Tuesday, November 21, 2017

LEGO NEXO Knights Berserker Bomber review 72003

The value is strong in this one.  I think this is one of the most variably playable sets we've gotten at the $30 USD price point in recent memory.

Mega Construx Halo Spartan CTF Base Crashers review

This figure pack is about as straightforward as they come, with the only really special thing being the active camo figure and his weapon.

LEGO NEXO Knights Axl's Rolling Arsenal review 72006

I went down a bit of a roller-coaster of emotion with this set today, starting out liking & looking forward to it, then feeling really let down after completing the main chassis, and finally returning to a calm state of satisfaction with the removable components docked in place.

LEGO Ninjago "garmadon, Garmadon, GARMADON" set review 70656

A little bit of the spirit of Benny from the original LEGO Movie lives on in at least the title of this walking, large, yet miniaturized shark mech set.  This is definitely one of those times I do not envy LEGO designers, the development of this set being plagued by so many battling restrictions & requirements.  Against very difficult odds, I think they did about as good as anyone could reasonably ask.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

LEGO Creator 3-in-1 Drone Explorer review 31071

The word "drone" entered the popular lexicon via early media hype over the rise of military recon & attack UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) around the turn of the millennium.  Originally the term was a reference to the sound and "dumb" flight characteristics of UAVs, which resembled that of male bees.  A decade later, media again mucked with the English language by applying the term to any and all multi-rotor remote-controlled aircraft, including cheap toy versions, regardless of capabilities.  Many ignorant news reports would even call single-rotor RC helicopters & airplanes "drones" and use quadcopter visual references because that's what they had gotten the public temporarily worked up about (with worries over privacy & safety).  Now LEGO has picked up this linguistic misappropriation and applied it to a model of a flying vehicle that's clearly supposed to be operated by an onboard pilot.  In other words, it's just an aircraft.  To be more specific you could call it a twin-rotor helicopter or bicopter, but it's not a "drone" by any stretch.

That concludes today's unsolicited lesson.  For weekend homework, write a 500-word essay on the the legal and ethical precedents for government regulation of remotely-piloted model aircraft for commercial vs. recreational use.  Pass/fail grading will be used.


Mega Bloks Call of Duty Zombies Nuketown set review!

Timestamp 0:00 in this video sums up my strongest feelings about this set: "I can't believe I actually have this!"  High-quality photos of a pre-production version were leaked out in 2014 with an expected release of 2015, but that seemed to be the end of it.  Fast forward to 2016, and a few production sets went out to reviewers, suggesting that a release was actually going to occur, but that seemed to be the end of it, again!

Then, last week, I was browsing Amazon when the myth finally became reality for me, priced at $40 USD, shipped from Amazon warehouses with free shipping for Prime members.  Now, some viewers are reporting seeing this on shelves at Ross.  It's another case of a set that was produced in quantity, but never picked up by retailers as expected, then finally liquidated through clearance channels down the line.

Friday, November 17, 2017

LEGO NEXO Knights Aaron's X-Bow review 72005

Just from the pictures I expected the main build in this set to have scissoring wing transformation, Technic geared rotors with remote activation, and trigger-launched missiles.  Well, it has none of that.  It's evidently... less than meets the eye.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

LEGO Star Wars BrickHeadz Finn & Capt. Phasma review

Yep I got a couple more of these little things and I'm not particularly proud of it.  I felt like they had limited potential early on, and the situation hasn't particularly improved with time.  They're not bad, I just think they're not particularly great.

Mega Construx Destiny Heavy Pike Patrol review

While this is technically a Destiny 1 set, most of it is D2-relevant and the part that isn't still looks great to me.  The main build, though, is far too good for its own... good.  Color me impressed.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

LEGO Creator 3-in-1 Outback Adventures review 31075

That right there is a really nice, unique, detailed off-roader build with possibly an equally nice doge.  The other two official builds, though?  NO!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

LEGO NEXO Knights Twinfector review 72002

I have no idea what season 5 of the NEXO Knights TV show is going to be like, but the sets sure are shaping up nicely.

