December LEGO News Roundup

That’s a wrap — Here’s the last collection of highlights from 2021, and a selection of great new sets debuting on January 1.

Anatomically correct tigers in 2022, the latest addition to the Modular Building Series, oversized LEGO parts from Target, and more in this month’s roundup. (P.S. Happy New Year!)

New at Brick Architect

  • Going Big: Giant LEGO parts in the LEGO×Target Collection
    The collection includes a bunch of products featuring oversized LEGO parts. How big?—Really big! We’re talking approximately 8 to 12 times larger than a real LEGO brick.
  • Review: #21057 Singapore Skyline
    The unattainable Marina Bay Sands set from 2013 is back in a complete cityscape — at 827 pieces, it’s the largest LEGO Architecture Skyline set to date (but it’s a bit kinky).
  • Review: #10297 Boutique Hotel
    Celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the Modular Building Series with the first set in the series to use a prominent angular composition. There’s a small Art Gallery next door, but we’ll need to look closer to decide if this set is a masterpiece — or not.
  • Interview: Secret history of #10297 Boutique Hotel with Anderson Ward Grubb & Ashwin Visser
    In this interview, we chat with the designers who created this year’s excellent Modular Building, and uncover the inspiration and alternate designs which were considered along the way.
  • Update: #45025 DUPLO Coding Express
    I have updated my review of this set to include a disclaimer that the app required fully utilize this set has dissapeared from Google Play (the official Android App store) twice in the last year — and is not currently available.
    This is yet another example of The LEGO Group struggling with digital / app-based experiences. Another recent example was the poor user experience of the Vidiyo app when it was initially released.

Exciting new sets for AFOLs

Every year, a bunch of highly sought sets are released on January 1. Check out these awesome new sets (including a few we’ve recently reviewed at Brick Architect).

  • #10297 Boutique Hotel
    The latest installment in the wildly popular Modular Building series is excellent, earning 4/5 stars in our recent review.
    3066 pieces, $200, available January 1 at LEGO.com
  • #21057 Singapore Skyline
    Revisiting the Marina Bay Sands (which was featured in a rare 2013 LEGO Architecture set), we get a complete cityscape that allows you to travel without leaving your home. Learn more in our recent review of the set.
    827 pieces, $60, available January 1 at LEGO.com
  • #80036 The City of Lanterns
    Capturing some of the same frenetic energy as the popular #70620 Ninjago City set (now retired), but in a smaller set for younger builders, the City of Gardens is a playful set for all ages what will be sure to inspire a new generation of kids who are growing up with the Monkie Kid series.
    2187 pieces, $150, available January 1 at LEGO.com
  • #31129 Majestic Tiger (3-in-1)
    The latest entrant in the popular 3-in-1 series features a Tiger, Red Panda, and Koi. It’s also getting a lot of attention because it’s the first LEGO set featuring the inevitable terminus of large intestine.
    755 pieces, $50, available January 1 at LEGO.com
  • #21331 Sonic the Hedgehog – Green Hill Zone
    Rewind to 1991 with this cute set based on the classic SEGA Genesis game! The looped course really sells the set for me.
    1125 pieces, $70, available January 1 at LEGO.com
  • #80108 Lunar New Year Traditions
    This set leans heavily on Chinese traditions, and is designed for multiple family members to build together. (Learn more in this review at Jay’s Brick Blog explaining the underlying cultural context of this set, or a detailed new parts analysis at New Elementary.)
    1066 pieces, $80, available January 10 in USA at LEGO.com
  • #80109 Lunar New Year Ice Festival
    The second Lunar New Year has widespread appeal, ans it features a gorgeous Ice Skating scene and a ton of parts in new colors. (This review at Brickset highlights some of the interesting new parts, incuding lots of Transparent and Opalescent White parts.)
    6785 pieces, $800, available January 10 in USA at LEGO.com

Best articles from around the web

December was packed with great LEGO content from around the web — enjoy!

Best podcast episodes:

As always, here are some of the best audio-based stories that I’ve heard recently. Happy Listening!

  • #45 – 25 Years of LEGO Lessons (55:17)
    Perhaps the best news of all in this “wrap up” episode for the popular official podcast fromt he LEGO Games team is that they will be back with more episodes soon after all. It certainly makes sense to keep the conversation going, at least up to the release of the LEGO Star Wars game sometime next year.
    Bits N’ Bricks
  • Episode 154: Centers for Disease Control Museum (13:08)
    This episode touches on a topic that has always piqued my curiosity – how do you capture the history of the present. This is a challenge that I face as an Architecture enthusiast, since it takes years for new trends in architecture to earn a name and become a “style” (like Postmodernism or Brutalism). In this case, they are discussing the challenge in capturing COVID-19 related artifacts in real-time, without knowing how the story will end.
    Atlas Obscura Podcast
  • The Art Market is in Massive Disruption (46:10)
    There are only a few successful commercial artists using LEGO as their medium, but I do try to refer to fellow LEGO builders who create fantastic MOCs as ‘LEGO Artists’ as a sign of respect for their craft. This multi-part series looks at the mainstream fine art market, and how so few artists will ever see their work fetch high prices at an art auction.
    Freakonomics
  • The child tax credit has given stability to many families. Today’s payment could be the last. (26:22)
    There’s an interesting discussion in the middle of this episode with Puja Patel (editor-in-chief at Pitchfork) about the role of a music critic in the modern era.
    Marketplace
  • Artist Ai Weiwei (49:42)
    This is a fascinating (and at-times awkward) glimpse into the mind of a creative genius who doesn’t see himself as an artist at all…
    Design Matters

Brick Architect in the news

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