Friday, September 30, 2016
You knew this had to happen! You're looking at the full first wave of Rogue One sets from LEGO, such as it is. Just five brick-based sets and three large action figures comprise the body of work so far, with Brickset listing four more of the former and three of the latter yet to come, plus some Microfighters. What do you think on the whole so far?
I had planned to use a different than normal structure for this video, but it turned out different... than I planned.
Repulsorlift pickup truck (or is it a ute?) with guns, confirmed! Smallest set of the wave, and not too shabby.
Thursday, September 29, 2016
For all that was wrong with Kylo Ren's shuttle, LEGO got Krennic's ride right, really right. Whether the Star Wars universe needed yet another inverted Y shuttle is highly debatable, as is the beauty (or lack thereof) of this latest one, but LEGO did their job of turning this into a buildable model quite well.
This is the beginning of the end, my first review from the very last wave of Mixels.
And now for something... completely different! This product series is not new, but has just come out at Toys R Us where I, personally, was introduced to it for the first time. Believe it or not, this set is build with LEGO-compatible parts. It's not trying to be LEGO-like in the traditional sense, though. Instead, this is a substitute for low-end snap-together static model kits, a gateway to the real world of plastic modelling. This has simple construction, but allows a very young person to experience a process of assembly to create something a perfect scale model that's actually durable and playable. It's an excellent, innovative use of the brick-style construction system.
Tuesday, September 27, 2016
- LEGO Dimensions Adventure Time Level Pack toy review! 71245
- LEGO Dimensions Adventure Time Team Pack toy review! 71246
I actually didn't take a good look at this set when I first bought it, and the palace structure itself is surprisingly small. The piece does capture quite a lot of the area in front of the real Palace, though.
Here's another build & review pair for a Rogue One based large action figure. Again with the awesome looking helmets in this line. The legs are a bit lacking, though.
Saturday, September 24, 2016
As noted very early in the video, this first skyscraper of mine was required to be simple in its design so that I could get it done as quickly as possible. Without that self-imposed mandate, this project could have taken months. Instead, it used up about 4 evenings of initial design work, another couple sessions of optimization for parts efficiency, strength, and ease of assembly, a single long evening on Bricklink, and less than 12 total hours of actual building. The end result is comprised of nearly 8,000 pieces & has a nearly 47" high roofline, not including stuff on the roof.
- Video: My first LEGO Skyscraper!
One down (up?), several more to go. For the moment, however, I'm going to take a break from building towards the ceiling and do a little more work under the tables!
With a new Star Wars release season comes a small new batch of CCBS-based figures. Once again, when there's no human face, LEGO is able to pull off a pretty good look. This one has a nice mostly custom build and good parts, too.
LEGO Star Wars Rogue One sets were released well ahead of the embargo date by Krogers in the US, ASDA in the UK, and possibly other places as well. Rather than sitting back, twiddling my thumbs while thousands of people bought these and all of you chastised me for not reviewing some highly anticipated sets that are available to the public to purchase, I got on it and got to work!
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Fantastic! This hand-detailed 2016 Fan Expo exclusive figure surpasses all expectations for me. I've mained a Warlock in-game since day 1 of the invite-only beta days, but I prefer this figure to the Stormcaller by far.
There are a lot of LEGO fans who rejoice whenever something squeezes through the Ideas system without attachment to a licensed theme. This, however, is very much another licensed product, with Caterham itself pledging support in the early phases and surely contributing some votes to make the set a reality. It's a good thing, though, as this is a beautiful model that I'm sure will be widely appreciated on the market.
Tada! What a difference a season makes. When I first set up this layout, I thought it looked pretty cool, but now by comparison, the previous look of this display was positively barren!
How I'll proceed with the next season will depend upon how the sets are made. I could expand this layout if necessary, but if most of the first year vehicles and outfits are abandoned in the show, then I'll just replace them.
Monday, September 19, 2016
Here's one more buildable collectible that successfully brings together two of my own hobbies. Looks cool to display, and I'm happy to have it, but it could have been a wee bit better IMO.
Sunday, September 18, 2016
Hooray! LEGO put out another train before this year ended. You know me & trains; I can't get enough of 'em. I'm personally not a huge steam fan, though I definitely respect them for what they are. This actually helps this set gain favor with me because has the charm of a complete steamer in a very compact package that won't steal much space from diesels & electrics on my sidings!
