The LEGO Group announce STEAM Courses and Exclusive sets for China

CEO of the LEGO Group, Niels B. Christiansen speaking at the LEGO Booth at the Chinese International Import Expo [Source: the LEGO Group]
The LEGO Group has announced the forthcoming release of sets celebrating the Lunar New Year (arriving January 1, 2019) as well as the launch of primary school STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) courses.

Speaking at the Chinese International Import Expo (CIIE), Niels B. Christiansen said “As a mission-driven business, we are committed to inspiring and developing children through creative play and learning. We are excited to announce these major launches for China at the CIIE, and our commitment to this strategic growth market and goals to provide the creative LEGO® play experience to the hands of more Chinese children remain unchanged.”

The CIIE is a major trade fair, and there have been a number of models and mosaics produced for the event by Prince Jiang (LEGO Certified Professional) and his team at the Brick of Philosophy studio. As well as the giant mosaic seen above, Prince designed a small model of Jingbao, the mascot of the event for VIP Visitors to the LEGO booth.

Jingbao, LEGO Model designed by Prince Jiang.  Image Source: Prince Jiang, Used with permission.

It looks like there will be two region specific sets forthcoming: Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner, depicting a traditional Chinese family gathering to celebrate the new year, and Dragon Dance. The Dragon Dance is frequently performed during New year Celebrations in China.  The set also comes with a character dressed as a pig, symbolizing the Year of the Pig, commencing next year.

Edit: Images of these sets been subsequently removed from the online press release.  

Christiansen said: “These sets are special. They are the first sets we’ve created to celebrate Lunar New Year and the first time we’ve made sets for a specific country or region. We hope they bring a lot of joy to children and the young at heart during new year.”

The STEAM Courses are being developed as a collaborative exercise between  the East China National University Press, Chinese STEAM education experts and LEGO Education. They are scheduled for play testing in Shanghai later this year, with a view to rolling out in April 2019.

LEGO Sets were first sold in China in 1983, and thirty five years later, China is seen as an important strategic region for business growth.  With region specific sets, there will be increased challenges for Western Collectors, but it also opens up the possibility for presenting other region specific sets around the world.  Relative market sizes may make this less likely, however.

Until next time,

Play well.

The LEGO Booth at CIIE.  Image Source: the LEGO Group.

The LEGO Group announced today at the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) that it will launch its first elementary school STEAM* courses for Chinese students from next year, enabling local students to become active, collaborative learners and build 21st century skills.

The Danish family-owned business also announced that its first-ever sets inspired by traditional new year festivals will be available in China and Asia Pacific markets from 1 January 2019. Niels B. Christiansen, Chief Executive Officer of the LEGO Group, said: “As a mission-driven business, we are committed to inspiring and developing children through creative play and learning. We are excited to announce these major launches for China at the CIIE, and our commitment to this strategic growth market and goals to provide the creative LEGO® play experience to the hands of more Chinese children remain unchanged.”

The elementary school STEAM courses are the result of close collaboration between East China Normal University Press (ECNUP), LEGO Education and Chinese STEAM experts to ensure it complements existing courses. LEGO Education products including Simple Machines Set, Creative Suitcase, Space and Airport Set and Creative LEGO Brick Set are used in the courses to support teaching in an inspiring, engaging and effective way. Scheduled for test in primary schools in Shanghai later this month, the STEAM courses with consist of student textbooks and teacher guidebooks. It is be officially available from April 2019.

Christiansen said: “We believe in the power of play to develop essential life-long skills to succeed in the 21st century. We are proud of the close collaborations with local educators as we combine our global experiences and the local insights together to ensure that our first STEAM courses for Chinese students can contribute to the Chinese society’s growing needs of innovative talents with creative skills.”

The new sets celebrate iconic new year traditions. Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner shows a Chinese family reuniting to celebrate the lunar new year in a traditional home. Often performed during Chinese New Year, Dragon Dance is a symbol of the Chinese culture and is believed to bring good luck to people. The Dragon Dance set features a team of dragon dancers, with a minifigure dressed as a cute pig celebrating the coming Chinese New Year of the Pig.

