Reflections on 2010 – Part 1

Now that we are just over a week into 2011, I thought I’d share my opinion on the best and worst of 2010.

Best new theme of 2010
– Atlantis. I was very impressed with the amount of effort that went into Atlantis. A lot of great pieces and minifigs. The thing that impressed me the most was the amount of back story that went into Atlantis, up to and including LEGO Atlantis, the movie, and the larger variety of sets that cover all of the major prices. It was nice to see a much more thought out underwater series that went above and beyond Aquazone and Aqua Raiders, with a bit of Power Miners thrown in (to the point of a crossover minifig with Brains/Dr. Brains). I know there are still a few more sets to be released, including 7985 City of Atlantis, and there is a bit of a new storyline with the “Quest For the Golden King” arc, but I thought it was a mistake to change some of the colors with the transparent pieces/divers, because the 2011 sets look out of place when placed with the 2010 sets, but that’s the AFOL in me speaking. I’m also aware of the rumors that it will be discontinued in 2011, or will be shelved for the time being. LEGO’s lineup is very crowded, and and I’ve seen (and bought) Atlantis sets that have been on heavy clearance, even sets that were released just the past summer. I hope this series continues in the future. It would be odd to put that much effort into it and then drop it, but it seems like that’s what is happening.

Best theme revival of 2010
– Harry Potter. I don’t have that much to say – I like all of the sets, and while many of them are updates (or downgrades in some cases depending on your point of view), I thought they were done nicely. It gave people a chance to get into the Harry Potter LEGO sets who didn’t the first few times around. I thought it was nice that 10217 Diagon Alley would be released this year (2011), since it seems to be targeted towards AFOLs, similar to the 10210 Imperial Flagship. Would like to see that happen more often. Would loved to have seen an Atlantis set with a similar brick count/price to Diagon Alley and Imperial Flagship.

Best themes that ended in 2010
Indiana Jones. Not much to say – I liked the series for the most part, but I’m not upset it ended – it was never going to be as big as Star Wars, especially without a decent movie to keep it going. There is only so much room in the LEGO lineup. I have heard that it might be revived in the future depending on future Indiana Jones movies. Most people might say Pirates, but I had a clue that with the Disney licensing agreements, that we’d be seeing Pirates of the Caribbean, and that is going to happen here in a few short months, so I don’t necessarily see that as an ending of a theme, especially since Pirates is a theme, similar to City, Castle, Space, etc., that is always being discontinued and retooled and brought back in a new form. You might consider Space Police III to be discontinued in 2010, although I believe technically it will end in 2011. If you consider it to have ended in 2010, then I would put that as a tie with Indiana Jones. I really liked some of the Space Police sets. I would have liked to have seen as much effort go into the back story of Space Police III as went into Atlantis.

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LEGO at Barnes and Noble

I’m always interested in how LEGO is portrayed and sold in other stores outside of the official LEGO retail stores. I’m lucky enough to have had a LEGO retail store open up in my area in the past year, which means no more sporadic trips to the LEGO stores in Houston or Dallas when I’m visiting family and friends there.

Now of course, I’ve got plenty of Targets, Wal-Marts, even Sears, in my area, with plenty of LEGO sets to choose from. I can’t forget Toys R Us as well – have a couple of those.

There is one place that has quite a few LEGO sets available, as well as some nice displays, that often gets overlooked, and they happen to carry LEGO-related items that the other non-LEGO retail stores don’t necessarily carry.

I’m of course referring to Barnes and Noble. I visit the one in south Austin occasionally, and this time around I decided to take some photos of their LEGO sets and displays, because I don’t think most people realize what all they have – they aren’t just selling books, magazines, food and movies/music. They’ve been adding a toy and hobby section, and the one I visit has quite a bit of LEGO-related items. The store I’m referring to, they obviously have put some effort into the LEGO displays – I’m not familiar with other stores, but I am impressed with this one.

Some notes/observations:
* The main LEGO display was fairly prominent – it had it’s own little dedicated section in the middle of the toys and hobby section.
* The LEGO alarm clock/flashlights were in another part of the toys & hobby section.
* The LEGO games and the LEGO Architecture displays were next to one another, however they were off in the game section of Barnes & Noble and weren’t near the main LEGO display. They were still easy to find.
* I did a really poor job of taking photos of the LEGO Harry Potter and LEGO Star Wars stuff!

