Brickset news archive: February 2011
About time too, I hear you say! Most LEGO boxes could be half the volume and still fit everything in with room to spare, so it's very encouraging to read this article at Toys N Bricks about smaller box sizes hitting the shelves in the USA. The example photo, taken by TNB forum member cowbug shows 8093 Plo Koon’s Starfighter in a box that's about 3/4 of the height.
If you had the choice, seeing the two side by side on the shelf like that, which would you buy and why?
AFOLCON, which promises to be the biggest and best LEGO show the UK has ever seen, is now just 2 months away! The organisers of the show have today published details of the speakers and sessions that will be taking place during the conference days:
"The conference will include not one, but two LEGO designers who are coming over from Billund. Tim Ainley and Mark Stafford will be talking about the development of Ninjago and another new line that will be released later in 2011 (but the sets should be at the show!). In addition, Carl Greatrix will explain how the process of creating models for the LEGO video games differs from the process LEGO uses, or that you might do at home.
"Duncan Titmarsh, the UK's first LEGO Certified Professional will be explaining how he joined the program and what it's like to make money from building LEGO! Finally, David Gauntlett, from the University of Westminster, will be talking about how he worked with LEGO Serious Play."
I hope to see you all there!
Actually, they are already here, the Vikings minifig gallery is now live...
The Vikings sets successfully combined models that were pretty good in terms of historical accuracy and creatures from Norse mythology: dragons, serpents and wolves. The five sets released in 2005 were excellent; the two from 2006 not so, in my opinion. I had to BrickLink some of the figs from 2006 since I don't have both sets. The gallery is complete and includes all minifigs from regular sets, but it does exclude the glued ones in the chess set which were probably made in China and therefore of no interest to me.
"Hey out there, LEGO Club and LEGO BrickMaster members! Here at The LEGO Group, we’re busy getting ready to launch something new that we think you’ll really like: the LEGO Master Builder Academy!
"The mission of the LEGO Master Builder Academy program is simple: “Take Your Building to the Next Level”. And what do we mean by that? We want to help you use the expertise and official techniques of the real LEGO Master Builders to discover how to create better, stronger and cooler-looking models that you design all by yourself!
"LEGO MBA will be a multi-level LEGO training experience. You know how in martial arts like karate, there are different colored belts that signify a level of achievement and rank? LEGO MBA will be like that too, with multiple levels of achievement. Each level has its own special color, but instead of a belt, you’ll receive a new exclusive MBA Minifigure in the color of the latest building skill level that you’ve achieved!
"The first year of the LEGO MBA program features two skill levels – green Level 1 and yellow Level 2 – with more to come later on. You’ll master each level through exclusive LEGO MBA building kits and technique-filled Design Handbooks, three per level, each including pieces and instructions dedicated to a famous theme like space, robots, cars and more.
"You’ll be able to find additional challenges and building ideas on the LEGO MBA website, along with skill tests to level up your building even more. As you meet and beat each challenge, your friends and family will be amazed at how much your building skills and creativity have advanced!
"So what do you say? Want to take your LEGO building to the next level? Get ready, because the all-new LEGO Master Builder Academy launches this June in the US with plans to expand to other markets next year! "
Now, I have to say, it sounds really worthwhile: teaching kids how to build things other than the model in the box using exclusive MBA kits, and with minifigures as a reward. What's even better is the last statement: plans to expand to other markets next year, which will hopefully mean those of us in Europe and elsewhere will be able to join in the fun!
Remember this book we mentioned in November that was given away to LEGOshop.com customers in the USA? Well it appears that the very same book (without the white Boba Fett minifig, unfortunately, or holes punched down the side) is being given away in Argos stores in the UK at the moment.
A friend of mine at work went to the local branch to collect a LandSpeeder for his son today. When he did so, he was told he was a 'lucky random winner for a data book' of which there was one in the store, and was given it by the store manager. Luckily for me, his son is only three so has no use for the book, so he gave it to me. You might well be asking 'what's your friend doing buying a three year old a Star Wars set?' Well, between you and me, I think he's a closet AFOL :-)
It's a very nice book: it's printed on glossy, thick card, around 12 pages long and features full page head-shots of some recent figs, line drawings of figs from recent sets and pictures of the sets they came in. I'll post some photos later. It also has the number '385' printed on the back. I don't know whether that indicates it's number 385 of some limited run, or something else. I guess we won't know until someone else gets one. Thanks Matt!
