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Toys / LEGO Studios

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LEGO Studios is a LEGO theme based upon the behind-the-scenes making of movies. Introduced at the end of 2000, it made its debut with the Steven Spielberg MovieMaker Set, which came packaged with a USB camera and computer software to let users film and animate their own movies, giving birth to many young brickfilmers.

The theme really kicked off in 2001 with a variety of sets depicting props and special effects, everything from stunt cars to exploding banks. Several sets also tied into the newly-released Jurassic Park III, although they were only loosely based upon scenes from the movie and did not feature any of the film's characters. On, the LEGO Studios Backlot browser game (developed by Templar Studios of Mata Nui Online Game fame) saw players breaking into the show business by helping out actors and crewmen.

In 2002, LEGO Studios branched out with two subthemes. One was centered entirely around the horror genre featuring vampires, mummies, werewolves, and more, serving as a loving homage to the classic Universal Horror movies. The other was Spider-Man, LEGO's first foray into the Marvel Comics license. The largest set of both subthemes contained SoundFx software allowing users to edit premade LEGO animations and add sound effects; this sound effects library could also be imported into the Steven Spielberg MovieMaker Set's software.

A year later, the Spider-Man subtheme divorced itself from the LEGO Studios branding and became a standalone theme. Its success would eventually lead to LEGO licensing other Marvel and DC Comics properties. LEGO would also later renew the Jurassic Park license in time to produce sets based on Jurassic World.

