So far, it’s been a good year for Blocks Magazine: their 90th issue coincided with the 90th birthday of The LEGO Group and they’ve just published their 19th issue with Star Wars on the cover. The Holo-Brick Archives sat down with editor and massive LEGO Star Wars fan Graham Hancock to get to the bottom of their love affair with a galaxy far, far away.
With nearly a quarter of their covers devoted to LEGO Star Wars – and probably that much again when it comes to content – it’s fair to say that there is a strong bond between the staff at Blocks Magazine and the LEGO Star Wars theme. Taking a deep breath, Graham explained the connection.
“Star Wars is a really special LEGO theme because it brought so many adults back to the brick in 1999 and into the 2000s. There were already adult fans out there, but Star Wars really boosted the number of collectors returning to the LEGO hobby. It’s no coincidence that the theme has been running consistently since 1999, it has a dedicated fanbase that stays engaged through the years.
Then of course, as many of us know, once you come for LEGO Star Wars, you find yourself looking at other LEGO themes.” he expressed.
This is last statement is true for Graham too, whose interest Star Wars toys drew him to LEGO Star Wars, which led to him collecting LEGO sets. He admits that if LEGO Star Wars hadn’t caught his eye his shelves would have been filled with train timetables and bird spotting guides.
Thankfully for other readers of Blocks Magazine – and perhaps a loss for the subscription manager at BirdKeeper Monthly – a life of twitching was not on the cards, and nearly 25 years later he – like the rest of the team (with the exception of one writer who has asked for anonymity) at Blocks Magazine – has amassed a significant LEGO Star Wars collection.
Put to the test, Graham admitted that favorite sets are really hard to choose. Sweating under his knitted cardigan with patches on the elbows he eventually admitted that 10179 Millennium Falcon takes the top spot in his list.
“The Falcon is quintessential Star Wars, the size of the model was so ambitious at the time, and it pushed the boundaries of not just the Star Wars theme but LEGO products as a whole.” shared Graham.
Ever the diplomat, Graham admitted that the LEGO Star Wars theme wouldn’t be where it was today without break-out sets that contributed to the Ultimate Collector Series subtheme, and conceded that if his heart wasn’t shaped like the Millennium Falcon then it would be the current range of Diorama series sets that would draw his eye – specifically 75330 Dagobah Training – and went on to say that he’s “been hoping for more location-based sets for the years and these scratch that itch in a really nice way.”
Putting down his egg salad sandwich and juice box on the hankie spread across his lap, Graham explained that one of the hardest aspects of editing the magazine is to select what content goes into each issue, and how he reconciles his appreciation of the LEGO Star Wars theme with the knowledge that the magazine’s reader’s want more than just articles about Luke, Leia, Rey, Han and the gang.
Graham manages – on a monthly basis – to fill in the 116 pages with a variety of content that’s not just about the latest LEGO sets, be they from the Star Wars theme or one of the many others that LEGO produces.
“What’s important to bear in mind is that not everyone enjoys the LEGO hobby in the same way – some only collect, some only free build, some love the video games, some focus on minifigures… and we need to do our best to cater to everyone.” he clarified.
When it comes to LEGO Star Wars-focused issues, like the one that was published at the start of May, it’s a different matter, and with the launch of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga he knew that the game deserved a lot of attention. However, as popular as the game is – selling 3.2 million copies – not all Blocks readers are gamers, and the rest of the magazine needed filling.
Thankfully the new Diorama series had just been launched and Graham, demonstrating that there are perks to the job, was able to get hold of some advance copies to review and photograph.
Working in print media does have some drawbacks though.
“To pull back the curtain a bit, we are working months ahead – so we couldn’t get the UCS Landspeeder in this one, because the LEGO Group is very secretive with advance materials,” Graham revealed while he carefully peeled a hard-boiled egg, “some of our features are less topical and we have them ‘in the bank’ – this was the case with our UCS AT-AT mod, which shows how to turn it into a Jakku wreck, and it seemed like a nice third feature to round out the Star Wars focus.”
Occasionally product release and publication schedules work in their favor, as was the case with the new set of minifigures from The Muppet Show, because – as every Star Wars fan knows – the connection between George Lucas and Jim Henson nearly goes back to the start of the Original Trilogy.
Negotiating for sets to reviews, staff interviews and information for behind-the-scenes features is another skill set that working at Blocks Magazine has taught Graham, but at the end of the day it comes down to participation on the part of LEGO, because – as Graham pointed out “some sets might have fascinating development stories but it doesn’t mean the designer necessarily has a great deal to say about it. “
Thankfully the LEGO Star Wars team has become more adept at providing relevant and interesting origin story content to their product reveals, as evidenced in a recent interview with César Soares, the designer of 75341 Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder, which was released on May 1st to members of the VIP Reward program, and made available to the rest of the world on May 4th – Star Wars Day!
Showing that he eschews the hard-living, rock-and-roll lifestyle that being Blocks Magazines’ LEGO Ambassador and Recognized Fan Media Representative offers in preference for a daily commute through the suburbs of London so he can work on a crossword puzzle, Graham’s favorite LEGO Star Wars memory isn’t one that involves partying with LEGO staff, mysterious influencer gift boxes or jetting off to Billund for the latest ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“It’s undoubtedly our coverage of LEGO Star Wars: The Freemaker Adventures. That animated show is a hidden gem that’s worth Star Wars fans checking out, as it has more of a narrative than other LEGO animation but also some decent humour. I was given the opportunity to watch the first episode early and then interview the various creatives and voice cast involved, which resulted in a really solid slate of features that captured the whole process a LEGO animated show goes through.
We also had Daniel Jamieson use the show’s LEGO sets and minifigures to make a movie-style poster for our cover, which we then had printed as a poster and gave out at Star Wars Celebration. That was one of those issues that was an awful lot of work, but the result was worth all of the effort.”
As exciting as an adventurous life as the Blocks editor sounds, there’s one bit of knowledge that Graham will always carry with him because – as he found out not long after he started working on Blocks over seven years ago – LEGO comes first, settling the debate on whether it is Star Wars LEGO or LEGO Star Wars.
At the end of the day, no one really minds – just never, ever, ever say “legos”!
Published at the start of each month, going forward you can get a 12 or 24-month subscription to get the latest hard-copy issue of Blocks Magazine, or grab a digital subscription to get the latest copy – and all the back issues – delivered to your inbox.
Currently serving as the editor-in-chief at Blocks Magazine, Graham Hancock has been collecting LEGO Star Wars since the first sets appeared in 1999, has written for Brick Fanatics and maintains a sporadic social media footprint on Facebook and Twitter, where he shares more of his thoughts and opinions on his favorite construction toy.
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.