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New LEGO Book and Standing Small - a review

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New LEGO Book and Standing Small - a review

Postby Bruce N H » Fri Nov 06, 2009 8:30 pm

Hi all,

This isn't a 'set', but it is a new LEGO product I wanted to review. As many of you are probably aware, DK has released a pair of new books combined in a boxed set. I recently found it at Barnes and Noble for $40 US. These books cover all themes, but for the sake of this review, I'll just focus on the Castle relevant material. I apologize for the quality of these photos - I wanted to post this sooner rather than later, so I took these with my phone. If you want high quality pictures, go get the books. 800x600 pixel versions of each of the photos below, and a few additional ones, can be found in this Flickr folder.

LEGO Book

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If you remember the Ultimate LEGO Book, also by DK from about 10 years ago, you can expect that this will be a high quality book with beautiful photography, and it is. A little of the same ground is covered as in that previous book (and I did notice a very small number of photos were re-used), but this books is larger and covers much more that was not in the previous book. Sections include a history of LEGO, several pages on the Legoland parks, exploration of each theme, things about master builders, special edition sets, LDD, licensed themes, etc. By far the coolest part is near the end, looking at the fan community - more on that below.

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There are (I think - I don't have the books here) ten pages devoted to official sets in the Castle theme. They have photos and a small amount of text looking at some major sets and subthemes over the years.

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I didn't go through and rigorously check this, but my impression is that throughout the book there is a greater emphasis on the sets and themes that are still in stores. In the balance between being a history of the theme and being a marketing tool to push ABS, I think the marketing side won. The text describing sets in some ways resembles the descriptions you see in LEGO catalogs. I would have liked to have seen some real information, like a timeline of when each individual subtheme was introduced, or, for instance, some note about the Legends sets, or the Dan Siskind MOC set. There are photos of some of these, but no real description of their significance.

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By far the coolest section is the last section, devoted to the fans. Sadly, this is only six or eight pages (again, I don't have the books here). There are a couple of pages on LEGO art - including some of the things you might expect like Nathan Sawaya and Sean Kenney, also one of Andrew Lipson and Daniel Shieu's Escher MOCs and a MOC by Nick Foo. Then there is a two page spread called Fan Builders that includes several awesome MOCs - most of which you should already recognize.

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The text uses and defines the word AFOL and mentions fan conventions (though not giving details about specific ones). Individual builders are named and the photos of their work are top quality. On this two page spread, castlers should specifically look a Jurgen Bramigk's Cologne Cathedral (previously featured here on CC):

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But it gets even better when you turn the page. The next two-page spread is called Fan-tasy and Sci-Fi:

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Of course you should immediately recognize these - all by CC members (okay, maybe not the space things, but who cares about space anyway :wink: ). Mostly CCC winners:

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Noddy's great Tower of Brothers, Cajun's dragon and two(!!) by Hippotam, his CCCV winner Last Journey and his CCCVI winner Double Trouble. Congratulations, guys! My only complaint is that it refers to one of these as winning a contest "online" - c'mon, how much extra ink would it have taken to say Classic-Castle.com? I know, then they would have been obligated to mention all the different important fan sites, and where do you make the cutoff without offending some fan group?

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In all, I think this book is definitely worth it. The sections in the middle focused on each theme are, IMO, the weak part, because they aren't really giving any history but instead just some good pics and some advertising copy. I really think they should have increased that last part with fan creations. If you want to promote the hobby, show people more great things that they can do. I also wish they'd have given specific websites and fan conventions, to help people tap into the hobbyist community.

Standing Small: A Celebration of 30 Years of the LEGO Minifigure

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Okay, I really liked the first book - this one, not so much. Let's start and end with the strong points. At the start there is a good section on the development of the minifig. I was really interested to see the different prototype models and the information about the minifig timeline.

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The bulk of the book is, IMO, bad advertising copy. It's broken down by theme and shows high quality images of figures. Sadly, there is no attempt to be comprehensive or show how those different figs interacted in the development of various subthemes. There were two 2-page spreads on Castle and another 2-page spread on Vikings. No real discussion of different accessories, headgear etc.

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As with the other book, by far the coolest section is about the fans and fig customization. Unfortunately this is only two pages long. From the CC standpoint, NickGreat's Red Samurai and his CCCIV-winning Black Samurai are included.

