What a year 2016 has been! I can’t believe that 2016 has flown by, and no, I’m still not used to the fact that it’s 2017!
For all the bad stuff that people associated with the year 2016, I actually had one of the best years ever – not just in terms of this LEGO blog, but in both my family and professional life as well. Going through the archives of last year to recount my steps was a particularly uplifting journey.
First thing’s first, I do have to thank you. Yes, you, reading this article right now. You’ve made 2016 into the biggest year for this blog and you’ve been instrumental in making this endeavour so worthwhile and personally fulfilling.
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 wrote this in last year’s retrospective and it resonated in 2016 more than ever.
So from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for all your support. It means the world to me and it drives me to up my game to serve you better in 2017. Look out for the biggest giveaway in this blog’s history sometime this week as a special thank you to my readers!
Let’s check out some of the highlights of 2016.
State of the blog
I entered 2016 without many grand plans for the blog. I made a commitment to improve and get better at what I do, from my writing, to photography to reviews and I’m quite satisfied with how I’ve done in 2016.
In total, I wrote 122 posts in 2016, down slightly from 125 in 2015. It’s not too bad considering I had one of the busiest years of my life with work and having a baby and all that. I’ve also been a lot more realistic about posting, and was especially wary of not burning myself out writing about LEGO.
One of my strongest principles when it comes to this blog is that I need to enjoy doing it. The moment it starts to feel like a drag, or if I have to force myself to write will be the moment that it all falls apart. In 2016, I’ve had to safeguard this commitment more than ever, to not do more than was humanly possible.
I’ve never been about quantity and smashing out content anyway, so you guys should be very familiar with the pace here! For 2017, I have the same goals as 2016, do more with this blog, but not at the expense of quality! And also to write at least one review a week!
LEGO reviews are one of my favourite thing to write, and a big part of this blog so I am quite delighted to share that I wrote 45 reviews this year, down slightly from 46 reviews last year.
I technically reviewed more LEGO this year, as last year’s numbers included 7 LEGO books, as opposed to 1 this year.
Here’s a breakdown of themes I reviewed in 2016. Interestingly, it seemed like I reviewed nearly every major theme in 2016 with the exception of Minecraft and Duplo. I’m pretty pleased that there was a lot more variety in 2016, although (as always) I regret not having enough time to review (or build for that matter), all the sets I had in mind.
It should come to no surprise that Super Hero themes dominated the charts in 2016, but I was pretty surprised to see Star Wars taking third place!
Here are the top 10 reviews this year by page views:
- Minifigures – The Disney Series
- Minifigures Series 15
- 42056 Technic Porsche 911 GT3 RS
- 76047 Black Panther Pursuit
- 10252 Volkswagen Beetle
- 5002946 Silver Centurion
- Minifigures Series 16
- 75117 Kylo Ren
- Marvel Mighty Micros
- 10721 Juniors Iron Man vs Loki
To check out some of my reviews, feel free to visit the Review Hub.
Here are some of the biggest highlights from the year.
I became a dad this year, welcoming a beautiful baby girl into the world. Nothing will ever top this milestone and it’s defined 2016, and my entire being. She’s still a little too young to help out with reviews… but it’s only a matter of time till she’s able to weigh in on Duplo!
Achieving Recognised LEGO Fan Media status
This was unplanned, but was certainly a very nice surprise. Early in 2016, Jay’s Brick Blog officially became a Recognised LEGO Fan Media (which used to be called Recognised Online RLUG) which is a massive honour and privilege.
In addition to being connected with other LEGO Ambassadors, I’ve been able to get access to some early review sets, such as the Ideas Maze, Porsche 911 GT3 RS and Volkswagen Beetle as well as being able to give away better prizes!
Hitting a traffic milestone
Last year, I also managed to hit 1 million views early in the year. It has always been a personal target to hit 1 million, so hitting that magic number was quite a big thing for me. Of course, looking back at the year, we’ve gone way beyond that number.
2016 was a pretty good year for traffic, having doubled 2015’s numbers. Not sure if I’ll be able to keep that up, but we’ll see how 2017 turns out!
LEGO Nexo Knights
2016 saw the debut of NEXO Knights, LEGO’s biggest new theme in a while, with properties that spawn TV shows, books, and even a digital app. It’s one of LEGO’s most ambitious new themes, driven by strong characters and some really kickass set designs.
Despite the massive marketing efforts, and some of the best design brains being poured into the Nexo Knights theme, I feel like the theme never really took off in 2016, both among kids and adult LEGO fans. This is obviously a personal observation based on anecdotal evidence.
