As most readers on Brick Fanatics are probably aware, LEGO books are becoming serious business these days. It seems almost every other month there are new LEGO-related releases from DK Books, No Starch Press and Scholastic to name a few. I’ve been particularly enjoying a range of books from Warren Elsmore over the past few years, so when offered the chance to review his latest addition I was thrilled to have the opportunity.
Read on to see what I made of it and if it’s worth you parting with your hard-earned dosh for it…
Over 50 years after the invention of its plastic interlocking bricks the LEGO brand remains synonymous with creative and inventive play. However, we are now in an age of standardized tests at school and rigorously structured time outside of it. Although children still love to build with LEGO and nostalgia ensures it holds firm pride of place for adults, where can we find time for play? Perhaps the answer can be found by looking back in time, and combining the joys of creating with an enlightening historical agenda.
Using LEGO bricks, artist Warren Elsmore and his team have recreated stunning historic places and periods, from the Big Bang and Viking raids right through to the Battle of Trafalgar and the royal wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.
- Features 50 historic scenes displayed in a mixture of dioramas and buildable projects.
- All original material with never-before-seen inventive large scale LEGO models.
Brick History journeys through the most pivotal historic moments from around the world to celebrate our achievements with playful ingenuity and creativity.
Warren Elsmore is an artist working in a unique medium: LEGO bricks. Based in Edinburgh, he’s been in love with the plastic bricks since the age of four and now works with commercial companies to realize their dreams in plastic. Warren has organized several international LEGO conventions, all of which have attracted thousands of fans of all ages.
Brick History is a bright and appealing, glossy paperback featuring a hardened and slightly thicker front and back cover providing a wealth of LEGO goodness over 256 pages.
The idea behind it is simple. To go back to the dawn of time and try and cram as many key moments of historic significance as possible all the way to the present day… with a LEGO twist. The beauty of this book is that it’s education disguised as fun! A foreword from Warren begins the book and outlines the journey you’ll be taken on throughout the following 250 pages or so. Essentially starting at the Big Bang and working right up to the wedding of Kate and Wills in 2011, you’re covering roughly 13.8 billion years in around 70 models, which is no easy feat!
The first thing I noticed when having a quick flick through, is that every page is printed in full colour so it really does grab you visually. It’s a nice book to hold in your hands and that’s before you’ve even looked inside. You can really tell that a lot of passion and hard work has gone into it, with contributions from several well-known builders within the LEGO community.
After the foreword you’ve got a few pages dedicated to some interesting LEGO-related issues concerning photography of models, cleaning your LEGO bricks and model techniques. Although very brief, I actually thought this was a brilliant inclusion and not something I recall seeing in a LEGO book before. Whilst there is a wealth of info online covering all aspects of our favourite hobby, it’s a nice way to give a bit of useful info to the casual reader whom might not have previously given much thought to such a thing.
Moving on, you begin to discover what the bulk of the book is really about. Fantastically creative and colourful LEGO models are found on almost every page with some events featuring several photos dedicated to it. If there’s a LEGO technique out there it’s probably been used in this book. Everything from minifig-focused vignettes to forced perspective and my new favourite – micro-scale builds. Of course the hugely impressive Westminster Abbey model (I saw it myself at STEAM in 2011) is also on show featuring the Royal Wedding.
The book is divided into 4 categories; Prehistory and the Birth of Civilisation, Renaissance and the Age of the Empire, 19th Century, and lastly 20th Century and Beyond. Every event not only has a high quality photo of a relevant LEGO model, but a text box with a lengthy description of what the LEGO depicts. I was astonished (maybe I shouldn’t have been) at how much I was actually learning whilst simultaneously enjoying the pictures. Scattered among these historic events you’ll find another superb addition which will appeal to LEGO fans everywhere. Warren has created some custom LEGO instructions for specific models, allowing you have a go at building some yourself. Now these aren’t going to cover anything overly complicated like a whole scene, but you do get the chance to make a cool Viking shield, Sir Francis Drake’s galleon, Michelangelo’s paint palette and even a tube rack for the smallpox vaccination, among others!
It’s worth mentioning at this point that one page in particular grabbed my attention immediately. An incredible recreation of the Sistine Chapel ceiling which has an actual LEGO-style painting and a little Michelangelo underneath painting it. I have a particular fondness for LEGO art and would quite happily display something like this in a frame on my own wall.
Whilst some of these models might appeal more than others, you’re guaranteed to learn something new in the process of building one. I haven’t had a chance to try yet, but I quite fancy making a micro-scale RMS Titanic when I do.
Warren and his team have done it again with another wonderful book, fully deserving of a place in your collection. I never massively enjoyed history as a child and studying it in school wasn’t something I especially looked forward to every week. If, however, a book like this had been around when I was younger providing me with solid facts in bite-sized chunks, alongside some very entertaining and creative LEGO interpretations, then I definitely would have taken more interest.
Adults will enjoy this for the LEGO builds and photography whilst no doubt learning a thing or two in the process. The inclusion of instructions will mean you’ll be likely to return to this book many times to find something new to try out and perhaps build with your children if you have them.
Younger readers will also enjoy this, because as we all know LEGO has universal appeal and there isn’t too much text to make it feel like an overabundance of information. Brick History is an enjoyable read, presented well alongside high quality photography, making this a must-have.
Many thanks to The History Press Ltd for providing us with a copy for review. All opinions here are my own. Click below to purchase a copy for yourself.