See Inside The LEGO Certified Store In Sandton

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 1 August 2018
Category: Feature Comments View Comments


What can LEGO fans expect to find in South Africa's first LEGO Certified Store? Here are some details, including pricing of the fan favourites: the Pick A Brick Wall and the Build A Minifigure Station. Plus, see some photographs from the opening day.

See Inside The LEGO Certified Store In Sandton
Above: Visitors are greeted by a LEGO policeman at the entrance to the LEGO Certified Store in Sandton City Shopping Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa.
The first LEGO Certified Store in South Africa opened in Sandton City Shopping Centre in Johannesburg on Saturday. South Africa is the 21st country (and the first in Africa) to have a LEGO Certified Store, which means that the store can offer exclusive sets and activities that other stores can't and that it has to adhere to The LEGO Group's high standards for shop fitting and store layouts.

There are five standout features of the Sandton LEGO Certified Store that you won't find anywhere else in South Africa: the Pick A Brick Wall, the Build A Minifigure Station, the 3D augmented reality displays, the Johannesburg and African themed LEGO art that was constructed especially for the store, and, to come, the monthly mini builds.

See Inside The LEGO Certified Store In Sandton
Above: At the top right you might just be able to make out the team cutting the ribbon on 28 July 2018 to open the new store. The substantial queue comprised mainly adults, disproving the idea some hold that LEGO is a toy for kids.
Pick A Brick Walls comprise a series of tubs mounted against a wall, each of which contains hundreds of copies of a specific LEGO part, accessory, or piece (they're known as LEGO elements). You purchase a shopping tub and then fill it with as much as you can fit from pieces you select from the wall. Anything that's in the tubs on the wall is up for grabs as long as you can fit it in your shopping tub. Whether you want to go for just one piece because you're building something specific or you mix and match to get a wide selection for random building at home, it's all permissible as long as the lid can fit on the tub when you go to pay.

The wall in the Sandton store is 12 tubs wide and at least five tubs down. (Unfortunately I haven't received official confirmation as to its size.) If you are really looking at maximising your gains there are videos on YouTube that explain exactly how to stack inside the tubs to fit as much as possible, although they are usually based on using just one brick type, rather than a selection.

zaLUG, the Gauteng group of Adult Fans Of LEGO (AFOLs), has posted a breakdown of what was in the wall on 30 July 2018, which doesn't correspond at all with what I can see in the high res versions of the photos I have. I trust that the group's recon is correct (these are LEGO fans, after all) so I can only assume that the wall was pillaged during the opening and has been restocked. The breakdown also seems to suggest that the wall is 12x5.

The wall, right now, contains some very useful elements, including Brick 1X1 in Dark Stone Grey (element 4211098), Brick 1X4 With 4 Knobs in Medium Stone Grey (element 4211636), and the Angle Plate 1X2 / 2X2 in White (element 4615649).

There are two shopping tub types you can opt for - large (R299.99) and small (R179.00). For tub stuffers there's great debate as to whether the big tub is actually more cost effective than the small one because of the volume of the tubs versus the price so you'll have to do some experimenting to decide for yourself.

Either way the tubs are very useful for storing pieces for building but if you have another system you can reuse the tubs at the store for a discount. You just bring them back and use them again and you'll get a R12.50 rebate at the till for each large tub and an R8.50 rebate for each small tub.

See Inside The LEGO Certified Store In Sandton
Above: The view looking from the back of the store towards the entrance.
The Build A Minifigure Station works on a similar premise of picking and choosing what you prefer and also also comprises tubs filled with pieces - this time minifigure bits. (Those who collect from the official Collectable Minifigures will recognise a lot of pieces from those sets in the station.) You mix and match a set comprising legs, a body, a head, a head accessory (hat or hair, usually), and a hand accessory (such as a sword or a cup) from the stations to build your minifigure and then you get a shopping holder that you can put them inside. The idea is to build three - the holders are designed for that many - but you can build as few or as many as you want.

A set of three is R99.00 and individual minifigures are R34.00. If you collect the LEGO Minifigures Series sets you'll know that R99.00 is a really great deal as each collectable minifigure is at least R57 now, depending on the store. It's also an inexpensive way to assemble more characters for a scene you may be building, such as for the LEGO City or LEGO Castle themes.

