Rufus

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  1. Nuts to the Falcon. The beautiful and graceful Lambda Shuttle has always been my favourite of all the Star Wars ships, and I'm delighted to present my LEGO minifigure-scaled version of this wonder. Didn't you already make one of these, Ru? Yes I did, and well-remembered! It was ten years ago, and a large part of the reason I joined EB in the first place. You can see it here. I revised it a coupe of years later but never publicised the update; you can see it here here (link to flickr folder). I had always intended to go back and tweak the original; however this is a totally new MOC. I started working on it back in 2016, but then we moved house and the LEGO went into storage for a couple of years. front The overall scale of this version is similar to my earlier version, and like the former is based around using the 6x3 vertical windscreen also found in 2015's System-scaled Shuttle Tydirium. The other major factor is the height of the rounded sides of the body: I've used the 4-wide cylinders to give what I think is the best approximation to the real thing. These are attached via a fairly complicated variety of SNOT techniques to a ten plate-high body. Not all the parts are (yet) available in white (the macaroni tiles now are, but not the 4x4 round plates with 2x2 hole), hence the splashes of grey at the sides (or trans-clear in one spot). Starboard The wings are a composite of Technic liftarms and plates. I chose this to keep the weight of the wings down; even built like this I had to work quite hard to prevent the wings flopping down too easily. Some more views: Rear High I've tried quite hard to make this accurate to the movies. There are actually two distinct versions in the movie canon - the sleek ILM model used in the space scenes, and the shorter droopier-nosed version which featured in the Home One hangar scene. The cause of this discrepancy is apparently due to the set designers at Elstree studios in the UK having access only to a few photos of the lambda, but not the ILM model itself thousands of miles away in California. If you are interested, and for a nostalgic reminder of what the Internet looked like in the early naughties, check out Lambda-class Shuttles: the Dimorphism Blooper. I've modelled this one on the ILM studio model. Mostly, I think it is accurate, but I have had to make a few compromises. The cockpit taper - which is only about a stud-width at this scale - is impossible to render without resorting to a solid-black windscreen, and instead is implied by the exaggerated taper of the cockpit sides. The cockpit is a little deeper than the original - required to allow minifigure seating at this scale; the original Kenner toys model did something similar. High close/detail I've take a bit of a guess at the sloping vent-thing under the vertical fin; it is difficult to tell from reference pictures what this is supposed to be. Pressing the silver grille-tile just in front of this operates a latch to allow the body to open. In some places aesthetics wins over accuracy. The bulges on the side of the fuselage should rise to about half-way up the fuselage sides, and should extend back about half-way along the body, but I was so happy with the effect of the mudguard pieces here that I've left them as they are. Detail Front The seven-wide cockpit does not allow a complete set of grille tiles at the front. I may have to resort to a decal on the central tile. The technic skis at the sides would perhaps work better with the pointy-ends at the front but there was no way to attach them that way round (and they could do with being two studs shorter!). There are few canon reference images of the rear. Rather than the usual blanket trans-blue tiles, I have instead tried to show what the engines might look like under the exhaust glow - inspired by this superb render by Thad Clevenger. The vents end up looking a little square; it might be possible to improve this with decals. Rear detail The extremes of the rounded rear end look a bit square, but this is the best solution at this scale, at least until LEGO produces this piece in 2x2. Here's a view from beneath. You can see the taper of cockpit sides, and how the technic skis are a little easy to knock out of position . underside One of the major challenges I faced was attaching the rounded sides of the body SNOT to the studs-up frame. Mostly this is achieved with SNOT brackets, but there was no room for this on the forward sections, which are actually attached via an internal clip. Inside here are two very hard shock absorbers which are intended to encourage the wings to sit in either 'up' or 'down' positions; see here. The smooth sections in the middle are the landing gear doors. An essential feature of any Lambda is that it must be able to fold its wings in order to land. With this, the wing-mounted guns need to fold outwards. I've also included a chin-ramp, though it is hinged a little further back into the body of the ship than on the real thing. Landed front low As you can hopefully see, there is also landing gear, with folding flaps to cover the recesses. It is retractable, as shown below: Landing gear detail The shock-absorber parts act as a kind of suspension when the ship is landed, and provide a spring action when folding to keep the retracted gear in place. It works surprisingly well. Towards the front of the above picture, you can see the cockpit floor is mounted at a half-stud offset, which allows two figures to be seated side-by-side. Having experimented with several ways to allow the cockpit to open, I found that having the nose section slide off provided the best compromise between accessibility and strength. Cockpit interior detail As you can see, the white 4L bars that frame the windscreen are held on by droid arms, and the sloping cockpit sides held in place at the front by 1L bars with claws. It's a bit fiddly to put together. The 1x4 trans tile at the rear unfortunately exposes the asymmetry inherent in any odd stud-width construction; if it were available in trans-black the stud might be better hidden! Access to the inside is easy: the whole top slides off. The red Technic liftarm at the front is a latch to keep the roof in place; it is released by pressing down the metallic silver grille tile. I've also removed a side wall for the photo. Interior I had in mind that this is the shuttle Darth Vader uses to transport Luke from Endor to the Death Star II. It is kitted out for high-ranking officers, with an Imperial Coffee Machine and an Imperial Waffle maker. For a size comparison, here's my Lambda next to the latest official playset version. Comparison to system set I really liked that set, despite is obvious compromises of proportion (and I infinitely prefer it to the hideous UCS set). I like to think that mine is on the same approximate scale to this but more proportionally accurate. The Lambda is the end result of a long process of trial and error, and I'm pleased with the result. I hope you like it too! For more pictures see my Flickr album. C&C welcome! Rufus
  2. Rufus's 375 Yellow Castle Restoration Project I think I was six when I was delighted to receive this awesome set for my birthday. Widely acknowledged as one of THE classic sets, the Yellow Castle was released in 1978 and signified the start of a long and glorious relationship between LEGO and all things Castle, bringing with it a whole range of new tools and accessories for another of that year's innovations, the minifigure. By today's standards, the set is very basic: the horses are brick-built; the figures have generic smiley faces, and their torsos uniformly coloured and unprinted; the castle itself contains no large pre-fabricated parts and is, well, yellow . Why the designers chose yellow is unclear - grey bricks also started to appear in quantity in 1978, with the advent of Classic Space - but there's something strangely appealing about this huge bright yellow edifice that might have been lost had it been a uniform dull grey. I have no idea how much this set cost back in 1980, or whenever I received it, but I seem to remember that larger sets (such as the 497/928 Galaxy Explorer/Space Cruiser) were in the region of £20, which might also apply to this set. For 767 pieces and fourteen minifigures that price seems such a bargain by today's standards. What I do remember clearly is that I had such fun with this little set, fighting battles and jousting tournaments, or rebuilding the castle into various other castle designs, that whatever the original price certainly made this set excellent value for money. When I finally rescued my childhood LEGO from my sister's house, I was over the moon to discover that I'd kept the box, though the parts were all jumbled with the rest of my collection. I vowed one day to resurrect the set, and try to get back to a respectable condition. Now that journey will finally begin. Goals and self-imposed rules With this set containing mostly 'basic' parts, it would be all to easy simply to replace most of the pieces with new ones. I don't want to do that, so I've decided that, as far as possible, I will use the original pieces from the set, where they could be identified from others in my old collection. However, I do want to replace the stickers, if possible, as they haven't aged well. Here's the plan of action: Review the Box and Instructions Assemble the part inventory and inspect Order replacement parts if required Clean up the dirty bricks Replace the stickers Build the set and take a look! We'll begin very soon with the box. Feel free to comment as I go!
