Opening of New LEGO Group Offices in Dubai Draws Fans to Admire Brick-Decorated Interiors

If any location in the Middle East could be considered the center of the LEGO experience in that region, it would have to be the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There’s a LEGOLAND Resort there for starters, and it’s the market that recorded the highest sales for the now-retired LEGO Architecture Burj Khalifa (21031) set, as the actual building’s located in the city itself after all.

Even recently, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority used LEGO bricks to both send a public message and earn a Guinness World Record. Now, to top all of Dubai’s LEGO-centrism, the company itself just opened a new Middle East office there.

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UAE newspaper The National reports that The LEGO Group celebrated the launch of their new Middle East office, located at the Dubai Design District, on Thursday, February 14. LEGO GM – Middle East and Africa Jeroen Beijer remarked on the establishment of a Dubai-based LEGO office by describing the city as being very international, and thus a natural place to establish a presence for local partners.

The opening of the LEGO Dubai office certainly drew the presence of the local LEGO-building community, from child fans to AFOLs. The obvious attractions are the usual trappings of any LEGO Group-related workplace: the hundreds upon hundreds of brick constructions decorating halls, desktops and walls.

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Fully-assembled official numbered sets and impressive MOCs were everywhere, and the occasion was also graced by the appearance of minifigure mascots of the “LEGO Movie” lead stars Emmet and Wyldstyle.

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Dubai AFOLs were undoubtedly pleased at The LEGO Group setting up shop in the city as it could only mean bigger things for the brand’s future direction in the Middle East. In the words of local AFOL Manohar Raju, aged 47, LEGO in Dubai is potentially a better investment than gold, as collecting costs for the brand in the UAE is said to be bigger than other LEGO world markets.

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Toys R Us, Under Renamed Parent Company Tru Kids, Continues Plans to Return

When iconic global toy store chain Toys R Us was locking up all their locations in the US and elsewhere last year, we thought a piece of toy retail history was fading away forever. It felt like an ignoble end for what was one of the best sources for toys from brands like LEGO, a major partner of theirs.

Before 2018 ended however, there was a spark of hope when plans were announced to revive the chain in the US as store-within-a-store Geoffrey’s Toy Box. But that was only the beginning. With the owning company out of bankruptcy and under a new name, Toys R Us seems ready to return.

Toy World Mag has it that the parent company of the Toys R Us chain, now renamed to Tru Kids Inc., is now ready to follow through with its plans for a resurgence in its home market. This will be overseen by former Toys R Us Inc. chief merchandising officer, Richard Barry, now president and CEO for Tru Kids.

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With their restructuring complete and emergence from bankruptcy achieved, the new company hopes to further restore the goodwill of customers in all the properties they own: the Toys R Us brand, plus Babies R Us and mascot Geoffrey the Giraffe, whose name graces their pop-up store initiative during the 2018 holidays.

The Geoffrey’s Toy Box store-within-a-store strategy which launched towards the previous Holiday season, while well-noticed, still fell short of meeting the gap in consumer demand according to Barry.

“We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to write the next chapter of Toys“R”Us by launching a newly imagined omni channel retail experience for our beloved brands here in the US,” he said. “In addition, our strong global footprint is led by experienced and passionate operating teams that are 100% focused on growth.”

While the drive to reestablish itself in the US market is ongoing, Tru Kids will continue to strengthen its connections with its global business partners, especially in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, to make sure Toys R Us stores in those regional markets continue expanding.

Not everything has been smooth sailing for the Toys R Us renaissance under Tru Kids brands. Observers from the international toy industry voiced their misgivings to Toy World that the retail chain’s reinvention did not adequately resolve the masses of debts it had incurred on its original downward spiral to bankruptcy. The Tru Kids rebranding to them seems like an attempt to start with a clean slate under false pretenses while ignoring all TRU staff and employees that were affected.

