World’s largest LEGO store opens in London’s Leicester Square [News]

Today the world’s largest LEGO store opens in Leicester Square, within the bustling heart of London. The Brothers Brick were invited to an exclusive pre-opening event to take a tour of the new store, preview an exclusive set, and talk to Glenn Abell (LEGO’s Vice President of Direct To Consumer) about the future of LEGO’s retailing.

The London flagship store is the largest in the world, covering 914 sqm over two floors, and features a number of signature brick sculptures — all themed to the City of London. The doors open onto an archway with the classic London Underground sign stating “Leicester Square” and a map of the London Underground lights up one wall.

There’s a life-size brick-built Tube carriage, 2m high and 5m long, made of over 600,000 pieces where you can have your photo taken seated between a Grenadier Guard and William Shakespeare.

A stunning 6.5m model of Elizabeth Tower and Big Ben dominates the main window. This huge model is made from over 350,000 bricks and tips the scales at over a ton. The model features a working, backlit clock which chimes with a replica sound of the real Big Ben.

Upstairs there’s more sculptural fun with a giant version of Brickley the dragon weaving his way through the wall, and a life-size classic red telephone box with larger-than-life telephone inside. Tantalisingly, the phone rings but the receiver cannot be picked up. A huge London skyline mosaic also adorns the wall of the store staircase (which apparently took over 90 hours to build).

The new Architecture skyline set 21034 is exclusive to this store for the rest of 2016, and will undoubtedly be a popular set along with the 40220 Creator London Bus, 21029 Architecture Buckingham Palace, and 10253 Creator Big Ben. TBB were kindly given a copy of the new London skyline set from LEGO and you can find out more about it in our forthcoming review.

The store also features a Pick-a-Brick wall with Pick-a-Model section, a brick play area, Build-a-Minifigure station, and a touch screen catalogue. One press of the ‘Assistance Required’ button on the screen and a helpful Apple Watch-wearing LEGO store employee comes scuttling over.

The London store is also the first in the world to offer a completely new experience — Mosaic Maker. This offers the opportunity to purchase your very own, one of a kind, personalised LEGO mosaic portrait. The machine captures your image and in under ten minutes printed instructions and the bricks required to complete the LEGO portrait are supplied to the customer. This new technology essentially looks like a photo booth but rather than a photo, a 48×48 stud baseplate and a couple of bags of 1×1 plates come out of the slot. Mosaic Maker costs £90 a set.

Lester, that quintessential English gentleman, a tea-drinking, bowler hat-wearing chap appears throughout the store as a slightly eerie talking minifigure, and a larger-than-life sculpture ready for his photo opportunity. The Lester minifigure has been released as a scratch card prize with only 275 made — rather disappointing for those who expected the minifigure to be available as an in-store purchase.

During the buzz of the pre-opening event we caught up with Glenn Abell, LEGO Vice President for Direct-To-Consumer for Europe, Middle East and Africa. We quizzed him about the importance of brick-and-mortar stores, the theatre of good retailing, the Daily Mail, and his fondness for the 2×4 brick…

TBB: Here we are in your new flagship retail site in the centre of London. How important is this sort of store to LEGO?

Glenn Abell: It’s very important to us to present the LEGO brick in a different way. We have 131 stores around the world and the retail side of our business is very important. A store like this offers us the opportunity to build a 600,000 brick Tube train, or a 350,000 brick Big Ben. These are unique features to London – we always want to be part of the community wherever we open. And these big stores allow us to present innovative new ideas like the Mosaic Maker – a booth that takes your photo and prints it out in a LEGO mosaic pattern, then you can buy a set and create your own personalised brick portrait. This store is special, it’s our largest store ever, and it’s an engaging place for people to really immerse themselves in LEGO bricks. We have building opportunities, big “wow” models, and the largest assortment to choose from. And a lot of exclusive models you can only find here. We want this to be an experience for our visitors and fans, and that’s why the retail arm of LEGO is so important – walking into a store like this makes you feel like you’re part of the LEGO brick, which is cool.

TBB: There are obvious profit margin differences between in-store and online sales. Does LEGO believe the theatre provided by brick-and-mortar retailing will always be worth it?

Glenn Abell: There’s a balance to be struck between the commercial side and the experience. We have to be mindful of that – we need to pay the rent and keep the lights on to make sure people can come here. But most importantly, the money we’ve invested in this store is designed to delight people and to give them an experience they can’t find anywhere else.