  3. Rufus

    MOC: T4a Lambda-Class Imperial Shuttle

    Wow, I'm highly impressed by your Stud.io work there. I've actually got a .io file of the MOC and got quite some way into making instructions. If you can be patient I will at some point make them available. There were a few issues with the software not liking a few connections that appear to me to be perfectly legal, and I couldn't get it to place the strong suspension springs in the right place. What's more, I've made a few tweaks to the original, including worm gear mechanisms for the wings, and will post updated pictures hopefully within the next few days. Thanks for the interest!
  4. In a decade of reviewing Star Wars sets this is first time I've reviewed one before the film was released. Still, it's a familiar ship! It remains to be seen whether the A-wing will play an important role in Episode IX: one assumes it will, for it to have been made into a set, but if the V-Wing is anything to go by, a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo is equally possible. The named pilot is a good sign. Note that this Sequel Trilogy A-Wing is a slightly different variety to the Original Trilogy version; we saw it briefly in action alongside the bombers in the opening battle of The Last Jedi. Set Information Set Number: 75248 Name: Resistance A-Wing Starfighter Parts: 269 Figures: 2 Release: 2019 Price: GB £24.99 | EUR 29.99 | US $29.99 | DKK 250 | AU $44.99 The Box I love the box artwork in this wave. Behind everything is a pattern of greebling in black, all made apparently from LEGO parts. It's really smart, and combines nicely with the yellow lines and minimalist STAR WARS logo. By the looks of the top-right overlooking figure, Kylo Ren gets his helmet back on for this film. The set fils the space nicely; in the background is a planet ... ... SPOILER ALERT! It's a foresty planet, if the box back is anything to go by. If you're a Star Wars fan reading this, it's likely you'll already have heard enough about the coming film to have learned - or to be able guess - the name of the planet, but I'll try not to spoil it for those who haven't. I look forward to finding out if the A-Wing actually goes there, and with both of these characters. In a one-person ship. Like its recent predecessors, this incarnation of the A-wing comes with spring-shooters, as the inset shows. It's a thumb-tab box, I'm afraid to say. Instructions The single booklet is clear and nicely-paced, with call-outs and sub-builds picked out against a plain light grey background. I didn't encounter any colour issues; I made a mistake at one point but that was likely due to not paying enough attention. The usual set inventory is to be found at the rear, as are advertisements for the other sets of the range and a plug for the Tt games Skywalker Saga game due to be released next year, which I'm looking forward to (and not just because it'll keep the kids occupied ). Sticker Sheet There are several decals, as expected, though I think fewer than on the last 'red' A-Wing, which as I recall had stickers on all the fins. Curiously, the stickers are applied asymmetrically, with two fewer decals on the port side of the ship. As is usual for A-Wings, you are required to mount two stickers over the curved surface of the cockpit canopy, which can be a pain to get straight. It is interesting that the Republic's Open Circle logo appears here. Parts The three modules contain a fairly typical array of parts: The only unique part I have found is the 4x4 tile with 4 studs appearing for the first time in Dark Green. I always seem to be short of white 2x4 wedge plates (particularly right-handed ones, for some reason) and 2x3 white tiles, but I can't see myself parting this set out anytime soon. Figures I think this is the first A-Wing to feature a named pilot. This fella has the delightfully American name Snap WexleyTM (I'm sure there'll be a Chip Jetson along sooner or later). You may or may not know the name, but it's likely you'll remember him from The Force Awakens - most likely in the context of 'Hey, it's that guy!' (that guy being Matt Parkman from Heroes). I'm delighted to see Lt. Connix appearing as a figure - appearing as she did prominently in The Last Jedi as the bridge officer who aided Poe Dameron's misguided mutiny - and being played of course by Carrie Fisher's daughter. Snap is identical to his earlier incarnation in the 75125 X-Wing Microfighter except for a different head which now has lines under the eyes. His jumpsuit was also sported by Poe Dameron in the 2015 orange and black 75102 X-Wing set. Lt. Connix's torso is unique. Her hair is - fittingly - Leia's, from 2009's superb 8038 Battle of Endor, but appearing for the first time in medium dark flesh; it has a hole for attaching a headpiece: Her head featured previously in Harry Potter and - I was surprised to find - in Sally Ride in the Women of NASA set. It is double-sided, shown here with the highly underrated Resistance Bomber set's crew. Build I have chosen not to document the entire build process, though you can some in-build pictures on my flickr album if it takes your fancy. Instead I've shown the part-disassembled set alongside its immediate predecessor, 75175, showing that the underlying construction is very similar. Essentially the ship is built around this cockpit piece with the wings attached to the sides, a blocked pinned onto the rear, and the engines stuck at and able to the block - though the attachment is a pin in the new set compared to clips in the earlier red version. As you can see, the spring-shooter mechanism is identical. Looking at the inverted slopes behind the shooter mechanisms you should also be able to see that the ship is a stud longer than its ancestor. Overall, the build is fun without being challenging. There's a little unavoidable repetition in the wings and engines, but each section is short enough for this not to be too tedious. The Complete Set Owners of earlier A-Wings will likely notice that this latest iteration has a sleeker outline than many of her ancestors, reflecting the change in design of the Sequel Trilogy A-Wings. In part this is achieved by the colour scheme and decals: the coloured section is six studs wide where it has previously always been four; also, I've already mentioned that the ship is a stud longer than the earlier version whilst being the same width. The wing shape is also a factor: the use of 2x4 wedges instead of 3x6 marks a sharper outline. I love the dark green. It is not new to the A-Wing fleet, having appeared in LEGO back in 2009's 7754 Home One, and I believe the original A-Wing concept art featured green ships which were changed to red due the problems with greenscreen filming techniques. It looks great here, especially with the smart black detailing. The black looks great on the wedge pulleys of the engines too. I've never been mad-keen on the 2x2 trans-yellow round bricks here, but at least there is internal consistency. I would be tempted to swap out the grey 9L axles for 8L black ones. Excepting 7754's green A-Wing with its marvellous removable engine, and the first-generation blocky one which I never owned, I think this is the first version not to use a triple-curved slope behind the cockpit. Instead there's a short device of curves and a slope. I don't know why this was chosen, but it does make the canopy slightly easier to open as you can get a fingernail under the rim: Notice how the decals on the green 1x4 tiles beside the cockpit perfectly