01 February 2020

LEGO® DOTS: Inside The House of Dots

We have an event report today from a new contributor, Michael Studman (yes, his real name), who is active in the London AFOLs LUG. We asked him to report on the launch of LEGO® DOTS, especially to check out the new parts in the sets and the never-before-seen opalescent colours. 

It’s not uncommon for a LEGO-lover like me to have an emotional connection with established LEGO themes, from childhood, or later in life as an AFOL. What is more unusual is to have an emotional connection to a new LEGO range even before it has been revealed to the public, and to have had a small but exciting part to play in its launch.

This thought occurred to me as I excitedly waited with fellow fans, reporters, and influencers last Tuesday 28 January in Kings Cross, London for the public unveiling of LEGO DOTS, their newest theme.


Dots seeks to tap into the arts and crafts space by emphasising decoration and customisation of wearables and brick-built home decor objects through patterning of tiles (called ‘dotting’ by LEGO). It is primarily aimed at children 6+ but will likely have appeal to young and old alike – including New Elementary readers. More on the product specifics a bit further down.

The Launch Event

Dots was unveiled by Lena Dixen, Senior Vice President and Head of Product Marketing Development at The LEGO Group (TLG). She introduced the products in the initial lineup and then went into some detail explaining TLG’s hope of reaching children for whom set building can be a frustrating experience and who would prefer to engage with their products from an arts and crafts angle.

Afterwards she unveiled The House of Dots, an interactive space designed by artist-designer Camille Walala, for the public to experience and play with LEGO Dots.

The presentation ended with a debate on the role of creativity in society hosted by Ben Hobson and between Lena, Camille and Amy Corbett (Senior Design Manager, TLG).

The House of Dots

Afterwards we were able to visit the freshly completed building situated in the main concourse of Coal Drop Yard, Kings Cross.

The House of Dots is a five room ‘house’ in which the public can play with and experience Dots via guided workshops. The house embodies Camille’s striking design aesthetic, employs a colour palette of rich contrasts and, in its interior, uses over two million LEGO elements as both ‘canvas’ and ‘paint’ to achieve Camille’s signature aesthetic of strong geometric patterns. The House of Dots takes the idea behind Dots - customisation, decoration and play through dotting LEGO elements - and applies it at the scale of a large building.


My own humble part in this launch started two weeks ago when together with a small team of AFOLs and several non-AFOLs we were tasked to work with LEGO Master Builders, TLG product and marketing people, wood joiners and Camille to construct the house in an off-site location. While the rest of the house was being built from timber and eight shipping containers, our role was to apply the two million tiles and plates to most of the internal surfaces (walls, bench tops, bespoke MDF furniture, plant pots, rugs and so on) in a multitude of different patterns, effects and tessellations.


Having had a chance to walk through the now-completed House of Dots, it is every bit as bold and imaginative as I thought it would be in the workshop. Every internal surface shows the unexpected visual power and beauty, even to this relatively seasoned AFOL, that can be achieved through dotting tiles. This is one reason why I really think LEGO are onto something important and interesting with Dots, and The House of Dots really showcases it.


Walking through gave us a taste of what the general public can experience in the House of DOTS until it closes on 2 February 2020. There are workshops in two rooms: the first in the kitchen invites you to decorate a bracelet, and the second in the bedroom invites you to decorate 8x8 plates. You are given a small Pick a Brick cup to fill with as many tiles as you like.


New parts in LEGO Dots

Later in the day, I interviewed Amy Corbett of TLG and was able to see the launch range up close. It includes bracelets in five themed packs and various items of brick-built home decor: a pencil holder, photo cubes and a jewellery holder. The bracelet packs contain a mixture of plain tiles and new printed tiles (called ‘mood tiles’ by TLG) for dotting. The home decor sets contain only plain tiles for dotting. One of the cheaper ways to get some of the new printed and recoloured plain tiles will be through various booster bags released in a series and at reasonable prices per part.


There are quite a few recoloured tiles being introduced but alas no completely new colours (at least not in the first half of this year). The printed tiles are all incredibly well designed embodying a sense of play and ‘kawaii’ cuteness - they include facial expressions, music notes, cosmic planets, starry nights, paw prints and a rainbow pooh.


There are only a small number of brand new moulds, with the four most significant being: the bracelet in five colours, the photo holder 1x2x2 brick in Aqua/ Light Aqua, a 1x1 stud gem in new opalescent colours and a large White heart-shaped plate in the unusual size of 9x9.


The bracelet (Design ID 66821) has 14 pairs of studs on the outer side of the band, is comfortable and flexible to wear but still retains decent clutch power for the tiles that decorate it.

The photo holder brick (37452) has two clasps emanating from an extruded nub on one side, one pointing upwards and one downwards allowing it to hold two photos simultaneously. Not only do photos clasp well but reasonably thick card such as birthday cards fit well.

The 1x1 gems have an octagonal footprint rising to a single point and are moulded using the new effect LEGO have launched this year called Opalescence (renamed Satin on BrickLink). Previously we reported on two known opalescent colours, 362 Transparent Blue with Opalescence and 364 Transparent Medium Reddish Violet with Opalescence but these Dots gems reveal another two new shades: 360 Transparent with Opalescence and 363 Transparent Brown with Opalescence. [EDIT 15/6/2020: The final production sets did not contain colour 363 as assumed here. The effect was first used in Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse Buildable Characters.]


Joining the 1x1 heart tile, 3x3 heart plate and 6x6 heart plate which were all released in 2019 is the 9x9 heart plate, which features prominently in the jewellery stand set 41905.


Entry to The House of Dots is free and open to the public in London until 2 February 2020. Initial Dots sets and packs will be available from 1 March.





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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.

9 comments:

  1. Thanks for this excellent review. Just a quick correction, the bracelet has 14 pairs of studs, not 13.

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  2. Interestingly, the crystal tile piece actually showed up in the Lego Elves app (as a piece you could unlock to customize your amulet by playing levels) three whole years ago! That tracks with the beginning of the development of the Dots theme, but it's certainly interesting to see the actual part show up this many years later!

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    1. Just thought of an additional question—how tall are the crystal tiles? The Transparent with Opalescence ones look wonderfully pearl-ish and I'm curious whether they'd fit in place of a 1x1 plate in the old clamshell piece.

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    2. That's very interesting, I never knew that! Suggests to me that the gem design had been floating around for a while before Dots decided to use it.
      Michael was not able to take gems home, so those pics are all the have for now. Actually I do have one more but it doesn't add much.
      Yes I agree about the pearl-ish although I'd perhaps call it opal-ish! Sooo much clearer on the trans-clear :)

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    3. Andrew - you can see the height of the crystal tiles from the designer video for DOTS, they look to be a plate high and would fit into the clamshell beautifully :-) https://www.flickr.com/gp/azurebrick/4H1uF4

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  3. Man, I love Memphis Milano

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    Replies
    1. I'm walking in Memphis... but do I really feel the way I feel...?

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  4. 37452 looks like Pepe the King Prawn from the Muppets...

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