Nerds, creative types, and children-at-heart rejoice: Lego is finally releasing a San Francisco kit.
Hey now, don’t roll your eyes! Lego may have been for kids once upon a time, but there are plenty of sets aimed at adults. So it goes with the Lego “architecture” line, which replicates world landmarks and city skylines for hobbyists. And as a Lego nerd who spent many an early year trying to build replicas of the Starship Enterprise and even Mission San Francisco de Asis church (thanks, Sherman Elementary), I’m excited to see our city built brick-by-brick.
The kit was revealed by several Lego enthusiast blogs on Thursday and can’t yet be found on the company’s official website. When I contacted Lego, they neither confirmed nor denied the SF set’s existence (“At this time, we do not have any official information or images to share,” a spokesperson told me).
But leaked retailer listings point to it costing roughly $75 and hitting stores in 2019, and another leaked image shows pretty clearly that the San Francisco kit prominently features The City’s newest landmark — Salesforce Tower. No, there’s no mini-video screen to display the Eye of Sauron (as the Tower displayed this past Halloween), but its recognizable curved top is present.
That rankled a few folks when I tweeted an image, but we’ll get to that in a sec.
The set also appears to feature a number of other notable SF spots: the Transamerica Pyramid, 555 California St. (the former Bank of America Center), the Painted Ladies, Coit Tower, Fort Point, Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz Island.
And when I squint, I see a little red brick scaling a hill past the Painted Ladies that I think, mayhaps, is meant to be a cable car. I mean really, how could Lego leave out the cable cars, right?
It’s not like 555 California is one of our most iconic landmarks, although as Roland Li from the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out on Twitter, it was the second-tallest building in The City for decades, and Twitter user @thetens noted it was featured in the first Dirty Harry. (OK, OK, fair!)
It’s also partially owned by President Donald Trump. Uh, yay?
While Lego seemingly packed a lot of miniature landmarks into this small set (Coit Tower looks to be about an inch tall), they weren’t going to make everyone happy, and a lot of iconic spots are missing. There’s no Chinatown, no Mission murals, no AT&T Park, no Ferry Building, no Palace of Fine Arts, and no Muni buses.
Twitter user @ColbyMichaelsSF told me, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, “What? No Castro? No Chinatown? No poop or needles? We’ve been gentrified by LEGO!! Dem dang Millennials!”
Some folks suggested modifications to make the set a bit more accurate. Michaels suggested a “hybrid Lego set,” almost a part-two, featuring the Bay Bridge, AT&T Park, Pier 39, Folsom Street Fair, Cliff House, the Stinking Rose, and Beach Blanket Babylon. “The possibilities are endless!”
Some were excited — @staplesrusty exclaimed, “OMFG IT ACTUALLY HAS FORT POINT UNDER THE BRIDGE.” Yes, it’s true, with this Lego kit you can easily position a little Lego Kim Novak (not included) to fall into the briny blue by Fort Point, a la Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and let a little Lego Jimmy Stewart dive in after her.
And — sorry, Benioff — not everyone was a fan of Salesforce Tower’s inclusion in the set. Twitter users @mftangs and @mrkrafty pointed out how, ahem, phallic Salesforce Tower can appear. And Twitter user @mappingmashups said, “I’m just shocked that nobody’s complained yet about the absence of (the Sutro Tower).”
I had my own complaints. Why didn’t Lego make some creative attempt to approximate our well-known fog?
Twitter user @Down10 had a solution for me:
“Just throw a blanket over it.”
I reached out to @KarltheFog for comment, but the meteorological phenomenon did not respond by press time.
On Guard prints the news and raises hell each week. Email Fitz at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him on Twitter and Instagram @FitztheReporter, and Facebook at facebook.com/FitztheReporter.