continue the line of the 2x4 wedges in front . At the rear, the usual double-curved arrangement persists, though in this case centred with a round tile with one stud rather than the usual four round tiles . In this case, it is mounted via a 2x2 plate onto opposing 1x2-2x2 SNOT brackets, in what I think is a needlessly overcomplicated technique. There is room in the bricks underneath this to place a SNOT bracket lower down, and therefore mount the rear contraption flush to the body rather than proud as it does here. The 75175 version demonstrates this perfectly. You can also see here how the engines are mounted via Technic pins rather than the clips on 75175. This version is sturdier if a little fiddly to put together. The underside is quite smart. The landing gear folds away nicely. You can see again the rear curved thing and its slightly awkward attachment, a side effect of which is the inverted SNOT bracket sitting proud. The instructions indicate mounting the little crank pins onto the landing gear with the 'toes' facing towards the centre of the ship, somewhat counter-intuitively. The nose gear is also mounted higher, giving the ship a nose-down attitude when landed, at least with the gear fully extended, as instructed. I prefer to extend the legs to a slant, as in the lower picture, which goes to alleviate the nose-down slant a little: Note also the absence of stickers on the port side, except on the tails. Maybe the designer only had access to one view of the ship and didn't want to get it wrong? You can see the effect the lander position has on the sitting position in this comparison: One thing I'm not so sure about is the effect of the two 1x2 dark green curve slopes in front of the cockpit; they stick up a little too far, which is very apparent in this view. In case you were wondering, the black 2x4 wedge plates on the sides are intended to represent openings, I think for proton torpedoes or suchlike. The gold bullion apparently stashed behind the protruding green curved slopes is part of the design, as we shall see shortly. As we look inside the cockpit, admire again the continuation of the line of the 2x4 wedges onto the decal behind. In the inset you can see how it doesn't quite match up to the canopy, which has a 1 in 3 slope rather than 1 in 4, but it leaves only a tiny gap. Meanwhile, of course, poor old Snap has to pilot his ship with ... NOTHING! Not even a lever?? Look carefully behind the cockpit at the green and white rear panel: you can see how it sits on two white 2x2 cutaway corner plates, which marry up with the same parts on the body behind. It looks like this should be removable for a play feature, or storage, but alone of all the A-wings this set does NOT have a feature behind the cockpit. There is plenty of room however to store the blasters in the cockpit itself, safe in the knowledge that they can rattle around without interfering with the flight controls. Below is the only reference image I could find (a metal model from here): Assuming this representation is movie-accurate, I think the LEGO version has done a pretty good job. The set has captured the narrower outline of the sequel-trilogy RZ-2 variant, and the outward flare of the wings from the sleeker nose to the outboard weapons. Speaking of these, having seen this I do wonder whether the 2016 Rebels version's chunkier blasters are a better match than the slender offerings in the new set. No official LEGO A-Wing has attempted to make the nose a flat slope, rather than curved; simplicity of build quite reasonably wins over accuracy here. It is interesting that in this model the engine fins slant outwards rather than inwards at the top. The blue RZ-2 A-wing from TLJ had fins slanting inwards. They are supposed to be adjustable, I guess. The shape of the LEGO fins is not correct, being double-stepped as they are. This part has been in seven sets, four of which are A-wings, and it is likely the part was designed for the A-wing: strange therefore that the shape is awry. Comparison Here is the new set compared without stickers to 2017's OT version, 75175: The new set's narrower nose is obvious, and works better as the gradient of the double-curved wedge slopes matches the wedge plates underneath. I've already pointed out that 75248 is a stud longer than her elder sister; note also here that the cockpit canopy is also mounted a stud further to the rear. I think I prefer the trans-clear canopy, too. See here for a side-on comparison, or here from the rear. Here's all the greenies together: 2016's 75150, 75248, and 2009's 7754. It may look otherwise from the picture, but bar the outboard weapons all three of these sets are the same width: 14 studs across the beam. And finally, here's all my A-wings together. Of all of them, 2013's 75003 (top right) is the only one to attempt the notch at the front of the ship in bricks (it's too wide); and it's the only one to get the shape of the fins right. The stickers help, but even so I think the new set looks great and fares well to the comparison. Conclusion I'd delighted with this latest A-Wing. It's a lovely-looking ship, and the first brick representation of the newer RZ-2 variant from the Sequel movies. It feels like part of the family alongside the two most recent 'slanty fin' sets, and I think the three together would make a nice shelf display (If I can find the stickers sheets for the other two). Appearance 9 Sleek and attractive, and a good likeness of the model (as far as we know!). Like all LEGO A-Wings, it suffers for the curved nose; the wing shape isn't quite right, thought perhaps better than most of the earlier sets. Playability 7 Swooshable, and with retractable landing gear and an opening cockpit (and obligatory spring shooters), but there aren't the ancillary vehicles which come with some other A-Wings, and no behind-cockpit storage here. Figures 9 The inclusion of two named characters for a low-priced set is welcome; though they may not be front-line characters, this will most likely make them rarer and all the more cherished. I'm delighted that Lt. Connix has a minifigure at last. Parts 7 Not a particularly remarkable collection of parts, though dark green is always welcome. Build 7 Very much average difficulty, and without any particularly new or interesting techniques, but the process is enjoyable. It's a very similar build to 75175. Value 10 At £25 it seems very good value for money (I got on sale for £20). For a little over half the RRP of 75175, you get a similar-sized ship, losing out only on a service vehicle and a generic figure. My verdict 9/10 Excellent value and a good looking set: a must-buy. Let's hope the ship features prominently in the film! Hope you enjoyed the review. Rufus
