LEGO Partners with Tencent to Develop Local Apps and Shore Up Online Branding in China.

LEGO and China: There would’ve been a time where the toy company and the country wouldn’t seem to be right for each other in terms of market. Those days are long past now. LEGO has a factory in Jiaxing, they’ve released sets related to the country like Architecture Shanghai (21039), and they’re also recognized by the nation’s courts as a protected “well-known trademark.”

What could be new for a now-formidable partnership between LEGO and China? How about teaming up with one of the country’s household names in the tech market? Soon LEGO’s going to be present in China’s highly-regulated internet.

This is thanks to LEGO entering into a development deal with Tencent Holdings, a true heavyweight in China’s internet-related businesses and one of the world’s five biggest firms alongside, Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet/Google and Amazon. This partnership aims to develop new LEGO-branded games, videos and social media platforms for Chinese children.

One specific objective that the LEGO-Tencent team-up plans to accomplish is the establishment of a Chinese platform for worldwide LEGO mobile apps such as LEGO Life and LEGO Boost, both of which offer plenty of cool LEGO-related info and entertainment. Tencent would oversee the local content generated for these apps.

“Our most important purpose is to inspire children and help them develop through play,” says LEGO Group Chief Marketing Officer Julia Goldin. “Through our 85-year history, we have always had children’s safety as our highest priority…This heritage and approach is also reflected in our work to ensure safe digital LEGO experiences.”

To this, Tencent VP Thirty Sun adds, “A positive and healthy online experience for children is very important with more and more children connecting digitally.” He notes that Tencent is accountable for protecting children in the online experiences they offer, and also incorporate online child protection in business practices.

These efforts by LEGO to establish an online footprint in China, with Tencent’s, help also factors into their continuing initiatives towards brand recognition with Chinese consumers. In this manner, they hope to make LEGO stand far and above the country’s notorious hosts of imitator building-brick toy companies and products.

LEGO Star Wars DJ Minifigure Polybag (40298) Now Available at Toys ‘R’ US, with Possible Promo Coming.

Viewers who saw the Star Wars: The Last Jedi on cinemas last December will likely remember the brief appearance of Benicio Del Toro as a bit character in the narrative. He played the character DJ, a gambler and code-breaker hired by the Resistance to help them evade the evil First Order.

At first he appeared not up to reputation, then later on proved his resourcefulness to finish the job. While apparently helping Rey and Rose, he alternatively showed greed and compassion. When the deed was finally done, he succeeded in his assignment only to sell out the Resistance to buy his own freedom from imprisonment.

Such a minor, yet game-changing character was ultimately captured by LEGO to be immortalized in minifigure form in the LEGO Star Wars DJ Collectible Minifigure (40298) polybag. First announced as a promotional item in LEGO Brand Stores to celebrate the premiere of The Last Jedi, it has been reported that the  now going to branch out to Toys R Us.

So far, the only information about the LEGO Star Wars DJ minifigure polybag (40298) was that it will be coming to TRU and that it’s priced at the expected $4.99; there’s the possibility that the retail giant might have their own promotional, but no word has been given.

The DJ polybag (40298) is similar to the minifigure polybags of R3-M2 (40268) and Scarif Stormtrooper (40176), in that all three comprise of the minifigs themselves, connectible stands and background cards. If Toys R Us are planning any special promos involving DJ, we’ll find out and keep our readers informed so I hope you keep tabs with us.

LEGOLAND Store Exclusive Set LEGOLAND Castle (40306) Revealed.

These days, LEGO has come so very far from being just a toy company producing children’s building-brick sets. They’ve got licenses to adapt from almost every intellectual property imaginable. Their own properties are now multimedia in reach and scale. They even have their own theme parks, the world-famous LEGOLAND chain.

Much like another theme park chain with a major brand name attached to it, LEGOLAND parks have a particular structure oft-used as a centerpiece image, that being a castle. It seems rather overdue for LEGO to make a set depicting one of their structures, but here it is at last.

The LEGOLAND Castle (40306) set is a mostly-gray model building with colorful accents like flag-topped pennants, surrounding greenery and even a dragon head popping out of one wall. The design appears to be mostly based on the LEGOLAND Castle Hotel at the LEGOLAND in Windsor, Berkshire in England, UK.

From the information gleaned by Brickset, the LEGOLAND Castle (40306) set will have 220 pieces and recommended for age 8 and up. Considering the building it’s depicting, the only place where set 40306 can be found would be as an exclusive offering of LEGO shops in the LEGOLAND theme parks.

That’s too bad for LEGO buyers who aren’t within easy travel of the parks or those who rely on Shop@Home instead. Still, there’s a chance that some LEGO brand stores in other theme parks might end up carrying LEGOLAND Hotel (40306) too. Its retail price is likely $9.99 as usual.

