Four Stories of LEGO

Leave it to LEGO to do something so charming and enchanting! While researching items to include in Cotsen’s latest exhibition, “Once Upon New Times: Reimagining Children’s Classics,” Katie came across four incredible miniature fairy tale LEGO sets we had never seen before. After some super sleuthing, she not only tracked a full set down, she uncovered their very interesting origin story, which she’s sharing today. Take it away, Katie!

In 2009, LEGO started collaborating with Toys R Us and kicked off a month-long promotion called Bricktober. Every week during the month of October, customers who purchased a LEGO set valued at a certain dollar amount would earn a free Bricktober collectible. The sets changed yearly and ranged from one-of-a-kind LEGO minifigures to little cityscapes to DUPLO bricks with unique images on them which, if you collected all four, would create a special Halloween picture. Following the 2018 bankruptcy and eventual closure of most Toys R Us storefronts, the availability of the Bricktober LEGO sets became very scarce. The promotion continued, but only in the Asia-Pacific region where Toys R Us was still in operation.

In 2021, the LEGO Bricktober sets were a collection of four different fairy tales: Jack and the Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Little Red Riding Hood.

Not only is each LEGO design mounted on a book, they each have moving pieces incorporated into the depiction of the fairy tale. The sets also included fold-out story books that tell the fairy tale using charming illustrations of LEGO minifigures.

eBay proved to be the best source for these elusive LEGOs. We purchased our complete collection from a seller located in Malaysia, and waited (im)patiently for the box to arrive. Once they were delivered, it didn’t take long for two of our colleagues to volunteer to help us build the adorable sets (no one wants to grow up, we are all Toys R Us and LEGOs kids!). And these adorable LEGO books did not disappoint! Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland features a rotating tea table loaded with sweets:

Little Red Riding Hood is a cottage that spins around to reveal an interior with a disguised wolf:

Hansel and Gretel is Dr. Dana’s favorite, and the roof opens to reveal a little witch and oven in the interior:

And the Jack and the Beanstalk is simply epic. A rotating mini farm scene, cloud mounted on a clear brick, gold-embellished castle, and twisty beanstalk:

The 2023 Bricktober sets are a Mini Hobby Series, highlighting bowling, music, car racing, camping, baking and gaming (and we’re eagerly awaiting the announcement of the 2024 sets!). For our Asia-Pacific blog readers who are lucky enough to get their hands on these rare LEGOs, we’d love to see pictures of your builds!

Many thanks to Princeton University Library staff Minjie Chen and Charles Doran for their expert LEGO building skills!