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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 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.

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!


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.


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.