As promised in my review of the updated Death Star, I've brought out my figures & droids from the previous version of the set for individual, up-close, side-by-side comparisons of each. While I think most of the elements have been improved, there are still some gems amongst the classics.
Friday, September 16, 2016
After two days of work, it is done! This is my full, standard-format review of the slightly updated Death Star that was just re-released on at least a couple of continents.
For reference & comparison, check out my older review of the previous version.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
This is the last boxed set in this theme that I hadn't reviewed to date. Know what that means? It's time to get all of the new stuff set up in my NEXO Knights layout and do an update on that!
Obviously it's been a busy day for me, and you haven't even seen what's gone on behind the scenes... yet! This is another Fall MB Halo set that has allegedly been out for "months" in some regions, but just recently became available for online purchase the US and also showed up on local store shelves.
This here is just filling in a small set in the lineup that I didn't catch in the first season.
I did my first of this type of video 2 1/2 years ago, but my most recent was all the way back in February. I still have a stack of catalogs from different eras to go through. Always fun to look through the pages and experience a combination of nostalgia and discovery.
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
One of my favorite parts of my LEGO layout, the underwater diorama, got a major upgrade this week. It now features dramatically improved lighting and with double the space, more submarines, figures, and marine animals have been added while still leaving plenty of room to grow!
Eventually I need to find a better backdrop. The current one is actually slightly metallic, but with such a large area being covered, everything looks too smooth back there. The rest is very satisfying to me, though, and I look forward to fleshing things out further over time.
Labels: JANG's LEGO city
It's update night for YouTube, and that means that a bunch of stuff is inexplicably broken. This time around, it feels like about half of the key publisher features are in full failure mode! Regardless, I did manage to get some new content uploaded, so you can view it from here until a big batch of emergency bug fixes goes out so I can publish everything for subscribers as usual.
With the crazy pace of work I've been maintaining lately, this one almost snuck past me like the Fan Expo exclusive did. Yikes! I've got to stay on top of things better, especially with Destiny season right around the corner thanks to the impending release of Rise of Iron!
Sunday, September 11, 2016
Some of these Ultimate figures get pretty crazy with over-the-top, comically oversized accessories like their Chima predecessors, and this one is no exception. At least Magmar is able to stand on his own even when fully loaded up, and the variety of attachments provides a nice range of real play options.
Saturday, September 10, 2016
When I did my minifig parts & extras tour a couple of weeks ago I got just a modest number of requests to better see my bagged-by-theme spares, but I figured I might as well go ahead & cover the few largest groups once since I so rarely show things from "behind the scenes."
Labels: Super Heroes
Lately I've mostly abstained from making posts here on the blog about my Bricklink hauls, but I believe this one is exceptional and worthy of specific note. It's the most parts I've ever ordered, the heaviest lot of loose parts I've ever received, and the closest I've ever come to purchasing all of the parts a specific project needs, all at once. It's truly a big deal for me.
The Five Nights at Freddy's craze has calmed down quite a bit, to the point where I can actually review a classic product from 1987 and have less than 90% of the comments be, and I quote, "1987 -- the bite of '87." McFarlane Toys brought to market a new range of officially licensed FNAF construction sets as quickly as reasonably possible, though, and through a combination of my own curiosity and quite a lot of viewer requests, I've taken the plunge to try one out. Though keeping the comment section on the video free of some of the most disgraceful of Internet vitriol has been much more of a challenge than normal, the overwhelming majority of viewers appear to have appreciated the content. I, myself, am not a fan of the franchise, but I find this set and the figure system to be quite well done and very likable.
Friday, September 9, 2016
This is the biggest Architecture series set I've personally purchased yet, though the >1,000 piece count may be a bit deceiving with so many 1x1s of various designs included. The set is definitely designed to the top standards of the theme, though, and I feel it's a very worthy build.
Thursday, September 8, 2016
At long last, here it is, a full tour of my hospital MOC, inside & out, in video form & compressed down as much as reasonably possible from the best of over 200 individual video clips! I go through every room & major feature while including little tidbits of backstory for some of the figures and fully unveiling the celebrity "doctor" minifigs I spread throughout the building.
Funny thing is, the more I look at this building, the less I like it from the outside, but I couldn't be much happier with the interior, given the size restrictions that, as always, limit absolutely everything. Of course one day I could add another floor or two if I want, but for now it's time to move on to other new things!
