I remember seeing a post about this interesting collaboration between our favourite plastic building toys and the Japanese stationery chain Muji a while back but I’d not actually seen one in store until a couple of weeks ago whilst on holiday in Barcelona. It’s not stocked in that many stores outside of Japan; only one here in London and four in the US (all in New York) so I guess we were quite lucky. [Update: The whole punch is available online]
The basic idea behind it is to combine your Lego constructions with paper elements by punching stud-sized holes in the paper and then sandwiching it between two bricks. Fantastic, I thought, whenever we build houses there never seems to be enough bricks to construct a decent roof. Now we could go all Frank Gehry on the roofs and maybe make a Guggenheim-style building.
Upon opening the hole punch however I was a little disappointed. The punch itself is very well made and finished in a nice matte white paint, but what confused me was the small plastic template that fell out of the box.
Further investigation revealed that the punch itself only punches one stud-sized hole each time – I thought it would punch a 2×2 square. The template allows you to mark multiple studs on your paper with a pencil, up to 2×8 at a time.
This is where things get a little tricky, especially for the younger builder/artist, as you now have to line the punch up to each mark. The transparent base helps with this, but it does mean you have to hold the punch upside down, so when you squeeze the punch to make the hole, the small disc of cut paper invariably falls back into the hole and can sometimes prevent the sheet from being released easily.
I tried holding the punch and paper vertically to prevent this, but that only shows up another ‘interesting’ design choice. The base of the punch differs from regular hole punches in that it doesn’t catch and store all of the paper discs.
It has been designed to expel each one as it is cut, which means your floor ends up covered in loads of tiny little paper circles.
With all of this in mind, we downsized our plans somewhat for this test run, deciding on a simple tunnel-like roof for a giant bug we had built previously.
Using the template, I marked out a series of 2×2 squares along the edges of a piece of paper, and placed corresponding bricks on a base plate.
Of course, the chances of lining up all of your holes perfectly are quite slim, given that you’re doing them one at a time, so the paper wouldn’t fit neatly over the bricks, but with a bit of cajoling we got it on. Whilst I was busy punching holes, my chief architect had drawn a picture of the beast’s guard and cut him out. So we punched a couple of holes in his foot and placed him on the baseplate next to his pet.
It was at this point I realized that (obviously) minifigs have the same sized studs joining their legs and body, and had the idea to create a nice grass skirt for one of them. Doesn’t he look pretty?
Muji also sell a few themed sets to go along with their hole punch — Sea, Animals and Circus as well as Christmas and ‘Transparent‘ ones for Japan only. The kits comprise a whole bunch of cute illustrations, all ready to be colored in and cut out, together with enough bricks to be able to make stands for all the elements and white baseplates for the back drops. In retrospect, that seems like a better way to use them together — adding Lego to paper, rather than adding paper to Lego. Maybe next time …