Thomas Jenkins (@thomas_jenkins_bricks) continues our series of Element Developer Q&As, once again with Stephan Breum Steen, Senior Mechanical Engineer in the Novelty Element Development department at the LEGO Group. This time Stephan answers our questions about the LEGO® Escalator Link Chain with Panel and Centre Divider (69900). Then, Thomas provides additional analysis and MOCs. Transcripts were edited for clarity, readability and narrative flow.
20 October 2021
13 October 2021
Tom Loftus (@inthert.lego) continues our series of LEGO® Element Developer Q&As today with Stephan Breum Steen, Senior Mechanical Engineer in the Novelty Element Development department at the LEGO Group. As explained in the first article, element developers are one of the many, many different roles in the LEGO Group who work together to create each new element. They receive the brief from the product designer or element designer, and when complete the mould developer continues the work. Today, Stephan answers our questions on a particularly curvy element, then Tom provides additional analysis and MOCs. Transcripts were edited for clarity, readability and narrative flow.
Commonly known as ‘Porsche bows’, having first appeared in 10295 Porsche 911, today’s subjects are Left Shell 2x10x2, Outside Bow, W/ Cut in White (6336752 | 77180) and Right Shell 2x10x2, Outside Bow, W/ Cut in White (6336754 | 77182). They have since appeared in 21327 Typewriter in Sand Green (Left 6359067, Right 6359068) and have just become available in Dark Red (Left 6359689, Right 6359690) thanks to 10290 Pickup Truck.
Stephan Breum Steen has been involved in the development of over 100 elements and is one of the marvellous minds who takes a new element design and makes it a reality. It's a process that involves careful consideration of countless factors, but most relevant to us today is how an element will be moulded and how well it fits in with existing LEGO parts.
06 October 2021
Today we kick off an exclusive new series of interviews with a different kind of LEGO Group employee: the Element Developers. We’re quite excited here at New Elementary because we haven’t spoken to them before, and anyone responsible for making LEGO® elements is a hero in our book! Conducted over email, we asked a series of set questions about recent elements to reveal a bit more about their production process. Transcripts were edited for clarity, readability and narrative flow.
LEGO part 65094
In this first interview we asked LEGO Mechanical Engineers Niels Bundesen and Jonas Stubager about part 65094, which they call the 4+ Wheelbase, as it is a pre-assembled chassis created for the 4+ age mark range. Other names include:
21 September 2021
At Fan Media Days in May 2021, Francesco Spreafico and Zach Hill from New Elementary spoke online with the LEGO® Super Heroes team – a whole lot of them! – to find out more about their work and the elements they have designed.
Hello everyone! Can you briefly introduce yourselves, so we know who you are?
Mark Stafford: I'm Mark. I design LEGO® sets. My latest ones are the Bugle and the Black Panther dragon flyer.
Justin Ramsden: My Name is Justin. I'm a LEGO designer, I make toys for kids. My most recent products have been in the Monkey Kid line or the Chinese Traditional Festival, but Super Heroes has always been my home for the past six and a half years.
Adam Grabowski: I'm Adam. My latest thing is the 1966 Batmobile. And also the Venom and Carnage.
Ashwin Visser: My name is Ashwin, I'm one of the graphic designers for Super Heroes, so I usually do the stickers and decorated elements. I work together with the guys on their products.
Jesper C. Nielsen: I’m Jesper and I'm the creative lead on Super Heroes. I used to be cool and build toys for kids.
10 September 2021
The 2021 LEGO® Winter Village set has been revealed: 10293 Santa’s Visit is a charming, angular home built of Light Royal Blue/ Bright Light Blue bricks. It has 1,445 pieces, measures 27cm x 16cm and is 19cm high. It is available exclusively for LEGO VIP members from 16 September and from LEGO Stores and online from 1 October priced €89.99/ US$99.99/ £79.99/ AU$159.99/ CA$139.99. Buying this set? Consider using our affiliate links, New Elementary may get a commission: USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop | UK LEGO Shop/for Europe 'Change region'.