Christiansen said: “These sets are special. They are the first sets we’ve created to celebrate Lunar New Year and the first time we’ve made sets for a specific country or region. We hope they bring a lot of joy to children and the young at heart during new year.”

China is a strategic growth market for the LEGO Group which has been engaging with Chinese children and parents with its system in play since 1983 when the LEGO sets were sold in China. Over the past 35 years, the LEGO Group has been building brand and geographic presence in the country. It has opened 47 LEGO branded stores in 16 cities and 157 LEGO Education centers in all provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in China.

The LEGO Group is participating in the first CIIE with a 378-square-meter booth that showcases a large line-up of its toy and education products and curriculum. The booth also features play tables where visitors can use their imagination to build their own creations with the LEGO bricks which are celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

CIIE is jointly sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce of China and the Municipal Government of Shanghai and held at the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai) from November 5 to 10. The LEGO Group also teamed up with Chinese stakeholders to organize two seminars focusing on “How Play in Education can Foster Creativity and Innovation” and “Responsible Marketing to Children in Digital Age” during the CIIE.

Other highlights of the LEGO Group booth include:

• A master piece mosaic made by 112,031 LEGO bricks featuring Jinbao, the mascot of the CIIE
• The first sustainable LEGO® bricks made from plant-based plastic sourced from sugarcane
• The new LEGO® Creator Expert Vestas® wind turbine
• Digital play experiences

A Legal Blow Delivered Against Lepin’s Copyright Infringements

img_28491.pngThis morning (November 6 2018), the LEGO Group announced a favourable  decision against Shantou Meizhi Model Co., Ltd. and three other defendents,who have made copies of LEGO brand sets, and distributed them under the LEPIN name.  As well as being ordered to cease and desist production and promotion of the infringing products, the defendants have been ordered to pay the LEGO Group RMB 4.5 million as damages. Whilst the penalty of $AUD901125/$USD649528 may not be a knockout blow, the cease and desist order might be more useful in keeping the production of inferior quality copies of fan favourite sets.

In recent weeks,I have certainly noticed an increased promotion of clone sets in my social media newsfeed , and it will be interesting to see how this new ruling will affect such advertising for LEPIN’s resellers.

Continue reading

Transparent Stickers In LEGO® Sets: An evolving improvement.

In which one sore point amongst LEGO Fans (Stickers) will result in talking about a sore point for Star Wars Fans (The Last Jedi).  I then proceed to subject some recent stickers to physical abuse and science. My final conclusions catch me by surprise and may well influence my opinions for years to come.  Now read on….

I have been thinking about the stickers provided with some LEGO Sets recently.  And not in a bad way. This has surprised me.  For a number of years I have found myself becoming anxious at the prospect of placing a stickers on a set, defacing a perfectly good LEGO Brick, as well as making a sticker non usable: this is almost counter to the notion of the LEGO System, where you can take a collection of elements, and reuse them, time and again, confident that they will always function as they have been intended, and integrate with elements of the past and future.

I have recently found myself excited at the prospect of using some stickers that have been produced: particularly some of those supplied with the Arctic Scout truck (60194) and the Stygimoloch Breakout  (75927), amongst others.

I would like to apologise if I triggered an angry, anxious or otherwise negative emotional response with that previous statement. In our minds we all have some strong opinions one way or another as far as the Use of Stickers in LEGO Sets is concerned. LEGO Bricks have been adorned with decorations, printed or stickers, for the better part of 50 years.  I still have Minifigures from nearly forty years ago still sporting their original adhesive labels, as well as elements featuring stickers from the 70’s: including these flags. Admittedly, the years have not been kind, but do stickers today last as long?


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Giving the Arctic Scout Truck a BOOST [60194/17101]

In which I struggle with the ideas of combining two sets into a completely seperate model, attempt to answer the riddle “What do you get if you combine a truck with a LEGO Robot?”, and find a sticker sheet that I really really like……

A couple of weeks ago, I brought you the first part of my look at the 2018 LEGO City Arctic Scout Truck. As a medium sized city set, I thought it was pretty nifty: a bit of landscape, a dog and polar bear, a few different figures and  cool (Ahem!) truck, with drive wheels and caterpillar tracks. How could it be improved on?

