28 December 2014

Elementary, my dear Brickman

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Christmas is so last Thursday. This post is all about a happy New Year, because on January 1, the next set in the 'Modular' series hits shelves: 10246 Detective s Office. This annual treat from the Creator Expert line is aimed largely at adult fans and always delivers a complex build with interesting techniques, nice part usage, rare colours and new elements. In fact building these is such a treat, it feels a bit spoilery to point out the great techniques to you. And I am going to - but I've moved that part of this review to the end, so that those of you wishing to maintain the mystery for when you build it can simply stop reading when I warn you!

17 December 2014

Love handles

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A short post for a small set today! A weeny Creator set isn't normally the kind of thing I discuss here, but I had to get my hands on 2015 set 31028 Sea Plane just as soon as I could, for one reason and one reason alone.

15 December 2014

BIONICLE 2015: Protectors

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Scott Barnick (Aanchir) comes to the end of his thorough examination of the return of BIONICLE.

Hello, New Elementary readers! Today I’ll be reviewing the last three BIONICLE sets I received from the LEGO Group: 70778 Protector of Jungle, 70780 Protector of Water, and 70781 Protector of Earth. The six Protector sets will each cost $9.99 US/£9.99 GBP when they are released on January 1, 2015. This makes them the smallest sets currently revealed for the 2015 BIONICLE range, but they still boast some very interesting parts and colors that will greatly boost their appeal.

09 December 2014

BIONICLE 2015: Lewa and Gali

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Scott Barnick (Aanchir) resumes his examination of 2015's return of BIONICLE with set reviews of two more masters of the elements.

Today I’m bringing you a review of two more of the new Toa from next year’s LEGO® BIONICLE range: 70784 Lewa Master of Jungle and 70786 Gali Master of Water, both of which were generously donated to us by the LEGO Group. Each of these two sets will cost $14.99 USD/£12.99 GBP when they are released on January 1, 2015. As such, they can be considered fairly average-sized models for the new BIONICLE. But average-sized doesn’t mean boring! Read on to see just what new elements and techniques these two Toa have to offer!

03 December 2014

Birds is the word

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1 January 2015 sees the launch of the next Ideas set, 21301 Birds, designed by British LEGO (and bird) fan Tom Poulsom. I had the pleasure of meeting him last week at the massive Brick 2014 show in London, and can bring you some of his insight in this review of the set. Being sort-of-British myself I can't help feeling proud that two Ideas sets released within months of one another are by British fans, and it's an interesting coincidence that unlike other Ideas sets, neither are based on existing intellectual properties (IPs).

26 November 2014


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Just a note to say I've no time to put a post together this week... as AFOLCON/Brick 2014 is here in London, and today consisted of some 200 or so adult fans enjoying seminars and setting up displays in the MAAASSIVE exhibition hall. However I'll try to post bits and bobs on social media, so keep an eye on our Twitter and Facebook feeds. Here are some tidbits from today.

The best thing about today was someone quietly pointing out that the minifig heads from Minecraft are 'in System' after all, so I was wrong in my recent post on the subject. By placing a 1x2 jumper and a 2x2 jumper next to each other, two Minecraft heads align. Now that is nice.

20 November 2014

BIONICLE 2015: Kopaka

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As part of our BIONICLE 'season', Scott Barnick (Aanchir) now turns his attention to some of the actual 2015 sets and how they compare to the originals.

Hello once more, New Elementary readers. Today I am here to bring you this site’s first true LEGO® BIONICLE set review! 70788 Kopaka Master of Ice is one of the larger BIONICLE sets for this upcoming wave, with 97 pieces and a $19.99 USD/£14.99 GBP price tag. This price might seem a bit steep for fans that are used to the prices of more traditional LEGO building sets, or even for BIONICLE fans that are used to Toa costing between $7 and $13 apiece, but this set’s price per piece is actually fairly consistent with many Toa sets of the past.

15 November 2014

BIONICLE 2015: masks & weapons

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Continuing our fiesta of constraction, Scott Barnick (Aanchir) furthers his examination of new BIONICLE parts by discussing the Toa’s weapons, masks, and a little bit about the enemies they’ll be facing in 2015.

