The LEGO House is packed with “wow” builds. The first is the Tree of Creativity, which visitors walk around as they arrive. The second is the trio of dinosaurs that have pride of place in the Masterpiece Gallery, standing in what would be the tubes if this enormous oversized brick was an actual 2×4 LEGO piece.
With 4000026 LEGO House Tree of Creativity launched to cover that first iconic build, the next set in the series was first revealed in April to be 40366 LEGO House Dinosaurs. During LEGO Fan Media Days 2019, LEGO Designer Nina Koopman presented the set that she had worked on right below the enormous dinosaur statues that inspired it.
“As you all know these dinosaurs are here actually in the LEGO House as well as one of the main attractions for people to come … the reason we chose set actually is this is one of the key icons, when you come up the stairs this is what you see. Here we have represented the three building systems we have DUPLO, we have the System brick, we have Technic,” she explained.
It was two months of design work on the set for Nina, before she handed it off to the Graphic Designer and other departments who would be involved in the process.
“The main challenge was not really the dinosaurs, it is the round podiums because LEGO is not exactly known for roundness, so to speak. So we had to come up with a clever way of making something appear fairly round to represent this but then could also hold the three dinosaurs in place. So instead of starting with the dinosaurs, we started with the base.”
The idea of mixing the systems and including DUPLO elements in the box was quickly discarded. “How do we make one out of DUPLO bricks, one out of System bricks and one out of Technic? There was no way I could make this one out of DUPLO bricks, that would be maybe four or six bricks compared to these so details would be lacking in it.
In the model, the set features closed eggs, yet in the LEGO House, the eggs are hatched with baby dinosaurs. Nina explained that the set has been in development for a year and the decision was made to stick with the unhatched eggs, as they were back when the product design began.
To find out what the top of the beasts’ heads looked like, the designer went up to the top of the LEGO House and peered in through the huge windows that are located there. With no reference photos for the top of the heads, it was her only way of finding out what they looked like from that angle.
The team that Nina works in has to avoid using printed or new elements and make sue of the existing parts portfolio. “I know that some people are not too keen on stickers actually and we completely understand that but it is again about striking this balance between how many exclusive elements or decorative elements do we want to put in and how many common elements do we want to put in, and in our department we are always trying to use the most common elements wherever possible.”
Both the ice creams that the dinosaurs hold and the 1×1 bricks that they stand on were left out of the set. The ice creams were not in place when the model was designed. As for the 1×1 brick, there was no way to include it in this scale in a way that would match the proportions of the actual element and no way to include it without sacrificing some of the dinosaurs’ posability and playability.
40366 LEGO House Dinosaurs has two audiences to please. As an exclusive set to the LEGO House, it is extremely appealing to collectors, but it is also the perfect souvenir for families who have enjoyed a day at the Home of the Brick. “Striking this balance between a real desirable icon for fans to display but also for kids to play with it was also something we looked at.”
The set includes three separate building instruction booklets, so that a family – or group of friends – can build the models at the same time. To put that to the test, Nina concluded her presentation by allowing Brick Fanatics – and everyone else present – to build one of the dinosaurs right there and then in the Masterpiece Gallery.
There was no indication of what the next exclusive set might be – but it is hard not to notice that the third “wow” moment in the LEGO House is the waterfall in the Red Zone…