Unsurprisingly, we’ve had loads of fun with LEGO® in 2017. Below is a quick round-up and countdown of some of our standout favourite days out, toys and TV shows.
5 – Vintage LEGO
You know you’re grown-up when you’re bringing home your old toys for the next generation to play with. Last Summer, Ian reclaimed his childhood LEGO from his parents. And yes, we now have Benny and his spaceship! We also have a formidable black LEGO castle and a glow-in-the-dark ghost and some of those triangle trees. Vive la (very early!) 1990s!
4 – Lego Masters, Channel 4, http://www.channel4.com/programmes/lego-masters
In fourth place, is Channel 4’s fantastic Lego Masters. We loved this programme! More colourful than GB Bake Off, less violent than Robot Wars, Lego Masters put eight teams of memorable contestants through fiendish LEGO building challenges. To the winning team, not only a trophy but also the opportunity to display their builds in Billund, Denmark at the new LEGO House Museum.
Aside from the emotive oustings of great teams (no spoilers but you’ll know them when you see them), it’s a family-friendly show. In fact, I think our whole family shed a tear or two at the end of Episode 3. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Throughout the four episodes, the builders executed some genuinely astonishing constructions, from brick banquets with weird and wonderful life-sized LEGO chairs to nature-themed LEGO brick installations in an Essex wood…it was just marvellous! Best of all, it’s still available on All 4.
3 – LEGO Technic RC Tracked Racer, 42065, RRP £74.99, currently £67.00 on Amazon
What a brilliant set: you build it, you get it working and then you have a LEGO remote controlled car to play with!
What we were impressed by was how good an RC car it is. It’s powerful, it spins, it climbs over obstacles and handles rough terrain and yet its controls are straightforward and intuitive enough for Danny (5) to manage and have fun with.
And there’s two build styles. Since Boxing Day, it’s been in the Tracked Racer mode. If by any chance Danny does lose interest (or even let anyone else have a go for that matter!) then it’ll be time to build the Off-Road Truck. Happy Days!
2 – LEGO Ideas Women of NASA, RRP £19.99, Best price and availability currently direct from the LEGO UK shop
I bought this for Danny for Christmas and I almost kept it for myself. This might not have the amazing play potential of the RC Track Racer but it is an important and affordable kit that beautifully celebrates the achievements of four female NASA pioneers (Margaret Hamilton, Sally Ride, Nancy Grace Roman and Mae Jemison), recognising their contribution to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
When this was released in the US it went straight to Amazon’s list of best-selling toys. The set was conceived by American science writer and LEGO enthusiast, Maia Weinstock who submitted her idea for Women of NASA to Lego’s Ideas community in July 2016. Based on public votes, the set was then developed by LEGO for release in 2017.
It features four tableaux that are incredibly fun to build and own. We love the Hubble telescope, the early computer and the space shuttle. It also features special printed bricks, such as the printed panel of the Cone Nebula.
And yes, it’s very collectable but I’m proud to say that in the Hardiman house, Hamilton, Ride, Roman and Jemison are currently busy working on a host of space build projects with their new fans Danny and Alice.
1 – Brick Live, Birmingham, http://bricklive.co.uk/bricklive-birmingham-2017
Legoland, Windsor is amazing – every bit of it. But this year we felt our junior builders were ready for Brick Live, a LEGO expo where the LEGO bricks themselves take centre stage. And there are pits and pits of them. They’re organised by colour and range and the building zones are not only huge but carefully arranged so that the swarms of LEGO fans can get stuck in and building without queues forming.
We all spent most of the day sat in or on (ouch!) bricks, happily moving through our favourite LEGO ranges (they’re all there: Ninjago, Nexo Knights, Minecraft, LEGO City, Star Wars…).
Alice loved the DUPLO® area. The enormous pit featured some great character and special bricks that completely captured her imagination. And while navigating the DUPLO pit was a painful process, for once, after we’d found a spot to sit and build, my lively two-year old wasn’t going anywhere.
We bought our family ticket for Brick Live from Groupon, which offered a big saving and refreshingly, there weren’t too many extras to pay for on the day. Of course, if you wanted to buy souvenirs or actually, anything LEGO-related that you can imagine, there were plenty of places to part with your money. It was great to see vintage LEGO sets and fan sets composed around popular TV shows and to see some of the new 2017 LEGO sets and games.
There was also a LEGO zoo. I should mention that. And guest speakers, which we didn’t get a lot of time for but which looked popular and engaging (from a distance, anyway!). We had hoped to meet some of our pals from Lego Masters but sadly it wasn’t to be. Maybe next year…