Rare $70 Commemorative LEGO Istana Set from 150th Anniversary Open-House, Reselling Online for Over $100

Just as April was ending, we reported on a most uncommon limited edition LEGO set in Singapore. A LEGO build of the Istana presidential palace was commissioned by the country’s president to celebrate the complex’s 150th anniversary. The set was launched at Istana’s open-house this May 1, with its limited numbers snapped up by collectors.

Visitors to the Singapore Istana this Wednesday could avail of the LEGO-brick version by donating $70 to the President’s Challenge community outreach. But there were only 500 sets prepared, in small plastic bags with inserted building instructions. They were gone in two hours. That’s that.

Or at least, that’s how it should’ve been as a one-day special tie-in. But some of those who bought the LEGO Istana mini-set were simply interested in reselling them online.  Several listings of the special-edition set on eBay and Carousell have mind-boggling prizes of $100-300.

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There have been attempts by other LEGO fans to simply replicate the official Istana build on their own. Builders on Facebook such as Artisan Bricks and the SG AFOL Brick Marketplace have put forth their interpretations of Singapore’s presidential residence. In case of the latter, they’ve sold complete sets of their version for S$42, lesser than the official set price. Their sets used bricks sourced from Bricklink and Brickfinder; they sold out quite fast too.

As expected, the design for the limited-edition LEGO Istana commissioned by the Office of Singapore President Halimah Yacob was developed by a LEGO Certified Professional. In her speech during the set’s unveiling this May 1 she said, “The Istana is an iconic landmark in Singapore, having been an important part of our history and national identity. I hope Singaporeans will appreciate this special and unique keepsake, and through it, look back to our journey together as a nation with pride.”

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Designer Video Released for LEGO Star Wars Tantive IV (75244)

How would LEGO hype its “Star Wars” Tantive IV set (75244)? Let us count the ways. We know its VIP release is on the day before May the 4th, its official availability date. We know it’s a prize for an ongoing LEGO Ideas contest. Some LEGO Stores are also offering a micro-scale Make and Take event, again on May 4.

And then there’s the stop-motion ditty the put up recently. But here’s one more little treat for “Star Wars” fans to digest before the set finally comes. It’s a major LEGO release, right? That means it’s getting a designer video.

Just so we know, our hosts this time are Model Designer César Carvalhosa Soares and Graphic Designer Maddy O’Neill from The LEGO Group. They are, of course, part of the team that conceptualized what became LEGO Star Wars Tantive IV (75244). We’ll get to hear their tales on how the project came together into this neat model set we’re sure “Star Wars” fans will adore.

Though it’s cramped inside for minifigures, the Tantive IV set (75244) comes with six anyway. In a way, that can help the model act for two periods of the “Star Wars” franchise. We have the prequels where the ship is commanded by Senator Bail Organa, and the original where it’s Princess Leia’s ship. The crew and droids even carry over from both of these timelines.

All told, this set is one of the highlights for the ongoing 20th Anniversary of LEGO Star Wars this 2019.

New LEGO Office Campus in Billund, Opening 2020, to Feature Giant LEGO Brick

As everyone who reads LEGO news knows, Billund in Denmark is LEGO-topia. The corporate town is the heart of the global toy brand, with related tourist attractions (LEGOLAND and LEGO House) alongside the headquarters and offices of The LEGO Group. It’s also, like other communities, a work in constant progress.

By that we mean that LEGO is currently overseeing the construction of a new office campus for their Billund workforce. They also seem to be following the convention of major companies with their new campuses, like Apple, in making sure the structure and facilities have a theme tying things together.

Senior LEGO Model Designer Mark Stafford cheekily shared details on the décor for the new LEGO Billund campus. On his Twitter page he posted the image of a truck hauling what appears to be a massive yellow 1×4 LEGO brick. However it might be installed on the buildings, set to open 2020, it’ll catch many eyes.