I think that 2017 will be the final year of Nexo Knights, before we see the theme wind down in 2018. Which is a shame, because I do like the Nexo Knights theme, even though I haven’t personally bought a lot of the sets. Then again, I liked Chima… so what do I know about LEGO. ?
A great year for Collectible Minifigures
Disney was a universal smash hit, so much so that people are still having trouble getting their hands on minifigures, and Series 15 and Series 16 are way up there as outstanding series.
There were no minifigure blips at all in 2016, and I’m really glad that LEGO gave us so many memorable minifigs last year.
The 2nd Jay’s Brick Blog Awards
Continuing on from last year, here’s the second Jay’s Brick Blog Awards, where I celebrate the most exceptional sets, themes and minifigures from the year.
It’s still a relatively simple format, and I’ll only be awarding sets that I reviewed or built in the last year. There was an unprecedented number of sets released in 2016, and like most adult LEGO fans, I’ve accumulated a serious backlog of unbuilt sets which I hope to get to this year.
Without further ado, here are the 2nd Jay’s Brick Blog Awards!
Original Theme of the Year
LEGO Ninjago takes the Original Theme of the Year with a really strong showing in 2016. The theme has made a terrific comeback, with 2016 giving us some of the most audacious sets and some fantastical settings that just ooze flavour and fun.
From Dragons to Steampunk Zeppelins to Pirate Airships, Ninjago seemed to do everything right, balancing interactive designs with that cool factor that Nexo Knights hasn’t really been able to emulate.
Ninjago has simultaneously provided us with a breath of fresh air, mixed in with the maturity of a 5-year old theme that has managed to defied the odds in 2016 with inspired designs that perfectly resonate with LEGO’s core audience.
Licensed Theme of the Year
The Licensed Theme of the Year goes to Marvel! I enjoyed most of Marvel’s sets last year, which was given a boost by Captain America: Civil War, which was such an exceptional summer blockbuster.
The sets were particularly varied in 2016, with some really great sets coming out of Civil War, the triumphant debut of Ghost Rider and not to mention one of the best Spider-Man sets in recent history.
Marvel did things mostly right, without being overly flashy and most importantly, excelled at introducing new characters and minifigures into the Marvel LEGO Universe.
Minifigure of the Year
This is a no brainer – Finn from Adventure Time easily takes the Minifigure of the Year Award, by virtue of having one of the best minifigure faces in history. Have you seen what you can do with Finn heads?
Adventure Time is a massive property, and LEGO did an awesome job translating the fun brightly-coloured characters into minifigures via LEGO Dimensions. Finn’s also a personal favourite of mine as I really loved the cartoon during its zenith.
Set of the Year – Runner Up
LEGO absolutely nailed the Volkswagen Beetle, which manages to win runner-up in the Set of the Year awards. The beautiful blue bug was brought to life in spectacular fashion, with some of the most enticing curves you’ll ever see on a LEGO model.
The build was satisfyingly complex, without it being too challenging, introducing a whole new array of building techniques on a LEGO model that just looks so damn good on display.
Coming in at a great price-point, the LEGO Volkswagen Beetle is everything you could ever want from a Creator Expert set, which is why is thoroughly deserved to be Runner-Up in the Set of the Year award.
Set of the Year
I would never have thought that I’d fall in love with a Technic set, but from the moment I unboxed the Technic Porsche 911 GT3 RS, I knew that I was in for an experience of a lifetime.
2016’s Set of the Year Award goes to the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, one of the most incredible Technic sets that have ever released. This is actually my first Technic set in a long time, but I was blown away by the set and all it had to offer.
It just screams premium and bold, two things that are synonymous with the Porsche brand. I was firstly, very impressed with how well they translated those intangible associations into a Technic set.
Months after (painfully) putting it together, it still remains a fixture in my LEGO room, attracting praise from visitors and anyone that beholds it in all its orangey glory.
While it may be flawed from a technical standpoint and may not totally impress hardcore Technic aficionados, it hit all the right notes for me, as proof that LEGO can be so much more than just a toy.
That’s it, hope you enjoyed the 2016 Jay’s Brick Blog Awards and the Retrospective Piece. We’re entering yet another exciting year in 2017 with plenty of cool sets coming our way AND a LEGO Batman Movie as well.
Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments what you’re looking forward to the most this year, whether its a rumour, unconfirmed re-release of a certain UCS or something from your wildest LEGO dreams!