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Anyway, this book is kind of fun, but if it wasn't bundled with the first book I wouldn't bother getting it. If there were some real information, like a timeline of different subthemes or a comprehensive listing of figs it would greatly improve this book

Bruce
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Re: New LEGO Book and Standing Small - a review

Postby Count Blacktron » Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:00 pm

I was completely surprised today to find these books, the Star Wars 10 year book, and both the Pirate and Castle idea book/sets at Toys R Us for reasonable msrp prices! This book is one of a quartet of great LEGO library items released this year, and a great companion to the Ultimate LEGO Book from a couple of years back. :)

PS--I noticed some timeline errors and typos in the Standing Small text, mostly glaring out at me from the Aquazone. :P
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Re: New LEGO Book and Standing Small - a review

Postby RichardAM » Fri Nov 06, 2009 9:35 pm

I've had the books since the beginning of last year and really enjoyed both dipping into and reading them. For reference purposes they're not even in the same league as that of Brickset or Bricklink, but as a celebration of all things Lego, they really do both the product and hobby interest. I'd love to see a book devoted to the community and mocs in particular, but this could be a licensing nightmare?

Anyway, I did a small review of them myself a few weeks ago. :)
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Re: New LEGO Book and Standing Small - a review

Postby Merlin of Lego » Mon Nov 09, 2009 3:43 am

I noticed that the Minifig book states that the Wolfpack is an evil offshoot of the forestmen.
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Re: New LEGO Book and Standing Small - a review

Postby Jojo » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:35 pm

Hello!

Merlin of Lego wrote:I noticed that the Minifig book states that the Wolfpack is an evil offshoot of the forestmen.
Yeah, but you really cannot take the stories in this book seriously. They also state that the Greedo minifig was only available in Benelux. I wonder which joker provided them with that ..erm.. information.

And they totally ignored Castle before 1984. Well, not totally. They mention that Black Falcons had defeated the “Knights” (probably the Falcons’ predecessors, meaning the knights from 375, 383 and 677) in brutal battles. That was new to me… Anyway, they don’t show any pictures of earlier Castle figures, which is a shame. This book being meant to celebrate the 30 years anniversary should have shown the most prominent figures from the beginning. No doubt that would be the knights in (stickered) armour with movable visors. But nothing.

Also “The LEGO Book” only shows the yellow Castle 375 in sad condition. But so does the Idea House in Billund/DK, which probably is where they took all the pictures. Alas.


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Re: New LEGO Book and Standing Small - a review

Postby DarkTemplar » Mon Nov 09, 2009 9:04 pm

I agree with everyone else that it would have been nice if lego sets and factions were represented in more of a time line fashion. Also it's a little disappointing that the sets to remember had to be dominated by the current line, especially as I don't know if I'll be remembering some of the ones chosen :lol: . Though I think they did get a fairly good list of the older sets considering they were limited in choice, but I'm a little sad to find 6086 missing :( . I might pick it up off amazon, it looks like and interesting read, even if it's riddled with errors and suspicious "facts." :)
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Re: New LEGO Book and Standing Small - a review

Postby kris kelvin » Tue Nov 10, 2009 6:59 am

My bank :)
I`m so good :roflol:
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Re: New LEGO Book and Standing Small - a review

Postby Elephant Knight » Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:14 pm

I really enjoyed the Ultimate Lego book from 1999, so I will have to at least rent this from the library, if it our library system gets it.

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Re: New LEGO Book and Standing Small - a review

Postby Bruce N H » Tue Nov 10, 2009 9:43 pm

You're right, I should have also pointed out Kris' bank (I was mainly focusing on the castle things). Congratulations! How did this work, btw? Did they contact you first and ask you to submit something, or did they just grab a photo of your bank they found online and then contact you and ask permission to include it?

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Re: New LEGO Book and Standing Small - a review

Postby kris kelvin » Tue Nov 10, 2009 10:54 pm

Bruce N H wrote:You're right, I should have also pointed out Kris' bank (I was mainly focusing on the castle things). Congratulations! How did this work, btw? Did they contact you first and ask you to submit something, or did they just grab a photo of your bank they found online and then contact you and ask permission to include it?

Bruce

They grabbed the photo and then contacted with me via Hippotam and Noddy.
And thats all.
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Re: New LEGO Book and Standing Small - a review

Postby mrkovach » Wed Nov 11, 2009 3:45 pm

As interesting as the books seem, after your review I will likely not purchase the books. :roll:
^You should be more concerned with what's written above^
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Re: New LEGO Book and Standing Small - a review

Postby Count Blacktron » Wed Nov 18, 2009 4:13 pm

mrkovach wrote:As interesting as the books seem, after your review I will likely not purchase the books. :roll:

I think the purpose of this book was to give our family that buys us Christmas gifts, but not gifts of LEGO, an option we will like and that they can live with. How many of you receive "coffee table" books at Christmas anywho?
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Re: New LEGO Book and Standing Small - a review

Postby Sleepy Hollow » Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:32 am

Very interesting indeed, I will look more into these books.
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