What it is… is 40 years old.

Start talking about about the gender divide in the way that LEGO targets its marketing, and before long, people will refer you to ‘Back in the day’ – when there was relatively little gender specific marketing: LEGO sets were marketed to children – boys and girls. Not boys OR girls.

Eventually, someone will typically refer to print ad above, from 1981. Showing a young girl who has built a model with her LEGO Bricks. The model looks chaotic to our concrete adult minds. But the look on her face is undeniably one of excitement, joy and pride. Somewhere along the way, LEGO Sets became more of a boy focussed product, with variable effectiveness in reengaging girls in LEGO play. And then we got LEGO friends. It might be disappointing that it was necessary to release a line of sets targeted at girls of a certain age, but I think the parts palette and the set design has benefitted as a result.

This advertisment is now 40 years old. and to celebrate, the LEGO Group are taking a trip back in time, to recreate this iconic advertisement, with the young builders of today. this coincides with the message tha the LEGO Group has signed up to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles, to help guide how it can “better empower women and girls, accelerate gender equality, and encourage more young girls to believe they can achieve anything they set their hearts on.”

The LEGO Group is calling on families to help celebrate the skills, interests and creative potential of the next generation of female leaders by recreating its iconic 1981 LEGO® advert: submit a copy of a photo of your child, holding a LEGO creation they have made, and a poster will be emailed back!

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An Ice Place To Be: Revisiting Ice Planet 2002

The recent Fan Vote for a 90th Anniversary set that has taken place on LEGO Ideas has reminded many of us of many of the great themes that LEGO sets have explored over the years. While Classic Space, Castle, Bionicle and Pirates were the themes that the public were most fond of, there were a number of other themes that we were reminded of. One of these was Ice Planet 2002: released in 1993-94. My friend Jay, over at Jay’s Brick Blog made an impassioned call for voting for this theme, but alas, it was unsuccessful. But there is no doubt that it is a theme that has its stalwart fans: certainly it has a striking aesthetic,so I thought I would take a closer look, to see what the theme brought to the Space sets at the time, as well as why it might be deserving of some greater love going forward.

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21323 LEGO Ideas Grand Piano [Review…and more]

In which I reminisce about childhood music lessons, and evening television, build the LEGO® Ideas Grand Piano while listening to some of my favorite piano music. Then I troubleshoot it, with some help from the fan designer.

Somewhere lost in the midsts of time, I spent my Thursday evenings going to piano lessons. My personal progress was approximately in proportion to my lack of commitment commitment to regular practice, but I enjoyed nonetheless. During the early 80’s, I found these lessons to be a little bit of a drag: Doctor Who tended to shown on the ABC from Monday to Thursday: and the final episode of any story (back then they were typically 4 episodes long) would due to screen at the same time as my lesson. No Netflix, no iTunes, no DVDs and the timer in a VCR could easily be disrupted by failing to find a blank tape before I headed off to my lesson.

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Piratepalooza Continues: Meet the Islanders

This year, we saw the 30th anniversary of the arrival of LEGO Pirates on the scene. Featuring ships, factions and named characters, Pirates also introduced some interesting elements to the mixture. After five years, perhaps in an attempt to move away from the obligatory Pirates versus Governor conflict, a new group of characters was introduced: Islanders.

With printed grass skits, and wearing horns in their hair, I probably feel a bit uneasy about saying anything about how these characters might reflect any culture living at the times during which the Pirates theme was set. Suffice to say, they provided variation in characterisation. I imagine that Pirates might be seeking to hide out on an island in the South Seas, and seek a degree of cooperations from the indigenous population. I am glad there were no ‘soldier faction’ figures included with the Islanders subtheme.

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LEGO Legacy: Heroes Unboxed – Now Open for Pre-registration.

At the Fan Media days in Billund this year, I had the chance to see a presentation from the LEGO Games/ Gamesloft team about LEGO Legacy: Heroes Unboxed, an upcoming mobile game due for release in a month or two. Gathering figures and sets from the past 41 years, it looks set to reinvigorate interest in sets from past. You can read our announcement of the game here.

Today, Gamesloft have opened the platform for pre registration today: you can sign up to pre-register, and have access to great gifts when the game is officially released in the next month or two (I’m awaiting announcement of the release date too). you can sign up for pre-registration here. Read more for further details, and a new gameplay video.

