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Move Over Zack the LEGO Maniac, LEGO Mania is Back

What happened to LEGO’s titular commercial mascot? And what about his cartoon counterpart that appeared in late 1980s and 1990s LEGO magazines? I don’t purport to answer this question here, but rather to warn ya’ll that ole’ Zack the LEGO Maniac has not been forgotten, and the LEGO Maniac legacy is here – with a vengeance!

So let’s get this wheel spinning, this ball rolling, this train a-chuggin’… etc. Let’s skip the latest LEGO news and instead go back in time… to return to the present with a new outlook and, of course: LEGO Mania!

Laying the Brickwork for the Angry Brick Maniac.

This site was created with 2 main desires:

  • To hold the LEGO Group to a higher standard (namely, the best of their past).
  • To help LEGO fans (regardless of ability or experience) to be confident in their unique LEGO passion and in their ability to identify and collect quality LEGO for themselves.

So that’s the goal. Maybe it will be helpful and informative for you in some way.

Official LEGO’s Vibes Today – Pointlessly Overwrought?

I know this may sound crazy, but LEGO’s visual branding and promotional style today is so… tame. So mild. So machined and micro-managed. Just look at the typical product description nowadays, as seen at the Official LEGO Shop:

Zack the LEGOManiac - Modern LEGO Corporate Sterility

Is this truly beneficial for marketing purposes? It’s written for the adult shopper looking for an item for their child. But don’t kids visit the LEGO Shop too?

I know I sure did! In addition to scouring the catalogs, I loved visiting the online Shop to look at the extra images and descriptions of sets – which usually also included additional story elements.

Many of the product descriptions come across as so over-regulated, over-explained, and mild as milk.

Even products in the “Adults Welcome” lineup suffer from this. Do grown-ups honestly need to be told that a set is “for them” in order to feel safe getting it for themselves? Is LEGO Shop only serious business, with the fun stuff exclusively quartered elsewhere? I thought product descriptions used to be fun to read… surely my recollection is not deceiving me?

Zack the LEGOManiac - Modern LEGO Corporate Sterility


Alas – aside from the text – it seems that a more minimalist “adult-friendly” style has been the trajectory for official LEGO visuals for years now, even when the branding is not targeted at adults.

Take the LEGO Club content as an example. The physical Club issues went through a number of revisions over the years – Brick Kicks in 1984, LEGO Mania Magazine in 1994, Lego Magazine/BrickMaster in 2002 and 2004 respectively, Lego Club Magazine in 2008, which became Lego Life in 2017.

Zack the LEGOManiac - Official LEGO magazines


After looking into it recently, I was actually surprised that a physical magazine was still available from LEGO at all. I had stopped getting them mailed years ago, in favor of requesting a Shop at Home Catalog on occasion.

So I was a bit surprised and disappointed to discover what the Club issues had become, and how the fanciful “LEGO Maniac” legacy had all but disappeared.

Changes in Style, LEGO Then Vs Now.

1997 LEGO Club promo

The old magazines were so zany and memorable. Every issue was a joy to get in the mailbox because each one was another trip to LEGO Land. The new LEGO Life content is explicitly and exclusively aimed at 5-9 year olds. However, judging from the issue covers alone, the magazine does not actually look like it caters to that age-group most of the time; the Life stuff comes across as phoned-in and bland.

I’m not about to say that the LEGO Mania Magazine (or earlier incarnations for that matter) was more “mature”. However, that old style sure was a heck of a lot more LOUD and stuffed with character in the several pages of each issue. It was cool, even at a glance.

I remember always wishing the magazines were longer when I used to get them, and yet at the same time, I remember never feeling under-entertained by those short issues. They left me seeking out more LEGO goodness via other avenues. If that was intentional marketing on LEGO’s part, how readily I ate it up!

Zack the LEGOManiac - Retro LEGO Club Promotions

I craved the issues that I never got, or those that were released before my time. I would gaze at the Mania issues pictured in promotional LEGO booklets of the day, my imagination lit up looking at the cover of the Aquazone issue, or the Time Cruisers issue, or the Exploriens issue.

Indeed, whether intentionally or not, Brick Kicks and LEGO Mania Magazine made themselves out to be collectibles all of their own.

One Man’s Trash… is the LEGO Maniac’s Treasure.

Zack the LEGOManiac - LEGO Mania Magazine 1996 issue

With that said, from a financial perspective, they are not super valuable today. As of this writing, product lots can be found starting at $20 or less listed on EBay. BrickLink has issues listed for prices ranging from mere cents to under $10.

But gee wiz the dynamic liveliness contained in those old magazines has not diminished with age! Just look at the colorful energy blasting from each cover… and tell me you’re not tempted to want to look inside one.

Let’s keep singing about those classic themes, sets, and imagination – like Zack the LEGO Maniac did in his day!

The Brick-y LEGO Road Ahead for the Angry BrickManiac.

So just to recap: I don’t intend to devote much – if any – focus on LEGO news and launches around here at TALM’s Zone. Many of you I’m sure already have your go-to LEGO news and reviews sources.

Instead, I will be opting to give you guys a peek into the way I am personally perceiving the condition of LEGO Land today. Maybe we’ll all learn a thing or two among the wanderings to come. Get ready – I hope you’ll enjoy coming along with me on this wild ride into my eclectic mélange of LEGO Mania!

Hey Go Ahead, Share With Friends

TALM

Born to build ! Gotta build like crazy ! Passionate about sharing what I enjoy about LEGO and using that to highlight the magic in LEGO System and LEGO BIONICLE. Sharing tips, opinion, commentary, and the little things relevant but perhaps overlooked about our favorite building bricks.

5 Comments

  1. I loved the videos. Lego has been popular among children and many adults for years. It’s good to see they have included adults in the Lego mania.

  2. I love your lego mania post. I’m not very experienced with lego, but my two adult children are so experienced. What I liked was the first video; it is comical and amusing. You have covered the topic well, and it’s full of information. I am so happy to see that adults are included. Many adults I know, especially fathers, sit with their children building their worlds.

    I had often purchased lego for my children when it was their birthday or for Christmas. What I have noticed now is the cost of specific lego themes. They have become quite costly.

    You have provided an excellent site for children and adults alike. 

    The ending video was great.

    • Thanks for coming by – I really enjoy hearing from not only fellow LEGO fans, but also people who are not as experienced with the bricks. Glad you found some enjoyment here! 

      LEGO can definitely seem to be costly at times, no way around that! 

      Generally, the size of LEGO pieces has decreased overtime, resulting in an increased number of pieces in a set (which are often only used for flourishes of tiny detail) while the size/complexity of sets has increased. This is often to cater to an older crowd, which results in specific sets appearing quite expensive.

      However, technically speaking, LEGO sets themselves (those that are currently in production) actually have not become too much more expensive than they were in the past, taking into account inflation and other economic factors.

      If you’re interested in this, there is more analysis out there! Check out:
      Emotional meaning
      Six theories
      Technical data

  3. Thank you for this little journey back in time. It brought me good memories from my childhood. As soon as my parents were sure I would not choke with a Lego, they bought me my first set. And it has been a passion of mine, ever since. I remember at the age of 9 building a Lego boat. Man, I was really proud of that one!

    • My pleasure! I’ve kept the LEGO passion ever since getting my first set at age 7. It was a small one with a single mini figure, but boy did that set get its full mileage!

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