As 2015 draws to a close, it’s time to get a little pensive and reflect about the year that was. 2015 has been an immense year for LEGO, for this blog and for myself personally!
2015 has been such an awesome year for Jay’s Brick Blog and I owe it all to you, my readers, for making this blog such an enjoyable, rewarding and thrilling journey.
Thank you, so, so much.
This blog would be nothing without you reading, commenting and sharing my posts across the internet. I feel like I can call many of you my friends and it’s been a blast discussing LEGO, bricks and everything in between this year.
I say this all the time, but you guys are the reason why I do what I do and it’s been an immense pleasure and honour being able to write for you in 2015!
Now that all the mushy stuff is out of the way, here are some of my reflections from this year, and for the first time ever, I’ll be dishing out some awards at the end of this post commemorating some of my favourites from this year!
State of the blog
At the start of 2015, I endeavoured to write more and made a commitment to try and review way more sets than I did in 2014. In total, I wrote 125 posts this year, which roughly equates to about a post every 3 days. Not bad but I still feel like I slacked off quite a bit and am still unsatisfied with the amount of content I produced.
Reviews are the heart and soul of this blog, and I was quite happy to implement a few changes such as a brand new and improved LEGO Review Hub, making it easier for readers to find past reviews and discover new content.
Speaking of reviews, I wrote a total of 46 reviews this year! Not too shabby although I had intended for that number to be a little higher. Out of those 46 reviews, 7 were LEGO Book Reviews and the rest were quite an even spread of LEGO themes.
Here’s a breakdown of the themes I reviewed this year. When I put this graph together, I was quite surprised that I didn’t review a single LEGO Friends set this year seeing as how its one of my favourite themes. I have to remedy that in 2016.
Most of my reviews focused on licensed themes such as Jurassic World, DC and Marvel Super Heroes. One of my aims in 2016 is to further diversify the sets I review and perhaps concentrate on larger sets.
Here are the top 10 reviews this year by page views:
- Minifigures Series 13
- Simpsons Minifigures Series 2
- Minifigures Series 14: Monsters
- 40158 Pirates Chess Set
- 41062 Elsa’s Sparkling Ice Castle
- 75919 Indominus Rex Breakout
- 75917 Raptor Rampage
- 76026 Gorilla Grodd Goes Bananas
- 76031 Hulk Buster Smash
- 60095 Deep Sea Exploration Vessel
To check out some of my reviews, feel free to visit the Review Hub.
The Ai Weiwei kerfuffle
One of the highlights of 2015 was being asked by The Globe and Mail, a major Canadian newspaper to weigh in on the Ai Weiwei controversy. If you missed the news, Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei made major headlines when he threw a huge hissy fit online when LEGO turned down his request to buy bricks in bulk for an art installation in the National Gallery of Victoria.
I wrote a lengthy commentary here about how it wasn’t about censorship as Ai Weiwei so vehemently claimed. At the end of it all, it was mostly a publicity stunt designed to ride on LEGO’s current wave of popularity and worldwide appeal.
It was pretty cool and humbling being featured in the news for something a lot more substantial than my 2014 tribute to the late Robin Williams.
LEGO x Scooby Doo
One of the biggest surprises in 2015 was the announcement of the Scooby Doo theme in January this year. The winning combination of the iconic Saturday morning cartoon and bright LEGO bricks proved hugely successful with sets selling out and the Mystery Machine becoming one of the most coveted regular LEGO sets this year.
I absolutely loved the Mystery Machine and I should really get around building all my other Scooby Doo sets that are lying in my room unbuilt. I really hope that we get another wave of Scooby Doo sets in the new year and that this theme lives a long and satisfying life.
One of the biggest shake-ups in LEGO history arrived this year with the advent of LEGO Dimensions, The LEGO Group’s bold foray into the lucrative world of Toys to Life. Penetrating a crowded market occupied by the likes of Amiibo, Skylanders and Disney Infinity is no mean feat but LEGO seems to have done pretty okay with the video game receiving positive reviews and a warm welcome by the gaming community.
I’m not a console gamer, so I wasn’t able to fully appreciate LEGO Dimensions but I was beyond ecstatic to own the Portal Level Pack which gave us a Chell minifigure. I can definitely see the appeal with LEGO Dimensions but I’m still convinced that the Packs are a great way to gate exclusive and desirable minifigures behind an inflated pricetag. So far, I haven’t seen LEGO Dimensions getting deeply discounted, but I’m confident that massive discounts (ala Skylanders) will come soon.
It’s a really clever move for LEGO to be playing in the digital space and is definitely a glimpse of LEGO’s future strategy as they grapple with an increasingly connected world. I sat in a talk with David Gram, Head of Marketing at LEGO Future Labs earlier this year and he painted a really clear picture that LEGO would be investing more into bridging the gap between physical and digital play in order to stay relevant with digitally connected children.
I can’t wait to see what 2016 will bring in this regard. LEGO Dimensions is just the beginning.
LEGO Elves was another pleasant surprise this year and is one of my favourite new original new themes coming out of Billund in 2015. Taking the successful Friends minidoll format, Elves plunges fans into a brand new fantasy world complete with magical characters and a whole host of awesome new LEGO elements in outlandish, mystical colours that would drive any seasoned LEGO builder mad with desire.