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75262 Imperial Dropship – Star Wars 20th Anniversary

In which I try to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t attempt to buy Every Star Wars Set Ever, despite a childhood obsession, and come to realise that reissues of sets are useful as elements and building pieces evolve.

LET ME TELL YOU A STORY. If you have read any of my posts about the 20th Anniversary of LEGO® Star Wars, it would become apparent that Star Wars played an important role in my childhood. There was something enchanting, in a fairy tale sort of way, about the way in which the characters moved through the story. I read the novel (Ghost written by Alan Dean Foster) several times before I turned 10. I had a couple of action figures. Some follow me today. My brother and I saved up lots and lots of pocket money, to be able to afford the Kenner’s Landspeeder, with amazing floating action, when it finally became available at our local toy shop in 1978. I had a book mark left in a friend’s copy of ‘Splinter of the Mind’s Eye’, and when our family went to visit theirs, I would read another twenty of so pages. In 1983 I finally finished reading it.

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LEGO rolling back to Classic Instructions[Nostalgia+]

The Rambling Brick was excited to see a copy of the new “Classic Instructions”, being rolled out in forthcoming Minecraft sets.

There has been a bit of talk today about the new Nostalgia+ Business Unit at the LEGO group, and I have just received notice of their boldest initiative yet: a return to the classic format of LEGO instructions.

Earlier today I had the pleasure of talking to Atilla Jogtuyu, from the new Nostalgia+ workgroup. This group is seeking to enhance the quality of nostalgic experiences

Atilla Jogtuyu proceeded to tell me about the me about the development of the final pillar of Nostalgia+, the new instruction format…

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Steamboat Willie Resilience Build; Nostalgia+ Program announced

Today, we see the latest Ideas set 21317 Steamboat Willie hit the shelves. The LEGO® Ideas team have done a great job in preparing this set for release in just under six weeks since the set was announced to be entering the development phase – a new record for the crowd sourced platform. It turns out, however, that they have been hiding something from us…

Introducing the New Nostalgia+ Resilience Builds.

21317R: Steamboat Willie Resilience Build: designed to help developing builders to be satisfied with what they have achieved, and then pull the model apart and try something new – further fostering resilience through play.
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An Idea Right Out of History [The Flintstones 21316 Official Announcement]

In which I ponder the nature of the television sitcom and its broader narrative development, new spinoffs resulting in decades of related programming, changes between fan designer and production art and finally consider whether or not this one’s for me.  By the way, 21316 the Flintstones will be available for VIPs 20th February, and probably having its ‘regular’ release on March 1st 2019.

Memories of after school television in the 70’s

One of my fondest childhood memories is coming home from school, and sitting down in front of the (Black and White) television for a couple of hours. It was the 1977 in Australia, and the typical afternoon television lineup consisted of a collection of 1960’s programs, both live action and animated: Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Get Smart, Scooby Doo and The Flintstones.

With their canned laughter and awkward situations, often caused by miscommunication or zany get rich quick schemes, virtuallyany character development that occurred was reset at the end of the episode. Apart from a different actor playing Darren in Bewitched, as if nothing ever happened, most of these stories followed a simple plot line, with new scenery and characters telling a similar story the next week.

The Flintstones was unique amongst these programs, as it was probably the first show that would be considered to an animated sitcom: certainly a novel concept in 1960, when it was first broadcast. Fred and Barney – with their challenges at work, misunderstandings with their wives, the ritual Bowling tournaments, to say nothing of the Order of the Water Buffaloes.

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Minifigure 40: LEGO® Town [Advertisement Archive]

Untitled 7Forty years ago, we saw the change in LEGO® sets: the arrival of the minifigure.  Now we had articulated figures to bring our models to life: no need to remove the torso for our figures to sit down. As part of #minfigure40 I received access to a large number of media assets: today, I would like to look at some of the features of the advertisements in the LEGO Town/City series, one of the few themes to have been continuously available in some form or another for forty years!  The majority of these advertisements were placed in comics, or magazines featuring comic strip anthologies, and puzzles and kid’s news. They have been published in multiple markets – ands languages.  I have attempted to translate them as well as an online translation engine will allow.

The art style is typically similar to that seen in contemporary catalogs: certainly I suspect the early advertisements were shot at a similar time to the catalogs for that year.

1978: The Minifigure Arrives in Classic Town

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