The Lego Fan Community is a marvellous thing. Like all the best products, LEGO has the scope – and the adaptability – to allow for improvement, with bluetooth remote control, custom decals, and even bespoke mini-figures available through third party providers to help builders to personalise their own creations and official sets.
One area that LEGO themselves dabble in is LED lights, with a pair available through their Power Functions range. But what if you want more? Like, lots more?
That’s where Game of Bricks come in, a new start-up offering tailored lighting kits for existing LEGO sets. The guys at GoB contacted us to see if we’d like an early test of a one of their kits, and a box for the huge 42078 LEGO Technic Mack Anthem set duly arrived here at TLCB Towers. So how did it fair? Read on to find out!
Packaging & Product
First impressions were excellent, with the Game of Bricks Mack Anthem kit arriving in a secure and rather nice box, with a mass of wires and lights neatly packaged within it. Unpackaging it undoes much of that neatness unfortunately, as a lot of lights means a lot of wires, but more on that in a bit.
The wires themselves are extraordinarily thin, so much so we feared breaking them, but it turns out they’re remarkably robust, and their slim profile allows them to (mostly) fit between bricks without issue. Attached to these are the lights themselves, each glued inside a non-Lego brick that replaces the non-functional light pieces on the model. These non-LEGO replacements are a good match, although their clutch power is slightly variable, and each has a hole drilled through it to allow the ultra-thin wires to pass through.
Power comes from a battery box (or two in the case of our kit) that takes AAA batteries and plugs into the wires via a USB connection. This makes disconnecting the battery boxes to change them an easy process, plus you can plug your lights into a USB port should you wish. So far, so good.
And then we got to the instructions…
Instructions (Take 1)
The instructions for Game of Bricks light kits come in the form of a PDF, but there was no QR quote or link to these within the box we received for our Mack Anthem set, so we headed to the Game of Bricks website to find them (something that we hope will be added to the packaging in future).
Opening these revealed some reasonable images, a few spelling mistakes, and an inner rage we’d not found within ourselves since the Elves got into the Executive Washroom and Sauna. They were, frankly, terrible.
After hours spent trying to get the wires and lights to reach parts of the set that they wouldn’t, untangling them, trying a different route, untangling them, we gave up and contacted Game of Bricks to say we couldn’t review their product and a bit more work was needed. The guys at GoB calmly replied saying not to worry, they were in the process of producing video instructions, and they’d send us a link in a few days, which they did.
Instructions (Take 2)
We were pretty fed up when the link to video instructions arrived, and not expecting much to be honest. The video wasn’t flashy, simply showing sped-up fitment of the light kit, but gosh did it make a difference!
Our Mack Anthem set became fully lit within minutes, with the set’s original light pieces removed, wires passing under bricks neatly-ish and the new LED-equipped parts being fitted. The video instructions actually started at the completely opposite end of the process than the PDF ones, which may explain our confusion, rage, and ultimately failure first time around.
The result of the mass of wires and lights is, as you can see in the images here, pretty spectacular. For the most part the wires hide themselves reasonably well, although they are still visible in some places (particularly in a Technic Model where there are open areas) and of course the bricks don’t quite fit together as well with wires running underneath them, but as a static display piece you can’t argue with their effectiveness.
Where Game of Bricks lights work less well is if the set is to be used as a toy, a) because no child would have the patience to untangle and feed the wires throughout the build, and b) because the set ends up just a little bit less robust.
Prior to the instructional video we were not getting on with our Game of Bricks kit well, but the video enabled us to wire up our Mack Anthem set quickly and, although it’s a process much too fiddly for a child, most adults will cope OK (as proven by this TLCB Staff member). However, a suggestion to the manufacturers we would make is that as each light has two wires to enable a circuit, one in and one out, perhaps each pair could be wrapped together to halve the number of separate strands. This would reduce the kit’s fiddliness and the risk of entanglement by half too.
The quality of the LEDs and wiring seemed OK on our test set, although we had one brick come away from its LED – but seeing as it remained attached via the wire running through it, it wasn’t an issue – and one with a rubbish clutch, but otherwise they all attached adequately. The result looks superb as a static display piece, with all of the Mack’s many lights twinkling beautifully, although it’s a less practical solution if you’d like your set to remain as playable as it was pre-fitment.
For that reason we think Game of Bricks light kits are better suited to non-functional sets, like the Architecture range, Modular Buildings and Star Wars, with GoB offering lighting kits for many of the official LEGO sets within these themes. In fact the Modular Building lighting looks really rather special indeed, and – instructions dependent – could be an easy four star buy.
As for the Mack Anthem kit, it’s a slightly flawed product with a few areas that require improvement (namely the PDF instructions, wire complexity and variable clutch), but if you’re a LEGO fan who places creating an impressive static display above playability, the Game of Bricks lighting kit could be perfect upgrade to your 42078 set.
Our Mack Anthem lighting kit is one of the more expensive on offer at £40/€43, with prices for kits starting at under £20. Head to the Game of Bricks website to see the full range available.