Monday, November 13, 2017

LEGO Friends 41325 Heartlake City Playground review

The social media popularity contest that is LEGO Ideas has produced a good number of compelling sets, but to date not a lot of real toys, like for kids.  UK LEGO Friends team to the rescue!  A set contest was run last year, open only to kids 6-12 years old, and the winning entry was used as the starting point to create... this!

LEGO NEXO Knights year 3 Tech Wizard Showdown feat. mech-ception

I felt like NEXO Knights was losing steam in the show and the physical sets alike in season 4, but here it looks like the franchise is poised for a valiant comeback attempt.  This is not just another colorful medium-sized mech.

Another, smaller LEGO Creator 3-in-1

Few people would call this an especially noteworthy set.  However, it costs a mere $10 USD (per build).  No bad, then?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

LEGO Creator 3-in-1 Modular Skate House review 31081

This set has a couple major points of irony that luckily do not prevent this from being a very successful set.  However, do note the price and consider how much value you feel you would be getting.

LEGO Creator 3-in-1 Daredevil Stunt Plane reviewed

It begins! Here's my first review of a LEGO set that has "2018" on the box, thus opening the yearly floodgates of viewer questions about how I got a set that's "not out until next year," adding to the normal seasonal "[I wrongly thought] this wasn't released yet therefore you are obviously a shameful lying fraud who sold your soul to LEGO" nonsense.  I will push through the completely unwarranted trash as I always do!  Viva la "block" button!

Mega Construx Halo 5 Grunt Mech set review

Sometimes less is more.  This build is far more compact than expected, and it just works.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

LEGO Ninjago Movie Quake Mech (big version) reviewed! 70632

New release season has begun, in typical roundabout fashion with some products appearing only at the handful of LEGOLAND locations in the world, some only in Asia & Europe, etc., etc.  You know the drill.  With both aftermarket & import prices continuing to balloon year over year, you will see me reviewing fewer & fewer LEGO sets when they hit the market.  I will instead wait for them to become available en masse in my region or at least at regular retail prices online, just like with Mega Construx products.  I can't keep chasing the ever increasing silliness.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Verified JANGBRiCKS accounts

In this post are listed real accounts owned & operated by me. Assume anything else is fake.

These are me:

Don't get fooled!

  • Check carefully for simple spoofing such as:
    • Extra spaces.
    • Dashes & underscores.
    • Substitutions between uppercase 'i', lowercase 'L', and the number '1'.
    • Swapped letters & misspellings. 
  • If you see any unusual content claiming to be from me, always first assume it is fake, then verify.
  • If someone contacts you claiming to me, assume it is fake, then verify.
  • If someone contacts you claiming to be my friend, personal acquaintance, or family member (whether close or distant), definitely assume it is fake; it most likely is.
  • If someone contacts you claiming to have met me, talked to me over the phone, or been messaged by me, you should automatically assume it is fake; 99.999% of the time it is.
  • If someone posts a "screenshot" of a conversation with me or a piece of content I supposedly since "deleted," obviously assume it is fake; that's the oldest trick in the book, commonly referred to as "Photoshop."
  • If you see uncharacteristic content (foul language, insults, xenophobia, etc.) coming from a source that does appear to be a 100% verified account of mine, assume it is fake as the account may have been hacked.
  • If someone tries to impress you with purported "private" information about me, it's either a) fake or b) actually public information copied from a public source. Avoid contact with people who openly represent themselves as stalkers.

Other accounts that are me:

  • https://youtube.com/thejang
  • https://youtube.com/c/jangmobilvideo
  • https://www.flickr.com/photos/thejang
  • https://youtube.com/UltimateRCnetwork
  • https://www.youtube.com/RCManiaDotCom
  • https://www.youtube.com/user/EverythingAnswered

Other websites I own:

  • http://thejang.net
  • http://UltimateRC.com
  • http://UltimateTraxxas.com
  • http://UltimateTamiya.com
  • http://RCMania.com

Verify, verify, VERIFY.  The Internet is flooded with fake news, fake content, and fake accounts.  This is extremely well known has been well documented by major media coverage almost every single day.  Any random person can sign up for any random site and give themselves an alias that sounds like someone else.  Elevate your awareness and wariness and don't fall victim to the simplest of traps.