Update: The Argos website now indicates that you'll get one of these when you buy certain Star Wars sets 'via a leaflet', presumably available in store, until 22nd March, so what are you waiting for: reserve online and get on down to your local branch this weekend before the 'Brickset Effect' strikes again! Thanks to the article commenters for this information.
I'm sure this SpongeBob SquarePants gallery will be popular, and I have to confess I have a soft-spot for these figs, even though I've never watched an episode of the cartoon in my life. I guess it's the bright colours and cool character designs that does it...
So, what next: Vikings, collectables, Space Police 3, Atlantis, or should I start on Star Wars?
More evidence surfaced today that suggests that LEGO Universe has flopped big time. First we had the halving of the cost of the software, then it was halved again. Now, today, news has emerged that NetDevil, its developers, has laid off most of its staff (in a not particularly pleasant way), which can only mean one thing as far as I am concerned: Universe is a flop.
I suspect the main reason is, as others have commented here before, that the subscription costs are too expensive. But it may also be because LEGO fans would rather be spending their time playing and building with real bricks rather than virtual ones. I'm sure most of you fall into this camp.
Universe was only launched in October following something like 4 years of development, so its failure after just 5 months won't be good news from a financial perspective. It was a huge risk for LEGO to create a MMOG and it looks like it hasn't paid off.
I guess the company had better stick to what they do best, what they do better than anyone else and what we all love them for...
Update: I've re-worded the headline because it seems that development of Universe is being transferred to LEGO and many of the development team are now working for LEGO (source article) so maybe it isn't the flop the initial facts suggested. (thanks jamesster for posting this link in the comments)
(read first on A Modular Life)
Continuing with licenced themes, I've added Speed Racer to the minifig gallery.
I can't say the sets, or the minifigs, are particularly exciting, though. I can't really comment on the movie: I watched the first 15 minutes or so but stopped after that as I thought it too awful. I do like the Trixie fig though: that has to be one of the coolest female torso/leg combinations: bright pink and silver :-)
Speed Racer, left, has a wonky left arm: I have two of him and the arm doesn't fit in the socket properly on either of them, despite me trying to re-locate it several times. What's it like on yours?
SpongeBob will be next...
As you may have heard an earthquake has caused massive damage and disruption to Christchurch in New Zealand. Many Bricksetters live in the area, including database administrator Grahame.
So, let's pray that they and their families are all OK, and their LEGO collections are not too damaged, and Grahame when you read this let us know that you're alright.
Tech blog Gizmodo has published hi-res pictures of Ninjago, Alien Conquest, Kingdoms and other 2011 sets. I've added some of them here but they are a bit of a nuisance to extract from their site so haven't done them all. If you find any I've missed, by all means send them in.
Some are marked confidential and, assuming they all originated from LEGO, this sends out mixed messages somewhat...
The six Avatar figs featured today appeared in just two sets that were released in 2006. They were not available in the UK, and in fact they may have been available only in North America. So as a result, until a couple of weeks ago, I didn't have any of the minifigs at all. But thanks to BrickLink, I now have a full set so have been able to create a gallery for you. I hope you appreciate my efforts :-)
Valid Sunday 2/20 through Saturday 2/26 and applies to all LEGO sets and games except Star Wars. As of a few hours before Sunday, there are still several LEGO Direct sets in stock online so here's hoping...
Click here to buy.
A month ago Brickset broke the news of this exclusive set, thanks partly to someone in LEGO who released an image of it onto their Internet server in error. We were asked to remove it from here, which we duly did.
Now, today, at last, the set has been officially annouced:
10219 Maersk Train, Ages 14+. 1,234 pieces, US $119.99, CA $159.99, DE 119.99, € UK £91.99
The highly-realistic Maersk diesel-electric freight train has arrived! A replica of the real engine that operated on the railroads of America, this Maersk train features exceptional detailing and functions, such as opening driver's cab, removable side panel revealing a detailed, 16-cylinder engine, and authentic Maersk branding. The model also includes 2 wagons and 3 containers with opening doors (1 with refrigeration detailing). The set also includes a shunter truck and detachable trailer for loading and offloading the containers. Add LEGO® Power Functions accessories to motorize!
- Includes 3 workman minifigures!
- Train measures 36" (92cm) long!
- Building instructions include a historical description of the LEGO Group/A.P. Moller Maersk Group cooperation and a timeline of the products launched!
