See how LEGO NINJAGO sets are designed

A rare look at LEGO Model Designers’ sketch models and protypes provides a glimpse into how NINJAGO sets are designed.

When LEGO designers are working on a product, they have different ways of designing; some might sketch something by hand first, some might work digitally with special software, but many just sit down with some bricks and start iterating. There are usually many different versions of a model before anything close to the final set is realised, but the finished ‘sketch model’ is very important; this is the model that gives a good idea of what the final set will be, but isn’t yet up to LEGO set standards.

Sometimes the same designer works on a product all the way though, sometimes one designer comes up with the sketch model and then another designer comes up with the finished model. The process though requires the sketch model to be turned into a visually appealing, playable, stable LEGO set.

These images show early versions of LEGO NINJAGO sets, alongside the finished version that was released.

9444 Cole’s Thread Assault

9445 Fangpyre Truck Ambush

9450 Epic Dragon Battle

70727 X-1 Ninja Charger

70747 Boulder Blaster

71738 Zane’s Titan Mech

For even more examples of how LEGO NINJAGO designs evolved – including the classic 70627 Dragon’s Forge, 70592 Salvage M.E.C. and the packaging for the spinners – order a copy of Blocks magazine Issue 75, which includes an exclusive feature looking at how LEGO NINJAGO was created, developed and embraced by fans around the world. It’s all part of the big celebration of the LEGO NINJAGO 10 year anniversary, which has kicked into high gear today.

To get Blocks every month – at a discount and earlier than the shops – order a 12-month or 24-month subscription. Direct debit payment options are available too; to find out more get in touch via subs@silverbackpublishing.rocks.

Where the LEGO NINJAGO idea came from 10 years ago

It’s 10 years since LEGO NINJAGO launched! The incredible action-adventure theme has gone from strength to strength, and now its origin story is revealed.

To celebrate 10 years of LEGO NINJAGO, the LEGO Group has revealed the story of how the theme began (don’t worry, there are also lots of great new products too). Here is what the secretive company has shared about how it all began:

Late on a Friday in fall 2019, a drawing was made that would be the beginning of something big. Tommy Andreasen did a sketch showing different elemental ninjas and the team had the idea of the ninja being on a sort of spinners to make an active minifigure play.

On the drawing you see a ninja of water, tough that ended up not being added until Nya became the master of water in 2015. The sketch has the word ‘Spinjago’ on it, which was the first idea of a name, which then developed into ‘Spinjitzu’ – a combination of the words ‘spin’ and ‘ninjitzu’.

The ‘NINJAGO’ name was also a combination of the words ‘NINJA’ and the word ‘GO’ which was taken form the end of the LEGO Group company name. It was also thought to be a great activator, like a battle cry.

Well… that’s the short version of the story at least. For the full story, including what Tommy thinks about the name NINJAGO and why it’s special, you’ll need to get Blocks magazine Issue 75. It has an in-depth look at how the action-adventure range began, how it has become a LEGO evergreen and how it is now celebrating its legacy.

And if you think the artwork above is cool, it’s just the beginning. Our special feature includes dozens of never-before-seen pieces, including LEGO designer sketch models, television development sketches and concept art.

To get Blocks every month – at a discount and earlier than the shops – order a 12-month or 24-month subscription. Direct debit payment options are available too; to find out more get in touch via subs@silverbackpublishing.rocks.

The LEGO Group announces NINJAGO 10 year anniversary celebration

LEGO NINJAGO has been running for 10 years – and there’s plenty happening to celebrate including a special feature in Blocks magazine, 23 new LEGO sets, 71741 NINJAGO City Gardens, collectible gold minifigures and a clothing collaboration with HYPE.

The LEGO Group has announced how the company will mark the incredible milestone of NINJAGO reaching its 10th anniversary. For 10 years, the theme has been on toy store shelves and television screens, as well as becoming a theme park ride, a theatrical movie, a series of comics and much more.

