Brickset news archive: December 2009
2009 has been a fantastic year for Brickset so I thought I'd do a quick recap of the new features added this year, and also what you can look forward to in 2010.
January: During the latter half of 2008 I rewrote the site from scratch and launched it at the very end of 2008. The upgrade added loads of new features but also provided a stable base on which to build more. The Theme Browser was the first new feature of the year which makes it much easier to view all sets in a particular theme, by year or subtheme. Next up was the My Friends page which allows you to mark Brickset users as friends and keep track of their collection and reviews. This was Brickset's first attempt at 'social networking': I think it's been a success and a useful feature so maybe it's an area that can be enhanced in the future.
February: Perhaps the most significant enhancement of the year was the addition of minifig data from BrickLink. As well as showing minifig counts in search results, the actual minifigs themselves are shown when viewing set detail pages. A Minifig Browser was also added to make it easy to see all minfigs in sets from a particular theme, subtheme or year of release.
March: Following on from progress in February, it was a small step to combine minifigs in set data with your set collection to highlight the minifigs you own when viewing minifig lists, and to generate a list of your entire minifig collection grouped by theme. I also added the ability to mark minfigs as wanted and also to record your loose minifig collection.
May: I added an often requested feature: the ability to add notes against sets, both those you own and those you don't.
June: Integration with other sites was the theme in June: Import from Lugnet, Export to Peeron, enhancements to the export of your set list, and the exporting of your minifig wanted list as an XML file for importing to BrickLink. With help from Fly Guy, the Brickset page on Facebook was set up. I also started Tweeting.
August: After adding all those new features I thought I'd take stock and ask you, the site users, what you thought of it, and how it could be improved. I ran a survey which received around 1500 responses and provided some excellent feedback.
September: A common theme in the survey comments was that you thought the site's news was too UK-centric. So I recruited news correspondents from the US, Canada and Australia to improve news coverage in those countries.
October: The last new feature of the year was the addition of BrickLists which allow users to compile lists of otherwise unrelated sets and share them with other users. I think these have been a success, there are over 900 of them now, although there is probably room for improvement still, to help sort the useful ones from the not so useful.
November and December: Traffic increased to ridiculous levels during the run up to the holiday season so I left the site well alone!
So, what's in store for 2010?
- In the next few weeks I will be adding a feature which I am particularly excited about which will enhance the site's usefulness considerably.
- Traffic to the site has increased so much that it will shortly be rehosted onto its own dedicated server: this will improve flexibility and also enhance performance. It will cost a lot more, but thanks to the revenue generated when you click through to LEGOshop.com, eBay and Amazon, the site will continue to remain self-financing.
- We will be adding vastly improved images of 1970s and some 1980s sets. I won't tell you where these are coming from just yet: you'll find out in due course.
- I'm also planning to give the site a 'lick of paint' and update its design slightly. Don't worry though, it will remain as easy on the eye and easy to use as it is now!
So not only have you some fantastic new LEGO to look forward to in 2010 but also some great enhancements to your favourite LEGO site!
Finally, I'd like to thank the people who make this site what it is:
- Main database administrators Grahame and Bluemoose
- Moderators Martin and Dr. Sinister
- News correspondents Jkool, danjc, MinifigHQ, Shima55, Brickapolis and CrzyLCF
- Dan at BrickLink for the use of BrickLink's data
- Eric at Northstar (our web host) who has provided a rock solid web server and database
- Rene at 1000Steine for hosting the set images
- Finally, you, for visiting, for writing reviews, comments and BrickLists and generally making this a friendly place and a pleasure to run.
Toy Story, Star Wars, Technic, Power Miners, Atlantis: they are all now available but they are hard to find: the site is probably in a transient state while they add the new themes so you'll have to search for each set or theme individually. Click on the yellow 'Shop Today' image on the right and search away.
The sale has also started: check out the Sales And Deals page, there are nearly 200 sets in the sale at 25%-50% off, including Star Wars.
Luke's Landspeeder is now on shelves in Walmarts across the country for approximately $24.97 USD.
If you're having a hard time finding post-Christmas sales, don't worry, we all are. Most places seem to already be cleared out with 2010 sets showing up, which means there might not be very many sales on leftover 2009 items. We'll keep you posted on anything we find.
For now, check your local Toys R Us for a $79.99 sale on the Mon Calamari Home One Cruiser.
If you're in the UK, head on down to your local Argos right away -- their catalogue now lists all six Toy Story sets and six Atlantis sets. My branch had 4 of the Toy Story sets (no Zurg or Roundup) and it appears from searching online, most branches have two of each of these four, so if you want them, reserve them online or get down there quick! (Thanks to Jasen in the Brickish forums for the tip off!)
Update 27 Dec: cllmkrr says "LEGO Power Miners, Toy Story and City are now avalible from Tesco" which opened for the first time since Christmas today. I haven't checked my local store but I will be doing so first thing tomorrow. It seems TRU also have a good selection, including Ben 10.
On behalf of the Brickset staff I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! I hope there are lots of rattling boxes under your tree in the morning. Unfortunately there are none under mine, so I'll have to make do with my gift to myself: 10188 Death Star :-)
There have been rumours on other sites but now it's (semi) official! Sky News ran an article yesterday about a shortage of LEGO in UK shops. The accompanying video reveals some of the summer Star Wars sets and also, more importantly, what looks like two new trains! Read the article and watch the video for yourself and see what you think: the trains are about 1m 40s in. Eurobricks has captured some stills in case you miss them. They appear to be Power Functions trains: the box has the orange stripe showing PF components down the side.
