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Sunday, July 31, 2016

LEGO Train Station MOC update #3

Lots of delicious progress this time with many problems solved and many final or near-final details added in.  I've finally caught my stride with this one after a lot of struggle with colors & dimensions.

Friday, July 29, 2016

LEGO Ninjago Airjitzu Battle Grounds review! 70590

In cheerier news today, here's my last review of a set from the first wave of Ninjago's Rise of the Villains subtheme.

Bye-Bye Bionicle

August 3, 2016 update: If you want more explanation of the details of how I feel about this and why, watch NicktonAquaMagna's "Journey to Done - The REAL reasons why Bionicle failed."  Seriously. Watch that. It's long, but densely packed with real, non-rambling, non-repetitive, hard-hitting content. He's a fellow realist who separates the objective and the subjective and isn't afraid to call out what's really going on across numerous fronts without tainting it with an excess of personal bias. He's a valued long-time viewer, but we've only ever interacted in a tiny handful of public YouTube comments.  However, the observations & deductions he shares in his video match my own to within probably a 5% margin.  It's uncanny.
LEGO today announced the (second) absolute end of Bionicle.  I'll be honest with you -- I'm relieved.  Sales were very poor from the start (I watched the actual numbers in near-realtime when Brickset was still able to track & display them), a large portion of G1 fans were uninterested in anything non-G1 (regardless of its form), and the first two Netflix episodes came out far too late & were far too brief to effectively capture new fans.  With its conservative marketing budget, it was almost dead on arrival.  The only hope for any sort of real revival rested in the hands of new fans who, in turn, never materialized.

For my part, I made a strong effort to refine my large action figure review style to raise the bar and establish a new standard (for others to copy, wink wink). I made a decently massive MOC very early on to begin the fight against the baseless "you can't MOC with CCBS" argument.  I re-bought some G1 models and made a generational comparison to demonstrate the merits of the newer building system and the value proposition of the new sets.  I even transported my self-MOC back to the Bionicle universe and gave it a very shiny upgrade.

However, a couple weeks ago, what you see in the photo above, happened.  Since the reboot hit stores in late 2014, I had maintained a persistent display of the latest official Bionicle builds from which I could conveniently draw individuals or sub-groups to compare to newer releases.  It was a part of not only my process, but my very home.  Eventually the writing on the wall became too clear, though.  Bionicle was no longer worth my time.  First I cut back on the most time-consuming segment of my review videos, then I cut it out entirely to make more time to produce the content that so many more of you ask for every day.  Most recently, though, with one arm I held a big plastic tub under my Bionicle display shelf, and with the other arm, emptied said shelf into said tub with one big swipe.

My backlog of items to prep & donate to The Giving Brick had just gotten a whole lot larger.  I was 95% done with Bionicle, with that last 5% of me squinting warily at the horizon, waiting for leaked photos from the next release season.  If LEGO didn't come up with something truly awe-inspiring for what I was certain would be the final wave, I was going to skip it entirely.  Well, Giving Brick, you've got a package incoming!

I feel like I've been stung one too many times.  This LEGO large action figure thing just isn't working out.  I still maintain that Hero Factory was a great concept, but they failed miserably at developing its potential as a creative theme involving fans designing and building custom 'bots to battle an ever-evolving ecosystem of baddies.  Super Heroes "Ultrabuilds" were a viable concept for very young kids (as other manufacturers have proven), but they looked pretty bad.  Chima figures had almost no connection to the series whatsoever, existing for a second or so at a time in the TV show.  The Star Wars figures sell because they're Star Wars, and some of them actually look good, so I'll keep covering those for now.  Just don't expect me to cover any more original-IP CCBS-based themes unless LEGO figures out a more viable formula.

Addendum:  I went ahead & watched the two new & last Bionicle episodes released today on Netflix.  Once again the graphic style & quality was really good.  The writing, though, was truly terrible.  Words that come to mind include: Cliche, predictable, repetitive, low-brow, thin, shallow, unimaginative, disappointing, cringeworthy, sad, and forgettable.  In fact, it felt almost insulting.  The wrap-up, instead of leaving open the imaginative possibilities of a future of exciting adventures, essentially renders the entire franchise utterly meaningless.  What an incredibly unfortunate way to go out.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Custom LEGO hot hatch car MOC

Yep, it's a car.  Just a car.  Nothing like what I originally planned, but, at least I like it enough to keep it!

