Monday, June 20, 2016

Five LEGO Creations that Will Blow Your Mind

LEGO building bricks are indisputably one of the best toys on the planet. They offer amazing versatility as a building medium and have led to the creation of some amazing projects built by kids and adults alike. We’re obviously LEGO fanatics here at BRICK Marketplace, so we love reading about people who have taken the next step (or several steps) with LEGO construction projects, often venturing into some truly amazing territory. Here are five of our absolute favorite LEGO creations.

1. The LEGO House

When you were a child, did you dream about having an entire house made out of LEGO bricks? You weren’t alone. In the United Kingdom, television personality James May actually acted on this dream, constructing a fully functional house entirely out of LEGO bricks. The home required 3.3 million Lego bricks and featured a working toilet and shower. A pet cat made of LEGO bricks was also included in the home (sans litter box). The built-in bed, however, was admittedly quite uncomfortable.

James completed his 200-foot tall house with the help of more than 1,000 volunteers on a vineyard in Surrey. Unfortunately, the house was destroyed when the vineyard needed to reclaim the land at planting time. James tried to give the house away to anyone who could move it but found no takers for his epic creation. The silver lining? That must have been an easy demolition project.

2. A Working V-8 Motor

Building a detailed replica of a V-8 motor from LEGO bricks is a challenge in and of itself, but some of the brilliant people who work at LEGO did just that - and their engine worked! Since then, several working engines of various shapes and sizes have been built. This is pretty incredible to witness, so here is a video of a working replica V8 made entirely from Legos. You're welcome:

3. 2004 Volvo XC90 LEGO Replica

While replica V8 motors are smaller than the engines they represent, the Lego 2004 Volvo XC90 replica was carefully built to actual size. The SUV was created by professional LEGO builders who work at LEGOLAND California, and it’s incredibly detailed. The car can't be driven, but you would never know it if you were standing more than a few feet away. The building process for this project was captured on film and saved.

4. Obama Inauguration

Those who missed President Obama's inauguration were given a little extra time to see it in miniature. LEGOLAND California created and displayed a miniature replica of the event, complete with recognizable guests including Barbara Bush and Oprah Winfrey. The display was incredibly detailed and included thousands of Lego figurines. The display has since been removed, but pictures of the exhibit clearly show that no detail went unnoticed.

amazing LEGO creation: Obama's inauguration made from LEGOs

5. Torso Man

Artist Nathan Sawaya is known for creating stunning visual masterpieces with LEGO bricks, but perhaps his best is his sculpture of a man tearing open his own chest. From the open wound pours out several Lego bricks, spilling out onto the table. The piece is one of Nathan's most recognizable and has been put on display all around the globe.

amazing LEGO creation: Torso Man by Nathan Sawaya

From feats of engineering to beautiful art, LEGO is responsible for inspiring artists, builders, historians, architects, and scientists of all ages. Seek out some of your own inspiration today with one of the many sets at BRICK Marketplace!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Our Five Favorite LEGO Sets for Movie-Lovers

In 1999, LEGO released their first set designed around a movie: Star Wars, of course. Ever since then, movie-inspired LEGO sets have been used to capture the wonder in front of the camera and create a fun experience for film and action-figure lovers alike. Let’s take a look at five of our favorite movie LEGO sets, perfect for movie fanatics.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes the Avengers Quinjet Chase

If you’re a Marvel fan, you’ll know that the Quinjet is one of the most iconic aircrafts in The Avengers. It has appeared in two Captain America movies, the original Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron; and it’s even been spotted on the Netflix show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. With that in mind, there’s no better symbol of the Avengers than this aircraft. This LEGO set specifically features the epic Quinjet chase in the Age of Ultron movie, but you can use the Quinjet to reenact countless scenes from these classic films.

LEGO Marvel Heros Quinjet Chase Set
LEGO Star Wars Poe’s X-Wing Fighter

In celebration of The Force Awakens premiere, millions of fans came together to celebrate the newest release of one of the most iconic movie franchises of all time: Star Wars. Keeping in tune with this, LEGO created an all-new set,so fans had the chance to enjoy the film outside of the theater by recreating their favorite scenes. This set in particular depicts Poe’s x-wing fighter jet and includes four spring-loaded shooters, two stud shooters, retractable landing gear and space in the back for BB-8. Figures for Poe Dameron, crew members, a pilot and BB-8 are also included.

