Thursday, March 31, 2016

LEGO Angry Birds - Bird Island Egg Heist review! 75823


The first Angry Birds Movie based LEGO set I reviewed underwhelmed me even though the size of the finished product was pretty impressive, but this smaller set leaves me with all smiles.

One thing I did fail to cover in the video is what LEGO calls a "catapult" function with the stairs -- they can be hinged forward.  It's quite forgettable and does not work as advertised.  Basically you can make somebody fall off the step, same as knocking them down.  It doesn't catapult anything.

Mega Bloks Destiny S-10V Sparrow set review


The main build in the S-31V set seemed to mimick an S-10V, and this S-10V seems to contain an S-31V.  I think I see what they did there.  No biggie, still a good set with good builds, good parts, and great figures.

LEGO Elves Elvendale School of Dragons review! 41173


I really want to get to one of the Elves sets with a bigger dragon, but the next one of those doesn't come out until next release season.  This one, instead, has a little baby dragon, and one we've actually already seen last season.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

LEGO Angry Birds Piggy Pirate Ship review! 75825


LEGO Angry Birds sets showed up in Europe a month ago and now they've finally appeared on store shelves in my region.  This is one of the bigger sets here and it's quite rather comical in design and makes very efficient use of its parts count, a nice companion to a very reasonable price/part ratio.  Subjectively, though, I did not find the finished product to be particularly satisfying.  It has one nice feature, but most of its bulk is closed-off, unusable space.  Have a look & let me know what you think.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Latest custom LEGO ice cream parlor & bike shop progres


First floor complete!  For now at least :)  Time to get to work on the second level.  To think, the first brick was laid only about 4 days ago.  I couldn't be happier!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Mega Bloks Call of Duty Jungle Rangers review!


Other than an overpriced Amazon listing by a couple of small sellers, I have seen no evidence of the real-world existence of this troop pack in my entire region, until yesterday.  Yoink!  Finally something to offer to the Mega Bloks CoD fans other than, "I can't review new sets that don't yet exist on the market!"

LEGO Elves Water Dragon Adventure review! 41172


Here's one more large-ish dragon in a set from the latest season of LEGO Elves.  I still have a couple more small sets to cover from this theme, and then we wait for the second wave of dragons in the summer.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Custom LEGO ice cream parlor & bike shop begins!


I've been collecting LEGO bikes and ice cream related stuff since 2013, and finally some of it will have a place to go thanks to a new building.

It may seem like a strange combination, but of course in the real world multiple types of businesses occupy spaces in the same structure all of the time, just look around :)  Who knows, maybe some day one of these shops will go out of business and something else will move in!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

LEGO city layout plan & queue (updated Sep. 24, 2016)


The core elements of my plan for my LEGO layout were formulated in 2013 when I began.  When I moved in 2015, I gained some space and added a handful of items to the list.  If you look at my layout in a photo or video and think you see some empty space, pretend it isn't there. Every area the size of a baseplate or larger is already reserved, as are nearly all smaller areas as well.

Here's how the queue looks as of the date in the title of the post...

I will include:

  • Metro area (with very tall office buildings)
  • Freight harbor with ships, containers, crane, trucks, etc.
  • Industrial area with factories, etc.
  • Residential neighborhood with houses and possibly an apartment complex
  • Planetary Defense Force base (above and below ground)
  • Elevated narrow-gauge passenger train stop
  • Small city maintenance crew yard
  • Pet store
  • Chinese restaurant
  • Night club
  • Cars, Trucks (passenger and commercial), other normal vehicles you'll find in any city
  • People (kids, men, women)
  • Trees & plants
  • And much more!