Remember the Mega Bloks/Construx Halo line?

We've gone through quite a dry spell when it comes to substantial new releases in the traditional flagship Mega Construx line.  A lot of folks have been wondering why I've not had any relevant content to offer, but the simple fact is, stuff hasn't been released!  That is, stuff hasn't been released anywhere I could buy it.  Some extraordinarily lucky locations got limited quantities of the entire newest Halo Heroes line, for example, but most of us fans just have to sit & wait & wonder.  Heck, some stuff still never really makes it out to the wild.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Starting work on my largest cargo port crane

After over three years of waiting for this moment, I've finally started on my custom ship-to-shore freight dock crane!  This first step involved simply figuring out the dimensions of the thing without any concern for realism or structural integrity.  Next I'll rough out the trolley and figure out a spreader design.

Friday, November 3, 2017

LEGO Ideas Women of NASA review! set 21312

The latest Ideas set has hit the streets and it's another one that I was disappointed to see picked at the expense of, in my personal opinion, more substantive and exciting 10,000 vote winners in its review period.  However, with product in hand, I find this set to be actually really, really nice.  As usual my main interest is in the builds, but I can't help but take note of the excellent design work done on the figures.

There does, though, remain that controversial sociopolitical undertone here, and with an audible "gulp" I made the decision to address it head-on at the end of my review video, with my unfiltered personal feelings.  Surely this will drive my subscriber count down since many people cannot accept anyone else having an opinion, but I think it's very much worth it.  I choose my battles very carefully, but that doesn't mean I don't fight.

LEGO Thanksgiving Harvest set review 40261

It brings me great joy to put up a video about a holiday/seasonal set within the actual month of the holiday.  Product release schedules have become pretty silly with many things these days, with Christmas decorations showing up in stores in September & what not!

Of course now that I say that, I will very, very soon be reviewing a series of Christmas-specific sets. In the first week of November.  Oh, well.  I tried!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

It's finally time to make that cargo seaport

I've of course been looking forward to moving on to my Planetary Defense Force Base forever, but before I start laying its labor-intensive foundation I need to really lock down its dimensions.  There's plenty of room to work around, though, and I'm not married to any specific shape or individual dimension.  Thus, I must defer to its neighbors to really define the constraints, and work backwards from there.

The zoo has much more than enough space for its own planned expansion & revamp, leaving the new cargo harbor with all of the power to determine the fate of this entire end of the city!

Today's progress involved determining and securely building in the foundational shape of the port, moving rail sidings and rotating much of the setup 90 degrees while adding two piers to provide a lot more docking space.  Hopefully pretty soon I can start working on cranes.

Friday, October 27, 2017

LEGO train station MOC home stretch

Nearly "done for now," less than a week after I began!  I wish all of my structure projects could move this quickly.

After this, the zoo is ready for its remodel, but I'm leaning towards skipping right past it for now and doing some work at the new Planetary Defense Base location.  We'll see how I feel inspiration-wise in a few days when I'm fully ready to move forward.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Still more on that second train station

Told y'all I'm trying to get this done quickly!  Secretly though, I'm just playing a game with fate, forcing it to accelerate the release timeline for the first winter LEGO sets.  The deeper I go into custom building mode, the sooner releases come as it's their sworn duty to stop me and hog all of my attention.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Second update on the new train station

I'm tellin' ya, I'm trying to get this thing done quickly.  The first winter set release season fast approaches and I want to squeeze every last bit of value out of this down/free time that I can.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

And the next MOC for the city will be....

Train station #2!  As I touch upon in the later part of the introductory video, creating the space for this newest creation helps set the dimensions for most of the future work on the entire back edge of my tables.  With any luck, this will go pretty quickly, and we'll see where I decide to go from there.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Another music store & laser tag arena MOC update

Hey!  Look at that!  Both floors together, with a roof on top & everything.  I'm not 100% satisfied yet and will surely do some tweaks, but with all of the important components in place I'm nearly ready to call this "done for now" and turn my attention elsewhere.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

LEGO October 2017 VIP exclusive promotional polybag review! 40178

As seen in a recent haul video, I had to get two of these for the wonderful sticker sheets and also the much improved new LEGO store employee minifigure.  The rest is nice for display when just (mostly) built as designed, too.