Halfway There: Days 9-12 of LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar (75184)

Whoops, we appear to be slipping in schedule. I should’ve posted the third digest of mini-goodies from the LEGO Star Wars 2017 Advent Calendar (75184) yesterday. But better late than never, so now we’re going to have a look at what models and minifigures were revealed from Day 9 to Day 12.

Day 9: Rey’s Speeder – I remember back when teasers for The Force Awakens were still rather new in 2014, and aside from the shot of BB-8 rolling across the sands full throttle, I was also impressed by a segment showing the Jakku scavenger later identified as Rey (Daisy Ridley) scooting off in her massive motorcycle-type speeder. She looked so small compared to its forward section. Anyway, LEGO does have a full-scale model set of the speeder (75099), so this mini-model is a budget option for those who missed getting that. It’s too small for minifigures, though.

 

Day 10: Jakku Scavenger – Well, Rey wasn’t the only one in Jakku poking through all those star destroyer wrecks. Here’s one of those many other scrappers working the barren planet, whom Rey does business with. The desert gear goes with the cool facemask, but that wooden crook looks incongruous.

 

Day 11: Luggabeast – If you’re wondering what else to do with the scavenger from Day 10, then here’s your answer. The luggabeast is a weird cyborg mount and beast of burden that’s somewhat common in worlds like Jakku. Rey’s had scenes in The Force Awakens interacting with scavengers on luggabeasts, before the start of the great adventure.

Day 12: Millennium Falcon – Didn’t we cover this before in micro-foil form? Indeed, the most iconic spaceship in the whole Star Wars franchise gets yet another micro-model take for this advent calendar. It’s nothing collectors haven’t seen before, but Han Solo’s just never gets old.

 

After careful consideration, I’ve decided to wait until Day 18 for the next digest of reveals for the LEGO Star Wars 2017 Advent Calendar (75184). That’s 6 days’ worth of new stuff to cover, and the next digest after that should be the last one, showcasing the remaining minis all the way to Day 24, Christmas Eve. I’ll see you then, after the premiere of The Last Jedi on Friday.

End-2017 Retiring LEGO Marvel Helicarrier (76042) Set Already Gone on UK LEGO Shop@Home

When movie audiences saw it for the first time in Marvel’s The Avengers back in 2012, the airborne SHIELD Helicarrier was a thing of beauty, a remarkably feasible-looking design of how a flying aircraft carrier would look like built in our world. Since then, the wondrous flying vessels would figure in two more MCU movies (and cameo unnamed in Fox’s “Deadpool”).

But somehow the awe once commanded by the Helicarrier has long faded, and much quickly than they did in the original Marvel Comics versions. Life imitates art; or rather, merchandise imitates media, since LEGO put their SHIELD Helicarrier set (76042) on their end-2017 retiree list back in July.

In fact, the Hellicarrier 76042 is now officially retired for British LEGO buyers, as they can see for themselves in their LEGO UK Shop@Home. For the stateside version, Shop@Home US says that the Helicarrier is currently sold out due to being a highly sought-after set in LEGO VIP’s Black Friday promo.

Outside of the LEGO Shop, LEGO Marvel fans might still be able to snag 76042 on Amazon, at its regular retail price in Prime Shipping. Of course, going by that option means your Helicarrier purchase will get no LEGO points and additional promo giveaways. Still, it at least ensures you’ll have the best of SHIELD in the MCU before the end of 2017, when the set really will say goodbye for good.

The LEGO Marvel SHIELD Helicarrier (76042) runs almost 3,000 pieces with five minifigures included. There’s been no word if Shop@Home US will restock their set or mark it as retired just like in the UK. It’s too bad; while Agents of SHIELD will start its season 5 on ABC this December, the agency has not been relevant in the MCU film corner for so long.

LEGO Ideas Support Recommendation: 123 Sesame Street!

UPDATE: We’ve updated this article to give credit to Ivan Guerrero for coming up with this much needed, LEGO Ideas project. 

LEGO Ideas has proven itself an effective platform for realizing the potential of many set ideas to become official and commercially available products. Some of these have become bestselling LEGO sets themselves, if the very positive reception of the LEGO Ideas Women of NASA (21312) is any indication of their popularity levels.

That set in question is an original idea by Maia Weinstock, but other LEGO Ideas projects could be based on existing franchises or intellectual properties. One particularly interesting idea that is currently in the initial Support Phase at the Ideas website is based on the iconic children’s show Sesame Street, and it’s looking for more likes.

The LEGO Ideas Project 123 Sesame Street set proposal in question is a depiction of the apartment building at 123 Sesame Street, wherein a number of the show’s most prominent characters – human and Muppet – reside. It was conceived by Filipino AFOL and longtime Jim Henson fan Ivan Guerrero (or  bulldoozer21 over at LEGO Ideas), who envisioned a tall and sprawling LEGO building setup, which opens to reveal its interior rooms.

 

The set idea would come with 14 minifigures of  well-known Sesame Street characters, from Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, Grover, Cookie Monster, Elmo, and Oscar the Grouch, to their classic human friends Gordon, Bob and Susan. Each character either has an apartment room, or a nook in the building to hang out at.

