Today, September 19, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. To celebrate, I thought we might take a look at some of the innovations that we have seen introduced into LEGO through the original Pirates Theme.
As you may already know, LEGO Pirates turn 30 in 2019. Having made their debut in 1989, the Pirates sets certainly have a place in the hearts of AFOLs of a certain age. With obvious factions, great play features and rapid assembly, I can understand the appeal they might have to any child at the time of release.
While some of the features introduced in Pirates have been well observed by the LEGO Group over the years, others have been less thoroughly pointed out. So I thought we might take a look at some of these today.
My life has been a little preoccupied with preparing to exhibit at the Sydney Brick Show this weekend. I have been getting ready to post my review of Series 2 of the Disney Minifigures. But here is a sneak peek…
I thought, like other series that it would be a quick snapshot and go. Then I noticed something really interesting, that I had never seen with Collectable Minifigures in the past (Please note: “really interesting to me” may have limited widespread appeal. But it has significant implications going forward). This means I need to have a second look before I publish my findings.
After arriving at Sydney Airport, I caught the train to central, and changed for the eastern suburbs line. Bondi Junction was the last stop. It took about 40 minutes from landing at Sydney airport, to get to this stop. After finding the Oxford St exit, it was a short walk (10 minutes) to the Westfield shopping centre, and the Certified LEGO Shop within.
This year, we saw the release of the 10 Anniversary Modular building, the Assembly Square. This set featured plenty of callbacks to the previous modulars, with various colour schemes and other design cues. Now that we are entering the second decade of modular buildings, it appears that there are some changes afoot. Until now, many of the buildings have had the appearance of buildings dating from the 1920’s or 30’s and the Minifigures all featured the classic smiley face.
But we now enter a new era in modular buildings: the downtown diner is drawing cues from the Streamline Moderne style, a style that originated in the late 30’s, but continued to influence architecture for decades to come: a sleek building, with a tiled facade and smooth curves, and we have both in abundance here. In a break with previous modular traditions, the minifigures now have expressions (and the occasional moustache) on their faces, while their dress appears more representative of the 1950’s. Indeed, the pink cadillac and the Rock’N’Roll singer all but confirm that this is a bit of a jump into the future from our previous modular era. (Admittedly, the Brick Bank 10251 from 2016, featured a computer on a desk, as well as an espresso machine in the staff room – not a common feature in the past – certainly this would be the most anachronistic feature of a modular building to date.) Assembly Square feels as if it might also be from a more recent period in history, if only because of the clothing prints in use by the minifigures. Certainly, we are now entering a new era, with new architectural styles and new minifigure prints.
And Teal. We have seen evidence of a reborn teal in other sets for 2018, however this set contains more elements in this colour than any other set that we have seen details for. I especially like the use of the 6×6 curves to create the high, sweeping arch. There are also lots of teal bricks in the back wall of the diner.
What do we see on the inside? We have 3 levels, with the diner downstairs, a gym on the 1st floor, and a recording studio upstairs. The diner features a short order cook flipping pancakes and frying bacon, in the form of a 1×2 grille plate! The Waitress is on roller skates. The gym is furnished with a boxing ring as well as a punching bag. The Boxer has blue trunks and red boxing gloves.
And then there is the singer, and is that his press agent? record producer? Who knows. The detail in the recording studio is fantastic. The stories you can create are endless. He drives a pink, open top sedan, with great fifties styling, and occasional anachronism,.
The style here is a departure from what we have come to expect from modular buildings, but after a decade it is time to move forward. Given that this year represents the 60th Anniversary of the LEGO Brick, it seems appropriate that this year’s modular should include references to the decade when that patent was lodged.
The 10260 Diner is available on the 1st of January 2018. The Australian price will be $249.99. Other currencies in the press release.
NEXO Knights has been a theme with a mixed reception amongst the AFOL community: its a fantastic mashup of castle and space elements, but at the same time it is not quite either in the purist form. The geometry is fascinating, as I have previously discussed. However, due to so many different things happening throughout the year to distract a LEGO Fan, I have not really spent much time with the theme until now.
There are a couple of stand out changes that I have seen this year. One is a change in the primary aesthetic of the models: The Knights’ vehicles released in 2016 were had a palette which was primarily bright blue, stone grey, transparent bright orange with a few earth(dark) blue elements as well as a couple of trim elements, colour matched to the knight whose vehicle it was. In 2017, the transparent orange is still there, but there is a much larger amount of earth blue and bright orange compared to the stone grey and bright blue. We have also seen more prominent trim in the colours of the knights, demonstrating the new tile designs quite nicely. In fact, you may almost be forgiven for thinking “There is a lime green, bright red, azure, white or bright yellowish orange vehicle.” The Classic space vibe which might have been felt with 2016’s models been reduced this year, in return for the ‘Knight Motif.’ There there is the obligatory change in the villainous team, moving from the Lava monsters to non so molten Rock Monsters.
I should also mention the stickers, because while there are plenty of stickers to apply, those designed to be applied to transparent orange elements have a transparent clear background, making them useful on all surfaces.
Here is a quick ‘Face to face’ of this year’s $AU30 Lance’s Twin Jouster 70348 (212 parts) with the 2016’s Macy’s Thunder Mace 70319(200 parts). I would consider them both occupying equivalent places in the range, both priced at $AUD29.99.
As well as the colour scheme, the play features have also developed on this year’s set. I personally found the Thunder Mace a relatively mundane build. The cockpit felt a little incomplete and the windscreen did not feel properly supported underneath. The only feature I found particularly inspiring was the mechanism that rotated the mudguards, to reveal the hidden weaponry beneath! Admittedly, this is pretty addictive.
A few weeks ago, I started to consider the use of colour in Elves sets, particularly Spring Yellowish Green. This led to a discussion of colour theory in general. We talked about the colour wheel, and how colour themes might be derived using complementary colours; split complementary colours, analagous colours, triads and tetrads, amongst other things.
This is all very well if I have a colour wheel, and I am looking to produce my own pigment, I hear you cry, but we are using LEGO, and the colour palette is pretty clearly defined. But how do the colours we have relate to this? Continue reading →
Pardon the pun: As regular readers will know, I have been working on sorting my collection of LEGO Elements. This evening I reached my ‘foliage box.’ I thought I would quickly share some of my ‘leafy’ elements.
I’m excited because, through natural accumulation, I have managed to accrue all known colours of Design ID 2417, the 5×6 foliage element. Skip past the break to see them. Continue reading →