LEGO Reveals “Hidden Side”: New AR Game App with Tie-In Sets, to be Showcased in New York Toy Fair

Fans of LEGO who are also into the digital side of the brand’s many products – from console videogames to mobile apps – know for a fact that the company invests significantly in the development of new uses and applications for augmented reality (AR). They recently collaborated with Shapchat to create an AR online store featuring a new line of LEGO-branded casual street-wear.

And let’s not forget the various AR apps they introduced which sought to seamlessly integrate real built LEGO sets with digital counterparts in an augmented environment. It’s on this vein that the latest AR-using LEGO product line springs from.

The LEGO Group introduced their new augmented reality game app “Hidden Side” on Thursday, February 14. For interested fans who want to try it out, the new app will be showcased in full for the first time at the American International/New York Toy Fair starting this weekend.

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Previous LEGO AR game apps carried digital recreations of existing sets that could be “integrated” on the app screen with LEGO constructs in the real world, with added special effects. “Hidden Side” on the other hand works specifically with an entirely new series of LEGO sets themed for the game, with no less than eight Hidden side sets to start off this product line.

“Hidden Side” as Game and Set Line

The LEGO Hidden Side construction sets all depict either vehicles or structures and facilities that figure into the game app’s storyline. All of them can transform via manual brick mechanics from mundane looking constructs to spooky monstrous alternates, as described in the Hidden Side storyline.

As stated in the game’s fact sheet, the app follows the misadventures of two teen bloggers attending Newbury High School, who get strange app on their smartphones that show the secret haunted nature of their place of learning. With players assuming the role of the characters, they must investigate Newbury’s mysteries to un-haunt the place.

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With the AR component, players of “LEGO Hidden Side” put themselves in the heroes’ shoes. They would look at their environment (the app’s AR display) from a first-person view. The phones function as “ghost detectors” when focused on the Hidden Side tie-in sets. This enables players to see supernatural spooks. They must capture or drive them off by twiddling with the sets’ various play points. Doing so generates the appropriate AR effects on screen.

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Deeper “Fluid Play”

Senior VP Tom Donaldson of LEGO’s Creative Play Lab  says “Hidden Side” pushes the concept of “fluid play” to further levels than before. This is the interaction between physical surroundings with the augmented-reality effects in a game app.

“At our core we focus on tactile building, but AR presents opportunities to enhance physical LEGO play with new action and mastery elements,” says Donaldson. “As we have designed LEGO Hidden Side, physical manipulation of the LEGO models alters the AR experience, and the AR experience prompts new things to discover in the physical models, creating a deeply engaging reciprocal play experience in two worlds that has never been seen before.”

There’s also an option for “LEGO Hidden Side” that can be played fully digital. That’s a bonus those who have downloaded the app but don’t have any of the actual sets.

While New York Toy Fair attendees can get first crack on “Hidden Side,” the app and the sets themselves will become generally available by summer. All related sets will range in price from $19.99-$129.99 while the app will be on both iOS and Google Play.

Art Teacher Whose LEGO Star Wars Set Collection at Her School Got Vandalized, Now Has Her Exhibits Nearly Restored

Art instructor Jeanna Bassett from Concordia Elementary School in San Clemente, Orange County might fit the bill for cool teacher. She had amassed three decades’ worth of LEGO Star Wars sets, many of which were assembled by her sons. In a generous gesture she had donated some sets to her school’s library as exhibits over the years, becoming its own little attraction there.

Then on November last year she experienced a LEGO collector’s worst nightmare: vandalism of the sets on display. The destruction was so significant that Basset lost all hope of seeing her collection put together again. Thank goodness for her local building community, not to mention LEGO itself.

As told by the Orange County Register, over two months since Jeanna Bassett’s LEGO Star Wars set exhibit in the Concordia School in San Clemente was wrecked by still-unidentified suspects, some 90% of the total collection that had been on display has since been either repaired or given newly-built replacements.

With 125 individual LEGO Star Wars sets that were damaged in last year’s vandalism attack on Concordia, repair and replacement of them would have been too daunting. But the local community readily answered the call. Orange County’s Goodwill actually sprung for the fixit job on one of Bassett’s biggest ruined LEGO Star Wars sets, the UCS Millennium Falcon (75192) itself, which they then presented to her at school last December.