As creative director Cerim Manovi said at the BIONICLE panel at New York Comic Con, “A Toa without weapons is not a Toa”. BIONICLE has always featured lots of ornate mechanical weaponry, and this year’s sets are no different. Also, taking cues from the weapons of the Toa Nuva sets from 2002 and some of the Toa sets from 2004, most of the characters’ weapons perform a dual function, which sometimes involves combining two weapons into one or separating one weapon into two. Typically, one of these modes will be combat-oriented and another movement-oriented. In the new sets, the designers call these “battle mode” and “adrenalin mode”.

08 November 2014

BIONICLE 2015: new parts

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Regardless of how you feel about the LEGO® Group's constraction themes there's no denying the appeal and success of BIONICLE, which ran from 2001-2010. To mark its return we have a series of articles from mega-fan Scott Barnick (Aanchir). Today is the first of two parts that share the exclusive insight he recently gained into the new elements coming in 2015, and explains LEGO's interesting Character and Creature Building System.

It’s easy to overlook in certain corners of the online LEGO community, but lately there has been a LOT of hubbub surrounding the impending return of one of my all-time favorite LEGO themes: BIONICLE. The new LEGO BIONICLE theme is a reboot of the classic storyline, so many things have been changed, but some of the theme’s most timeless story elements and design principles have been retained or re-imagined for a new generation of fans.

02 November 2014

New kid on the blocks

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Following Tim G's review of 21113 The Cave, I've got one more minifig-scale Minecraft set to tell you about today. However I can imagine that many of you will be rolling your eyes, yawning at the simplicity of these sets and won't be forking out your dosh on a bunch of 2x bricks. But don't dismiss these sets too hurriedly; the level of interesting parts in 21114 The Farm really surprised me.

29 October 2014

Plastic pixels

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Mojang's popular video game Minecraft has become a winning partnership for LEGO®. This Saturday a new wave of sets will be released (but are already on shelves in some European Brand Stores) and for the first time these new sets are in minifig scale rather than microscale. Today Tim Goddard (Rogue Bantha) reviews the smallest set in the range: 21113 The Cave which will retail for GB£19.99 and has 249 pieces.

I cannot claim to know that much about the intricacies of Minecraft. I’ve never played it but obviously I have heard of it and have a fair idea of what it’s about. One thing that dominates (for me) most of what I’ve heard about the game is it’s comparison to LEGO. Is it the LEGO of the future, of the digital age? Well, probably not for me. It is undoubtably creative and uses that inspirational part of the brain that we LEGO builders use to create new and exciting things. But sitting in front of a screen for hours on end is not my idea of fun (at least not these days, many hours have been lost to Lara, Wipeout and others). This crossover set is my way into the Minecraft universe.

My favourite thing about the microscale Minecraft sets was that they contained lots of basic stuff; 1X1 tiles, plates and bricks. Yummy. Are the minifig scale sets going to be able to live up this? In many ways yes; let us investigate.

23 October 2014

Play that same song

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In case you're one of those people who have never watched Star Wars, let me explain the location which is the subject of this LEGO® summer Star Wars set, 75052 Mos Eisley Cantina: it's a seedy bar crowded with exotic alien creatures from the wrong side of the space-tracks, a "wretched hive of scum and villainy" where booze-fueled tempers continually boil over into senseless violence, usually resulting in death or dismemberment. In other words: the obvious choice for a child's toy.

19 October 2014

Starting Blocks

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Can LEGO® get any more popular? Er, yes. A few months ago, the pilot issue of a new printed magazine about the LEGO hobby appeared on shelves in UK newsagents, called Blocks. It proved popular enough for the publishers to go monthly, and the first issue will be on shelves this Thursday 23 October 2014. I'm quite excited, as I've contributed, so wanted to give it a plug in case you'd not heard of it.

