LEGO 40656 Braille Bricks – an educational tool, expensive gimmick, or something more? [Review]

Before we get going with the article, please know that this isn’t going to be your typical review. In large part, that’s because 40656 Braille Bricks isn’t your typical set. There’s no model to build here, and the parts aren’t intended for imaginative exploration like Classic sets. Instead, this is an educational item, designed for targeted learning rather than invention. Let’s discover together what we can learn from LEGO’s latest offering, hitting store shelves on September 1, 2023. 40656 Braille Bricks will retail for US $89.99 | CAN $119.99 | UK £79.99.

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

A quick history lesson

Technically, a similar product to this has been available since 2020, though not directly through LEGO. A larger version of this set, packaged similar to LEGO Education sets, has been available through various institutions around the globe dedicated to making print media accessible to those who are blind or have vision loss. In the US, American Printing House has played this role. In Canada, it’s the CNIB Foundation. And for the UK, it’s been managed by the Royal National Institute of Blind People. Coupled with this original product is a website hosted by LEGO ( with a wealth of activities for these braille bricks. Separated into Pre-Braille and Braille levels, and different categories within those levels, these games and exercises together offer a lesson plan to educate children on how to read braille and develop other relevant literacy skills.

The box and contents

While my copy was slightly damaged on its trip from Europe, the box is an eye-catching mix of yellow, gray, and white print on a black background. The cardboard is full of tactile graphics, including the name of the set in braille in the upper left corner on the front. In the upper right corner is a QR code leading to a LEGO website on the product and activities for this set (we’ll talk more about that later). Flipping the box over, its contents are laid out to peruse. I’ll get into the contents in detail after opening. The back of the box doesn’t feature any raised cardboard, unlike the front.

Cutting through the tape on the front of the box, the hinged container opens up to reveal bags of multicolored bricks in red, yellow, white, medium azure, and lime. Also included are two 32×32 baseplates in light gray and a brick separator in orange. A large card, resembling the back of the box, lays out the inventory of braille bricks, this time with appropriate tactile bumps.

Each stud on the braille bricks is raised off the cardstock, and the braille above each brick lists the number of bricks of that type included. The minimum quantity of any given type of brick is 4, and the maximum is 12. The same QR code from the front of the box appears again in the lower right corner of the insert. This QR code sends the user to LEGO’s website for the new product and a selection of six activities to use with these bricks. Each one appears as a narrated video, using graphics similar to the box art to walk the user through how to play.

At this point, I should also mention that we at TBB were also sent the French language version of this set (40655). While this review is going to remain focused on the English version due to their overwhelming similarity in function (and my inability to speak French), know that this product is available in at least one other language with plans to expand that list even further in 2024.

The bricks

Taking a more in-depth look at the pieces, each one has the same footprint as a standard 2×4 brick. The lower two studs are removed from each of them, replaced with black printing of the letter/number/symbol represented by the braille code found in the grid of six places on the rest of the brick. The back of the bricks is the standard tube connections we all know and love.

The whole alphabet A to Z is represented, with A to J doing double duty as the numbers 0 to 9 (as is typical for braille code). To facilitate any mathematics education with this set, the operations +, -, x, ÷ and = are also included, as well as the number-identifying pound sign (#). The rest of the cast is fleshed out by the comma, the period, and the apostrophe punctuation, as well as bricks to represent blank spaces and capitalization.

Conclusions and recommendations

Being completely honest, this was a difficult review to write. A set like this approaches LEGO from a direction very different from how I enjoy the hobby. When that happens, I try to put myself into the shoes of those LEGO is trying to reach. But this time I find myself questioning who exactly the intended audience is. The bricks themselves are excellent, and a great tool for education of younger kids in how to read braille.

But that places a greater burden on the lessons available to make a great overall product and play experience. For some reason, the excellent classes that utilize these bricks don’t come advertised with the product. Instead, they remain on the original LEGO braille bricks page for the 2020-released set. It feels like LEGO has gone for a dumbed-down version for the general population at the expense of a true education tool. And at the listed price, I would expect something far more academic than the “games” being presented on the new site. The final product feels like it doesn’t meet the needs of any group, instead coming off as gimmicky and overpriced for what it is.

If you do decide to shell out the big bucks for the braille bricks, I have two recommendations. First, ignore the QR code and head to instead. And ditch the included box in favor of a more-organized means of storing the blocks (when you’re making full sentences, you’ll thank me). Finally, in the name of true accessibility and inclusivity amid such a price tag, remember that similar “bricks” could be assembled using plates and tiles, and the online lessons are free.

Available September 1 from LEGO stores and their website, 40656 Braille Bricks will retail for US $89.99 | CAN $119.99 | UK £79.99.

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

Here’s a gallery with all the review images:

3 comments on “LEGO 40656 Braille Bricks – an educational tool, expensive gimmick, or something more? [Review]

  1. hntrains

    “Being completely honest, this was a difficult review to write” is a dangling participle. The set itself is just that: an expensive educational gimmick.

  2. Exxos

    My favorite part of this is that the cover art of the box does not really portray this product as anything — not really even a braille learning toy.

    It’s like lego thought, “What should the art on the box be? Eh, just a jumble of crap, it’s not like they’re not going to see it anyway.”

  3. Johnny Johnson

    $90 USD for 284 bricks (Did they not want a brick count in the review?) and two baseplates? Holy freakin’ shit.

    And yeah, the box art is sure… something. I can’t imagine trying to explain that one.

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