Joe Meno and the wonderful people at No Starch Press were kind enough to provide me with a copy of Joe Meno and John Baichtal’s new book The Cult of LEGO. I received the book a little over a week ago, but up until tonight I didn’t have the time to actually read through the book, so although its a little late (literally and figuratively) here’s my review.
Although I’ve heard the book being touted as a coffee table book that isn’t entirely true. There is definitely more to it than just a set of pictures. In some ways it is like a picture book version of Jon Bender’s LEGO A Love Story. Both books try to encompass the enormity of all things LEGO. It is a daunting task and one that could hardly fit into any one book. Heck, I’ve been writing this blog for over three years and I’ve still not run out of things to say, so trying to share that with the non-LEGO fan in a comprehensive way is quite an undertaking.
This book starts naturally with the history of the brick. Even though the book is 304 pages long, it almost read like a Reader’s Digest with short sections briefly covering each topic. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it continues to engage the reader. I read through a good half of the book and skimmed over all of it in two hours. There are chapters on everything from minifigs and LEGO conventions to Mindstorms and LEGO Art.
Pages and pages of pictures fill the book and it is beautifully bound. It is certainly a wonderful addition to any LEGO fan’s library as well as a way to show your non-LEGO friends that you are not alone in your obsession.
Like Bender’s book much of what was in this one was familiar to me. There were many familiar names and faces of my fellow LEGO friends. One of my few complaints is that there seemed to be heavy emphasis on some builders while other just as notable (if not more so) builders were completely missing from the pages. This may or may not have been intentional as you can’t focus on every great builder.
What I do like about The Cult of LEGO is that it is yet another step to bring the LEGO hobby into the mainstream. It naturally talks about the “Dark Ages” (the years a person stops playing with LEGO) that many AFOLs went through in their teens or twenties. Most of us didn’t know there were other LEGO fans out there when we were kids. We didn’t have First LEGO League, LEGO Cons, or online forums to share our passion with so many stopped when they thought they were too old or that playing with a kid’s toy wasn’t “cool.” I never had a Dark Age, but I’m the exception not the rule. Hopefully with books like this and all the outlets that are now available LEGO can be seen as a legitimate hobby.
I love how this book again shows that LEGO is not like any other toy. It may start as just a bunch of bricks but imagination, innovation and creativity ensue. Those that played with LEGO as children now are the engineers, computer programmers and rocket scientists of today. I would certainly recommend this as a great read and a window into the world that is LEGO.