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Saturday, December 31, 2016

LEGO Star Wars Y-Wing Starfighter review! 75172

LEGO has made released Y-Wings quite a number of times.  I'm guessing people like them or something?  Previous successive efforts have evolved the design at a slow, but steady pace.  However, I feel like this one skips a generation of improvement, with unprecedented detail & texture in the exposed fuselage.

LEGO Batman Movie Riddler Racer review! 70903

Batman? Of course.  Riddler? That's a good one too.  Magpie? Calendar Man? Kite-Man?  What?!

LEGO Ninjago Destiny's Shadow review

Another day passes, another group of requested reviews!  Here's an unusual representative from Ninjago's Hands of Time season.

Friday, December 30, 2016

LEGO Architecture Skylines: London review! 21034

These "skylines" sets have to be the best things yet to happen to the adult-targeted side of LEGO.  The worst of them are good, and it only goes up from there.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A look through a LEGO Idea Book from 1977

Happy Throwback Thursday :)

Mega Construx Call of Duty ATV Ground Recon review

Here's my first review of a Mega Call of Duty set with an actual build from Infinite Warfare.  The build is much more detailed than I expected, but the end result still feels lacking, especially for the price.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

LEGO Creator 3-in-1 Robo Explorer review 🤖 31062

It's a shame the Creator 3-in-1 line isn't more popular (at least from what I see in the US), but sets as near-perfect as this should help the situation quite a bit.

LEGO NEXO Knights Battle Suit Clay review ⚔ 70362

My first look at one of the five new mini-mechs of the line Nexo line, are significantly more pose-able and fun than I expected.

LEGO Friends Stephanie's House review

New Friends house, and once again it's not too pink!  This is a good thing, as is that beautiful bay window...

LEGO Ninjago Desert Lightning review

I feel like this one sort of crosses the Ninja Bike Chase set from last season with the styling of the bigger Vermillion Invader.

Monday, December 26, 2016

LEGO City Bulldozer Break-In review - 60140

Another anticipated 2017 set here, featuring a bank and a bulldozer that doesn't break into that bank in the way you might expect.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

LEGO as just a job?

Today in a random thought experiment I considered the concept of non-hobbyists being employed to work with brick-based construction toys.  What if, for example, someone set up a MOC production factory of sorts where people ran 9-to-5 weekday shifts designing LEGO cars & buildings & such, just for the paycheck, with little to no lasting interest in what they were doing.  There could be managers who would handle scheduling and work priorities, bring multiple builders together as required for larger projects, etc.  Then there would be talking heads (actors, essentially) who would present the MOCs with simulated enthusiasm on TV or at shows, in social media and so on.  What a ludicrous, completely unfeasible scenario, I thought.  You can't engage in a creative endeavor without having any passion for it.  You certainly can't be successful at it.

Oh, how narrow-minded I was being until I snapped out of it and came to my senses.  You can be successful at such a thing and the scenario absolutely is feasible.  So long as you're able to provide a service that enough people desire and you're able to monetize it, you can generate revenue.  If your product is entertainment, it matters not whether you, yourself, enjoy it or believe in it in any way, so long as your consumers get something they want from it.  Look no further than "scripted reality" TV for an example.  It is largely fake & contrived, yet a cash cow of an industry for everyone from actors to studio execs.  Even on our beloved YouTube, many popular and wildly successful creators are stressed and drained in real life and dislike their own online-only personas.  Viewers don't care about any of that hidden reality, they only care about what's perceptible in the content that gets published.

I believe if I put my mind to it, I could convert the JANGBRiCKS brand into something designed & mechanized primarily for profits, with any other forms of positive returns being just happy bonuses.  I just don't want to.  The idea isn't repulsive, it's just so foreign to me and so far from my mental base that by default, I consider it unfathomable.  For me, this whole brick-based construction toy thing is a personally enjoyable hobby first, with all other concerns playing second fiddle.  That's how I like it to be, and that's how I'm absolutely dedicated to keeping it.

