January 2023 LEGO News Roundup
A ton of new LEGO Brick Labels, LEGO moves North America HQ to Boston, Tiny LEGO Architecture models, and some cool new sets coming out in February.
Wow, we’re already a month into 2023! This month I’ve focused on updating some popular resources for many readers; most notably the largest update ever to my LEGO Brick Labels collection — adding 117 new labels for a total of 1685 unique parts. This update took longer than ususal because The LEGO Group is introducing very useful new parts at an unprecedented rate.
I can back this claim with data… I’ve been traking how many general-purpose parts were added each of the past 10 years — there were 47 new parts that met the criteria in 2022, and just 35 new parts in 2012. (A 35% increase in broadly useful new parts.)
I also updated the How LUGBULK Works—and strategies for making the most of it to reflect the latest price data from BrickLink, and the latest part availability data to reflect all of the sets released in 2022. This update includes significant usability improvements to the many tables – I made the color of each column match the color of each unique LEGO color. Lastly, you will find a completely new table that explores how the popularity of each LEGO color has changed over time. This is interesting in revealing colors that are becoming more commonplace, as well as colors that might be on their way toward retirement.
Shifting gears, I’m also thriled to share a “backstage tour” interview about the new Jazz Club. Our tour guide was Jamie Berard the LEGO Design Manager who invented the Modular Building Series back in 2007 and continues to manage the project with talented designers taking the lead on each set. In addition to specific details on this year’s set, we got a lot of insights into the continued evolution of the theme.
For additional reading, you might enjoy last year’s interview with Andy and Ashwinn about the Boutique Hotel, or my earlier 2018 interview with Jamie Berard about the series as a whole.
LEGO (North America) Headquarters moving to Boston
In the broader LEGO world, the biggest news is the announcement to move the LEGO Group’s North American Headquarters from Enfield, Connecticut to Boston. The Enfield office opened way back in 1975 — this announcement represents the final step in a multi-year shift away from that location. (They stopped manufacturing LEGO parts in Enfield in 2006 and in 2020 they sold off most of their office space in Enfield.)
The real surprise to me is that they decided to move to Boston when they had an opportunity to consolidate their US operations in Virginia — That’s where they are building a US$1 billion carbon-neutral factory (outside of Richmond, VA).
There has been extensive coverage of this announcement in the business press, which gives us some additional context on the upcoming move:
- Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont said to Mass Live that “their move is motivated not by any Connecticut policy but rather Lego’s desire to consolidate their business operations near the company’s Education Office and to enhance their partnership with (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology).“
- Skip Kodak, TLG’s North America President told the Boston Globe that “it’s become more and more evident to us that we could grow potentially even faster by being located closer to where the more talent is living.“
With luck, this will result in more opportunities for folks in North America who want to work for The LEGO Group, but are unwilling or unable to relocate to (sleepy) Billund, Denmark.
#40585 World of Wonders
Without a press release or fanfare, a new gift-with-purchase set has appeared on LEGO.com website of interest to fans of the LEGO Architecture series. The photo shows four world landmarks re-created at a very small scale. Two of the buildings have been previously featured in the LEGO Architecture series: #21041 The Great Wall of China, and #21056 Taj Mahal.
The two additional buildings which haven’t been included in an official LEGO set are Al-Khazneh (Petra), and The Parthenon. I would not be very surprised to see one or both of those buildings in an official LEGO Architecture set later this year — what better way to whet our appetite than a smaller version in a GWP set?
One bummer is that the set appears to use stickers for the nameplate instead of the traditional printed tiles we’ve grown accustomed to in the official Architecture sets. There is a small chance that this is an error from photographing early prototypes of the set, but I suspect it is an intentional cost-cutting measure. (I was entertained that even official LEGO set photograpers end up with dust in the final photo – you can see some dust stuck along the left edge of the Al-Khazneh sticker.
New at Brick Architect
- Interview: Backstage Tour of #10312 Jazz Club with Jamie Berard
For the second year in a row, I had an opportunity to interview the team responsible for the latest addition to the Modular Building Series.
- Update: How LUGBULK works—and strategies for making the most of it!
Find out which parts and colors are the cheapest and most expensive on BrickLink and learn more about the LUGBULK program.
- Updated: LEGO Brick Labels v39
This update adds 117 new labels to the LEGO Brick Labels collection! This includes a ton of new parts released in 2022, and a selection of labels for the Most Common DUPLO parts.
I’m excited to share a lot of great content soon that’s almost ready, including a look back at #10264 Corner Garage, a celebration of two books by talented Black LEGO artists, a technical assessment of the LEGO Stuntz loop elements, and a detailed review of Modular-esque #76218 Sanctum Sanctorum.
