We all live in a yellow submarine!

The Beatles fans can rejoice because LEGO® Ideas have at last released images of its latest amazing model: the Yellow Submarine.

The design also includes minifigures of original band members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr to turn this exciting release into a collector’s dream. The set contains 550 pieces and these four wonderful minifigures.

“The Yellow Submarine is bright, fun, and colourful, which also made it a good subject to translate into LEGO® form.” – Kevin Szeto

LEGO® fan Kevin Szeto is the man behind the creation of the set. “The creation of the Yellow Submarine model was really my way of showing my affection for The Beatles, as well as trying to pay a small tribute to The Beatles phenomenon,” he explained in a recent article on the LEGO® Ideas portal.

Kevin’s idea was refined by LEGO® designer Justin Ramsden, who is just as enthusiastic about The Beatles, adding “to see The Beatles in LEGO® form is a dream come true.”

Those eager to get their hands on a set will have to be patient as the release date has yet to be finalised, but is set for some time in November and in South Africa, it will be available exclusively at Kiddiwinks!

LEGO® Ideas is a great initiative that gives LEGO® fans all over the world the opportunity to offer up their own ideas for new sets, vote for their favourite designs and then stand the chance of seeing these designs become official sets by LEGO®.

Watch the video here:

Be sure to keep an eye on our online store for the release in November as only limited stock will be available.

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Build your own LEGO® Buckingham Palace

Fancy setting up Buckingham Palace in your living room? How about the seat of the United States Congress, the Capitol building? LEGO® Architecture has released these two sets, and architecture buffs are clamouring to get building. These two much-anticipated LEGO® Architecture sets are finally available in South Africa, specifically, at Kiddiwinks! With the careful attention to detail and microscale design, it’s no wonder that many are so excited.

Adam Reed Tucker tending to his One World Trade Centre replica
Image via Daily Herald.

Since the core concept behind LEGO® bricks is particularly well aligned to the art of architecture, it’s not surprising that the idea to create an architectural range was considered back in the 1960s, but was only revived again when LEGO® connected with architect and LEGO® enthusiast and architect Adam Reed Tucker in the early noughties when he presented a two-and-a-half meter replica of the One World Trade Centre he had built out of LEGO® using pieces from various other sets. This was the building that fully collapsed during the September 11 attacks in New York, and Tucker had created the replica to show technical aspects of the building.

By 2008, Tucker had partnered with LEGO® to become a Lego Certified Professional, launching the LEGO® Architecture range with the introduction of the Sears Tower and John Hancock Center sets – both buildings that are based in Chicago where Tucker is based. A handbook filled with information about each building, from its history to the architect that designed and built it accompanied each set, turning the range into a collector’s dream.

They went on to release the Empire State Building set in 2009, along with the Seattle Space Needle and Guggenheim Museum. But it was only in 2011 that the first set of a building outside of the US was created: the Burj Khalifa, Dubai’s mega skyscraper. This was released in the LEGO® Landmark range.

The following year marked the release of the first British building set: Big Ben. It’s interesting to note that the just-released Buckingham Palace is only the second British building in the range, but it’s certainly no afterthought. In fact, the model has captured the essence of the building and has been favourably reviewed by Brickset for maintaining the complexity of design even on such a small scale.

Expect over 700 pieces in this set, and plenty of attention to detail, right down to the inclusion of a red double-decker bus so common in London and a strong focus on the neoclassical features of the building’s east wing.

The end result is good enough to display in your home or office and will no doubt get you thinking about embarking on a whole collection of the range if you haven’t already.

The Capitol Hill set contains over 1000 pieces, and is sure to be a challenge for even an accomplished builder. The wonderful thing about embarking on a build from the LEGO® Architecture is just how much you learn about the way the architects themselves were thinking when they designed these beautiful buildings. Capitol Hill model is no different and has a strong focus on the neoclassical style façade of the building. In fact, one reviewer using the name JYoung27 on the LEGO® Architecture website called this set the “best model yet”.

Capitol Building LEGO Architecture

“The US Capitol Building model was a surprisingly fun build,” JYoung27 went on to say. “I expected there to be many repetitive steps in it like with the White House or the Louvre, but everything was just a little bit different and kept a fun amount of excitement as you saw how the designers executed the details. The really fun surprise was the detachable dome that reveals the rotunda below with the statues inside!”

Kiddiwinks happens to be one of only two exclusive outlets in South Africa supplying LEGO® Architecture and the only one in the Western Cape. So, what are you waiting for? Get your set of Buckingham Palace and the Capitol building now by going over to shop.kiddiwinks.co.za or visiting one of our three retail outlets.

Happy building!

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Kids get set for FIRST LEGO® League

The study of robotics is making inroads at schools – particularly through LEGO® play. One such school seeing growth in its LEGO® Robotics programme is Forres Preparatory School. So popular is it that the calss has been split into two groups, training on separate days.

One group has been aimed at teaching the ins and outs of programming and building a robot, from the very basic first steps, to more advanced situations like following a line. Excitingly, the other group is now the team that will represent Forres at the FIRST LEGO® League competition in early November.

