Do you know who your Friends are? (The official word on the new look for LEGO Friends in 2018)

The callout on the Friends Set packaging has had an update in 2018… a sign of things to come.

Recently, we have seen images of the new LEGO Friends Sets for 2018, and there have been a few interesting surprises. Not only the presence of teal, but our protagonists have had a bit of a makeover. In fact, this is possibly the most obvious aspect.

Andrea, Emma, Mia, Olivia and Stephanie.  Changing eye colour, fading freckles, altered skin tones, bigger smiles and new (or no) lipstick! Just part of the shakeup in 2018

All sorts of theories have been bandied around: colored contact lenses, eye damage due too much time in the tanning salon, extreme perms, but perhaps the most simple answer is that after five years, the line is getting a bit of a refresh…

Here is the official word from the Friends Design Team about the new looks that we are seeing in 2018:

Every year we strive to innovate and make our products even better for children all over the world. A lot of effort has gone into the development of the LEGO characters and universes across our entire product range, so it makes us very happy  when changes are noticed.

LEGO Friends in 2018 looks a bit different than what it has in the past. To be specific, the 5 main characters have a slightly different look but also the city and the citizens of Heartlake City have changed.

But what are the reasons for the change?

Firstly, we want to assure you that all 5 friends are still there in 2018.
Andrea, Mia, Emma, Stephanie and Olivia – they all still exist! Also the character’s main interests and personalities remain mainly unchanged.

What you will see in 2018 is an evolution of LEGO Friends, a progression of the story and characters to make sure children get an even greater play experience. Every year more than a million children and parents reach out to us and share what they love and what they would like to change. In the LEGO Friends range children told us that they would like even more differentiated characters and also suggested improvements to Heartlake City.

We always take great care to listen to input from children, and the LEGO Friends team has worked hard to make even more engaging and relevant experiences for children – and also make the LEGO Friends universe more true to the actual world children live in.

Taking a starting point in reality, we’ve made the characters more diverse in their appearance and have added more depth to their personality. And of course, they still live in Heartlake City. But just as the characters have changed, Heartlake City has become more differentiated and rich. There are different districts and there are other citizens that play a more active role in the story.

The changes we have made does not change the fact that previous and new LEGO Friends sets will cater for great building and play experience in 2018 and beyond, and we hope to inspire even more stories and play opportunities for children in the future.

While we can think what we like about the changes, it will add to the ongoing diversity in our characters. For the last five years, Heartlake City has been a relatively homogeneous town- it will now go on to reflect more closely on the world that the target market wish to play in. For those of you who who have a Minidoll based city layout, you have a whole new collection of faces for the town.

Personally, I like the fact that we now have vintage Friends Minidolls to collect. What do you think about the new look? Why not add your comments below, and follow the Rambling Brick for new stories, updates and random opinion.

Play well.

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Teal We Meet Again: In search of Stafford’s Choice

In which, on discovering the reappearance of teal in the LEGO colour palette, I go in search of “Stafford’s Choice.” Have any colours been sacrificed in order to allow teal to return? Let’s tick off the colours as we review some of the recently announced new sets for 2018…

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Stafford’s Choice:

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Teal returns in 2018. But was there a cost?

Mark Stafford is a designer with the LEGO Group. Recruited from the fan community, he joined the company over 10 years ago and has had a hand in many of the action themes over that period of time.  Themes such as NEXO Knights, Legends of Chima, Space Police 3, Ninjago, Alien Conquest, Power Miners and Atlantis, to name but a few. He also turned Peter Reid’s Exosuit Ideas submission into a set.

At Brickvention in 2014, Mark gave a talk talking about a challenge he faced in his early days as a designer:  Early in his career at LEGO he was put to work, sharing his love of mechs, on the EXO Force line.

One of the first sets that he designed was the Dark Panther – 8115. And it was here that he was given a challenging decision: The initial models left the set leaning towards one of red, orange, purple (medium lilac) and teal (bright blueish green).  If teal were to be chosen, purple would be deleted from the current colour palette; if he chose to use purple, then teal would be deleted.  Had orange or red been used then both teal and purple would have vanished from the LEGO palette for the foreseeable future. Continue reading

Modular Diner 10260 Announcement: 1950s Style, for 60 years of the Brick

10260_Box1_v39This 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.

10260_Front_Callout_01But 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.

