Leicester Square brand store pre-opening event report

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Lester

Lester

©2016 LEGO Group

The largest LEGO brand store in the world, in Leicester Square, London opens its doors at midday today.

Yesterday, CapnRex101, DrDaveWatford, myself and nine other 'Bricksetters', along with around 100 other AFOLs from UK and European LUGs and fan media outlets, attended a pre-opening event in the afternoon.

We have been under NDA but we can now report on the event, what is in store, and what exclusive sets are available from it.


The event

Leicester Square LEGO store

As we made our way past security onto the ground floor we were welcomed by clapping from the LEGO employees and given a scratch card.

Once all 100 or so of us were inside the event kicked off at 2pm with a short welcoming speech by Glenn Abell, Vice President of D2C (which includes the brand stores) for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

Kim Ellekjær Thomsen, community manager, then said a few words, in particular he thanked brand retail for organising the event and inviting the biggest fans of LEGO (us!) to experience the shop before it opened.

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

There were a lot of LEGO employees in the store, including two designers. Here is Brickset's very own Adzbadboy talking to Jamie Berard who was on hand to sign set boxes, including his 10253 Big Ben and 10251.

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

CapnRex101 had an opportunity to interview Glenn Abell. He will be publishing it tomorrow.

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16


The store

There was not much to see outside because it is still hidden by hoardings. Presumably they have come off today.

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Inside it looks like any other brand store albeit on two floors. The ground floor is sparsely populated with merchandise: much of the space is taken up by display models which you will see below.

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

The 'brand ribbon' display windows run along the shelving as it does in other shops.

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

The Pick-a-Brick wall is upstairs and, frankly, is a little disappointing. It is no bigger than anywhere else.

With all that space available, I had hoped more wall space would have been devoted to it. There was nothing in it that you will not find elsewhere although people were clamouring over the 2x2 tan tiles which are less commonly found.

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

There is a huge red telephone box in the middle of the upper floor.

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

Most of the regular sets are upstairs, too.

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

Here is the store guide:

Leicester Square LEGO store

Leicester Square LEGO store


The store display models

One of the most impressive models on display is this 3D mosaic of London which graces the walls of the stairs.

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

At first glance it looks flat but as you look closely you notice that the buildings have a low relief. The bridges across the Thames are at an angle across the corner but you do not notice without looking closely. It is very cleverly done.

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

There is a massive model of Queen Elizabeth Tower (aka Big Ben) in the entrance which extends to the upper floor. The clock works and chimes, although I have to say I did not notice.

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

Brickley makes an appearance, complete with umbrella, monocle and bowler hat.

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

There is a partial tube map on the wall, illuminated in sections to simulate trains moving along the lines.

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

On the left-hand side of the ground floor is this model of a tube train, complete with William Shakespeare and guardsman, plus a space to sit for a photo between them.

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

Here is Lester, tucked away in a corner of the front of the store where you can get your photo taken with him.

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16


Exclusive sets

So, about Lester... We were each given two scratch cards which revealed one of four prizes, one of which was Lester. I know of at least five people who won one but as you can see in the image below he is very scarce indeed: just 275, so the odds of winning one are very small indeed.

It does seem crazy that he is not available for everyone to buy but I heard something about the bowler hat being out of production and 300-odd was all that could be mustered up from stock. It sounds plausible, I guess...

Sadly, I did not win one :-(

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

The coolest thing in the shop, which is new to this store, is the mosaic maker. Remember 3443 LEGO Mosaic from year 2000, where you uploaded an image to shop.LEGO.com then received an instruction sheet and 1x1 plates to build your image? It is basically a re-release of that except that you sit in the booth, have your photo taken, then tweak with brightness and contrast until an acceptable mosaic is produced.

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

Once you are happy you press a button to print the image and eject a Mosaic set from the machine.

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

Here is Fairy Bricks Kev with his...

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

The set, 40179, contains 4500 1x1 plates in four shades of grey and yellow, a 48x48 baseplate, and a brick separator. It costs a whopping £99.99!

