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LEGO store comes to SA

The Great Yellow Brick Co will launch South Africa’s first LEGO Certified Store in Sandton City at the end of this month.

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The 179m2 Sandton City store is the first LEGO Certified Store on the African continent, with similar stores found in 20 other countries in Europe, Asia, Australia, Middle East and North America. The Great Yellow Brick Co will open additional certified stores throughout South Africa in the future, creating up to 20 new jobs per store.

The Great Yellow Brick Co, founded by Robert Greenstein, Hayley Greenstein and Greg Bergh, will also be transferring the experience of a LEGO Certified Store into the online world, offering online shoppers in South Africa access to the most extensive LEGO range available in the region.

While LEGO products are available at franchise and independent toy retailers elsewhere in South Africa, The Great Yellow Brick Co is the first LEGO Certified Store in the country, signalling the Danish company’s recognition that South Africa is ready for a premium toy experience in an exclusively branded retail outlet.

LEGO Certified Stores are designed by The LEGO Group, and adhere to store fit-out and experience guidelines stipulated by the Group to maintain its focus on playfulness and creative experiences, rather than on conventional retail principles. Created as experiential playgrounds for LEGO fans old and new, certified stores offer unique features not seen in independent retailers.

“Sandton City is the perfect location for this flagship store,” says Jonathan Sinden, Chief Operating Officer of Sandton City’s co-owners, Liberty Two Degrees. “With the recent launch of Sandton City’s Fun District, a level dedicated to family entertainment, the introduction of a LEGO Store enhances the centre’s offering for children.

“Sandton City’s evolving tenant mix is in line with the global trends of premium international retail centres, and a LEGO® Certified Store aligns well with Liberty Two Degrees’ strategy of bringing global experiences to its existing clients, and to South Africa alike.”

The playful and personal retail environment aligns well with 2018 retail trends, which include product and experience personalisation, augmented reality, and the popularity of carefully curated product ranges – all of which are key elements of a LEGO Certified Store. Importantly, while many adult fans of LEGO sets in particular have purchased their limited editions online, the assortment will be even bigger than the current LEGO offering in South Africa as they can now buy them directly from a certified local supplier.

Says Robert Greenstein, “I’ve always loved LEGO products, so I approached the company in 2014 to open a store similar to what I’d seen abroad, but at the time the brand felt that the local market wasn’t ready for a certified store in South Africa. However, The LEGO Group firmly believes in relationships, and we kept in touch until the time was right to explore the idea further. In 2016, we were given another opportunity to pitch for the contract.”

Kristian Imhof, Country Manager for The LEGO Group in South Africa, commented: “South Africans have had a decades-long love for LEGO sets and products, from children who learn the basics of construction, fine-motor skills or the sheer possibilities of the imagination, to adults who will go to extraordinary lengths to complete their themed collections. We are excited that this dedicated store will give fans old and new the opportunity to continue building their LEGO world.”

The Great Yellow Brick Co will be located in a stretch of the mall that is home to several experiential stores, near the Food Court and the mall’s revamped cinema complex.

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Huawei Mate 20 Pro matches camera benchmark record

A benchmark by DxOMark sees the triple-cam handset tie with the P20 Pro for best smartphone camera on the market.

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The Huawei Mate 20 Pro has come out top in a camera benchmark test that assesses all aspects of smartphone camera performance.

DxOMark, which conducts rigorous hardware testing and is trusted as an industry standard for image quality measurements, has just released the results of its in-depth analysis of the Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphone camera. 

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the Chinese manufacturer’s latest top-end device. Building on the P20 Pro’s camera technology, the Mate 20 Pro comes with a Leica-branded triple-camera setup, but swaps its stable-mate’s monochrome camera for a super-wide-angle module, offering a 35mm-equivalent focal length range from 16 to 80mm—the widest of all current smartphone cameras.

The handset is in direct competition with the Apple iPhone XS Max, the Google Pixel 3 XL, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, among other. How does it fare?

“With a total photo score of 114, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro ties the record-setting score of its cousin, the P20 Pro,” says DxOMark. “The overall Photo score is calculated from sub-scores in tests that examine different aspects of its performance under different lighting conditions.”

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro achieves a photo score of 114 points. In stills mode, the Mate 20 Pro’s triple camera captures images with good target exposure and a wide dynamic range, recording both good highlight and shadow detail even in difficult high-contrast situations. Noise levels are well under control down to low light levels, and the camera’s white balance system and colour rendering settings produce a pleasant colour response in almost all circumstances.

At 97 points, the Mate 20 Pro is very close to the best for video as well, thanks to a fast and smooth autofocus system with good tracking performance, accurate white balance as well as pleasant colour rendering, and low levels of noise, especially in bright shooting conditions. Our testers also liked the exposure system’s ability to adapt quickly and smoothly to changes in illumination.

It was not all good news. DxOMark also had some criticism for the device.

Click here to read about the drawbacks of the Mate 20 Pro camera, and other positives.

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SA car wins
Dakar Rally

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The final stage of Dakar 2019 drew to a close at the bivouac in Pisco, Peru, and saw Toyota Gazoo Racing South Africa’s Nasser Al Attiyah and Mathieu Baumel bring home their South African-built Toyota Hilux for an historic victory. Not only was it a first win for Toyota, but it was also the first petrol-powered car to win the Dakar in the South-American era.

The Qatari driver ensured his French navigator, who turned 43 years old on Thursday, 17 January, received a great birthday present, when the pair arrived at the final time control of Dakar 2019 with teammates Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in close formation. The two Toyota Hilux crews completed the entire stage together, as De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz waited nearly 55 minutes for the leaders to start the stage, in order to shadow them to the finish.

The emotions bubbled over for Team Principal Glyn Hall, who found himself without words as his two crews drove into the media area after the time control. “This victory was long overdue,” he finally managed, before being swamped in a sea of well-wishers.

The winning driver, however, was much more vocal: “We are so happy to win the Dakar – not only for ourselves, but also for Toyota and the entire Toyota Gazoo Racing SA team. Everyone has worked so hard for so long, and really deserve this. Thank you for letting us drive this car.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing SA led Dakar 2019 from the first to the last stage, with Al Attiyah/Baumel drawing first blood, before handing the mantle to De Villiers / Von Zitzewitz during stage 2. But then a disastrous Stage 3 saw the Qatari retake the lead – a lead he didn’t relinquish despite some of the toughest stages yet seen on any South-American Dakar.

“When we first heard that the rally was going to take place only in one country, we were skeptical,” said Hall after regaining composure. “But the organisers made sure that this year’s race will long be remembered as one of the toughest tests in the last decade.”

Al Attiyah / Baumel’s victory at Dakar 2019 means that Toyota Gazoo Racing has now won both of the world’s toughest automotive races – the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the DakarRally.

Click here to read Glyn Hall’s comment on winning the Dakar Rally, as well as the rankings.

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