Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Cyberpunk conversion of the LEGO Death Star (progress)


Back in March I dedicated the Mellemby District section of New Jang City to the viewers and asked for your suggestions for an overall theme or direction. Over 1,700 comments poured in and though the responses were quite varied, easily the most common request was for a cyberpunk scene (Blade Runner, Akira, lower Coruscant, Altered Carbon, etc.).  Just last month, I thought of finally putting my idle Death Star to use by converting it to work in this space, and viewers approved.  Thusly I build!

Videos:
Probably one or two more updates should bring this project to a close "for now" and then I'll switch over to something else.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle 71043 reviews



The second most complex LEGO set ever.  The longest build process for me, ever.  My longest time without sleeping, ever. My longest review video, ever.  This was a big deal.

Videos:

Summer 2018 LEGO Star Wars video coverage


It's been an extraordinarily busy season for me, with many.  Living on the West coast of the US, being in specifically in a region with stores that are increasingly respectful of contractually-mandated sales embargo dates, and accepting no sponsored products for reviews, I was at a tremendous disadvantage to most of the LEGO YouTuber world with respect to acquiring & reviewing products on a timely basis.  I did the best I could, though, and tried to at least maintain my normal standards of quality in spite of the time crunch.

Videos:


LEGO DC Super Heroes summer 2018 reviews


After the big run of Marvel merchandise not long ago, the DC world got limited LEGO representation this season, but one of the sets is nearly perfect.  Another is a remote-controlled batmobile.

Videos:

LEGO City 60200 Capital City playset review & overview videos


Early fan impressions of this set were not particularly glowing, with 2015's City Square & 2013's Town Square rating significantly higher.  The set finally came out in August in the US and I gave it both long- and short-form video treatments to offer viewers some additional tools to decide for themselves whether this City flagship set is worth a purchase.

Videos:

LEGO Harry Potter & Fantastic Beasts collectible minifigure series videos


These CMF series just keep getting larger, this one featuring 22 different characters from J.K. Rowling's infinitely successful Wizarding World book & movie franchise.  I've again offered up two ways to see each figure up close in my studio, with the traditional casual narrated style as well as the far more succinct "quick" look for folks less interested in the theme or with less free time on hand.

Videos:

LEGO Voltron 21311 reviews


I enjoyed the original American(ized) Voltron TV series in its original run in the 80s, cherished my one piece of related merch (a coloring/activity book), and longed for the toys.  A couple decades later, I finally got one of the toys.  After still another decade, the GoLion series got its first really worthy follow-on, the Netflix-exclusive reboot, and I found myself shopping for another collectible to display just before LEGO picked this set to produce through the Ideas system.  I couldn't have asked for better timing!

Videos:

LEGO Minecraft summer 2018 set reviews


For some reason, my brain only registered that there were two new Minecraft sets coming this season, but there were three.  Plus a BrickHeadz 2-in-1.  Okay, I was pretty far off.

Videos:

Thursday, July 26, 2018

LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle advanced microscale model reveal


Earlier today (for me) LEGO revealed the 6,020-piece nanofig-compatible Hogwarts Castle display model to great applause.  I took this as an opportunity to try, for the first time, a pre-release, photo-based narrated walkthrough style of video on the new "Quick" channel:

I'm happy with how it turned out for an initial effort, and hope to refine & better personalize the idea in the future while also dramatically improving my efficiency so I can put these out somewhat frequently without noticeably impeding content on the main channel.

Oh, and the Hogwarts Castle itself.  Yeah.  It's pretty proper.  Check out the vid.

LEGO Minecraft The Skeleton Attack review! 21146


I don't know why, but when I started building this set I felt like I had really been missing LEGO Minecraft stuff.  The set itself isn't at all ground-breaking, but I think it successfully captures a piece of the gaming world with useful physical play considerations.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

LEGO Ideas Voltron full video review


Voltron is yet another subject matter I was enamored with for a period of my childhood!  I watched as many episodes of the show as I could back then, but for merch I only got a coloring book, but I stared at the big combination 'bot toys at stores with wanting eyes.  As a young adult I sought out a used form of one of the better vintage toy sets and I have that on display to this day.  With the recent (and dramatically better) reboot of the animated universe on Netflix, I've found myself wanting a second display model to bolster my collection.  Well, thank you, LEGO, for making the shopping process rather easy.