In the 2016 FIRST LEGO® League Challenge, more than 28 000 teams from over 80 countries will look into the eyes of our Animal Allies, the theme of this year’s competition. The competition is made up of three parts: the Robot Game, the Project, and the Core Values. The teams participate in the Challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game), developing a solution to a problem they have identified (Project), all guided by the FIRST LEGO® League Core Values. Among other things, the Forres team has:

  • researched challenges facing today’s scientists,
  • designed, built, tested and programmed robots using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technology,
  • learned to apply real-world math and science concepts,
  • learned critical thinking, team-building, and presentation skills, and
  • learned and practiced gracious professionalism.

firstlegoleague2_600In November the team will compete at the regional competition at the Cape Town Science Centre. From there, 25 teams from around South Africa qualify for the National Competition in Gauteng. The top 2 teams at the national competition then get the opportunity to perform on the international stage.

The competition details are only announced 10 weeks before the competition to ensure that all teams are given equal time to plan. With only an hour-and-a-half training time each week, the kids are putting their all into it. Completing the work needed to compete at the regional level is an achievement in itself.

A version of this article was originally published by Forres Preparatory School.

7 benefits of LEGO® play for kids (and adults)

It turns out that LEGO® play has far-reaching developmental benefits for kids, way more impactful than just fine motor coordination. Even better: we go on benefitting from LEGO® play as adults. Here are just a few of the reasons you need to join your kids the next time they get out the LEGO® bricks:

#1 Teamwork and communication

Sharing, discussing your building strategy and assigning roles is an important part of the process of a LEGO® build. It can even help to increase language development. According to a 2007 study of children from lower and middle income families in the USA, the parents of kids who played with building blocks generally reported better verbal skills in their children.

#2 Patience and organisational skills

The ability to plan, organise and then execute are all critical skills that can be applied to any goal orientated actions in life. With LEGO® bricks and models, these skills can be tested and exercised using the construction process as a tool. Moreover, when things aren’t going as planned, it’s the positive action of going back to the drawing board and re-thinking the original plan that helps to teach kids perseverance and resilience.

#3 Constructive problem solving and lateral thinking

Which brings us to thinking creatively in order to solve a problem – such as a teetering LEGO® tower that is going to topple over at any moment. Thinking laterally to save the design is just part of the creative process of playing with LEGO® bricks and yet another essential life skill we could all do with.

#4 Adventure and experimentation

Playing with LEGO® bricks offers a secure space in which to experiment, try things you’ve never tried – and sometimes fail. From the excitement of the initial idea to the disappointment when it doesn’t work out, creating the space to play around with ideas is exactly the sort of space needed for creative thinking and problem solving.

LEGO, 1960s
An LEGO advert dating back to the 1960s.

#5 Fine motor skills development

Perhaps it goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: the small, precise movements that need to be coordinated together when building with LEGO® bricks is what will help strengthen a child’s fine motor skills.

#6 Increases spatial awareness

When you’re given a blueprint of a construction you have to build, it’s your ability to think in 3D that is most tested. Why is this so important? Well, it is believed that spatial intelligence is a critical factor in your ability to think as an engineer, artist or architect. It’s the essential skill required to think in physical shapes.

#7 Better focus and concentration

It takes time to learn to settle and concentrate – for kids, learning to do this without feeling frustrated or pressured helps to create good associations with focus time. For adults, playing with LEGO® bricks can help you to put all the other life worries out of your mind in almost meditative fashion. In fact, immersion in LEGO® play helps with relaxation, and stress management, so make sure you get a regular fix!

Sort and store your LEGO smartly

It’s every LEGO® enthusiast’s struggle: where to put all those pieces. Many of us opt to throw them all in one great container only to curse ourselves later on when we’re trying to find that one important piece. It’s a no-brainer to sort your LEGO® pieces out once and for all so that you’ll never interrupt a build with a lengthy and frustrating search again. Here are a few great pointers to help you get started:

Keep your minifigures intact

If you’re into collectible LEGO® sets then this is for you. Those one-off edition mini-figures have specific accessories and artwork that’s worth preserving. Keep them the way they came by placing them all upright onto standard LEGO® platforms. Not only will you prevent scratching or reduce the risk of losing accessories, you’ll also be able to see them all at one glance for easy selection later on.

Decide on a sort approach

How you sort your LEGO® bricks is up to you. A common method is to store pieces by size and colour to make them easier to find.

It’s important to take into consideration your preferred uses for specific pieces and colours to ensure you have no difficulty finding them when you’re in the middle of a build.

In fact, take a moment before you start the sorting process to plan exactly how you are going to sort pieces to save yourself from any confusion later on.

LEGO® storage choices

Stackable plastic containers are the most practical option. You can find a range of sizes and designs at plastic warehouses such as Mambo’s or Plastics for Africa.

If you’re feeling especially industrious and are keen to make your own storage unit, consider making each unit front transparent so that it is easy to see what is in each.

Find more inspiration on how to sort your LEGO® collection by watching this video of an architect’s LEGO® filled basement:

Got some of your own LEGO® storage tips? Share them with us in the comments below.