Thursday, July 5, 2018

LEGO Harry Potter 2018 set reviews

I recently ranted about the release of many sets in Europe in late May that won't come to the Americas until August, but pendulum of pain has already swung back across the Atlantic in record time.  These five Harry Potter sets were officially released on July 1 only in the U.S., not even neighboring Canada, and won't be made available in the birth-country and fictitious setting of of the series until a month later.

Again, as always, I must encourage LEGO fans to refrain from blaming other entire countries for being unfair and "always" getting "everything" first.  It's truly a pendulum, and LEGO spreads the envy & angst around the globe throughout the year.  Blame the manufacturer for these miserably staggered releases, not fellow fans who happen to have earlier access to new products one season (but will be on the other side of the equation the next).  There are enough things in the world about which people are aggressively tearing each other apart these days; little plastic toy bricks needn't be another.


Friday, June 29, 2018

LEGO City 2018 Passenger Train set review! 🚄 60197

It's a huge relief and joy to have now built, tested, & reviewed both of the 2018 LEGO trains, two major releases I've looked forward to for months!
This gets me very near the end of the review queue from my June 1 haul, but New Jang City fans can't celebrate yet; the next release drop is just around the corner.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

LEGO City Cargo Train 60198 review

I was finally able to buy one of these sets from overseas at a lower-than-ripoff price! This is my first time getting hands-on with the new Power Functions 2.0 or "Powered Up!" electronics system, which uses Bluetooth instead of infrared for communication and integrates receiver & speed controller circuits right into a battery box that's no larger than the one it replaces.

LEGO Friends The Big Race Day 41352 review

Here's the largest of the kart racing sub-theme sets to grace the Friends line this season.  Almost none of my viewers want to see anything Friends related, but I still like checking out some of the sets, myself!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

LEGO Ninjago season 9 "Hunted" set reviews underway

Thanks to a Brickset notification I decided to try out UK-based and quickly discovered they offered reasonable shipping prices to the US for in-stock merchandise.  Since the global pendulum of LEGO fan pain & envy swung in Europe's & Asia's favor this season, I was happy to find a retail source for some of the Ninjago sets the Americas won't widely receive until August.  They didn't have the ONI Titan or Destiny's Wing in stock at the time I placed my order.  I'll get them later.

Update 6/24/2018: Added Dragon Pit.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

LEGO "Microscale" Brand Store 40305 set review

LEGO sets & settings, in depicted by or within LEGO sets, are always a treat, no matter how small.  This 362-piece storefront has started out as a limited release available at, appropriately, official LEGO brand shops, as well as the Shop @ Home service in some countries.  Hopefully it'll become more widely sold soon!

Friday, June 15, 2018

One Million

One.  Million.  That's... a really, really large number.  It's so large, in my view, that in most contexts it doesn't even make sense.  Think about it for a second.  Would you ever consider counting to a million?  (One guy did it in 2007; it took him 3 months.)  How many people do you know who have or have done a million... of anything?

Somehow, this month the JANGBRiCKS channel on YouTube passed the one million subscriber mark.  That's now ten times what I originally thought I could one day earn if I worked diligently and basically did everything just right after I started taking the channel more seriously a half decade ago.  A lot has changed in the online world since then, though, with YouTube's own growth further exceeding all expectations, raising the ceiling of possibility for all of its creators with it.

So here I am today with one million subscribers, and it doesn't feel real. Alas, in many ways, it isn't.  There may be upward of a million actual people around the world who once clicked a button labelled "Subscribe" on my channel, but there are nowhere near that many actually watching my videos every day or so when I upload something new.  Due to the way YouTube works in 2018, there are nowhere near a million people even seeing my new videos in their "subscription feed" list in the first place.  Most of my videos don't get 1/10th of a million views in a month, and as of this writing, barely 2% of my videos have gotten a million views in total, in 8 years.  Another statistic that makes the whole million thing seem silly?  Nearly 80% of day-to-day viewership of my videos comes from people who are not subscribed!

This is why I didn't rush to make a million sub video special.  It would be woefully disingenuous to celebrate & give thanks for something I don't at all believe in because the thing, itself, isn't real. What I am definitely going to celebrate & give thanks for, though, are the many messages of support I've received from actual subscribers, those 100,000 or so (hey, my original forecast was accurate after all!) real viewers who repeatedly consume content that I produce. Nothing keeps me motivated like the stories of kids getting inspired to start their own LEGO cities after seeing mine, parents & their children coming together to build critical thinking skills & vocabulary through my reviews, or adults with anxiety disorders finding comfort & calm in my voice in general.  It's heartwarming and reassuring to know that many people find my channel to be a sanctuary of sorts where viewers feel welcomed & safe, even in the comments section.  I'm also relieved that many buyers have saved some hard-earned money by using my videos to help decide what products will provide the best value.

Ultimately I can only take educated shots in the dark and try to hone my aim off the echos of those that land.  Raw data from YouTube Analytics & the like has its place, but none of it even begins to approach the value of human-authored feedback directly from my actual fans.  I'm not able to individually respond to lot of it, but I see it, read every word of it, appreciate it thoroughly, and, when appropriate, act on it to hopefully make my future work better.

Thank you all, you real people, including (especially?) non-subscribers for your ongoing and even increasing support of the work that I do.  I will of course only continue to work hard to provide entertainment and information, and I hope many of you will continue to find it worthy of your time.

LEGO Friends Drifting Diner 41349 set review

Eyyy I haven't forgotten about LEGO Friends!  I have to dramatically cut back on my coverage of the line (and its offshoots) due to:
  1. YouTube's aggressively antagonistic algorithms that ruthlessly punish not only videos that under-perform relative to others on a given channel, but other videos that follow as well.
  2. The overwhelming volume of products LEGO now releases every year, forcing me to either work an unhealthy amount and review everything, or be selective and live a manageable life.
  3. A personal lack of interest in many of the past year's Friends & Elves sets.
At least #3 has been pushed to the side now with the new racing-themed lineup, so while being mindful of #2 I have decided to review at least a couple of the latest Friends products, maybe more if I get the chance.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

LEGO Creator Modular Sweet Surprises 31077 review

This is one of LEGO's smaller attempts to make a mini-modular floor & window dressing system work consistently across multiple builds & sets, and it doesn't work out to be much more useful than it was in the larger sets.  Basically the display window and door can be swapped to the sides, or the whole thing can be mostly mirrored left to right if you want.  The two alternate builds abandon the system altogether, with good results.

More LEGO 2018 Arctic Exploration theme set reviews

I'm keeping busy with a regular stream of reviews of the newest sets!