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

The plates come in five boxes inside the main one. It is all very nicely packaged and great fun, but expensive!

It was one of the scratch card prizes. Sadly I did not win that one, either :-(

Leicester Square pre-opening event 16/11/16

The new 21034 London Skyline Architecture set was also available for purchase, exclusively in this shop until its general release in 2017. Its designer, Rok Žgalin Kobe, was present to sign boxes. We were sent one earlier in the week and our review of it will be live later today.

40220 London Bus was also in abundance if you missed out on the promotion earlier in the year.

Oh, and I almost forgot, 40145 LEGO Brand Retail Store is free with purchases over £125 but can also be bought separately for £19.99.


Finally...

It was an excellent event and one I felt privileged to attend. I did not win a Lester; my cards revealed a Creator parrot and a mystery LEGO gift, which turned out to be 40139 Gingerbread House, so not too shabby.

Thanks to Brand Retail and Kim for organising the event, and to everyone from Brickset that attended. It was great to meet you all!

As for the store itself, it may well be the biggest LEGO brand store but it is not huge by any means. In fact I was a little disappointed at its size after all the hype. There is a lot of repetition in the store: popular products were on shelves upstairs and down. LEGO only has, what, 1000 different items for sale at any one time, most of which are small, so I guess that is inevitable. It is a shame the PaB is was not double the size; there was plenty of room for it to be.

Nevertheless, it is definitely worth visiting. Try and time your visit to avoid the crowds though!

Are you planning on going over the weekend? Let us know how you get on!

55 comments on this article

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By in Germany,

Nice report, Huw :-)

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By in United Kingdom,

That is a shame about Lester. Hopefully they will put the hats back into production sometime...

Love the idea of the mosaic set, but don't think I could justify that price on it.

Hope there are still brand stores available to buy in a few weeks as I can't get there until 9th December.

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By in United Kingdom,

Folks excitedly checking their tech here at Leicester Square now the embargo time has passed! :o)

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By in United Kingdom,

Agreed, TheOriginalSimonB, they'd sell bucket-loads of them over the life of the store. Given that they've specifically made this one to be limited to 275 means that there's going to be zero chance of that happening though.

I'm definitely going to pop along after work one evening to have a look! Great report! :-)

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By in United Kingdom,

is it just the sets that they have there, or is there other stuff there too like the console games and clothing?

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By in United Kingdom,

The exclusive sets such as the London skyline, bus, IDEAS sets and mini-store seem to be concentrated downstairs - that floor seems to be more aimed at the tourist, whereas upstairs - with its larger variety of sets - seems to be the shop itself. There are sales tills on both floors.

The guide encourages people to take photographs of themselves with the larger exhibits, though this could be a problem if the place gets really crowded.

One thing not mentioned here is quite a large model of a London underground train, where you can sit next to a giant guardsman figure for a photo, and see several more (including the Queen, Robin Hood, and a worryingly startled train driver) behind glass.

Oddly the guardsman seems to have been built out of bricks to appear seated at an angle, rather than just being built square-on then turned slightly in his seat. That seems to have been an awful lot of extra work for someone...

Another clever feature is the usual moulded foot-high shop display minifigures seem to have undergone a technological overhaul, sporting power sockets and USB ports at the back. They now talk, with small displays in the head to make them move their mouths and blink.

But I also tink it's a real disappointment how few Lester minifigures there are around.

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By in Singapore,

i want the mosaic! pity about the no of lester figs though... wonder how soon before they turn up on eBay

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By in United Kingdom,

Huw, you didn't include a picture of the Tube train, which was one of my favourite things, along with the destination signs - Elves Lane, Mixels Arena, Pirates Cove, etc.