TBB: What’s the most important element in giving people that experience?

Glenn Abell: Our staff. The people we have in this store, their passion and knowledge about the LEGO brand, the brick, and our products. If visitors see and feel that they’ll leave with a positive experience and they’ll come back. Maybe they come back to this store, maybe they buy online, they may even buy somewhere else – but they’re buying bricks and enjoying building with them. The staff in our stores are crucial in that recipe we’re trying to get right here.

TBB: LEGO has been in the news in the last week, particularly in the UK, regarding its ending of the promotional relationship with the Daily Mail newspaper. Like with the Shell campaign, this seems to show LEGO changing policy in response to online pressure. Where does LEGO draw the line? There’s always someone complaining about something online. At what point does the company decide to respond?

Glenn Abell: It’s difficult to get the balance right in these things. These sorts of decisions are taken very thoroughly, and at very senior levels in the company. I can’t add anything beyond what’s already been said in the media on this particular issue.

TBB: I notice you’ve been holding a red 2×4 brick all the time we’ve been talking. What’s that about?

Glenn Abell: I’ve been with LEGO for 14 years now and I find myself carrying a brick around with me a lot of the time. I’m sure you know the stats about how many ways a couple of regular bricks can be connected. It’s a good reminder. When I talk to people who sometimes ask me if LEGO is really making sets which drive creative building any more – this brick reminds me of the amazing things people build, particularly the amazing models I see when I attend fan events.

TBB: Thank you for your time. And good luck with the London opening!

The Claw!

I don’t know why but I have always had a thing for those crane games. So when Luke Watkins built one I had to smile. Built for the current edition of Iron Builder, he managed to pack a ton of detail in a very small space. In fact it took me a moment to realize just how small it actually is. Well done!

Crazy Crane Capers

Beyond imagination: a LEGO exhibit in Hong Kong

The talented group of LEGO fans in Hong Kong have put together a large exhibit organized by and hosted in Cityplaza from April 15 – May 2. There are 3 sections of the display. The first features a panel of storyboards detailing development of the LEGO Company. The second is a display of 2,000 figures and large figure sculptures spanning over 30 years of minifig history.

The third and most exciting section is a display of 17 famous world landmarks and icons such as the Grand Palace in Thailand by Vincent Cheung, a pyramid from Egypt by ArzLan, the Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Russia by Schneider Cheung, and Tiananmen in China by Andy Hung. Some early pictures taken by Joey Kwok have been uploaded on Flickr. I’ll update this post as more pictures of the event show up.

Lego’s Dress Performance : Fergie



Your imagination is your limit!
This goes best with LEGO. You can made whatever you can think of with LEGO, including your stage costume.
Catch Fergie during her performance with the Black Eyed Peas at the 2011 Kids’ Choice Awards on Saturday.

Fergie looked festive and fun in a custom-made Lego dress, replete with a plastic-looking black bustier and colorful shoulder pads. The singer matched the look of her dress with bright orange eyeshadow.

According to the LA Times, the dress was the creation of Los Angeles-based designer Michael Schmidt. “It was built on a corset to give it structure, but all of the external stuff was made of Legos. The sheets were formed in hot water to create a structre around the body.”


Lego Dress

kids choice award

kids choice award

Great things from Hong Kong

HKLUG has posted a ton of excellent pictures from the 2010 Anime Festival their Facebook page.

Lego Hong Kong

You should definitely take the time to check them out. The pictures posted here really caught me eye, but there are many, many more.

Lego Hong Kong

If any of our readers have information on the actual builders, please let us know so that we can give credit where credit is due. Thanks!

Lego Hong Kong

Comic-Con for the LEGO nerd (2010 edition)

Since there’s a lot of crossover between LEGO fans and general geekiness, it seemed like a good idea to mention a few of the LEGO-related attractions at that the Xanadu of Nerddom: Comic-Con International. It’s tonight through Sunday at the San Diego Convention Center.

If you’ve got tickets, I’ll assume you already know most of the where and when, this is just a quick & dirty guide for all things LEGO.

LEGO: booth #2829. Smack-dab in the middle of the convention floor. On Wednesday evening, the upcoming Obi-Wan Jedi Starfighter set will premiere and be on display for the duration of the convention. Licensed theme sets for sale, LEGO electronic games, play tables, and the line for a chance to win the exclusive set (CubeDudes by Angus MacLane). Angus will be available for signings on Fri. from 2-3pm and Sat. from 12-1pm. The new Hero Factory buildable costume characters will premiere on Sunday.

