Business Mag “Fast Company” Ranks LEGO at 6th of Its “Top 10 Innovative Consumer Electronics Companies”

Of all the technical-geared products that LEGO has rolled out over the years, it is the Boost line that’s been put at the forefront as of late. It started getting some new compatible sets after quite some time since its original launch, the latest being the LEGO Ninjago Stormbringer (70652).

Now, Boost has done The LEGO Group one great benefit. It has helped the company gain renewed prominence in business circles by being listed on the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies Consumer Electronics List by business publication Fast Company.  Of the ten companies in the list, LEGO ranked number 6.

As stated, Fast Company put LEGO on its innovative companies in consumer electronics due to the impressive potential of LEGO Boost, the combined mechanical and electronic programming system behind its initial Creative Toolbox (17101). Its most impressive feature was having users coding motion data for Boost builds via mobile app.

On its public statement announcing their ranking of LEGO in their Top Ten list, Fast Company noted how LEGO Boost, introduced back in 2017, was an electronic innovation that would “further bridge the divide between physical and digital play”. Further praise was given to the simplicity of Boost’s coding software.

Aside from LEGO Boost, Fast Company also gave credit to the toy giant’s family-oriented social network, LEGO Life, where children could share their brick-built creations with friends. The LEGO Group’s chief marketing officer Julia Goldin said in response to their listing that LEGO’s play experiences are geared for “future innovators”.

This is a spot of good news for LEGO in light of reports that some of its global markets like Germany have suffered a sales decline, portending a possible slow loss of appeal for its products in their traditional bulwarks. They’ve been expanding in new areas like China in response.

UK’s LEGOLAND Windsor Gets Brick Empire State Building in Miniland Area

It’s been some time since we last reported on the construction of a large outdoor structure built with LEGO bricks. These impressive projects have run the gamut from projects by private groups to honor The LEGO Group, to structures built by LEGO itself usually as a promotion for the company.

Now, LEGO is building a new brick structure. This one however will be serving as an official attraction for one of their theme parks, namely LEGOLAND Windsor Resort. And it’s also a scale brick replica of a real skyscraper building; that is New York City’s very own Empire State Building.

This LEGO Empire State Building will be one of the features to a new in-zone expansion of LEGOLAND Windsor Resort’s Miniland area. Said expansion is a mini-USA display of the usual iconic American landmarks. As seen in the photos, there’s a Golden Gate Bridge and possibly a Times Square building.

Said Empire State Building is made up of 71,040 LEGO bricks and stands at 4.4 meters tall. Small it may be in comparison to the LEGO tower built in Tel Aviv this early January,  but it still took LEGOLAND’s model making team some 700 hours to put it all together.

Other famous US structures that would be included in Miniland’s US expansion are the Statue of Liberty, Chicago’s Cloud Gate, a portion of the Route 66 highway and even Area 51. In addition, some other world buildings are being planned for replication like the Taj Mahal and Beijing’s Forbidden City.

Aside from the building work done at their Miniland zone, LEGOLAND Windsor will soon open LEGO Reef this year, a digital water environment where guests can assemble CGI LEGO fish and have them swim in the virtual waters. For more info and ticket booking inquiries, visit their official website here.

LEGO Marvel Superheroes The Guardians’ Ship (30525) Polybag Revealed.

Since the official unveiling of all six, incredibly exciting LEGO Marvel Superheroes Infinity War sets last week, it looks like LEGO is throwing a bonus set in the form of a polybag. Brickset’s database has been updated to include what looks like an actual image, found in the wild, of the polybag version of the newer Milano(?) as it is to be seen in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War film. The LEGO Marvel Superheroes The Guardians’ Ship (30525) polybag is a scaled-down version of the larger orange and gray ship as seen in the Thanos Ultimate Battle (76107) set.

