A long time ago, in a faraway land …
A good three years ago, I traveled to Billund to visit the factory as part of the release of the original LEGO Movie and a little building contest we won. The center of Billund was turned into one gigantic building site and a vision of what was about to come was revealed. However, it is fair to say that the epic building wharf was what left the impression. A whole city center being redesigned. Fast forward to the latest RLFM days this spring, and we saw the inside of what is now known as the Home of the Brick.
When we visited earlier this year, we got an epic preview of the LEGO tree, and have shared some images before. Not all was ready. The Master Gallery was still waiting for its guests to arrive. The activity rooms were still very much WIP (read Work In Progress). A lot of work was still ahead for the LEGO House Crew to make it all come together just a few months later.
And then there was last Friday. The avant-premiere of the official opening of the LEGO House with 600 AFOLs gathering in Billund to explore the House first hand. The real fire drill before the house will officially be opened next Thursday for the world to explore. And what an opening it was.
The LEGO Square is huge, yet very cozy and welcoming with the wooden floor that invites toy photographers to go low and get those first images captured with a beautiful light that streams in from the roof’s round keystone windows. LEGO told us that they had to redraw the designs and open up their wallet a little more to get this architectural airy feeling without supporting beams inside the square. A design that contributed to the delayed opening, but is for sure worth the wait. A story that started seven years ago and is beautifully portraited by TLG in this video (link will open in a new window and give you the essence of seven years in less as 3 minutes, all content created by TLG and rights reserved, but warmly recommended). The LEGO Square is part of the free public zone, and available for everyone visiting Billund.
Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen.
The House is not part of TLG commercial activities but is a true celebration of the Brick and a tribute to the past, present, and future of the Brick. It was no surprise to see Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen himself walk out of the elevator and mingle with the fans on the floor even before the official speeches. And yes, we got ourselves a selfie with Kjeld himself before he declared the house is as much his as all of the AFOLs in the room.
A statement that rings true for those who have followed the history of TLG a little. But also a statement that rings true for those that don’t remember the dark ages of LEGO and just visit the house for the first time. AFOL’s contributions are everywhere (do read on).
After the opening speeches (we did stream them on IG, let us know if you want us to do this more, streaming that is) the Home of the Brick was officially opened. And while most of the 600 AFOLs rushed up, we went down into the vault with our RFID bracelet safely wrapped around our wrist. There is a lot of technology and interaction included in the wristband, but we did not have the chance to explore it at full as the “app” was only released during the middle of the day and there was soo much to see the “old” way that at least I did not feel I needed a digital assistant to guide me.
The vault is an impressive experience. LEGO officially calls it the History Collection, but I am sure it will go by something like “The Vault” or “Memory Lane II” with the more adult fans of the Brick. You basically get an almost similar tour as in the LEGO Idea House (not open to the public, and when we looked into the window of the LEGO Idea House it did look empty inside, so for sure some material has moved to the official history collection) with some of the earliest sets on display and some other iconic Inside you will find a massive “digital” memory lane vault where you can look up your own favorite childhood memory set and get nostalgic.
And then you have the gatekeepers of the Vault.
Happy creepy girls that live inside the walls of the vault, amidst all the bricks.
Keep the bricks safe, spook the visitors, and make them smile.
For a second I thought I was in Astrid Lindgren´s world.
No picture on these spooky girls, you will have to visit and experience them yourselves. And when you do, let us know what they shared with you.
The Tree of Creativity.
After the Vault, it was time to climb up the colorful stairs (there is an elevator) where the walls are built of brick-sized tiles to the ground floor and follow the Tree of Creativity up to the Masterpiece Gallery.
The tree of Creativity is one of the largest LEGO structures ever built and is 15 meters tall. It took 6,316,611 standard LEGO bricks (yes, someone counted them) and 24,350 hours to assemble. It honors LEGO heritage in wooden toys, from the small seed planted back in 1932 (with the wooden carving to proof it) to the strong, tall tree the LEGO Group is today. And still growing.
When you visit the Tree, look out for the Monkeys in the tree (did anyone say, Mr. Nilsson) as they point out some of the hidden stories the designers have left for you to explore. We won’t spoil all the fun, but it is confirmed by TLG that the moon landing was #fakenews and trees are made of plastic (although on this topic TLG is working hard to become truly eco-friendly in the years to come).
