The LEGOLAND Discovery Center Chicago opened up a new Star Wars miniland this weekend, and it is all The Phantom Menace. Located in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, the LEGOLAND Discovery Center is exhibiting three interactive dioramas showing off scenes from the first prequel film:
- The Naboo hangar, with launching starfighter and duel scene
- The Mos Espa podrace arena, with controllable Anakin and Sebulba podracers
- The Naboo plains battlefield, where Gungans and battle droids face off
The new set of Star Wars dioramas, a first for a U.S. LEGOLAND Discovery Center, is made with over 500,000 LEGO bricks and 2,000 mini figures. Additionally, the Chicago skyline diorama will also celebrate the opening by including Star Wars minifigures and other references in its display. The new miniland opened to the public this past weekend with a series of grand opening weekend festivities. One blogger reports their ‘preview night’ experience with lots of photos.
Unlike the miniland dioramas at LEGOLAND California (which previously announced some minor updates for this summer) which assemble characters in a blocky 4-6 inch height scale, these dioramas are at the scale of the regular LEGO mini-figures, so you’ll see your favorite LEGO figures from The Phantom Menace in the exhibit (including a hugely populated podrace arena grandstand).
This is the first Star Wars miniland at any of the indoor LEGOLAND Discovery Centers in North America. The Manchester UK Discovery Center was the first to receive the Episode I miniland, though only from February through June, and there are some hints that the Chicago installation may be temporary as well.
In its announcement of the opening of the LEGOLAND hotel and the rest of its 2013 plans, the Carlsbad theme park slipped in a tidbit for fans of its Star Wars miniland. In the press release reposted by Endor Express, the resort’s general manager Peter Ronchetti talks about the hotel, the upcoming Legends of Chima attractions (tied into a new toyline and cartoon), and this:
“And LEGO Star Wars fans rejoice!” continued Ronchetti, “we’ll be gaining another exciting addition in June with more details to come but it will definitely enhance our guest experience.“
The Star Wars miniland at LEGOLAND California opened in 2011 with 7 dioramas, focusing on the saga films and The Clone Wars. At the launch of the 2012 summer season, the theme park added some minor improvements to the dioramas and a lineup of Star Wars character mini-figure statues. My guess at this time is that the 2013 addition will be along the same lines as the 2012 improvements: nothing huge, but enough to make a deal about to draw in local fans, and also host more Star Wars themed weekends.
Hoping to bring in more visitors, Legoland California has made some minor updates to their Star Wars miniland area, as well as hosting a series of Star Wars Days over the past few weekends to hype up the fun over the Spring Break period. Costumed members of the 501st and Rebel Legion were on hand to help add to the festivities in the Carlsbad theme park.
While Star Wars miniland only opened a year ago with seven dioramas (one for each of the main saga movies, and one for The Clone Wars,) in the theme park industry, you’ve got to keep things fresh (or at least advertise as such) to attract visitors. So this year, the Lego builders have created several additions to the miniland area:
Big thanks to Rach, who grabbed this screencap from the Keepsake catalog. (Hallmark’s horrible web interface for it is currently locked to members.) We’ll have a closer look later when it goes live for all, but this should give you a pretty good idea.
LEGO announced at Toy Fair that they have extended their license with Lucasfilm for Star Wars-themed toys, video games, etc. for another ten years. So not only will there be twenty new Star Wars LEGO building sets released in 2012, we’ll be seeing lots of LEGO Star Wars merchandise until 2022 (or probably longer).
As part of the announcement, they released some stats including that the LEGO Star Wars video game franchise has sold more than 30 million units with their four titles (and Joystiq seems to think they have a sequel in the works to their 2011 The Clone Wars video game). Also, from Toy Fair, Kotaku has some photos of some The Old Republic building sets and The Lord of the Rings sets (a new license for LEGO) and Collider’s got images of The Avengers sets. And for those who want to drool over all the revealed sets, FBTB has your full LEGO Star Wars set coverage from Toy Fair.
This dude built a Venator Class Star Destroyer out of LEGO>. (For my fellow non ship-nerds: Clone Wars era.) It’s apparently not the first ever, but it is the first to only use LEGOS. It’s impressive, basically.
Because it’s Wednesday, here’s something fun. (via)
File this one under the ‘so not for me.’
Lucasfilm/LEGO/The Cartoon Network have a press release today detailing The Padawan Menace, a standalone TV special that will premiere Friday, July 22.
Tour guide Master Yoda leads a group of rambunctious Jedi younglings through Senate chambers when he senses a disturbance in the Force. Summoned to help save the Republic, he discovers that one of the younglings secretly boarded his ship…and has a taste for adventure! Meanwhile, C-3PO and R2-D2 are put in charge of the boisterous group and find themselves in over their heads. As the evil Sith prepare to wreak havoc, it’s up to Yoda and the droids to ensure that their young charges aren’t torn to bricks!
No doubt the kids will love it.
Coming soon spotted a LEGO Star Wars poster at at the Licensing International Expo that promises a TV special for Fall 2011. They also mention “a second animated series” with “a completely new and fun direction” that could be either this or the Seth Green comedy show. I don’t even know anymore.
It’s May, and as always, Hallmark’s 2011 Dreambook is out. The ornaments were on display at Celebration, but for those of us who weren’t there or somehow completely missed the Hallmark booth, this is the first look.
Come July 16, you can pick up Jedi Master Yoda, Slave I, LEGO Darth Vader and the ever-controversial Showdown at the Cantina, featuring audio from the DVD edition. A fifth ornament, Bossk, will be available during the Keepsake Ornament Premiere.
Other familiar franchises you can deck your trees with this year include Star Trek, Harry Potter, Wizard of Oz, Pirates of the Caribbean, several superheroes and… Twilight.
All these ornaments will be available only in Hallmark stores.