  5. It's been four years since the last classic European car graced the CREATOR range, and I said then I'd be delighted to see more of them. Since then we've seen the handsome Mustang and the sleek Aston Martin DB5 - technically a European classic car but I haven't counted that one! The range's latest offering, the Fiat Nuova 500 ('Cinquecento'), fits neatly into the category of small cute classics previously epitomised by 2014's 10242 Mini Cooper and 2016's 10252 VW Beetle. I was delighted to see the widespread use of a rarer colour (dark azure) in the Beetle; now Bright Light Yellow takes centre stage for the Italian classic. The Fiat 'Nuova' 500 was launched in 1957 as a successor to the 500 Topolino and was designed as an inexpensive, practical city car with a rear-mounted engine following the style of the successful Beetle. Its 479 cc engine boasted a stunning 13 horsepower (my lawnmower is 430 cc). Just short of 4 million were produced until the model was succeeded by the Fiat 126 in 1975. Earlier models featured rear-hinged 'suicide' doors; these were replaced with conventional front-hinged doors with the release of the 500F in 1965. Review: 10271 CREATOR Fiat Nuova 500 Parts: 960 Price: £74.99 | $89.99 | €79,99 | AU$139.99 Like the Beetle and Mini, the LEGO Fiat no steering, but aims at a realistic body for display with authentic features. Coming in at the same price as the VW Beetle (in the UK; the latter is pricier in most regions), the Fiat consists of over 200 fewer parts. Let's see if that price hike is worth it. Box I confess that at first glance at the box i thought this set was ordinary LEGO yellow, and it was only in looking at the little painting on the box that I noticed the paler tones of Bright Light Yellow - it's particularly noticeable when you compare to the yellow round tile on the artist's palette. The box art mimics approximately the scene of the painting, with the car posed attractively in front of Rome's iconic Flavian Amphitheatre, or Colosseum. I was disappointed not to see a tiny easel in the painting. Some lens flare adds sparkle. Cobbled streets abound. The box rear shows off the car's attractive rump, along with the set's other features which exceed the bounds of their respective insets. The car stands out beautifully in the otherwise nondescript and unidentified back street; a pronounced sepia filter provides a warm which contrasts but complements the dark blue of the CREATOR Expert range box trim. Sadly, thumb tabs are the designated means of opening - disappointing for an adult-oriented set such as this. I am pleased to see some schematics along with real set reference images on the box top: This saves me the job of sourcing my own reference images! They've even produced a LEGO schematic. The box contains some nine polybags - three modules with three bags each, the instructions, and a separately-packaged fabric part, which you can see here. Instructions The manual comes in a separate polybag which also contains the sticker sheet. There's no cardboard backing but the wrapping has in my case done a good job of preserving the booklet. I love this! The square manual evokes an old Polaroid photograph, and if that weren't obvious enough there's a rotated panel within the picture like a photo within a photo. The faded colours and dress provide the perfect 60s vibe and (even though I'm not that old) have me pining for family holidays long-since passed. Interestingly the car featured in the picture is an older model with rear-hinged doors. I think this is the first time I've encountered a LEGO instruction manual that doesn't feature the set on the cover. A downside to the cute square booklet is that it doesn't stay open, and I wasn't about to go breaking the perfect-bound spine just for the sake of some photos. The instructions are clear against a duck-egg blue background, with suitable callouts, and extra guidance for the few tricky bits. Some four double-pages at the front provide some interesting history into the car and the FIAT company. I'm a big fan of these educational instructions - what a fabulous way to preserve our cultural heritage. Also in the instruction pack is one of the prettiest sticker sheets I've ever encountered. The decals for the car are reasonably easy to apply, though the smaller square ones all go onto curved parts. They are well colour-matched. The 5x5 square painting is gorgeous. As is customary, a variety of nationalities are featured in the car registrations. The Danish (DK) and German (PN) plates both feature the set number formatted to a realistic registration number (although in Denmark, 10.xxx numbers were for motorcycles I believe). PN is not an obscure region of Germany but instead refers to the set designer Pierre Normandin. The Italian plate is worthy of note. 'TO' is the area code for Turin (Torino; the 'T' in FIAT and the firm's city of origin); 'F01965' can only refer to the 500F model which was released in 1965 and was the first to feature front-hinged doors, as does the LEGO version. Parts The three modules' parts are shown in the thumbnails below: click the pictures to see larger versions. I didn't identify any new moulds in this collection, but the headline is the shear number of parts appearing for the first time in bright light yellow. This colour has been in the ascendency for a few years, featuring for example as panels and bricks in Friends sets, or as the secondary colour of the new livery of the CITY fire sets, but I have not previously encountered such a fine spread. This extends too to the SNOT parts; there are SNOT brackets and bricks of various conformations all in BLY - contrast the Beetle whose extensive SNOT pieces were for most part grey. Otherwise, the 10x4x1 windscreen and the 4x2 2/3x1 trans-clear curved bricks are found only in the Old Trafford set, and there are three (one spare) 1x1 round tiles with a lovely FIAT logo - see later. The four medium dark flesh arms-with-pins in the centre photo took me a while to identify; they are originally Nexo Knight parts found more recently as ice cream cone limbs. Build I won't go through this exhaustively; instead I'll just try to give you a feel for the build and highlight some interesting bits. We join here fairly early in module 1. Of some interest is the construction of the chassis: In the centre are dark grey 2x4 plates with pins on each side, usually used as wheel axles, here connecting to the technic beams on either side. The centre beams are connected to the outer beams and the black 2x2 plates with technic hole via 3L pins. The result is a strong floorpan only a brick high. The underside is reinforced; see here. The rear bumper and lights is attached via SNOT plates, and also unusually with the 2x3 clippy-tile. I remain uncertain of the purpose of the two blue stud-pins on either side of each end of the chassis; they serve no apparent purpose except possibly to help put the axles into the right holes. If that's the case, I can't help but feel a little patronised. Next we build up the rear, at the start of Module 2. You get to see how the wings are attached at a slant using hinge-plates in a technique that will be familiar to anyone who has ever built an X-wing. See here for a part-assembled view. Above these slanted sections, SNOT-attached curved plates help define the car's double-curvature. Note the small 2x2 with corner cutaway, which attaches solely to the single stud of the grey headlight brick you can see mounted on its side - it's next to the turquoise brick if not immediately obvious. I always like headlight bricks used this way. You can also see the gearstick and handbrake, along with the bars to which the chairs will be attached. Up till now the build has been enjoyable, without being especially challenging. It starts to go up a gear at this point. r The dashboard section is a SNOTty conundrum that requires a bit of mental gymnastics to keep oriented correctly. This is made harder by the fact that a sticker needs to applied to one of the inverted 2x2 curved plates, seen here at the base of the dashboard but will face to the rear of the car when mounted - and it will be all too easy to set it upside down. The black block seen here is the fuel tank, which will attach to the visible forward-facing yellow