Videos: 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Introducing my new, quicker LEGO review channel


Over the past few years I've really relaxed into a natural groove with my brick-based construction set review videos, speaking at a comfortable pace in what for me is a normal tone.  This has led to my videos getting longer on average, and a pretty continuous stream of viewers have explicitly expressed appreciation for this trend.  However, more than ever, we live in an on-demand, TL;DR world and a lot of people have no time or patience for long-form content.

Thus is born a new channel.  I've put a lot of thought, research, and planning into this, and I am very committed to the undertaking, or at least the attempt.  I've uploaded a handful of new short-form videos to kick things off, and you can expect to see me backfill the channel with dramatically shortened forms of some of my older content in addition to covering many new products in parallel.

This content absolutely needs to be separate from the main JANGBRiCKS hub as it will serve an audience that does not fully overlap my core.  I will not create a "quick" version of every review I cover on the original channel, though, and I will not stop producing the latter either.  My style will evolve and the new channel's name may change, but I'm giving this thing a serious go for at least a couple of seasons.  You'll also likely see me try some slightly different (but still rapid types) of content.  If it goes nowhere, I reserve the right to stop making the quick vids and just leave existing ones online as an archive.  If things go decently well, I'll continue to hone the formula(e).  Let's go!

Links:

LEGO Ninjago City Docks reviews 70657


At long last I got my hands on one of these at a reasonable price from overseas, weeks after its initial release, yet still some time before it graces retail shelves in the Western Hemisphere.  It does not stand up to the huge presence of the main Ninjago City before it, but I believe it packs an even greater density of detail, making it a very worthy standalone product.

Videos:

LEGO Creator James Bond Aston Martin DB5 review


This deceptively complex vehicle was revealed & released rather suddenly (after some fairly empty teasers) this week and I was quick to buy it and get lost in the clever packaging of its spy gadgets.  Though nowhere near as bad as the Technic Porsche 911 GT3, this is definitely a model that requires building it hands-on to appreciate what it's made of.  As a static display model, it does not deliver good value.

Videos:

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

LEGO Hogwarts Express (2018 edition) motorized with Power Functions


In my review a couple weeks ago I expressed my desire to attempt a motorization of the latest (and best) Hogwarts Express, but shortly thereafter I began to lose faith that I'd find the time.  Thankfully a very productive week left me with the better part of a day to work on this (and motivation to boot!).

In the video I discuss some of the viable options for attempting your own conversion, along with pros & cons, and I partly dissect my attempt to fully show off the arrangement of components & methods of connection.  I believe my choice of M motor + PF 1.0 IR receiver in the locomotive & battery in the tender is one of the more difficult setups to pull off, but it allows remote speed control, provides good driving traction, and leaves the passenger car completely untouched for a fairly clean look in motion.

Beyond the Brick week


Brothers John & Joshua Hanlon of the highly-recommended Beyond the Brick on YouTube savagely invaded my home and alas, I was unable to scare them off with the combined counter-attack of an alien monster and a vicious attack dog.  Thus I cannot stop them from releasing I believe four videos this week on their channel, two of which are already up:
Since you're surely going to go watch at least one of those, you might as well subscribe while you're there to see some much more interesting content once the annoying stuff with me in it finally passes.

😊

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.

Videos:

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 IWOOT.com 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.

Videos:
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!

Videos:

Friday, June 8, 2018

Combining three LEGO Creator Pirate Coasters, almost works


Because I bought three of set #31084 to cover all of the official builds in my review, I thought it would be a fun challenge to make the biggest coaster possible with the track parts.  As it turns out, that's a bit easier said than done! 

I wish they had made this set a better parts pack for the many folks out there who have been wanting to make custom LEGO coasters with official parts for... generations.

LEGO City People Pack - Outdoor Adventures review! 60202


Here's the latest City minifigure "Fun in the..." style pack, this time focusing on the great outdoors with an explicitly American flavor.