I liked Elves so much that I completed the whole theme this year and am looking forward to so much more. Placing aside the “girly” aesthetics, Elves represents some of the best designed and conceptualised LEGO sets I’ve seen in a long, long time and was such a breath of fresh air to a longtime LEGO fan such as myself.
You can check out some of my LEGO Elves reviews here.
Manufacturing Defects and Issues
It’s unfortunate but 2015 will probably go down as one of the worst years for LEGO’s reputation in quality control. We had Wall-E’s neck issues which caused the set to be pulled from shelves and a new parts pack fix with new instructions being sent out to afflicted owners and also stability issues with 76039 Ant-Man Final Battle which ultimately caused LEGO to not range the set in Australian retail stores.
Special mention has to be made for the Darth Vader typo on this year’s Star Wars Advent Calendar as well.
For a company that built its reputation on the motto “only the best is good enough”, the sudden spate of these defects is a little concerning and I really hope that LEGO tightens up their QC processes in 2016. I was quite bummed to have had to delay my Wall-E review till an official fix became available.
The 1st Jay’s Brick Blog Awards
Welcome to the inaugural Jay’s Brick Blog Awards! This is a tradition and event that will run at the end of every year where I’ll celebrate the most exceptional sets, themes and minifigures from the year.
As this is the first year, the Awards will be a relatively simple affair, with 5 categories. Next year, when I’ve had more time to prepare, I hope to expand this and include votes from my readers as well.
So without further ado, here are the 1st Jay’s Brick Blog Awards!
Original Theme of the Year
LEGO Elves takes the Original Theme Of The Year award! I was thoroughly impressed firstly with the colourful palate of elements and mystical colours that was introduced with the theme. Coupled with some really inspired designs and sets, LEGO Elves hits it out of the park this year by with overflowing creativity and all-around fun role-playing potential.
Licensed Theme of the Year
Licensed Theme of the Year goes to Scooby Doo! LEGO brilliantly brings the cartoon series to life by nailing the minifigures and colourful looks of the popular cartoon. The cartoon’s bright colours translates exceptionally well to LEGO. Another highlight of the Scooby Doo theme are the villains, who often have an “unmasked” alternate or hidden face which emulates their cheesy cartoon counterparts.
In the world of licensed themes that have been dominated by the likes of Star Wars, Marvel and DC, Scooby Doo is a breath of fresh air that blends so much fun, silliness and light-hearted humour that made the cartoons a beloved pillar of most of our childhood Saturday mornings.
LEGO Book of the Year
LEGO Book of the Year was a no brainer, with DK’s Great LEGO Sets coming far ahead of the other competitors. This is one of the best LEGO books that have been published by DK, featuring a comprehensive journey through LEGO’s storied history, highlighting some of the most iconic and beautiful sets that have been designed.
The hard-cover compendium also contains plenty of interesting facts and stunning photography of classic LEGO sets, making it a must-have of any LEGO fan. The inclusion of a micro-scale 928 Space Cruiser, the crown jewel of the hallowed Classic Space theme is a cherry on top of a really great cake.
Minifigure of the Year
This was another easy one. The Minifigure of the Year Award goes to Hot Dog Man, one of the most talked about and coveted minifigures this year. Hailing from LEGO’s Collectible Minifigures Series 13, Hot Dog Man’s ridiculous and silly costume charmed its way of many a LEGO fan and became the chase minifigure of early 2015.
What’s there not to love about a guy in an oversized Hot Dog costume?
Set of the Year – Runner Up
For Set of the Year, the runner-up honours go to the Double Decker Couch! The set is unmatched in terms of value, and will likely go unchallenged in that sense for a very, very long time. Packing 5 main characters from The LEGO Movie, including crowd-favourite Benny and also an exclusive Ghost Vitruvius, there’s just so much to love about this small set.
5 of these great minifigures in a $25 set would’ve been outstanding value, but LEGO also saw fit to throw in the double-decker couch and even Emmet’s cute little two-seater car. With huge UCS-scale sets, Modulars and other large sets, it can be easy to overlook small but spectacular sets like this but the Double-Decker Couch more than earns its honour as Runner-Up for Set of the Year.
Set of the Year
2015’s Set of the Year goes to Wall-E! Floppy-neck issues aside, from the moment I finished building Wall-E, I immediately knew that I had built something special. If I could describe Wall-E with only one word, it would be “delightful”. No other LEGO set this year has captured the source material’s as well as Wall-E.
The charming robot has all the right proportions, is articulate enough to pose in as many different positions as you’d like and looks terrific on display as it does in a child’s hands for play. Wall-E is one of those exceptional LEGO sets that any LEGO fan will be able to appreciate.
With its neck issues all sorted out, Wall-E is one of those rare LEGO sets that I can confidently say is nothing short of flawless.
So that’s it! The Jay’s Brick Blog Awards of 2015! Thanks for reading what has become a really lengthy post!
Would love to know what you thought of 2015. Let me know in the comments what your favourite sets, themes or minifigures were in 2015!
Wishing you a Happy New Year and I hope to serve you in an increased capacity in 2016!