I really enjoyed going yesterday, though I didn't win a Lester (think that was a poorly thought-out promo TBH). I bought the Brand store model and Skyline set, signed by Rok and Jamie. I spent quite a while chatting to them both, they were really friendly. And Jamie spontaneously hugged me when I said I opened and built all my sets! :-))

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By in United Kingdom,

^ I did -- I forgot to embed it in the article, but I have now. Thanks @joefish for reminding me!

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By in United Kingdom,

This is bad news! I am going after work tonight and had restricted myself to grabbing the Holiday Train only, but having read this I now want the London Bus too... and the Skyline... and a Mosaic... Aaaaagh!

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By in Germany,

So, no Doctor Who references?

I look forward to visiting this lovely place while on holiday in January.

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By in Ireland,

It was a fun event indeed, and nice to catch up with a few people I hadn't seen this year.
The price tag of the mosaic seems high at £100 but look at it like this: a 48 baseplate retails for £13. That leaves £87 for 4500 plates, that's £0.02 per part.
Or look at it this way: you only use 2304 of the plates to fill the 48x48 baseplate, so when the mosaic is complete you'll have 2196 plates left over.
@huw: small detail: in your report you mention tiles in the mosaic set but they're plates.
I didn't notice clothing but they do have some of the 'gear'; baking moulds, pencils etc.

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By in United Kingdom,

^ When you look at it like that I guess it's not so bad...

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By in United Kingdom,

@huw I purchased 10251 - Brick Bank, not 10253 - Big Ben, nevertheless fantastic article and that photograph of me look great! Attending the Fan Event yesterday was the best moment of my life! Two hours of pure joy and happiness! My conversation with Jamie convinced me to put my head down and work hard to get to that Designer position at LEGO.

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By in United States,

Wasn't the bowler hat on the CMF Series 8 Businessman?

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By in United Kingdom,

^^ His = Jamie, not you :)

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By in United Kingdom,

^^My mistake, the excitement has still not weared off! :D

Huw, may I use the image of me and Jamie on my social media platforms, of course credited to Brickset.

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By in Poland,

What was the price of 21034?

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By in United States,

Most recently it was in an Ultra Agent set I believe.

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By in United Kingdom,

Out of interest how much was the 40220 London Bus in store? I've set my budget at £130 to qualify for every promotion that is on right now and hoping for quiet a few freebies, but do the current promotions run along side this or are they separate? (i.e the 24 in 1 set and Toy Soldier decoration)

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By in United Kingdom,

The bus was £9.99. I spent >£60 yesterday and got both the calendar and toy soldier.

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By in United Kingdom,

^ Thank you! I will be visiting tomorrow with the GF for a fun day out :) I am slightly surprised to hear that 40145 LEGO Brand Retail Store set can be brought separately too!

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By in United States,

That Lester fig is sweet! Probably going to hunt one down on eBay.
I want to go to the UK now :)

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By in United Kingdom,

I don't think you can buy the store separately, I think that was a yesterday only opportunity.

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By in Ireland,

Great day in London yesterday. Fortunately I know where Lester No.72 now resides!

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By in Ireland,

^ So do I: in your wife's collection ;-)

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By in United States,

Sounds like a great event! Would love to get one of the Mosaic sets!

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By in United Kingdom,

^^^^Ahhhh really? Can anyone confirm this for me? I was under the impression that the 40145 LEGO Brand Retail Store was only available with a spend of over £125 anyway.

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By in Germany,

I would love one of those mosaics, but there is one thing I don't understand: do the sets all contain the same 4.500 parts?
If so, how can you be sure to have enough of each colour to make up the mosaic you got printed??

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By in {Unknown country},

A 48x48 plate has 2304 studs on it. The set has 4502 parts (1 plate, 1 brick breaker and 5 x 900 tiles). Looking at how the mosaic is made up, it is unlikely anyone would need more that 40% of the plate covered in one colour tile.

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By in United Kingdom,

You get 900 of each colour, I'd imagine that the software will make sure that you don't go over that number per colour.

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By in United Kingdom,

I am told that 40145 was only for sale yesterday and was not given away with £125 purchases. I didn't spend that much so wouldn't know.