And who better to introduce it than its designer, Chris McVeigh? New Elementary’s Caz Mockett and Ben Davies had the chance to speak with him during the RLFM Days in May where he gave us a sneak peek at his latest design.
02 July 2021
The LEGO® Technic brand has just revealed more sets for the second half of 2021: the pneumatic-powered 42128 Heavy-duty Tow Truck and remote-control 42129 4x4 Mercedes-Benz Zetros Trial Truck.
Samuel Tacchi (pictured left) and Milan Reindl (right), two designers from The LEGO Group's Technic division, joined New Elementary's Zach and Caz (the palindrome team!) for a chat during the Recognised LEGO Fan Media Days about these two upcoming big rigs as well as Technic element design. The following transcript has been edited for clarity, readability and narrative flow.
23 June 2021
The LEGO Group have released a progress update on their efforts to eliminate the environmental impact of making LEGO® bricks, and New Elementary have asked them some questions about it. You will recall they’ve been testing various plastics made from sustainable resources for several years now, and although they don’t yet have the solution, today they have revealed the first brick made from a recycled material that meets the company’s strict quality and safety requirements – as well has having the all-important correct level of clutch power! That material is recycled PET (rPET) from discarded bottles. Each 1-litre plastic PET bottle provides them with enough raw material to make 10 LEGO 2x4 bricks, on average.
12 May 2021
Back in May 2020 during the Fan Media Days, New Elementary contributors Tim Johnson and Francesco Spreafico spoke online to LEGO® Speed Champions Design Manager Specialist, Christopher Leslie Stamp, where he told us everything about the 2021 sets. (Well, almost everything – since then, they added another car to this year's assortment!) And so now, a year later with the sets about to be released on 1 June, we can finally share what he told us! This transcript has been edited for clarity, readability and narrative flow.
|Set images ©2021 The LEGO Group, photograph ©2019 New Elementary|
08 May 2021
An earth-shattering change occurred in LEGO® City in 2021: the introduction of brick-built roads, replacing the thin baseplates that have been used for decades. So New Elementary asked The LEGO Group about the development of this new 'element platform', including questions from our lovely Patreon supporters. The answers are a team effort from the LEGO® City team and Element Design. Before anyone asks; we did not ask them about the absence of curved road elements as the team had already stated; "At this point the LEGO® City team does not have a comment on corners."
Where did the idea for reinventing road baseplates come about - is it something that’s been on the LEGO® City team’s collective minds for a long time now, or a bit more recent?
The idea has been hovering around the project for a number of years. The first time this system of elements was pitched as a concept was more than 10 years ago.
16 April 2021
Zachary Hill recently conducted an exclusive interview for New Elementary with not one but two LEGO® designers who worked on 10283 NASA Space Shuttle Discovery: the set designer Milan Madge and element designer Mani Zamani. This transcript has been edited for clarity, readability and narrative flow.
New Elementary: The Discovery Shuttle is an amazing spacecraft and the new LEGO® 10283 NASA Space Shuttle Discovery is a fantastic homage to it. How did you enjoy the opportunity to develop this set, Milan?
Milan Madge: It was great working with NASA and it really was a childhood dream come true for everyone involved.
© 2021 The LEGO Group
New E: In the LEGO Designer Video, you mentioned a part of that childhood dream: admiring the Discovery which was in the LEGO catalogue when you were young. Which version of the Shuttle was that?
Milan M: That set was the Space Shuttle Discovery from 2003 (7470). I loved the pictures of that set but never owned it myself, so I built my own out of multicoloured bricks.
27 March 2021
Ben Davies has received an exciting set from Billund to review for you today: LEGO® 40502 The Brick Moulding Machine which is priced 599 DKK and only available in LEGO House in Denmark. The products in this article were provided for free by LEGO; the author's opinions are not biased by this.
Announced earlier this month, 40502 The Brick Moulding Machine is the latest exclusive set from LEGO® House, and the second in the “LEGO House Limited Edition” series, following 40501 The Wooden Duck introduced in 2020.