‘It has been an amazing journey to see a product range turn into something that kids have enjoyed for 10 years,’ says LEGO Design Manager Michael Svane Knap, the longest-serving designer on the theme. ‘Some have grown up with LEGO NINJAGO and are now expressing their gratitude and telling us how they have learned lifelong skills. In my opinion, that is the best thing about LEGO NINJAGO. Kids learn about friendship, confidence and much more… and of course, that ninjas are cool!’

He reveals the full inside story, along with other LEGO insiders and the creators of the animated television series, in Blocks magazine Issue 75 – available now. A small taste of that is provided in this story about how the NINJAGO idea came about in the first place and this look a how a handful of the models were developed.

To mark the anniversary, 71741 NINJAGO City Gardens will be available exclusively at LEGO.com. The incredible 5,685 piece set will be available to order at some point today. It includes an exclusive gold coloured Master Wu minifigure, with other collectible characters included with NINJAGO Legacy sets this year.

Four new sets are coming in March and will continue the NINJAGO story (the full checklist is available here):

71745 Lloyd’s Jungle Chopper Bike
71746 Jungle Dragon
71747 The Keepers’ Village
71748 Catamaran Sea Battle

Season 14 of the animated television series will launch this year, which will be a tribute to the voice actor Kirby Morrow, who has voiced Cole since the show started and passed away at the end of 2020.

Be sure to start this epic year right with a copy of Blocks magazine Issue 75, with an exclusive look at how LEGO NINJAGO was devised and how it has developed since, featuring never-before-seen artwork.

To get Blocks every month – at a discount and earlier than the shops – order a 12-month or 24-month subscription. Direct debit payment options are available too; to find out more get in touch via subs@silverbackpublishing.rocks.

Blocks magazine celebrates the 10 year anniversary of LEGO NINJAGO

LEGO NINJAGO has done what few original concepts manage and stuck around for an entire decade – the incredible action-adventure theme is celebrating 10 years on the shelves. To celebrate this occasion, Blocks magazine is going behind-the-scenes with the creatives who made it the success story that it is and sharing never-before-seen development art.

NINJAGO all started with a first year of products, including spinners as well as traditional LEGO sets, before an animated special came along. ‘We were always told, “okay, it’s just going to be a special”,’ Executive Producer Dan Hageman (half of the Hageman brothers) tells Blocks in Issue 75’s special feature. ‘Then we were told, “okay, it’s just going to be 13 episodes”. If you look at the pace, we always gave it everything we had.’

That special spawned an entire television series that has continued year in year out, as the adventures of the ninja crew have included fighting undead skeletons, dealing with snake civil wars, understanding ghostly realms, heading inside a video game and visiting all sorts of other far-flung lands. By tying the animated episodes in closely with the sets, the storytelling has been deeper than anything the LEGO Group has done before.

In the exclusive feature, the Hagemans are joined by other creative talents including the LEGO Group’s Tommy Andreasen, Michael Svane Knap and Simon Lucas to reveal just what has gone into making NINJAGO a success over 10 years. From the very beginning, when the team worked on what would become the spinners, to how the theme is revisiting its past today with NINJAGO Legacy… this is the full, in-depth story of the most successful modern LEGO theme.

This celebration of the LEGO NINJAGO 10th anniversary is in Blocks magazine Issue 75 – available to order and in stock right now.

To get Blocks every month – at a discount and earlier than the shops – order a 12-month or 24-month subscription. Direct debit payment options are available too; to find out more get in touch via subs@silverbackpublishing.rocks.

Win LEGO 10274 Ghostbusters ECTO-1 with Blocks magazine

We’re giving away two LEGO Ghostbusters sets! You could own a 2,352 piece LEGO 10274 Ghostbusters ECTO-1 if you win the latest prize draw from Blocks magazine.

Every month, Blocks magazine gives away LEGO sets to print subscribers. Everyone who buys a subscription before February 3 will be in with a chance of winning one of two 10274 Ghostbusters ECTO-1 sets! All existing subscribers are included too.

