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The History of Lego from 2000
on February 11, 2010
I've now read in their entirety both the Lego Book and the Minifig Book which form the core of this collection. As a collector of Legos since their heyday in the late 1980s (think Pirates) to the present, I've seen a lot of Lego memorabilia. When I received this book collection for Christmas, I was really, truly hoping that DK was intending to focus on the complete history of Lego and the Lego minifigure. Sadly, I was mistaken.
Don't get me wrong, the books are beautifully illustrated in full color on quality paper in a cute little collectors box. But in the end, I feel rather let down. For the main book, I was let down by the content. The book focused on the history of Lego for the first dozen pages or so but then switched to the individual themes. I was actually okay with that. I mean, if you want to see the complete line of Legos from the 1950s to the present, buy the 2008 set collectors guide. I would have liked to see a bit more of a review of the early town and train themes and how they developed prior to the creation of the minifig, but I was generally okay with the content and quality of the brief history of Lego.
The theme sections are what really got me down. I know Lego sponsored this DK book but, technically at least, this is not a Lego production. It is independent. It has no Lego set number, no Lego pieces, only pictures. Yet somehow it is very obvious from the very start that this book was designed and funded by Lego. The majority of the themes have at least one page focusing on the most recent sub-theme of a series. Be it the 2007 Castle line, the 2008 Space Police, the 2007 Clone Wars, or the recent City themes. They are very present throughout this book. What really irked me was the treatment of the Lego Pirates. They dedicate one spread to the 1989-1996 series of Pirates and another full spread to just the 2008 line. That just seems insulting. The 2-year Westerners series is crammed on the same spread as the Adventurers and Time Cruisers. Meanwhile, other lines like Star Wars (1999-present) get four full spreads or more. I couldn't even see examples of some of my favorite Space lines such as M-Tron, Blacktron II, or Spyrius. They just weren't there! The objectiveness of this "Lego Book" is very much in question and I would rather call it the "History of Lego from 2000" than anything else.
My larger gripe, though, is with the accompanying Lego Minifigure book. Where the Lego Book lacked in content, the minifig book lacked in everything except visual appeal. Even at times that was in question, though. As with the Lego Book, the minifig book is in full color and on good quality paper. It fits snugly beside the Lego Book in its collector's box. Yet I have a feeling that significantly less time was spent on this younger cousin of the larger Book. Any editor who read this would laugh out loud. Indeed, I have yet to find a page that doesn't have a spelling, grammatical, or factual error. In almost all cases there are multiple such problems on the pages. Besides being about as non-comprehensive as the Lego Book, barely covering more than the last decade's worth of minifigures, the style of this book is extremely wanting. Many pages I have found odd and hardly interesting facts on the wrong page (the fact that Prof. Snape's head was the first glow-in-the-dark minifig part appearing on the page AFTER that minifig was shown comes to mind). In other places, the same exact minifig appears twice, sometimes on the same page even, often with a different date despite the fact that they are the same exact figure. In other cases, I have found incorrect dates for figures, or even incorrect names. One funny error notes that the Clone Wars in Star Wars took place over 300 years, rather than the canonical 3 years. In virtually all aspects, the minifig book lacks the quality-control checks and editing I would expect from DK. It is as though the people who arranged the hodgepodge of images also created the captions with absolutely no oversight. Were the minifig book sold separately, I would probably demand a full refund from the publisher out of sheer anger at the poor editing of this book. While the visual appeal is arguably good, the writing of some of the poorest quality I have seen in a publication.
So, my advice is to buy this set if you want it purely for the images. It is a great visual feast of Legoness. However, if you expect deep content and a fun jaunt back into the history of Lego, I'd suggest you wait for another book because this will leave you scratching your head asking: "Didn't Lego make more sets before 2000?"