It's not the first ever LEGO fan magazine of course; brilliant publications like BrickJournal and HispaBrick have been around a long time now. But with its wide distribution, Blocks aims strongly at casual/burgeoning fans as well as the hardcore fans. It takes a broad view of the LEGO world, giving the hobby of collecting equal placing alongside sets, building, and the non-ABS worlds of online and print. Whether it's your cup of tea or not, Blocks is an interesting development that I certainly think will bring awareness of the depth and breadth of the AFOL community to a much wider audience... yay, more AFOLs!

12 October 2014

Carry on caravanning

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It's been the most pleasant and consistent summer in England that I can recall since I arrived here two decades ago, but now October is here it feels like the sun may finally be gone. So it's a great time to hang on to a little sunshine by breaking out a Friends set, 41034 Summer Caravan, which is full of my favourite Friends hue, Medium Azure.

29 September 2014

Roar excitement

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Our summer of Chima continues into autumn with another review from Scott Barnick (Aanchir), who is well-known for his love of LEGO® colours and constraction... and just to add to his geek credentials, he's also a Brony.

Hi again, readers! I’m very happy to bring you a review of 70144 Laval’s Fire Lion, one of this summer’s new LEGO Legends of Chima sets. This set was carefully selected on account of its great selection of new elements, including a few designs you rarely see in traditional stud-based LEGO themes.

19 September 2014

Groot Expectations

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Chris Salt (Oblong Pictures) is a stop motion and CGI animator who most recently created those thrilling Exo Suit teaser clips. New Elementary has been lucky enough to publish "exclusive first looks" at his work before, but today we're luckier than ever! Chris has reviewed 76020 Knowhere Escape Mission and has arranged for none other than Groot himself to assist.

The people who design LEGO® sets for movie licences have a tough job. With a big tentpole blockbuster, the film is often still being edited in the weeks running up to the premiere. The first run of sets has to be on the shelves long before then, so how do you decide what to use from the collection of concept art, stills and storyboards available to you?

12 September 2014

Colour curves

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A few weeks ago I collated some of the basic parts that The LEGO® Group (TLG) have released in new colours amongst this summer's wave of new sets. Now, as summer fades away, I'm doing the same for some of the curvier parts. In TLG's database, which sites like Brickset use, all the parts I've chosen are categorised as "Bricks with Bows" whereas BrickLink (BL) distinguish them as "Slope, Curved", "Brick, Modified" and "Brick, Arch". Just to confuse you all even further for the sake of brevity, I like to call them bows and arches.

04 September 2014

Ice Ice Baby

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Returning for another review today is Jeremy Williams (Bricking It) who is not only sticking with the Legends of Chima theme; he's sticking with the icy world of Sir Fangar!

This review continues the Chima theme from my last review, in which I looked at Sir Fangar’s wheels (well, paws actually). Today I’m looking at his pad; his Ice Fortress, a set full of playful traps and some rather nice new elements, too. Let’s begin.

25 August 2014

Surfin' UA

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Our second review of an Ultra Agents set comes from Scott Barnick (Aanchir), who many of you will recognise as an active member of several LEGO® fan forums. Scott has an excellent knowledge of many aspects of LEGO, especially the colour palette.
Hello, readers! Today I will be reviewing set 70162 Infearno Interception from the new Ultra Agents theme! This theme is similar on some levels to one of my favorite themes, the Agents theme from 2008, but its subject matter is more overtly futuristic, taking visual cues from various sci-fi movies. And to create this new and unique aesthetic, the LEGO designers packed the theme with lots of great new elements and recolors. Let’s take a look!

13 August 2014

When LEGO® was never just bricks

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I had a mild argument with a (non-AFOL) friend earlier this year. He swore blind that when he was a kid in the '70s, he only had about seven different types of LEGO® parts; all basic rectilinear bricks. He liked to build windmills. "How did the windmill turn?" I asked. He conceded that he must have also owned wheel parts.

The release of 21050 Architecture Studio in the UK this month seems to have sparked another glut of ill-researched articles spouting the same old lines that bore every AFOL that reads them to tears... or rather, to online ranting. My turn today!

08 August 2014

Ultra intoxicating

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Renowned Neo-Spacer Tim Goddard (Rogue Bantha) takes a look at 70163 Toxikita's Toxic Meltdown today, and creates his own toxic meltdown of sorts...

