About Chris

Chris Malloy (porschecm2) has been a LEGO fan nearly all his life, having started with System bricks at age 3. He is the co-author of Ultimate LEGO Star Wars, and his creations have been featured in several books and The LEGO Movie. He also helped develop the first LEGO Minecraft set, 21102 Minecraft Micro World: The Forest, which has gone on to inspire a whole theme of sets. He's been active in the online community since 2002, and regularly attends LEGO fan conventions such as BrickCon and BrickCan. He enjoys building in a wide range of themes, but keeps returning to Castle, Space, and Pirates. Check out his LEGO creations and photography here.

Posts by Chris

Can you solve this? The LEGO Reverse Engineering challenge will have you scratching your head [News]

Most of us are staying home a lot more these days, and if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably already built all the LEGO sets laying around your house and have run out of ideas for your custom build. Our friend Ryan Howerter has just the thing to solve your brick doldrums and keep you flexing your LEGO muscles with a little brick workout. Introducing the Reverse Engineering Contest, a daily challenge wherein you, the viewer, are tasked with recreating a tiny but deceptively complex model with your own bricks. Ryan will be posting a new challenge to his Instagram every day from now until August, so you’ll have plenty to keep you busy.

Much like the crossword puzzle in the papers, there are no prizes to be won in this contest, just a victorious sense of accomplishment and expanded knowledge of your favorite highly sophisticated interlocking brick system.

Designed by Ryan and his friends, each of these small creations uses only a handful of elements and looks pretty simple, but don’t be fooled: there’s more than meets the eye to these brain teasers. Here’s today’s challenge to get you started.

Some might be simple to you, but no matter what your skill level, others are sure to have you pulling your hair out and wondering if Ryan has invoked the Kragle. However, the only shenanigans that may be involved with building the models are weird pieces and outside-the-box thinking. Ryan says that none of the solutions include things like stickers, flex tubing, or rubber bands–and certainly no Kragle. Can’t find the right parts to make it work? Give it a try in a digital building program like Studio or Mecabricks.

And if you get stuck, Ryan will be posting the answers every Sunday to a Dropbox linked in his Instagram bio (so as to not accidentally spoil anyone). This is the fifth time Ryan has run a challenge like this, and I’ve had a blast puzzling out the devious intricacies of previous challenges and can’t wait to see what else is in store this time around.

Behind the scenes of LEGO Ideas 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay with designers Milan Madge and Austin Carlson [Feature]

A few days ago LEGO took the wraps off the newest Ideas set, 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay, a massive shipwreck island that contains the wreckage of the infamous Black Seas Barracuda. And not only that, but the set can also be transformed to create the full, seaworthy sailing ship too, and it will be available April 1, 2020, for US $199.99 | CAN $259.99 | UK £179.99. We got our hands on an early copy to bring you a full review, but we also had a chance to sit down (virtually) with the two LEGO designers behind the set, set Designer Milan Madge and minifigure Designer Austin William Carlson, to ask them a few more things we wanted to know about the set. You’ll definitely want to read our full review first, though.

Read the TBB review of 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay here.

First of all, let me say that I just finished building the set, and I absolutely love it. For people like me who grew up with the original Pirates theme, this set is loaded with nostalgia and is so much fun, plus it’s a great build. Have either of you worked on any pirates sets previously? And if so, which ones?

Milan: Thanks for the kind words! I think I speak for the whole team when I say that we are so pleased you like it. We worked really hard to try and deliver something that would take you back to your childhood, just as the theme does for Pablo, the fan designer, so I’m so glad it did. I’ve never had the pleasure to work on LEGO Pirates before, so this is new ground for me, but I spent an awful lot of time making huge pirate and castle dioramas as a kid.

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LEGO Collectible Minifigures 71027 Series 20 celebrates the theme’s 10th anniversary [Review]

LEGO introduced the Minifigures theme back in 2010, and over the past decade the theme has wandered as far and wide as the Simpsons and a German football team. But it returns every once in a while to the lineup of strange characters and professions that started it all. The latest wave is the 20th classic numbered series, and 71027 Collectible Minifigures Series 20 will release April 19, 2020, with 16 unique figures drawing inspiration from fiction, history, and a wide variety of walks of life. They’ll retail for US $4.99 each, setting a new high-water mark for a non-licensed series. We got a brief in-person look at Series 20 at Toy Fair New York back in February along with official images earlier this month, but now we’ve got our hands on a full case to bring you a proper review.

