LEGO Buildings We Are Yet to See
10th July 2022
Town was among the very first LEGO themes to come into being, along with Castle and Space, all of which started in 1978. In 2005, Town was rebranded to City, presumably to reflect a greater level of ambition and encompass the wider collection of sets being released under the theme. For over four decades, LEGO has churned out a constant stream of urban-related vehicles and buildings, with a back catalogue now comprised of hundreds of sets. This serves as the perfect starting point and inspiration for anyone wanting to build their own metropolitan paradise. And this is just what many LEGO enthusiasts, young and old, are doing, as LEGO’s most abundant theme is also its most popular.
Go to any hardcore AFOL’s house and the chances are they have a LEGO city in the basement or spare room, and if for whatever reason they don’t have one, they’ve probably been dreaming about it for some time. All over the world, there are a whole host of benevolent LEGO city rulers, mayors, presidents, and kings, or whatever other elaborate title they’ve chosen for themselves, watching over their urban worlds and planning their expansion.
Due to the quality of build and design of modern sets, impressive settlements can be erected from just joining these up, without the need for much modification. The modular Icon (formerly Creator Expert) range, for example, allows whole streets of highly detailed buildings to be quickly and easily constructed, without an ounce of creativity required. Of course, everyone will want to put their own stamp on things, and for experienced builders this will mean developing their city through the construction of sophisticated MOCs. However, erecting MOCs from the LEGO rubble can be a painstakingly slow process, so even the most advanced enthusiasts will rely largely on LEGO’s own creations to form the basis of their city.
With this being the case, it got us thinking about whether there are any gaps in LEGO’s back catalogue. What buildings and venues are LEGO minifigures still patiently waiting for? Which of their needs are still being unmet? In this article we’ve picked out five key city destinations that are missing, discuss why we haven’t seen them yet, and when or if this is likely to change.
Church / Cathedral
To say there has never been a LEGO church would be a lie, but there aren’t any that you can easily buy today, or that would fit into the look of a modern LEGO city. This is because the only church dates all the way back to 1957 and was one of the first modular brick building style sets to be released. It’s a small and very basic affair, featuring a single bell tower and congregation room made up of only 20 different types of white and red bricks.
Politics and religion are two dangerous things for any company to get involved in, as a wrong move can end up causing major offence and alienating a large share of its current, or potential future, customer base. This is the reason why set 1309 is the only one depicting a Christian church, and why LEGO have not made any more sets based on a type of religious building, as it avoids the company associating itself with any particular religion.
However, LEGO has produced many sets based on historical architectural wonders, with many churches and cathedrals around the world falling into the category. However, these are usually recreated at a mini-scale under the Architecture theme, which would not match the proportions of City and Icons sets. Regardless, I think it’s unlikely LEGO would risk recreating La Sagrada Familia or the Blue Mosque in brick form any time soon, especially when there are so many other architectural gems that they could choose first. Therefore, it looks like you’d better sharpen your construction skills and fire up your imagination if you want to satisfy the needs of your religious minifigures.
School / University
LEGO have given us a number of sets depicting school buses, but as yet have not produced a regular fully built school. Yes, there have been several different types of school under the Friends theme, but these have a slightly unconventional and junior look that are unlikely to appeal to most adult city builders. If your city is filled with wizards and witches, then of course you can send them off to Hogwarts, but for muggle occupied settlements many residents will be left uneducated.
With all the space-themed City sets you’d also expect a university or other form of higher-education building to teach minifigures the ins and outs of chemistry and physics. But again, LEGO has not made one. There seems to be no political reason why LEGO would avoid educational buildings so there is the possibility this will change. A city college or old schoolhouse could be easily shaped to fit the dimensions of the Icons modular building blueprint, and with the Icons line continuing to diversify their range of buildings, this may be one of the next avenues they explore. New modular sets are released every January so watch this space.
However, a school or university could find its way onto shelves through other means. LEGO Ideas turns fan projects with enough support from the LEGO community into real sets, provided they pass the review stage and are approved for production. One such set to surpass the 10,000-supporter threshold is The University of Brickester project which sits in the second review round of 2022. LEGO will commence its review at the end of September and is expected to announce which set will be turned into an official set around the end of the year.
Continuing with the educational theme, minifigures are still without a public library. Although arguably their need for reading material was met with the release of the modular 10270 Bookshop, from the exterior this set could have passed for any number of other shops, if it wasn’t for the store name printed above the door. Particularly in Europe, public city libraries were traditionally found in grand, historic buildings with dark wood interiors housing books from floor to ceiling. While set 10270 captured this in essence, it certainly didn’t deliver on the same scale.
Nowadays, a few old-style libraries remain, as many are now housed in more contemporary settings that not only serve as a place to borrow books, but also as community centres offering a range of other services. Thus, LEGO could choose to go down either the old or new route for a library set.
While there’s nothing preventing LEGO from producing a library-based set, with the Bookshop still being on sale, it’s unlikely that a similar book-themed set would be released in the near future, at least not as an Icons set. However, LEGO Ideas offers another opportunity for such a set to make it into production. The Library project, which features some beautiful classic architecture mixed with a modern book-shaped entrance, is currently under review by LEGO.
Business parks and industrial centres are a common sight on the outskirts of large urban areas, and they provide a vital role in supplying goods to neighbouring cities and destinations further afield. But if you like the idea of assembling your own, LEGO’s catalogue is not going to be of much help. Therefore, visit any AFOL’s city, and you are unlikely to find a factory in sight. It’s surprising that LEGO hasn't produced more industry-themed sets, given how fundamental it is to society. That’s not to say we haven’t had any, as there have been several freight trains, cargo ships, and harbours to move the goods around, but it’s anyone’s guess where those goods are supposed to be coming from.
A fully equipped production facility would make for an impressive set. LEGO could even partner with a real-life company, like they have previously with Maersk and Shell. The brand perhaps most synonymous with large factories is Tesla, who have several Gigafactories churning out cars at an astonishing rate. Given the status of the electric car maker, a collaboration set could prove immensely popular.
Museum / Art Gallery
Minifigures are well catered for in terms of shopping, amusement centres, and means of getting around. However, if they were to take a trip into their nearest LEGO city, they’re likely to find it a cultural wasteland. This is because of the shortage of museum and gallery-based sets that LEGO have produced. The only museum to be released under the City theme is the 60008 Museum Break-in set from 2013. Consequently, there is high demand for this set, with it now selling for around twice its original RRP on the aftermarket. The museum itself in this set was small, with the build mostly being made up of the building’s frontage. There is therefore definitely an unmet need for a larger-scale museum showcasing some exotic and historic specimens.
LEGO have plenty of historical themes they could draw on for inspiration for these exhibits. Medieval, Egyptian, Viking, and Dinosaur-related artifacts could all be sourced from previous sets. Alternatively, LEGO could create an art gallery showcasing miniature versions of all of the Art theme sets. There seems to be a strong basis for a museum / gallery set, and it could provide an opportunity for LEGO to pay homage to some of its previous creations. With no obvious reason for why one hasn’t materialised yet, it could just be that LEGO haven’t got round to it yet.
A large museum or art gallery would best lend itself to an Icons modular set, but the Ideas theme is again a potential option, as The Art Centre project has made it to the second review round of 2022. However, two previous museum inspired projects, the History Museum and The Natural History Museum, have both been rejected previously by LEGO, so the chance of a cultural landmark is looking a little doubtful.
If you’ve liked this article, you might also be interested in reading our view on 5 licensed themes we would like to see from LEGO.
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