Monday, October 19, 2009

Lego Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary

By Simon Beecroft, contributed by Jeremy Beckett

DK Publishing

$21.99, ages 7+, 96 pages

Is the airspace in your living room under regular assault by Lego starfighters guided by small hands?

Is the bottom of your purse a black hole of mini Lego light sabers, capes and headless stormtroopers?

Does your child swap heads on Lego minifigures to create an evil Yoda Vader or bikini-clad Chewie?

If you answered, "Yes," or have a knowing smile on your face after reading these questions, this is the book you have to get!

DK's Lego Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary is one of those perfect gifts to stow away and surprise your brick-building fan with when he's least expecting it. (That is, unless he detects its arrival in your shopping bag with his Lego Mindstorm sensors and swoops in on you by surprise.)

The much-anticipated visual guide to the history of Lego Star Wars is everything your child hopes it will be: pages upon pages of all of the warships ever to fly through the galaxy, detailed diagrams of gadgetry, and close-up pictures of every minifigure and creature to do battle, from Yoda to a dewback lizard and rare General Grievous in a cape.

There's even an exclusive Luke Skywalker minifigure, tucked into the cover of every book to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Lego Star Wars, and a flip-book element to the lower corner of every page. Flip all the corners on the right to see Luke brandish a lightsaber; do the same on the left to see stormtroopers march into battle.

At the beginning of the book is a timeline of when each model was released since 1999, the year Lego partnered with Lucasfilms to produce buildable replicas, and as you continue on, you'll see spreads dedicated to major characters, armies or battle stations with fun trivia tucked into the text or brought to your attention in "Brick Facts" boxes.

Don't be surprised if your Lego Star Wars fan runs to you and spills every cool fact he just read before taking another breath.

"Did you know the headlamps of an airspeeder are really minifigure drinking cups? That the gorg in Jabba's snack bowl is a frog from a fairy tale set? That the 2006 Imperial Star Destroyer set included Emperor Palpatine as a hologram? That every Lego model is tested in an oven so it can take the heat of a sunny window in someone's house?"

More than just a catalogue, the book shows how sets fit together to recreate the saga. It also explains how some minifigures evolved (at one point we see four Han Solos lined up with different face colors or pants) and how accessories are used, whether it's an ion pistol or a nutrient jar at Jabba's Palace. (Each jar is equipped with automated legs and carries the brains of monks who've reached enlightenment.)

More highlights include a two-page spread detailing every nook of the 2008 Death Star set, from a garbage squid living in a trash compactor to a tiny viewscreen in the superlaser control room. There's also a picture of the Rebel Fleet set that won the 2009 fan's choice award, an 18-inch-tall Darth Maul built with techniques used by Legoland experts and a photo of artist Nathan Sawaya's 5.5-foot tall brick sculpture of Han Solo in Carbonite.

If your Lego builders are like mine and explode with joy at the mention of a Lego catalog in the mailbox, or, like Zac the Lego Maniac from the 1980s TV ad, practically build Legos in their dreams, buy this book and the force will be with you. You will not only make your Lego fans deliriously happy, but keep their noses in a book longer than their required reading time and score cool points for weeks to come.

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