BrickJournal.com Review: LEGO Publishing Line by Chronicle Books


In April, Chronicle Books released a line of LEGO-themed stationery and books targeted for adults. Working with The LEGO Group, Chronicle designed this line for adults. Unlike the official LEGO books by Dorling Kinserley, the Chronicle books and products showcase the whimsy and sometimes the humor of the LEGO Brick. BrickJournal received some samples of their line (available now) to take a look at.

Books

Chronicle has released two books, and with each book is a different look at the brick. One is decidedly artsy, and one is humorous.

Front dust jacket.

The artsy book is LEGO Still Life with Bricks: The Art of Everyday Play. Composed by Michelle Clair and Lydia Ortiz and photographed by Patrick Rafanan, the book comes in at a page count of 144 full-color pages and a cover price of $18.95, this book is a portfolio of LEGO art. There is no text, just photos of LEGO elements placed to make art, whether it be an asteroid field for a spaceship or a pianist playing a keyboard. This art is not built art, it’s more like spilt art. There are very few built models in the book. Most of the art was made by placing or pouring LEGO elements into containers or on a surface, which is very effective as a technique in most of the pages – using elements in paint cans to represent paint colors makes for a wonderful image.

Rear dust jacket.

On the other hand, there are a couple of pieces of art that try to force the properties of a LEGO plate to conform to another form. These looked forced. Another neat idea that was presented in the book is the idea of progression. There were sets of photos that were sequences, including a four-panel set on growing a plant in a pot. I liked these sets because they incorporated action (or implied action) into the art.

The visual puns abound in the book!
The visual puns abound in the book!
A really effective use of LEGO elements.
A really effective use of LEGO elements.

Suffice it to say, there is a lot of visual punnery, which is perfect for  the LEGO brand.

You can order Still Life with Bricks: The Art of Everyday Play here.

From the Book…

A spinoff from the book is a postcard collection: LEGO Still Life with Bricks: 100 Collectible Postcards. Priced at $22.95, this is a set of cards with art from the book. The postcards are beautiful and can be viewed on their own merits, which adds to their appeal. The box is a laminated keepsake box with an attached lid, so when you run out, you can reuse the box. This is the case with most of the stationery items in the line. The postcards are almost too nice to send.

One of the postcards inside the set.
Some more – with 200 of these, you’ll be occupied writing!

You can order Still Life with Bricks Postcards here.

Another Book…

Front cover.

The second book released by Chronicle Books is Small Parts: The Secret Life of Minifigures. Written and composed by Aled Lewis, one very interesting thing about this book is that all the art is rendered from a LEGO building program, Mecabricks. The photorealistic quality of the photos had me initially skeptical, until I looked up a part I spotted on a page and found it didn’t exist in the color shown in the book!

Back cover.

This book has some building in it, but is primarily a gallery of one- to four-panel cartoons revolving around minifigures and LEGO. Again, there are visual puns, and while most of the gags are of the ‘dad joke’ variety, the book is good for a few laughs along with the groans.

Hey, I’m in the book! – well, not really. It’s any Joe!
A groaner for sure.

Any of these items would be good gifts for LEGO fans, with Still Life being a good book to set out on the table (not coffee-table, more like end table) for others to see and look at. Small Parts is a good gift to for anyone who wonders about what minifigures do when no one is around.

You can order Small Parts here.


Stationery

Chronicle Books launched its LEGO stationery line with these items:

Note Bricks

The green Note Brick.

Two Note Bricks, (Orange-Yellow and Blue-Green) priced at $12.95 USD are out with different color schemes. 224 note sheets are inside each box, matching the colors of the box. The size of the box itself is 3″ x 5″ x 1.5″ and is has a shiny finish. They also have the studs embossed on the top, making the boxes something to keep after you use the note sheets.

The note sheets are printed on one side and are basically index card size. The print is a standard LEGO stud pattern – it’s 8 studs by 14 studs in size!

The sheets are loose, so they are easy to get out of the box and are good dropping notes where there isn’t any attachment needed.  And 224 sheets is a lot to write!

You can order the Orange-Yellow Note Box here.

You can order the Blue-Green Note Box here.


Brick Erasers

Another item released was a box of Brick Erasers, available for $15.95. Eight erasers molded like the LEGO 2×4 brick are in blue-green colors to match the Note Sheets box. Bricks actually fit onto the erasers, however, the erasers lack an open bottom. Outside of that, they are a fun addition to a LEGO fan’s desk set.

You can order Brick Erasers here.


Brick Notebook

The last sample received was the Brick Notebook, selling for $16.95. With 144 pages, this book has lined pages and some fun and interesting design touches. Like the Note Sheet boxes, the cover is embossed with the stud pattern. Both the blue-tree and yellow-orange bricks are on the front and back covers. Inside the covers, the bottom of the respective bricks are seen. For the pages, the bottom outside corner has a  2×4 brick in a LEGO color with its name and number. The cover is heavy and vanished and is ready to be used as a …Brick Journal (ha, had to say it)!

You can order the Brick Note Book here.

These are the beginning to what Chronicle Books is planning to release. One other item out now is a puzzle of one of the best photos in the book!

Overall, the book are good gift ideas – I would recommend the Still Life book over the Small Parts book, as Still Life has some really nice art pieces in it. The stationery is very appealing all around, with well-designed boxes and materials matching the classic edict from the LEGO Company: Only the Best is Good Enough.

You can see Chronicle Books’ catalog of LEGO-themed items here, including upcoming releases in December.

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