Already added:

  • One skyscraper (the first of at least 4)
  • Police station
  • Fire station
  • Shopping mall
  • Small marina
  • Zoo
  • Gas station with car wash and adjacent repair/service garage
  • Arcade
  • Ice cream shoppe
  • Two 9V rail loops
  • Elevated narrow-gauge rail loop
  • Large passenger train station with elevated rail connector
  • Large train yard (which I want and need and will not be removed!)
  • Stand-ins for residential area
  • Stand-ins for harbor
  • Area delineating Planetary Defense Force base with large army & some vehicles & craft
  • Space for temporary seasonal displays of official sets

I will not include:

  • Airport.  NO AIRPORT, PERIOD!  An airport would ruin the plan for the entire city by taking up an absolutely enormous amount of space (if done to my satisfaction, and everything in my city must be done to my satisfaction).
  • Heliport.  Same as above, just smaller (but equally undesirable)
  • Above-ground parking garage.  Again, tremendous waste of incredibly valuable space (would need the area of at least 3 modular buildings to be even halfway decent).  Maybe an underground one some day way, way, way off in the future?
  • Super Heroes area
  • Ninjago area
  • Star Wars area
  • Race track
  • Minecraft End realm/city

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Custom LEGO hospital MOC is done


Almost 1 year & 5 months after work began, my hospital is complete, and it even has a name: Enterprise Medical Center.

The latest video is just in the form of an update, as a proper guided tour of the entire thing won't be started until I can populate the nursery with some of the mini-babies being released this Summer.

Here are some things not shown or obvious in this quick video:
  • The elevator car has four protruding wheels that keep it properly aligned within rail-style channels formed by 1x1 extensions in the corners of the shaft. 
  • The elevator car itself was also completely redesigned from the original form.  To fit the odd 8x7 size, a new 3x7 wheeled gurney design had to be scratch-built.
  • The back two walls of the elevator shaft are solid & connected from the top to the ground.  The door panel side and remaining wall are part of the structure of each floor.
  • The roof over the elevator pops off with the motor and lets you pull the elevator car right out with it.
  • The roof elevator doors are different from other three sets.  They're 3 studs wide and slide almost completely into the adjacent wall space, which is itself comprised of just 3 studs each side.  I hollowed out the space and capped just the ends with the vertical 2x4 tiles you can see on the sides.
  • The flat of the roof is primarily 3 plates high -- white underneath for the ceiling, psychedelic in the middle, dark tan on top.
  • The roof has a 1-stud ridge of protruding plates around the underside edge which clamp the outer building shell together.
  • Though the 3rd floor protrudes far over the lobby below, a little alignment support at the front left corner has no weight on it at all.  The overhang is completely cantilevered off significantly inset 2nd floor, forward-most wall.  It's held up by the weight opposite side of the floor and the roof.
On to the next projects, and hopefully a significantly faster way of building, at least for awhile :)

Friday, March 18, 2016

LEGO Dimensions: ALL 80+ minifigs & items waves 1-4!


Time for another look back at an entire LEGO product line to date.  The picture above shows every Dimensions Fun Pack, Team Pack, and Level Pack figure & build released to the public, so far.  There's still one more wave coming for this first season, featuring just three more small sets.  The video goes in for a closer look, including trying out some groupings of figs & items by theme and/or type.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

All LEGO Super Heroes Mighty Micros together!


Another season wrap-up! Just six sets, but 12 vehicles & figures makes this a cool little display of what the Mighty Micros design team had in mind on the whole.  In the video I do a quick final run through & pick out my faves and least fave.

LEGO Series 4 Collectible Minifigs from 2011 reviewed!


I just keep moving along through these past CMF collections.  Still a lot to get caught up on from the days when I was only focusing on LEGO's large action figure lines.
Errata:  I wrongly called the second one "swashbuckler."  He is a swashbuckler, indeed, but the official title of the figure is "Musketeer."

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

LEGO Dimensions Stay Puft Fun Pack toys review! 71233


Here's one last LEGO Dimensions add-on to finish off the latest wave.  One more small group of products is coming, but after that the roadmap becomes decidedly secret.  I hope they have big plans for some new types of content.

LEGO Dimensions Aquaman Fun Pack toys review! 71237


My nearest Toys R Us store didn't even put these out today like they were supposed to, but thankfully an employee was able to track down the case of 'em in a dark, dangerous corner of the storeroom, about 10 feet up.