Custom LEGO Galactic-class Destroyer micro & nano MOCs

Yes!  I got it done!  Really happy about this one because I built the original version of the nanoscale prototype months ago and the concept hasn't drifted far from top-of-mind since.

I also made Vine of the ship spinning, for what it's worth.

LEGO Nexo Knights Black Knight Mech review! 70326

This mech came out much larger than I ever expected!  If only it had more posing options.

Mega Bloks Call of Duty Classic Infantry Pack review

This one popped up rather suddenly and with little fanfare.  It has less for terrain & background than a typical troop pack, but still manages to be a pretty good value for a set of its kind, in my opinion.

LEGO Nexo Knights Intro Pack polybag review! 5004388

Better late than never? Maybe?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Tanker Truck Takedown review! 76067

Here's my last update for this evening.  Thankfully I'm finding time to do a little MOC work in the background again as well, in addition to continuing the massive cleanup from the past 90 videos worth of stuff I accumulated in less than 60 days!

Mega Bloks Halo UNSC Cobra Clash review!

I can't describe how badly I wanted to use a small, raspy voice to yell "COBRAAAA!" in this video.  Thankfully I was successful in restraining myself.  The Covenant turret build really steals the show here for me, but the core Cobra surprises me with its extreme similarity to the build of the original set.  Fortunately MB's general standards for parts quality and fit & finish have improved quite a bit, making this feel much more solid, playable, and collectible all the same.

LEGO City Volcano Jackhammer polybag review! 30350

Aghhh!  So many new videos to share!  Fortunately this is a small, quick one, covering the July LEGO Shop freebie that, at least in the US, is given as a gratuity with any combined (at one time) City series purchase over $35.

LEGO Friends Amusement Park Space Ride review! 41128

Anybody feel like getting really dizzy today?  No?  Well, too bad.

LEGO series 9 Collectible Minifigures review

The finish line is in sight for me with just a few more minifig series to review, but in the meantime, this one from 2013 has a very nice selection and I'd personally rate it one of the best full collections up to now.

LEGO Team GB London Olympics 2012 figure collection review!

The smallest blind bag packaged minifig series LEGO has released to date came out four years ago to celebrate the 2012 London Summer Olympics.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Mega Bloks Star Trek NCC-1701 U.S.S. Enterprise review

I got this new release about a week ago, but factors beyond my control (explained in the video) prevented me from completing the build until now.  Sorry for the delay, but I hope it was worth the wait.

Friday, July 22, 2016

All LEGO series 16 Collectible Minifigures reviewed!

Did it!  I got the last one and completed the collection so I could put together a review of the whole new series.  Lots of interesting stuff here with new part colors, new part molds, and an unprecedented number of dual-molded components.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

LEGO Creator Volkswagen Beetle review! 10252

Punch-Buggy anyone?  Wait, is that even still a think?

Big stack of new LEGO Series 16 minifigs opened!

Suddenly, a wild new minifigure series appears!  Reports of the sudden and completely unexpected, very early release of this Fall series showed up on Brickset and elsewhere last week, and the wave of sightings swept across the US quite rapidly.  Much to my surprise, they're even in my area!  I never get anything in a reasonable amount of time anymore!  Time to dig in...

LEGO Series 8 Collectible Minifigs from 2012 reviewed!

My quest to get caught up on CMF series from my brick-free days continues, but rapidly nears completion.  Series 11 was the first I did a video on all together.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

LEGO Train Station MOC update #2!

Oh, look what's back!  MOC-making time!  It's truly impossible for me to convey just how much work goes on behind the scenes to deliver reviews, and thus why new release season so thoroughly derails my custom builds and progress on my city.

