The Newsweek: LEGO—The World’s Favorite Toy Special Edition Available Now

After the successful release of last year’s Newsweek Special Edition: LEGO-The Toy That Changed Our Lives, Topix Media Lab is back with another Newsweek edition that covers everything that we love about the iconic brick. Now available in newsstands and online, the Newsweek: LEGO—The World’s Favorite Toy Special Edition celebrates the LEGO brick, some of its greatest builds of all time, and the colorful history of the LEGO Group. Through interviews with some of the key persons inside the LEGO Company, this special Newsweek limited edition will also show us the direction of where LEGO is planning to go through the scouting lens of its leadership.

The Newsweek: LEGO—The World’s Favorite Toy Special Edition will retail for $12.99 USD and is now available online. Check out this quick blurb courtesy of Topix Media Lab.

Newsweek: LEGO—The World’s Favorite Toy Special Edition

LEGO—The World's Favorite Toy Special Edition

Opening the box of a new LEGO set is a cultural touchstone in countries all over the world. In that moment, an adventure lies ahead before every child, every parent, as well as every grown-up finding that old inspirations can become new again. In this Official Collector’s Edition, created in concert with The LEGO Group, Newsweek explores the greatest playsets and builds in history, and reveals that perhaps the best is still yet to come.

Read exclusive interviews with members of The LEGO Group leadership team, including CEO Niels B. Christiansen and VP of Innovation William Thorogood and see where the future of the brand is headed. Plus, this issue features a special section celebrating the 20th anniversary of LEGO Star Wars, a partnership that has transformed playtime.

Advertisements

More Details on the IKEA BYGGLEK Line Revealed

Around this same month last year, IKEA has announced a working partnership with the LEGO Group to come up with storage solutions that are practical, while promoting creative play at the same time. Information was a bit sparse back then on how this partnership will specifically look like, and after more than a year, IKEA has shed light on what to expect from their collaboration with LEGO. To be clear, they haven’t revealed any specific product or storage line yet that is specifically made for LEGO, save for the fact that it will be dubbed as a BYGGLEK line of LEGO-inspired products. Thankfully, the press release below will somehow point us to the direction where these developments will take IKEA and LEGO. Read on for more details about this IKEA BYGGLEK line which will launch sometime next year, 2020.

BYGGLEK

IKEA and LEGO Group to Introduce BYGGLEK for More “Yes” to Play

Playing is crucial for the well-being of both adults and children. Together, LEGO Group and IKEA explore and develop solutions to stimulate play all around the home. The collaboration will result in BYGGLEK.

One year ago, IKEA and LEGO Group partnered up to be creative, exchange knowledge and experiment together with the ambition to develop new solutions to facilitate play in every corner of the home. Research from IKEA and LEGO Group has shown that there’s a demand among children for more playtime with their parents. At the same time, parents believe that playing is essential to their children’s well-being and happiness. Despite this, children and adults encounter several barriers and challenges when it comes to making play happen. Busy schedules and homework are a couple of obstacles, other restrictions like finding the space to play are more evident for adults than for children.

“There’s a conflict between how grown-ups look at organising and how children look at the creative play. Every grown-up has stepped on a LEGO brick at night time. But organising LEGO bricks the grown-up way also means ending the play sometimes. Adults sort by typology – socks going into one drawer and belts into another. Kids sort by story, clustering it into different pieces, where you can have a half-built space ship. And in that, you can find the one piece that you need. What if we could turn that perceived mess into something wonderful?”, says Rasmus Buch Løgstrup, designer at LEGO Group.

The different perspectives might lead to that children experience rules, carried out by their parents, stops them from being as creative and playful as they wish. Parents, on the other hand, feel that playing can be a bit too messy at home, making it harder to fulfil other commitments of the everyday. The overlaying ambition between the collaboration between LEGO Group and IKEA is to overcome these kinds of obstacles. The hope is to move away from “no” to “yes” to play, and at the same time show respect to duties of the everyday.