Other salvage work on the collection was performed by various LEGO Users Groups from Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego Counties, totaling 40 individual builders that joined hands to restore Bassett’s precious Star Wars sets.

Paul Lee of the LA LEGO User Group put it best for his fellows when he remarked, “To paraphrase Liam Neeson, as AFOLS we ‘do have a very particular set of skills’ that were perfectly suited for solving this problem. We have the building experience and expertise, and we have the resources in terms of replacing damaged or missing pieces.”

The LEGO Group itself also donated more Star Wars sets for assembly worth $2,000. Lastly, “The Last Jedi” director Rian Johnson presented Jeanna Bassett with a signed “Star Wars” poster to go with her mostly-restored library exhibit, as he himself lives in San Clemente and has nephews attending in Concordia.

While she and her husband Donald were reinstalling her LEGO collection in the library Sunday, February 10, Bassett said of her fortune, “It’s really the story of how the community came together. It’s sad it had to happen in the first place but it shows you people really do care.”

Amazon Italy Does Unplanned Reveal of LEGO Star Wars Set – “Duel on Starkiller Base” (75236)

When Disney and Lucasfilm released “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” way back in 2015, it signaled to all fans of the space opera franchise set in the Galaxy Far, Far Away that the grand saga was really back on the big screen.

Many were intrigued and hyped when they saw what appeared to be a duel between First Order Trooper Finn and the constantly angry Kylo Ren from the trailers, only to be surprised when it was actually Rey who carried the day in that fight. This particular encounter on snow-covered Starkiller Base is being immortalized in a new, recently leaked, LEGO Star Wars set.

For a brief moment, before they quickly closed it down, Amazon Italy showed a listing for the already-announced LEGO Star Wars “Duel on Starkiller Base” action set 75236. It’s perhaps one of the most busy and mechanically ingenious sets to come out of that line.

The one photo that got out from the early Amazon.it reveal showed minifigure Kylo Ren facing off against Rey in the snowy forest terrain of the planet converted by the First Order into Starkiller Base. Both have lightsabers in hand (plus an optional stud-launching blaster). But the kicker is that their battleground is remarkably interactive.

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As seen above courtesy of “Star Wars” news site Rebelscum, Kylo and Ren are standing on two terrain platforms. They are connected to each other by a hinge. Also, one of the tree props can collapse. All these depict the ongoing collapse of the planet following the Resistance airstrike on Starkiller Base, with the combatants trying to kill each other and have time to escape.

The LEGO Star Wars Duel on Starkiller Base (75236) has been stated on the brief Amazon listing to have 191 parts, and likely to be priced at $19.99 when it is released on April 1. Hopefully that date doesn’t have the expected connotations where this action set is concerned. It’s a nice present while waiting for December and “Episode IX.”

Next DLC for “LEGO DC Super-Villains” Out Now: “DC Movie Character Pack”

It would be about four months now since LEGO, Traveller’s Tales and WB Interactive released their latest major videogame foray into the DC Universe, from the viewpoint of its baddies. “LEGO DC Super-Villains” was a hit among more recent WBI-TT LEGO games thanks to its antagonist-protagonist perspective shift, a customizable player avatar and more wacky features.

Like all major LEGO videogames before it, “LDCSV” also has its fair share of DLC stuff to further extend the gameplay experience, like the pack honoring the December release of the DCEU film “Aquaman.” Roughly two months after that, we get more downloadable content.

In the same vein as the aforementioned “Aquaman” costume and level packs that arrived this December and January, “LEGO DC Super-Villains” will next be getting a general makeover in terms of character looks with the DC Movie Character Pack.

As it most obviously implies, the DLC gives the relevant game characters, heroes and villains, new costumes based on their live-action appearances, primarily as they were interpreted in the DC Extended Universe like 2017’s “Justice League.” The characters announced by WB Interactive to get new costumes on their official press release regarding this pack are these characters from the “JL” movie:

Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman (all shown), Flash, Cyborg and Deathstroke (We can’t just forget the post-credits scene now, can we?)