...and as this is the 500th news posting I thought I'd give you some statistics on Brickset usage this year:
2009 2008 2007 Page views 56,500,000 35,173,212 18,065,605 Visits 11,300,000 6,258,637 3,727,744 Hits 269,000,000 104,020,606 52,526,035 Reviews 5509 7397 5491
As you can see the site is going from strength to strength and is currently ranked 13,937 in the Quantcast US site rankings which I am very pleased about considering this is just a hobby site!
As has been the case in previous years, UK shops, particularly Toys R Us, put out 2010 sets this weekend to fill gaps on the shelves made by pre-Christmas shoppers. Dr. S. found this fire helicopter in Basingstoke TRU and Dermott has found Atlantis and Toy Story in his local branch. So keep an eye out and let us know what you find.
I believe the official release date, the date they will appear in LEGO shops and probably also legoshop.com, is 4th January, which is a bit of a nuisance because VAT is due to go up to 17.5% again on the 1st...
They are all over the Internet, you may have found them for yourself. However you won't find them here as we have a strict policy of not using or linking to images marked 'company confidential'.
So, thanks to everyone that's sent us links or the images themselves, but we don't be able use them: I have heard LEGO are taking legal action to have them removed, although such is the nature of the Internet that personally I think the cat is already out of the bag and they don't have much hope...
They ARE those pictured on the LEGOLAND Windsor collector badges: This picture in Dano's photostream on flickr proves it!
If you've no idea what I'm talking about, read the previous news article about them.
(That's welcome in Polish). Yesterday Brickset saw a huge spike in traffic which, after investigation in Google Analytics, it turns out was generated by being featured on the Polish equvalent of Digg, Wykop.pl. You can read the entry translated into English and comments by the site's users.
So, if you're visiting for the first time from Poland: Witaj, mam nadzieje, ze podoba Ci sie strona.
To be released in February is a Technic Race Truck, set number 8041. It appears to have lots of stickers; that's not so good.
LEGO Club members in New Zealand and Australia have been sent the 2010 LEGO catalogue for consumers, and which details new set releases for the first half of next year.
I have added six new sets to Brickset that we didn't previously know about.
Loads of new images of City and Star Wars sets have appeared on Amazon.de, and a previously unknown Star Wars set, 8091 Republic Swamp Speeder, has been found in what looks like a consumer catalogue and is scheduled for release in February. (from whung via Eurobricks)
This is actually old news, but it's new to me: MOCLug have posted this screen capture from the Toy Story 3 trailer on flickr claiming it shows what appears to be a Western-style train made from LEGO. It's all a bit grainy to be sure but the model certainly has LEGO-like features.
After LEGO apparently refused Pixar permission to use LEGO in Toy Story 1 and 2 (much to their subsequent regret I suspect) could it be that it will feature prominently in 3? It's a fair bet that it will given the Toy Story license, and perhaps as well as LEGO releasing sets of TS characters and scenes we'll also be able to buy the actual LEGO models featured in movie!
I don't think we'll see LEGO versions of Slinky dog, Mr. Potato Head or Tour Guide Barbie any time soon though...
- The January store calendars for the USA are available in TooMuchDew's flickr stream: front | back (thanks Bill), Update: Scans of the UK one are available now as well: front | back
- 10210, the Pirate ship, is now listed at LEGOShop.com, and will be available from 12th January in Europe. (thanks Keith)
- The LEGO Harry Potter game is due to be released in March: video clips can be seen at The Leaky Cauldron. Let's hope that LEGO have learned from their previous mistake of not having Batman sets on the shelves when the Batman game was released by having HP sets available this time! (thanks Rob)
- The US LEGOShop.com is giving away a 4899-1 Mini Tractor (a $1.99 value) with any purchase of $50 or more. Use the code USTR at checkout. (thanks toa_of_justice)
- The department store David Jones has 25% off all LEGO in Austraila (thanks Wade)
First let me apologise for the lack of news this week. I've been in Denmark. I had my netbook, I bought wi-fi time from the place I was staying but Windows 7 refused to recognise and connect to it, so I've been without Internet access since Sunday!
In that time it seems that Toy Story sets are now available in the USA: "All the new Toy Story sets are now in store at the Schaumburg IL legoland discovery Center, (but not yet in the woodfieldmall location)" reports Keith, and pugsly14's flickr stream has some nice pictures of them. Also, the Toy Story microsite at LEGO.com is live now as well, although there's not much there yet.
Thanks to everone who has emailed this week: I'll post a news round-up later on.
The first batch of Toy Story sets look as if they are going to be superb. This image was nabbed from the Toys R Us website and stitched together by Ace over at fbtb.net. You can see it in its full 2000px-wide glory in his flickr stream.
Apart from the figures and the horse (whose name escapes me!) there's not a whole lot of new pieces evident but I'm liking the use of the 2x4 tiles for the stickered signs to avoid putting them on multiple pieces. The cactus is also totally cool...
We've seen grainy footage of these in LEGO videos on YouTube and dodgy 'company confidential' pictures, but now at last, thanks to Rob who found them at Amazon.jp, we have some good pictures of 8083 (pictured) and 8084 where you can actually make out what's in them.
From the same source came the two new Power Miners pictures. 8190 is a great set which I have seen and played with: The claw-catching action is absolutely awesome!