Licensed LEGO buildable Ruler reviewed


And now for something... completely different.  I got this thing on Amazon, where it's listed as a LEGO product.  It's actually an officially licensed product, produced by another company, but made from genuine LEGO parts.  It's actually nicer than I expected.

Monday, March 14, 2016

LEGO Ninjago Kai's Mini Dragon polybag review! 30422


Polybag time!  This is the March 2016 free promotional item being included with qualifying purchases at LEGO stores and LEGO Shop at Home in North America.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

LEGO Dimensions Midway Acade Level Pack toy review! 71235


Finally!  The LEGO Dimensions add-on pack I've been looking forward to more than any other since it was first unveiled last year.  It's another cool new figure torso that will fit nicely into my LEGO city, a little stack of great printed tiles, and a very worthy car build that makes for a fine mini-scale toy in & of itself.  Satisfying.

LEGO Mighty Micros Robin vs Bane review! 76062


This is it, my last wave 1 Mighty Micros review!  All of 'em are online now in the Super Heroes playlist on my channel, and I'll also do a quick summary of all 6 sets within the coming week.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Massive LEGO giveaway time!


It's #iHazAbox time, but in reverse!  With most of the first wave of 2016 sets reviewed and my long-planned old vs. new fire station comparo out of the way, I finally get to do my big seasonal charity giveaway.  This estimated 40 lb. box is headed off to an organization I've supported in the past, The Giving Brick.  They are a phenomenally selfless and hard-working family-based organization about which I can't say enough good.  If you or anyone you know have any extra or disused LEGO to spare, please consider passing the lot along to a charity that can process them for the benefit of kids in need.

Old vs. New: Has LEGO gotten worse?


If I've heard it once I've heard it a thousand times, and in a thousand ways.  "LEGO has gone downhill." "LEGO was so much better when I was a kid."  "LEGO used to make good stuff, now they're just in it for the money."

In my latest effort to explore the sources of these feelings, I look at two fire station sets, one from 1994 and one current.  I chose 6571 Flame Fighters to represent the old school specifically because it is the biggest of the classic era, and with its play value & level of detail one could argue it was the best (though nostalgia bias will rule that argument for most folks).  Being the last in the classic style before the juniorification of LEGO System in the late 90s took its toll, 6571 also was able to benefit from the largest parts selection in its class.  In spite of my attempts to give the classics the best possible fighting chance, I can't help but feel there's hardly a contest here.
Just looking at the one image above tells much of the story -- the modern set is dramatically larger and includes more of everything.  In fact, it comes with over twice as many parts.  At the same time, the price/part ratio of the new one is just over half that of the classic, bringing the inflation-adjusted (i.e. real) retail price within very close range.


1994 2016
Parts 428 919
Minifigs 4 6
Price (in 2016 USD) $88 $100
Price/part $0.205 $0.109
Bricks & plates 146 (34%) 259 (28%)

The last row of the table above addresses the common, related complaint that old LEGO sets were made with standard pieces you could rebuild into anything, while new ones are mostly prebuilt with single-use molds.  All I did was pull up the part inventories on Bricklink and sort them by category, tallying up all plain, un-modified, traditional bricks (including rounds) and plates in each set.  For a single data point, the difference in percentages is statistically insignificant.  Perhaps even more telling & on-point is the reverse view of the numbers, showing that 66% of the classic set's parts were not basic bricks & plates.

All that said, what do you think?  Has LEGO gotten worse over the years as many detractors wax, or do the numbers and visual & play feature comparisons accurately convey a different story?

Sunday, March 6, 2016

LEGO System Flame Fighters from 1994 reviewed! 6571


When I think about "classic" LEGO set series I usually think back to the 1980s.  However, the styles of builds used in core themes made their way well into the 90s, as evidenced by this 1994 main Town series fire station.  Check it out & let me know what you think of it.  As promised in the haul video in which I first unveiled this thing, I'll soon do a comparison against an equivalent modern set.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Custom LEGO hospital MOC progress


Another level fleshed out, one more to go!  Not entirely satisfied with the front design, but that can easily be experimented with at some point way off in the future :)

