May 2023 LEGO News Roundup
Find out how 3d printing can complement your LEGO hobby, learn about a rare LEGO Architecture build-and-take set, and see highlights from the overwhelming selection of new sets in June!
Here at Brick Architect, we recently posted a really interesting article explaining the current state of 3d printing technologies. We explore what The LEGO Group is able to achieve using professsional additive manufacturing techniques, and what you can realistically produce at home using a more economical hobbyist 3d printer. Enhancing your LEGO Hobby with 3D printing explains why the technology still can’t compete with moulded bricks but it is good enough to produce accessories to complement your LEGO hobby.
If you are a fan of LEGO Architecture (like me), you might be interested to learn that a new LEGO store opened this month in an architecturally important building — the Battersea Power Station in London has been transformed into a boutique shopping destination as part of an £9 billion adaptive reuse project.
To celebrate the new store, a large scale LEGO model of the Battersea Power Station by Gary Davis is on display in the store, and people who attended the grand opening were able to build a really nice looking microscale version to take home. (While I would not call it an official LEGO Architecture set, it is certainly more official than many microscale LEGO Architecture creations.)
May is also a month filled with anticipation in the LEGO community, since one of the largest waves of new LEGO sets each year comes out in June. The focus is usually on sets in evergreen kid-focused themes like City, Friends and Ninjago, but there is a lot on offer for AFOLs as well. Rather than list out each and every new set, I highlighted a few of the sets of greatest interest to the AFOL community later in this article.
Looking beyond this huge wave of new sets, a brand new theme was announced! LEGO Dreamzz is a playful new theme that feels like a mashup of Cloud Cuckoo Land from The LEGO Movie and the short-lived Hidden Side theme, and I am eager to see how it resonates with customers. While the sets will not be released until August, the first wave of 11 sets was annouced, alongside the first four episodes of the show which accompanies the new theme. I skimmed the first episode and can see that the animation quality is good, but I am more excited by the sets themselves which feature kid-pleasing vehicles. (Most of them are brightly colored and inspired by animals such as a Shark Ship, Crocodile Car, Turtle Van, or Bunny Mech.)
Exciting new sets for AFOLs
As noted in the intro, June is a big month for new LEGO set releases! I’ve highlighted just a few of the most interesting sets for AFOLs here, but be sure to visit LEGO.com to see if there’s anything I missed.
Let’s start with a few of the most interesting sets designed specifically for the 18+ market:
- #43227 Villain Icons (Disney)
This is a reasonably priced set which includes four minifigs, clever building techniques, hidden compartments and retro elements like a VHS tape. Can’t be rearranged easily, which feels like a missed opportunity.
1540 pieces, ages 18+, $130, available now at LEGO.com
- #10323 PAC-MAN Arcade
Expensive but impressive is a good way to summarize this brick-built homage to the most iconic 1980s arcade game. It is not ‘playable’ but you can see PAC-MAN and the ghosts navigate a dot-strewn path by cranking the arm on the right side.
2651 pieces, ages 18+, $270. available now at LEGO.com
- #71799 Ninjago City Markets
The latest addition to the highly sought Ninjago City series is this massive model that occupies two 32×32 baseplates. It is ambitious, with two separate towers connected by bridges and a cable car.
6163 pieces, ages 18+, $370, available now at LEGO.com
Between dozens of new sets in the LEGO Friends, City, Ninjago, and Creator themes, I wanted to highlight a few sets of greatest interest to adult builders.
- #40649 Up-Scaled LEGO Minifigure
I have always enjoyed oversized brick-built LEGO minifigures but haven’t given them a try. I suspect this is about to change as I love the look of this classic oversized figure, complete with the classic smile print.
654 pieces, ages 10+, $50, available now at LEGO.com
- #41757 Botanical Garden
The 2023 Friends reboot has been excellent, featuring a more diverse cast of characters and some excellent sets. This one has especially captured the imagination of the AFOL community as it’s muted color palette and refined architectural sensibilities put it nearly on par with the highly sought Modular Building Series. I’m excited to build and review my copy very soon.
1072 pieces, ages 12+, $80, available now at LEGO.com
- #41748 Heartlake City Community Center
That’s not all, the second model I wanted to highlight is also from this summer’s LEGO Friends lineup. Check out the architectural detailing and vibrant color palette on this modular-inspired skyscraper.
1513 pieces, ages 9+, $140, available now at LEGO.com.
In addition to the sets released on June 1, there are a few sets coming out later this month. Lastly, I want to call out my continued dissapointment that The LEGO Group releases a small number of sets every year on June 1 in most of the world, but delayed to August 1 in North America.
This feels particularly unacceptable when the set feature USA-centric subjects like this year’s NASA Mars Rover Perseverance. This also happened in 2020 with #21054 The White House.
- #40634 Icons of Play
This set features four famous female footballers in minifig form and a ton of additional minifigs, but the model itself is a bit underwhelming. Full review of this set coming soon.
899 pieces, ages 10+, $100, available June 6 at LEGO.com
- #42158 NASA Mars Rover Perseverance
Previous LEGO-based rovers were based largely on System elements (Bricks, plates, and tiles), but this new version is a serious Technic affair featuring lots of interactive features. It looks cool and is well priced.
1132 pieces, ages 10+, $100, available August 1 in North America, available now everywhere else at LEGO.com
- #76252 Batcave – Shadow Box
At first glance, this is just a black rectangle with the Batman logo carved out, but inside you will find an intricately detailed Batcave in the style of high-end Classic Space MOC’s. But the price – this just doesn’t ‘feel’ like a $400 set.
3981 pieces, ages 18+, $400. available June 5 at LEGO.com
To see all of the other new sets this month, including a ton of impressive sets in the LEGO City and Friends themes, visit the lego.com store.
Best articles from around the web
It is always a pleasure to highlight some of the best LEGO articles every month. I hope you enjoy this month’s best content from around the web.
I really appreciate all of the hard work that so many AFOLs put into creating great content for us all to enjoy. Starting this month, I’m trying to do a better job of highlighting the author of each article as a way of showing gratitude.
This builds on the main themes of last month’s article: Going Big at BrickCan 2023 – there are many different ways that AFOLs ‘go big’ to make the LEGO community more vibrant! Thank you for creating great content that I’m able to highlight here.
We can conclude that having familiar names attached to models increases sales enough to make it worthwhile acquiring and paying for licences, otherwise LEGO would not bother, so they are here to stay, like it or not.
Huw Millington / Brickset
I didn’t highlight any easy listening this month, so you will need to find some quiet time to get the most out of this month’s selections. Enjoy!
- Remember More, Forget Less (56:06)
This episode is all about how human memory works, why it fails, and how we can leverage tricks like storytelling to remember things a lot more easily. Near the end, they even offer an relevant analogy for this audience: they explain that stories fit together in our brain the same way that LEGO bricks stack upon one another. To risk taking the analogy too far — narrative storytelling is the clutch power of human memory. (Hidden Brain is an excellent podcast hosted by Shankar Vedantam, but it requires your full attention to get the most of the complex stories.)
- Nuts and Bolts (44:21)
I enjoyed this discussion with structural engineer and author Roma Agrawal about some of the obvious and not-so-obvious innovations that (literally) hold our modern society together. (Let’s face it, while we love talking about the clutch power of our favorite plastic bricks, there are stronger ways to build things in the ‘real’ world.)
—99 Percent Invisible