Now, some days I worry about the kind of LEGO builder I have become. The idea of taking a recently built set, and combining it with another set, featuring a similar colour palette caused me a little consternation. Both sets would now be potentially irreversibly combined. Or uncombined. I found myself lacking the necessary motivation to carefully seperate both sets at the end of the exercise. Perhaps this is a clear signal to continue the sorting exercise which I began last year, before getting a little… distracted. Again. Continue reading

Once Upon an Idea [Announcement 21315]

21315_Front_01Once Upon a Time, there were two LEGO® Fans who had an Idea.  

Grant had the Idea first, to make a pop-up book out of LEGO bricks.  Then he reached out to Jason, who had an Idea before.  They told their friends about the Idea, and those friends told their friends. Eventually, a Lot of People said that the Idea was good.

This meant that the Idea was taken to be read and reviewed by the wise people, who had to work out if the it could be made Real.  After much thought, it was announced to be so. The designers went to work: taking the Idea, and striving to produce a set that more than ten thousand people would want. Continue reading

Blizzard Exclusive Set: Omnic Bastion 75987

IMG_2931For the last few months, we have been teased with announcements of a forthcoming range of  LEGO® sets based on the video game Overwatch.  Last week, out of the blue, Blizzard, the publisher behind the game, announced immediate availability of the BlizzCon Exclusive ‘Omnic Skin Bastion75987’ set from their Gear Store.

It’s a lovely model, but is that “Blizzard Exclusive” sticker worth the price? 

This was a bit unexpected, but offered some interesting opportunities as a retail experience.  The set is available more places than can supply, and shipping is (by Australian standards) pretty reasonable.

Now, I don’t play Overwatch, but my son, a couple of weeks out from his final school exams has been quite a keen player, and was excited to see this new set. I ordered one shortly after it became available and then proceeded to wait. I did not have to wait long, however.

The set cost $USD25 plus approximately $USD10 for shipping to Melbourne (although adding extra sets only increased the shipping by 1-2 dollars per set – you may wish to purchase in conjunction with a friend or two and split the shipping). Having placed my order on October 12th, the parcel arrived via Federal Express on October 16th.  I don’t think I have ever received LEGO  from overseas quite so quickly. Continue reading

Tee-Ing off with Uniqlo [Rapid Review, Uniqlo LEGO®️ T-shirts]

Just as spring was getting underway, I was excited to see Japanese clothing manufacturer Uniqlo release a new range of licensed LEGO®️ themed T-shirts this year. In keeping with the 40th birthday of the Minifigure and 60th Anniversary of the LEGO Brick, the shirts have some appropriately historical themes.

I purchased two online for $AUD19.95 each, and they were delivered within a few days. I ordered one with a Classic Space logo on the front, and another with the current LEGO logo on the front. When I unwrapped them I had a pleasant surprise, discovering that there is additional printing on the back.

Now, retailers often use young, good looking models to demonstrate their wares. Uniqlo yet their garments model themselves on the website. The sun was shining today, so in the interests of demonstrating the look on an older, overweight subject, I have agreed to take one for the team. (Photos by Tash Jones)

The I’m wearing XL, and find them not too tight a fit on my body – I prefer a loose t-shirt to a close fitting one. The cotton material is soft, and not flimsy. They both have a pocket sewn over the left breast. Now I have something new to wear to Fan events, LUG Meetings or when I’m just seeking inspiration for writing a blog post!

While more expensive than plain, unlicenced shirts I feel they offered reasonable value, and I have always found the quality of Uniqlo garments to be pretty good.

I apologise for the quality of the model, but what do you think of the shirts? You can find the LEGO branded garments in store, or online at Uniqlo’s website.

Do you like to wear your favorite brand on your clothing? What’s your favorite shirt in this range?

Why not comment below, and sign up for notifications of new posts. Until next time…

Play well.