Ultimate LEGO Star Wars book by DK

In an uncharacteristic move, I bought a LEGO-related book with no bundled physical LEGO parts, but oh, was it worth it.

Monday, October 16, 2017

LEGO Laser tag arena almost done!

Work in progress is work in progress!  I hit no snags over the weekend and only ran out of one needed part for which I had an acceptable substitute.  There's a lot of building trickery in this thing that'll never been seen by anyone, but I'm fine with that as I just want the result to be decent.

A part of me really wishes I could shrink down & play-test this arena with some family & friends!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Work resumes on the laser tag arena MOC (over the music store)

Whoa.  I did not realize it had been so long since I last worked on this thing.  Well I'm sure glad to be back at it!

Work in progress!  Incomplete!

Monday, October 9, 2017

LEGO Life Master Build challenge try #2

Ah yes, much better!  Instead of a pile of random builds made from a pile of random parts, this time I've made a complete scene that almost makes sense as a unit.
This features an intermodal cargo ship with containers and a dock with a crane and a few little related items.  

I really wanted to leave it at that, but there were so many parts left over that a couple more small builds made their way into existence before I was able to step away.  Unfortunately these are in a different scale.

That was fun!  Now back to our regular scheduled programming.

Friday, October 6, 2017

LEGO Life Master Build attempt #1

Here's the product of the first building session from the night of Oct. 4th when I first showed you the pieces from the LEGO Life Master Build box.  I proceeded as planned, with basically only one course correction during the sitting.

Now that I've warmed up, I'm going to make a more serious attempt!

More about my LEGO Boost tank-bot

As promised, here's a walk-around of my autonomous / self-driving little vehicle with a more direct explanation of how it works as well as the revelation of its second function.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

LEGO Life Master Build project begins

With the overdue LEGO Boost project approaching completion I've finally spilled out that bin & bag of parts that were sent to me by the LEGO Life team a couple months ago (feels like a few weeks).  It's my first time really looking at exactly what I have to work with, and the situation is about as dire as I expected.  This is a real hodge-podge of parts from which it will be very difficult to build anything that doesn't look like a unicorn ate a rainbow & then promptly threw up.

I mean seriously, what a mess, and what a challenge!  The coin-operated supermarket rodeo ride that legit Master Builder Mark Roe came up with was amazing, but I wish I could have seen how many parts he didn't use.  I don't think I can dip into this huge pile and make one small thing, even if I should, at least not at first.

Thanks to the fact that YouTube is not real life, though, I can tell you that I've already used up the vast majority of these parts in fulfilling this challenge.  I did, indeed, go with multiple builds, and I'm a bit ashamed of that.  I think I'm going to show what I did (soon, another video), then take it all apart and try again.  I feel like I need to do better.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

First reveal of my LEGO Boost MOC project

Some months ago, LEGO sent me a couple early production samples of their newest robotics system, Boost, and let me go to town with them.  I told them I wouldn't review the thing, but would instead focus on an original robot or gadget of my own design, form & function to be determined.  Here's the very first video footage of what I came up with:
To learn more about Boost, check out the official site and Brickset's first impressions. Having used the system extensively before and after its release, I can confirm that most of the full reviews on the 'web & YouTube were using the pre-production beta software (whether they made this clear like they were supposed to or not).  I can also happily report that many of the early reported issues of extremely limited device compatibility, glitches, and crashes have been addressed and the product that consumers can actually buy seems very stable.

Boost is an introductory robotics education platform aimed at kids as young as 7, a market that's generally not fully ready for something like Mindstorms.  Most Boost building is brick-based, with limited Technic parts usage as required for gears & axles & such.  The strictly tablet-borne programming interface (you supply the tablet) is mostly drag & drop and uses no words, just symbols and very deliberate and thorough tutorials that guide the first-time user through discovery and initial inspiration.  The core electronic component that you put batteries in & build upon has little to no "intelligence" within it.  Instead, your programs are actually run on your tablet, with only raw motor & sensor data being transmitted back & forth to your 'bot.