LEGO Creator Park Street Townhouse 3-in-1 review! 31065

A new 3-in-1 set means a new 3-in-1 review!  As always, only one version of a Creator build can be assembled at once with the parts from one single set, which is why I simply got three sets :)

LEGO Flower vendor cart MOC completed

I told you all I was going to make (at least) one more, still smaller vendor cart to go near my train station, but I didn't say it was going to be for food or beverages!  This flower cart lets me kick out of my city the promotional one that went with the Detective's Office. Score!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

LEGO City 2017 Police Station review - 60141

The new juggernaut of the City is out, and a vocal, but honestly tiny minority of LEGO's fans will dislike it because so many police sets are made to keep the theme fresh.  That won't stop the line from continuing to be a perennial big seller.

Here I take a closer look at every aspect of the newest HQ and talk about my favorite and least favorite aspects.

LEGO Disney Elsa's Magical Ice Palace review

It's Elsa's Sparkling Ice Castle, part 2!  The top-selling set of 2015 shocked many folks with its retail success, and this Winter LEGO has already made a new version of the same thing, but now with over twice the complexity and, if you ask me, significantly better results.

Friday, December 23, 2016

LEGO Ninjago Dawn of Iron Doom review! 70626

Probably the most fan-requested review of the season here :)  Does the set itself live up to expectations, though?

FAQ: Why don't you follow & subscribe to anyone?

Q: Why don't you follow & subscribe to anyone?

  • A:   There are two big reasons...
    1. I work (including the many activities for the "Jangbricks" brand, most of which most people never see), around 14 hours/day, 7 days/week, 360+ days/year. Often I don't even get enough time for sleep, hence the permanent bags under my eyes. So, I certainly don't have ample time to watch other YouTube channels (in any genre), read other sites (Brickset is the only LEGO-related one I regularly follow), catch up on every day's MOC uploads on Flickr, etc.  If I'm not going to consume the content, I'm not going to follow/subscribe to it.  I don't use following/subscribing as a currency -- no sub4sub, no follow4follow, no "Hey you said something nice about me so as a reward I'm going to sub to you."
    2. The stuff I'd be most interested in actually following in the brick-based construction world is other peoples' MOC work.  However, I don't want to be influenced by other peoples' MOC work!  I want my own creations to be exactly that, my own.  There's so much amazing work done in the LEGO community and there are so many specific, repeatable techniques to absorb, that it has to be extremely difficult to watch a lot of it and not pick a lot of it up by osmosis alone, even if completely unintentional.  If my creations are going to suck, it'll be because I suck at them, but at least I'll know they're fully my sucky creations.  If they're going to be good, it'll be because I actually did something that's good, on my own.  It's a personal choice, and not to be misinterpreted & rehashed into a dig against anyone else's choices.  In fact, most of the truly great MOC-makers are so amazing at what they do because they combine their own skills & creativity with the cumulative knowledge & experiences of dozens, maybe hundreds of other skilled & creative people.  That's 100% good, positive, commendable.  I, personally, just choose for myself and myself alone, to do things differently.

LEGO Bob's Kabobs food cart MOC!

One more food vendor for my public transit hub, even smaller this time.  The next cart will be littler still, though it might not sell anything edible.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

So, I went to Toys R Us today...

...and I found a few things.  The picture doesn't quite show everything unveiled in the video.

LEGO Ninjago Vermillion Invader review! 70624

More from the Ninjago Hands of Time season!  This is one of the sets I was looking forward to the least, but it's actually not bad if you can get past the monotrack-ant-headmobile-with-snail-eyes looks.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

LEGO NEXO Knights Lance's Twin Jouster review

Nothing groundbreaking here, but I think a very good amount of play value for the price and better execution of the usual gimmicks than I expected in this small of a set.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

FAQ: Why does LEGO use so many messy colors for parts?

