Blocks magazine: some thoughts

Posted by ,

The first issue of Blocks magazine has been released at WHSmith today, and as such, I thought it might be worth bringing you a quick overview of it. Let me begin by stating that if you are on the fence about whether to pick this up, I thoroughly recommend that you do.

There are so many aspects to collecting LEGO, that it must have been very challenging to condense it all into a single magazine. However, I think Blocks has achieved this in exemplary fashion. There is a wide spread of articles to suit any LEGO related interests, and a few of the highlights are detailed after the break:

  • Introductory Features - There are some features included for those new to LEGO as a hobby, including a timeline of the company's history, a glossary of common terms and a useful guide on how to get started with LEGO - These will undoubtedly be incredibly useful to some, and I have to admit that one or two of the terms glossed were new to me. It is all written informatively and simply, without being patronising in the slightest.
  • Reviews - There are ten reviews in this edition of some of the flagship sets from the last year or so, including 10236 Ewok Village, 75059 Sandcrawler and 21108 Ghostbusters Ecto-1. There are also brief reviews of a few of the books which have recently been released, including titles by DK and more specialist books written by fans - The reviews are all well written and the photography is superb. The conclusions are well reasoned and the detail given is sufficient to allow one to make an informed decision on a particular set.
  • Blocks Showcase - A look at some of the best MOCs from around the world accompanied by interviews with their creators - The standard of the models featured is of course incredible, and the interviews are also very interesting.
  • Future Classics - A section featuring some of the recently, or soon to be, retired sets that might one day qualify as 'classics' - Perhaps the section that appealed most to me as it gives an unusual perspective on some of the greatest sets of recent years. You will have to buy the magazine yourself to find out what their picks are, but I can safely say that some may surprise you, although they are well justified.
  • Collecting Old Sets - Details of some classic sets, this time a feature concerning Blacktron, written by one Huw Millington - A feature which will inevitably bring many new fans into the hobby, as well as allowing some more seasoned FOLs to relive some of the golden years of LEGO.

Throughout, the writing is informed and every contributor seems truly interested in their subject matter, which naturally leaves the reader more interested as well. There are one or two typing errors I have come across, but that is only to be expected with the volume of information included. With regard to the accuracy of this information, I cannot find fault with it. The presentation is very glossy and the pages feel as though they are fairly resistant to tearing, so I have no issues with the quality of the magazine either.

I do not want to give away everything here as there is a huge amount to cover in this 131-page volume, but suffice to say your £5.99 will be well spent by purchasing a copy of Blocks magazine in my opinion. I have my fingers crossed that Blocks will become a quarterly or even monthly issue very soon!

Not in the UK? You can order a copy by phoning 0044 7858 892859 or emailing accounts [at] ppcmag [dot] co [dot] uk.

35 comments on this article

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Bought mine yesterday. Excellent read but not keen on the £5.99 price tag.

Gravatar
By in Australia,

i would love to pick up a copy but being outside the uk is painful event though i can call the number i expect between the call + magazine cost + shipping it wont be quite worth it

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

To preface this, I haven't looked at this yet so can't say first hand but... your final comment is interesting. There's a lot in your bullet points that wouldn't work at a monthly and possibly even quarterly frequency.

Introductory features - presumably can't be repeated every time. Perhaps some room for a new take on it but that well will run dry quickly.

Reviews - They've, as you said, taken the pick of the bunch so far. Theres certainly enough interesting sets to keep them going at a quarterly publication but if monthly they're going to start reviewing some very run-of-the-mill sets.

Blocks showcase - works fine, there should be enough high quality mocs to keep going for a long time.

Future classics - again can't see this working even at a quarterly level.

Collecting old sets - nice and theres scope there to go for a while before the themes become less classic. Its been interesting reading the similar features on brickset which brings me on to...

I'll definately have a look at the magazine in the shops but not sure I'll buy it (although I probably will) but is it going to give me more than I get here? The reviews on brickset are excellent and cover everything I could want covered. They come out quickly and are extremely thorough - perhaps more so than i would expect in a magazine. We've also recently had features on old themes, and if I want to look at mocs I'll go to flickr or eurobricks. like I say, I'll definately check it out, but I expect the second issue, and even more so the third is going to be much more difficult.

The cynic is me also now realises why theres been so many news items about this publication - its employing half the brickset team! ;-)

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Just picked my copy up, wasn't sure until I opened it up in WHSmith definitely worth a purchase. A great deal of work has gone into this, fantastic quality throughout and some really interesting articles, congratulations to the team involved. I hope its successful and we see more issues, I did have a bit of difficulty finding it on the shelves, eventually found it under media interests?

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

^^ 'employing' is not quite the case... we've re-hashed a couple of articles for it f.o.c. :-)

Gravatar
By in United States,

Stupid USA not getting magazines. -frown- I think the transatlantic call and shipping would make it too expensive to be worth it... Why can't this be like Hispabrick, which is free online?

I haven't seen a good review of Ewok Village, but I might not be looking hard enough... Did CapnRex101 review that here?

Gravatar
By in Norway,

I like to get a copy but since i dont want to call an UK number, I think it could be expensiv.
If it is a quartely pubblication, i may find it when i visit UK in august.

Gravatar
By in {Unknown country},

Excellent read , will expect to be quarterly because of the price .
Will not buy it at this price if it s a monthly .

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Collected mine this morning. First impressions, great photos, detailed articles, and £5.99 for a quarterly isn't that bad at all. Hardest thing was to find it in WHSmith! The manager couldn't find it and eventually found it amongst the Railway magazines. I hope AFOLs are not being considered train spotters?!