I'll show my little autonomous tank-bot in detail soon, but the basic concept is that it's sweeping the distance-sensing unit from the kit left & right to look for obstacles.  When it gets too close to something, it makes a decision, and turns to avoid a collision.  I used some of my own parts like narrow tank treads to keep the form factor as small as reasonably possible.  The code I'm currently running is pretty simple, though the amount of experimentation, hair-tearing & re-scoping I did along the way was a bit disproportionate.  Boost seems absolutely fantastic for its target audience, but if you try to extract much in the way of precision or multi-tasking from it, you will quickly encounter quite a number of... quirks.

Your programs are interpreted in real time, which introduces a non-trivial amount of latency, and the sense/interpret/command loop can be slow enough that you can watch it with your bare eyes.  You can create callable functions that can accept arguments, but they can't seem to return any information, and all variables are "local" -- inaccessible outside of the function where they're created.  The system is inconsistent about waiting for tasks to complete before moving to the next command.  All three motors (two in the main hub brick and one separate) are "encoded" so they can report their output shaft position (sort of), but they almost always over- or under-shoot when asked to turn to a specific orientation.  There's also play in the internal gearboxes and the position sensors sometimes hang a bit between degree ticks, taking up to several seconds to decide whether to round up or down.  Oh, and the thing won't drive straight.  It just won't.  It'll go a little to the left or a little to the right, and it's especially bad at low speed. My tank-bot's program tries to make some pretty drastic brute force corrections, depending upon which way it remembers most recently turning.  Even that's not enough, though.

Given the many limitations of this simplistic system designed for young kids, I'm actually quite happy with how well it works, even though I grew a lot more gray hair getting it to this point than I would have ever imagined.  I'll show the details of the physical design of the tank-bot in a future post, and probably demonstrate some of the code that survived the countless re-writes.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Latest LEGO City update solves so much

There's been lots of New Jang City work over the past week since I recovered from my sick time, and the latest big batch of changes really cascades the benefits of my west side expansion across the entire layout.  I've moved a lot of rail (both gauges) and an entire street, with positive effects from end to end on both current items and my future plans.  It's all gelling!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Bona fide certified!

This past week I was able to go through a Google-administered online training course and examination to become officially "YouTube Certified" in the art & science of "Content Ownership."  This alone doesn't mean much of anything for the JANGBRiCKS channel, but the process educated me on some of the back-end workings of the YouTube automated copyright protection system.  It also puts an invisible flag on my account that effectively raises YouTube's trust in me, a major step towards gaining access to tools that'll facilitate better protection of my own content in the digital copyright landscape.

Unfortunately nothing in this process translated into any new video content for your entertainment, but there will be more on that front soon!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

A bit of a slow-down

Hey all, I just wanted to post a bit of an update on the recent reduction in my upload rate.  About a week ago I gave myself some time for a much-needed reprieve from the 7 day/week work schedule, to be a little more present around the house, catch up with friends, and play some video games.  Then, a few days ago I fell a bit ill with something that has kind of knocked me off my feet and ruined my focus in waves.  Right now I'm spending a lot of time resting so that I can get back to full strength.  I've tried working on some builds from the couch, but found my brain to be too scrambled to do things right.  So, I'm going to wait this one out.

Don't worry, I'll be back in business soon :)

[Update: Turns out it was a potentially more serious bit of illness than I originally thought.  Yikes.  Good thing I rested and my immune system was able to take care of things.]

Thursday, September 14, 2017

LEGO Creator Winter Village Station review 10259

I might not have gotten the UCS Falcon, but here's another set that was released in stores today, and I think it's quite nice!  It costs 1/10th as much and comes with just two fewer minifigures :)

The best thing that could have happened to me today?