MOC of the Month
Every once in awhile, a LEGO Architecture MOC grabs my undivided attention thanks to the perfect marriage of an interesting subject matter and excellent execution in translating it to the LEGO medium. This month, I am thrilled to share the excellent work of Esben Kolind, a young LEGO builder who lives in Copenhagen, Denmark. He did not need to travel far for the inspiration for his large LEGO model of The Mountain (2008), a striking contemporary residental building designed by the immensely talented BIG / Bjarke Ingels Group. (He is also famous for designing The LEGO House museum in Billund, Denmark.)
I had the pleasure to visit the building in person as part of a brief visit to Copenhagen in 2018, and the creativity of the design captured my imagination. Due to the private nature of the building, it is a bit hard to photograph the apartments from street level, but it was easy to see the creative use of rainbow colors to delineate each floor when viewed from the staircased parking garage. As you can see, the colors shine through in the LEGO model as well.
You will find links to several articles about the design process in this article on eurobricks, and you can see how Esben captured these amazing photos of the model on his Instagram page.
Exciting new sets for AFOLs
Only a few sets are generally released in February, but I’m pleased with a few of the new sets. To see all of the new sets, check out lego.com store.
- #21338 A-Frame Cabin
This is a great looking LEGO Ideas set to get you into a summer vacation mindset. I’m also eager to see it modified for winter weather.
2082 pieces, ages 18+, $180. Available now at LEGO.com
- #10313 Wildflower Bouquet
I’m amazed by the continued popularity of the LEGO flower arrangements. I especially like the lupine in this bouquet, which is created using pirate hats.
939 pieces, ages 18+, $60, available now at LEGO.com
- #10314 Dried Flower Centerpiece
Evoking cozy fall vibes, I’m eager to build this dried flower centerpiece before Thanksgiving.
812 pieces, ages 18+, $50, available now at LEGO.com
- #40639 Bird’s Nest
I am 100% certain that this cute (and inexpensive) set will find it’s way into my house… A perfect option for kids to spend pocket money on a cute little set. Only critique is that it’s not a 3-in-1.
232 pieces, ages 9+, $13, available now at LEGO.com
Best articles from around the web
Here are some highlights this month from around the web – Happy reading!
- The LEGO Color Palette: 2023 Edition
I haven’t had a chance to revisit my LEGO Color Palette article in several years. Not to worry, BrickNerd has put together an updated analysis with some great charts and graphs.
- Brick Breakdown: BrickLink Set – Modular LEGO Store
I appreciated this subjective but honest assessment of the highly sought LEGO Store modular from the BrickLink Designer program. The reviewer called out many of my own concerns about the set which have caused me to reconsider adding it to my city.
—The Brick Blogger
- LEGO begins to scale up their Metaverse team
It is well known that The LEGO Group is investing big in the ‘metaverse’, most notably in their 1 Billion dollar investment in Epic Games. How they plan to recoup that investment is a closely guarded secret, but Jay offers some thoughtful speculation rooted in publicly available info including patents and job postings.
—Jay’s Brick Blog
You can tell a lot about the direction a company is heading towards from job openings, and it’s pretty interesting that they’re beginning to scale up the team.
Jay’s Brick Blog
- Trondheim in Miniature: Birth of a Custom LEGO Event Kit
This article offers a behind-the-scenes look at how this beautiful Skyline-style kit was created for the På Kloss Hold (PKH) LEGO Convention in Trondheim, Norway. As you will learn, it was designed by talented LEGO Architecture builder Rocco Buttliere, and the 140 kits were hand-packed in a 14-hour session by organizers and volunteers.
- LEGO GWPs are getting more expensive, proven by data and graphs
A lot of AFOLs have noticed both an increase in the number of GWP sets recently, as well as a skyrocketing of the minimum purchase requirements. Jay proves that this is a real trend, and I personally hope it changes soon!
—Jay’s Brick Blog
- At the Stone of Time: LEGO Apps and the Transience of Software (German)
I have long worried about how retirement of software-based experiences to complement programmable LEGO sets like Mindstorms impact the longevity of our favorite toys. This article shows a number of examples where TLG has mishandled this in the past, and a few hopeful possiblities for the future.
I don’t have high hopes for the future-proofing of Powered Up. You can no longer rely on product cycles that have been established for decades – 7 years become 2…
- Pawn Stars Do America: Star Wars Legos Hide a Valuable Secret (Season 1)
It was fun to see some LEGO sets and custom MOCs considered for purchase by the Pawn Stars team.
— Pawn Stars (YouTube)
- Behind the Design: Deconstructing the LEGO Octan Logo
With the exception of some early sets with Esso branding, and some sets in the 1990’s which featured Shell, The fictional “Octan” company has been selling gasoline to Minifigures for a very long time. This article geeks out on how the Octan logo has evolved over time.