Here we are, at the start of a new year and the close of yet another. Won’t lie, 2017 has certainly been one of the most challenging years of my life and I could probably say the same about this blog as well!
That said, there is a LOT to be thankful for and while it hasn’t been the easiest, I do have to credit 2017 with teaching me to become a more resilient person in general.
Looking back at the ups and downs of 2017, it’s quite clear that I have so much to be thankful for. I said this in my 2016 Retrospective, and it still rings through even as I reflect on 2017.
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.
Last year especially, I’ve never been more thankful for all the support I’ve received, especially when I was on my hiatus. The amount of emails, comments and Facebook messages I got checking in on me was humbling, and even though I haven’t responded to them all, I read and appreciated every single one.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
In my Winners & Losers article, I touched on topics that related to LEGO, their product and the fan community, so check that out if you haven’t already. This piece is going to be a bit more introspective.
Here’s a brief look at some of the highlights and lowlights of 2017.
State of the blog – Hiatus
I don’t think I can talk about 2017 without talking about my unintended hiatus. I kinda fell off the face of the Earth from August to November, which was a particularly trying time.
Long story short, I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to tend to the blog, let alone stay abreast of all that was going on in LEGO. Work had gotten really challenging at that stage, and I found it hard to spend any time writing or even building LEGO. My career growing at a really rapid rate, with some really amazing yet demanding opportunities thrown my way, necessitated where I had to focus my energies on.
I’d say I was mildly depressed at one stage, but I was definitely not in a good mental state to write or do anything related with LEGO, choosing to spend what little time I had left after the day was over with my family.
I was also kind of burned out at that point, and it was a combination of a lot of little things hitting at once that made it easy to step away momentarily – perceived lack of support from LEGO in terms of offers to review sets, LEGO not doing anything particularly interesting this year, and I also realised that I was buying less LEGO than ever before, mostly because I felt like there was hardly any value from the majority of sets on the market.
Challenges at work was definitely the straw that broke the camel’s back, and I knew that I had to take a much-needed break. It was weird, I don’t think I even went into my study/LEGO room, let alone even bother with building any LEGO during that time.
Looking back, it was the right call – it allowed me to refocus and reassess my priorities, and now that things have settled down to a more manageable pace, I couldn’t help but return back to the fold – I missed LEGO a lot at that time so I was always going to come back. Call it a mini Dark Ages.
Key lessons learned: it’s okay to take a break, LEGO is not the most important thing in the world, and I am so thankful for my family and friends for supporting me during those trying times.
State of the blog – Readership
That said, I still think 2017 was a success in terms of the blog. Sure, the hiatus was a bit of a speedbump but in the grand scheme of things, the blog has never been in a better place.
I’m starting to regain the momentum that was lost after disappearing for 3 months, and I’ve got a heap of sets in my review queue coming up, so look out for that!
Numbers-wise, the blog received over 2 million views and reached over a million individuals in 2017, which is ridiculous when you think about it! I’m really happy and grateful that I was able to sustain massive growth from 2016. I’d say the blog’s audience and readership grew by about 50% – not too bad considering I took a quarter of the year off.
Where is everyone from? Pretty much all the major English-speaking countries in the world. The USA is still the #1 source of traffic, followed by Australia, and the UK which is quickly catching up.
I think with the way things are going, the UK will be in 2nd place at the end of 2018. That’s followed by Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Germany, France, and the Netherlands.
I have a small game that I play where I “collect” countries in my analytics. 2017 added in Montserrat, Cocos Islands, Nauru, Wallis & Futuna, which means I’m currently only missing readers from North Korea and Western Sahara and I guess a couple of small Islands and Territories. Really want that North Korean traffic this year – c’mon Kim, you know you love LEGO.
State of the blog – Content
All things considered, I’m pretty happy with the output of content. In terms of reviews, the number of reviews weren’t as numerous as 2016 (23, compared to 46), but I felt like I upped my game significantly in terms of my photography and writing. I experimented more with my photography this year, and I was pretty happy with the results!