- Containers can be loaded side-by-side or stacked!
- Motorize your Maersk train by adding LEGO Power Functions 8878 Power Functions Rechargeable Battery Box, #8887 Transformer 10V DC, #8884 Power Functions IR Receiver, 8879 Power Functions IR Speed Remote Control and 88002 Power Functions Train Motor!
I've added the official images to the set page and I'd be interested to know what you think of them: they are a little different from normal official images and I'm not sure if I like them...
We've just heard some bad news for collectors about the Cardiff store 'Grand Opening Event' this weekend ... we're not entirely sure what's going on, but while the 'Grand Opening Event' is going ahead, we've been told that LEGO have decided not to proceed with the exclusive model give-away as part of the event. We're not sure of the reason, but we'll let you know if we find out what's going on.
This is especially annoying as we've been trying to promote the event in the AFOL & collector communities. As far as we know, the Westfield 'exclusive' is going ahead as planned next weekend.
So just to reiterate, the Cardiff 'Grand Opening Event' is going ahead, but the original exclusive model isn't going to be part of the give-aways during the weekend. If you go, please let us know your impressions :-)
Valid Friday 2/18 through Monday 2/21, Toys R Us will be discounting several sets. The following sets will be 30% off the regular Toys R Us price: Bionicle Piraka (7137), Bionicle Gresh (7117), Bionicle Rahkshi (7138), Bionicle Skrall (7136), City Garage (7642), Power Miners Titanium Command Rig (8964) and Space Police 3 Hyperspeed Pursuit (5973). Additionally, they're knocking $20 off their price for the AT-AT (8129) and Turbo Tank (8098) but that just brings the sets only slightly under MSRP. You can see the Toys R Us flyer here.
I don't know where grogall finds them, but he's come up trumps again with nice images of seven of the Cars sets due out soon. I've added them here and you can see the hi-res versions on Brickshelf. Apparently there'll be 14 sets in total, which is a massive number for the first year of a theme. However I suspect this will be the only batch of them. Until Cars 3, anyway.
As you'll see there are some nice new parts and interesting coloured pieces. The decorations are printed, not stickers. Is that good or bad? I suppose it depends on whether you intend reusing the pieces.
(thanks r4-g9 for the news)
I apologize for the delay in getting this nice sale posted, but better late than never, right? :o) Through Saturday 2/19, Toys R Us is selling the Jedi Shuttle (7931), Bounty Hunter Assault Gunship (7930), The Battle of Naboo (7929), and the V-Wing Starfighter (7915) for 25% Off the normal Toys R Us price. The resulting discount ends up somewhere between 18% and 21% Off MSRP so it's a pretty good deal, especially since these sets are relatively new. Additionally, all other LEGO Star Wars sets are 10% Off the normal Toys R Us price but this mostly just wipes out their own markup. That being said, they have not yet marked up The Battle for Geonosis (7869) or the Clone Trooper Battlepack (7913) so those are indeed a straight up 10% Off.
There's not many 2011 sets in their online store, but you might find a better selection in your local branch.
(thanks atkinsar for the news)
Ace at fbtb has been busy uploading hundreds of well-organised pictures to the fbtb flickr stream. He's photographed every last detail and you should be able to determine all the things I couldn't remember at the London toy fair, including the identities of the Harry Potter minifigs in the Forbidden Forest, Knight Bus and Battle for Hogwarts. When you've done so, please list them here.
To coincide with Toy Fair New York, starwars.com has published some good quality pictures of some of the summer 2011 Star Wars sets. You can see them here - click on the picture to start the slide show. Make sure you click all the way through to the end to see the new Millennium Falcon set.
No sign of the new 'Naboo Fighter' or 'Hoth Echo Base' sets, confirming that they are likely to be retailer exclusives. (Update by Huw: the Naboo Fighter is in the UK retailers' catalogue but wasn't at the London toy fair).
The figures look great, and there are some nice parts and construction techniques in the new sets, but I'm left a little underwhelmed overall, probably because most of them are re-dos. Great for the newer collector, a bit ho-hum for the old-timer.
Update: I've added them here, while bluemoose was typing this -- Huw :-) (thanks r4-g9 and afhaddad for the news).
Our focus here at Brickset.com is on brick sets, not all the other ancillary products that LEGO make, and our news section reflects that. Occasionally, there are non-brick news stories that are worth covering ...
