I spent a half hour last weekend doing something I haven’t done in ages—building a LEGO set. I’ve long goggled at the skills of people who can put together astounding creations out of LEGO, but I’ve not been tempted to the hobby myself, for reasons of cost and space. But when I heard, at the beginning of the year, that LEGO had gotten the licenses to both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, I knew I was going to buy a set as soon as it came out—not only because I wanted one, but because the LEGO resale market would prohibit it. But this isn’t LEGO’s first crack at sets based on books. Today, I thought we’d take a look at official LEGO sets based on books—and next week, we’ll take a look at the amazing creations of fans.
For what I’m assuming are both legal and creative reasons, LEGO doesn’t make sets based on books, but, rather, their film adaptations. So it was only eleven years ago that LEGO started releasing sets based on book-to-film franchises, starting with Harry Potter in 2001. (In LEGO lingo, related sets are considered part of a “theme”.) This was before the minifigures started coming in actual people colors, so they were all bright yellow. Well, not all: for some reason, Snape was semi-translucent white.
When sets based on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban were released in 2004, the minifigures were changed, and Snape no longer glows in backlighting. I can only imagine what heartache this causes completionist collectors. Harry Potter remains one of LEGO’s bigger licensed themes, with fifty sets released from 2001 to 2011 and four LEGO video games made. In fact, The Knight Bus set, due to its high amount of rare purple bricks, is one of the most sought after sets by LEGO collectors. The set is due to be discontinued this year, so if you want a piece of LEGO Hogwarts, I’d pick it up now!
After Harry Potter, LEGO ventured into the world of comic books by picking up the Spiderman license. The Spiderman sets were originally part of the Studios theme, which focused on stop-motion filmmaking and the core set even included a little Steven Spielberg to direct your movies and a stop-motion camera to shoot them on. A few Spiderman sets were some of the last to be produced for this theme. The independent Spiderman theme was short-lived, lasting only for two years between 2002 and 2004 before being discontinued. Batman suffered a similar fate in 2006, with his theme running for just two years before being discontinued (although he did manage to get a video game in), only to be resurrected with the Super Heroes theme, along with Spiderman.
Super Heroes, as a theme, started hitting stores last year, and combines LEGO’s licenses for both DC and Marvel, although never in the same set. Super Heroes is mostly based on the recent spate of superhero films and even includes an X-Men set. In fact, LEGO will be getting into the moviemaking business themselves in 2014, with LEGO: The Piece of Resistance, where Bats and Supes will make cameo appearances. If the license fits…
But LEGO got back to the books with The Lord of the Rings license last month (well, last last month, since it’s the first day of July). As you can imagine, the grand set pieces in Jackson’s film trilogy inspired many a custom LEGO builder, so to have official sets with customized pieces was a dream come true. The theme’s first wave includes seven sets, from a set called Gandalf Arrives (the one I have) to The Battle of Helm’s Deep, which is one of those big, bad, drool-worthy $100+ sets. This winter, they’ll start rolling out The Hobbit sets, just two weeks before the movies come out. But before that, there’s going to be a LEGO video game, which is pretty standard for LEGO’s licensed properties, but it’ll be the first LEGO video game to feature dialogue from the film it’s based on. Check out the teaser trailer below:
That’s it for the official sets; but imagination is bigger than licensing, so we’re going to take a look at fanmade sets next week…
I’m still working on The Maid and The Queen, and I read The Wide Sargasso Sea on Tuesday. Otherwise, my life just isn’t very exciting, which is kind of the way I like it, but it leaves less to report.
The Baen Free Library is full of free downloads, including The Shadow of the Lion and On Basilisk Station. Night Shade Books is offering Butcher Bird and Grey as free downloads at the moment. Vertigo Comics is offering free downloads of the first issue of several series, including Fables, The Unwritten, and Y: The Last Man. (And you will go download The Unwritten.) Small Beer Press offers several of their books as free downloads, including Kelly Link’s Magic for Beginners. If I’ve missed your giveaway or freebie, drop me a line!
Do you have any bookish LEGOs? Or any fond memories of LEGOs?