LEGO Star Wars Poe's X-Wing Fighter
LEGO Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer

The new Star Wars is a definite win for movie-lovers, but of course, there’s nothing like the originals and the Star Wars LEGO sets that came with them. This set is a must-have for both Star Wars fans and LEGO lovers, and features the Imperial Star Destroyer, which was classically used by Darth Vader and the Empire. In total, the set includes over 1,300 pieces that come together to create an iconic ship from the Star Wars saga.

LEGO Star Wars Imperial Star Destroyer Set

LEGO Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtle Sub Undersea Chase

For those movie-goers who are excited to see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, this LEGO set is just what you need! While this particular set isn’t directly based on the new movie, it encompasses all of your favorite crime-fighting turtles. Included in the kit are the epic Turtle Sub, villain Kraang’s sub, an armory, missiles and more! Great for both kids and adults who have a passion for TMNT, this set will help bring the movie to life in a new way.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles LEGO Set

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Spider-Helicopter Rescue

You can expect to see a lot more of Spider-Man in the Marvel cinematic universe, thanks to Sony Entertainment relaunching the series. But before the 2017 release, you can enjoy Spider-Man and all of his adventures with this popular LEGO set. It centers on Spiderman as he uses the Spider-Helicopter to stop the Green Goblin, which was portrayed in the original take of Spider-Man in 2002. In addition to having these items, you’ll also find Spider-Man’s spider web, missiles and more. We can only hope that when the movie is finally released, it’ll include a scene just like this one!

LEGO Spiderman Helicopter Rescue Set

These must-have LEGO sets are perfect for movie fanatics everywhere. Not only will you be able to connect on a personal level with your favorite films, but you’ll have something fun to create and show off to everyone! These LEGO movie sets are great for everyone, not just kids, so the next time you think about buying a movie ticket, don’t forget to pick out a LEGO set to go with it.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Beyond Building: Fun LEGO Games Students Can Play

LEGO games for learning
LEGO toys are obviously great ways to enhance a child’s building/engineering skills and enhance their creativity as they embark on their own designs. However, what makes LEGO a true staple in any classroom is its ability to be included in a number of learning games that move beyond construction skills. LEGOs can be modified to become essential components of math, reading, science games and more. Below are a few of our favorite learning games that involve LEGO blocks, from least to most advanced.

1. Learning Symmetry with LEGO

Are you looking for a fun, easy way to teach young learners about the concept of symmetry? Grab a LEGO board and a number of LEGO blocks in a variety of colors and sizes, making sure there are plenty of each type. Then divide the board down the middle, and let your student or child build! The only rule is that whatever goes on one side of the board must go on the other side, too, in its exact relative position. Children can start simple, with just a couple blocks; and as they get more familiar with the concept, they can create ever more complex and symmetrical designs. For some inspiration, read this blog post about teaching symmetry with DUPLOs using a butterfly pattern.

2. LEGO Hangman

One of the best parts about LEGO blocks is that they can easily be written on and turned into letters! So grab a permanent marker, find some square-shaped LEGO blocks, and create your LEGO alphabet. Then, using LEGO figures, get ready for a fun round of LEGO hangman. You can get creative about how you choose to design the hangman post and the hangman itself, but we like this simple DIY version.

3. LEGO Poetry

Now that you’ve gotten used to using LEGO blocks as an alphabet, take things to the next level and write entire words on LEGO blocks. Model the words after those found in a typical “magnetic poetry” set, using a good mix of nouns, verbs, adjectives, pronouns, and modifiers. Work anything “personal” into the set, like classroom-specific pets or phrases. Then allow students to rearrange the LEGO blocks to create new sentences and entire poems or stories, building as they go, for a narrative that will double as a visual treat! Make sure to photograph the end creation for display purposes.

4. LEGO LED Flashlight

Help students learn about LED technology while allowing them to build something simple, affordable, and downright cool – a flashlight. The very simplest version can be achieved by adding a battery and LED to the inside of a hollowed out LEGO, as shown here. However, we’d encourage you to use that as a jumping-off point and help your students create more complex builds using their LED technology.

5. LEGO Chemistry

Given the number of literal “building blocks” that are involved in chemistry, using LEGO blocks to represent chemistry concepts is a match made in heaven. Whether you’re illustrating atoms, bonding, or positive and negative charges, LEGO blocks can help. Check out this tutorial from MIT to teach how atoms bond into chemicals and molecules.

What are your favorite LEGO learning games? Let us know in the comments below!