studs of the dashboard section therefore reverting to studs-up. Towards the front are two black 2L pin joiners, the purpose of which is a little mystifying at this point. I (wrongly, as it transpired) assumed they were to attach the headlights. Next come the doors. I've part-deconstructed one here to show how it's made. 1x2 SNOT brackets - regular and inverted - hold some 1x2 clicky-hinges; these attach to 2x1 clicky hinges to produce a half-stud offset to which the contoured door upper is attached, delightfully smooth with curved plates on inverted tiles. Note the 1x1 corner panel brick just in front of the door hinges, and the 1x4 brick-with-slot at the base of the door - these are significant as will be explained later. On the right is the rear window made out of a door panel. The result is slightly asymmetrical, but it's barely noticeable. Moving into Module 3, the front panel is attached to the the inner studs of the 1x2 SNOT bricks, and the two 1x1 grey inverted brackets. You might think this would be a little weak, but the headlights help to keep it attached. Here you can also see that the black pin-joiners have nothing to do with the headlights, which instead will attach to the forward-pointing bars of the black 1x1 round-plates-with-bars (these things) sandwiched between 1x2 round-end plates. Why the round-end plates? And, for that matter, the heel-print tiles? Answer: they allow the wings to attach at a slant. Regular plates or bricks would interfere with the square front ends of the wings. Here, also, the purpose of the black pin-joiner part is made clear: the wings are seven studs long, and the 1x2 curved-top bricks require a 1x2x(4/3) curved brick to fill the gap. This has a protruding plate, and the black cylinders accommodate and also support this. Note the as-yet-unattached wing at the bottom of the picture. The free end of the hinge will be mounted on the black and yellow studs just in from the door hinge, and this reveals the reason for the 1x1 corner panel: it accommodates the rounded pivot of the hinge plate. Kudos to the designer for the problem-solving skills on display here . Finally, the secret of the folding roof is revealed to be more of those mini-frying pan pieces, this time in BLY. They leave a small visible irregularity in the roof edge, but I'm glad they are at least colour-matched. It is then a little tricky to attach the windscreen and the luggage-compartment cover without breaking it, but when it's done, plus wheels and the set's extra bits, we have a finished car. Overall, the build is deceptive. Apart from a few tricky bits, it is smooth and easy to follow, but enjoyable; it is all too easy to miss some wonderful design touches that help recreate the car's curvy outline. I'd rate the difficulty as 'Expert' (harder than Average but not Master or Legendary ) The Complete Set First impression: yup, it's definitely a Fiat 500. I think the LEGO version has the iconic double-curved bodywork down pretty well. I was pleasantly surprised by the slanted front and rear wings, which help to recreate the ovoid shape of the Fiat, and weren't immediately apparent from the box art or my brief look at the promotional pictures before receiving the set. It looks great in Bright Light Yellow which I think was the perfect choice: whilst the car would look stunning in a bright mid-blue tone, or dark blue or green, these have been used recently for CREATOR cars; possibly the only other colour I could see making such an impact here is the very rare Medium Green. The head-on view isn't the car's most interesting angle. The windscreen is perhaps rather obviously too rectangular, a flaw of the medium of course. There should be a curve to the top edge, and the screen of course should bow slightly. The front is nicely contoured, and I like the use of the unicorn horns to mimic the flashing here. I'm not quite so keen on the headlights, which I think might have been better made with inverted domes. You can see I've put on the Italian plated for the Italian car. A three-stud-long tile is used (3x2 at the back) which works well. The curvy rear has I think turned out nicely, helped by the stickers which are a reasonable representation of the vents for the rear engine. I'm not so keen on the flare of the wheel arches form these angles, but they are less obvious from any other viewpoint. Ideally, the lip of the wheel arches should extend all the way round, but no such part exists. You might also notice that the construction differs front to rear: Inverted slopes are used at the rear, but I think the SNOT-mounted cheese wedges at the front give a smoother more circular outline. The contour of the roof toward the rear is a little fussy from the side, with an obvious step between the roof and rear window. I do like the double-curve of the sides, but this comes with slight problems: notice the half-stud gap behind the door handle, caused by the upper bulge being offset, but this improves the front edge of the door, where the cut corner almost perfectly matches the rake of the windscreen. Ideally the top line of the upper curve would be continuous with the curve of the front luggage compartment; it's close, but not quite matched, and interrupted by the windscreen. The tricky curves of the rear have provided a significant challenge, which the designer has worked hard to overcome. The result is mostly successful: The convex engine compartment cover works superbly, and the light clusters look great and are instantly recognisable. The transition from the rear curve to the side is a little awkward: above the light clusters, there are two 45-degree slopes topped by a 33 degree cheese wedge, then moving to the almost-vertical bottom end of the yellow curved brick: the 33 degree cheese looks a little incongruous and I wonder whether another 45 slope would work better. I like the way the 45 slope echoes that of the cut-corner curved slope on the side, but below this the curved end of the rear wing ends a little messily. I can't suggest how to improve this though, and I am being super-picky here: the overall result is lovely. The birds-eye view really emphasises the car's ovoid outline. From here almost everything is smooth, and I hope you agree that the slanted wings are a triumph. I also like the minifigure skates as door handles. Here's a real one, in a similar colour, for comparison: The LEGO version has managed to reproduce the double-curved body sides pretty well, with only the step at the sides of the windscreen interrupting the curves. Missing are the tiny wing indicator lights, which i believe were standard on the 500F (correct me if I'm wrong), and the door mirror, which does not appear to have been mandatory and may even be a later addition. The lack of door mirrors does make the LEGO car look a little odd, conditioned as I am to seeing them on all cars these days. Features The luggage compartment cover lifts to a maximum of about 45 degrees to reveal a poky space taken up almost entirely by the fuel tank and spare wheel. No room for picnic baskets in this car. On the plus side, the spare wheel is the same size as the other wheels, unlike the Beetle's. I've switched to the German plates for this section. The inset shows a close-up of the 1x1 round FIAT tile, which is pretty and much nicer than the VW equivalent. You might notice here a slight quirk of the construction: the front panel sits half a plate height proud of the main body; the 1x8 tile on the top therefore half a plate behind. The