This is a cracking set from the revised Agents line, now called Agents of Shield. No, sorry, Ultra Agents, not affiliated to Agents of Shield in any way. The set has a nice selection of basic and interesting parts and is minimal on the ugly structural elements that have plagued many sets of late.

30 July 2014

This season's back-to-basics

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We are still surfing the summer wave of new sets here at New Elementary, but let's pause for a moment and look purely at parts today. I've trawled through Brickset's parts database to identify for you some of the more basic LEGO® parts that have been released in new colours this summer. Rather than name all the sets you can find these new elements in, I've added links instead - click the relevant Element ID.

24 July 2014

Make me Smilodon

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We have another Legends of Chima set for you today: 70143 Sir Fangar's Sabre-Tooth Walker. On reviewing duty is Jeremy Williams (Bricking It) who, on top of building stunning Neo Classic Space ships and scenes, also composed the music for the recent Exo Suit reveal video and you may have seen his Beginner's Guide to BrickLink tutorial video.

Since I’m a space builder I spend most of my build time immersed in blue and various shades of grey, with the odd bit of trans-yellow to spice things up (more please, Billund!) So it’s a genuine pleasure to review a set in an entirely different theme, with strange and exotic colours (Dark Orange! Trans-Light Blue!) to pore over. And it’s an eye-catching set, too - one that I suspect will have bucket loads of appeal for fans of all ages (even my three year-old is clamouring to play with it).

20 July 2014

The Earth Green machine

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I don't like cars. Stinky, noisy, destructive machines that constantly made me travelsick as a child. They are of course a necessity of modern life, but I've never learnt to drive, choosing instead to reside in the centre of a metropolis with excellent public transport (and thousands of stinky noisy destructive cars). So it's a little odd I have been so very excited about the release of 10242 MINI Cooper, which is now available for VIP membersicon to order ahead of general release on 1 August. But then this fabulous LEGO® version is neither stinky nor noisy and only destructive if you consider the environmental impact of producing the plastic - or throw it at someone's head.

18 July 2014

Fairy Bricks Big Raffle 2014

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I'm involved in a charity called Fairy Bricks; the idea of which is to raise money to buy LEGO® sets for children's hospitals and hospices - so far, over £20,000 (US$34,000) worth! It began life as a raffle on Brickset last year and is now a registered charity in the UK, but assists hospitals all over the globe. The Brickset Forum is full of AFOLs who know where to get heavily discounted LEGO, so the funds Fairy Bricks raise is used to get the biggest possible LEGO bang for the buck.

14 July 2014

Exo Suit: tease and reveal

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Having been starved for the best part of a year, in the last fortnight AFOLs have enjoyed a glut of information about the next LEGO® Ideas set; 21109 Exo Suit, redesigned by LEGO Senior Designer Mark Stafford based on the submission by AFOL Peter Reid. There are already several set reviews online so I'm mixing mine up a bit by interspersing it with a review of the teaser marketing campaign driven by fans.

05 July 2014

Firing up Chima

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We're reviewing quite a few LEGO® summer sets over the next few weeks and several are from Legends of Chima, as they offer many new parts and colours of elements. Kicking things off today with 70135 Cragger's Fire Striker is builder extraordinaire and actual real scientist guy Tim Goddard, who also tells us of his special relationship with Chima...

When I first saw the Fire and Ice Chima sets it was a bit of an assault on the senses: crazy colours and shapes everywhere, but now that I’m used to it I think it’s rather clever. There are plenty of new bits to get excited about and it gives a nice clear divide between factions, reminiscent of Space themes past.

20 June 2014

2014 Inside Tour set: Legoland Train

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Every year, The LEGO® Group (TLG) run a few three-day tours for small groups, opening all sorts of secret doors in their headquarters in Billund. Members of the public meet designers and other staff and gain access to incredible sights in the factories, offices, Legoland workshops, staff shop and "The Vault" - where a copy of pretty much every LEGO set ever made is stored. My friend Lee McG went on the first 2014 tour and the final tour finished today, which means he can now tell you about the most exciting gift that every participant received.