Deconstructing Lego is a blog that analyzes Lego sets under a variety of lenses, sometimes comparing similar sets from different years or creating a story based around a set or analyzing the implicit message that a set creates.

Sunday, March 2, 2014


The 1x1 Crystal with 5 points has been a cornerstone of many LEGO sets since 1995. While some more recent sets use the piece as a generic valuable rock, when it was first introduced it was often used as a source of power.

The Crystal first appeared in Aquazone subtheme Aquanauts sets as a chrome colored piece. Today the crystal is available in thirteen colors, the most common being chrome, trans-neon green, and gold (both pearl and metallic).

The Aquanauts mined and collected the crystals for survival. They used submarines and other vehicles to collect the crystals (and fight off opposing Aquasharks) and bring them back to their base, the Neptune Discovery Lab.

It is unclear if the crystals were used to power their vehicles, or if they were used for trade. Later  Aquazone subthemes like the Hydronauts and Stingrays has similar motives. Later themes, like Rock Raiders, have much more detailed mythology and background story that give us further insight regarding the purpose of the crystals.

For the Rock Raiders, based on the video game and promotional materials, the crystals represented the only source of power for the stranded crew. The crew crash landed on the mysterious planet, and they had to collect crystals to power and repair their vehicles to eventually make their escape.

The Rock Raiders, and later the Power Miners, battled native rock monsters to obtain the necessary crystals. According to Power Miners mythos they were sent down to investigate the source of recent earthquakes. They discovered that the rock monsters were creating the earthquakes, and that the rock monsters consumed the power crystals as a source of energy. The obvious solution was to take away their source of food, causing the rock monsters to starve and die off.

In more recent Town, Lone Ranger, and Superheroes sets the pearl gold and silver crystal appears as a source of valuable wealth, basically gold.

The recent announcement of a new Arctic theme provided us with a few images of the new sets, which include crystals in the blocks of ice. At this point it is unknown if the crystals have value, are a source of power, or are merely ice.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Agents Theme and Film

Agents is coming back as "Ultra Agents" in 2014. Let's take a look back at this 2008-2009 series, focusing specifically on the inspiration for the sets. These sets take a lot of inspiration from the James Bond series, along with other spy movies and parodies.

8633: Speedboat Rescue features a number of spy movie tropes. There's damsel in distress dangling from a chain, being rescued by the main protagonist, and of course those sharks. Sharks with laserbeams. Sharks with frickin laserbeams on their heads.

There is 8632: Swamp Raid featuring a villain with a metal jaw, and obvious nod to the Bond villain Jaws.

Lastly we have 8967: Gold Tooth's Getaway. The gold gun looks exactly like the one held by Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun, and the gold obsession is similar to the main villain Goldmember in the third Austin Powers.

There are other pop culture references and tropes found in this theme, but these were the most interesting and obvious that I found. If you've noticed others, talk about them in the comments.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

198 - Cowboys

The 1977 set Cowboys features two cowboys, one with a pistol, and the other with a rope.

The set features one of the earlier versions of the minifig, half traditional bricks and half minifigesque parts. More advanced than the first attempts, but still much different and much larger than the modern minifigure.

The rope held by the first cowboy appears to be a lasso at first glance, a common tool used by many cowboys to round up farm animals. However, I believe that it is actually a noose.

Lassos have a large loop by design, the large loop is necessary for creating the circling motion, and so that the lasso is large enough to fit over the desired target. Lastly, having a large loop allows for less accurate cowboys to hit their target.

A noose, on the other hand, has a very small loop, and is generally pointed downwards, just like in the original LEGO artwork. Cowboys are generally associated with the Southern United States, particularly Texas and the Prairie states. And nooses too are heavily associated with the lynching of thousands of Black individuals. Is there a connection here?

Was this an intentional move made by The LEGO Group? It's no secret that many Danes are blatantly racist, but it would definitely be surprising to see such a blatantly racist image in a toy. One cowboy with a gun, the other armed with a noose. A small lynch mob chasing after a Black man.

There is no conclusive evidence, of course, but it is interesting. There are many toys that at one point seemed perfectly harmless, but under a modern lens becomes blatantly racist.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rumors of New Sets

There are two major seasons for LEGO fans.  The first few months of the year, with many toy fairs, and late summer/early autumn.  Both bring rumors of new sets, clandestine photos of new sets, and lists of set names acquired from retailer catalogs.  A number of new rumors have emerged for the upcoming year.  Compared to previous years a lot of these rumors are a lot more outlandish and surprising.  Only time will tell.
  • The newest action theme is "Legends of Chima".  At this point the new series is pretty well confirmed, and grainy photos can be found.  The series appears to have human-animal hybrids and a game component.  Not much is known.  But what is known is that it will replace the incredibly successful Ninjago line, which I find very surprising.  Ninjago was the sort of theme that most AFOLs avoided, but was loved by 8-12 year old boys.  100% confirmed.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Apparently Playmates Toys approached LEGO regarding the creation of TMNT LEGO.  This seems reasonable considering the creation of MegaBloks TMNT sets only a few years ago.  This is a rumor that I initially found absurd, but I am now starting to believe.  40% confirmed.
  • Lone Ranger.  Disney is rebooting this series.  Rumor is that there will be one big set, three medium, and two small sets.  Would be nice to have some new Western sets.  I think there is a really good possibility that this will happen.  Pirates of the Caribbean and Prince of Persia have proven that LEGO and Disney will work together to make sets of moderately successful movies.  70% confirmed.
  • City - more fire and police.  Nothing new really.  But there should be a "museum robbery" set which would be very interesting.
So, those are my thoughts.  We will have to wait and see.  But I have a good feeling about all of these.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Thursday, June 21, 2012

LEGO and Mythology

Although most LEGO sets show little if any mythological influence a few from recent years clearly have.  The most obvious recent example is the 2010-2011 Atlantis theme, especially sets like 7985:  City of Atlantis, which features the mythical city.

