Most of all Blocks helps you get the most out of the hobby – whether you are a builder, a collector or a MOCer there is something for you. Just a little warning before you dive in – several issues of this monthly magazine were published a year or two ago, and may now be out of print. If you’re interested there are digital editions or the secondary market, so read on and discover what your options are in the ultimate paragraph.
From the start it’s been pretty obvious that the editorial staff have got big plans for the magazine. I can tell you from experience that it takes balls to produce a national magazine, and Mark and his team released their launch edition with two covers. An unexpected change in the editorial line-up occurred early in 2015 with Rob taking the helm and adding Graham, Chris and Richard to the crew. Despite concerns from the LEGO community, the magazine maintained its high standards and quality content.
First impressions first – these should come with free deodorant because they reek of professionalism, and each of the issues I’ve seen pack a lot of wow. This isn’t a fanzine that wandered onto your newsagents magazine rack: the paper quality is right up there with the best periodicals, and the print is crisp and clear. Without a doubt your £5 is well spent. There are plenty of reviews of the twenty or so issues that have come out to date (brickset.com, brickrader.com and thebrickfan.com) so we thought we’d highlight those issues that had more than a smattering of LEGO Star Wars content.
May 2014 (#0): The pilot issue was billed more as a special bookizine than a regular magazine, and had a bumper crop of set coverage and community news. Opening with a huge and in-depth look at the UCS Jawa Sandcrawler and reviews of the UCS R2-D2 set and the Ewok Village, the spotlight was a no brainer because everyone – even if you live on the planet furthest from the bright centre of the universe – knows that LEGO Star Wars sells. The custom-build element of the community was represented by an up-close and personal reveal of Mark Borlase’s Battle of Hoth diorama, while an interview with Vesa Lehtimaki – the author of LEGO Star Wars: Small Scenes from a Big Galaxy (available from DK) – discussed what inspired his unique brand of photography. Devotees of Clone Wars sets enjoyed a write-up on the Republic Dropship with AT-OT, which the team picks as an upcoming classic and the final article, which was cheekily titled First Look: The Phantom, provided a sneak peak at one of the first Star Wars: Rebels sets.
The launch edition sold out so quickly and the trial one-off distribution deal that Blocks had with newsagent WHSmith came to an end, so the team commissioned a short print run with a limited edition collectors’ cover. This edition was initially made available at the Great Western Brick Show in Swindon (October 2014), and the final few leftovers were sold through the Blocks website. This special edition is the most sought after of all Blocks magazines and can go for five times the original cover price on the secondary market.
November 2014 (#1): The cover featured the UCS Tumbler set and it got the lion’s share of the inside pages. Rather than sticking to the tried and tested content filler of reviewing more current sets there was a retrospective feature on Imperial Star Destroyers, which were looked at in detail and each version is compared and contrasted to great effect.
February 2015 (#4): Everyone’s favourite interstellar steam iron got the Blocks treatment in this issue, with a ten page high-resolution review of the UCS Slave I, which also got the cover. Further in is an interview with Peter Brookdale, a LEGO MOCcer who put together an impressively massive minifig-scale AT-AT, a UCS-style Rebel Hoth Transport and my all-time favourite ship in the Star Wars universe – the TIE Defender. The article has wonderful photographs and some enlightening questions are asked. A mere six turns of the page is a review on the latest AT-AT, and capping off the Star Wars content of this issue is a Death Star play set done in the style of the LEGO Friends theme! The Empire’s orb of destruction never looked so gay (in the original sense of the word) and trendy.
March 2015 (#5): This issue was all about law and order and featured the new modular Detective’s Office, with additional reviews of the Ultra Agents, Mobile Command Unit and Crook’s Hideout sets. The ultimate force in justice and control was represented with a close look at army building with LEGO Star Wars battlepack sets, while the Death Star “doll house” got the special treatment with a photo spread highlighting the immensity of this long running favourite.
July 2015 (#9): Featuring an exclusive Jurassic World LEGO designer interview, this issue also included reviews on key new sets, a break down of the UCS TIE Fighter and coverage of Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim.
