Wednesday, 20 June 2012


It's not unusual to hear people complain that LEGO sets contain too many specialised parts these days. The argument goes that not only are such parts little use for anything other than the set that they came in, but that they also stifle creativity because people no longer need to figure out how to build things out of basic bricks anymore. Licensed themes such as Star Wars are often held to be particularly bad in this regard, although for me the City theme with its reliance on POOP is just as guilty. We also shouldn't forget that LEGO have been including large, custom parts in sets for decades; I still have a number of train bases from Set 171 Train Set without Motor to this day, for instance.

Anyway, on a trip to the U.S. a few months back I had a free evening and decided to make a pilgrimage to the local LEGO brand store which was just a short cab ride away. While I was there I made a discovery that should bring joy to the heart of any dyed-in-the-wool LEGO traditionalists out there, those people for whom anything other than basic bricks are blasphemy...

I found the fellow above (click pic to enlarge) near the Pick-a-Brick (PAB) wall, packaged in a small PAB cup. He's made almost entirely out of basic bricks, with 3 slopes and a green 6 x 8 plate thrown in for good measure, and you can't get much more basic than that... I was provided with the building instructions when I went to the counter to pay my $7.99, basically just a sheet of A4 paper with a series of colour-printed building steps. Not great quality, but just about good enough to follow.

Since arriving back in the UK, I've learned that the Rabbit above is one of a series of "Limited Edition" PAB models that LEGO have recently started to sell in their brand stores. I haven't been able to find much information about them, although Brickset has added a number of these "sets" to its database (click here to view them) and is continuing to add more information as it comes in. It looks like the Rabbit may have been the first of these PAB sets, available for purchase during April 2012 before being superceded by a model of an Artist in May. All of the sets follow the same basic pattern - crude, blocky sculptures fashioned from basic bricks available in the PAB wall, packaged in standard PAB containers, and supplied with either A4 colour-printed building instructions or no instructions at all depending on which store you visit....

Crude or not, I find these models quite appealing, and I've therefore also picked up a couple of others since. I found the Batman and Robin model below during a visit to the London Westfield LEGO store last week. This is only available during the month of June and came in a large PAB cup, at a cost of £11.

As far as I'm aware, this is the only PAB model so far to come with stickers - the Batman and Robin logos that you can see applied in the picture above. I'm told that some people buying this set in UK brand stores haven't been provided with building instructions; while I was given a set of instructions (pictures below - click to enlarge) it was mighty hard to follow them... I eventually had to resort to using a magnifying glass to figure out some of the building steps, but before you start accusing me of being an old git with failing eyesight, be aware that even my 4 year old son (who did most of the building) struggled to make sense of them either, so it's not just me....

The building instructions for at least some of these models are also available online; you can find the instructions plus a parts inventory for Batman and Robin here, and they're thankfully much easier to follow than their printed counterparts...

The other PAB model I have is the Royal Guard. This one was produced to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and was only available in stores between June 2nd and 5th, priced at £6. Given the limited availability, I have atkinsar to thank for grabbing this one for me - thanks, Andy ! As ever, the model was packaged in a sealed PAB cup (below).

The model wasn't supplied with building instructions on this occasion, although given my experience with the Batman and Robin instructions maybe that's not such a bad thing... Instructions are available online here, and you can see a sample page below, including an inventory of parts.

Consistent with the other PAB models, it's a very quick and simple build, and you can see a picture of the finished model below. Although predominantly made up of basic bricks, two 1 x 2 plates and two 1 x 2 tiles with grille make an appearance, not to mention a handful of 2 x 2 45 degree slopes for the huge bearskin cap.

So what to make of these models ? Well, they're not everybody's cup of tea, that's for sure; a 'prominent AFOL' who will remain nameless (you know who you are !) recently remarked "I fail to see the attraction of these. They are just piles of basic bricks badly put together", and he's not the first person I've heard make comments like that. I don't think that completists or collectors will get too excited about these models either - they lack any model-specific packaging (or even paper instructions in some cases), don't contain any unusual or rare parts, and can in fact be easily recreated by anybody with a spare PAB cup and access to a few basic bricks, with nobody being any the wiser that they weren't actually bought in-store; the only hard-to-source aspect of the models is the Batman and Robin logo stickers, and even these will no doubt appear on Bricklink in due course. The models are not even particularly good value for money - you pay the same for these models as you would for a cup of PAB parts of your own choosing, and most people could and would squeeze a lot more pieces into a PAB cup than you get with any of these models.

And yet....all that having been said, I do think they have a certain block-tastic, old-school charm and I can't help liking them, although I get the feeling that I may be in the minority. I will likely pick up more of them, although probably wouldn't go too far out of my way to do so. Interestingly, a few people I know who aren't LEGO fans have told me that they liked the models when they saw them, so perhaps they may appeal to the more casual or occasional LEGO buyer who wanders into a brand store and spots them. Although whether they'd be able to decypher the paper instructions is anyone's guess, assuming they're even given any...


  1. Thoughs look very nice! I like them. Like you said, they are just very simple. Although, I kind of find it stupid that they don't always provide an instruction booklet.

  2. I for one think these are great little models full of old school charm, something simple and 'basic' can be very refreshing. It looks like they are here to stay so lets hope LEGO offer up a few surprises....

  3. Is there any way of posting the building instructions for this rabbit to the website...
    I would love to build this, but can not find the instructions anywhere. I've got all the others (except the zookeeper and the rabbit)
    Yhank you in advance.

    1. Send me your e-mail address via the "contact me" link; if I can find the instructions I'll scan them and e-mail them to you.

    2. I've scanned and uploaded building instructions for the PaB Rabbit to :

      Enjoy !