Me and a Brick

I woke up this morning to an email from Lego talking about their Lego MBA (“Master Builder Academy”) Program. As tends to be the case on the Internet, that one thing led me on a path of Lego that I had difficulty escaping from.

The first thing I came across was a new set being released early next year. It’s an exclusive for VIP members, and it is essentially a miniature version of a larger series of sets!

Firehouse Modulars

Here is the original firehouse set (left), and the smaller mini version (right)

The mini modulars, as well as the full-size sets that are still available, can be found on the Lego site here. There is also a video where they talk about their inspiration for the miniature series, and what it’s like to build them:

I found the video above on a site that apparently does a lot of reviews of Lego sets. While poking around to see if they had any other information about the mini modulars, or any other upcoming sets, I found a review for the Ninjago Fire Temple set that I made a month or two ago.

Curious what someone else might think about this amazing set, I decided to watch the video. Oh, how very, very painful.

All right, so I guess I should start off by saying that everyone has different reasons for enjoying Lego. And far be it from me to judge anyone’s reasons to like or not like a particular set. Ultimately, I’m probably not the target audience for this “review”.

But wow. The reviewer talks at one point about personally building the set, but I have my doubts as to how much building he actually did. There’s no talk about some of the fun building techniques that are used in putting this set together. There’s no talk about some of the intricate details on both the temple and the finished dragon. But hey, it comes in a big box and costs just over ten cents a piece – that’s pretty important right? Also, there’s apparently about 200 pieces per minifig in the set. I have no idea what bearing that has on anything, but okay.


The real injustice comes at the end of the video, where the reviewer pans the set for being $120. Despite his seemingly favorable opinion about the set up to that point, he decries the price and the lack of “spinners”. The “spinners” are part of a game that is based on the Ninjago universe, and as far as I can tell adds nothing to the building of the set, or its final look. But apparently the lack of them makes its price unreasonable.

So, here’s the thing. I get the impression that the reviewer is looking at the set from the point of view of enjoying the final set as a play set. Which is fine. But you can buy pre-built play sets anywhere these days. The appeal of Lego – to me, at least – is the process of building it. Playing with the final set is, of course, a fun and expected reward for finishing it. But you’re not just paying for the completed set – you’re paying for the experience of building it. The building techniques, the thought and consideration that went into each step, those amazing “aha” moments when several seemingly innocuous steps come together to create something brilliant and expressive.

Everyone likes different aspects of Lego. Some like the pre-made sets, like me. Some like to take a random assortment of bricks and let their imagination be their guide. Some like to play with the final product. But when there’s a guy like this – a guy who doesn’t seem to know what to talk about until the very end, when he suddenly talks passionately about how expensive the set is, and how it’s lacking a component that doesn’t have anything to do with the core Lego building experience – I feel there is something genuinely wrong. For any Lego fan.

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