Friday, June 3, 2016

A Rundown of the LEGO Ideas 2016 Finalists - And Our Personal Rankings

One of the most exciting parts of the LEGO brand is their LEGO Ideas initiative, which draws on the creativity of one of the toy industry’s most innovative and passionate fan bases: LEGO fans! This community-driven, crowd-sourced project often features some of the most beautiful work at LEGO. Just look at the gorgeous and detailed bird set we sell.

LEGO Ideas works in rounds of several months called “qualifying periods” – the most recent qualifying period was from January to May 2016 – during which entrants submit their ideas and vie for votes from the community. If it receives 10,000 votes, it enters the “Review” stage, in which LEGO designers, marketing representatives and others review the project for viability. They will then decide which brilliant new LEGO Ideas proposals are actually produced and sold!

Because the most recent qualifying period ended in May, nine impressive projects are now in the Review stage. We’re excited to provide a run-down of these sometimes topical, sometimes classic, sometimes humorous and always unique finalists – and just for fun, we’ve decided to rank them in order of our personal preference, ending with our favorites (although it’s hard choose). Which one is your favorite? Which set would you purchase? Sound off in the comments below!

Modular Train Station

LEGO Ideas Modular Train Station

This cute train station is designed to fit in with the 20th century look and feel of the other buildings in the LEGO Modular series. The inside of the station is where it really shines, featuring a clock, snack bar, and ticketing office with turnstyle. We also love the “glass” roof.

Fossil Museum

LEGO Ideas 2016 Fossil Museum

Archaeologists rejoice! This set features four popular dinosaurs (and one popular pterosaur) on display at a museum. What makes this set so incredibly impressive – and educational – is that the dinosaurs are actually to scale. Those people standing there aren’t just friendly museum patrons; they’re also a great way to learn about the size of these extraordinary creatures in relation to people as you build. The skeletons are also as accurate as possible, given the constraints of the scale.

Johnny Five

Johnny Five LEGO Ideas 2016 Finalist

Fans of nostalgia will go ape for this Johnny Five robot, the hero of the Short Circuit movies from the 1980’s. The robot is fully posable and looks like a lot of fun to build.

Old Fishing Store

Old Fishing Store LEGO Ideas 2016 Finalist
 At first glance, this fishing store could be straight out of Scooby Doo. But as you start to notice the details, you’ll quickly fall in love with this set’s charm. It features three levels, including a main store, office, and lookout. It makes us feel like taking a trip to the ocean!

Particle Accelerator

particle accelerator LEGO Ideas 2016 finalist

Physics fans will love celebrating this particle accelerator, modeled after an actual accelerator and featuring a LEGO ball that can actually accelerate around the ring. Although it obviously features a different propulsion system, it does accurately illustrate the concept of the particle accelerator and would be a great addition to science classrooms. This would also be a perfect gift for the physics nut in your life.

Jedi High Council Chamber

Jedi High Council Chamber LEGO Ideas 2016 Finalist

Two Star Wars-themed entries made it into the final round this time, and it’s easy to see why the High Council Chamber was one of them. Just look at this detail:

LEGO Ideas Jedi High Council Chamber - Detail

However, as great as the High Chamber is, our favorite of the Star Wars-related projects is this one:

Rolling BB-8

LEGO Ideas 2016 Finalist - Rolling BB-8 from Star Wars

Who doesn’t love BB-8?! This one actually rolls, cleverly using weights and magnets to keep the BB-8’s head in the same position as it rolls. Additional details like attachable arms and a display stand with a crank make this one tons of fun, and a welcome addition to any Star Wars-themed collection.

Jurassic Park Visitor Center

LEGO Jurassic Park Visitor Center - LEGO Ideas 2016 Finalist

Another dinosaur-themed set could have been cliché, but this visitor center really pulls out all the stops in its complexity. From gift shops to a genetics lab to emergency bunkers, this visitor center contains everything you’ll need to make the Jurassic Park world come alive in vivid detail.

Gingerbread House

LEGO Gingerbread House - LEGO Ideas 2016 Finalist

This house is everything a LEGO set should be: there’s a simplicity in the design without being boring or lacking a challenge; it’s colorful; and it’s just downright fun. It also helps that it quite literally looks good enough to eat! We’re frankly surprised a LEGO gingerbread house has not been created before, and think it would be a perfect addition to the holiday LEGO sets.

We’ll keep you posted throughout the process as the LEGO Ideas winners are selected!