latter lines up perfectly with the compartment cover when closed. It's barely noticeable, and if anything helps to smooth the contours. I'm not so keen on the black bars to which the headlights are attached, and wish they'd used light bluish grey. The doors open wide - really wide. On the inner aspect of the door is some dark red to match the seats, a telephone handset for the inner door handle, and an antenna to mimic the window handle (not a winder: it rotates the quarterlight window). Recall that I mentioned the 1x4 brick with groove at the bottom of the door: here you can see the reason for its use: it allows the door to close around the protruding pivot of 2x2-2x2 hinge plate at the rear (second panel). Again, an ingenious solution. The front seats flip forward, as you can see, using the ice cream cone arm pieces. True to life, the dashboard is rather Spartan body-coloured painted metal, and the steering column features an indicator lever and a single speedometer. You may just be able to make out some cheese wedges under the steering column to represent pedals. Compared to the real thing, the LEGO version is reasonably accurate. There's even a white round-end plate behind the speedometer, which would a more impressive nod to accuracy were the steering wheel also white. The wheel should probably be larger, but having seen the problem of the oversized steering wheel in the Mini, I think too small is better than too big. I've taken the roof off to give a better view of the interior. The decal does a good job of imitating the real dashboard switches, though there should be one more and some indicator lights. Here too you can admire the handbrake and gearstick, the latter crudely but effectively realised from a flick-fire pin in a ball joint. There's a surprising amount of space for such a dinky car; you could even sit two adults in the back, provided they have short legs and don't mind getting intimate. I'm not sure how authentic the white tops of the seats are; I can't find a reference image to a car which has them, except for this model. The rear engine is also given a bit of detail. True to life the cover opens downwards; the cover is perhaps a little thicker than necessary, but the effect when closed is pleasing. Here the engine looks like a rather randomly thrown-together collection of parts, but when compared to the reference image below, you can see that the designer has gone to some effort to make it accurate: Bonus points for the gold flower piece to match the oil filler cap! Finally we should look at the accessories. There's a sturdy travel case, emblazoned with national stickers of Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, Denmark, Poland, France, Germany, and Somewhere; there's a tall easel on which can be mounted the really quite beautiful artwork on a 5x5 grey tile. The accompanying artist's palette sports four paint colours only one of which (red) features in the painting: the yellow is regular yellow. Only the palette and brush fit in the trunk, requiring the easel to be stowed in the passenger footwell and poking out of the roof. The automotive masterpiece, meanwhile, must be thrown unceremoniously onto the back seat like grocery shopping or children. The trunk mounts easily onto the rear luggage rack, where the combination of reddish brown and MDF colours complement nicely the light yellow of the car. Comparison So how do the European small cars compare? Bear in mind that while the Beetle and Fiat and built at approximately the same scale (the VW Beetle is a metre longer than the 500), the Mini should be the same size as the Fiat. I now notice that somebody, probably a small child, has tipped both the Fiat's seats forward. I'm really quite positive about the Fiat, but I can't help feeling that it looks a little bland compared to its older siblings. Perhaps it is because the front is relatively featureless. The (intentional and authentic) lack of door mirrors is particularly noticeable here. All three look amazing from the rear. The Mini again has an unfair size advantage, and I am perhaps not doing the Fiat justice by showing it straight on where its narrow profile makes it seem that much smaller. However you feel, I think you will agree that the three make a great collection. Conclusion I really like this car. The slanted wings and double-curved bodywork help to capture the essence of this automotive classic, working well despite the constraints of medium of LEGO. The bright light yellow livery helps emphasise the car's playful nature, whilst bringing yet another peripheral colour to the LEGO mainstream. Realistic features abound and add to the display potential, and it will sit happily on the shelf by itself or in the illustrious company of any of the CREATOR Expert cars, including the Mustang and Aston Martin. The selection of BLY pieces will delight any parts-collector or MOCer, especially given the array of SNOT pieces. The build process is satisfying, and in the latter stages both entertaining and somewhat challenging, with interesting techniques from which I've certainly learned a thing or two. And now I find I have a conundrum. I reviewed the Beetle in 2016 and was quite critical; it is for the most part a great set, and an interesting build. It is currently still available, and in the UK is the same price as the Fiat, despite some 200 more parts; it is perhaps more interesting to look at, and not just because it is physically larger. On paper, the Beetle is the better set of the two. However, there is something about it which didn't sit right with me, and still doesn't: mostly it is the steep rake of the windscreen which resembled more a 2CV than a Beetle, but also the chunkiness of the wheels and wheel arches always felt a bit off to me The Fiat doesn't really suffer any of these issues. Aside from a few minor cosmetic substitutions, I don't think I would change anything about the set as it is, with the currently available parts, and I don't have any major criticisms of this set. And yet, if you asked me which of the two you should spend your hard-earned £75 on, I would have to say ... the Beetle. If you can afford it, get both. The Fiat is a better rendition of the original car, and has a wonderful informative instruction manual usually the preserve of Ideas or Architecture sets. Design 9 There's very little I would have done differently. Build 8 A little mundane at the start, but gets interesting from Module 2 onwards, with some mind-screwing SNOT work and some fascinating solutions to tricky problems. Parts 8 Lots of useful SNOT parts, and a ton of parts that are new to Bright Light Yellow. If you need BLY, get this! Play/Display 8 The car's small size and narrow profile might make it look less imposing compared to the Mini and Beetle, but its colour and curviness do make it stand out. Value 7 Parts per pound, it is still great value, although perhaps not compared to the Beetle. Whether this difference is due to licensing (TLG has a long history of licensed VW products) or the extended manual, I don't know. If the latter, I will just quote myself: Overall 80% My score 9/10 I love this set. Fiat or Beetle? Follow your heart. Oh, and TLG? More classic cars please! Rufus's 10252 Beetle Review Fiat 500 on Wikipedia
  6. Like it or not, Christmas will soon be upon us. Time to start decorating the house ... with LEGO? Friends Moderator and Academy Teacher Pandora has reviewed the new Christmas Wreath set: Check out her review in the Special Themes Forum!