This polybag comes in at 69 pieces and is expected to arrive at Target stores on March 1. There is no mention of any price as of the moment, other than an eBay listing that sells them at $10. It is interesting to note that though it seems that this is the second polybag version of the iconic Milano, I couldn’t help but wonder why LEGO opted to call it as the Guardians’ Ship rather than referring to it directly by its name. In fact, our first polybag version of the Guardians’ preferred spacecraft is simply named as the Milano (30449) – coming in at 64 pieces. It makes me wonder: will the original Milano, as we last saw it from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, will be utterly replaced in Infinity War? Does it mean that the Milano will be meeting an untimely demise through the course of the film? Well, these are just my speculations, and all of these will be answered in due time when Avengers: Infinity Wars arrive in theaters on May 4.

LEGO Polybag Bargains Now in UK Sainsbury’s Supermarket Branches.

From Target, to Toys ‘R’ Us and many more, we’ve often taken note of and posted updates whenever a major retail chain holds an event or rolls out any promotion involving LEGO. Today we’re looking at the UK where their second-largest supermarket chain is offering LEGO polybags at bargain prices.

Polybags are about as affordable as you could get with LEGO products, but Sainsbury’s is taking it a step further by having some of their stores knock prices for the smallest packs all the way down to 90 pence. UK LEGO collectors couldn’t have a better time hunting for bargains.

It should be clarified, however, that the bargain-price LEGO polybags are only to be found in the Sainsbury’s supermarket stores, not the smaller convenience branches that have a different pricing. The 90p polybags can be identified by them being on clip strips hanging from shelf edges, not displayed on shelf-top.

Needless, to say, the bargain polybags are simple those LEGO items that are almost out of stock with Sainsbury’s, and the available sets will depend on where the branch is located in the UK. Early shoppers report that the 90p polybags are mostly either LEGO Creator or LEGO City sets.

LEGO Minecraft and Back to the Future BrickHeadz Sets Rumored to be Released This Year.

We’ve pretty much covered every important announcement of note by LEGO regarding their upcoming sets across their multiple product lines from the New York Toy Fair this month. One of them is the new LEGO BrickHeadz Go Brick Me (41597), promoted as the most customizable BrickHeadz set ever conceptualized.

But apparently LEGO has only shown the tip of the iceberg regarding the newest additions to the BrickHeadz line. One Falcon1414, a member of the discussion forums at Eurobricks, got wind of a rumor that there may be more BrickHeadz coming this year, from licensed franchises both old and new.

First from Falcon1414’s rumors, there would be a two-pack LEGO BrickHeadz set this May, tying in to 2017’s DCEU film Justice League, of Superman and Batman in his armored Tactical suit. For reference’s sake, they would look like the minifigures included in the Flying Fox: Batmobile Airlift Attack (76087).

Also coming out May is another LEGO BrickHeadz pack, this time for a franchise that last got the LEGO treatment in LEGO Ideas (back when it was LEGO CUUSOO) and the now terminated LEGO Dimensions. Back to the Future is returning to LEGO with paired BrickHeadz of Marty and Doc Brown.

Last, but not least of these swarming BrickHeadz rumors is a third double set for August. It’s said to feature Steve and The Creeper, both from the pixel world of Minecraft. The latter’s going to be interesting as it’s not a humanoid figure, so its BrickHead adaptation would be quite the sight if true.

Yes, lest we forget, all this information right now is as yet unsubstantiated beyond discussion at the Eurobricks forum. Until LEGO itself says something before the New York Toy Fair ends on Tuesday, February 20, it’d be best to take the above with a grain of salt. Hopefully they’re true.

LEGO City Hot Dog Stand (30356) Now Available at Target.

It can be so amazing to find small yet detailed LEGO brick-build models and sets that come not out of a box, but a polybag. One such set is part of a new wave of polybag releases that are arriving in the US after an earlier Shop@Home appearance in Europe.

