As most of you already know other than LEGO my other big obsession is LED lighting (oh and family of course mustn’t forget that one!). Over the last year or so I’ve dabbled with various lighting options from my own shonky attempts at soldering wires and micro LEDs, dipping my toes into Kickstarter projects and various eBay offerings, but never really hitting the magic wow factor! Through trial and error (I do acknowledge it was by no means exhaustive) I finally settled on the home grown Australian company Light My Bricks (LMB) and their various lighting kits and DIY options for LEGO. I should note for those eagled eyed followers LMB has recently marked the New Year with a new logo and website refresh.
The premise is simple match your favorite LEGO set with an LMB kit (as I did with my LEGO Creator Assembly Square 10255 review). Once the LEGO set is built download the LMB lighting kit instructions and start to incorporate and connect away. Then finally hit the magic switch and watch your LEGO come to life with LMB LED magic. This is a great way to get started, but it’s like chocolate (chocoholics analogy) once you’ve had a taste you want more. When you see the first set blazing in LED glory you can’t help but have your mind race with ideas of lighting all your LEGO creations. Fast forward to today and that is currently where I’m at and the only way to go bespoke and creative is to dive in and start playing around with the LMB DIY kits.
LMB hasn’t just worked hard to ensure the highest quality components, but they have also looked at the whole customer cycle and various touch points – from a well designed and easily navigable website, classy/professional packaging, clear literature and finally the high quality product itself. I believe this whole approach is where LMB really shines and where others have fallen down in my opinion. LMB’s DIY kit range while fairly extensive continues to expand with new power, cabling and lighting options. For this review I grabbed the following components below:
- AA Battery Pack
- Flat Battery Pack
- 5cm Connecting Cable (4pk)
- 15cm Connecting Cable (4pk)
- 30cm Connecting Cable (4pk)
- 6-Port Expansion Board (2pk)
- 8-Port Expansion Board (2pk)
- 12-Port Expansion Board
- White Strip Light White (4pk)
- Bit Lights White 15cm (4pk)
- Bit Lights Flashing White 30cm (4pk)
- LEGO Lamp Post With LED Installed
- Multi-Colour Changing LED Light String
- Multi-Effects Board
- Lights Effects Board (not tested in this review)
- Power Functions Cable (not tested in this review)
Prices ranged from $6.99 to $29.99 (AUD) – details can be found on LMB DIY page.
Each component is designed to be as simple as plug and play. You start with a power source battery pack/USB charge pack/USB power connector and basically expand out and incorporate into your LEGO model via expansion boards, cables, lights and effects boards. Below is the DIY kit in its simplest form (light connected to a power source).
Armed and dangerous I decided to put the LMB’s DIY components through their paces and looked to incorporate into various LEGO models I had laying around the house (not a difficult task for me!). First up the recent gift with purchase (GWP) LEGO Exclusive VIP Set 40178 was used to highlight how easy it is to install standard bit lights into the set’s Pick a Brick wall. The cabling used is ultra thin which allows the cables to be run through open studs and even be threaded between studs with LEGO elements connected over the top. While this connection is not strictly 100% it is sturdy enough and unobtrusive to be one of the mainstay ways of hiding the cabling in the model.
To allow for multiple connections I made use of the 6-port board. This allowed the LEGO lamp post (with LED installed), 2 x bit lights (white) and 1 x bit light (flashing white) to all be connected to the same power supply. In addition to the ultra thing cabling the lights use micro LEDs which allow the LED to be small enough to comfortably sit inside the stud of a plate – Perfect for locating in transparent elements that are used extensively to represent lamps and lights.
The above was a straightforward example of what can be done with the basic elements from the LMB DIY kit and being a forwarding facing small display piece it was easy and quick just to tuck the excess cables and battery pack behind the set (out of sight). However, if you’re like me I much prefer to hide cables and power sources fully incorporated into the set itself. The next example LEGO City Car & Caravan 60117 gave me ample space to achieve the goal of “hidden away” LMB components. With the set split into two vehicles the process of incorporating the LMB kit was split into two.
First up due to the generous internal space the battery pack was located in the caravan along with 6-port board, light strip and 4 bit lights (flashing and standard). The bit lights were used to light up the tail lights (flashing in the red tail lights) and connected to the 6-port board along with the battery pack. To light the main cabin of the caravan I used one of the light strips and peeled back the adhesive strip to stick to the ceiling. The nice thing about the light strip is the additional connector that allows you to add a connecting cable to repeat and extend connections into a further board. This allowed me to use the 15cm connecting cable to extend through the tow bar (nicely wrapped around the tow LEGO element) into the car. With the cable connector in the car it was easy to connect another 6-port board and duplicate bit lights in the car headlights.
With the car illuminated and towing its caravan through my LEGO City I decided to have a bit of fun with the multi-colour changing LED light string. With the riot of colour and craziness that LEGO Ninjago normally brings to my LEGO collection it seemed only fitting to match it with a recent purchase – LEGO Ninjago Movie Ninjago City Chase 70607. Disclaimer here I decided to change the trans red 1×1 round plate for trans yellow 1×1 round brick. With the extra depth I was able to tuck the bit light in further for a better overall look. However, the star of the show is the multi-colour changing LED light string. The strings clever design has a malleable but firm wire core that allows it to be bent and twisted around structures. This made it ideal for wrapping around the string of lanterns in Ninjago City Chase set.
At this point I’ve described the plug and play elements of LMB enough to bore you to death! Instead I dipped my toes into YouTube for the first time ever for AATB and set up a dedicated channel. Not to sound stupid but was surprisingly harder than I thought (had to ask Google how!). The reason being that the flashing, flicking and all things dynamic can’t be done justice in a few happy shots. To really show just how awesome the light string is I took a short video showing the flashing colour changing sequence! This is definitely my favorite component in the LMB DIY range – Looks like I’ll be ordering a lot in the future!
After all that excitement to close on I knocked up a quick little free build MOC of a waterfall to try and showcase the LMB multi effects board. Considering its size the multi effects board packs in 3 different lighting effects via a flick switch which is then in turn controlled via the speed dial.
To showcase the effects I jumped back into YouTube with another little video clip. This time round you even get to hear my dodgy Essex accent (UK) – Sorry!
With LMB expanding its pre-made set kits almost daily I think the LMB DIY range is perfectly tailored to those who want to experiment, add LED magic to MOCs and LEGO Landscaping. The other big benefit of the LMB DIY range is the price point can be tailored to most budgets from small little lighting projects to larger more expensive projects. It really is a great way to dip your toes into the world of LED magic meets LEGO and LMB are there to help you make that journey!
Well that’s a wrap hope you found some inspiration in the review and feel free to share your own creations in the comments or over on the Facebook page. Would love to see everyones LEGO creations lit up.
Finally thanks to LMB – love your products, attention to detail and quality!
Note – kit was provided by LMB for review