BrickJournal: TwoMorrows Publishing booth #1301. Magazines and compendia for sale, hassle the ever-popular Joe Meno, and see if he’s arranged for another batch of fans to display their creations.

There are also more LEGO oriented panels this year and they’ll be going on every day except Saturday:

  • BrickJournal, Thur. 2:30-3:30pm, room 7AB. A discussion for and about the LEGO fan community moderated by BrickJournal editor Joe Meno, featuring awesome builder Brandon Griffith, LEGO: A Love Story author Jonathan Bender, LEGO certified professional Nathan Sawaya, and LEGO community operations boss-man Jim Foulds.
  • DK LEGO Star Wars, Fri. 10-11am, room 7AB. DK is releasing a new series of LEGO Star Wars books, and this panel will feature authors Ryder Windham, Daniel Wallace, Gus Lopez and Pablo Hidalgo as well as illustrators Chris Reiff and Chris Trevas. They’ll discuss the making of the books and provide some some sneak peaks. Panel attendees will be entered to win some of the featured books.
  • LEGO Universe, Sun. 11:30am-12:30pm, room 5AB. An official LEGO panel to promote LEGO Universe, the new massive multiplayer online game. The panel will include members of the development team including creative director Ryan Seabury, senior director Mark Hansen, media coordinator Chris Brubaker and videographer Ryan Baier in a addition to a few others who haven’t been revealed yet.
  • LEGO Hero Factory, Sun. 1:45-2:45pm, room 6DE. Sneak peak of the new Hero Factory line of constructible costumed heroes from LEGO. Designers of the line will be on hand to provide some back story and a preview of the accompanying TV series. I don’t usually check this sort product promo panel out, but I figure because of the controversy surrounding the discontinuation of Bionicle and its replacement by this theme, I should find out what the fuss is about. I’ll be there.

If any surprises turn up while I’m at the convention I’ll do my best to keep you posted.

Registration for BrickCon 2010 now open [News]

Registration for BrickCon 2010 is now open!

I highly recommend attending on principle, but you’ll need to register in order to participate in some of the community builds — including Big in Japan and the Vic-Viper Fly-in.

For those new to conventions, BrickCon 2010 will be in Seattle, Washington September 30-October 3. The Event Schedule is available online, as well as a list of nearby hotels. This year’s preferred hotel is The Maxwell Hotel–information on booking is available here.

If you need directions from Sea-Tac Airport to the convention site, Mark Sandlin has a fantastic write-up on “>how to make the trip for $4.50. That’s cheaper than gas to and from the airport.

Thanks to Adam Hally for the photo!

Chicago Vic Viper fly-in remembers nnenn – fly-ins coming to DC and Seattle [News]

To commemorate the passing in April of Nate “nnenn” Nielson, each of the three LEGO conventions over the summer and fall are hosting Vic Viper fly-ins. Keith Goldman gives us a glimpse into the Chicago fly-in earlier this month.

Two weeks ago in Chicago, I had the pleasure of organizing the first Vic Viper fly-in, in honor of our departed friend and fellow builder Nate “nnenn” Nielson.

LEGO Vic Viper missing man formation

72 Vipers from 66 builders joined the missing-man formation from a total of 7 countries: Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, U.K. and the USA. We kept the center of the layout open in the tradition of missing man formations, with nnenn’s rubber-band holder avatar as a placeholder. The public was drawn in by the amazing Vipers, and more often than not stayed for the story behind it.

Thanks again to all the participants that made the formation an outstanding tribute to Nate. Special thanks to Ley Ward for his time and patience, and skill with the dozen or so Vipers that arrived with “some assembly required”. For a detailed list of participants, please follow the link to my Flickr-posting and check the notes.

The formation was a moving experience for many of the builders involved, and we’d all like to express our condolences again to the Nielson family. Nnenn was missed in Chicago and will clearly be missed around the planet.

Both of the upcoming LEGO conventions, BrickFair in August and BrickCon in October, will also be hosting missing man formations to honor Nate. If you would like to participate in either of these formations, you can contact Dan Rubin (for BrickFair) and Andrew Becraft (for BrickCon).