My kids have been fond of lego since they were around one and realised that one megablock could stick to another and then into a tower. We have then added many items to our collection, mostly bought from online sources, but also in toy shops.
When we were told a new Lego store had opened nearby, my children were very keen to go, and for them, it was like a day out. If you ask them about it, they happily tell you they have been to legoland and how wonderful it was.
The lego store is located at the Meadowhall Shopping Centre which is on the edge of Sheffield, easiest accessed via the M1, as it is just off Junction 34. The lego store is located on the lower mall, on a section called the High Street. For convenience for families shopping at the centre, it is nextdoor to the very popular Disney shop.
The shop is quite discrete from the outside. On our first visit I wasn't really sure where it was located, and although when we got close it was obviously the lego store due to the red logo, I felt that the sign was small and not that visible till you were close.
Entering the shop was like entering a childrens heaven. The store is stocked floor to ceiling with every model that I have ever seen in boxes on the shelf. At childs eye level, there are display cases showing some of the lines. On the day of our visit my children were particularly impressed with the vampyre castle, and the lego star wars ranges. I felt it useful that the lego advent calendars were on display in cabinets in the middle of the shop, as I could have a look at what figures were included and make a decision about whether to purchase one.
The shop was well organised by range, with some of the duplo ranges for the younger children, but also by series, so all the Harry Potter things were in one place, fairly near the Star Wars and Vampyre range, while the lego city stuff was all in one place, and there was a space for the Lego Friends series for girls too.
As well as larger sets ranging from about £10 up to the top priced item of £360 (The Millenium Falcon from Star Wars just in case you were curious), there were more pocket money friendly items that you could purchase, such as key rings, or lego mini figures.
The highlight for my children was the figure building station. For a cost of £3.50, you could build your own 3 figures. Each figure needed a bottom half, a top half, a head, hair or a hat, and then an accessory, and as this was one of the cheaper items in the shop this was a very busy and popular place. All the items described were around a square section of shelving with a shelf around the edge for building on. I think the reason this was so exciting was because of the types of accessories and hair/hats that you could get were really unusual, such as bananas, or a drill. My children already have a number of mini figures, but they took delight in finding unusual pieces that they didn't own already. Once your figures were built, you put them in the packaging yourself before taking to the till.
Another superb feature at the shop is the back wall of the shop behind the till is full of draws of lego pieces. You can go and get a lego cup and fill it with whichever lego pieces you fancy out of these draws. A small tub is £6 and a large tub is £11, but for this price, my children got so much lego. Again, there were some unusual pieces like bits of tree, though I would have liked to see some things like wheels or tyres, but I guess these are more pricey to sell in this manner if someone only put wheels in. At first I thought £11 was pricey, but we really did get a lot of pieces for our money, and if you take the same cup back again, you can get a small discount (50p I believe) from your next refill.
The shop is a really nice place to visit, as there are certainly some nice unique items like they sell a set of the month which is only available from the lego store either online or in store. It is also great to see sets built up and get some idea for the value of your toy.
I feel some of the sets were overpriced as they were more expensive than they were in Smyths toy shop for example, but you do also get the expertise of staff members in store who are knowledgable and enthusiastic about the product.
Downsides are that this shop was hugely busy even though our visit fell on a week day when some children should have been at school, but it seemed that every child in the area had a teacher training day like we did. Some of the sets were just out of our price range. There is no way I would spend over £100 on some of these sets however good they looked.
I also felt that the staff at the till were a bit slow. I got to the front of the queue and the man serving me seemed to be having trouble replacing the till roll and serving at the same time. I seemed to queue for a while, and I got a little stressed as my youngest son chose the moment I was paying to try and wander off.
The staff were however very friendly, and not at all bothered by children touching things on show, or talking about models that people were really not going to buy. They genuinely just seemed happy to be working there.
This is not a shop I would use every week, but I would enjoy going back to get some product ideas, and I would let my children build figures and get more lego in a cup again as I felt this was good value and they really enjoyed picking their own pieces and making models when they got home.
This is not the only lego shop in the country, there are a few like the one at Meadowhall that are fairly new. I wonder how long my children will believe that this is legoland?