It’s kind of hard to find someone who never played with any form of LEGO in their entire lives these days. And while there is an entire subculture based on the toy with its own terminology and references, LEGO has become so ubiquitous with pop culture that practically everyone knows what it is. But for many who only dabbled in playing with whatever sets they got growing up and only keep in tune with their products based on new sets they create with pop-culture, there’s a lot of history that is lost on them. So for those who don’t wish to spend hours browsing through Brikipedia, DK Books has created LEGO: Absolute Everything You Need To Know, which they were kind enough to send us for review.
Now when they say “everything you need to know”, they don’t skimp on the small stuff. This book goes clear back to the company’s foundation as the LEGO Group, making various toys that have no shape or resemblance to what we know of them today. Much int he same way of how Nintendo started by making playing cards, you get a history of the company as they grew from making wooden toys to the plastic snap bricks of today. You even get a breakdown of the various innovations they made along the way and why the decided to make pieces like curved bricks and inverted slopes.
The details in this book are quite interesting, as you can see below, you get a history lesson on how the wheels used in their sets have developed and changed over time so that they lasted longer. They even get into the detailed statistics of LEGO setting records. Like how there are 108 bricks per person on the earth, or how they’re the largest manufacturer of tires on the planet. While picking up facts you’re also given random trivia that only true LEGO fans could appreciate and digest into talking points for later use with fellow Adult Fans of LEGO (or AFOL for short).
The book feels like a nice trip down memory lane for myself as I’m seeing sets I owned and wish I owned at the time. DK went to great length to show how things have developed over time. A good example is that there’s a section that focuses on a simple snack bar. At the time, a nice addition to your city set, nothing major or necessary. But the book shows how that simple snack shack grew to become an intricate part of the city designs of today and why they’re now a must-have if you’re building one. As you can see below, they do this with several sets like the hospital setting and how the vehicles to transport the sick have changed and grown with the times.
The book isn’t completely perfect, however. There are pieces of information that are missing that I would have loved to know about and get their history of. An example of this can be seen below, as you’re looking at the history of the castles sets over time. You can see the various symbols on all of the LEGO figures from the black and silver bird to the lion’s head, but at no point in time does this book ever go into the history of those designs or what those kingdoms mean. Is it an absolute necessity for me to know after all these years? Probably not. But at the same time, if it’s everything I need to know, then yes, I need to know what those symbols mean and why they were created.
The book also goes into areas you didn’t think you needed to know about and probably don’t care much about. Below is a section on Brick Botany, which covers the various types of flora and fauna over the past forty years worth of brick building. While it does a nice job showing them off, it doesn’t really explain why these were made of why they became a necessity. If you’re going to create a section to show off this kind of stuff, you should either go all-in or lump it into something else to make it feel more complete. I would have enjoyed seeing this mixed in with grass surfaces over the years and the development of making the ground LEGO layers look more natutral.
Ultimately, LEGO: Absolute Everything You Need To Know is a fine book when it comes to the subject of LEGO. There’s a little something in here for everyone and it will keep fans of the toys both young and old educated for years to come. Is it the most complete reference book out there? It comes close but not really, as there are online resources that do a better job of cataloging this info. But as far as coffee table books go that have a plethora of information, this one does the job nicely.