Q: Why does LEGO use so many messy colors for parts?

  • A: Many LEGO fans, myself included, find the multi-colored messes of Technic sub-frames, interior and back-of-model builds to be just that, messes, and quite undesirable.  However, LEGO has previously made it clear that what causes these messes is a very intentional, strictly-enforced design policy regarding ease of building.  In a pile of random parts, friction pins, frictionless pins, friction axle-pins, frictionless axle-pins, and 2L axles all have extremely similar shapes and can be difficult to distinguish if they're all the same color. LEGO thus developed a color-coding system specifically to combat this.  Frictionless axle-pins are always tan, while the friction versions are always blue.  2L axles are red by default, though designers can be granted exceptions on a rare case-by-case basis to use black ones if they can convince the design review committees it's absolutely crucial or if there are no black 2L pins going in the same build steps.  These are just some examples, but the policy is applied to many types of parts, even basic bricks and plates.  It's applied even more frequently & strongly with foundation assemblies that are going to be hidden (or mostly so), and also in builds targeting the youngest builders who may not yet have the patience to do much sorting & sifting. There's a method, backed by science and research, behind the mess.  Still a mess, though.

LEGO Ninjago Samurai VXL review! 70625

There's a new Samurai X in town, and it's not Nya, but it's in this set which centers around a single-seat car and costs a hefty $50 US.

LEGO Batman Movie collectible minifigures series reviewed!

Here's a look at the complete new LEGO Batman Movie CMF series of 20 (!) figures.  Some of these are really silly, others are really nice, and many are both.

Once again, my thanks to the existence of eBay (member for 17 years & counting!).  These figures are not available anywhere near me, but in other parts of the country evidently they're lining store shelves.  Go figure.

Mega Construx Halo Heroes series 3 review!

Thank goodness for eBay!  These probably won't show up at stores in my area until next month, but I was able them from folks who live where they've already been available for weeks.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

LEGO NEXO Knights Jestro's Headquarters review! 70352

Welcome to NEXO Knights year 2!  To counter the mobility of the Fortrex, Jestro has wheels on his newest abode, plus a bunch of detachable bits and entirely too much gray.

No early 2nd wave LEGO Batman Movie reviews from me

A bunch of YouTubers got an offer from a marketing company to receive a bunch of the LEGO Batman Movie sets plus some other merchandise for free in exchange for content.  I have elected not to participate.  As usual I will be reviewing the sets once they are released to the public and I am able to buy them.

This is a similar scenario the previous LEGO Scooby-Doo promotion, but while I partook in that opportunity, I did not review those free sets and instead made "remix" MOCs of most and gave one to charity, reviewing other copies of the same sets once I was able to purchase them at retail.

LEGO Ninjago Dragon's Forge review! 70627

Here's my first 2017 LEGO Ninjago "Hands of Time" season set review, featuring a generous structure and the fire & water Fusion Dragon.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Custom LEGO coffee & pizza vendor trailer MOCs

With attention now turned towards the completion of the transit center in the middle of my LEGO city layout, the need arose for some portable vendors.  I decided to mentally chop up a couple of official LEGO designs and use the mash to mold up something new.  Obviously these two use the same exterior design, representing the same make & model of trailer, so my next vendor will start from scratch to avoid excessive repetition.

Videos: monochrome LEGO minifigs set

A post on Brickset alerted me to this niche service and I decided to partake.  It's very expensive, but there's quite a lot of value wrapped up in some uncommon parts plus the labor involved in collecting the disparate genuine LEGO pieces and very carefully removing print from items that've never been released in undecorated form.

Two New JANG City updates this past week

My LEGO city layout got quite a bit of attention this week, with more to come!  Very encouraging progress, warms & feeds the soul.


Mega Construx Call of Duty Modern Infantry Armory review

This set feels a little expensive for the amount of plastic included, but I absolutely love the container itself, which is far more useful than it even appears.  Really good design work here.