I've tried going all-out when 30 to 70 new sets hit the streets all at once, doing as many as possible as quickly as possible, but that leads to burnout and generates piles of mess with boxes & trays of reviewed sets needing to be processed, interspersed with other lower-priority products either waiting to be filmed, or needing to be separated & handled in their own ways.  I've also tried pacing myself, doing just 1 or 2 videos per day, but that can still be a full work day worth of effort between building, filming, and editing, all the while comment moderation is ongoing.

At least the slower rate I've tried most recently has allowed me to get caught up on the backlog of behind-the-scenes stuff that stacked up after my failed blitz attempt!  I'll need to try another strategy when the next big insanity season hits, but for now at least, normalcy is returning, and I'm going to take full advantage of it.

LEGO Duplo Big Construction Site review! 10813

Here's the aptly-named largest of the Summer construction-themed Duplo sets.  Works well on its own, but it'd be even better with the backhoe set as then you'd be able to make a ton of different types of vehicles.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

LEGO Ninjago Samurai X Cave Chaos review! 70596

Ah yes, the big one that so many were asking for!  Quite a lot to build, quite a lot to cover in the video.  Thankfully, it seems pretty well worth the work & wait.  It's a proper playset!

Monday, July 11, 2016

LEGO Batman: Rescue from Ra's Al Ghul review! 76056

As I've made abundantly clear in the past, I don't follow comics.  Therefore, before reviewing a set like this, I tend to spend entirely too much time doing background research.  Oftentimes said research feels like work that's simply necessary, but not particularly interesting to me, personally.  This time, it was really cool, filling in several important large arcs of Batman & related backstory about which I had absolutely no idea!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

LEGO Spider-Man: Doc Ock's Tentacle Trap review! 76059

Just one more LEGO Super Heroes set to review and I'll be through with yet another theme for this season!  Very excited about that; I'm dying to get back to custom work and I've failed to find time to do both MOCs and dozens of reviews simultaneously.  More on that once my plate clears up a bit further.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Thursday, July 7, 2016

LEGO Ghostbusters Ecto 1 & 2 review! 75828

Some folks will like the new Ghostbusters.  Some will not like it.  Many have deeply hated it for months, even though it's not out yet.  Thankfully I'm not in the movie review business, and I get to just enjoy LEGO sets, which are usually quite good at delivering universal happiness.

LEGO Star Wars Turbo Tanks: 2006 vs. 2016

Oooh, another new vs. old comparison.  This type of topic is always controversial, usually pitting powerful nostalgia against cold, hard facts.  Is it such a black & white deal this time, though, and can a real winner be picked at all?

LEGO 2016 Classic Knights Minifig promo set reviewed! 5004419

I always appreciate a free gift, even when it's nothing particularly spectacular, but this small throwback pack is absolutely delightful!

Monday, July 4, 2016

LEGO Star Wars Clone Turbo Tank from 2006! set 7261

Blast from the past!  With a new Clone Turbo Tank out I decided to order up an older version as well for a bit of contrast.  I'll do a comparison video as well.

Mega Bloks Halo Wars 2 Strike & Incinerator Cyclops sets reviewed

This is a 2-in-1 video covering both of the all-new, thankfully completely redesigned Cyclops models from Mega Bloks based on the Halo Wars 2 design.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Mega Bloks CoD Anti-Armor (AH-64) Helicopter review!

Okay, maybe this was just me, but I expected this heli model to be much smaller.  They basically made it true to scale with the figures, and yet they left enough room for the figures to fit inside. As someone who tries to make fully custom builds whenever there aren't 50 new sets needing to be reviewed, I can tell you this is no easy feat!  Now, one can easily make the point that Mega Bloks somewhat cheated by creating a brand new mold set to form the heli canopy.  However, they're not the only brick-based toy brand that makes specialized canopy pieces for aircraft.  I just think they're the best at it, by a long shot.

LEGO Friends Heartlake Performance School review! 41134

As you all have probably realized by now, I've been a big fan of the LEGO Friends line (and its spin-offs) since it was first introduced, and LEGO's own annual reports have indicated that I'm not at all alone.  When the first official pictures of this set here were first published on Brickset awhile back, though, I had some reservations about it.  A thorough close-up evaluation in person actually doesn't change my feelings much.