  7. I've enjoyed my two purchases from the LEGO Architecture Architect Range, so I thought I'd give the Landmark Series a spin, and what better way to start than with 2009's Empire State Building? It's one of the best known tall buildings in the world, after all... and I was surprised to find it hadn't yet been reviewed here on Eurobricks. I was also interested to see how the simplified, micro-scale Landmark range compared to the detailed, often quite complicated designs of the Architect series, and how the Landmark range is a whole might appeal. Read on, to see what I found. Review: 21002 Empire State Building Set Information Name: Empire State Building Number: 21002 Theme: LEGO Architecture (Landmark Series) Release Year: 2009 Parts: 77 Figures: 0 Price: UK £19.99 | US $19.99 | EUR 19.95 - 19.99 | DKK 199.95 | CA $26.99 | AU $29.99 Links ... Brickset ... Bricklink ... Peeron ... Shop@Home The Box Click the picture to zoom These Architecture boxes are really smart . I love the minimalist, unpretentious black which serves to highlight the model as the only image on the front (a few technical drawings notwithstanding). They also make a lovely collection; all the Architecture boxes - to my knowledge - sport the same design. On this European release, the 'Landmark Series' subtitle is repeated in several languages; the piece count is absent, and the designer - Adam Reed Tucker (ART) - is relegated to the bottom; compare this to the US release on Bricklink. Let's take a closer look. Immediately the tallness of the box is apparent: measuring 14 x 26 x 4.7 cm (W x H x D), it's nearly twice as tall as wide, echoing to an extent the model building it contains. It also, therefore, can be displayed on the shelf at the LEGO store in a way that maximises the model image in the front... Click the picture to zoom ... an image which, as you can see, is stylised rather than a plain photograph: the gaps between the bricks are emphasised in black. On the side, ART gets to scrawl his monicker (or John Hancock for our US readers), and we are reminded that the Empire State Building is located in New York, NY. The rear again gets the multi-language treatment, and some nice landscape photographs of what the building should look like. As you can see, the card of this box is relatively flimsy, bowing out around the sealing tape at the side. Despite this, it's a lovely box, and I'm delighted that The LEGO Co. has gone the extra mile on the packaging. Contents Opening the box requires rotating it through 90 degrees. No tearing is required; just cut the seal and lift the lid Indeed, no glue is use in the box at all, so it can be folded flat and kept for all eternity with no damage required. The inside is also smart and black; the contents - despite their relative paucity - fit quite snugly. Out of the box fall two polybags, an instruction booklet, and a flier. The last is presumably a European-release initiative - I don't recall there being one in my US-bought White House - and contains a link to an online survey, probably to help ascertain whether there is a future for these sets oustide the US. Here's the link (takes about 5 mins): www.LEGOsurvey.com/product Instructions I'm delighted that the instruction booklet - despite being loose in the box; no wrapping or cardboard - came out of the box absolutely pristine. These instructions are worth keeping that way. The booklet cover itself gets the Architecture treatment . There's no filling the empty space with extraneous pretension (Rufus glances rather self-consciously at his title picture). And if we don't want to get coffee or red wine stains on our delightful manual, LEGO kindly directs us to the online instructions at Architecture.LEGO.com. On the back, other members of the Landmark Series are represented in line diagram form: Obviously they don't all fit to the same scale. I'm sure Chicago's Willis Tower (more commonly known as the Sears Tower) isn't taller than the ESB. In this view, the ESB looks built incorrectly, but if you look closely you can see a faint shadow to the right indicating that it is in fact shot at an oblique angle. It's more obvious in the flesh, as it were. The twenty-five instruction steps are simple, neatly arranged against the same smart background, and have piece call-outs in case you're overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of pieces . With only three colours in use in the set, of course there are no colour-differentiation issues, but there are a few tricky areas and opportunity for mistakes if you're building this whilst watching television or browsing Eurobricks. After the build instructions, we are treated to a few information pages, including another landscape photograph of the New York skyline; unlike in the Architect series, there isn't the in-depth article about the building itself and its architect, but there is the usual profile of the set designer: Here's Adam, without his Brickworld 2011 fauxhawk, tweaking a much larger-scale (and better) MOC of the ESB in an environment which looks suspiciously like the Ravinia Ballroom at the Westin North Shore, Chicago, IL - the home of Brickworld. Adam is both an Architectural Artist and founder of Brickworld, so fair enough. You can read more about him on the Brickworld site. The Parts Here are all seventy-eight pieces in all their glory: Well, I guess you'd be unlikely to buy this a parts pack , and though the tan tiles and jumpers might well be useful, I have little use for the larger tan blocks except as filler. The obligatory Architecture printed tile is great, but it's a rather specialised piece. The Build Starting at the bottom and working up, the overall build process is logical and hardly surprising, but there are one or two interesting techniques. The base is formed of two tile-rimmed plate layers, on inside the other, which is sturdy and secure. Next, some blocks are topped with a plate, some tiles, and plates and jumpers, which is where we encounter the first interesting technique (and my first mistake: the jumpers are the wrong way round - quickly corrected, but I forgot to retake the picture)... ... The 3x2 tan blocks connect through their central tubes onto the 1x2 plates from the previous setp; the 1x2 brick sits between them with a half-stud offset via the jumpers: This forms a section with a nicely-recessed central column, and is finished off with a further plate-jumper arrangement, this time resolving the offset. Onto this is placed a 2x4 block, again via its central tubes, and again achieving an offset. Some more jumpers create a further offset into the next section: Next, the height of the building is greatly increased, again with a central recess. Note the use of a 1x1 technic brick - 1x2 brick with frictionless pin arrangement, which secures one of the sides to the central section. The other side could have been attached the same way in the layer above or below, but isn't - it is unattached at the top. Surprisingly, this doesn't overly weaken the structure, but I imagine that the whole would fall apart easily if neither side were so attached. The next layer uses another - unpinned - 1x1 technic brick, rather than a regular 1x1 brick. This is because the open stud is required in order to connect the 1x2 brick above, again via its central pin. Owners of the