It’s just like The LEGO Group to design their workplaces to be fun tourist attractions themselves. The most recent place where they’ve done this is with their new Middle East offices in Dubai. Opened just this February, the place looks like a museum-playground, a place to work and have fun.

LEGO Promotes Star Wars Tantive IV Set (75244) with Stop Motion Video Evoking “Rogue One” for Kids

It may not be on an epic scale as the humongous UCS Millennium Falcon set (75192), but this year’s big LEGO Star Wars ship build, the Tantive IV (75244), is getting plenty of well-earned attention. While it won’t become available until the May the Fourth “Star Wars” celebration, LEGO has had time to do a nifty promotion for the set.

Said promotion is in the form of a stop-motion video, “Escape from Scarif.” Narrated by a young LEGO fan as a “Star Wars battle story,” said video is a vignette of the Tantive IV (75244) from the climactic battle of the 2016 spinoff “Rogue One.”

Anyone who’s seen the film, a direct prequel to the original “Star Wars” film (now “Episode IV – A New Hope”) would recall the Tantive IV escaping with the Death Star plans and Darth Vader in pursuit. But this snippet shows an additional scene that makes the whole harrowing getaway more fun in a LEGO way.

Since this is LEGO, a toy brand primarily aimed at children, the gorier details from the “Rogue One” action sequence are excised. Rather than slicing and dicing, LEGO-Vader just Force-pushes his opposition. And when the Tantive’s hyperspace drive falls apart before they reach light-speed, LEGO-Leia reassembles it Master Builder style.

Interestingly, the video uses the tagline “The Greatest Battles are Built by You.” This paraphrases the title of a contest on LEGO Ideas for MOC-ing a LEGO Star Wars battle scene. The Tantive IV (75244) is a prize there too, and the contest period ends May 4, with the winners to be announced May 29.

Toys R Us Returning to US in Smaller Sizes According to Licensing Company TRU Kids

The rise and fall of Toys R Us as a US toy retailer was big news a year ago. Following some hiccups and hurdles, the reorganized TRU Kids licensing company is ready to re-launch TRU stateside again. But those who remember the massive Toys R US of the past might be surprised at the changes.

In a move of supreme confidence, TRU Kids announced their intentions to open several Toys R Us stores in the US before the Holidays. But citing the evolution of toy retail from their heyday, the company’s looking to dial down in terms of store size.

Where former TRU stores ranged in floor area between 20,000 to 50,000 square feet, the new ones that TRU Kids plan to open will only be around 10,000 by comparison. This decision was in response to the perceived decline in warehouse-style retail stores these days.

TRU Kids CEO Richard Barry noted the scaled-down nature of the company that was once a toy retail giant. He compares their present organization to a “startup firm.” That explains their earlier move in making the Geoffrey’s Toy Box store-within-a-store announced in October 2018. These Toy Boxes opened in 600 Kroger stores across the country.

Further details about the US return of Toys R Us will have to wait until June to be announced, according to TRU Kids. Analysts believe the very first new stores might be opened in New Jersey and Long Island, not far from the company’s headquarters.

Shanghai Police Raid Factories and Warehouses of Notorious Chinese LEGO Knockoff Lepin

Ask any knowledgeable LEGO collector what the global brand’s most notorious copycat might be, and one of the top answers would be Lepin of China. This brand in particular was a priority target of The LEGO Group in establishing their presence in a major Asian market. Already a major lawsuit has ended in victory for LEGO, cancelling Lepin trademarks in China and also the UK.

But the climax of this LEGO-Lepin struggle in China took place just last week. Police in Shanghai launched a raid on Lepin factories and warehouses in the city. Several people, including Lepin’s boss, were arrested.

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The Shanghai Police related the events on their official page on Chinese social network Weibo. They posted a lot of photos too. Images consist of dingy warehouses with dusty Lepin boxes, crates of unattached minifigure heads and more. As stated, the head of Lepin, known only by his surname Li, was arrested with three others.