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Just got a copy. First impression is that it's visually appealing with DK quality pictures. The articles are varied and well written. £5.99 isn't cheap but it's not bad for a magazine of this quality.

My only reservation is that it doesn't have much by way of scoops, e.g. first pictures of the complete forthcoming CMF line. Perhaps as an unofficial publication it will never be able to get that sort of thing. Sure, it's got a peek at the SW Phantom but I suspect online sites do too.

If you're outside the UK and want to get a copy without paying through the schnoz, try finding a friendly UK AFOL on one of the online fora such as Eurobricks or Classic Castle who will send you a copy at cost.

Gravatar
By in United States,

Sounds like it's around $11 USD - We Americans have to pay $18 USD or so for UK mags from Future publishing. So maybe not such a bad price. How much do y'all's magazines normally cost? Ours are typically $8 USD or so.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

@Sastrei
About £5 or £6, so roughly the same.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

One thing on the price that I don't think anybody's really considered, there are hardly any adverts, I think only four -
One for the magazine itself, one for brickish, one for brickset and one for minifigure display cases.
Considering the content of the mag and knowing who's connected to various things I'd guess they were all reciprocal deal type adverts as well.
Fair to say that they would struggle to get advertising interest with no sales info, but the didn't even put an ad for their other magazines in there.

Gravatar
By in Canada,

So, no digital edition? Are you kidding?

Gravatar
By in Netherlands,

Can I buy a digital edition somewhere? I don't want to ship a magazine from the UK to here...

I'm not against magazines, but... it's still a magazine. And, I don't want the hassle to buy one in the UK. I'd rather just buy one in a shop or buy a digital edition.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Not sure why people are moaning about the price. Seems about standard for a specialist magazine. And given that the beloved company that our hobby is based on charges this much for a couple of teensy plastic figures!

Gravatar
By in United States,

Just emailed them and this was the response: "We are not doing a digital version of the magazine yet, but we can send the special edition from the office to the US. Just pay £12.99 (includes postage) by Paypal using office [at] ppcmag [dot] co [dot] uk, and give your full address.
We are planning to launch a monthly magazine later in the year."

Thats about $22.72 USD. A little much for a mag so I'm going to pass.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

^ I've just been told the same:

"if people from abroad want a copy they don't have to call they can email accounts[at]ppcmag.co.uk and it will be sorted for them and they can pay via PayPal, BACS or credit card so should be easy enough.

Costs are
UK £7.19 (includes P&P)
EU £10.99 (includes P&P)
RoW £12.99 (includes P&P)

For payment I have directed them to PayPal using office[at]ppcmag.co.uk or ring 07858 892859 with card details.

Gravatar
By in United States,

I ordered a copy. I used to have a subscription to Retro Gamer from the UK, and that was like $160 a year, so this isn't too bad. I'll subscribe internationally if it gets to that point.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Picked up my copy today also. A good read so far and very well presented. Was just trying to imagine how good it would be for the magazine to include a piece of Lego with each edition for the next 5,195 editions. I wonder if my Great Great Great Grandkids would appreciate it. :o)

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I've read most of it and have to echo the Captain's comments: it's a good read and well put together, but it could have done with a(nother) proof read before publication as there are numerous spelling and grammar mistakes.

The Bargain Watch advertorial is great, hopefully it'll drum up some more traffic!

Gravatar
By in United States,

How many pages does it have?

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

132

Gravatar
By in Italy,

Is it available on digital form on AppStore? Or is there any plans? I do not buy paper magazines anymore and moved all my subscriptions to digital...

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

it made a nice change to be reading reviews and articles about lego in a magazine rather than on my pc or ipad - but I guess I'm of a generation that remembers when this was the only option!

i've only flicked through it so far and skim read a few features but was very impressed with the content and quality of the photos - I think it will now be placed in the bathroom to be read when I need to sit down in there for a short time!

as shib points out with virtually no advertising the price of £5.99 is perfectly acceptable - and means that the vast majority of the 132 pages are editorial which compared to a lot of magazines is great value

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

finally managed to get a copy in a branch bout 7 miles away from me!although took a while finding it as it was in the PETS section!!

Gravatar
By in Belgium,

Ordered a copy.
Going soon on holiday, and it's always nice to have a good read @ the beach while enjoying the sun. :-)

Gravatar
By in Italy,

Got feedback from them. It looks like this a a special issue only, not the first volume of a new magazine but they have plans to launch a proper monthly magazine later this year. They also told me they are not making a digital version YET, so maybe things will change later when the proper magazine will launch. I'll order my copy soon.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

Managed to pick up a copy this morning in my local WHsmiths - last copy left and I found it in the childrens section next to the "Legends of Chima" magazine. The magazine is printed on quality paper and the photography is very good. Enjoyed the Blacktron article!

Gravatar
By in Norway,

Thanks for the information Huw. I have been on the site wondered if i could e-mail from that page or if it was just for the car magazine. I have made a request there now.

Gravatar
By in United Arab Emirates,

I'm amazed that such a niche magazine would not have a digital edition. Total marketing fail.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

^^ The infrastructure needed to create a paid-for digital edition is probably beyond the reach of the small publisher that produces it.

Gravatar
By in United Kingdom,

I was "on the fence" until I read this article. Bought my copy today and am thoroughly enjoying the high quality pics and detailed personable reviews. Downsides are the £5.99 price tag (I guess because it is a niche mag?) and the spelling mistakes. Bring on issue 2!!!!!!!

Return to home page »