The LEGO City Hot Dog Stand (30356) is a sweet and nostalgic build that’s now starting to become available at the LEGO section of Target stores. They’re bound to pop up in shelves now just as Target is transitioning its Valentine’s display towards Easter instead, and a must have for City builders.

Comprised of a hotdog cart, a vendor minifigure and a trash can prop, the City Hot Dog Stand (30356) is an example in making standout details in a little model. The cart has moving wheels, a yellow umbrella shade, decals, spigots for catsup and mustard, and a hotdog bun holder.

Its accompanying vendor minifigure comes with a “wrench” accessory repurposed as a hotdog tong. Even if you’re not going to be using the hotdog cart model, builders might do well to get the 30356 polybag from Target anyway. Two of the cart’s wheels are large models with clear-plastic spokes which are rare in terms of LEGO building elements. That’s one new pair for future building possibilities.

LEGO Boost + LEGO Ninjago Stormbringer Demo @ the 2018 New York Toy Fair.

A couple of days ago, I reported on one of the newer things that LEGO highlighted at the ongoing New York Toy Fair 2018. One in particular is the LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox (17101) expansion that allows certain LEGO sets to integrate with the Boost system and to bring these sets play features to an entire new level. One in particular is one of the upcoming LEGO Ninjago Masters of Spinjitzu sets, the Stormbringer (70652), which was put on display at the LEGO booth. The idea behind this integration is to add a variety of movement and interactive play to any LEGO set in which the LEGO Boost can be added upon. Though I mentioned that the representatives at the LEGO Booth during that time did not demonstrate these features, as it turned out, the tech savvy guys from Tom’s Guide managed to bring the Stormbringer alive using the LEGO Boost system. Online Editorial Director Avram Piltch, was at the LEGO booth at the Toy Fair and managed to demonstrate how the LEGO Boost can be used with the LEGO Ninjago Stormbringer expansion kit. Using the usual LEGO Boost components such as the Move Hub, motor, color sensor, and the LEGO Boost app, Avram was able to program the Stormbringer to exhibit a variety of behaviors, taking advantage of Boost’s block-based programming. Watch the demo right here.

Using a beta version of the program in the LEGO Boost app, the Stormbringer was able to move around, shake its head and even determine if the one mounting it is either a friend or a foe. I find it pretty cool to see how the Stormbringer responded whenever the incorrect minifigure is placed in front of its color sensor. The range of motion and action are only virtually limited by the programming that you input into the LEGO Boost app.

Again, details are still scant in terms of how LEGO plans to integrate the LEGO Boosts with other future sets, and if the expansion will come with a customized block-based program. Nevertheless, I have to say that the concept is kind of exciting and opens a whole new level of playing with your usual LEGO sets.  Similar to the LEGO Mindstorms EV3 (31313) system, you can actually come up with so many buildable creations and add a good number of program into them. Just like brick-building, your imagination is the only limit on what you can create.

The LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox (17101) comes in at 843 pieces and retails for $159.99, while the LEGO Ninjago Stormbringer (70652) expansion kit will retail for $39.99 and will be available beginning August 1.

 

LEGO World Expo in Copenhagen Features “Flying Brick” Tech and Control System.

The LEGO Group is among those companies actively pushing the boundaries of toy technology, and we’ve seen the results of their own breakthroughs such as the impressive LEGO Boost line that’s already set to receive a new wave of product sets compatible with it.

This time around, it looks like LEGO has something in the works that will redefine the way we play with the usual LEGO brick. Over the previous weekend the company had been holding the LEGO World Expo event in Copenhagen, and one of their highlights is a tech that enables builders to create brick controllers to operate flying “mini-drones” moving in unison.

This tech was cooked up by The LEGO Group’s own in-house research team in its ongoing directive to conceptualize new enhancements to the entire LEGO playing experience. A systematic routine setup is added to a shaped controller made out of LEGO bricks. To this are added brick-sized sensors for control. Watch the demo below.