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With assistance from police departments in Shantou and Shenzhen, Shanghai law enforcement uncovered 10 Lepin production lines, 90 brick molds, 630,000 finished Lepin sets, and 200,000 instruction sheets. The local authorities calculate the boxed Lepin sets to be worth 200 million Yuan/$30 million if they ever got successfully shipped out.

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Lepin had not only been aping official LEGO sets these past years, they also are notorious for taking online-posted fan MOCs and turning them into their own “official” products. But with the Shanghai production raid, the nails are now getting hammered into Lepin’s figurative coffin. This great LEGO copycat could eventually become a sad memory.

LEGO Targets Visually-Impaired Children With In-Development “Braille Bricks” Set

As many of our past articles can attest, LEGO’s an old hand at designing toys and play experiences that are not only fun and educational, but also accessible. One of their current projects has been developing a product that can be used by visually impaired people. The results are inspiring.

LEGO released a press statement on Wednesday, April 24, where they announced LEGO Braille Bricks to the public. The first physical units of the new product was then unveiled in Paris at the Sustainable Brands Conference. Braille Bricks was a collaborative effort by The LEGO Group, LEGO Foundation and various associations for the blind worldwide.

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As seen in the images LEGO shared, the Braille Bricks are LEGO bricks that have only a set number of pegs on top, arranged in the dot format of the braille alphabet for the blind. As braille letters and numerals occupy only two columns and three rows max, a regular 4×2 LEGO brick turned into a Braille Brick can have the braille symbol and the letter equivalent in one piece.

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LEGO’s push for Braille Bricks is in response to the perceived increasing dependence of blind people and instructors on audio media. By injecting LEGO-style fun into the braille learning experience, visually impaired children and grown-ups can once again help popularize this long-running blind communication medium.

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The LEGO Braille Bricks sets, comprising multicolored braille bricks and placemats, are currently being tested in several institutes for the blind in Europe. The actual production version of this product isn’t expected to hit theaters until 2020. Even then, only select blind educational institutions who partner with LEGO might get Braille Bricks for their students.

LEGO City Space Summer 2019 Box Art and Set Images Released

Towards the end of January, LEGO has announced at the annual Nuremberg Toy Fair in Germany that its next line of LEGO City themed sets will be a sort of trip back to memory lane with the launch (pun intended) of its new LEGO City Space subtheme, slated for release this summer. Now thanks to online Dutch toy retailer KelCha Toys, we now have our first look at our LEGO City Space Summer 2019 set images. I’m not really sure about the accuracy of the set’s titles and their respective product descriptions since they were roughly translated from Dutch courtesy of Google Translate. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting read that gives a glimpse of what we can expect from these LEGO City Space sets once they are made available sometime in June.

I know most of us AFOLs are fans of the classic LEGO Space theme, with LEGO some what reviving this classic line back in 2011 and 2015. So for those who were not able to get their hands on these previous sets 8 and 4 years ago respectively, now’s the good time to get these latest sets. As a final note, its nice of LEGO to include another People Pack together with these subtheme, which offers a lot of new pieces and elements.

Check out these images below.

Satellite Transport Mission  (60224)

Surprise young space adventurers with a NASA-inspired set with a reconnaissance shuttle and a satellite. This exciting LEGO® City 60224 Satellite Transport Mission toy spacecraft consists of a shuttle with a mini-figure cockpit that can open and space in the back for the satellite, plus a satellite with folding solar panels, a suit for space walks with a gold-colored visor, a wrench and a miniature figure of an astronaut.