LEGO City 2017 Police Starter Set review! 60136

Nice little ATM build in this one, good police minifigs, and an interesting & useful new leg print.  The rest, though, feels a little lacking.

LEGO Juniors Demolition Site review! 10734

By now you surely know that I love construction heavy equipment, so this set, though Junior-ized by design, should be right up my alley.  Surprisingly, there's a lot to not love about it.

LEGO Technic Roadwork Crew 2-in-1 review! 42060

This is almost minifig scale; so close!  Nice body work on the truck, but the Technic-ness is much lacking in this main build.  The alternate, build though...

Mega Construx Halo Banished Ghost Rush review

This one's straight out of the as-yet-unreleased Halo Wars 2, and I think it's darn near close to perfect, missing just one small luxury.  It's nice to get the perfect figure to go with a vehicle or structure, too, in a matching color scheme.  It's so nice, in fact, that I don't think I'll ever be so kind again to random color mis-matches in future sets!

LEGO holiday seasonal sets: Santa & Little Elf Helpers

It's oversized dwarven Santa and his D'erp Elves with love-'em-or-hate-'em styling!


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

LEGO DC Super Hero Girls: Super Hero High School review 41232

It's LEGO Friends meets DC Super Heroes in a surprisingly good (and accurate!) crossing of styles.  I don't plan to cover this entire series, but I wanted offer up a reasonable look at the theme and offer my thoughts on the flagship playset for those interested.

LEGO Technic pull-back Stunt Truck review! 42059

It's my first Technic review of the new season and I've started small.  No surprises in this one, just a functional, durable build and some recolors.

LEGO Creator Green Cruiser 3-in-1 review! 31056

To me this set is the very embodiment of the phrase, "You can't win 'em all."  All of the builds look sub-par to me and none have enough redeeming qualities to save them from reflexive ire.  If you think what you see in the main build picture above looks okay, wait until you see me pick it up and reveal the surprising thing it's missing.

Friday, December 2, 2016

LEGO Batman Movie Mr. Freeze Ice Attack review! 70901

Welcome to the year of the LEGO minifig mech!  It's a shame they needed to make a new specialized part for it, but I know a lot of folks are going to enjoy the new possibilities.

LEGO Creator 3-in-1 Mighty Dinosaurs review! 31058

I finally got to it, probably one of the more well-received & desirable Creator sets for the year, save the minifig-scaled ones.

LEGO City 2017 Sweeper & Excavator review! 60152

More from the new LEGO City lineup.  This one has a handsome truck and nice accessories, but there are some misses in design & playability in my opinion.

Mega Construx Halo 5 Fireteam Osiris figure pack review

I have not yet gotten used to the name change from Mega Bloks to Mega Construx (not at all), but I'm liking the branding and the quality & design of the newest products so far.  This 4-pack of figures is at a Halo Heroes series level of production and puts the most official named figures into one package yet, without forcing us to buy big & expensive vehicles or pay aftermarket prices for some convention exclusives.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

LEGO Batman Movie - The Joker Notorious Lowrider review! 70906

Alright, this?  This is good.  I think it's going to appeal to a lot of different people for a lot of different reasons, and the good news is that the build is even better than it looks.

LEGO Creator 3-in-1 Airshow Aces review! 31060

Here's one of the new LEGO Creator modular sets.  Yep, I wrote that correctly.  This mini-scale vehicle set is modular.  It's an eyebrow-raising proposition, but I ended up furling my brow quite a bit at the execution of the concept.

LEGO Creator 3-in-1 Air Blazer review! 31057

LEGO made a red/white/black multi-build set anchored by a helicopter years ago called "Air Blazers," and this one clearly pays some homage, while being at a very different scale and producing distinctly different results.

Starting on the Mega Construx Halo Challenger Series

It begins... again!  Another new series to collect, featuring some new molds as well as recolors, this time all revolving around a chromatic theme.