The sensors send control signals to a series of quadcopter mini-drones in a cube-shaped frame. As seen in the video, when the operator moves the butterfly-shaped LEGO controller, the drones all rise and assume a butterfly formation, “flapping” its wings in sync with the controller’s movements.

Such precision movement in the remotely controlled drones was made possible by gyroscopes that help maintain their balance as they hover, ascend and descend in midair. Their formations are dictated by how the brick sensors were positioned on the controller, and on how said controller was positioned by the operator.

The “flying brick” electronic system was made by LEGO in collaboration with a research team from Queen’s University. There’s no timetable on when such tech might be integrated into a later LEGO technical product line like Power Functions or Boost, but it’s a good indicator of possible things to come.

LEGO At it Again with Minifigure Versions of “Solo” Movie Posters.

As one of the best-known makers of toy products based on licensed franchises, LEGO is an incredible master of franchise promotion. Often they release their licensed tie-in products somewhat ahead of schedule from the premiere of a major film or TV show. Their sets for Lucasfilm’s Solo are an example.

LEGO however, is capable of going beyond just tie-in brick sets and minifigures to sell a franchise. They also employ a multimedia approach. When Marvel Studios’ Thor: Ragnarok came out in November last year, The LEGO Group also made a sweet minifigure version of one of that film’s official posters.

By now you must’ve probably guessed what we’re getting at. In line with the upcoming premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story on cinemas this May, The LEGO Group and Star Wars has once again rolled out some minifigure takes on the movie’s lineup of official character posters.

Seen above are the original Solo posters featuring Alden Ehrenreich as young Han Solo, Donald Glover as young Lando Calrissian, Emilia Clarke as Qira and Joonas Suotamo as young Chewbacca. Below are the same posters after LEGO. Already some of the Twitter comments claim they’re better than the real actors.

For your reference, the LEGO Star Wars Solo tie-in sets are scheduled to start coming out as early as April, eventually spilling into May when the movie is going to be released. We can also expect online retailers to be stocking Han Solo’s Speeder (75209), etc. a little bit earlier.

LEGO Star Wars Sets Revealed at 2018 NYTF.

I have to say that I missed out on this one. Perhaps it’s due to the apparent frustration that I felt because of not seeing what I expect to see from LEGO at NYTF 2018, or with LEGO building around the hype of its press release, giving hope to fans in seeing the much awaited summer sets, and only to be disappointed later on (I’ll be talking more about that in a later post). Anyways, even if we did not see any other LEGO Star Wars sets beyond the Kessel Run Millennium Falcon (75212), these new LEGO Star Wars sets that were put on display are all interesting themselves.

Jedi and Clone Troopers Battle Pack (75206)

Number of Pieces: 102; Minifigures: Ki-Adi-Mundi, Barriss Offee, Clone Trooper (x2); will retail for $14.99.

Yoda’s Hut (75208)

Number of Pieces: 229; Minifigures: Yoda, Luke Skywalker, R2-D2; will retail for $29.99

Darth Maul (75537)

Number of Pieces: 104; will retail for $29.99

Kessel Run Millennium Falcon (75212)

Number of Pieces: 1,414; Minifigures: Qi’Ra, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Lando Calrissian, Quay Tolsite, Kessel Operations Droid, and DD-BD; will retail for $169.99

I am particularly impressed with how the Darth Maul constraction figure turned out, especially with the details on the set’s headpiece. It’s absolutely spot on, worthy of this legendary Sith Lord. The Kessel Run MF (75212), other than being the only LEGO Han Solo set on display, is very similar in scale with The Force Awakens Millennium Falcon (75105) released in 2015. The Kessel Run MF features a removable cargo pod/ship connected to the Falcon’s front mandibles, which somehow gives a sneak peak on how we ended up with the MF as it is today.

These sets are scheduled for release on April 20 together with the rest of the LEGO Star Wars Han Solo sets. Check out this video by Brian, who was there in the thick of the action at LEGO’s Booth #1335.