The pieces available in the wall and the station change on a regular basis so if you've had enough of what's there you just need to wait a month or two for a new selection to be added to the store.

See Inside The LEGO Certified Store In Sandton
Above: Shoppers can use the augmented reality (AR) station to scan a set that will then be displayed on the screen in 3D.
The 3D augmented reality displays allow you to hold up a set to a screen, which will scan to see which set it is and then show you a render in 3D so that you can get a better idea of the kit in the box, such as exactly what it's going to look like from different angles, what some of the minor details will be that possibly aren't shown on the box photographs, and how big it will be once built.

See Inside The LEGO Certified Store In Sandton
Above: The Sandton store features a model of the Johannesburg skyline. The "ZALUG" text on the building is a reference to zaLUG, a group of adult fans of LEGO (AFOLs) based in Gauteng. The store also has a LEGO mosaic art piece featuring the Big 5, which you can just see in the background on the right. In the background on the left is the Pick A Brick Wall.
The Sandton store has two art pieces that are unique to the store - a small 3D LEGO model of the Johannesburg skyline in a display case and a LEGO mosaic "painting" mounted against the back wall showing the Big 5.

Finally, the details are still being worked out but the store will offer the monthly mini builds, which are a popular activity overseas in which you get to build a themed mini kit each month in the store. Participants will be chosen randomly from the loyalty programme database (therefore it's a good idea to join) and the winners will be able to join the staff in the store for an activity session in which they'll be able to build the mini build and take it home. These sessions are usually exclusively for kids so if don't have one you might want to find one (legally).

See Inside The LEGO Certified Store In Sandton
Above: The LEGO Technic Bugatti Chiron
The Sandton store is also offering signature LEGO sets that, in some cases, are going to be difficult to find elsewhere in South Africa, including the LEGO Technic Bugatti Chiron (set 42083); the LEGO Creator Expert Roller Coaster (10261), which was released in June and is the most recent set in the Creator Expert series; the LEGO Disney Castle (71040), which was released in 2016; the new LEGO Star Wars Y-Wing Starfighter (75181), and the 7500-piece LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon (75192), which was released last year.

The Bugatti Chiron is particularly a coup for the store. Other stores in South Africa that are licenced to sell LEGO products have been struggling to get stock of this set, presumably because only a handful will be brought into the country as, sadly, South Africa is not a priority country for expensive, high-end sets, and they - seemingly - have been reserved for the LEGO Certified Store in Sandton.

See Inside The LEGO Certified Store In Sandton
Above: The entrepreneurs behind the Great Yellow Brick Co, which brought the LEGO Certified Store to Sandton, pose with the in store staff on the opening day.
The company behind the store is the Great Yellow Brick Co, which was founded in 2017 by three entrepreneurs. Robert Greenstein, who first approached The LEGO Group in 2014 and finally managed to get the ball rolling in 2016 with approval to open the first store, has an Honours Bachelor Of Commerce degree. He started his career at a technology based consulting firm in Cape Town before owning and managing a group of jewellery stores.

Hayley Greenstein, who has a Bachelor Of Science degree in information systems, headed product development and innovation at Lightstone Property and has also worked for Accenture, Virgin Money, and ABSA. The third member of the team, Greg Bergh, has a Bachelor Of Commerce degree in business science, a Master's degree in finance, and is a chartered accountant. He started his career in banking before moving into investment management as an analyst. He set up one of South Africa's first hedge funds, which is now a multi-billion-rand enterprise.

See Inside The LEGO Certified Store In Sandton
Above: The store held a number of events and activations leading up to its official opening on 28 July 2018 and drew large crowds in the process.
Hopefully the combination of the team members' skills, plus their business and financial acumen, will result in the Great Yellow Brick Co's venture being successful.

There certainly is a plan for growth, with the intention of opening more Lego Certified Stores in South Africa, so if you're in a major centre send in your CV to be considered for a spot closer to the time.

See Inside The LEGO Certified Store In Sandton

Otherwise, if you ever find yourself in Johannesburg, the Pick A Brick Wall is calling....

LEGO Certified Stores South Africa: Facebook
Great Yellow Brick Co: Official Site, Facebook, Instagram

Tags: Arts And Culture, LEGO

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