This toy series provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Name Change: Takua is named "George" in Backlot, which is actually a Production Nickname by Templar Studios.
  • Adaptational Jerkass: While he is a typical Ideal Hero in LEGO Adventurers, Johnny Thunder is a bit of an egotistical jerk in LEGO Studios. In the Hooray for Hollywood comic, he is furious that he isn't receiving top billing in his movies. In Backlot, he chews out the chief of security when his accessories go missing, and Giselle is unconvinced if the player tries to say that Johnny is her secret admirer.
    Giselle: Johnny, eh? Well you can tell him to take it back. I think he loves himself way more than he thinks he loves me.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: The Jurassic Bark/Fetch T-Rex animation shows a Tyrannosaurus rex playing fetch with a flare and happily wagging its tail.
  • Animorphism: In Dino Cop, Lieutenant Rex drinks a vial of dinosaur DNA and turns into a Tyrannosaurus rex.
  • Bad Vibrations: In the Jurassic Bark/Fetch T-Rex animation, as part of the Jurassic Park parody, the T. rex footsteps are visually indicated by ripples in a glass of water. It's a bit of Medium Blending, since this one clip films a real glass of water instead of using stop-motion LEGO.
  • Bank Robbery: Depicted in the Explosion Studio set, where the stuntman takes a briefcase from the bank before the entire building explodes. The Spider-Man Action Studio also depicts the stuntman committing a bank robbery.
  • But Thou Must!: At the end of Level 1 of Backlot, Johnny Thunder offers the player a job at LEGO Studios. Should the player decline, Johnny doesn't take "no" for an answer and gives them the job anyways.
  • Classical Movie Vampire: A classic vampire is featured in the Vampire's Crypt set.
  • Crossover:
    • Various actors from LEGO Studios are actually characters from other LEGO themes. This includes Johnny Thunder, Pippin Reed, and Mike from LEGO Adventurers; Captain Roger Redbeard from LEGO Pirates; Axle from Rock Raiders; a firefighter from LEGO Res-Q; and a bandit from LEGO Ninja.
    • LEGO Studios crossed over with LEGO Dinosaurs, LEGO Alpha Team, and LEGO Life on Mars in the LEGO Mania Magazine comics.
    • LEGO Studios crossed over with LEGO Island, filming the titular movie of the third game Island Xtreme Stunts.
  • Dem Bones: Skeletons appear in a few LEGO Studios sets, such as the Pirates Treasure Hunt and especially the horror genre subtheme. The comic for the Curse Of The Pharaoh set has a skeleton sleeping in the mummy's tomb. The Scary Thriller! animation has a large group of skeletons arriving as guests to the vampire and mummy's party.
  • Depending on the Writer: The LEGO Time Cruisers comics in World Club Magazine show that the T. rex is only an animatronic, but Rex is a living T. rex in Backlot.
  • Early Installment Character-Design Difference: The Story Starters animations in the Steven Spielberg MovieMaker Set show the studios crewmembers with a film reel logo on the back of their shirts, rather than the clapperboard logo in the final sets. Presumably, these were animated before the set designs were finalized.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: In Backlot, Johnny Thunder's prop pistol only fires blanks.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: A monster modeled after Boris Karloff's famous performance is featured in the Scary Laboratory set, as the creation of the resident Mad Scientist.
  • The Igor: LEGO's first and only horror hunchback appears in the theme, but he's paired with the vampire, making him double as The Renfield.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: The Frankenstein's Monster is canonically named "IT", according to the costume on LEGO Club's website.
  • "Jaws" Attack Parody: The Shark Bite animation parodies the Jaws shark's attack on the Orca. In this animation, when a giant shark starts chewing through a fishing boat, a girl starts angrily beating the shark with her fishing rod until the shark swims away, with her fishhook catching the shark's dorsal fin. The two fishers start water-skiing on a piece of the ship's debris.
  • Jurassic Farce: The Fetch T-Rex animation (later retitled Jurassic Bark on the website, just to make the homage more explicit) is a parody of the famous scene with the T. rex, even opening with Bad Vibrations in a cup of water. When the flare is thrown into the jungle, the T. rex runs after it and brings it back, wagging its tail happily and wanting to play fetch with it.
  • Large Ham: In Level 1 of Backlot, Johnny Thunder is constantly shouting. He's clearly stressed about his missing belongings, but even when they're returned to him, he continues to speak in all-caps.
  • A Lizard Named "Liz": The T. rex actor is named Rex. In Dino Cop, the titular character is named Lieutenant Rex.
  • Mad Scientist: A scientist is featured in the Scary Laboratory set, with a Frankenstein's Monster creation and a beastly Mr. Hyde-esque alter ego.
  • Mummy: An undead Egyptian mummy is featured in the Curse Of The Pharaoh set.
  • No Animals Were Harmed:
    • Invoked in one of the Story Starters, which shows a cat apparently being stomped by a Tyrannosaurus rex foot. The camera then changes angle and shows that the cat is actually safely unharmed behind the animatronic foot.
    • The Hooray for Hollywood comic ends with Johnny Thunder cheerfully informing readers that no minifigures were harmed during the making of the film.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Director is clearly modeled after Steven Spielberg and is even named Steven in Backlot, but is never referred to as Spielberg. It is explicitly Spielberg himself in LEGO Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Brick and LEGO Jurassic World, but these use an altered version of the Director minifig with flesh skin tone and a different hat.
  • Only Six Faces: The LEGO Studios crewmembers all reuse faces from earlier LEGO sets. The Director uses Doc's face from LEGO Arctic; the Cameraman and Stuntman use Docs and Sparks' respective faces from Rock Raiders; the Grip uses Captain Magenta's face from LEGO Space Police; the Assistant uses Hailey Comet's face from LEGO Space Port; and the Vampire's Crypt Grip uses a face from LEGO Divers.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: A werewolf is featured in the Werewolf Ambush set, resembling a normal human with gray fur and a wolf's head.
  • Permanently Missable Content: In Backlot, you can only receive the Lucky Pen by talking to one of the tour guides in Level 1, though it doesn't do anything. You can also only give Johnny Thunder's autograph to one of his fangirls in the same level to get a clue regarding the binoculars' location, since the autograph is removed from your inventory upon loading Level 2.
  • Prima Donna Director: In the LEGO Time Cruisers comics in World Club Magazine, the Director flips out when Tim Timebuster arrives and accidentally ruins the take. The angry Director then storms out, declaring that the movie isn't his problem anymore.
  • Product Placement: As part of a promotion with Nestlé, one of the LEGO Studios sets features the Nesquik Rabbit as an actor.
  • Production Throwback: Takua makes a cameo in Backlot, where he goes by the name George. Backlot was developed by Templar Studios, which also created Mata Nui Online Game and internally referred to Takua as "George" until he received an official name.
  • Punny Name: The Cameraman's name is Phil Maker, which is a pun on "filmmaker".
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: The player can choose between a male or female character in Backlot. The female character can still wear Johnny Thunder's clothes, convincingly pose as the stuntman Bart, and claim to be Giselle's secret admirer (and Giselle will still respond by saying "Aren't you sweet! But I think you're a little young for me. Here, why don't you take it back and give it to someone nice your age.").
  • Raiders of the Lost Parody: Jewel Quest is a parody of the famous temple escape scene from the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Johnny Thunder attempts to pull a Weight and Switch with a skull and ruby, nearly falls through collapsing floor into a skeleton-filled pit, and finally Indy Escapes from a giant rolling baseball. As soon as he exits the temple, Johnny discovers a souvenir shop selling rubies just like the one he risked his life to collect. Cue Aside Glance.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: Lieutenant Rex in Dino Cop was named "Rex" long before he became a Tyrannosaurus rex.
  • Stripped to the Bone: The Scary Laboratory set has a machine that can reduce a victim to a mere skeleton... or inverting the trope by using it in reverse.
  • Take That!: Backlot contains a jab towards Hook, one of Steven Spielberg's critically derided movies.
    Steven: This scene still has problems though! If we don't get this done on time, the studio's going to take the picture away from me! I'll be a big joke around Hollywood! It'll be worse than Hook!
  • Temple of Doom: The Temple Of Gloom set, which features Johnny Thunder retrieving a ruby from a collapsing temple.
  • Too Upset to Create: In Backlot, the screenwriter Frank is hopelessly in love with the leading actress Giselle, but he believes that she doesn't notice him and this makes him too depressed to finish writing the script. The player must deliver Giselle's love letter to Frank to snap him out of his depression and finish the script.
  • invokedTroubled Production: In Backlot, the Johnny Thunder picture is riddled with problems during its production, including Johnny Thunder's accessories going missing, crewmembers falling asleep on the job, Frank being too depressed to finish writing the script, 1st assist director Howard and stuntman Bart both catching the flu, and Rex being depressed about his weight.
  • Wrap Around Background: The Movie Backdrop Studio set features two looping city backgrounds to make it look like the helicopter and car are indefinitely traveling through the city.