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:
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?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!