LEGO Marvel Super Hero Airport Battle review! 76051


It's the big one!  I definitely saved the better of the first three Captain America: Civil War sets for last.  This one has a wide selection of minifigures, a nanofig, a giant fig, a beautifully crafted Quinjet, and a respectable airport control tower.  It's not the cheapest set, but the price/part ratio is good and I think the general value is there.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Quick thoughts on Bionicle: The Journey to One


I've gotten many requests to do a "video review" of the new Bionicle animated series once it came out on Netflix, but I really have no interest in producing that sort of content.  However, Brickset just published their review, prompting me to start a reader comment that quickly grew into something I thought some of my own viewers would want to see.  So, here it is, fleshed out a bit.

I feel Bionicle: The Journey to One was nicely produced for a kids' show.  The graphics were primarily 3D rendered with a conservative application of cel shading that fit nicely between the 2015 comics and the old movies' more realistic style.  The voice acting was a non-issue for me; everybody did fine, and nobody annoyed me.  I did feel the vocabulary was simplified a bit awkwardly much at times, though, even for the target audience.

The Creatures seemed badly underused in their solo forms considering that they constituted half of the physical toy line.  All of the focus was on them merging with the Toa around every turn, losing any individual identity in the process.  That process wasn't even special -- no "I... have... the power!" sequences.  I know the intent was to motivate kids to want more product$ to make their Toa more awesome, but the execution severely diminished the intrinsic value of the main characters themselves.  Though upgraded with all-new bodies, the Uniters are significantly weaker than they had become as Masters last season.  They could not even defeat "Creatures" in one-on-one combat!  Think about that.  A $15-$20 Toa alone is no stronger than a generic, unnamed $10 Creature?  I suppose there's an angle of bringing parity to the underdogs, but any one of said protago-beasts could fall to a 10-piece Shadow Trap anyhow, so really nobody had any power at all.  Only through Unity (double purchase$) can anyone overcome any obstacle or accomplish any task this season, is what the show told us.  I am glad many kids will ignore this message and direct their own battles as they see fit, but I feel bad for those who won't (and for their parents).

Today's release was also quite short and the gravity of finishing the second episode roughly 40 minutes after opening the Netflix app left me feeling a bit empty and lost.  That's less than 3/4ths of a single hour of content, to carry & cover an entire season of the toys & story.  Perhaps my own self-generated hype was just too high, biased by the likes of Ninjago, Nexo Knights, and Playmobil's Super 4.

I do very strongly recommend that any current or potential Bionicle fan watch The Journey to One in its entirety.  After all, it won't take much of your time to finish ;)  All cynicism aside, it was an enjoyable bit of entertainment that brought a lot of life to the toys and the characters they represent.  Just don't expect it to be an emotionally moving establishment of the second glory era of Bionicle.

LEGO Bionicle 2016 season 1 wrap-ups!


The new LEGO Bionicle animated series The Journey to One launched on Netflix today and to mark the occasion I've uploaded over 35 minutes of my own new Bionicle-related content to YouTube!  In four videos I summarize all of the second season heroes, including combination models, and compare them with their immediate predecessors.

Videos:

LEGO Elves The Starlight Inn review! 41174


This poor set :(  I like it a lot!  I just don't like it as much as some of the other sets in the line :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

LEGO Marvel Crossbones' Hazard Heist review! 76050


Here's one more LEGO kit inspired by the upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie.  Includes Crossbones and Falcon, plus an odd choice of an earlier Black Widow.

LEGO Marvel Black Panther Pursuit review! 76047


Here's my first look at a Captain America: Civil War set.  The movie is still two months out, but I feel there's enough hype already and this is a good enough set at a low enough price point that it should sell well out of the gate.

LEGO Dimensions Superman Fun Pack review! 71236


New small DC Comics LEGO Dimensions now in stores.  The build isn't great in-game or in person, to me, but Superman is a most useful character.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Top 5 best-selling LEGO sets of 2015 revealed!


As reported on Brickset, last night LEGO unveiled their 2015 annual report.  In it they provide an eye-opening, educational peek into the realities of what kids like!  The following are the top-selling LEGO sets in the entire world, across the entire year...