The Atlantis theme has some loose connections to mythology, unlike the 2005-2006 Vikings theme which uses a lot of specific references to Viking lore.  Each set includes one Norse mythological creature, including

  • Fenrir
  • Wyvern
  • Nidhogg
  • Midgard
  • Fafnir

So why did LEGO use Norse mythology in their Vikings sets?  It represents a drastic change as the vast majority of sets lack any historical context.  My guess would be that it may have been a geographical decision.  Denmark was a huge bastion of Viking activity centuries ago, and this still influences their culture today.  If anything it is surprising that LEGO did not create Viking sets earlier.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Avengers: No love for PoC?

LEGO has decided to venture into the realm of comic book licenses once again (despite the failure of Spiderman and Batman sets from several years ago) by tying the sets more directly to movies.  A pretty smart move.

One thing that excited me about this is that, in the past, LEGO has caught some flack because the majority (excluding Mace Windu and Lando) of PoC in the licensed sets have been villains.  And this is not necessarily the fault of LEGO, but rather the licenses that they have produced sets for.  Regardless, the Avengers poster made it obvious that this would be a great opportunity for LEGO to create not only a strong Black figure, but also a strong female figure.

I'm talking about Nick Fury and Maria Hill, of course.  LEGO even made their own version of this now iconic poster, seen below:

How awesome!  Except that EVERY SET HAS JUST WHITE DUDES.  There are currently five Avengers sets that feature Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk (yes, he is green, but Dr. Banner is a White dude), Hawkeye, Loki, Loki Henchmen (IDK what they are...robots?), Deadpool, Wolverine (who is an Avenger...not sure why he wasn't in the movie), and Magneto.

So, the issue I have is that LEGO had this great opportunity to incorporate a positive Black character and a strong female character into their sets, two major characters, but decided not to for whatever reason.  I am guessing that they will in future sets, assuming that The Avengers gets another wave of sets.  I am disappointed, but we will just have to wait and see.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

4642: Fishing Boat

In this post I will focus primarily on the 2011 set 4642:  Fishing Boat, touching on the gender roles exhibited by this set (and other LEGO sets and advertisements), along with how this set compares to previous offerings.

This was a set that I instantly wanted to own as soon as I saw it.  I love sets with boats that actually float, like this one.  That may be due to the fact that two of the first sets that I ever owned are floating boats that were very similar to this model.  The first is the 1989 DUPLO set 2643:  Fishing Boat.

A simple but adorable set.  Similar to the 2011 set in that there are two people fishing (note the fish in the dinghy).  But 4642:  Fishing Boat is incredibly similar to a set released two decades earlier, 4011:  Cabin Cruiser in 1991.

Still one of my favorite sets.  Note the fishing pole, shark, and design of the boat in each set.  There are only minor differences.  Upon closer examination, both contain a small cabin (note the windshield on the deck of each.

As we have seen with many LEGO sets there are sometimes only a few small differences between sets released decades apart.  What I really want to focus on, however, is the father-son relationship we see in all three sets.

With the 1991 set it could be suggested that these are simply two men.  However, due to the common trope of a father and son fishing together, I argue that there is definitely a father and son.  Just look at the attire of the two.

One is dressed like a captain, with the appropriate shirt and hat, while the other is wearing a cap and a striped shirt, much like any young person.  In the 2011 set it is even more obvious due to the inclusion of the 'short legs' that were originally released with Harry Potter sets for the Gringotts goblins.

Note the short blue legs and cap.  Both sets include imagery of the two fishing together, father and son.

What is really interesting is that this father-son bonding ties directly into recent LEGO marketing.  Take a look at this ad from late 2010.  

LEGO is very clearly marketing towards fathers that want a toy that they can build with their son, or at least, a toy that establishes a father-son relationship.  They may not be able to take their son fishing, but they can give their son a LEGO set that emulates that experience somewhat explicitly.  Which I guess brings up the issue of why LEGO never produces sets that includes only females, or a mother-daughter duo.

But the overall lack of women in LEGO sets is another topic for another day.  For now, it's interesting to note how LEGO is directly going after this father-son demographic.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


A new year!  Time to take a look at some more contemporary sets.  Now that 2011 is over I'm going to take a look at a few of the sets from last year for the next few posts (or maybe not via I am not very consistent).

Sunday, July 31, 2011

2846: Indian Kayak

One of those impulse sets.  Usually not a fan of impulse sets, unless if the minifigure is unique or interesting.

Feel like Native American is the preferred nomenclature here.  also that kayak doesn't even have sides, water is going to get all up in it.