Yesterday (17th November) I was able to get up to Leicester Square for the opening of the new London Lego store. To those outside of London, this will be the third store as there are ones in the two Westfields in Shepherds Bush and Stratford. But this was to be the flagship store – and also to be the biggest in the world so far.
The excitement was building (if you pardon the pun) as I readied myself the night before. There had been rumours about the possibility (or not) of a minifigure of the store’s mascot (Lester) – but just in case I’d managed to get a custom minifigure and mini-me borrowed the suit.
Although the shop wasn’t to open until 1200 I arrived at 1000 – and the queue was already quite long. But the time flew by – I spent some time talking to the lady next to me who ran a jewellery shop back in South Africa – she just happened to be over here and thought she’d join in. I also posted this picture on my Instagram feed:
and in moments I heard a small boy a few yards away exclaim that he’d worked out who I was… and that his dad’s head was in my picture! But about 11am it all started to get a little fun when the outside staff start to throw boxes of Gingerbread Houses into the crowd. The lady next to me caught one and I was quite pleased for her – as it was I had one from last year, so I wasn’t too disappointed – and also I was pleased that they made sure that the children got them and not just the adults towering over them.
The camera crews started to work their way along the line, working out where people had come from – South Africa, Hong Kong, Canada, Australia, Sheffield… I’m glad they didn’t ask me! But we were soon on the move again – this time, we moved to the front of the store. A lot of people had stopped to the left and so I walked round to the more empty side on the right which gave me a better view of the “big button” and the size of the crowd:
Whilst we waited more Gingerbread Houses were given out… and I got one! I also picked up a postcard and a rather cool Lego passport. I had been watching my Instagram feed and noted that a comment from an Instagram feed had popped up… he was standing behind me! It was really cool to start to meet people who you had shared, liked and commented on in the virtual world, now in the real world.
Just after 1200 (and by that I mean about 1210 once the Swiss clock had finished its very extensive chime) Lester came out, along with John Goodwin (Lego’s vice president), Sadiq Khan (London’s mayor) and a few specially chosen children. There were a couple of speeches and the button got pushed.
If you recall, I said that the queue was quite long – but fortunately by going round to the quiet side, I was in the first wave that rushed into the shop! I was able to get a few quick pictures before it quickly became too crowded to do anything apart from pay for the few sets that I did choose.
So, I guess I ought to do a show and tell of what I got – although most of it will be put away to be built at Christmas…
As noted before, I was given the Gingerbread House outside the store. I’d read that the London skyline set was to be released next year – but I didn’t know it was to be a London exclusive, so that quickly made it’s way into my hands! The bus quickly followed. I also made three little minifigures (this seems to be something that I do at every Lego store – and it’s not like I need any more 🙂 ). Because I realised the queues were getting bigger (and there were many that were buying REALLY big Lego sets) so I got in the queue, where I saw the sitting Santa. Checking out, because of the amount I’d spent I got the lovely tree ornament and the 24-in-1 set (which I’m thinking of using as yet a further challenge to the advent story… but we’ll see) – and a scratch card which would either reveal that I would get the very limited Lester minifigure (only 275 were made) or a parrot. You can see the result of that in the above picture.
And so that was that. I heard that there were still long queues into the late afternoon and evening, but I was really glad that I was able to be there at the start. As I headed home on the tube I realised that I’d gone in with the intention of getting a set that I’d had half an eye on – and which had totally slipped my mind when I’d got in. I was also given permission to get one of the big sets… so it looks like I’ll be going back really soon!