Whilst I love talking to other Lego fans about this wonderful building system, I can't say I have too much sympathy for the negative reviewers who were to expect "full building instructions" or to not have to use lots of bricks. Personally, I would have thought a clue as to what this book entails would be found in the title, since it is afterall named The Lego 'IDEAS' Book.
And that is exactly what this book sets out to do; to present a range of beautiful, imaginative and often very clever IDEAS that the reader will be inspired from and encouraged to use their own imagination. In doing so, you can build your own models without worrying about rigid instructions, requiring only certain types of bricks or not having flexibility in the designs. As someone who has been using Lego since the 80's, I can assure you that books just like this were once a very common release, but have sadly been lacking over recent years as I believe that Lego themselves are forgetting how less can be more, whilst both creative and imaginative design can be enhanced through challenging the user to make solutions, rather than simply putting them on a plate with 'special' bricks.
That is why books like this are special, because they place a positive slant on breaking free from instructions, instead, placing an emphasis on exploration. Their are model ideas to suit everyone here, and they're all categorised into 'Planes, Trains & Automobiles' (no, not the John Hughes film!), 'Town & Country', 'Out of this World', 'In Days of Old', 'A World of Adventure' and 'Make and Keep'. How typical of Dorling Kindersley to set things out in a fun but effective manner, which is the hallmark of all their brilliant books (especially their past Lego books too).
The layout of each section is relatively the same, and that conforms to a focus on visual aids that have genuine personality, which is both fun and engaging for kids and parents. It offers a way to give the book some life and offer a variety of quirky jokes that our minifigure friends like to tell, for they are clearly the stars here! But this visual focus also offers a great deal of depth into how a particular model idea could be made since many have alternate angles (to compare the mode from various sides) and of course, they are are bright and highly detailed, so its clear enough to get an idea of how you could be inspired by that particular design. Afterall, where's the fun in simply copying something when you're being challenged to build bigger and better?
Preceding each section of the book, we also have layout of the different brick types that may fall under that particular theme, thus helping children associate shapes and colours with their favourite Lego worlds. The authors of course do play a vital role in this book, for they are constantly interpreting the images and ensuring that the reader knows exactly what the model is, and how you could use it. With its quirky style of humour and fun outlook on building in general, it gives for a very positive read that offers tips and advice in building methods, alternate ways to use bricks and how particular model ideas can be expanded or even miniaturised ('Microbuilds' as they are termed!).
With all these clever ideas the book arrives at a brilliant finale with the 'Make and Keep' section, which offers a range of highly creative solutions to models that you could display around the house. No-matter whether you want to build some desk tidies, minifigure displays or even picture frames, there are ideas here that immediately click into place and get you thinking "No why didn't I think of that!".
I don't see the varying scales of each model to be a hinderance because what they all have in common is an objective, or set of 'building principles'. It is these things that give the models their unique properties (such as a box which has hinges, or a vehicle that needs four wheels), and therefore, anything else that contributes to the design is merely an imaginative gloss. It is the reason the authors never tell the user what they should and should not do, but rather to suggest how you could build the model using your own resources.
That fact remains is that more books like this should be on the market. With a shift in focus to more specialised bricks and 'closed-wall' sets from licensed themes, I fear that Lego is constraining one of the fundamental principles that makes the toy so joyous anyway, and that is the ability to keep reconstructing from the same simple bricks. Obviously the increased prices don't help either (particularly those of the simplest brick buckets), but it makes me so happy to see that Dorling Kindersley still embrace what Lego is really all about, and I do hope that future reviewers/potential buyers will be more aware in the future as to what books like this are all about... Encouraging the freedom of brick building!