Back before Christmas, LEGO slashed the purchase price of the LEGO Universe game to 50% of the original price, and last week LEGO halved the price again - it's now only $9.99 US / 9.99 Euros / £7.49 UK / etc. in the the areas that it is available, a full 75% off the original purchase price. Remember this includes the subscription for the first month's worth of 'game time' ... also note this is the same price as the ongoing monthly subscription rate, so effectively you're getting the game for free when you pay for your first month's subscription. If you've been wondering about the game, now seems like a great opportunity to jump on-board and give it a go!
I'm not sure what this means for the game in the long-term; it appears that the take-up of the game has been less than expected, and LEGO are prepared to do what they feel it's going to take to get people playing the game and paying their monthly subscriptions ... personally I like the game, but I just don't have the spare time to devote to it. I also don't think it's the purchase price that is the problem, but rather the monthly subscription ...
Meanwhile, 'Minecraft' is going from strength-to-strength.
Just a quick reminder about the 'Grand Opening Event' for the Cardiff, Wales, store, which is taking place over 3 days next weekend - Saturday 19th, Sunday 20th & Monday 21st Feb. You can check out the store page on the LEGO.com website here, or check out page 2 of the on-line version of the in-store calendar here.
Also, the following weekend is the 'Grand Opening Event' for the London Westfield store, running Friday 25th, Saturday 26th & Sunday 27th Feb, but we'll post again about that next week ...
However, more interesting than those is the instructions for the Shinkai 6500 Submarine (21100) which is a nice model and practically impossible to get hold of outside of Japan. Now we can build our own...
At last! A means to get one without forking out ridiculous sums on BrickLink! Smyths Toys are giving them away with any LEGO purchase. Guess where I'm off to this morning...
Update: I should thank Thomas C who posted in the Brickish forums that he was able to buy a couple for £2.99 in a branch up north somewhere. So, I rang the Salisbury branch this morning to see if they were selling them and the lady said, no, they were giving them away 'with any LEGO purchase'. I went there (a 50 minute drive away) and bought two non Star Wars sets and asked the guy at the till how many I could have. He said 'one per person' so I said my wife would buy one of the sets. He said not to bother and gave me two anyway. I then received an email on my phone from a good friend asking if I could get him two. So, I went back in and a couple of Star Wars battle packs later, I was in recepit of two more.
However, I'm not quite sure what the point of the promotion is: there's no signage anwhere that might act as encouragement to buy LEGO and if I hadn't known and asked before I bought anything, I would have been none the wiser... It's also not clear what you need to buy to qualify: a series 3 minifig might have been enough (of which there were 3-4 cases).
So, good luck in your attempts to secure this most sought after Star Wars minifig!
The New York Toy Fair starts tomorrow. Expect to see a lot of coverage on fan sites, in particular keep an eye out at FBTB, where Ace will be reporting direct from the event and posting pictures to his flickr stream (linked to on the picture).
In the meantime you can read what to expect on this press release.
While you've all been drooling over unreleased sets, I've been slaving away over a hot keyboard to bring you the latest minifig gallery, which this time is the minifigs from the Western theme that was released in 1996 and 1997 (or Wild West as it was called in North America).
It was a great theme, and one which surely there is perpetual demand for: 'Cowboys and Indians' is always a popular game...
You'll recall that I wouldn't reveal the identity of the mystery exclusive minifigure in the Star Wars Advent calendar after visiting the London toy fair the other week. Well, now you can see for yourself what it is. As I said, it's unlikely to ever appear in any Star Wars movie or cartoon. Head on over to http://theclonenews.freeblog.hu/archives/2011/02/08/sz/ and see for yourself in the bottom image. And no, it's not George Lucas :-)
(Via A Modular Life)
Entertainment Weekly has posted an exclusive trailer for the new LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars videogame on their website. Check it out here.
Other LEGO sites are awash with pictures of new sets taken at a toy fair so I suppose I had better mention them here. There's Star Wars, Cars, Technic, Harry Potter and more to see at the following links:
As promised, I've developed a Cheat Sheet for the new dimple / dot patterns on Series 3 Minfigures that I recently found at Target. As discussed in previous articles and due to the various different "batch codes", it is still unclear how helpful this or any cheat sheet will ultimately be for Series 3 and beyond.