“To do this, systematic thinking becomes key. We know that children continue the story building in their minds long after they have stopped playing with their toys. So we asked ourselves, couldn’t pause and play be a way to enable quick play? We know that children are playing with screens because it’s easy to get started. So what if we could make the LEGO play continue? That would make quick play easier and then build on the play that is continuing in the child’s mind anyway”, says Andreas Fredriksson, designer at IKEA.

To enable playing throughout the home with pauses, a solution across generations is needed. Also, different rooms need different solutions that can change after different phases in life.

“Bringing people together over play and enable more play are things that are key for both us and LEGO Group based on our respective visions, missions and values. That is why we want to explore what can happen when we work together, trying to get more of the many people to say yes to play”, says Andreas Fredriksson, designer at IKEA.

The aim is to sale start the first BYGGLEK products during 2020.

Another LEGO-Themed Accesory Line on Amazon: Minifigure-Head Storage Containers

First there was the wall hangers shaped like LEGO studs. Then we had the storage boxes and drawers shaped like LEGO bricks. What other household organizers are we going to see LEGO-fied? True to form the answer can be found in Amazon. How about covered containers shaped like minifigure heads?

Indeed, Amazon again has a sale going on for LEGO household organizers, in this case the minifigure-head containers.  They come in two sizes, small and large. Also, depending on size there are two (large) or four (small) variants with different facial expressions. These storage containers each have a removable cover to put stuff inside the head (but it’s not watertight).

61XFiYWnyqL._SL1000_

Regarding the Amazon discounts for these LEGO head containers, the Large Girl Head’s got the best deal. Normally priced at $35.99, it’s down 35% to only $23.48 now. That’s great; unfortunately there’s no discount made for the Large Boy version, because it’s out of stock.

61b2nBoo0eL._SL1200_

For the Small versions, it’s the Boy that has the Amazon discount. Formerly $14.69, it’s now only $12.55 thanks to a 15% discount. All LEGO Storage Heads are made of plastic polypropylene without PVC. The Small Head actually can fit its bottom to the top pegs of the LEGO Brick storage boxes. Now that’s compatibility.

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.

yhcarousell02

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.”

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.

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.

lepinshanghai3

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.

lepinshanghai4

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.

lepinshanghai1

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.

HighRes_Braille-Bricks_box

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.

HighRes_Braille-Bricks_loose

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.

HighRes_Braille-Bricks_close-up_4

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.

Want More LEGO-Themed Accessories? How About these Storage Brick-Boxes Available on Amazon?

The interlocking-brick system that defines the LEGO toy brand and its products has also proven itself a popular design aesthetic. Independent designers have made furniture that is “compatible” with LEGO bricks, or brick-shaped Halloween costumes. There has also been licensed decorative merchandise such as large stud-shaped wall hangers on Amazon.

Speaking of Amazon, some more LEGO-themed products have been found listed on their platform. These are brick-shaped plastic storage boxes good for keeping little things organized, like LEGO bricks. They come in either box form, with an enclosing top lid shaped like a brick’s pegs, or drawer form with drawers coming out of one side.

Amazon’s LEGO Storage Box listings also include variations in color and shape. They’ve got primary colors as well as different shades. Box shapes consists of slim 1×2 bricks right up to the big 2×4. The boxes are also stackable like the LEGO image they invoke.

We have here a sampling of the LEGO Brick Storage Boxes found on Amazon. Listed below are some notable items:

  1. Storage Brick 2 (1×2) Bright Blue – $24.99 $11.99
  2. Storage Brick 4 (2×2) White – $29.99 $20.35
  3. LEGO Desk Drawer 4 (2×2) Red – $11.99
  4. Storage Box 8 (2×4) Red$39.94 $29.39
  5. Desk Drawer 8 (2×4) Blue – $16.99
  6. Brick 2-Drawer 8 (2×4) Black – $92.76
  7. Storage Boxes (includes 1×1 Stud, 1×1 Brick, 1×2 Brick) – $34.99 $31.99

As is seen, some of these items have discounts.

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.