It’s amazing just how well LEGO Ideas this proposed set translates the various Muppet sets and exterior locations used on Sesame Street to create a whole unified structure that feels like an actual apartment building where the characters live and work in.

While the proposal, if made real, would probably result in one of the largest and likely more expensive LEGO Ideas sets ever put out, it definitely deserves a chance to have the attention that the LEGO Ideas Women of NASA is having now.

The 123 Sesame Street set proposal now has over 2,000 supporters, but still has a long way to go to reach that 10,000 spot. You can show your approval by giving it a thumbs up vote up over at LEGO Ideas and clicking the Support button for the 123 Sesame Street page.

Target Toy Book 2017 Features Great LEGO Promotions and Giveaways

The Holidays are fast approaching, time for retail chains to start hyping up their products at customer-enticing prices. One of the early birds in promoting new LEGO products at awesome discount prices is none other than Target.

With the release of the latest version of their annual Toy Book Ad for 2017, the hottest toys to buy with the Christmas shopping rush so close. Leave it to Target to make sure that they have every new item imaginable on children’s wish-lists to be represented on their Toy Book, and leave it to LEGO to secure a permanent fixture within its pages.

Featured on the LEGO Brick Bash segment of the Target Toy Book 2017 are some of the most sought-after and season-appropriate play-sets and mini-figures, as well as a series of nifty promotional items for LEGO shoppers this late October and all through November.

Target’s first giveaway in this vein kicks off on October 29 until November 4, where guests purchasing $30 or more worth of Lego Batman products will receive a free LEGO Batman Movie Kiss Kiss Tuxedo Batman (5004928) Keychain polybag, normally available for $5.99 by itself.

Following that, from November 5 to 11, a $35 or more spent on all LEGO products will entitle you to a free LEGO Seasonal Christmas Ornament (5004934), saving $6.99 for shoppers.

Next on the freebie list, from November 12 to 18, Lego Star Wars product shoppers will be pleased to know that for a minimum $30 purchase they will also get a free LEGO Star Wars Mini Millennium Falcon set ($4.99 value). Though this version of the Falcon may be a bit of a downgrade as what we can find from its counterpart in this year’s LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar (75184), it is still a nice LEGO freebie that Target is throwing in.

The Falcon, as rendered in this year’s LEGO Star Wars Advent Calendar.

It’s a great way to celebrate in advance the release of “Star Wars – Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” on December. The last day of this promo period will even be capped off by a grand LEGO Star Wars In-Store Scavenger Hunt offering even more giveaways galore.

Last but not least, from the 19th to the 25th, a minimum $30 Lego purchase nets a free LEGO Seasonal Santa Claus (30478) polybag set, as Thanksgiving and Black Friday gives way to the main Holiday season.

Warner Bros. Interactive Announces End of Development for LEGO Dimensions.

Earlier this year, we ran an article discussing the facts surrounding the rumored cancellation of LEGO Dimensions. However, it seems that these rumors are now set in stone, and that the curtain has finally drawn to a close to another awesome LEGO theme.

If you recall back in 2015, LEGO tried its hand at the toys-to-life video game genre, alongside Disney Infinity and Skylanders, capitalizing on its minifigures depicting various licensed characters from Warner Bros. and other well known IPs. In partnership with game developer Traveller’s Tales, LEGO Dimensions brought to life a total of 64 sets and an impressive line of collectible minifigures, some of which you can never find in any existing LEGO sets. Some of these are the more recent ones including the Teen Titans GO! Team Pack (71255), the Goonies Level Pack (71267), and the Beetlejuice Fun Pack (71349) just to name a few.

While LEGO promised a line of regular set releases for three years, Warner Bros. just announced this week that they will be wrapping things up a year sooner. So it was Monday, October 23, that the sad news broke out via LEGO Dimensions’ official Twitter page.

Sadly as it turns out, the recent batch of LEGO Dimensions sets that were released last September 12 will be the very last for the video game franchise, thus formally ending the golden age of toys-to-life gaming.

Though we can expect that LEGO will no longer release additional Dimensions sets after Wave 9, they assured fans that they haven’t completely pulled out the plug on LD. The game’s servers will continue to run and provide the necessary game updates and support for still active gamers.

This development may be disappointing to fans of the video game, but understandable given that LEGO Dimensions is the last bastion of the now dying toys-to-life segment (perhaps with the exception of Nintendo’s line of Amiibo figures), and was unwittingly competing with consumers for other LEGO branded Traveller’s Tales and WB Interactive game titles. It also means that planned expansions for Year 3, such as for The Flash and Minecraft, will remain unrealized.

Meanwhile, as LEGO Dimensions’ game servers remain active, its Starter and Expansion Packs will continue to be sold, and might even be discounted when the Holidays come, perhaps with the exception of those highly collectible sets.

So what do you think about this piece of news from LEGO Dimensions? Share your thoughts in the comments below.