April 2023 LEGO News Roundup
Lots of great LEGO Fan Media content this month, plus an overview of the new sets released in May (including several new Star Wars sets).
After a ton of set reviews in March, I relaxed the first half of April to prepare myself for BrickCan 2023. The popular LEGO Convention in Vancouver, BC (Canada) made it’s triumphant return with it’s first in-person convention after three years of virtual events.
I had a fantastic time at the four-day event, which you can read all about in my article about Going Big at BrickCan 2023. The article serves multiple roles, and I’m very eager to hear your thoughts: I wanted to offer an overview of the main activities at the show, and I wanted to sincerely celebrate a few of the AFOLs who went above and beyond to make it a great show. Most of all, I wanted to ask you to reflect on the people who have made events you have attended special, and inspire you to think of ways that you can go big to make future events special for everyone around you.
In the broader LEGO-verse, it has been a fairly quiet month. With May the 4th / Star Wars Day nearly upon us, there has been the expected buzz (and mixed opinions) about the new sets debuting this month. I happen to appreciate the newly re-designed UCS X-Wing, but long-time fans of the theme would like to see something new which I can completely understand.
On the upside, the $239 price tag for the new #75355 X-Wing is a lot more approachable than more expensive sets like the $850 #75313 AT-AT (2021) or $850 #75192 Millenium Falcon (2017) — both of which remain in production at this time. If that isn’t enough, there are up to three ‘free’ gift-with-purchase items when you make a LEGO Star Wars purchase of $150 or more, not to mention double VIP points. (If you were already planning to buy a LEGO Star Wars set, now through May 7th is a good time.)
New at Brick Architect
- Going Big at BrickCan 2023 (LEGO Convention)
Let’s explore the many different ways that AFOLs ‘go big’ to make LEGO Conventions a great experience for everyone.
I’m also excited about a couple of articles coming soon: We have one that offers an in-depth look at 3d printing technologies, and another gives a realistic assessment of buying all the parts you need to build a classic set instead of buying a complete new or used copy. (Hint: If your time is valuable, it’s a bad deal.)
Exciting new sets for AFOLs
It’s off to the stars this month with LEGO Star Wars and a compelling new LEGO Ideas set. Disney is also having a moment with a new wave of Collectible Minifigures and an 18+ set based on the new live action Little Mermaid film.
- #21340 Tales of the Space Age (LEGO Ideas)
This is a really nice looking LEGO Ideas set with an impressionistic / futurist aesthetic. I’m especially pleased to see a lower-priced LEGO Ideas set since many of them tend to be really big and expensive. It seems like a great gift option for casual LEGO enthusiasts, and was extremely positively reviewed at Jay’s Brick Blog.
688 pieces, ages 18+, $50, available May 5th at LEGO.com
- #75355 X-Wing Starfighter
As noted earlier, this year’s LEGO Star Wars UCS set revisits the classic X-Wing. Especially if you don’t already have an earlier version, you might really like the new design.
1949 pieces, ages 18+, $240. available now at LEGO.com
- #75352 Emperor’s Throne Room Diorama
Of the two dioramas celebrating the 40th anniversary of Return of the Jedi, the Throne Room feels a lot more iconic. (If you prefer trees, #75353 Endor Chase Speeder Diorama is $20 cheaper.)
807 pieces, ages 18+, $100, available now at LEGO.com
- #75356 Executor Super Star Destroyer
I’m impressed by how much detail the LEGO designers were able to pack into this tiny model. It also celebrates the 40th anniversary of Return of the Jedi.
630 pieces, ages 18+, $70, available now at LEGO.com
- #71038 LEGO Minifigures Disney 100
Shifting gears, we have the second wave of Collectible Minifigures based on classic Disney characters.
18 different figures, ages 5+, $5 each, available now at LEGO.com
- #43225 The Little Mermaid Royal Clamshell
Last (but not least), we have a large model based on the live action Little Mermaid film. I appreciate that they decided to use minifigures instead of minidolls for this set, matching the style of the Disney CMF series.
1808 pieces, ages 18+, $160, available now at LEGO.com.
To see all of the other new sets this month, including some smaller LEGO Star Wars sets and some star-wars themed gift-with-purchase sets, visit the lego.com store.
Best articles from around the web
Lots of great articles from around the web to enjoy this month – Happy reading!
