With an exclusive discount available inside Brick Fanatics Magazine Issue 11, it’s the perfect time to get hands-on with Elegant Bricks’ LEGO lighting products
Elegant Bricks are the official UK distributor for Light My Bricks and offer a huge range of lighting kits and solutions for LEGO sets of all shapes and sizes. Partnering with Brick Fanatics Magazine, the company are offering an exclusive £10 discount on any qualifying order, via a discount code advertised in Issue 11 of Brick Fanatics Magazine.
Lighting LEGO sets is something I have never considered before this opportunity, primarily out of the fear of ignorance of electronics, and then for concern about proper integration between the lighting and the set itself.
Recently retired IDEAS set 21310 Old Fishing Store is the chosen subject for this review, applying this lighting kit to it. Please excuse the dust, which has been carefully collected over the past year to add a level of authenticity to the set. If it was New Fishing Store, it’d be spotless, definitely.
This model was selected for two reasons. Firstly, it is a set that stylistically could lend itself very well to the right lighting set-up. It’s a building that looks like it is based in a moody, atmospheric environment, where mist and storms from the sea would often leave it in the dark. Secondly, it’s a model that also represents a logistical challenge for any lighting kit, for the variety of areas that it would have to target – as well as the large main store and the three storey tower offering two very different sized interiors to illuminate, there are also wall-mounted exterior lights on opposite sides of the building, as well as the underside of the signage at the front.
The first thing to note about the product is its presentation. Opening up a simple white cardboard box reveals a nice set-up with a couple of welcome cards (from distributor Elegant Bricks and manufacturer Light My Bricks), with the lighting kit wrapped in protective bubblewrap underneath. It’s a simple introduction to the product, but serves as a good first impression for any customer. Opening up the kit has the various components separately bagged by type and size, alongside a user guide printed on high quality, thick matte paper – no expense has been spared in presentation, even if for a complete electronics novice it may also seem a little overwhelming at first.
Opening up the packets and examining the various components and even playing around with them a little bit is a good exercise to better understand how they work and how they connect with each other. Such is their size, though, be careful not to break anything before you’ve actually put it to its intended use.
There are no specific instructions on installing the lights across the set contained within the kit itself, but, both aforementioned welcome cards include prompts to visit their respective websites for them. It’s there that you can see a step-by-step process that is simple to follow and very clearly signposted throughout with clear photography. Installing the lights across the set was fiddly, requiring a mix of unbuilding, rebuilding, feeding delicate wires and LED lights through stud-wide holes and connecting components to various boards and strips.
It’s an involved process and not one for the youngest or most impatient LEGO builder. However, it is very satisfying once done, particularly in how well the wires are hidden across and inside the set, with them having been designed to fit as best as possible between bricks. Under the finest scrutiny you will be able to spot them, but, they are as minimal as you can imagine and for the effect they create, any trade-off is certainly worth it.
That’s because once everything is connected and in place, and three AA batteries have been inserted into the power pack, and everything has been switched on, the end result is truly fantastic. Between the quality of the lights and the smartness of thought for where (and how) they have been positioned across the model, the lighting kit immediately breathes new life and potential into the set. The large interior is completely lit up thanks to two larger lighting strips, whilst a third lighting strip underneath the exterior store sign adds another level of authenticity to the set. A desk lamp and ceiling light in respective rooms of the adjoining tower add a warmth and ‘lived in’ feel to the set, whilst the exterior lights are both prime examples of the lights’ complementary relationship to transparent plastic bricks.
The lighting kit is, for all intents and purposes, relatively simple in concept and application. But more importantly, with attention to detail in the manufacture of the product and with clear consideration to the customer’s experience from start to finish, the process of installing and using the lights is kept just as simple, really maximising the enjoyment and appreciation of the effects that they create.
There are a couple of compromises to consider, the first namely in the potential requirement to stick lighting strips to your LEGO. This particular kit came with two 1×6 LEGO plates to stick two of the strips to, so as to avoid damaging anything in the set, but, the third strip was intended to be stuck directly on to the set – I navigated this by finding my own 1×6 LEGO plate to stick it to first, so, not a huge problem. The other issue, which could also be worked around with some build ingenuity if you have the time, is the exposed battery power pack. Too big to fit inside the tower and too cumbersome to settle in the larger store, it sits neatly on the outside, just, at the same time being quite big and, with a feeling that it’s not meant to be there. It’s worth noting that whilst most kits come with the battery pack as standard, there is an option to switch it out for a USB adaptor when purchasing the product.
However, just like the slightly raised connections of bricks that have had wires slid under them, these complaints are minor and easy to overlook with consideration to the effect they are in place to help achieve.
Really, there’s nothing to fault in what Light My Bricks has designed and Elegant Bricks so delightfully want to provide UK customers with – these are simple-to-use, easy-to-enjoy lighting kits that really do add a new dimension to your LEGO. There’s also some interesting potential to consider, given the modular aspect to the kits and that even a remote control can be added.