It’s New Year’s Eve and as 2019 comes to a close and the clock ticks down to another year. It’s once again time to take a look back over that past 12 months and pick some of my favourite LEGO® related things to occur in the year gone by. As an extra treat this year, my ramblings have been joined by a few awesome guests – Matt from The Bricks King Podcast, Greg from London Bridge Bricks and fellow AFOL, Alan aka @itsabrickthing. It’s certainly been another eventful year, the family who own the LEGO Group now fully own LEGOLAND, LEGO Star Wars celebrated its 20th Anniversary and LEGO continued to partner with iconic brands to expand their ever growing product line. But for the BricksFanz look back over the past 12 months we’ll be focusing on the many LEGO sets, products and promotions which have been released or occurred since January 2019. So let’s jump into our brick-built time machine and see what has delighted us the most in 2019.
LEGO Theme of the Year
Adam – I’ve made no secret of my admiration of the original story themes from LEGO. We’ve not had one for a few years, but 2019 gave us Hidden Side and without a doubt it gets my Theme of the Year pick. The story woven into the theme is fun and the sets are not only great to build but are filled with play features, Both via physical play and the new AR functions.
Matt – Hidden Side, The sets are very well done, and the AR adds another fun twist.
Greg – Hidden Side gets my vote for best theme of 2019 – I’ve really enjoyed how LEGO have taken a good narrative and added a new dimension to the theme using an application on your phone to view an augmented reality. The sets have been great with vibrant colours and cool characters with J.B.’s Ghost Lab being one of my favourites.
Alan – The Hidden Side – the sets and minifigures are brilliantly created and have really brought a new great theme to LEGO. The added AR functionality is really cool too give that extra playability with the sets. You don’t need to play the AR side of the theme to enjoy the theme either because of how fun the sets are with their double builds from ghostly to regular Newbury
LEGO Theme of the Year – LEGO Hidden Side
Minifigure of the Year
Adam – Not only was the Stranger Things sets a surprise, it also includes some great Minifigures, the best of which is the Demogorgon. It’s very rare that a new element is created for Minifigures, but the Demogorgon has a unique headpiece. Combined with the faun legs and great printing, results in an amazing Minifigure.
Matt – My favourite Minifigure of the year has to go to Aspheera from NINJAGO. It is a beautifully crafted figure with a very unique dual moulded head.
Greg – My choice was going to be the Batman minifigure from the 1989 Batmobile sporting his unique cowl – but I decided in the end to go with Bail Organa from the Tantive IV set 75244. I loved every second of building this Star Wars set and having him come as an exclusive figure made it that bit more special. His olive green and grey attire with silvery printing look great and his cape finishes off a super looking figure.
Alan – Demogorgon, Stranger things. It’s a very hard choice to pick a favourite minifig since I am mildly obsessed with collecting them. But the Demogorgon is great because of the unique moulded headpiece and the recolour of the fauns legs from the CMF series 15. Also with this scary “grown up” minifig it brings a sense of hope that maybe in the future we could have more grown up LEGO themes and Minifigs. Oh and a runner up prize would have to be given to Mr and Mrs Gingerbread for being super cute!
Minifigure of the Year – Demogorgon from Stranger Things The Upside Down
LEGO Digital Application of the Year
Adam – It may have only been released a few weeks ago and it’s only available via Apple Arcade, but Builder’s Journey is a delightful little game. Unlike any other LEGO game or app, Builder’s Journey is the first title from in-house devs Lightbrick Studio. It is a delightful and soothing adventure, which captures the magic of LEGO.
Matt – LEGO Tower. This is an addictive and fun game to play.
Greg – My votes goes on the new game that’s just landed on Apple Arcade called Builders Journey. It’s a thoughtful, relaxing puzzle game with a soundtrack that reflects the meditative mindset state this game places you in – something I think AFOL’s will certainly gravitate to.
Alan – LEGO Tower – I have always loved Nimblebits Tiny Tower but it lost my attention after a couple of months. When they released LEGO Tower I was so happy. I love the way Nimblebit have used their Tiny Tower style gameplay and have combined it with LEGO. I’m really happy they have included events such as the hidden side and Christmas.
LEGO Digital Application of the Year – LEGO Tower & Builder’s Journey
LEGO Book of the Year
Adam – DK produce some great LEGO titles, but this year saw something a little different come from them in the form of the ‘self help’ type book Build Yourself Happy. Although it doesn’t include any exclusive LEGO bricks or Minifigures, it’s a title aimed at a different audience.
Matt – This goes to the LEGO NINJAGO Visual Dictionary New Edition from DK Books. The book has all the latest characters and backstories that any fan could want.
Greg – My book of the year goes to the LEGO Star Wars Visual Dictionary New Edition. Star Wars is my favourite theme and this book is a great reference for finding out and collecting new and old sets from the past 20 years. Better still the book comes with an exclusive Bacta Suit Finn minifigure.
Alan – Build Yourself Happy, Abbie Headon. Being a counselling student and very interested in using creative play as a tool in therapy I was so excited for this book. It’s gives so many great approaches to be more mindful and use your time for self care which is so important today when we are always rushing around. Another reason it is my choice of favourite book is that it is really nice DK have branched out to grown up fans of LEGO.