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LEGO Ideas 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay is a 2,500-piece love letter to classic Pirates [Review]

What makes a LEGO set great for adults? Is it the subject matter, something that makes a cool display piece for your den or office? Is it the model’s complexity, a building experience that introduces you to new techniques and cool connections? Or is it simply the size, a build with thousands of parts that will take you a weekend to complete and leaves you with satisfaction when you’re done? All of these can play a role in how much we adults love a LEGO set, but there’s no surer way to capture the hearts and minds of older builders than to make them feel like a kid again. The latest model to come out of LEGO’s crowdsourcing Ideas platform is 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay, which we’re revealing for the first time today. It’s an island refuge made of the remains of a shipwreck, and more than any other LEGO set I’ve built in recent years, building it took me back to being a kid and getting my first LEGO sets. Unlike the tiny Pirate sets I had back then, though, the set’s 2,545 pieces ring it in as the biggest Pirate set to date, besting the relatively recent runner-up Imperial Flagship by a wide margin. It will retail for US $199.99 | CAN $259.99 | UK £179.99 and is slated to be available April 1. Here is an article with all the official product images, but we just couldn’t wait to bring you a detailed, hands-on look at the real set.

You may remember the last few Pirates themes from 2007 and 2015. They were largely solid sets; a modern take on what LEGO Pirates sets can be. But beyond some broad thematic strokes (guards vs pirates, etc) they had little tie-in to the classic theme that ran from 1989-1995, much the same as Space Police III had almost no connection with I and II. This set, however, is determined to get straight back to where it all started.

If you grew up in the 1990s, you’re probably already getting excited just from seeing the name of this set and the box with the yellow stripe. The name hearkens back to the classic Black Seas Barracuda, released in 1989, which was the very first LEGO Pirate ship and by far the most famous (and it sells for commensurately high prices, with sealed copies ranging well over $1,500). The set was so popular that it was among the first sets for LEGO to ever re-release, with a nearly unaltered version briefly gracing store shelves again in 2002. The Barracuda name here isn’t just an homage plastered on a new version of Pirates to cash in on that nostalgia. Pirates of Barracuda Bay is a continuation of the original theme. The ship that’s been wrecked is the Black Seas Barracuda (BSB), sporting a more detailed design that utilizes the last 30 years of development in LEGO elements. The pirate crew are modern takes on the original set’s crew, headed by the infamous Captain Redbeard, and weathered by 30 years of island living. But perhaps best yet, the set can build either the shipwrecked BSB or the fully rigged, ready-to-sail version.

So now that we know the set is packed with nostalgia, let’s see if the build holds up.

Click to read the full review

Really, it’s just a classic invasion scenario

It seems like the old ways aren’t quite forgotten yet, and they’re not about to go quietly, either. In this diorama by Carter Witz, an alliance of Lion Knights, Royal Knights, and Forestmen are invading a modern City hamlet. It looks like the classic army has embraced some new tech, though, as one of the Forestmen rides a new-style horse, and both sides of the clash are built with excellent modern techniques.

Attack of the Classics!

In fact, don’t let the amusing storyline cause you to overlook the details in this build, which is rife with complex approaches to achieve its polished look. From the carrot tops embedded in the building’s wall to the upside-down teeth above the windows, Carter spared no expense to make the scene come to life.

Attack of the Classics!

A roving rover

It’s not clear whether LEGO builder Shannon Sproule‘s roving habitat is meant for use on a distant planet or the apocalyptic future of our own, but this repurposed APC looks like it’s seen it all. Shannon says it used to have a turret, but that’s now been replaced with a hab module and comms equipment. The vehicle is battered and worn, with Shannon doing a great job with the weathering thanks to introducing some brighter colors like dark orange and coral. The simple digital background also gives the presentation that sense of place, which goes a long way in telling the APC’s story.

Hibernia: Traverse rover

Microscale Mata Nui

After writing about LEGO for nearly a decade, it’s rare that I see a mashup that’s new, let alone one that’s done excellently. But this build by Mansur Soeleman brought me that rare delight in the form of a Bionicle creation made of system pieces and done in microscale. The lush green island is Kini Nui, the temple at the heart of Mata Nui in the Bionicle universe, and it evokes the verdant foliage of the island’s jungle well. The build is loaded with brand new elements which I’m excited to see put to such great use, such as the white 1x8x3 slopes for the four pillars on the temple.