If you haven't heard by now, today was the launch of the biggest & biggest-deal LEGO set of all time, the second UCS Millennium Falcon.  It was also another frustrating day for countless fans who experienced outages & errors on Shop at Home (as on every. single. major release day) and ludicrous shortages at brick & mortar locations.  I encountered exceptionally bad traffic on my way to my nearest LEGO Store this morning, arriving 1.5 hours after I departed, just in time to see one of the $800 sets rolling out to the parking lot with its new owner (who had staked out the store since a little after 5am).  Before it, I would soon learn, had departed only two others.   To reinforce the arithmetic, I've just accounted for a total of three UCS Millennium Falcons leaving this site.

Three.  Also known as "a few."  That is the total number of sellable copies of the single largest & most-anticipated toy that were available at this brand storefront of the largest toy brand in the entire world.  You might think I have a run-down, forsaken LEGO brand store in a particularly poor retail location.  However, in the parking lot right outside was a Maserati, a Bentley, and more Teslas, Benzes & Bimmers than I cared to count.  Also, from what I've since heard, there were other LEGO stores that received the identical allocation of "a few."  The largest numbers I've heard of so far were in the mid-teens.

Nearly three hours after I left my house, I had returned, disappointed, but pondering whether to venture back out the following day per the store manager's suggestion that additional stock might arrive overnight.  Once again I considered the long drive and how early I'd need to embark.  I mapped out an updated best-case schedule in my mind with at least 4 hours of near-zero productivity just to buy the thing and put up a quick "look I got it, I'm going to build it, it's as big as you know it is, please be patient" video.  Then would come an estimated 2 days for building, publishing the time-lapse build, and prepping the studio for the review.  A proper review would take at least another full day to create.

After all of the dust settled, I would then need to figure out what to do with the completed monstrosity.  I have no place to display it.  I have no interest in re-arranging any major part of my house to create a space to display it.  I personally have little interest in owning this thing. Meanwhile, sponsored media outlets received the product a week ago and some have already completed their builds.  What am I doing?!  This is madness!  I'm pressuring myself to spend nearly $900 USD (tax is a thing) on one single LEGO set, that I don't personally want, to then spend a further 3-4 days building & filming it (with no time for anything else), to publish a review video that will provide little to no value to potential buyers (who've already bought it or at least tried), and be left with a huge burden of an object I don't know what to do with.


I'm confident it would be a huge waste to proceed, probably the dumbest decision I'd have made with respect to any hobby ever, and certainly a bad choice for you viewers.  The amount of original content I can create with that outrageous sum of money and/or that shocking number of hours makes the option of toiling to publish one of 30 or 40 UCS Falcon YouTube reviews (all showing the exact same things) seem... inadvisable.

Of course not everyone will agree, but my decision is not up for debate.  I will not be returning to the LEGO store tomorrow.  Will I ever buy the mega-Falcon?  I won't rule it out 100%, but I'm looking forward to doing a lot of better things with my money & time before I even begin to consider it again.

Talk about a blessing in disguise.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

LEGO Star Wars The Last Jedi & TFA minifigs so far!

A quick look at the sequel trilogy minifigs & droids that have accumulated up to this point, as well as a comparison between the TFA & TLJ collections as things currently stand.  Expect a lot more to come for the latter, and not much more for the former.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

LEGO Dimensions Wave 9 set preview

Yet another different agency processing some of LEGO's promotions has sent over a box of stuff, this time the as-yet unreleased final wave of Dimensions boxed sets.  No word yet on the Lord Vortech release.

Mega Construx Halo Arctic Jackrabbit Assault review

Mega's Halo-related releases have slowed a bit recently, but this is a nice figure pack with a good small vehicle from Halo Wars 2.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

LEGO Star Wars The Last Jedi full wave mini-review

With the legal threat expired and LEGO having apologized, I'm able to get back to normal content, including stuff related to The Last Jedi.  For Force Friday II I've tried something new, with a single video not only bringing all of the sets together on-screen at once, but re-reviewing them rapid-fire style.  For folks who haven't seen my long-form reviews and who don't want to spend the time, this allows me to still provide a decent in-person overview of features along with my thoughts.

Want to buy any of these and also help support the channel? You can use my Amazon affiliate link to the most recent LEGO Star Wars sets (or browse/search for anything after clicking). Everything will be the standard price for you (when in stock), but I may get a very small commission.  Completely optional though and please don't buy anything you don't want :)