Test Drive Rover (60225)

Surprise young space adventurers with a rover set inspired by NASA. This fun LEGO® City 60225 Test Drive Rover children’s toy consists of a robber with a removable cockpit, an articulated gripping arm that is new for June 2019 and a removable solar panel generator. This space toy for children also contains 2 geodes that are new from June 2019, a laptop, a video camera, a remote control, a rock drill and a helmet with visor. Give LEGO builders a great building experience with Instructions PLUS, available in the LEGO Life app for smartphones and tablets. With the user-friendly, intuitive building instructions, they can zoom in on their creation during construction and rotate and visualize it using a special translucent mode. Instructions PLUS is also very suitable for younger builders: it guides them through the building process and thus increases their sense of independence and their self-confidence. This amazing space building set for children includes 2 minifigures.

Mars Research Shuttle (60226)

Surprise young space adventurers with a NASA-inspired toy set with a research shuttle and a rover. This cool LEGO® City 60226 Mars research shuttle play set consists of a toy space shuttle with a cockpit that can open, a cargo area with 2 doors that can open and space for the storage drone, a robber with an articulated gripper that is new for June 2019, a laser and tilting solar panels, a storage drone with a compartment that can be opened and a helidrone with a rotating rotor and a scanner, plus a Mars landscape with a secret symbol. Give LEGO builders a great building experience with Instructions PLUS, available in the LEGO Life app for smartphones and tablets. With the user-friendly, intuitive building instructions can be zoomed in on their creation as they are being built and rotated and visualized using a special translucent mode. Instructions PLUS is also very suitable for younger builders: it guides them through the building process and thus increases their sense of independence and their self-confidence. This exciting research toy set includes 2 mini figures of astronauts. 

Moon Base (60227)

The LEGO® City Space Agency needs you! Come and discover the astronauts and their team with the modular Space Station on the moon toy set and prepare for explorations and research on geodes. After work, relax in front of the TV with a piece of pizza and then do exercises on the treadmill or go to sleep in an anti-gravity bed. Then put on your astronaut suit and go into space in the space shuttle to bring the geodes back to earth. Pssst … Did you know that this play set is based on real NASA missions? Cool right?!

Space Research Rocket Control Center (60228)

Surprise young space adventurers with a rocket launch toy set inspired by NASA. This fantastic LEGO® City 60228 space rocket and flight toys for children consists of a modular multi-stage rocket with modules for the cockpit, booster and payload storage, plus a monorail that stops at the rocket, a research area with training facility for picking up geodes and a tower for flight control. In addition, the set includes a launch platform with arms on the tower that can be opened, a rover with an articulated gripping arm that is new from June 2019 and a launch platform tower with removable window section, a fold-out function and a countdown function. Children can also use a mobile device as a screen for interactive play possibilities with the City Explorers app. Give LEGO builders a great building experience with Instructions PLUS, available in the LEGO Life app for smartphones and tablets. With the user-friendly, intuitive building instructions, they can zoom in on their creation during construction and rotate and visualize it using a special translucent mode. Instructions PLUS is also very suitable for younger builders: it guides them through the building process and thus increases their sense of independence and their self-confidence. This children’s toy includes 6 mini figures and a robot figure with scanner. Instructions PLUS is also very suitable for younger builders: it guides them through the building process and thus increases their sense of independence and their self-confidence. This children’s toy includes 6 mini figures and a robot figure with scanner. Instructions PLUS is also very suitable for younger builders: it guides them through the building process and thus increases their sense of independence and their self-confidence. This children’s toy includes 6 mini figures and a robot figure with scanner.

People Pack – Space Research and Development (60230)

The LEGO® City Space Agency needs you! Join the team that makes this exciting LEGO mission to the planet Mars a success. Get swept around on the G-force astronaut training device. Assist the scientists in their research, test the rocket engine or take a test flight with the drone before it is loaded onto the rocket, while the astronauts joke with the reporter during an interview. Pssst … Did you know that this play set is based on real NASA missions? Cool right?!