Kini Nui

Side note: I’m feeling an urge to play Halo now, for some reason…

Get a little brick in your bite with this LEGO sushi

A regular on our pages, LEGO builder Eero Okkonen brings us this delicious-looking spread of sushi, made entirely from brick. From the windscreen used as an ultrathin slice of salmon for nigiri, to the Ninjago sail used as a napkin, everything looks spot on. My favorite feature, though, is how the studs on the white plates work perfectly to imitate the lumpy texture of the vinegared rice.

Sushi

The beauty that lies beneath the plank

This gorgeous LEGO diorama by Stephan Gofers shows us the ocean’s full depth, from the vivid coral reefs below the waves, to the sleek 3-master sailing on its surface. The pirate crew has captured a hapless guard, forcing him to walk the plank. In no short order, he’ll be admiring the fantastic marine life from a much closer vantage point, and since he’s not wearing handcuffs, we can assume he’ll swim safely to shore to become a new castaway.

Pirates a Go-Go

While the colorful reef draws the eye first, the ship itself is a lovely model, eschewing LEGO’s pre-made ship hull elements and instead opting for a planked-look made of brown tiles and curved slopes. The furled sails made of curved white slopes also look excellent. Continue reading

New LEGO Star Wars busts revealed: 75276 Stormtrooper and 75277 Boba Fett [News]

LEGO continues to pursue the adult market with its range of Star Wars sets, and today we’re getting a look at two more unique display pieces, 75276 Stormtrooper and 75277 Boba Fett. The pair of busts was revealed by retailer Toysanta earlier today, and each features upscale box art in a style that’s new to the LEGO Star Wars lineup, with the character’s name displayed prominently across the top. Both sets celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back, which was released in 1980, and feature the anniversary logo on the box.

There’s no word yet on when to expect these to hit stores or their official pricing, though Toysanta’s prices seem to indicate they’ll retail for around $70-$80 USD. Of course, this isn’t the first time LEGO has produced character busts from Star Wars. Recently the company has launched two similar (though smaller) sets, each available in a limited market. The 75227 Darth Vader Bust was available only to Target Red Card holders, while 77901 Sith Trooper Bust was only given away to randomly selected attendees at San Diego Comic-Con in 2019. We don’t know yet what the availability for these sets will be, but we hope that LEGO does the right thing and makes them widely available. Going way back, the much larger 10018 Darth Maul bust from 2001 was among the first LEGO Star Wars sets targeted at adult fans.

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Our wrap-up of LEGO at Toy Fair New York 2020 [News]

After a whirlwind of reporting over the last two days, we’ve completed our coverage of LEGO at Toy Fair New York 2020, North America’s largest toy trade show. While LEGO’s public presence was smaller than its been in years past, we got to look at quite a few new sets, and go hands-on with others that we’d only seen in official photos previously. Because the show is a trade show, it’s not open to the public. But we know you’re all itching to learn what the experience was like this year, so here’s a quick recap of our experience covering LEGO news at Toy Fair New York 2020.

Toy Fair New York is held each year at the colossal Javits Center in the heart of Manhattan, where the show lays claim to all 1.8 million square feet the center has to offer. Continue reading

First look at LEGO Dots with the exclusive Creativity Box [Review]

LEGO’s new Dots line is the company’s latest attempt to gain a foothold in the tween girl jewelry market. (See the LEGO Dots announcement here.) Most LEGO fans are probably familiar with the company’s previous venture into this market with the Clickits theme, which had dozens of sets from 2003-2006. And while that theme’s success in its target market is open for debate, it’s rarely a theme that elicits positive responses from adult fans, thanks to one fatal flaw: Clickits is barely compatible with traditional LEGO. Certainly, some enterprising fans have put bits to great use, but it’s largely its own system. Thankfully, LEGO appears to have learned a lesson from that experiment and its new line of tween jewelry is solidly grounded in the bricks and plates that we all know and love. Or, perhaps more accurately, the tiles. The titular “dots” are the plethora of good old fashioned 1×1 tiles included in every set.

In advance of the theme’s release on March 1, LEGO sent us what they’re calling a Creativity Box. It is not a retail product and is instead intended to showcase the variety of parts Dots sets will include. So let’s dive in and take a quick look at some of Dots’ offerings. Continue reading