Tuesday, September 6, 2016
I bet you weren't expecting this! The re-invigoration of New JANG City and my MOC projects continues with a some modest changes to one of my oldest structures that had a disproportionately positive effect on my feelings about the whole thing.
The second wave of Mega Bloks Kubros have started to appear locally and I chose a non-humanoid one to review first in order to try out something a little different. The overall experience ended up being similar to the others, and I think the general style & design template they came up with for this line is still working really well.
Saturday, September 3, 2016
Finally, it's in place! The oldest evidence of this specific train station that I can find is all the way back in my June 2014 update video, where at about 3:50 in you will see the actual main platform which still exists and forms the core of the now nearly-completed build!
Friday, September 2, 2016
Another UCS release, another Internet full of vitriolic comments that frequently delve into libel and personal attacks against LEGO employees. Here's my take on it all, complete with several heaping servings of counter-snarkiness (update Sept. 3: plus now more objective analysis and some responses to additional hate I've received off-site for daring to think for myself and not blindly join the hate train!).
Objective:The original set's $400 USD in 2008, adjusted only for inflation, would be around $450 USD today. The updated set has 200+ more parts and 3 more proper figures. In 2008 dollars the updated set should have been roughly $425. In 2016 dollars that would be approx. $475.
Now looking at a constant baseline for value, the updated set is $25 USD or 5% overpriced.
Update Sept. 3: On a whim, I decided to try another purely mathematical method for calculating today's value of the updated Death Star. We LEGO fans have used $0.10 as a nice round price/part ratio for years now, and though the basic reality of inflation makes holding onto this single number indefinitely an absolutely unreasonable proposition, I will employ it once more here today. However, it is quite universally accepted that the four "parts" that make up a minifigure are worth significantly more than four 1x1 bricks or studs. My observations have led me to value an average minifig in a set at around $3.50 USD apiece -- a number still comfortably lower than the retail price of the CMF figures that are produced at lower quality. On this basis, the updated DS has an all-time record 25 x $3.50 = $87.50 worth of figures which must not be ignored in a value determination effort. It then has 4016 - (25 x 4) = 3916 remaining non-figure parts, and even at the increasingly unrealistic $0.10 ideal price point, that's $391.60 worth. This creates a total value of $87.50 + $391.60 = $479.10. This paints the set as 4.4% overpriced, strikingly close to the previously-referenced inflation-based projection.
Completely different purely numeric approaches into which any potential personal bias simply cannot factor, essentially one single result.
Subjective:Overall I'm glad the UCS Death Star is back on the market. The original was still selling decently well when it was available, so it's good that people who still want it will be able to buy it at retail again, rather than having to pay "investor" prices for the original (which, interestingly, jumped straight to $500+ USD immediately after the discontinuation -- recognize that number?).
Price, as per the emotionless, fact-based simple analysis above, is about 5% on the high side. To me, 5% in 8 years is not something to revolt over, especially when I consider that this 5% number will, itself, be neutralized by inflation in less than 4 years, or half the original set's lifespan.
Minifigure updates are overdue and the new Han hair looks good. The addition of more proper figures/droids is welcome.
Responding to The Hate:"LEGO designers have gotten lazy."
- This is as valid as saying they have gotten Pluto, or chartreuse, or insert any other irrelevant, completely senseless word here. This was never, in any way, a project to redesign the Death Star. It was a simple update (the second for this set, by the way). LEGO did not deprive deserving LEGO fans of their 2016 UCS AT-AT birthrights. The man-years and hundreds of thousands of dollars of development budget (anyone who thinks this is an exaggeration has never worked in product design and/or completely ignores a little thing called "salaries") required for a new UCS set were not available to this project. Those man-years and hundreds of thousands of dollars were assigned to other sets, many of which have already been on the market being happily bought and enjoyed by many thousands of fans around the world. Calling LEGO designers "lazy" is just spiteful slander.
- At best misinformed, but frequently a lazy (!) old scapegoat argument. Data shows conclusively that LEGO spreads licensing fees across their entire product line. Licensed theme sets have no additional fees included in their retail prices that are absent in original IP sets. You can spend some quality time looking at prices & price/part ratios at Brickset to confirm this. I do so regularly, myself.