LEGO City 2018 Arctic theme reviews begin


Orange vehicles with white terrain pieces have returned after a mere 4 year hiatus and I've started my coverage with the two biggest sets of the wave.

Videos:

Sunday, June 3, 2018

LEGO City Hospital 60204 set review


It's been awhile since we got a medical building made for minifigs and I am truly delighted that the comeback set has some real substance and a large number of figures instead of the increasingly common pretty, but annoyingly thin facades.  Now the question is, does the product justify the price?

Saturday, June 2, 2018

LEGO Creator Pirate Roller Coaster 3-in-1 review


It's out, it's built, and I've filmed it!  I've had high hopes for this set since the first pictures were leaked (before we even knew about the Expert coaster).  In this video I look at all 3 official build options and see how things line up against my expectations.

Release day LEGO store haul on video


This may have been my single largest, heaviest, and most expensive LEGO store checkout to date, but it's very incomplete.  It includes neither of the new trains, the big Capital City set, the Unikitty line of figures & sets, Ninjago City Docks, and anything Ninjago season 9 other than the first 5 of 6 airjitzu/dragon master packs.  Some of that stuff came out a couple weeks ago some places in Europe, some all the way back in April.  The Americas get the rest all the way out in August.

Back & forth the pendulum of LEGO fan pain & envy swings across the oceans!

I did get a fair amount of stuff to keep me busy for awhile, though.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Elevated rail stop progress so far


I've been able to do a fairly consistent sequence of MOC work this week! Strangely it's still surprising many viewers that this second elevated train station has progressed in what I consider a natural direction, from extremely rough when it first started, to gradually more polished after a week of work.  Many folks think that when something is first started, that's exactly how it will look when it's finished, a puzzling and somewhat perturbing flaw in their basic understanding of... so many fundamental things.  I've also seen a dramatic rise in decisively non-constructive feedback like, "This whole thing is awful," or "Your worst build ever you should do [what I, individual viewer want this second]," again all while things are still being changed significantly from day to day. Actual constructive criticism is something I consistently revel in and reward with thumbs up, hearts, and personal replies due to its value and increasing rarity.  However, I definitely don't need to be showered with flat-out one-sided negativity while doing something I enjoy, and I'm not going to reward destructive behavior.  Thus, reluctantly, I'm going to start disabling comments on MOC build videos until I'm done with a project.  Making custom things, whether physical or digital, is something I enjoy, and I'm not going to allow completely random, anonymous people with zero investment to even try to ruin that.

More progress soon, though!

Videos:

Monday, May 21, 2018

Second elevated rail station build kick-off


Hooray for New Jang City work!  I'm taking a short bit of time off from the mountain corner while waiting for Bricklink orders to arrive.  This leaves some space in the schedule to work on an essentially untouched block in the downtown area.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

LEGO Architecture Statue of Liberty review


That face though.

LEGO Dino Defense HQ from 2012 reviewed


For a "flashback Friday" of sorts this week I finally assembled the biggest set from LEGO's last non-licensed prehistoric animal theme.

You can find a few more of my reviews from this theme if you scroll all the way back to the beginning of my dino-centric playlist.

LEGO room videos of the past week or so


Circumstances straddling the edges of what I can control have made it extraordinarily difficult over the past couple of months for me to get LEGO work done, especially in my city.  I've done what I can, though, and am clawing my way back slowly in the direction of normalcy.

Videos:

Sunday, May 6, 2018

LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series Y-Wing Starship build & review videos


This second "Ultimate" version of the Y-Wing does not have the sort of across-the-room visual punch of some of the other entries in the series, even completely ignoring the record-holding Falcon.  However, if you actually build this model, or just spend some quality time up close, it's easy to objectively understand & justify the price tag.  The question is whether that's enough, though; less tangible & calculable factors are still at play.

Videos:

Friday, May 4, 2018

LEGO Creator Expert Roller Coaster build & review videos! 10261


LEGO may have generated another round of worldwide release envy by putting the newest Ninjago sets out in Denmark only, probably months before any other place will get them, but I'm striking back at 'em with this biggest-yet amusement ride I got off eBay for a reasonable price a couple weeks ahead of schedule.  The build took a good 7+ hours and casually exposed me to some pretty advanced and humbling LEGO math.  Best of all, the finished product works every bit as well as anyone could ask for, if not better.