Do you own an NXT 'Intelligent Brick' with a flickery or non-working display? Steven Canvin, LEGO's Community Manager for LEGO MINDSTORMS, has asked us to pass on this message -
"Unfortunately, some of the NXT Intelligent Bricks manufactured in-between 2006 and early 2008, may have a faulty display, resulting in a flickering or non-working display.
"LEGO Corporate Management has decided that any NXT Intelligent Brick manufactured with this malfunction of the display will have an extended guarantee beyond the standard guarantee. The LEGO Group offers to replace NXT Intelligent Bricks with the above-mentioned faulty display.
"The NXT Intelligent Bricks would be found in:
- Retail set 8527 (version 1.0 and 1.1)
- LEGO Education set 9797
- Item 9841 NXT Intelligent Brick (or similar sold through LEGO Education distribution)
"If a user wants to have a NXT Intelligent Brick replaced based on this quality issue, please ask to contact LEGO Consumer Service, contact information available on the web for your country. Please note that the display needs to be defect."
Steven has asked that if you think your NXT suffers from this problem, please check the battery first before contacting LEGO customer support, as similar issues are seen when the battery is running low on power. Only NXTs with a genuinely faulty display will be replaced.
As correctly guessed by Berrybrick yesterday, today's minifig gallery is indeed Exo-Force.
I really liked the theme and the minifigs and it's great to see them all lined up by character in the gallery. I didn't have Hitomi because I didn't like the set she came in but I BrickLinked  her, and she arrived in the week, so the gallery, and my collection, is now complete.
 is that becoming a verb like 'Googled'?
Update: I've also just added Aquazone which was another of my favourite themes. The original sets from 1995 were the first minifig sets I bought (as opposed to Technic) on emerging from my dark ages. Clearly that was a slippery slope as I now have 1500+ minifig sets and 2500 minifigs :-)
As predicted, photos (and videos) have emerged on an Austrian site from the German toy fair, showing Alien Conquest, Ninjago, Kingdoms and more. Unfortunately it looks as if the person who took them didn't know what was new and what was already available since the gallery also includes Atlantis and Pharaoh's Quest, but there are nevertheless some reasonably good shots to give you an idea of what's coming.
This week's minifig gallery is post-Classic Space, featuring all minifigs from regular LEGO Space sets from 1987 to 1998.
I don't have any classic space minifigs, at least not in mint condition, which is why I haven't included them. I will add Space Police 3 once I have all the figs, but I won't be adding the 'our solar system' themes like Life on Mars and Mars Mission or the Space Skulls/Star Justice which featured stickered torsoes and didn't appeal to me.
Update: The next gallery is ready and I'll be uploading it tomorrow. It's one of my favourite themes of recent years. Check back tomorrow to find out what it is!
This morning's trawl of LEGO.com's instructions area (thanks again Brent!) revealed four new Ninjago sets: 30080, 30081, 30082 and 30083. They don't appear to be listed at the customer services portal yet, so I don't know their names.
I'm indebted to Mike H for sending me scans of an old copy of Bricks and Pieces magazine from 1975. If you are not familiar with B&P, check out our archive of issues from the 1970s and 80s. This issue, no. 2, Spring 1975, would appear to be the second issue published: from the editor's note it seems that no. 1 was published just before Christmas in 1974.
This issue is a corker, see if you can find the statements that made me chuckle:
"Please don't write and ask if you can have 3 with cowboy hats instead of 2 or anything like that..."
"It's not only children that build with LEGO you know..."
"Follow the instructions very exactly..."
We just don't write like that these days, do we, particularly to 7-10 year olds (more's the pity...)
Grogall has uncovered some nice hi-res pictures of series 4 figs, including the previously missing Geisha girl.
While on the subject of new images, a certain Dutch toy shop has published previously unseen images of the Maersk train. I'm not going to provide direct links as LEGO is trying to keep them under wraps, but clearly isn't doing a very good job. Just search for the set number... (thanks typo)
These crystal clear unwatermarked pictures were released overnight on an MTV site, of all places. (Why is it the best stories always break when we here in the UK are tucked up in bed? :-) )
It's strange how LEGO operate, isn't it. One week these are confidential and nobody's allowed to photograph or talk about them, the next they are spashed all over the internet...
Update: I've added them here now.
Back in December we reported on a new LEGO Education set called 'Fairytale and Historic Minifigure Set'; at the time it wasn't available in the US or Canada, which disappointed a few people. We're happy to report that the set is now available to order from LEGO Shop on-line for our North American friends.