27 October 2018

LEGO® Ideas 21315 Pop-up Book

Posted by Admin
Sven Franic takes a peep inside the latest LEGO® Ideas set, 21315 Pop-up Book, and discovers a set that is beautiful in its design, mechanics and overall creative concept. 

The LEGO® theme without a theme, also known as LEGO Ideas, has given a traditional object a fresh brick-based perspective. Pop-up books embrace a combination of the intricate arts of bookbinding, illustration and origami, resulting in an interactive, palpable storytelling medium. If only there was a toy today that could do that ;) 

Adapting the book format to the brick medium was done by AFOL Grant Davis who later approached the renowned builder of  LEGO kinetic sculptures Jason Allemann of JK Brickworks fame. With joined forces, they developed the project and gave a classic invention a new dimension, literally.

The original design was polished up for official release by LEGO designer Alan Talbott and LEGO graphic designer Crystal Marie. The changes in the final model are mainly visual, and from my perspective, they are very refreshing. Some of the things that differentiate LEGO designers from fan builders may lie less in the skill level and more in the things we as fans don’t have to think about, such as how children will react to certain colours and how the final model will be represented on the box, and ultimately on the shelf. The slightly bland beige colour scheme of the original book cover design was updated to a deeper earthy look using Earth Green [TLG]/Dark Green [BL] and Reddish Brown, embellished with a large graphic element. One of the proposed foldable models also got the colour treatment, making grandma’s house in Little Red Riding Hood a little more vibrant compared to the concept model.

The mechanical aspect of the model is practically unchanged, which means Grant and Jason did a great job ensuring that the folding system is fully legal with no element collisions. It’s a simple mechanism using a combination of system hinge plates and Technic axles – a common symbiosis of two LEGO systems in today’s sets used for any play function.

The fairy tale stage models are fixed with just a Technic pin at each end of the book covers, making the stages easily exchangeable between Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and the Beanstalk, both of which come with the set.

The platform serves as a loose template for your own builds, but is more limiting than it may appear. Each half of the pop-up element can only be two modules wide, with zero tolerance for any overhang unless you take from one of the inside halves and add to the other at the point where they overlap when the book is closed.

The height limit of the folding element is a bit more flexible and in its default position ranges between 18 and 34 plates high depending on the point along the base.  You could go higher, but that would mean modifying the covers by moving the connection pins further to the edge of the book which would open a new set of problems of hiding the pin holes on the outside.

A more creative approach would probably be to incorporate a new folding system into the existing element, such as the clever pulley and anchor system used to raise the beanstalk castle in one of the dioramas.  

To test the “build your own story” aspect, I wanted to do a quick mock-up of another classic story. The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen seemed fitting.

Disappointingly, I didn’t come up with any new folding systems, but rather just incorporated some simple models onto the existing template. I found the width limit to be quite challenging, but there is also the issue of scale inconsistency which would probably occur with many other stories. One of the set’s dioramas conveniently overcame this issue by using a story that involves a giant character, so a minifigure is in-scale with an otherwise micro-scale diorama and uses a trophy-figure for the opposing protagonist, as seen on the right in the image below. Scale inconsistency is just another of those things that are likely to bother adult fans, since children tend to have an easier time dealing with such trivialities.


If you are not into bedtime stories, but appreciate Earth Green elements, the Pop-Up book comes with a generous amount, including some newly recoloured pieces.

The long 1x12 Bricks ensure the strong construction of the large covers, and 22 pieces newly re-coloured in Earth Green come with the set.

With the final production run of the last known Earth Green “colour pack” – also known as 10242 Creator Expert Mini Cooper – behind us, the 1x4 plate swivel hinge (Design ID 73983) is no longer in production in Earth Green, but here to replace it is the 1x4 brick hinge assembly, consisting of two separate elements (Element IDs 625290 & 625289|Design IDs 3830 & 3831). As someone pointed out to me, the brick hinges have less friction than their plate counterparts, but whether this has anything to do with the design is unknown.

The fourth recoloured element in Earth Green is the 1 x 1 x 1 2/3 Brick with studs on the side (Element ID 6252591|Design ID 32952), a very useful and relatively novel element. With so many new colours released this year, I am struggling to catch up!

The 8x16 Tile (6250298|90498) is now also available in Reddish Brown.

Printed elements

The same 8x16 Tile also comes as a printed element in the set with “Once upon a Brick” written in a swashed interpretation of Venetian typeface giving the whole set a unique vintage feel (Element ID 6254400).

Two 1x6 tiles in Reddish Brown using the same style hold the names of the original authors of the Ideas submission in gold lettering: Allemann (6254441) and Davis (6254450).


In reality, every LEGO set is a story. But what makes this one special, apart from its attractive presentation, is the mechanical aspect. This makes it a potential gateway set to explore the vast possibilities and limitations of the LEGO system, most importantly using Technic elements to supplement the dynamics of basic system builds. If you find the book is too limiting for your creativity, copious amounts of Earth Green bricks will surely come in handy for whatever else you have planned.

The set comes with 859 pieces, four minifigures and will be available on 1 November 2018 for RRP US$69.99 / €69.99  / £59.99. 

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Products mentioned in this post were kindly supplied by the LEGO Group. All content represents the opinions of New Elementary authors and not the LEGO Group. All text and images are © New Elementary unless otherwise attributed.

1 comment:

  1. Thank god that cover is a printed piece. Putting stickers on those 8x16 tiles sucks.