You know Lego Master Builders — or at least you know their work. They are the geniuses who design the Lego sets you buy in the store. Now, Lego has cleverly turned the Master Builder designation into a series of lessons on Lego-building called the Master Builder Academy.
The Academy consists of a three-year run of models, delivered by subscription every two months. Individually, each kit is nothing really amazing — the first is a space ship model with a mere 178 parts. However, the instructions contain the true value of the product. In addition to the standard building step-by-steps, each booklet has tons of Lego building techniques, the sort of material most adult Master Builders had to learn on their own or by reading AFOL forums. For instance, one instruction includes the use of an L-shaped brick. A footnote mentions that this is to add structural support. Nearly every page of the instruction book has one or more of these tips. There’s even a dedicated MBA site with additional resources.
The Lego models that come in the MBA series are decent, small-scale models, not gigantic headliners but modestly challenging smaller kits. Intriguingly, each can be built into three different models, adding value to the product and encouraging kids to learn to use bricks in different ways.
Kit 1 is a trio of rocket ships, kit 2 teaches microbuilding, where you use as few bricks as possible to build your creation. Kit 3 builds three types of robot, kit 4 are airplane models as well as an exclusive MBA minifig! Kit 5 are animals and kit 6 are race cars.
The targeted audience of the Academy is kids 8 and up, and the skill level of the first set (the only one I’ve seen) seems spot on for this age group. Though honestly, what adult Lego fan wouldn’t want to become an official Master Builder?
Pricewise, the way it works is that you buy the first set for $29.99 and from there subscribe for the rest of the year for $69.99, giving you five more sets for a total of six. The total price of around $100 for nearly a thousand elements and over 400 pages of Lego lore sounds spot on.