The #853967 LEGO Originals Wooden Minifigure we discussed previously (see links at the end of this post) is an interesting novelty item that LEGO released shortly before the 2019 holiday season in limited quantities. It is a 5:1 upscaled version of the classic minifig carved out of oak. Although the wooden parts have no articulation, the minifig comes with adjustable plastic hands. The minifig is presented in a premium gift box with a leaflet featuring inspirational ideas to customize the model (painting, dressing, decorating, etc.). It has been quite popular with collectors, so it’s possible that LEGO will release similar items in the future.
Even though the LEGO Originals Wooden Minifigure is now sold out, it revived interest in building bricks similar to LEGO and made from wood. So, I thought to discuss the topic a bit. There are a couple of companies that have been manufacturing wooden building blocks that are worth checking out.
The highest quality wooden building block brand is called Mokulock from Japan. Mokulock blocks (and other wooden products) are made from trees that are cut down as a result of forest management in Yamagata. Mokulock blocks are carved from several different types of trees, including Japanese Cherry, Japanese Zelkova, Japanese Bigleaf Magnolia, Birch, Hornbeam, and Maple. This gives each brick its unique color, texture, and even aroma. No surface finishing oils, chemicals, paint, or glue is used in the manufacturing, so the blocks are as natural as they can get.
Mokulock bricks come in two sizes 2×2 studs and 2×4 studs. They are almost the same size as regular LEGO bricks, but not quite, so, they can’t really snap together with regular LEGO elements. However, they are precisely cut, so they do work well within their own system. The bricks are packaged in boxes of various piece-counts, and they also include building instructions for some basic models. There are also larger Mokulock bricks for younger children, similar to the size of DUPLO bricks.
Mokulock sets are interesting novelty items, but they are very expensive, even in Japan (about a dollar apiece). Also, because Mokulock bricks are untreated and uncoated wood they don’t respond well to moisture. Once they warp, it becomes hard to assemble and disassemble them. However, if you are still interested, most of the sets are available via Amazon. Here are the listings: MOKULOCK SETS ON AMAZON
A similar but cheaper product is available under the Eco-Bricks name. Eco-Bricks are made in China from all natural cherry wood. The 90-piece set that I have seen available on Amazon includes seventy standard 2×4 stud bricks, seven 2×4 stud bricks with tubes on the bottom and a flat top, five 2×2 stud bricks with tube on the bottom and a flat top, six 2×8 stud bricks with a flat bottom, and a couple of wheel assemblies. Interestingly, while these bricks aren’t cut as precisely as the Japanese brand, so sometimes they fit together too tight or too loose, they do fit better with LEGO bricks. You can find the 90-piece set on Amazon: ECO-BRICKS SET ON AMAZON
To be clear, wooden construction toys are not going to be able to replace the precision, durability, and variety of standard LEGO elements. However, as the brands above demonstrate, it’s possible to at least make some very basic LEGO bricks from wood. Although wooden bricks may not be very useful for most LEGO fans, they could offer an interesting medium to LEGO artists, photographers, brickfilmers, etc. who would like to add something unique and unusual to their creations. And who knows? LEGO may themselves expand on the LEGO Originals line and offer more novelty items made from wood.
What do you think? How do you like the LEGO Originals Wooden Minifigure? Do you have it? Have you customized it? Would you like LEGO to make similar products in the future? And what do you think of the LEGO bricks made from wood? Would you like to see similar LEGO-compatible wooden building elements in the future? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below!
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