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By in Ireland,

Huw, set 40145 was given away yesterday if you spent £125. I wasn't the only one to get one this way.

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By in United Kingdom,

Huw, I believe the designers name of the London skyline should be Rok not Skirt. So full name Rok Zgalin Kobe.

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By in United Kingdom,

^ lol that looks like a Google Translate kind of error as Rock does mean Skirt in some languages :-)

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By in United States,

Wow! Only 275 Lesters and individually numbered; there goes my chance of ever owning one. :( Store looks absolutely amazing though. I'll have to visit next time I'm in London!

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By in Sweden,

I really want to go there!
Looks awesome with the mosaic maker!

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By in Belgium,

I attended the big opening today, and staff was throwing gingerbread houses in the queuing crowd outside. I got one because I said I'm from Belgium, the bloke must've pittied me for some reason :)

I also got a custom sticker sheet for the London bus set. Mostly ads for the Leicester Square store. Sadly didn't get a Lester fig, but I was only after the mini store. The other freebies were a nice bonus.

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By in United Kingdom,

^SnoopWinckel Did you get the exclusive Mini Store set? If so did you purchase it or have to spend over £125? Thank you in advance! :)

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By in United States,

Still waiting for another LEGO store in Tennessee...

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By in United Kingdom,

Its amazing that Lego cant rustle up a few hats while Lepin can clone entire 3000 piece sets in a few weeks...

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By in United Kingdom,

^ £570 now. Obscene...

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By in United Kingdom,

I was there last night and can confirm that you have to spend over £125 to get the Mini Store Set :( I think they were sold to the press at the earlier showing but as standard your have to spend over £125 to get it for free. Good to see you outside Huw at least I got to hold a Leicester figure lol. They weren't giving out the scratch cards at the evening event but I did manage to win a mosaic :)

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By in United Kingdom,

^ There are some greedy unscrupulous folk

...there's probably some silly folk that will pay that amount too

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By in United States,

If someone is willing to pay the asking price. No one has to have the figure in their collection.

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By in Belgium,

@Danny.B08: I got the mini store and all other freebies when I purchased for £125. It was even less because I spent my VIP points. I'm happy to say that the mini store was far larger than I anticipated, the biggest free set I ever got from Lego. I nearly got 1000 free bricks :)

*edit* I'm not sure if they'll keep handing out those gingerbread houses though. I'll keep my fingers crossed for those who go in the coming days.

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I feel a bit cross now that I didn't get the LEGO store as a freebie even though I spent more than £125 and specifically asked why it didn't qualify. I was told that they 'only sold the LEGO stores' during the fan event and didn't hand them out as freebies. Which was obviously rubbish.

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By in United Kingdom,

I feel your pain [email protected], I missed out on the LEGO store too even after spending more than the requisite £125. I was told that they'd run out of the sets about 30 minutes earlier - I was at the checkout at just after 8pm. What time were you there?

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I was there on Wednesday, at the pre-opening... and at that point they most certainly hadn't run out of sets, they were stacked behind the counter. Oh well. Need to be happy with what I did get :)

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Thought I should just let you know that I just popped by the store and talked to the manager - who promptly handed me a LEGO Store. Brilliant service, even on a day when it's obviously still extremely busy for them. If any of the employees read this: I really appreciated this. Let him know!

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By in United Kingdom,

Was there at 8.30pm and they had run out of Lego Stores (free with £125 purchase). Staff were amazingly friendly despite how busy it was. There were still plenty of freebies to be had: £55 got you a scratch and win card (lester or parrot...I got a parrot, dude behind me got a lester!), £25 got you a christmas ornament, £60 got you the 24-in-1 Christmas 40222 set. Fantastic experience! Am considering going back to get more stuff to take a stab at winning lester!

PS: You can get your VAT back if you're a tourist. With the low GBP (Brexit!), prices are actually lower than US RRP.

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By in United Kingdom,

Is that interview ever getting published?

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