The Masterpiece Gallery.
Once we reached the top of the tree, the Masterpiece Gallery reveals itself. Hidden in the Keystone brick at top of the House.
Three Dinosaurs Rawr the World.
Three dinosaurs made out of DUPLO, Classic and Technics respectively.
We have seen the images, we know why Dinosaurs Rawr and we met the master designer Stuart Harris before talking passionatly about his babies.
Yet standing in front of these three majestic dinosaurs is epic.
Not much more to say then … Rawr.
And off course, toy photographers do what toy photographers have to do.
Surrounding these 3 creatures of ancient wisdom and power, the seventeen master builders are on display. Not the certified LEGO professionals, but seventeen master builders that come straight out of this awesome AFOL community that was here on this grand avant-premiere.
A tribute to the wisdom of the crowd.
Or at least to these seventeen AFOLs.
Elspeth, Tyler, Jared, Cristiano, Ian, Jonas, Marin, Martin, Peter, Sean, Djordje, Rafal, Samuel, Sachiko, Jarek, Imagine and Chris.
We love you!
And then you have a dilemma.
Do you take the red pill or the blue (exit).
The Red Pill.
There are two exits out of the Keystone room, and if you happen to take the steps to the red room, don’t forget to take the steps later back up to explore the epic views of the village (the green zone) from above..
Down to the red playroom, there is a lot for everyone, and we took the time to take a few pictures in the sea of bricks. You can build. You can leave your own plastic graffiti.
You can race. You can save the Arctic. And yes, you can even make your own minifig. The sheer volume to choose from can keep you busy for hours.
Once you are done, you can take a digital selfie (which should sync with the app). I am sure the friendly staff will let you keep your build (although we did not ask for it as we were having a lot of LEGO friends along in our own bags, you know, photographers of all things plastic).
And there was more, much more.
The LEGO village is the most epic creation ever, with not hundreds but thousands of minifigs hanging about, living their plastic adventures.
A toy photographers dream to document the adventures, and everyone else will happily explore all the details that are in plain sight and hidden under the woods.
And from all of this awesomeness and hard work (you can make your own movies in the creativity zone), of course, you do get hungry. We checked in with the mini chef, and the ordering experience is great fun. The food itself was most probably very healthy (two mandatory veggies) but slightly too salty for our taste. I am sure the chef (the real one, not the plastic one) will fix that in no time.
The LEGO Store.
The LEGO House also includes an exclusive LEGO Store inside the square (no entrance ticket needed to get in there), with the full assortment, including LEGO education, some awesome Home of the Brick T-shirts, a selfie poster maker (the second one after London) and an exclusive LEGO House / second edition and 40 Millenium Falcons.
Well, after 600 AFOLs passed by it goes without saying that they all found a new home.
Now, before you leave the Home of the Brick, you should check out officially as you are not leaving empty handed. Every visitor gets a unique sealed package of 6 LEGO bricks and a unique combination number. Yes, unique. You can make more than 915 million combinations with 6 two by four bricks, and I got my unique combination number of 73,219,711, and it will take a while before the LEGO House will have gotten more than 915 million visitors.
TLG is working hard to get the last stones finished. It will be some sleepless nights in Billund and some overpriced coffee to get everything fixed.
The rooftop was off limits this Friday. Letting 600 AFOLS jump up and down may not be such a good idea the week before the opening.
We got a sneak peek earlier this year, and the views are magnificent. So you do have to take the time to go and stand on top of the Home of the Brick.
If you are in Billund for work, pleasure or any other reason, do go visit the Home of the Brick. Best is to
Best is to prebook as entries are limited, but it is sooo worth it.
The only thing that was missing was some awesome toy photography from the community, but I am sure the LEGO House team will look into that in the future.
This months word here on the blog is LEGO and visiting the LEGO House together with 600 other AFOLs was an awesome experience we will not easily forget..
PS. Fuzzy drone image provided by TLG. We did have our drone along but given the close proximity of the international airport of Billund, we happily relaid on TLG to provide the flying images. The droonie shot used with permission. ©2017 The LEGO Group.