- Most observers (myself included) reacted with shock to the sudden change of retail price by a factor of $100 USD. That's a large number and a lot of money, period. It begs the question, "why?" See the "Objective" section above. Release to release, accounting for inflation (which is a must for any reasonable debate & comparison), it's actually $50 more cost for about $25 more value if you consider the parts and figures. However, I do think it can be argued that the ~200 new non-figure-related parts can be ignored in a value discussion as they mostly fail to add to either play or display values, instead contributing to durability, ease of build, updated internal building standards, etc. There are still 3 more minifigs, so there is definitely some additional value, though it does not add up to $50.
"This isn't worthy of the UCS designation."
- The UCS designation was applied to the original, and remains on the update. Whether the set is "worthy" of this stamp is debatable, but the factors behind that debate have not changed in any way. If the Death Star is unworthy now, it was unworthy years ago, (begin maximum sarcasm here) back when LEGO was not "lazy" or "greedy" and they made things for fans and not for money (end sarcasm).
"This is just a re-release. How dare LEGO try to trick us into believing this is a brand new set?"
- Nobody is trying to trick anyone into believing anything. LEGO said, and I quote, "The Death Star is back!" Nowhere have they said, in any way, "look at this brand new never-before-seen design that we spent a full UCS development lifecycle to bring to you!" This is an update to a pre-existing set. That's all.
"Because of this and Attack on Hoth, we're not getting two proper UCS sets this year."
- This is partially true. The Hoth project took quite a fair amount of internal effort to bring together, regardless of how the finished product was received by fans. It also took up a new UCS set "slot," if you will, for the year. The Death Star update, however, did neither.
"I already have the original, now they want me to pay $100 more for some different figures."
- I refuse to be at all diplomatic in responding to that statement -- it is just completely false. Again, the updated DS is an update. LEGO is not targeting owners of either of the older revisions of this set, with the new minor update. In my opinion it's quite thoroughly ridiculous to suggest that they are or would.
Update Sept. 3: "JANG, a lot of collectors hate everything about this, so obviously hating is the right thing to do. Why won't you just get on the bandwagon already?"
- Because for one thing, I'm not "a lot of collectors." I'm me, and I'm going to share my opinion, straight, no matter who likes it or not. Also, more to the point, I don't feel I have any rights bestowed by a higher power to receive a brand new 4,000+ piece display-only set made exactly to my personal liking every year. I don't feel I have the right to have anything I specifically want manufactured by anyone, unless I'm directly paying an individual craftsman for a specific custom piece of work. More than that, I know that I, as an adult fan of LEGO, am in the extreme minority, the single smallest blip on LEGO's market radar. My value to LEGO as a consumer is a single digit percentage of that of any 7-year-old, as it rightfully should be. My personal wants do not and should not drive what LEGO does. The company doesn't exist for my personal entertainment (nor that of other people like me). Thus what I personally want in LEGO sets to display in my home does not factor into my evaluation of the quality or value of any of their products.
Update Sept. 3: "Clearly because you're not joining the hate train, you're sponsored by LEGO or trying to get sponsored by them."
- As false as can be on all accounts. The LEGO CEE team offered to put me on their free set recipient list long ago and I declined. Ask them yourselves -- their email addresses are readily Googlable. It's a deep, deep shame that so many people automatically default to attacking the character of anyone whose opinion they disagree with, suggesting any differing point of view must be the result of a corporate sell-out or some form of "brainwashing."
A sudden $100 price increase definitely sucks. However, it sucks a lot less when you consider the reality of inflation. To avoid so many cries of "this sucks" in the future, all LEGO can do is regularly adjust for inflation the prices of products that are going to remain on the market over an extraordinarily long term. Of course, folks would say that sucks as well. This updated Death Star's build is practically unchanged, but the figure selection got an overdue, major upgrade. The value based on parts & figures in the 2016's re-release is about 5% worse than what we got in 2008, but 5% doesn't strike me as a number worth rioting over.
All in all, I personally think this whole thing is about as big of a deal as LEGO is making it, which is not much at all.
I was very late to the Halo: Spartan Strike party, myself, and this set comes long after the prime days of the game's popularity. However, that takes absolutely nothing away from what we get here, with a very worthy update to an older vehicle and a generous selection of figures.
This one has had limited distribution so far, but it has standard high-volume packaging and I expect it to turn up more places before the end of the year.