TICO Bricks Smithsonian Institute: A Review

In February, at NY Toy Fair, I came across a micro-brick booth I hadn’t seen before. The ladies running it were very nice, and gave me a mini pterodactyl kit to try.  I’m ashamed to admit it has sat in my brick box since then. I remembered it when starting the blog, and reached out to The Lazy Dog & Co., TICO® bricks’ US distributor. I’m really glad I did!

I was asked which kits I was interested in, and I responded back with a list of possible kits, including The Smithsonian Institute, which was my pie-in-the-sky item. Imagine my surprise when that is exactly what they sent me! Poor Spouse-Critter, there was much squealing and happy-dancing that day.

The Castle

Now, the Smithsonian Institution name covers over 19 museums, a zoo, 9 research facilities and tons of affiliated buildings. The building featured in the kit is called “The Castle” which is the first of the Smithsonian buildings, and its headquarters to this day. Look at this pretty building! There are days I think it lovelier than Buckingham Palace.

Not a lot of spare packing material, TICO doesn’t pad the box!

Set up is easy, open the box, lay it all out, grab tweezers and magnifier, and check out the instructions.

Okay, so this just jumped a level of difficulty! Unlike some other brick companies; each step is only shown by pictures, there are no lists of how many bricks of each type are needed.  I know that a kit this big will have a ton of pieces, nearly 1,100 according to the box, so I haul out my MasterPieces™ Puzzle Sort and Save. Sorting all the little pieces by type and keeping them away from the cats is a necessary thing!IMG_3776

This build took me about three and a half days over the course of several sessions. My hands tended to start to ache after a few hours, so I was glad to have photographed the process.

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I hit a snag on step #9, I had a piece missing! I searched all my sorting trays, thinking it may have been missorted, no dice. Okay….I’m a resourceful brick-builder, I subbed in a 1×2 and a 1×1 brick for the missing 1×3. I kept moving on until by step #11, when it was very noticeable that I was missing not one, but several pieces! Worse, these were pieces that I needed! I dug into my stash of micro-brick spares, and found a few that would sort of match. The upside to this? I found out that TICO® Bricks are compatible with their competitor’s bricks!

Then I emailed my contact at TICO®. She was awesome! Quick response, a request for a full listing of my missing pieces so they can be replaced, and a promise to let the manufacturer in Taiwan know. Customer Service Win!  In the end, I was only short 9 pieces, 2 of those because I subbed them in on step #8. In a kit of 1085 pieces? That’s a minuscule amount, and I would not have noticed if there was a large amount of spare bricks.

Spare pieces!
So Long! Just under 11 1/2 inches
Standard micro-brick kit width of 3 1/2 inches

This Is Now Officially My Biggest Micro-brick Kit Ever!

TICO stands for Tiny – Intelligent – Combinative – Originality. Honestly, this company really embodied this! It is tiny, it took and stretched my intelligence, I managed to combine pieces I did not think would fit, and while following a set of instructions doesn’t use originality, TICO® also sells bulk piece kits.

Brick Kit SPECS

  • Company: TICO
  • US Distributer: The Lazy Dog & Co.
  • Title: Smithsonian Institute
  • Kit Number: T-1536
  • Year released: 2018
  • Pieces: 1085
  • Difficulty: 3/5 I personally rate it a 4/5 for the instructions
  • Brick Size: 4mm x 4mm x 5mm
  • Figure size: N/A
  • Finished size: 28.75cm x 9.5cm x 12cm 
  • Made from ABS Plastic
  • Made in Taiwan


  • Box: lightweight, 20cm x 14cm x 5.5cm
  • Build Integrity: Very Good, the trees and flag are a bit fragile
  • Recognizability: Excellent
  • Piece shapes: Standard brick shapes, with some new shapes like 90° angles
  • Piece Fit: Excellent

Notes: The size of the bricks lean towards using angle tip tweezers. As there are extra pieces provided, I recommend saving them with the instructions in a sealed bag. I will be sure to add an update to this blog post when the customer service issue of the missing bricks is fully resolved.  I’m incredibly happy overall with both the Smithsonian kit and highly recommend TICO® for other micro-brick enthusiasts!

Disability Notes: Due to the fine motor control required for this build, I do not recommend TICO® Bricks for those with fine motor control impediments, arthritis, or palsy, unless you have assistance. If you have a visual impairment, this is possible to do with the assistance of a magnifier.

Where to buy:  The Smithsonian Institute and other kits are available on The Lazy Dog & Co. website for $64.99 USD.

The Lazy Dog & Co. Tico® Bricks : Website 

Disclosure: I received a complimentary brick kit from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own.

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