Hamleys has opened an all-new LEGO experience, and Brick Fanatics’ Editor was there on opening day to take the tour
On March 16, Hamleys opened its doors to a new LEGO section for the very first time. Still in the same location on the famous retailer’s top floor, but with a whole new look, it offers a uniquely London themed place to buy the world’s favourite construction toy. With oversized LEGO elements, brick built statues and hands-on play opportunities, it is a big step up from its previous iteration.
Entering through the oversized LEGO gates, protected either side by brick built upscaled minifigure guards, LEGO Manager Mark Campbell is there to greet Brick Fanatics and provide a tour of the new zone.
“Six years ago we had a refit, we moved up to this floor,” Mark explains, with infectious enthusiasm, clearly excited to be welcoming the first guests into the new section of the store. “Every few years we like to refresh it, because of course different things come into style.”
Everything in the new LEGO experience ties together – the upscaled replica of the LEGO Creator 40220 London Bus has the correct route number on the front, 221b – rather than 211b on the actual set — so it goes to Baker Street. “We’ve had a break-in, someone has stolen the crown jewels. This is a crime scene here, when you get close the alarm is going off. So we have a Sherlock Holmes, you’ve got a treasure hunt you have to do, you follow the clues around this whole department. Eventually you might come across where the crown jewels are.”
A key part of redesigning the LEGO area was ensuring that it is as interactive as other sections in Hamleys. “We are all about Hamleys being experiential, you come to the store and play. We like having things out to play with, so we’ve got this massive Hyde Park-esque looking area. We’ve got speaker’s corner, which is a demo table for myself and some of the other guys up here to build at all day. We have got the area over there with the fountain, over here it’s mainly about Duplo.”
The LEGO bricks to build with represent water in an upscaled park fountain, so are in a variety of shades of blue. As for the preschool bricks, they are at a lower level, for smaller children to reach, surrounding an oversized Duplo tree.
“We’ve had the most beautiful things built out of the limited blue colours we’ve got for the fountain,” says Mark. “What we are going do, when someone has built something really beautiful, they build up their own little name tag and we are going to place the model in our display case. You can say, ‘I’ve had something on show at Hamleys’.”
Unlike the minifigure generator found at the LEGO Store Leicester Square, the installation at Hamleys is indoors – so humans don’t have to get cold finding out which minifigure personality applies to them. It is packed full of recognisable animated LEGO minifigures, with themes included ranging from Collectible Minifigures to The LEGO NINJAGO Movie.
Despite the London theming, the only brick built royal remaining is the Queen. The rest of the family, who spent years waving to guests coming up the escalator, are relocating – to somewhere very appropriate, not too far from the capital.
“Everything is based on London. We are a tourist destination of course, so we do have a lot of people visiting us each year and a massive proportion of those are from a foreign land.They come in and they want to take something back that’s very British.” With those international visitors wanting a souvenir, it Hamleys has the perfect luggage sized exclusive.
“Leicester Square LEGO Store of course has Lester, we’ve got our Royal Guard. We have done incredibly well with our minifigure, that was launched three months ago, on December 16. We had the most amazing minifigure made by Tara Wike, from LEGO, she made our little Yeoman Guard,” Mark explains. “It has actually got a new face, a new print on the front and white gloves.”
Having the modern, oversized elements decorating the LEGO floor in Hamleys increases the appeal of visiting the iconic store. With the convenience of being a 20 minute walk from the LEGO Store Leicester Square, there are now two stops worth making for brick fanatics in the capital.
So what does Mark think that the new experience offers to the LEGO aficionado? “London’s got the LEGO Store, the biggest LEGO store anywhere in the whole world, and then you’ve got us. So you go down there and you get Lester, you come up here you get our Royal Guard and visit our brand new area. It’s about this next generation playing with stuff.”
The new LEGO experience at Hamleys is open now, on the fifth floor.