Going into more detail, the “LDCSV” DC Movie Character Pack DLC will be available in two ways. Happy owners of the game can buy it as is for $1.99; alternatively, those who have the “LEGO DC Super-Villains Deluxe Edition” with find this character costume pack to be part and parcel of this version’s Season Pass.

LEGO DC Super-Villains” and its Deluxe Edition are still available now on multiple platforms, from Windows to Xbox One to PS4 and the Nintendo Switch.

LEGO Launches Adult Street-Wear Clothing Line that can Only be Purchased Via Snapchat AR

In the latter half of 2018, LEGO made quite the splash for Halloween with a lineup of brick and minifigure-themed costumes for children and adults. That was the most prominent push by LEGO into wearable apparel that we have recently covered here in The Brick Show.

But it looks like our favorite toy brand giant has even more in store where it comes to clothing, one that they are combining with, of all things, augmented reality tech with help from social media platform Snapchat. The result is a most unusual clothes store that opened in London before London Fashion Week.

As reported by CNBC, the strange LEGO pop-up shop that was launched this Wednesday, February 13, is actually an empty white room in London. The only feature is a pedestal with a physical icon familiar to Snapchat users: a Snapcode. Scanning that code takes users to an AR platform on their devices where they can buy online a selection of LEGO-themed street wear by the company’s latest garments partner, KABOOKI.

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Here we have a sample of the new LEGO casual fashion line from KABOOKI, designed as scaled-up versions of LEGO Wear clothes for kids. This was confirmed by KABOOKI’s Birgitte Holgaard Langer, who added that they also wanted to experiment with an AR platform provided by Snapchat to make their clothing available for purchase online.

Why have Snapchat as a partner for hosting the digital AR LEGO Store? Snap Inc. Director EMEA Creative Strategy Will Scougal says that it’s because the users of their social media platform are among the most frequent users of augmented reality around.

“Snapchatters engage with AR naturally, on average 70% of them play with an AR lens every day,” Scougal explains. Adding an e-commerce element to create the LEGO-KABOOKI online store seems the logical conclusion.

The best part about this LEGO clothing store on Snapchat is that prospective customers don’t even need to go to that empty shop in London. Snap Inc. has saved us the trouble with this photo of the AR store’s Snapcode. Snapchat-using LEGO fans have nothing to lose and perhaps some sweet new LEGO-wear to gain just by checking this out.

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First DLC Pack for Soon-to-Release “The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame” to Bring Back “LEGO Movie” Characters

Much like its predecessor, and every major LEGO product line (and really, a lot of its licensed franchises too), the currently-showing “LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part” is also getting a videogame version from the brand’s longtime game development partner TT Games.

Okay, so “The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame” is actually being developed under the British developer’s B-team, TT Fusion. But it still promises plenty of action and wacky digital building fun that might hopefully make up for the lower enthusiasm of the “LEGO Movie” sequel in cinemas. Seeing as it will be released two weeks from now, fans won’t have long to wait either.

And in the grand tradition of most console game developers in this day and age, the initial release of “The LEGO Movie 2 Videogame” will also come with a first batch of post-release downloadable content. What’s interesting however about this DLC is that rather than adding new characters and stuff, it brings back elements from the previous “LEGO Movie” instead.

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Steam notes in its “LEGO Movie 2 Videogame” page that the DLC, titled as the “Prophecy” pack, can be had as part of a pre-purchase offer. This pack will include prominent characters from the 2014 “LEGO Movie” like big bad Lord Business and past versions of Vitruvious and Metalbeard. The description goes:

Play as your favorite film characters from the first LEGO Movie. The character pack includes Young Vitruvius and the unsuspecting Emmet in his pyjamas. Kragle-loving Lord Business is also in the pack along with other memorable characters Shakespeare, Cleopatra, and Classic Metal Beard.

There is however no further details if along with the added characters there will also be more levels or story to the DLC pack. Still, if one hasn’t picked up the “LEGO Movie Videogame” and is interested in “LEGO Movie 2” then maybe getting this DLC will bring the best of both titles for them.