- Big Beasts: The Rise of Large LEGO Sets
The core of this article is about the increased number of ‘big’ LEGO Sets over time. It also reinforced what I have known for a while — that weight is a better way of assessing value than part count. That’s why I started using parts weight in to assess value in all of my set reviews.
- Is This LEGO? – Technic
This is a long rambling look at the history of Technic which touches briefly on a question I continue to mull over – is modern Technic still really LEGO, or is it a separate thing. The author shares their perspective near the end, although I’m not sure I completely agree.
- The Case for LEGO Purism and The Case Against LEGO Purism and
As the article titles suggest, this two-part article offers some of the key reasons to remain a purist, and the full range of customization options which some builders employ. (While I tend to be more of a purist, I have no problem with so-called ‘illegal’ connections or custom printed bricks.)
- MOC Behind the Design: The Iconic LEGO Minifigure Smile
This article geeks out on the design of the classic LEGO smileyface. My favorite part is the exploration of the very minor tweaks to the proportions made in the 1980s.
- Building Style: With Trains, Sometimes Less is More
At BrickCan this year, I noticed a mix of smaller 6-stud wide trains and beautifully detailed larger 8-stud engines and rolling stock. This article perfectly explains the strengths and weaknesses of each size: which unsurprisingly comes down to weight, durability and performance. Now I understand why larger, more intricate trains are often stationary at conventions while smaller, lighter trains are cruising the track.
- AFOLs With Kids: Should You Combine Your Collections?
This article explores an issue in my home – whether we should keep our son’s LEGO collection separate from mine or not. While they remain separate for now, I will likely give him more access to my collection as he gets older. (What do you do?)
We didn’t necessarily look to model the vehicle in an exact scale, or to the same scale as previous Icons vehicles, but we tried to get something that’s close so that they look like they’re from the same universe, or at least that they can be displayed together.
Kurt Kristiansen / Brickset
- Interview with Kurt Kristiansen, designer of the Land Rover Defender 90
This short interview includes some insights into the design process of #10317 Land Rover Classic Defender 90, including the suspension and the many accessories that come with this iconic vehicle.
- What the Shell? A LEGO Modding Journey Under the Sea
Rather than reviewing the upcoming #43225 The Little Mermaid Royal Clamshell set, my friend Liz Puleo explores many different ways to decorate the shell that comprises the central focus of the new set.
- Remotely control LEGO Technic Control+ hubs directly: A guide (German)
I have been aware of PyBricks alternate firmware for Powered Up hubs for some time, but this article shows how to use pybricks with apps which were already written by the community for every Technic Control+ set to drive the vehile using just the LEGO Bluetooth Controller. Great way to take cell phone or tablet out of the equation.
- LEGO at Work: Applying MOC-Building Lessons in the Workplace
Author Ted Andes is no stranger in the LEGO Community, but what he did was unusual – He created a nerdy presentation about his LEGO hobby as a way to share best practices for creativity, teamwork, and problem solving that can be applied more generally in the workplace. Really well done presentation, with good lessons for us AFOLs too!
LEGO Masters around the world
Two new English-language seasons of LEGO Masters debuted on April 10: Season 2 of LEGO Masters New Zealand and a special fifth season of LEGO Masters Australia featuring 8 of the most successful teams from previous seasons. (I also enjoy foreign-language seasons, but it is hard to find full seasons with subtitles that can be translated.)
…no, they get to actually go home and sleep and eat and take a break and we don’t make them build all night. They come back the next day. They put on the same clothes − which are nicely freshly washed − and we pretend it was the same day.
- Brickmaster Robin Sather reveals the truth about Lego Masters NZ’s marathon builds
Last month Stuff spoke with host Dai, and they are back with an interview with The Bruckman himself.
- Meet the teams on the new season of Lego Masters NZ
Two couples, a mother and son, two siblings, some old friends and some new friends are competing in the new season..
Brick Architect in the News
- S4E5 – Star Wars Day 2023 sets, Tales of the Space Age, Disney 100 Minifigures, Ninjago Core (1:03:15)
Extra Pieces co-host Richard Jones gave a heartfelt shout out to my LEGO Brick Labels collection at the beginning of this month’s episode. I am always happy to hear when my labels are inspiring others to get more organized!