We’ve really enjoyed our 3rd issue of Blocks magazine. There has been improvement with each new issue, which is encouraging indeed. As is to be expected this early in their history, there are some things that aren’t working well, and we’ll discuss those in this review in the interests of providing constructive criticism.
One of the difficulties of publishing an actual magazine in the age of the internet is to provide content that retains relevance and import despite the lag time between printing and presentation to the reader. Where Blocks is most successful is in those articles that provide information that only their writers can easily access, or in areas where their staff members’ expertise is on exclusive display.
Two of the best pieces in the issue, for example, are “A Matter of Technique: Landscaping A Base” and the in depth exploration of “Brick To The Past: 2015 Collaborative Build”. In both of these articles, Blocks either provided timeless content that relied on the expertise of their staff members, or they had insider access to plans and material that is denied to the rest of us. The landscaping how-to provides great information for people looking to improve their building technique, which is something we always want to see more of. The collaborative build piece, likewise, is something we’d love to see Blocks follow to its completion. Very few LEGO fans ever get to participate in a team build like this, and seeing it move from drawings on a page to concept builds in this issue was a real treat.
Turning to the “needs improvement” aspect of the review, there are still some issues cropping up on the editorial side of the house. The Hobbit round up, for example, ends in mid-sentence, which marred an otherwise engaging feature. A more difficult problem for the editorial staff of Blocks to solve will be a decision they need to make on their intended audience. To see what I mean, compare the “voice” used in the Series 13 Collectible Close-Up with that we find in the interview with Paul Chancellor. The latter is clearly intended for Adult Fans of LEGO, but the former seems to be aimed at very young children. I don’t think the magazine can reach both groups successfully, and I think that focusing the content on the AFOL is a smarter move.
Another article type that we’ve seen in the first three issues of Blocks is the introduction of after-market products, in this case, a guide to lighting options. The articles are good at making the reader aware of the options available, but I think they’d be even better combined with some how-to-use-this sort of information. For lighting particularly, it would be neat to see how the lights are secured inside a creation, or how they’re used to light up a multi-storey building (do you leave holes in the floors?).
The summary is that Issue 3 is worth your time and money. It is an improvement over the first two issues, which we’d expect to see, and the time-insensitive content is generally well-presented and interesting. Good work, Blocks! We look forward to the next one.