Videos:

LEGO Jurassic World wrap-up


There is no way it has been well over a week since my last post.  Impossible!  I've had the browser tab I'm typing this in open and I've been getting my ducks in a row to have a bit of proper downtime to catch up here... since April 25th.  Crazy!  Time flies & all that ey?

Well, here are the belated links to my last few Jurassic World/Park related videos, including the previously-unplanned display I set up to present the whole theme together:

I did the temporary diorama because I hadn't yet made any progress towards my longer-term, customized dino display (beyond basically prepping the table itself).  I figured it's best to use the space for a little while for something a lot of viewers wanted to see.  I'll switch back to the original plan when I'm ready.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Two more reviews for LEGO Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom


April reviews took longer than expected for reasons none of you have seen or heard about, but they're now very rapidly drawing to a close, which means soon enough I'll back work on New Jang City yet again!  I seriously hope the Summer sets don't come out crazy early (I'm looking at you, LEGOLANDs) so I can get a top on my mountain and start roughing in the initial shape of Mellemby District.

Videos:

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Initial batch of LEGO Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom set reviews


I don't live near the perpetually embargo-breaking stores (like LEGOLAND) of Florida & Georgia and had no interest in paying the markups to buy from FL/GA eBayers, so I waited for the official April 16th release date to pick up these JW sets.  Interestingly, four days later most stores in my area still haven't put these on shelves, and some don't even have the April 13th release Star Wars sets!  Online purchase & local pickup for the win, then!

Videos:

Sunday, April 15, 2018

LEGO Star Wars Han Solo Landspeeder de-aged Mod


I had planned to make a (mostly) symmetrical "original" version of Han Solo's M68 (Ford Falcon reference) Landspeeder, but then I started looking at more realistic toys as well as official renders and one of the full-scale movie props.  As explained in this video, I realized this vehicle was likely never intended to have been symmetrical in its factory-stock form.  So, I built upon what the evidence suggested.

Two more new LEGO Star Wars sets reviewed


The end of another medium-sized release wave draws to a close for me with the coverage of the last wave 1 Solo movie set plus a nice small ESB Dagobah build.

Videos: 
Jurassic World sets will be covered once they're officially supposed to be released.  Stores in my area are all honoring the embargo dates.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

LEGO Amtrak EMD F40PH MOC


First shown on Instagram shortly after I started, this is another little piece of my childhood brought to life in LEGO form!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

LEGO Star Wars Kessel Run Millennium Falcon review! 75212


Here's the flagship set for the Solo: A Star Wars Story movie, based around the modified-to-sell-fresh-merch Falcon of 40+ year fame.  As a LEGO model, it's sensibly an evolutionary iteration on the most recent designs.  It does a few things better than the last, but also a few worse.

LEGO Minifigure Factory promotional set review 5005358


This free (with qualifying purchase) has gotten more than its share of hate for including some cardboard to increase the size of the scene, but the exclusive (and still free, with purchase) parts make it one of my favorite promotional items ever.

You Told Me What To Build yet again


This past week I did another TMWTB suggestion collection round and one of the most popular requests was a tank.  This one took a little longer than the others, but I'm happy with the result.

Video:

Thursday, April 5, 2018

LEGO Ideas TRON: Legacy set review! 21314


These aren't the Light Cycles of my childhood, but they're pretty nice regardless (and probably recognizable to a lot more of today's LEGO fans).  The minifigures and printed parts in general are very impressive to me, but let's see if the value of the entire set holds up against the retail price.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Not your average BrickHeadz: LEGO's new Go Brick Me set


And now for something, completely different! This is so much more than the expected BrickHeadz MOC construction toolkit.  It lets you build not one, but two full figures (and the second needn't be a ghost as shown above), it has a rather long and detailed instruction manual, and it provides a hefty serving of varied pieces at one of the lowest price/part ratios of all time.