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Discover a unique section of the LEGO shop

by admin on May 8, 2017

in Useful Resources

The Online LEGO Shop has an interesting new section that you may or may not have noticed, titled Discover. When the updated website was launched last year, there was nothing here, so I have been curiously waiting to see what was going to be added. And indeed, LEGO has been quietly filling up this space with some unusual resources. So let’s take a look. 🙂

You can reach the Discover section by simply going to the Online LEGO Shop, and clicking on the Discover header in the yellow banner at the top of the page. A dropdown menu will open up with four sub-categories; LEGOLAND, Retired Products, Minibuilds, and Education. I’m not exactly sure why some of these are under the Online LEGO Shop, as other sections of LEGO’s vast website would likely be more appropriate, but the logic of how LEGO’s website is organized often escapes me. 🙄

The LEGOLAND header will take you to the main LEGOLAND page with more information about each park: LEGOLAND California Resort, LEGOLAND Dubai, LEGOLAND Florida Resort, LEGOLAND Billund, LEGOLAND Denmark, LEGOLAND Malaysia, and LEGOLAND Windsor. If you are interested to visit any of the parks, this is the best place to get the information you need.

The Retired Products section is where LEGO sets go when they are no longer sold at the Online LEGO Shop. This is actually a really interesting development, as previously LEGO simply removed retired sets from their website after a period of time. Right now there are around 1,300 items in this section. Is LEGO trying to create a database? It’s anyone’s guess. But when it comes to accurate and regularly updated databases of LEGO sets, parts, minifigures, instructions, and more, nothing beats the BrickLink.com database, carefully and lovingly maintained by the LEGO fan community. And, if you want to track your personal collection, Brickset.com is the best place to go. I’m curious to see what is LEGO’s long-term plan with this section, if any. Sometimes they launch new projects and new webpages they later abandon, so we shall see. Currently, all you can do is filter retired products by categories like theme, interest, piece-count, rating, etc.

The next section, called Minibuilds, is my favorite. It contains downloadable PDF instructions for all the mini models available during the LEGO Monthly Minibuild event that’s held at official LEGO stores. Parents need to register their children prior to this event, and available spaces quickly fill up. Plus, not everyone lives near a LEGO store. So, making the instructions available online is really helpful. The models are small and cute, usually depicting animals or vehicles that kids can easily build. If you ever have a few minutes where you want to doodle with some small builds and learn some interesting building techniques, check out this section. Instructions for a new model are added every month.

The last section under the Discover tab is titled Education. Here you can get quick access to the various LEGO Education products available for preschool, elementary and middle school programs, and of course, you can also buy them for yourself. This includes the LEGO Mindstorms Education EV3 Core Set, with the LEGO EV3 Intelligent Brick, and a full curriculum-pack to help educators start teaching STEM and computer science. For younger kids, there is the LEGO Education WeDo 2.0 Core Set, which also teaches science skills, but with a simpler system based on various motors, sensors, standard LEGO bricks, and a full curriculum-pack.

The preschool selection includes some particularly interesting sets that you normally wouldn’t find via regular LEGO retailers; standard LEGO and LEGO DUPLO brick packs, minifigure and DUPLO figure packs, DUPLO animal packs, vehicle packs, packs with windows, doors, roof pieces and wheels, baseplates and regular building plates in various colors and sizes, and some really useful stackable extra-large storage bins. Keep in mind that shopping at the LEGO Education website is separate from the main Online LEGO Shop site, so you won’t get LEGO VIP point or the regular free shipping terms.

As you can see, there are some hidden gems to discover under the Discover tab of the Online LEGO Shop, so you might want to take a look here once in a while. What do you think? Do you find any of these categories and services useful? Feel free to share in the comment section below! 😉

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Hayato May 8, 2017 at 11:50 AM

Ah! So that’s where the minibuilds are! Very cool! The education section is also very interesting. Are they going to keep the minibuilds on the site from year to year? Or only the current year?

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admin May 8, 2017 at 1:26 PM

I can’t remember when the Minibuilds section started, but I vaguely remember that they may have had some last year as well. Since they are no longer up, I would assume LEGO only lists them for the current year. If you wan to keep the instructions, I would suggest you download and save the PDFs, just to be on the safe side. They are nice little projects when you just want to doodle, or for kids’ birthday parties, get-togethers, etc.

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Icepacklady May 8, 2017 at 12:24 PM

That’s very cool about the minibuilds being there! I wish they had the pick-a-model instructions there too.

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admin May 8, 2017 at 1:27 PM

Hm… good idea! I would like to see that too! 😀

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DavidH May 8, 2017 at 2:06 PM

Those education sets are very interesting. Especially the parts packs and baseplate sets. Never been to this section of the site before. Do they ever have sales?

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rainey May 8, 2017 at 2:30 PM

That sounds like a great development.

I used to have to scour the internet to find the educational products. And that’s not an easy thing to do when you don’t even know what you’re looking for…

And I still think they could incorporate things like ethnic minifigs from the educational unit to the commercial unit without all the defensiveness about yellow being a universal abstract. Black children and other children of color who are consumers and users of Lego products need to see themselves and not a yellow abstract from time to time. It wouldn’t be all that hard to have a small package of alternate heads and hands.

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admin May 8, 2017 at 2:44 PM

I agree. I guess it’s just that LEGO had such a long history with yellow minifigs, they can’t/won’t give that up. Old time LEGO fans would go nuts. So right now we only get regular skin-tones in licensed sets. Whenever I shop on BrickLink I always check if the seller has some regular skin-tones as well. While I prefer yellow myself, because that’s what I grew up with, and I think it’s cute, for realistic MOCs regular skin-tones work better. It is interesting to note that DUPLO always had regular skinned minifigs, and a much better variety of skin-colors than regular LEGO sets. And the LEGO mini-doll sets also come with regular skin colors.