The set provides a detailed taste of movie magic, as it’s the largest LEGO version of the converted 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance ever released. Details include working steering, a trapdoor, ghost trap, an extending rear gunner seat, a proton pack… for fans of the 1980s classic flick, it’s a must-have (and there’s a review of the set in Blocks 75, if you need any convincing).

But what if you don’t win? Well don’t worry, there’s a new chance every month! We’ve given away Harry Potter, Monkie Kid, Star Wars and Super Mario sets over the past few months.

Print subscribers also save money on postage, get at least one issue for free and get the magazine early every month.

To get Blocks every month – at a discount and earlier than the shops – order a 12-month or 24-month subscription. Direct debit payment options are available too; to find out more get in touch via subs@silverbackpublishing.rocks.

Blocks magazine Issue 75 celebrates 10 years of LEGO NINJAGO and reviews Ghostbusters ECTO-1

It’s time for the latest issue of Blocks magazine, which kicks off 2021 with a celebration of LEGO NINJAGO, an exclusive look at LEGO Braille Bricks and a review of the new Ghostbusters ECTO-1. Issue 75 is available as a single issue or as part of a subscription at www.blocksmag.com and will be in UK shops from Thursday.

There have been many LEGO success stories, but one of the most remarkable is LEGO NINJAGO – the action adventure theme launched a decade ago, became a smash hit and has been running ever since. Blocks magazine has exclusive interviews with the creatives who bring NINJAGO to toy store shelves and television screens, illustrated with never-before-seen conceptual artwork and sketch models.

When the LEGO Group isn’t coming up with new product ranges to capture the imagination of children, the company’s not-for-profit arm is partnering with charities around the world to help enrich the lives of children. A look at Braille Bricks reveals how an adapted version of the classic 2×4 brick is teaching children with visual impairment an essential life skill.

As for the Reviews section, it kicks off with a look at 10274 Ghostbusters ECTO-1, finding out if this LEGO depiction of the silver screen’s most beloved ramshackle car lives up to its reputation and delivers all of the spook-seeking action cinephiles demand. That’s not all though, with the new Star Wars: The Mandalorian 75299 Trouble on Tatooine getting expert consideration along with DC, City and NINJAGO sets.

Month in LEGO looks at some of the new releases that are available to buy now, highlighting the most interesting sets for collectors to check out. Technique provides tips on taking out the LEGO trash, showing how to go beyond the rubbish bin element and construct authentic looking dumpsters for LEGO layouts. Month in MOCs travels from the Old West to Geonosis – via Michigan – to share some incredible original builds.

In addition to an interview with Warren Elsmore about his Brick City exhibition, regular sections include Blockstalgia, Piece Perception, Top Ten, This LEGO Life, Ideas Showcase and LUG Spotlight.

Be in with a chance of winning one of two 10274 Ghostbusters ECTO-1 sets! To be entered into the latest prize draw and to get Blocks magazine delivered every month – ahead of the shops – visit http://www.blocksmag.com and check out the money-saving subscription deals available.

Everyone who subscribes to the print edition by February 3 will be in with a chance of winning (existing subscribers will automatically be entered into the prize draw).

To get Blocks every month – at a discount and earlier than the shops – order a 12-month or 24-month subscription. Direct debit payment options are available too; to find out more get in touch via subs@silverbackpublishing.rocks.

A message from Blocks magazine to our readers

With the year we’ve all had, Blocks would like to share a message with every LEGO fan who has supported us over the last 12 months.

Hello everyone,

This is a message to every single person who subscribes to Blocks, buys the occasional issue or just tells other LEGO fans about what we do.

2020 has been a challenging year for everyone. It’s been really hard. With all of the difficulties we have faced, the most immediate being concerns about the health of our families, friends, communities and selves, then on top of that the huge knock-on impact on businesses, employment and income, there has been a lot of uncertainty and worry.