LEGO items and lines I saw:
* LEGO Architecture – Empire State Building, Sears Tower, John Hancock Center, Fallingwater, Guggenheim Museum, White House
* LEGO Games – Pirate Code, Robo Champ, Magikus, Minotaurs, Ramses Pyramid, Creationary, Race 300, Dragon, Harry Potter/Hogwarts
* LEGO Accessories – flashlights, nightlights, alarm clocks, pens, keychains
* LEGO Books – Minifig stickers, Star Wars Visual Dictionary
* LEGO Atlantis (a nice mix!)
* LEGO City
* LEGO Creator
* LEGO Kingdoms
* LEGO Star Wars (both original and Clone Wars)
* LEGO Technic
* LEGO Toy Story
* The beginner LEGO tubs
* Duplo

Anyways, here are some photos of the various LEGO displays in our favorite B&N. I apologize for the poor picture quality – I’m not using a flash in a store, and I’m not the steadiest of hands when it comes to photo taking. You can click on any of them to take you to a larger version at flickr.

LEGO Displays at Barnes & Noble (South Austin)

LEGO Displays at Barnes & Noble (South Austin)

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Warner Brothers Announces Harry Potter LEGO Extension, Pics Show Up

Everybody knew it already, and just a few days ago it was made official by Warner Brothers and LEGO in a joint press release:

Warner Bros. Consumer Products (WBCP) announced today an extension of its successful partnership with leading toy manufacturer, The LEGO Group, to bring the magical world of Harry Potter to fans everywhere. Under the agreement, The LEGO Group is creatively tapping into the Harry Potter magic to develop spell-binding construction sets and a board game inspired by the property in anticipation of the November 19 theatrical release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I, as well as the upcoming release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 in 2011.

“We have enjoyed a longstanding, successful partnership with The LEGO Group around Harry Potter and we are delighted to continue this relationship as we approach the release of the seventh film,” said Karen McTier, executive vice president, domestic licensing and worldwide marketing, Warner Bros. Consumer Products. “Fans of the franchise will be excited to discover the wonderfully original LEGO products inspired by the beloved stories and characters.”

“The world of Harry Potter has inspired some of our most successful products and we are thrilled to continue creating imaginative play opportunities for fans everywhere,” said Jill Wilfert, vice president, global licensing for LEGO Group. “The magical stories brought to life in the films give us the potential for an incredible array of offerings, the best of which are represented in our upcoming lines.”

Full press release

We now have photos of the sets that were shown at Toy Fair 2010 in New York from Figures.com. I had expected they would have shown up officially at the London Toy Fair. Huw at Brickset who saw some of those sets in London had predicted that they would be well received and I believe they will be as well, if the pictures are a good indication.

lego-hagrids-hut

The sets shown:

Read moreWarner Brothers Announces Harry Potter LEGO Extension, Pics Show Up

Previews of a Lot of 2010 LEGO Sets

Last weekend, Kris Abel from CTV News visited the Canadian Toy & Hobby Fair and got a good look at upcoming LEGO sets from the LEGO Canada display. He posted a lot of pictures (would have loved more from some of the Atlantis sets) and a lot of them I was surprised at. They were some of the first good photos I’ve seen of some of the unreleased sets scheduled for later in the year.

A few highlights:

8077 Atlantis Exploration HQ
LEGO 8077 Atlantis Exploration HQ (2010)

8078 Portal Of Atlantis
8078 LEGO Portal of Atlantis (2010)

My observation on the Atlantis sets:
* The 8077 Atlantis Exploration HQ looks to be shaping up well. The first blurry shots I saw a while back made it look closer to the 7775 Aqua Raiders Aquabase Invasion. It looks to be a square-ish/self-contained structure which makes sense. I’m assuming the vehicles will dock on top.
* The 8078 Portal of Atlantis (the infamous Shark Temple or Shark Castle) is bigger than I thought and looks to have a lot of really cool and unique parts. It’s hard to get a sense of the minifigs since they were mixed together with other sets. There looks to be some parts in colors that we haven’t seen before. The box shows 898 pieces but that’s obviously subject to change since it’s a prototype. I’m not sure on new minifigs – there is a skeleton with some diving gear on that has a trident symbol on their head. You can barely make out what looks to be the “turtle warrior” on top of the Portal, that’s been discussed in the past.
* Kris mentioned when discussing the Space Police sets that Atlantis was the focus this year, hence the lack of a lot of new Space Police sets.

As Kris notes, a lot of the upcoming sets are prototypes/mock-ups and details are not yet finalized. Nothing from Harry Potter and nothing new from the Toy Story line that’s not already out. I’m not quite as interested in the World Racers line or the Hero Factory line, but it looks like both could give us some new parts or older parts in new colors. Looking at the boxes for the World Racers, I think they’ll probably sell very well to the target audience.

Some of the other sets shown (besides 8077/8078) include quite a few sets that are currently available and some that are limited right now or unavailable (depending on area), such as:

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