January 2024 LEGO News Roundup
New month, new sets, and (sneak peek) new tools to help you organize your LEGO collection and browse common parts.
This month was very productive even though we haven’t published any new content yet. Not to worry, I’m excited to share an early look at a major new feature here at Brick Architect that is rooted in some of the most popular resources on this website. (We will also be publishing a new review soon!)
Building on our strengths
Two of the most visited areas of this website are the LEGO Brick Labels collection and LEGO Storage Guide. Together, they offer LEGO enthusiasts step-by-step instructions to get started — and the labels you need to organize your collection as it continues to grow.
Both the Storage Guide and LEGO Brick Labels are rooted in a shared approach to sorting your LEGO Collection. They encourage you to sort your parts based on function over color or size. (With this approach, only the largest collections need to be sorted by both part and color.)
I’ve discovered in recent years that a lot of LEGO enthusiasts use the ‘contact sheet’ which I maintain as part of the Label Collection as a sorting guide, choosing to use my hierarchal approach instead of the categories used at websites like BrickLink or Rebrickable. (This includes many people who do not use my labels at all, but find my sorting strategy useful.)
Interactive LEGO Sorting Guide!
While it’s not quite ready yet, I am preparing to launch a new section of the Brick Architect website dedicated to LEGO Parts, but with a unique perspective that focuses on categorizing, sorting, and understanding the most important LEGO parts. I am hopeful that this will give more people an easy way to learn about sorting their collection the Brick Architect way.
What started in early January as a quick proof-of-concept has consumed most of my spare time in the last three weeks. This has involved two efforts that are happening in parallel:
- The personally rewarding challenge of designing and building a database and web application to browse through LEGO parts using an elegant user experience.
- The mind-numbing (but necessary) process of manually entering all 1,800 parts from my label collection into a database.
Refining the Hierarchy
While data entry is time consuming, it forces me to review every part to make sure it is in the most logical category given how the collection has evolved over time. This has resulted in some small but important evolutions to the hierarchal approach used in my label collection.
I have been thinking hard about the connection types within the LEGO system and considering the unique attributes as I refine where the parts should fit. One of the most dramatic changes that I’m exploring is to combine the Hinge, Joint, and Rails (currently a subfolder under Wall) into a new category called “Articulation”. Together, the represent the main ways that non-Technic parts can move or be positioned at different angles. This also helps balance the collection, since some of the top-level categories have a lot of parts and others do not have very many.
Other improvements are more subtle. This includes small changes to make part names more consistent in terminology, capitalization, comma usage, use of Angle (°) and Diameter (Ø) symbols, and abbreviations. I was hesistant to make small tweaks to labels in the past because it was so time consuming to edit the labels and update the Contact Sheet.
Crafting the experience
My real motivation is not to create a fancy database or solve complex programming challenges, but rather to build a compelling User Experience that helps you better understand how to organize your collection and build better models. I am finding that the same minimalist approach which I used for my label collection also works pretty well for browsing a large number of LEGO parts within a web browser. That’s why my favorite view so far is a “label” view.
I also want to give users a useful experience when they want to learn more about a specific part. Initially, I have built a simple page that tells you more about the part, alongside links to various LEGO websites with more information. I quickly discovered the need to support different Part Numbers on different websites, since they are much less consistent than you might expect.
I am eager to keep refining both the category views and the parts pages over time. Most of all, I am eager to hear what features would be most useful to you when browsing through parts, or wanting to learn more about a specific part. While it won’t be perfect right away, I am hopeful that it can begin as a great guide to help you sort your collection, and grow into a richer experience over time.
Supporting LEGO Brick Labels supports this project too…
Because this project is an extension of my LEGO Brick Labels project, I’ve been sharing behind-the-scenes updates to supporters at the Patron level or higher – as well as early access to play with it right now. Please consider joining them by supporting LEGO Brick Labels at patreon.com.
Exciting February 2024 releases for AFOLs
After a slew of January releases, there’s only a handful of new sets coming out in February. I was pleased to see several moderately-priced sets that will appeal to adult builders — It’s refreshing to see compelling sets that are well under 200$.
- #21347 Red London Telephone Box
Striking a decent balance of detailing and price, this set combines a brick-built red telephone booth with a small sidewalk and lamppost. It looks like it’s a little larger than miniland scale.
1460 pieces, ages 18+, $115, available now at LEGO.com
- #10327 Dune Atreides Royal Ornithopter
While on the pricey side, this is a really nice model of a iconic and unique sci-fi vehicle, complete with seven minifigures from a new IP partner.
1369 pieces, ages 18+, $165, available now at LEGO.com
- #10331 Kingfisher Bird
This is an expressively-posed brick-built bird in a nice little scene. Most of all, it is a lower-priced set for adult builders.
834 pieces, ages 18+, $50, available globally now at LEGO.com
- #21346 Family Tree (LEGO Ideas)
I love the idea of this set – a literal tree that you can decorate with family photos. While I do not love how the base looks, it is an interesting new set.
1040 pieces, ages 18+, $80, available now at LEGO.com
- #40674 Stitch (BrickHeadz)
Of the four BrickHeadz sets released this month, this model based on the 2002 movie ‘Lilo & Sitch’ is really fun and expressive. Maybe I’m biased since my son is obsessed with the movie, which he recently discovered as we work through the Disney back catalog.
152 pieces, ages 10+, $10, available now at LEGO.com
To see other recent releases, visit the lego.com store. (Making a purchase using our referral link helps support this website.)
Best articles from around the web
January was pretty quiet on the wider internet as well as here at Brick Architect. Nonetheless, here are six excellent articles I hope you enjoy.