The press release follows after the photos. Continue reading

Return of the Taj Mahal, retreat of the speculators.[Announcement 10256]

The LEGO Group have announced that they are re-releasing 10189 Taj Mahal as set 10256.  Unlike the previous version, it will not supplant the Millennium Falcon UCS as the largest set ever released.  The piece count is almost identical to the 2008 classic, which has been soaring on the secondary market in recent years. This rerelease represents the third major rerelease in the last 18 months (including the Death Star, and Millennium Falcon), and continues the Creator Expert  Landmark series which has seen London Bridge, Westminster Palace/Big Ben and the Sydney Opera House released in recent years.

The set will be available from lego.com on November 27 2017, just in time for an anxiety provoking pre-Christmas order if you are dependent on international shipping! It will cost $AUD 499.95. More images and press release after the break… Continue reading

Major LEGO Batman Movie Plot Point Spoiler, Set 70922 Announced.

Not everyone has seen the LEGO Batman Movie yet. I appreciate this. If you click on this link from Facebook, you will be taken directly to the full announcement.  If you don’t want any level of spoilage of the movie, stop now.  Press the back button, close the browser window. You have been warned.

Out of the blue, just while people are still recovering from news of of the UCS Millennium Falcon, the next Direct to Consumer set was announced this morning. Set 70922 >Spoiler Alert< is the latest set from The LEGO® Batman Movie.  I was surprised to get notice of this set: the rumor mill had been remarkably quiet over the last couple of weeks. Perhaps it had been exhausted in the run up to the announcement of the UCS Millennium Falcon. The new set will be released on Black Friday, 24th of November, and be available from LEGO Brand Retail Stores, and shop.lego.com. You have until then to catch up with the movie in a relatively spoiler free fashion. After then, I would suggest that all bets are off.  It is sizeable set, with 3444 elements, and costing $US269.99; GBP£249.99; $AUD399.99.

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This is a large set. You might speculate that it relates to a significant location in the film, or a ludicrously sized vehicle. But we have already seen the Batcave and Arkham Asylum. And they were probably a dead giveaway for being significant locations in the film, if you know anything about the history of Batman in his associated media. Or if you had seen a trailer.   If it were to be a vehicle, its a tough call:  we have already seen the Ultimate Batmobile, a fairly large Batwing, and otherwise most of the villains vehicles portrayed in sets have no major role in the film, with barely a few seconds of screen time each. And indeed, the trailers for the movie certainly gave away the majority of the villains involved in the movie, even if in a relatively insignificant way. Have people been crying out for a new UCS Batmobile (Speedwagon) or Scuttler?

If you have not yet seen the LEGO Batman movie, please recognise that this set ups the level of ‘spoiler’ seen  for the film, and cannot be unseen. So if you cannot bear such things, turn away, fire up your DVD player or streaming service and watch it now. When you return, read more on get details, and see pictures of the new set….  Continue reading

Winter Village Station 10259 [Announcement]

10259_Back_01For about a year now, the LEGO® social media feeds have been teasing the forthcoming release of the largest LEGO set ever. Starting with a silhouette on the ‘UCS’ Death Star box last year, new (official) information has been arriving more and more frequently. The set comes with the thickest instruction manual ever.  And the Biggest box. And then, last week, we saw a trailer hinting at some of the elements present.  This set has been subject to excessive speculation as to its exact nature:  the included minifigures and how it will differ from previous versions of this particular subject matter.

This is not that set. It is however, another  set in a series that has almost always impressed… except that one year when the LEGO® Group rereleased a set from several years earlier.

That’s right, today the LEGO® Group released details of the 2017 Winter Village set: the 10259 Winter Village Station. Now last year’s Winter Holiday Train will have somewhere to stop!

Launch date for the Winter Village Station at shop.LEGO.com and LEGO Stores is October 1 with VIP Early Access starting on September 14. The Australian price is confirmed at $AU119.99

10259_ProdMore images, and the press release follow after the break. Continue reading

Remaining 71019 Ninjago Movie Minifigures revealed

In a week where too many Ninjago Movie Announcements are barely enough, tonight (Melbourne time) we saw the second wave of Collectable Minifigures based on the LEGO Ninjago Movie 71019 announced on their Facebook page:

 

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N- Pop Girl
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Lloyd

Continue reading