The surprises keep rolling in for LEGO fans in 2020. Earlier this week, we got treated to the launch of LEGO Art – a brand new adult-focused theme that attempts to blend LEGO with pop culture and decorative pieces for your home.
How would I describe LEGO Art? For one, it’s like Dots for adults. It also seems like very slickly packaged mosaic stud portraits.
It’s pretty much LEGO’s take on adult jigsaw puzzles, which have swept into popularity thanks to Covid and being in lockdown.
For the initial wave, there will be four wall art pieces – Marvel’s Iron Man, Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles, and The Sith from Star Wars – an odd collection of pop culture staples.
LEGO Art has a release date of 1 August 2020 globally, with the US getting them a month later in September.
All sets measure over 15.5” (40cm) square when completed and have an RRP of US$119.99/AU$199.99/ £114.99/€119.99/NZD$199.99.
Oh, LEGO have also introduced a new Jumbo brick separator with 4 studs, which is pretty neat. I can imagine the frustration that would arise if we only had the usual 2-stud separator to reset these portraits.
LEGO® Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe – Pop art admirers can now recreate Andy Warhol’s famous bright pink screenprint of Marilyn Monroe from 1967, or reimagine it in three different colours using LEGO tiles. As art and design lovers tailor the tone of their piece to suit their artistic temperament, they can tune in to new insights and details about Warhol from those that know him best.
Out of all the LEGO Art sets, Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe is by far the most surprising, and does the best job of illustrating LEGO’s ambitions with this new theme.
Andy Warhol’s pop art is one of the most well-known modern art pieces, and Marilyn Monroe is arguably his most iconic (along with Campbell soup tins), so seeing it recreated in a retail LEGO set is rather surreal, and shows how far LEGO has evolved as a company.
From the box art, the LEGO Art sets are advertised as being “1 picture, 4 options” which allows you to build different variants – a really nice touch as it increases the intrinsic value of each set.
By design and from the promotional shots, LEGO is also pushing hard for people to buy multiple portraits to display them all at once, or to combine into larger images.
LEGO® The Beatles – Music lovers can bring Beatle-fandom into the home with a LEGO portrait of their favourite band member, whether it’s John Lennon, Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison or Sir Ringo Starr. Each set can be used to create four unique portraits or collect four and display the full band side-by-side. Fans can get by with a little help from friends of the Beatles as they switch their headphones over to accompanying soundtrack to listen to music and stories about the band as they build.
This is an interesting one, probably aimed at fans of the Yellow Submarine set. Like Marilyn Monroe, you get to choose between your favourite Beatles musician from legendary songwriter Paul McCartney, to the oft-forgetten Ringo Starr, or renowned asshole and domestic abuser John Lennon.
Don’t get me wrong, I love The Beatles and their music, but you’ll never catch me hanging a LEGO portrait of wife beater and POS human being John Lennon in my home.
LEGO® Marvel Studios Iron Man – Super Hero fans can decide between powering their hero up with the MARK III, the HULKBUSTER MARK I or the MARK LXXXV with this 3-in-1 set. After the tough decision is made, builders can recharge by listening to cool details about the set and stories from Marvel Experts as part of the accompanying soundtrack. Fans who want to channel Tony Stark and ‘run before you walk’ can combine three of the same sets into one to create the ultimate Iron Man artwork.
For Marvel fans and Tony Stark devotees, LEGO also have got you covered with the Iron Man triple-threat, allowing you you to pick between the Mark III (from Iron Man 1), Hulkbuster or Mark LXXXV (from Endgame) which is a great pick.
The Iron Man portrait will be a timed exclusive and will only be available from LEGO.com and Lego Brand Retail/Certified Stores for 2 months before a wider release.
This photo provided is pretty cool, and suggests that you can combine 3 sets together to build an epic Iron Man image with his repulsors ready to lay waste to his foes.
LEGO® Star Wars™ The Sith™ – Celebrate iconic villains from a galaxy far, far away with this 3-in-1 portrait set. Choose between portraits that pay tribute to the Sith, with Darth Vader™, Darth Maul™ or Kylo Ren™, or take the artwork to the next level by combining three sets into an ultimate Darth Vader™ wall piece. The soundtrack means the Force will be with fans as they create their very own piece of wall art while listing to music from the films and fun stories from Star Wars™ creators.
Last but not least, a Sith pack for all you Star Wars fans, which celebrate some of the most notable Sith in Star Wars history – Darth Vader, Darth Maul and Kylo Ren.
Shame Palpatine or Dooku didn’t make the cut but maybe next time.
Like Iron Man, it seems that you can combine 3 sets into a horizontal portrait of daddy Vader which is pretty neat, not to mention an easy way to impress your house guests by the fact that you could easily drop AU$600 on a bunch of LEGO studs and tiles.
Isn’t that the entire point of works of art?
To complement each LEGO Art set, there’s a companion soundtrack, podcast and audio interviews with experts and personalities close to each portrait’s subject matter.
Now this is a pretty unconventional LEGO product, that isn’t aimed at your traditional modular-obsessed LEGO fan, although I imagine there’d be some cross-over.
From my perspective, it seems like LEGO have devised this entire theme for adults who enjoy playing with LEGO recreationally and to relax, judging by the inclusion of soundtracks and audio interviews to heighten the experience.
Puzzles have exploded in popularity in recent years, accelerated by Covid-19 and these things aren’t exactly cheap, so it’s likely that LEGO wants to tap on this trend, and target adults that have the disposable income to spare, and the desire to display cool bits of pop culture art around their homes.
I actually like what LEGO is doing with this theme, and I’m not put off by it at all. I’m at an age where home decor, aesthetics and entertaining guests in my home is a much bigger focus compared to 5 years ago when I’d just be happy to accumulate and build LEGO sets aimlessly.
I think the price is justified given the extreme nicheness of this product – most of these sets weigh in at about 3,000 pieces and yes, of course I reckon it’ll be much more economical to buy the elements individually off Bricklink or Bricks and Pieces but it’s probably not worth the hassle for the average LEGO fan, or someone who wants a complete out of the box experience.
Richard from Rambling Brick has put a dizzyingly comprehensive overview of the pricing of the Marilyn Monroe set, which I recommend checking out as he’s actually done the homework and analysis.
I don’t expect this to set the world on fire, but I think LEGO have selected the subject matters well – naturally, I expect Iron Man and The Sith to sell incredibly well, but I also like the inclusion of Andy Warhol and The Beatles to cater to more mainstream audiences.
With the holiday season coming up, and LEGO’s crafty efforts in targeting adults, I can see LEGO Art being a commercial success, and I can see them expand into other designs, or even cooler forms like lenticular mosaics.
Is LEGO Art a wildly creative venture? Absolutely not – which is ironic given that this is about “Art”.
Adult LEGO fans have been making and displaying mosaics at LEGO Conventions since LEGO Conventions have been a thing, so LEGO commercialising what fans have been doing for years is nothing new, and it’s likely that they won’t stop with mosaics.
What they’ve done well is package it all up in a very neat and convenient manner which is exactly what non-enthusiasts, or time-poor (but well-off!) adult LEGO fans would like.
What do you think of LEGO Art? Is this something that will appeal to you and will you be picking any of these up when they launch in August?