10 March 2021
Recently, Thomas Jenkins represented New Elementary in a virtual roundtable interview with the designer of LEGO® Botanical Collection 10280 Bonsai Tree, Nicolaas Vás (aka @PrinceGalidor) and Senior Design Manager Jamie Berard along with Jay's Brick Blog, the Brothers Brick, the Rambling Brick and Blocks Magazine. We each had 8 minutes to ask our questions, so what follows is but a short excerpt from our conversation (edited for readability and clarity). We sent Nick and Jamie our questions ahead of the interview and they came back with some really thoughtful responses. Be sure to check out the other outlets for more.
New Elementary: The pink frogs in the set as well as your own bonsai creations have inspired a number of custom trees blooming with crazy flowers in the AFOL community, are there any that have caught your eye?
Nick: There was a particular tree that I saw from a Japanese builder online and he had basically covered the entire tree with LEGO® Friends hedgehogs and it was fantastic to see that he absolutely gets what this product is about.
25 January 2021
New Elementary: Hello Markus, congratulations on the set! The previous two LEGO® NINJAGO® City sets (70620 Ninjago City and 70657 Ninjago City Docks) both also received considerable praise upon release. Was there a sense of pressure when it came to creating a successor to these sets?
Markus: The LEGO® NINJAGO® City set was a phenomenon. When it came out, my friends were so excited for it that we all bought one each and met up and built them together, ending up with 5 or 6 cities on the same table. There are very few sets that have created similar universal excitement, so getting to design the third in this beloved line of modular sets was of course amazing and at the same time very daunting. Naturally, there are high expectations from both NINJAGO fans and the AFOL community on a set of this calibre. Wanting to make sure I designed a worthy addition to this world we had been building, I put quite a lot of pressure on myself. My amazing design team made that disappear quickly though and now I look back on designing 71741 LEGO NINJAGO City Gardens as an extremely joyful time. Getting to work on it was a dream come true!
15 January 2021
New Elementary: Hello, Marinus, thanks for your time this morning!
Marinus: Let me just start by saying, that is always very thorough research you guys do on elements. In some cases you even manage to surprise us like, “wow – there is a connection there!” So very, very thorough.
That's what we like to hear, we're hoping we're surprising people, especially TLG employees! So when did you begin at the LEGO Group and what has your journey there been?
I started in October 2015, in the Platform team. Back then they were developing the roller coaster track so I came half-way into that project and what an awesome project it was to start with, creating such a unique subsystem! I’m part of the Element Design Team too now; about a year ago I made the decision to move over and go a little more into Downstream.
24 September 2020
Aside from employee interviews, at Fan Media Days we also attend a few presentations about various LEGO topics. Today we are going to cover one of the most interesting of the 2020 sessions, “Consumer Perceived Quality” with Bjarke Schønwandt, Quality Director.
Bjarke has been with the LEGO Group for 18 years, and he’s always worked in Quality. His dream as a kid was to grow up and be the person who tests all LEGO sets, so, we could say he’s almost there! But what does Consumer Perceived Quality do?
17 August 2020
|©2020 The LEGO Group|
I'm Jonathan Bennink, I've worked at LEGO for 6 years now. I started at LEGO Dimensions but 4 years ago, I got the Creative Lead on the Nintendo collaboration. And that was just, yeah, gig of a lifetime! This is a dream I didn't even know I had – to work for LEGO, and then also for Nintendo? Super cool.
My name is Christian Munk and I'm in marketing on LEGO Super Mario, so a part of the Product and Marketing Development team on it. I've been with LEGO for a little more than 11 years now, in various sales and marketing roles; now mainly working on gaming IPs and product lines that have technology in them, so for instance LEGO Boost and Minecraft and so on. I'm so lucky to have been working on LEGO Super Mario for the last couple of years.
12 August 2020
|Prototype LEGO Braille Bricks showing the symbol # and the word LEGO.|
29 June 2020
|©2020 The LEGO Group|
28 June 2020
This transcript has been edited for clarity, readability and narrative flow.