Did I wish I had more time to review more? Definitely! I think my biggest regret is not finishing my Ninjago Movie Minifigures review. I finished photography the week the Minifigs came out, and wrote about half of it but scrapped it all as I felt it was pretty bad and didn’t live up to my standards. I plan on revisiting it eventually.
In case you were wondering, the Marvel Super Heroes theme had the most reviews in 2018 with 5 sets reviewed.
Here’s the top 5 reviews in 2017 ranked by page views.
- LEGO Minifigures Series 17
- 21309 Ideas Apollo Saturn V
- LEGO Batman Movie Minifigures
- 76081 Milano vs The Abilisk
- 75167 Bounty Hunter Speeder Bike Battle Pack
Content of significance
Every year, I strive to produce one or two pieces of content that impact the LEGO fan community in some way, hopefully positive. In 2017, I was really grateful for the opportunity to have my comments on the Women of NASA set featured on the BBC.
The set was a lightning rod of controversy within the LEGO fan community and I was honoured to have been able to defend and vocalise the significance of the set to gender equality – something I feel very strongly about.
The second piece that I was proud of was my article calling out the terrible practice that are Comic Con exclusives. The post took off, clearly resonating with a ton of LEGO fans over the world, and amplified a lot of disappointment that fans felt at how these exclusives were being done.
That article is never going away, and I’m pretty pumped that it’s one of the top ranking searches for “lego SDCC” or “lego comic con exclusives”, so here’s hoping it keeps showing up for as long as possible when people Google these Comic Con LEGO exclusives.
I sincerely hope things change in 2018 with Comic Con exclusives so that it’s more equitable for us fans who aren’t fortunate enough to be born or live in San Diego or New York.
Lastly, a few of you got a pretty good giggle from my April Fool’s joke about LEGO’s acquisition of Lepin which was a blast to write!
Theme of the Year
It’s a no-brainer, but the LEGO Ninjago Movie theme really impressed me with the sheer number of inventive, creative and high quality builds. We had Mechs, Shark-Mechs, and the masterpiece that is Ninjago City (which I hope to get soon!).
LEGO truly saved the best of its designs for the movie, and it clearly paid off. There wasn’t a single poor set in the theme and I really enjoyed all the sets that I was able to build.
It’s sad that the movie underperformed, which puts a sequel at risk, but I’m still super grateful that we got such a fantastic theme in 2017.
Set of the Year
Set of the Year was a really easy one this year. 21309 Saturn V was an unbelievably brilliant build from start to finish. The build experience was a treat in itself, with some ingenious techniques employed that surprised and delighted even the most seasoned builders. The end product is a momentous display piece – towering and impressive to behold, cementing the LEGO Ideas Saturn V as one of the best LEGO sets of all time.
Minifigure of the Year
It’s pure coincidence that my Set of the Year and Minifigure of the Year are both rocket-themed. Rocket Boy from Series 17 takes my pick for minifigure of the year, beating off some really strong contenders such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Gremlins, Poison Ivy from the LEGO Batman Movie, Retro Spaceman, N-Pop Girl and New 52 Wonder Woman.
Rocket Boy captured everything that I love from the Collectible Minifigures theme, an homage to Classic Space, a sense of playfulness, and of course an incredibly memorable costume.
That’s it for my 2017 Restrospective! All in all, I am really thankful for all that transpired in 2017 – the good and the bad, but I am so glad that it’s over! I’m all ready to embrace 2018 with open arms, and I’ve got a good feeling that LEGO will surprise this year with what they have in-store.
2017 was undoubtedly a less-than-ideal year for the brand, but I sure hope it helps them refocus and concentrate on the things that truly matter – designing cool toys!
Thanks so much for reading, and for the outpouring of support that I simply do not deserve. Here’s to 2018. Let me know what you’re most looking forward to in the comments!