November 2015 (#13): The Force awakened in this issue, with reviews of the new and hotly-anticipated LEGO Star Wars sets. That wasn’t all for most fans’ favourite LEGO theme though, as it also includes a mammoth special feature with a look at the top 50 LEGO Star Wars moments, from sets to MOCs, brick films, photography and much more.
January 2016 (#15): Star Wars: The Force Awakens arrived in cinemas, and to celebrate Blocks assembled the best builders in the galaxy to construct seven iconic saga scenes, from the classic trilogy to the new film. They also took a look at the buildable Star Wars figures, and pitted the old and new larger scale versions of Darth Vader in a showdown of galactic proportions. This build-filled issue was topped off with an exclusive interview with Michael Price, the mind behind the LEGO Star Wars series Droid Tales.
April 2016 (#18): The focus on all things Batman vs Superman permeated throughout the magazine, with an exclusive series of builds, reviews of the new sets and the lowdown on how to create the perfect Dark Knight Tumbler. Representing LEGO Star Wars was Daniel Konstanski’s article on how you can improve your Carbon Freezing Chamber with a few simple mods.
May 2016 (#19): This Marvel-lous issue saw a second month of superheroes, with Captain America duking it out against Iron Man to mark the cinematic release of Captain America: Civil War. There’s plenty of other movie focus with a behind-the-scenes look at a series of The Jungle Book vignettes and the Brickpicker team weighed up how the latest LEGO Star Wars UCS sets compared to previous entries in the theme.
July 2016 (#22): Timed for the initial airing of The Freemaker Adventures animated series and Celebration Europe 3, this issue was a Star Wars extravaganza, with over 50% of its 114 pages devoted to the theme. Articles included mini builds, set reviews, an inside look at the creation of the The Freemaker Adventures TV series, a look at Uglies and an interview with the team who designed and made the half-million brick Death Star at LEGOLAND Windsor.
August 2016 (#23): On top of features on Spiderman and the Friends theme park ride sets, this issue includes an exclusive interview with two of the talented minds responsible for turning The Force Awakens into the biggest video game hit of 2016, and marking the release of 75150 Vader’s TIE Advanced vs. A-wing Starfighter is a look at how how these two sets have evolved over the years.
As you can see there are more than enough issues with a chunk or more of LEGO Star Wars, as well as content to draw in members of the LEGO community who prefer other themes (as inconceivable as that is!). The editorial staff at Blocks have gone to great effort to avoid giving the reader a reason to do an about face and go back to getting their LEGO news from the web. In my mind the best reason to buy these magazines is accessibility – if I want to look at vibrant photos of LEGO sets I don’t want to have to go through the rigmarole of getting the right link on a web site. I just want to pick up the magazine and flick through the pages. Who said print is dead?
Sound good? Check out the digital sampler from a medley of issues if you still need convincing, or head to Blocksmag.com where you can get a subscription, order back issues or get your digital editions. If you prefer the traditional approach you’ll find the latest issue of Blocks in Waitrose, Co-Op, Spar, Morrisons, Sainsburys, Tesco, WHSmith and plenty of independent newspapers throughout the UK. Alternatively there is also the secondary market where issues are already commanding double and triple their cover prices. You can also keep track of special content reveals and upcoming articles on their Facebook page as well.
Special thanks to Paul Lonergan for sharing his copy of the limited edition collectors’ cover issue with a complete stranger who contacted him randomly through Facebook.
This post originally appeared on Rebelscum.com on the 1st of June, 2016.
Fervent documentarian, effusive AFOL and founding partner, Jeremy manages the daily news content and set reviews.
Having enjoyed playing with LEGO from his earliest years, Jeremy started collecting LEGO Star Wars in 1999 when the theme was first released. He has shared his thoughts and opinions on LEGO via a number of websites – including starwars.com, rebelscum.com and brickset.com – contributed to the LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary series and served the LEGO Ambassador Network as a Recognised LEGO Fan Media representative.