Here’s How a LEGO Fan Can Help in Rebuilding the Notre-Dame Cathedral

T.S. Eliot once said in The Waste Land, that April might as well be the cruelest month, and this has been proven true for the people of France, and the rest of the world. On April 15, 2019 the revered Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris suffered a gruelling 15-hour fire, setting a blaze not just the centuries-old structure but also destroying timeless pieces of religious arts and relics contained in its sacred halls. Needless to say, the French government was quick to take action with President Emmanuel Marcon launching a fundraising campaign which has now reached a staggering  1 billion USD and still counting. Adult fans of LEGO has also pledged their own share of support, rallying together online, asking The LEGO Group to launch an official LEGO set commemorating the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Though we may never see LEGO come up with an official set that is dedicated to a religious structure, there’s a way we can express our support in this mammoth restoration project, while immortalizing this structure in LEGO bricks at the same time.

The Brick Show Shop is joining bricks with MinifigFX and Build Better Bricks to help us show our support in the restoration of this historic cathedral. Coming in at 172 pieces, ordering this limited-edition Notre-Dame Cathedral build is one way of showing our support in its restoration. For every set ordered from The Brick Show Shop (retailing for $30), $20 of the proceeds will be sent to The Friends of Notre-Dame public charity. Please do take note that only 100 sets will be made, and pre-orders are now accepted. Check out the set details below.

CUSTOM LEGO MINI NOTRE DAME DE PARIS [PRE-ORDER]

Build the Notre-Dame de Paris and help in the restoration of the Cathedral.

Taking pre-orders now! Will begin shipping in Mid-May. 

The master builder at Build Better Bricks and The Brick Show Shop have teamed up to bring you a special limited edition opportunity to own a custom LEGO miniature Notre-Dame Cathedral.

100% of our profits will be donated to the Friends of Notre-Dame to aid in the restoration of the Cathedral. Only 100 sets will be made available.

Includes:

  • 172 brand new 100% authentic LEGO parts.
  • Custom printed Notre-Dame de Paris tile and three printed window 2×2 round tiles. Custom printing donated by MinifigFX.
  • High quality printed instructions.

DONATION SPECIFICS

  • $20 per set will be donated.
  • $15 per set is part/packaging cost.
  • The Brick Show Shop will be donating $5 of their part cost to the Friends of Notre-Dame.
  • Nobody will be paid for assembling the kits (donated time).

 

 

LEGO Fans Petition Company to Make a Set (Possibly Architecture Line) for Recently-Burned Notre Dame de Paris

It has been a calamitous Holy Week in Paris after the world-famous cathedral called the Notre Dame suddenly caught fire. It had been in the middle of a renovation. Now instead, the wooden roof and spire have been destroyed. The interior, while mostly saved, still took some significant fire damage.

Even as the French President, along with the country’s biggest business moguls and other world leaders have pledged support to finance a restoration of Notre Dame de Paris, the LEGO building community has decided to make their voices heard too. And they’re sounding their idea right to the company itself.

On the LEGO Reddit, redditor syneptico has proposed that The LEGO Group design and release a LEGO set of the Notre Dame cathedral. It could be of the Architecture line, and part of the proceeds from selling this hypothetical set could then be donated to the Notre Dame rebuilding efforts.

This post, only one day old, has gotten a 91% upvote on Reddit, plus over 300 comments. Some of these even offer their own ideas on how LEGO might conceptualize a Notre Dame set. How about, asks one, a set the size of the LEGO Creator Expert Taj Mahal (10256)?

On the other hand there are certain hurdles to overcome before a LEGO Notre Dame set is realized. First, The LEGO Group tends to shy from creating models of real-life religious buildings. Second, they surely already have a full design and production log. By the time the set is finalized and mass-produced, the restoration of the actual Notre Dame de Paris could be halfway done.

While there’s no official LEGO Notre Dame set (it was even excluded from the skyline of the new Architecture Paris [21044]), the Paris LEGO Store does have an exhibit of a fairly large Notre Dame build. Parisian LEGO fans are likely to visit it more often following what happened to the real one days ago.