LEGO Book of the Year – LEGO Build Yourself Happy (DK Books)
Promotional Activity or Event of the Year
Adam – Rebuild the World has been a great way to show what can be done with LEGO bricks. As the first global campaign from the LEGO Group, the single message has been used across numerous events and ads. From in-store building workshops to the amazing Christmas displays at the Savoy hotel in London, Rebuild the World has been the key focal point for many great LEGO related things and it will continue into 2020.
Matt – I love the Rebuild the World event/idea. It is a fantastic idea to allow kids and adults alike to recreate using their imaginations and not being stuck in a box of boundaries.
Greg – Rebuild the world is a phenomenally positive initiative to inspire kids and AFOL’s alike. It’s something that LEGO has placed at the heart of its strategy – I recall a story about a young man called David Aguilar who was born with a deformed arm. At 17 he went on to design and develop himself a prosthetic arm from LEGO technic’s pieces – and that inspiration is what Rebuild the World is all about.
Alan – I was lucky enough to be invited to one of the AFOL events at the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Birmingham this year. I had an absolutely brilliant time. Using the LDC space on the evening for AFOLs is a great idea and brilliant engagement. Making an adult experience with competitions and all the normal activities the kids normally get to enjoy once a month is brilliant.
Promotional Activity or Event of the Year – Rebuild the World (LEGO)
Surprise of the Year
Adam – Has to be Bricklink acquisition by the LEGO Group. When it was officially announced it did seem like a April Fools prank but no, it’s happening and it has quite rightly caused a stir with LEGO fans. Although we are yet to see the takeover fully occur, it has certainly been a surprise move by LEGO.
Matt – BrickLink being bought by LEGO caught everyone off guard. I am still in shock. It is hard to believe this actually happened.
Greg – The absolute surprise this year for me was Bricklink being acquired by LEGO. I can understand LEGO wanting to have a bigger say in the second hand market but I and everyone I speak to never considered that they would acquire such a large independent organisation. And looking ahead – I do wonder how ‘independent’ LEGO will keep Bricklink.
Alan – Still a surprise to me, the LEGO® Wooden Minifigure. I still don’t know what to think of it. I love the idea but I feel like LEGO could have done more with it, such as giving it joints to be more posable. It will however be on my wishlist until I get one for painting and another just to look nice and wooden. But again and it might be a noticeable theme, I love that LEGO have created something that is nice for AFOLs.
Surprise of the Year – Bricklink Acquisition by the LEGO Group
LEGO Build of the Year
Adam – I love Stranger Things and when rumours of a LEGO set began to stir I was a little skeptical. It didn’t seem the right fit for the LEGO brand. But then The Upside Down set was revealed and I got to build it for review and loved it. The way both realms have been captured in the set is very clever and the line-up of Minifigures is great as well. Even if you aren’t a fan of the show, you have to admire the build techniques used to create it.
Matt – LEGO Ideas Treehouse. Bar none of of the coolest and interesting builds I have seen in some time.
Greg – The set that gets my vote for build of the year is The Creator Expert Apollo 11 Lunar Lander (10266). Building Tranquillity base upwards through the various sections of the lander was a lot of fun and this set oozes detail and reminds us of arguably man’s greatest achievement …….creating the LEGO brick !
Alan – Hard choice! There has been some amazing sets this year I have enjoyed. I have three that are amazing builds. Welcome to Apocalypseburg, Stranger Things and Sweet Mayhem’s Systar Starship! All of them have brought me so much joy. Not only for them looking like great sets but I actually love the inner structures you don’t see. Out of the three I think I would have to say the Stranger Things Byers House was my favourite because of how awesome it was to build it and see how it was made to be suspended with the Upside down house.
Build of the year – 75810: The Upside Down
LEGO Set of the Year
Adam – LEGO Ideas has continued to be the source of some great sets, particularly those which are based on original ideas. The Tree House is one of the best sets to come from the platform. Not only does it contain the most amount of plant-based plastic elements, it can also be rebuilt into either a Summer/Spring tree or a Autumn tinged one, thanks to the use of different coloured leaves. It’s a delightful set, which makes an impressive display piece.
Matt – My set of the year would have to be the Jurassic Park T-Rex with the iconic gate. It grabs my heart in many ways being a Jurassic Park fan, and the build was a very unexpected one to boot.
Greg – My choice of set of the year goes to the 1989 Batmobile set number 76139 – With nearly three and half thousand pieces this is a truly magnificent LEGO set, to not only build but to display as well.
Alan – Gosh! A hard question again, set of the year for me would be the Jurassic Park: T. rex Rampage (75936). Being a huge fan of the films I wanted this set as soon as I saw it. The set has actually introduced me to LEGO exhibitions too, being able to display it with a MOC Jurassic Park earlier this year at Shildon Brick Show was a huge accomplishment and enjoyment for me. This set has given me more than just bricks, I have actually made new friends and had new experiences because of it that I may not have had. The set itself having little scenes from the first film, amazing minifigures and a tiny froggy Easter egg inside the T. rex was absolutely brilliant. I could talk about how great this set is for hours!
LEGO Set of the Year – 75936: Jurassic Park: T. rex Rampage
I’ll like to say a big thanks to Matt, Greg and Alan for giving their time to share their thoughts and taking part in the 2019 BricksFanz Awards.
And follow Alan on Twitter.