The world’s largest LEGO Store opens in Leicester Square, London today – but what can fans expect from this new flagship shop? Brick Fanatics took a peek inside to find out…
After months of build-up and anticipation a special date was set, to be added to LEGO fans’ calendars. On November 17, 2016, the LEGO Group would be unveiling the biggest retail store to date, right in the centre of London. Very little information has been released over the year, but more recently the LEGO Group revealed that the store would have its own mascot – the quintessential British gentleman minifigure, Lester. We also knew that it would be spread over two floors, but everything else that trickled through the press was closely guarded. Select LEGO fans/websites/AFOL groups were given an opportunity to visit for a preview opening experience.
As the attending fans were ushered through a hidden slot in the canvassed exterior – protecting the inside from prying eyes until the official opening – each ticket holder was loudly cheered upon entry by excitable LEGO store employees and fellow AFOLs. It certainly made for a celebratory start to the occasion.
Expectations were high for this new LEGO Store. Alongside Brick Fanatics, around 100 of the UK’s most hardcore LEGO fans were present including AFOLs from LUGs such as the Brickish Association. Glenn Abell, Vice President of Direct to Consumer, gave a short but warm welcome followed by Kim Ellekjær Thomsen, Community Manager.
The first thing that strikes you when walking through the door is just how much effort went into making the store London-themed. This Leicester Square store fits in perfectly with its local neighbours including M&M’s World and the Nickelodeon Store, giving tourists plenty of reason to visit this LEGO store specifically. You enter through a recreated Leicester Square Underground archway and are spoiled for things to look at. On the far left is a huge Underground tube train made of bricks and carrying some very British, large scale, minifigure passengers such as the Queen and William Shakespeare.
On the right of the store you notice the gigantic Elizabeth II Tower, commonly known as Big Ben, which is a marvel to behold. It reaches right up to the second floor and chimes every hour like any good clock should. Upstairs you will find even more models including a full-sized British telephone box which you can stand in, a monocled/bowler hat-wearing Brickley the dragon, and a stunning 3D wall mosaic of London which was one of the most impressive interior builds. Everywhere you look, you’ll spot something interesting to appreciate which is a credit to the store layout designers.
Many people will want to visit the store because it is the biggest LEGO store in the world and themed accordingly. However, those simply wanting to do some shopping will not be disappointed either. The usual clean and sleek display cabinets were on show throughout the store with all sets from current ranges available for purchase. Of perhaps greater interest for some, will be the select exclusives only currently available from this particular store.
The brand new 21034 London Skyline set for the Architecture range was on display with the set designer Rok Žgalin Kobe on hand to celebrate the new store opening. The set is available exclusively at the LEGO Store, London, ahead of its wide release. Fellow designer Jamie Berard was also on hand to join in the revelry, as of course 10253 Big Ben is a suitable set to purchase from this location.
You can also purchase the London Bus set that was recently given away as a freebie promotion, and the usual multitude of pocket-money exclusives only found in LEGO stores. In fact, the main notable absence was the option to purchase a Lester minifigure – the store is offering a scratchcard to give fans the chance to win the character, with a certain spend on products.
The store is littered with interactive elements from the usual minifigure creation stations and free-build areas to great photographic opportunities. A few new surprises include the passport station which allows you to get a LEGO passport stamped whenever you visit a new LEGO store, an interactive touch screen device for browsing the store’s inventory of stock and a very cool mosaic maker. There are also some very clever minifigure statues that talk when you approach and have tiny screens to animate their eyes and mouths.
A significant amount of care has been taken to ensure that this new LEGO Store offers unique, themed displays and innovative interactive offerings too. With the exclusive early release of 21034 London Skyline and a smattering of London themed products to pick up, this is worth a look for LEGO fans in the capital. It certainly offers more than the standard LEGO Store, befitting its status as the new UK flagship store.