DK Publishing has a few new books to add to their ever growing line-up of officially licensed LEGO books. I’ve reviewed quite a few of them in the past and was able to get my hands on two new ones for the fall/holiday season. First up is The LEGO Play Book: Ideas to Bring Your Bricks to Life. Much like its predecessor, The LEGO Ideas Book, the LEGO Play Book offers up hundreds of bits of inspiration for builders of all ages, skill, and interest.
Staples of LEGO books from DK are their astounding color, layout, and detail and this offering is no exception. From the moment you open the book, even the table of contents is immaculate. The book is divided into five different themed sections – I’ll go over those in more detail soon. After a few pages of building tips, tricks, and info, the book dives into the first theme: Once Upon a Time.
Most can surmise this particular theme is fairy-tale oriented: see the dragon right on the front cover. There are 40 pages of goodies from fairy-tale creatures to giant flowers – and a giant. Some of the more complex builds include a wonderful castle, a stable, and that trusty dragon. There’s also a goofy looking model of Neptune, Lord of the Sea.
A Small World is my favorite of the five. LEGO has plenty of models out there – especially the Creator sets – designed to be full-scale (to a minifig). This section shows readers how to make the most of their smallest bricks – or even the lack of bricks. None of the models in this section are designed to fit a minifigure. Think of these as the Matchbox Cars of LEGO – you just use them as they are. But there are a lot of great builds here, especially when it comes to the buildings. I’ll admit LEGO City is my favorite theme (yes even more than Star Wars), so the incredible detail possible using small pieces to approximate architecture is one of my favorite aspects of LEGO. But there are more than just buildings. From mini sea creatures, African animals, dinosaurs, to an oil drilling rig, there will be something for everyone. The mini racetrack and space station are the highlights for me.
Go Wild is perhaps one of the more fascinating but also frightening themes in the book. It’s all animals – but you probably figured that out already. It’s amazing how on one hand you can make a pretty good approximation of a giraffe but at the same time create one of the most frightening monkeys I’ve ever seen. The penguins are downright adorable.
Things That Go Bump in the Night is your run of the mill horror/Halloween theme with everything from mad scientists to monsters coming out of your closet (I love that build!). Kids will probably enjoy the selection of robots as well. My favorite here is probably the giant oversized skeleton.
Wish You Were Here: LEGO on vacation!
Thankfully it is not all beaches and pools. While the beach hut build is phenomenal I was delighted to see mountain climbing, mountain biking, and snowboarding builds as well. The deep sea diving among the coral reef build is pure eye candy however.
Sprinkled throughout each chapter of the book are challenge builds created by fan builders. The LEGO Play Book does a great job of combining the skills of veteran builders with some of the younger fans. DK has always done a great job putting their LEGO books together. There are literally hundreds of things to build here. However this leads me to my one gripe…
If the book lacks anything it’s directions. It’s hard for me to look at a book with so many awesome models, designed to be built by readers but with no way to accurately do it. The builds that do have directions are usually just very small, quick ones. A few of the slightly more complex ones are shown in cross-section, or pulled apart to show the types of bricks but it can still be complicated to see just what is going on. While I’m sure many fans will just enjoy the pictures in the book there are going to be just as many who want to build everything they see. Frustrating.
PROS: Detailed, colorful, chock full of hundreds of models to gaze fondly upon. Up to the usual DK standards.
CONS: Light on the building instructions. A keen eye and problem solving intellect could probably figure out some of the more complex builds but the average LEGO fan is going to be disappointed only a handful of instructions are included for the more simplistic builds.
LEGO Play Book: B-