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rainey May 10, 2017 at 12:44 PM

So have the “educational” packages. At least since the 80s.

When I was living in Cape Town and buying Lego sets for Black African children who were clearly in the majority it was particularly ridiculous and painful. And yet when I’d describe my dismay to Lego I got the pro forma lecture on the abstract of yellow minifigs. ::sigh::

At least they do and have done the “community” sets. And now if they’re more accessible that’s a set in the right direction!

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Mike May 8, 2017 at 3:20 PM

Very nice article that taught me something new about the LEGO website. Why didn’t I find the education subsite before?

Oh, right, because there is no such subsite on the German LEGO website. This sucks! I was very frustrated some years ago when I wasn’t allowed to order the Master Builder Academy sets – not available in Germany. Now this subsite with some quite interesting sets, for example the Fantasy minifigures. Some countries have all the fun…

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admin May 8, 2017 at 3:32 PM

Mike, so it sounds like LEGO Education is not available in your country? That may have a lot to do with how educational programs are handled in your region. At least in the US, LEGO Education was always primarily a resource available for schools and teachers, and it is a curriculum-based program. My guess is that in your country both the curriculum and what is available for teachers and schools are different, so this program may not make sense there.

If you are interested in robotics, LEGO BOOST is coming out soon, which will be a consumer product for a very reasonable price. For more advanced robotics the EV3 is there. As far as the minifigs, none of them are unique, so you should be able to get together a similar collection from BrickLink.

I’m very sorry that you were not able to get the Master Builder Academy sets. It is one of the most interesting and innovative teaching programs for LEGO building, and some of my most favorite sets. I have the entire collection and often use them as a reference. I’m not sure why it was not rolled out in other countries, but even in the US it went through at least three different phases. So perhaps ultimately it just didn’t work out for LEGO. But the sets, and particularly the books, are very good.

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Mike May 9, 2017 at 4:40 AM

That may be right – in Germany there are very strict rules about corporate involvement in schools. Even sponsoring is largely forbidden, home schooling absolutely. Some families leave the country because of Germany’s system of compulsory school attendance. Well, I like it and cannot comprehend why some parents think that they are better teachers than, well, actual teachers with actual scientifically developed curricula.

Ah, well, to each his or her own.

Damn, I just purchased a mint 20214-1 in Croatia because of you! I hope you are properly ashamed or proud now. 😉

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admin May 9, 2017 at 10:53 AM

Mike, glad you were able to get that one! It’s one of my favorite levels. The main build is so pretty, and there are many really interesting seed ideas, suggestions, and lessons in the book. I would shamelessly say though, that now you have that one, you will have to get the other ones too. This is because the levels actually build on each other, and later lessons refer back to earlier ones. That’s why it’s called Master Builder Academy. It has four levels, like a four year school. You just entered the third semester without the foundation. Of course, since this is LEGO, you can figure out most of it on your own, but personally I enjoyed the systematic teaching method.

Speaking of teaching, at least in the US, homeschooling doesn’t mean that parents just teach whatever they want to their kids. The children still follow a government-regulated and approved curriculum, with regular tests. It’s just that the kids do the learning from home, or in small groups, and online. I know a lot of people who homeschool, and their kids are markedly ahead of their peers both academically and socially. As long as the kids have a well-adjusted schedule, regularly interact with other children via study-groups, sports-clubs, science-clubs, camps, etc., and the parents are supportive, homeschooling is becoming a more and more viable option for a lot of people. Public schools in the US are degrading very fast with focus on standardized test, insane security laws, junkfood, outdated educational materials and teaching methods. Private schools can be great, but they are very expensive. So, if a family can afford to have one parent stay at home with the kids, homeschooling is a great alternative.

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BLProductions May 8, 2017 at 3:32 PM

That’s neat; I hadn’t noticed it before, although that might be because I can’t access LEGO Shop anymore (my browser remains outdated…). I like seeing retired sets pop up in search results (especially sets I have), but I doubt that’s why LEGO’s kept them. Maybe they’re trying to log all the major products they’ve released, or provide accurate information on retired sets, should anyone need it. The Education tab is the best though, since not everyone realizes those products are on a different site.
Speaking of Education sets, whatever happened to LEGO BOOST? It was supposed to be released in March, but that doesn’t appear to have happened. I can’t find it on the Education site or LEGO Shop. Did something delay its release? 😕

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admin May 8, 2017 at 3:36 PM

According to the original press-release that came out in January, LEGO BOOST was scheduled for the second half of the year: http://thebrickblogger.com/2017/01/lego-boost-a-new-type-of-lego-robotics/. I just checked the official website, and it says it will be available in August. So no need to worry, it’s not delayed, and still coming. 😉

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BLProductions May 8, 2017 at 9:08 PM

Really? Huh, I thought I read in the initial press release on Brickset that it was coming on March 1 – I even had it written down as such on my computer. But OK then, August it is. 🙂
BTW, Brickset just updated the images for a bunch of the summer 2017 sets, particularly Elves, DC Super Hero Girls, Nexo Knights, Disney, and Creator. I particularly like 70355 Aaron’s Rock Climber from Nexo Knights, and the Elves sets look great as well. June is coming soon….

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admin May 8, 2017 at 9:46 PM

Yeah, I get the press-releases directly from LEGO too, so I’m sure. Thanks for the update about the Brickset database. I will check it out. I need a better view of some of the sets before deciding if I want to put them on my wanted list. Better start saving some money! 🙄

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