Since the "Automatic Binding Bricks" that LEGO produced in 1949, and the LEGO "System of Play" that began with the release of Town Plan No. 1 (1955), LEGO bricks have gone on to become a global phenomenon, and the favorite building toy of children, as well as many an AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO). LEGO has also become a medium into which a wide number of media franchises, including Star Wars, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, Batman, Superman, Lord of the Rings, and others, have adapted their characters, vehicles, props, and settings. The LEGO Group itself has become a multimedia empire, including LEGO books, movies, television shows, video games, board games, comic books, theme parks, magazines, and even MMORPGs.
LEGO Studies: Examining the Building Blocks of a Transmedial Phenomenon is the first collection to examine LEGO as both a medium into which other franchises can be adapted and a transmedial franchise of its own. Although each essay looks at a particular aspect of the LEGO phenomenon, topics such as adaptation, representation, paratexts, franchises, and interactivity intersect throughout these essays, proposing that the study of LEGO as a medium and a media empire is a rich vein barely touched upon in Media Studies.
Table of Contents
Prolegomena Mark J. P. Wolf 1. The Cultural History of LEGO Lars Konzack 2. Adapting the Death Star to LEGO: The Case of Set #10188 Mark J. P. Wolf 3. Middle-earth and LEGO (Re)creation Neal Baker 4. Myth Blocks: How LEGO Transmedia Configures and Remixes Mythic Structures in the Ninjago and Chima Themes Lori Landay 5. Chicks with Bricks: Building Creative Identities Across Industrial Design Cultures and Gendered Construction Play Derek Johnson 6. (Un)blocking the Transmedial Character: Digital Abstraction as Franchise Strategy in Traveller’s Tales’ LEGO Games Jessica Aldred 7. Playset Nostalgia: LEGO Star Wars Video Games and the Meta-Experience of Fandom Robert Buerkle 8. Brick by Brick: Modularity and Programmability in MINDSTORMS and Gaming Christopher Hanson 9. Building the LEGO Classroom Michael Lachney 10. The LEGO System as a Tool for Thinking, Creativity, and Changing the World David Gauntlett 11. LEGO: The Imperfect Art Tool Nathan Sawaya 12. LEGO Art Engages People Ed Diment & Duncan Titmarsh 13. The Virtualization of LEGO Kevin Schut 14. Bright Bricks, Dark Play: On the Impossibility of Studying LEGO Seth Giddings 15. Afterword: D.I.Y. Disciplinarity: (Dis)Assembling LEGO Studies for the Academy Jason Mittell Appendix: Resource Guide for LEGO Scholarship
Mark J. P. Wolf is Chair of the Communication Department at Concordia University Wisconsin. He is the author of Building Imaginary Worlds and co-editor with Bernard Perron of The Routledge Companion to Video Game Studies and The Video Game Theory Reader 1 and 2.