There’s definitely no shortage on LEGO magazines, but at the same time one can never have enough. Personally I had always hoped for something more scientifically oriented and not just tie-ins to existing product lines, so maybe there’s a chance to get my wish fulfilled with the new LEGO Explorer?
Unlike the other magazines this one is not published by Blue Ocean, but rather something really fresh and independent from Egmont publishing, a company who more than just coincidentally has its origin in Denmark just like LEGO themselves. The differences become readily apparent once you hold the magazine in your hands in terms of subject matter, layout or even the paper used. This comes in handy for the door hanger you can create from the back cover, which is made from slightly heavier print stock.
The publication purports to be based around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and thus covers a wide variety of subjects with the emphasis of this first issue being robotics. As a Sci-Fi nerd and someone who had a strong interest in physics, astronomy, construction and many other things ever since his earliest childhood (I think I got my first construction kit at the age of three) that’s pretty much my territory. However, this is of course at the level of eight-year-old school kids, so there’s not much for adults to learn here, at least not for me.
There are some puzzles and the magazine cites realworld examples for its models by ways of including reference photos of machines, animals and so on. Unfortunately it reeks too obviously of commercial stock photos you can license for a few bucks from respective sites, so not much effort went into that part.
Similarly the LEGO product placement is a bit too “in your face” with several models being presented from commercial sets, supposed interviews with official LEGO designers (which is kind of pointless, as average people have no way of verifying any of it, even if it’s legit) and even the central poster being the robot from LEGO Boost (17101). They seriously need to dial it back.
On the other hand there are no genuine building tips as in explaining some of the more obscure things about LEGO parts usage or how to apply some basic physical principles to your models, which is weird and wasted potential, given the alleged direct connection to the designers. This also shows in the included pieces that allow to build the robot depicted on the front page, which looks pretty naff overall.
For the time being, as much as I would want it to be a different conclusion, this is not the magazine I was hoping for. They need to seriously step up their game with better models, better explanations and more emphasis on really having educational value. It’s early and they need to find their footing still, so I’m gonna watch this for a while at least, but if it doesn’t improve, I’m not going to hang on to it forever.