGOLAND”, back then it was a LEGO category and now as you know its a world wide theme park.
LEGO SYSTEM Intergrator 1996
Still the most expensive commercial we’ve made at Advance, this was a huge project. The ad was inspired by LEGO Time Cruisers. We travel through the boxes into three different LEGO worlds but time stops in the ‘real’ world. When we return to the store, the cleaner hasn’t moved. Actually the cleaner also played the pirate in the striped top you see at 00:14. The casting for the pirates was hilarious, we had ten different guys show up with amazing costumes. We built the LEGO city in the desert at night and shot the next day, I slept in the truck that you see. The set almost blew away in a desert storm during that night.
LEGO SYSTEM Adventure 1998
Set in Egypt and heavily inspired by Indiana Jones. What looks like a huge set was built entirely in LEGO filmed with extreme close-up lenses. And the boy was shot on bluescreen. What’s interesting here is that in the boy’s room 00:26 we see lots of toys that aren’t LEGO – LEGO is almost taking a back seat and that would not happen today.
Now in week 3 of our collaboration with Advance, we are happy to bring you three more commercials from the days of yore. The lineup this week features ZNAP, Pirates and DUPLO. Did any of you actually buy ZNAP? I picked up some at a second-hand store once upon a time but that was about it. Regardless of the success of the line (or lack thereof), this commercial is pretty cool. The Pirates commercial has a great classic feel to it and the DUPLO ad is simply adorable. Now I want to build a giant Noah’s Ark out of DUPLO myself.
LEGO ZNAP Virus 1998
LEGO went right up against K’nex with the new Znap system featuring bricks
that could come together in all directions. LEGO were a bit worried and were
trying to redefine the brand as a cooler and up-to-date toy.
LEGO Pirates – The Islanders 1994
We shot all of this on a built set — there’s no blue-screen or compositing. The island set was pretty big and constructed out of polystyrene and joint filler. And the water was a giant glass plate. The shot at 0.14 when the pirate lands in the small rowboat had to be shot quite a few times before he landed right!
LEGO DUPLO – Noah’s Ark 1995
We shot this in the States in 1995. The house was completely built up from scratch. To me it has a very ‘ 80´s advertising’ feel — it’s got a kind of Southern warmth about it.
Advance just released three more vintage LEGO commericals. This week features Technic, Divers and Time Cruisers. My favorite is the Technic one. The “real” man and his car being manipulated by the boy cracks me up. On the other hand, the full-size Timmy in the Time Cruisers ad sort of creeps me out. Enjoy!
Art Director, Christian Faber tells us:
This was one of the first times we used 3D – the parking lot was built entirely in 3D and the man was shot on green screen. I think the spot has something of a voodoo feel – the boy is controlling the cars remotely. This spot is a bit different because the intro had nothing to do with toys.
The idea for this spot was inspired by Back to the Future – we actually built a Delorean for the set. The 2D/3D character animation was done by PDI and we shot in a plane interior in a Hollywood studio. Naked Gun was filmed in the same plane. It was a pretty chaotic set!
The shark here is a 2D animation shot on a 3D background – the models in the shark’s mouth are real though. This was a very simple line of sets and we felt we needed to spice up the communication, hence the real-looking sharks. We called it ‘borrowed interest’ back then. In retrospect, I think it’s a shame because I think we took attention away from the actual product.
Advance has been making LEGO tv commercials for over 30 years and recently they rediscovered many classic commercials in their archives. They will be releasing them online over the next ten weeks, so look for them here, with a bit of commentary from the people involved in their creation.
I am a big fan of vintage LEGO ads and commercials, so I’m pretty excited about this project. Come take a trip down memory lane with Advance and The Brothers Brick!
Blast from the Past Trailer video:
Art director Christian Faber says:
“We shot this in London or LA, I can’t actually remember! It was one of the first motion control spots we did. At 0:15 We used a kind of ‘magic building’ technique where the bricks are held on the end of metal rods and then pulled apart. And if you look closely at 0:00 you can actually see the edge of the studio in the top
“The set filled a whole studio and we used a lot of analogue techniques — the planet is just painted cardboard and the backdrop is just a screen with
little holes in it and a big light behind it. The hands you can see moving the sets at 0:05 and 0:21 secs are actually wax hands. I had quite a lot of
explaining to do when customs asked why I had a bag full of fake arms!”
Technic Racers (1997):
“We shot it in a specially built 10-metre tunnel that was hand-painted and filled with smoke. While it may look straight, if you look closely at 00:15
you can see the yellow lines bending slightly — that’s because at this point we filmed the car in a carousel to make it look like it was speeding
forward! The animatronic hand was cast on a girl’s hand so it was a perfect fit and gave her the control she needed in the more complicated movements.”
Wild West (1996)
“We juxtaposed stills of the LEGO sets being ‘magic built’ with lots of scenes from classic American Westerns. The last few shots featuring the fight scene
were filmed and then graded to fit in with the rest of the background scenes. The magic building techniques shown here are actually illegal now —
the law today requires that toy sets that need to be constructed have to be shown being built by hand.
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
2. Amon Hen & Beorn’s House by Blake Baer
(Technically, this is two, for a total of 10, I know.)
3. Kevin Walter’s 5′ 9″ Tower of Barad-dûr
4. Dave Sterling’s Minas Morgul
5. Karyn’s Modulex Doors of Durin mosaic
6. Helm’s Deep by Bryan Hanonymous
7. Jens’ Oliphaunt battle
8. Astuanax’s Minas Tirith
9. The Hobbit Hole by CAI
Finally, check out all the wonderful things LEGO fans have been building in the Tolkien LEGO group on Flickr.
Apparently this cruiser by Vince Toulouse has been around for awhile, but I missed it and it has some rather cool components. The overall shape is one that we don’t see a lot, using pieces that almost everyone refuses to touch…the giant floor pieces from the old Sports sets. But they look really good here. Also I really like the cavalry flag on the side. Very nice touch.
It’s no secret I love pre-WWI cars so Peter Blackert (lego911) was always going to please me with this one. But his pleasing went beyond what it could have been due to his excellent modelling. A fabulous demonstration of what can be done at this larger than minifig scale.
Yes please. I really like the shape of this new ship by Ed Diment (Lego Monster). I’m often a fan of forward swept wings, so that’s a plus there. The chunkiness of the nose is also pleasing, and seems to be in keeping with the general aesthetic of the old Futuron sets. The addition of a ground crew shows an extra dedication to the build that’s nice to see.
Will this be the first in a long string of creations? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
I recently contacted Mike Psiaki about redoing my favourite childhood set 6357 in a modern and detailed form. He agreed and after much conversation, sharing of photos and work this is the result. The helicopter was mostly made by Mike and the truck by me but both were discussed at length to get them looking as good as we could manage. The trailer was a true combined effort with each of us contributing many ideas.
Although Mike has been more busy building than me.