When all of the shops in the UK and many other countries around the world closed, reduced their hours and became more difficult to visit, Silverback Publishing put in place a plan to make sure that LEGO fans could still get their monthly magazine to provide a bit of a break and be a welcome distraction. I feel very thankful that we have people behind us who were ready to make that happen.

The biggest thank you I want to give though is to you, our readers. When you couldn’t get Blocks from the shops, you came online to order individual copies or subscriptions. You didn’t just shrug and forget about Blocks, you came to our website and placed an order. We’ve even had people buying up every back issue we have in stock!

Your support means that Blocks will continue to bring you a monthly LEGO fix that you can only get in the pages of this magazine.

Thank you again for your support. It really does mean the world to everyone here. We love putting this magazine together for you and are delighted that we are in an excellent position to continue to do so.

If you know someone else who would love the magazine or hasn’t checked it out in a while, be sure to let them know what they’re missing out on!

2020 has been a tough year, and there might be more tough times to come, but a bit of LEGO can help brighten the gloomiest of times – and there will be better days at the other side of this.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and New Year. In case I haven’t stressed this enough; thank you.

Graham Hancock
Editor

graham@blocksmag.com

P.S. I can’t wait for you to see Issue 75, we have some fantastic features lined up! Did you know a certain theme is 10 years old in 2021? Who knows what we’ve lined up to celebrate that…

Need a last minute Christmas LEGO gift?

We know how it goes – it’s days from Christmas day, there’s not much chance of an online order arriving and the shops have barely any LEGO sets left on the shelves. A subscription to Blocks magazine is the perfect last minute Christmas LEGO gift!

LEGO fans can be difficult to buy for – they have loads of sets already, they buy loose bricks in bulk from websites you’ve never heard of and they keep treating themselves to new LEGO boxes right up until Christmas. Then there’s the shortages that always happen around Christmas time, when the shops sell out, Amazon jacks up the prices and online orders might not arrive in time.

So here is the perfect last minute Christmas LEGO gift – a subscription to Blocks magazine. What makes it such a great present is that it keeps giving all year round; every single month, the LEGO fan in your life will find a new 116 page magazine land on the doorstep. This LEGO magazine, made by fans for fans, is packed with build inspiration, set reviews and incredible behind-the-scenes exclusive features revealing what goes on in the LEGO headquarters.

With a print subscription to Blocks magazine, you get;

  • 12 or 24 issues of the magazine delivered to the address of your choice
  • the magazine before it arrives in the shops
  • free entry into a new prize draw every month, with LEGO sets up for grabs
  • it’s cheaper than buying single copies of the magazine

How do you share this Christmas gift with the recipient if the big day is just days away? Design a nice certificate and print if off – or use a blank Christmas card to write a nice message revealing that their first issue of Blocks magazine will be coming soon!

To get Blocks every month – at a discount and earlier than the shops – order a 12-month or 24-month subscription. Direct debit payment options are available too; to find out more get in touch via subs@silverbackpublishing.rocks.

How Blocks magazine has listened to readers in 2020

It’s been a very rewarding year at Blocks; it’s been an exceptionally strange one, but our readers have rallied around to support our work and we have ended 2020 providing our monthly LEGO magazine to more fans than ever before.

We’d like to take this moment to blow our own trumpet a bit and highlight some of the things we have done this year – most of these have been in response to reader feedback, some of these are just to offer our readers a better experience…

Improved paper quality

One consistent thing we had been hearing was that the magazine needed better quality paper, so in March we went to thicker paper to improve the pages within Blocks magazine. It’s now much nicer to flick through and the images really ‘pop’.

Perfect bound magazine

To really give Blocks a premium feel and match other monthly magazines on the market, we introduced perfect binding. In non-magazine industry speak, that means that each issue now has a spine and looks even better when sat on the shelf.