“The LEGOV Movie 2 Videogame” will be released by TT Games and WB Interactive this coming February 26 on the usual LEGO game consoles and platforms: Microsoft Windows, Xbox One, Sony PS4 and Nintendo Switch.

2017-Built LEGO Renault F1 Racecar Sold at Charity Auction for $105,000

Before LEGO fired up the global building community with their life-sized fully-functional replica of the Bugatti Chiron using, Technic pieces akin to their official LEGO Technic set version (42083), the one prominent case of a life-sized car made out of LEGO bricks was a (non-running) Renault R.S.17 racecar.

This one was created in 2017 as part of promotion for both that year’s F1 season and Renault Sport’s 40th anniversary event. After over a year from its time in the spotlight, this full-scale LEGO Renault F1 racecar found itself in the news again, after it was sold in auction for charity.

Said auction took place just this past Sunday, February 10, and it was part of a larger selection of motorsports memorabilia that went under the hammer that day on behalf of UNICEF. Made by a LEGO Certified Pro from some 300,000 LEGO pieces, its estimated sale price was around $35,000-$55,000.

Nobody could have imagined, according to NBC affiliate WTHR 13, that the 1:1 LEGO Renault R.S.17 would go for $108,000 which was almost double its maximum ESP. That is indeed remarkable considering its being a static model compared to the “new hotness” that is the working life-sized Technic Bugatti Chiron.

With that, one piece of LEGO cross-promotion history now belongs to a well-off motorsports aficionado, with the proceeds going to UNICEF charities. The LEGO Renault is a hybrid build like the later Bugatti Chiron: LEGO bricks over a metal frame, with genuine Pirelli racing tires and a movable steering wheel.

First Images of More New Upcoming “LEGO Movie 2” Tie-In Sets this 2019

So we’ve already gone over how “LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part,” while debuting at #1 in the box office on its premiere last weekend, was markedly not as heavy a box-office breaker as the 2014 original film. But that’s far from the minds of LEGO’s primary toy manufacturing business, which is still cranking out new tie-in sets for the movie.

In fact, a number of these new “LEGO Movie 2” sets were announced towards the end of last month. Quite recently, we got a heads up on three tie-ins, two that were mentioned previously and one new addition.

Official images of these new tie-ins to the latest big-budget “LEGO Movie” were revealed February 12, ahead of the 2019 New York Toy Fair. They are the Shimmer & Shine Sparkle Spa! (70837), the Queen Whatevra’s “So-Not-Evil” Space Palace (70838) and the Emmet’s Triple-Deck Couch Mech (70842) which is the all-new set that wasn’t part of the advance notice from January.

Shimmer & Shine Sparkle Spa! (70837) – US$69.99

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  • Includes Wyldstyle and Benny minifigures, plus Balthazar mini-doll figure (LEGO Friends-scale)
  • Also has Balthazar-Bat micro-figure and brick-built figures of Unikitty, Flaminga, Eight and Archimedes
  • lever-operated revolving wall (to transform Balthazar into bat form), hot tub with lid and trapdoor

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Queen Watevra’s ‘So-Not-Evil’ Space Palace (70838) – US$99.99

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  • Includes Bachelor Batman minifigure plus Celeste mini-doll figure
  • Also has brick-built figures of Royal Guard (with buildable lollipop), Queen Watevra WaNabi, Ice Cream Cone, Star and Heart (x2)
  • rotating top section with opening, detachable rocket and pods

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Emmet’s Triple-Deck Couch Mech (70842) – US$29.99 Target stores (possible exclusive)

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  • Includes Emmet, Sweet Mayhem mini-doll figure (with helmet-less head option and blaster), and buildable Rampage Kitty with bushy tail
  • Triple-deck couch transforms into poseable mech with detachable mugs and ladders

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“Lego Movie 2” is now showing in cinemas. A videogame adaptation from TT Fusion is coming to Windows, Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Switch on February 26.