As this last week of September draws to a close, The LEGO Group has sprung a surprise from out of nowhere with the announcement of LEGO Forma, a new line of hybrid material construction sets featuring slim Technic-like internal framework with foil outer “skins”, a pilot project on crowd-sourcing service Indiegogo.
While the LEGO fandom is oohing over the initial batch of aquatic-themed LEGO Forma sets, our fellow news source Brick Fanatics has hit upon a discovery from the past, a short-lived and long-discontinued LEGO product line that seems to be an earlier take on the combined-material gimmick of Forma.
Its name was LEGO MUJI, a regional product line that was primarily introduced by LEGO Japan into its local market back in 2009. The premise is somewhat the same – LEGO constructs “dressed up” in sheet coverings – but the inner workings are regular LEGO pieces and the coverings are made of paper.
A LEGO MUJI set typically comprises bricks, tiles and regular elements to build into various shapes, and a booklet of paper patterns and decals to cut out and punch holes into, to then put on the brick builds. Blank construction papers are also included to encourage builders to make paper coverings of their own design.
By comparison, LEGO Forma looks to be geared towards much older builders by virtue of its more complex and intricate brick pieces, and the use of foil rather than paper. Even the product reactions diverge, with a lukewarm reception for MUJI compared to the hot attention being given to Forma.
Perhaps LEGO Forma, if the positive reception can translate into sales, can revive the general concept of adding other construction material to LEGO components to create a remarkable work of art unlike what can be usually seen in other sets. It may have been developed completely independently from Japan’s LEGO MUJI, but common design elements seem to recur in new LEGO themes from the past.
In the meantime, the first four LEGO Forma sets will soon be available from Indiegogo.