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London welcomes world's largest Lego store

Big Ben, Brickley the dragon and a mascot called Lester all find a home in Lego's new London retail store.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET
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Long the home of theaters, cinemas and confused tourists incorrectly pronouncing "Lie-chester", London's Leicester Square has a new star attraction: the largest Lego store in the world.

Opening today just across from M&M's World and the Nickelodeon Store (neither of which are nearly as interesting), the store is a two-floor (9,800-square foot) temple to all of the company's brick-building brands, from Architecture to Star Wars to Duplo.

But as with any Lego store, it's not so much about what you can buy as what giant Lego structures, or "big builds", the company's designers have constructed. Outside signature London sights including a 21-foot (6.5-meter) Elizabeth Tower (the tower at Parliament House that holds the bell Big Ben), a red telephone box that you can stand in stand inside and a London Underground roundel, there's a mosaic of the London skyline made of more than 265,000 bricks. There's also an Underground train carriage carrying your your not-so-typical set of London commuters: William Shakespeare, Robin Hood, Queen Elizabeth II and one of her bearskin-hatted Foot Guards.

For me, though, the best thing was a large Lego version of the Harry Beck Underground map made from 16,500 bricks that took 90 hours to build. The attention to detail on the map and around the store was deep: Lights behind clear bricks on the map symbolized Tube trains moving through the network, Big Ben bonged and the telephone in the box rang. Even the store's pun game is on point: The information desk is called Brickadilly Circus.

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This Lego Tube map was my favorite thing at the store.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Watching over it all is Brickley, a green dragon found in Lego stores around the world, and Lester, the store's official mascot. Naturally, Lester wears a waistcoat with a Union Flag design and a bowler hat and carries an umbrella. We asked if the "Lester" name was a subtle lesson on how Leicester is actually pronounced, but a store rep said they hadn't thought of that.

Click through the above gallery and watch the video for a closer look at all of the store's sights, including the very cool Mosaic Maker Photo Booth where you can recreate your own likeness with Lego bricks.