Monthly subscriber giveaways

Subscribers get every issue of Blocks early, but we wanted to deliver something extra. We started offering a bimonthly prize draw, giving away a LEGO set to one print subscriber. After some really positive feedback, we upped the ante and are now giving away multiple prizes every single month as a thank you to subscribers for supporting what we do.

Direct debit payment option

We know that it can be tricky to pay for a full year, or two years, upfront. For some people, it’s better just to get it out of the way. Following feedback, we have introduced an alternative payment option that means subscribers can set up a direct debit for quarterly payments (contact subs@silverbackpublishing.rocks for more info).

New Blocks minifigures

We have been asked time and time again for new Blocks minifigures, and we are finally getting back to providing these collectible LEGO characters. So far we have had the Blocks Postman Minifigure and the Blocks Christmas Minifigure, with more to come next year.

Redesigned website

If there’s one thing we heard loud and clear, it’s that the old website was not user friendly. With this new website, we had one mission; allow our readers to buy the magazine or renew their subscription with minimal fuss. We’ve achieved that and now we’re enchancing the website further, providing a repository of our review scores and news on the latest LEGO reveals.

Now that’s what we’ve introduced in 2020, but that’s just the beginning of the journey. Please keep getting in touch and giving us feedback – whether it’s something you love or something you think could improve – and we’ll keep listening, to bring you the best possible LEGO magazine every single month.

Blocks magazine Issue 74 arrives with LEGO Monkie Kid reviews and more

It’s time for the new issue of Blocks magazine, which comes with a free 2021 wall planner. Issue 74 includes an exclusive feature going behind the scenes of The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special, a bumper Reviews section featuring Monkie Kid and a look at LEGO Pirates ships through the years.

Get in the Christmas mood with Blocks magazine Issue 74, available to order now and in UK shops from December 3. This edition of the magazine includes a free 2021 wall planner, which features every Blocks magazine cover on the reverse.

Issue 74 includes a look at the best gifts for Christmas 2020, a review of the charming Winter Village Elf Clubhouse set and exclusive insight into the making of The LEGO Star Wars Holiday Special. Lucasfilm’s Josh Rimes reveals how it is destined to be something more beloved than its 1978 namesake.

With those big holiday and January sale purchases imminent, there’s a bumper Reviews section this month, covering the epic LEGO Monkie Kid to see whether this theme aimed at consumers in China has broad appeal. There’s also a detailed look at a US television classic – 21324 123 Sesame Street, the LEGO Ideas set that captures the beloved childhood show. For Star Wars fans, 75290 Mos Eisley Cantina and 75318 The Child are also covered – do they live up to their reputations for wretchedness and cuteness?

As both 31109 Pirate Ship and 21322 Pirates of Barracuda Bay have set sail this year, there’s no better time to measure up the various LEGO vessels that have sailed the brick seas over the decades. Blocks magazine delves deep into what makes a LEGO pirate ship to see how they have evolved over time, going all the way back to 6285 Black Seas Barracuda.

There’s another blast from the past in Blockstalgia, although this one might not be quite as fondly remembered. Known as Dino Attack in the US, or the more sedate Dino 2010 in Europe, it’s one of the strangest LEGO themes ever released. Re-build tackles the bizarre mutant T.rex, revealing how to recreate it using bricks.

Along with regulars including Month in MOCs, Piece Perception, Technique, Rebuild Challenge and Ideas Showcase, there’s a report from this year’s virtual BrickCon, the top 10 LEGO sets inspired by history and everything you need to know about the LEGO Group’s China strategy.

Be in with a chance of winning one of four 80012 Monkey King Warrior Mech sets! To be entered into the latest prize draw and to get Blocks magazine delivered every month – ahead of the shops – check out the money-saving subscription deals available.

Everyone who subscribes to the print edition by January 1 will be in with a chance of winning (existing subscribers will automatically be entered into the prize draw).

To get Blocks every month – at a discount and earlier than the shops – order a 12-month or 24-month subscription. Direct debit payment options are available too; to find out more get in touch via subs@silverbackpublishing.rocks.