Chinese New Year is little more than a week away and, according to the Chinese zodiac, we are entering the Year of the Rat. When it comes to heavenly rodents, Ian Hoy has another cute critter in mind. Of course, I’m talking about the guinea pig! This little guy is beautifully sculpted with angled and curved slopes to capture the adorable chunkiness of domestic itty-bitty piggies. The facial expression is priceless. As for that bit of yellow in his hands, if you thought it might be a morsel of cheese, you would be sadly mistaken. It’s actually yuanbao, a gold ingot that was used as a form of currency in China from the Qin Dynasty through the Qing Dynasty. I wouldn’t mind dropping a few yuanbao myself if it meant this little fellow could join the colorful cast of zodiac animals.
LEGO bricks have long been considered an educational toy, but it wasn’t until 1980 when The LEGO Group formally established an educational division. Known today as LEGO Education, the division is celebrating 40 years of collaborating with and developing educational tools for teachers around the world, with products ranging from Duplo to Mindstorms. Here at The Brothers Brick, we are taking a closer look at LEGO Education with a series of articles, and what better way to observe a 40th anniversary than with a history of the subject?
To get everyone pumped up, LEGO created a special video highlighting some of the key points behind the history of LEGO Education. Think of the video as a preview of the history we are about to cover here. Get ready, because it’s time to dive deep into LEGO Education 101!
Entering a new decade has left me feeling nostalgic for my youth and, since I group up in the ’90s, I was amused when I saw Qian Yj’s LEGO version of an early cellphone. Back then, such phones were such phones were nicknamed bricks due to their tremendous size. This particular model is about as close to a 1:1 replica as you can get, as illustrated by this image of Qian Yj holding the brick in-hand. His replica looks spot-on, from the numbered buttons to the thick antenna protruding from the top. Lime green tiles form the screen and are a perfect choice given the then-state-of-the-art LCD technology.
Isaac Snyder has created a LEGO room that feels so welcoming, it may as well be a snapshot lifted from a modern living magazine. The fireplace looks warm and inviting, as does the seating arrangement in front of it. It’s the perfect spot to read a book, and the bookshelf is just a few steps away. I love the recesses in the wall for the shelving and storage of logs for the fire, and the staircase is minimalism at its finest. That modern clock hanging on the wall is pretty spiffy, too. Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to turn off the lights and take a nap on the couch. Zzzzzzz
Throughout Batman’s illustrious career, he has driven a wide range of Batmobiles — and LEGO fans have built several wonderful representations over the years. While many people might point to the 1989 Batmobile as their favorite, mine would have to be Adam West’s ride from the 1960s Batman TV series. Custom car legend George Barris owned the 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car and modified it into a bat-classic. Therefore, I squealed like a bat with glee when I saw Lucas‘ LEGO version of this iconic car.
Nearly ten years ago, working in China allowed me the opportunity to visit Hong Kong for the very first time. The primary focus of my trip was to visit LEGO fan event Bricks Adventure 2011 at City University, and I was floored by both the hospitality and building skills of the city’s LEGO enthusiasts. I was equally impressed by the beauty of the city itself, so much so that I made two more trips to Hong Kong in the coming months. Therefore, when I saw this artful LEGO depiction of the city built by Hong Kong native Eric Mok, it triggered a wave of happy memories. Eric captures a view of Hong Kong Island from Kowloon, set inside a gold-trimmed sea scallop — it’s a lovely nod to Hong Kong’s nickname as the “Pearl of the Orient.”
I’m a firm believer in the tried and true mantra, “good things come to those who wait.” While we didn’t know it, we had to wait a full year for this formidable looking fire gorgon built by Andrew Steele; that’s how long it took him to build the beast! It’s no wonder either, because at 1.4 m (4.6 ft) in length the fire gorgon is as big as some children! Building big allows for more detailing, and the sculpting of this creature’s body is phenomenal.
For me, one of the most surprising LEGO reveals from 2019 was the 2020 Trolls World Tour lineup. Back in 2017, Hasbro had the construction toy licensing rights to the Trolls film, and the torch has now been passed to LEGO for Trolls World Tour — These are indeed interesting times we live in. I had forgotten about the line until a last-minute holiday shopping trip to Wal-Mart on Christmas Eve, when I came across a LEGO Trolls World Tour display. While not on my list for this year’s desirable themes, something compelled me to pick up LEGO set 41252 Poppy’s Hot Air Balloon Adventure. This particular LEGO set consists of 250 pieces and, while the Trolls World Tour film won’t be out until April, the sets are currently available via LEGO’s online shop for $29.99 USD | $39.99 CAD | $29.99 GBP
Electric cars existed long before Tesla, dating back to the 19th century. But one of the most bizarre-looking was L’Oeuf Electrique, which is French for the Electric Egg. Designed by Paul Arzens in 1942, the little three-wheeled car consisted of an aluminum body and plexiglass windshield. Small cars like the BMW Isetta would prove popular in post-World War II Europe, and Arzens hoped his eclectic electric might also find a place on the road. While Arzen’s concept never really took off, we’d like to think he would be proud to see his car brilliantly reproduced in LEGO-form by Aido K.
Woodlice are terrestrial isopods and, among other nicknames, are affectionately known as “roly-poly pill bugs” for their ability to roll into a ball. Though this ability is a natural defense mechanism, Japanese builder Moko drew inspiration from the woodlouse for their latest LEGO mech. Moko’s mech emulates the woodlouse’s segmented body thanks to staggered round shell detail elements, which appeared in black in 2012 Hero Factory sets Black Phantom and Toxic Reapa. This black armor is also reminiscent of the crab-like Garthim from The Dark Crystal.
As an added bonus, Moko’s woodlouse mech rolls into a ball just like the real thing. While the real life woodlouse does this to protect itself, I think it’s safe to say this mechanical critter can also use it for quick getaways. Now, that’s using your exoskeleton!
Last year, we shared an article on vintage LEGO holiday greeting cards. The LEGO Group has established a tradition of giving their employees exclusive Christmas themed sets like the X-Mas X-Wing for the holiday season. Even longer than that, since at least the 1970s, the LEGO Group has produced special Christmas cards for employees (and, occasionally, the UK LEGO Club). Each year brings a new card, with artwork ranging from carefully staged minifigures to elaborate brick-built designs. You can find blank examples that were used to send personalized messages, as well as cards with printed holiday greetings from LEGO’s leadership, such as owner Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen.
Each Christmas, the LEGO Group gives their employees a special gift in the form of an exclusive holiday-themed LEGO set. These sets often celebrate the company’s milestones, such as the home of LEGO’s founder with Ole Kirk’s House in 2012 and the 50th anniversary of LEGO trains with 50 Years on Track in 2016. This year, LEGO delivered a special present from a galaxy far, far away with set 4002019 Christmas X-Wing, designed to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the LEGO Star Wars license. Set 4002019 consists of 1,038 pieces and has been distributed to LEGO’s employees worldwide. Since this was given as a free gift, there isn’t any official retail pricing – Based on recent eBay completed listings, you can currently expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $300 USD. While not available in stores, you can purchase it via other avenues like eBay.