White House will be very familiar with this part usage. The overall effect - of half-stud steps at each layer - is pleasing to the eye, and interesting to build; it's quite a relief to encounter these advanced techniques in such a small and traditional build. All that's left is the conical 'cap' and mast, and we're done! The seventy-eighth piece is the set's lonely leftover: I'll never complain about 1x1 tiles, especially in tan. The Complete Set And here's the finished building: Despite the plain colour scheme and lack of any window detailing, the model is instantly recognisable for what it is, so fulfills the 'Landmark Series' objective nicely. The half-stud offsets create a lovely stepped contour which isn't too abrupt, and the central recess too is lovely. From the front, the tapered, iconic shape is even more recognisable. It's a shame that the 100 micrometre gap between the bricks is so apparent (bricks are 7.9 mm wide, dontcha know), but hey. From the side, the model is a little plain - there is less contouring. The visible gaps between the tiles could be a little unsightly, but I think they actually help to break up the otherwise blank wall of tan here. Here's a bird's eye view of the model: This shot reduces the skyscraper into more of a pyramid It is, though, a good opportunity to admire the smartly tiled base, without which the model really would be simply a heap of tan. Let's compare to what the building should look like: As you can see, the model at this scale ignores some of the smaller steps in the building, particularly around the base section, and towards the top. I don't see how this could be rectified at this scale. Additionally, some may question the tan colour; however, light bluish grey would have been too ... bley; another solution might have been a whole load of sticker decals to give the appearance of windows, but I'm sure that would get a whole load of AFOLs complaining, and printed parts would surely have driven up the price way too high. So I'll settle for this reasonable representation. Conclusion The Empire State Building rises majestically into the sky, towering above the already monolithic skyline of New York... well, this model - at a mere seven and a half inches - struggles to rise above the vast majority of LEGO models in my display, whatever their genre. But what should you expect for a mere 77 pieces? Apart from a lower price, perhaps... Yes, at £20 for 77 pieces this isn't the best investment you'll ever make in terms of parts per price. But that, in my opinion, isn't really the point of these Landmark sets - you'd hardly be likely to buy this as a parts pack, after all. Instead, you get an experience: just look at the lovely packaging, and the thought that has gone into making the manual more than just an instruction book. Clearly this is meant to be a collectors item, a display set or a talking point, and as such I'm sure is meant to appeal not to the usual target of kids, even older ones, or even just to the typical AFOL market, but perhaps to a wider audience. My own theory is that the Architecture range - particularly the smaller, simpler Landmark series - is meant to appeal to 'casual' LEGO fans - perhaps parents who remember fondly their childhood LEGO collection, and wish to indulge in a little nostalgia when at the LEGO store with their kids, whilst avoiding the uncomfortable conversations they might have if they buy something which is obviously a toy. Certainly, during a recent-ish experience of a packed-out LEGO store on its opening day, I saw lots of adults indulging themselves as well as their kids, and these Architecture sets were flying off the shelves. As such, 21002 Empire State Building achieves its possible objectives well - it is a collectable package, an instantly recognisable recreation of an iconic building, and a reasonably interesting building experience. Whether this will appeal to the average AFOL or not is debatable. Design: 8/10 Recognisable, with some great use of jumper plates to achieve the stepped contours of the original building, the design is a valiant attempt to recreate the ESB at a challenging micro-scale. It suffers from a little tan-blandness, which was most likely unavoidable, and much detail is lost at this size. Build: 7/10 Surprisingly interesting for what might otherwise be a stack of bricks, it's ten minutes well spent. Parts: 5/10 A few tan tiles and jumper plates stand out, but I'm sure you won't be buying this for the parts. Price: 6/10 For a beautifully presented collectors' item, the price is fair. Viewed from any other standpoint, it's extortionate. Overall: 65%. I give it 8/10: For a collector, or a casual dabbler looking for a little adult-orientated LEGO fun, I could recommend it. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the review. Rufus Further reading: The LEGO Architecture Site The official Empire State Building Site Empire State Building on Wikipedia My flickr And finally It's been done a gazillion times, but no Empire State Building model is complete without at least one King Kong shot: If you want to learn how to make stellar reviews, join the Reviewers Academy!
  8. It's wonderful to see that The LEGO Group's confidence in the Architecture Series has increased enough for worldwide landmarks to appear! In what might seem opportunistic timing, with the fast approaching 2012 Olympics being held in London, TLG has revealed that its latest Architecture set will model what is probably London's most iconic landmark: the clock tower of Big Ben. As has been pointed out innumerable times, Big Ben is actually the name of the huge bell which resides within the tower, itself forming the north-west corner of the Palace of Westminster; the tower itself is known simply as the Clock Tower. But if you say 'Big Ben', I imagine people from around the world will immediately picture this famous tower. This review is a team effort by Pandora and myself (with a little extra help from a certain someone at a crucial point ). The opinions presented here are ours; fortunately we agreed on pretty much everything so there was little need for discussion! Anyway, with further ado, Pandora and Rufus are proud to present.... Review: 21013 Big Ben Set Information Name: Big Ben Number: 21013 Theme: Architecture (Landmark Series) Release: 1 June 2012 Parts: 341 (our count) Price: US $29.99 | EUR 29.99 | CAD $39.99 Links ... Brickset ... LEGO Architecture We'll update the price information, links and the official set description as they become available. The Box The smart but rather austere box livery of the Architecture range continues with this set. I see no reason to change it! Big Ben sits atop a technical drawing which may well represent architectural plans of the Palace of Westminster, but who's checking. The eagle-eyed among you might note that this latest addition to the Architecture range is designed not by Adam Reed Tucker, but instead by Rok Zgalin Kobe, a Slovenian architect. The back of the box is more colourful, sporting a scale render of the model, with some pictures of the real building in atypical English weather: The text is a language lesson describing the enclosed booklet, which is in English, and mentions the two Architects of the tower, Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin. The narrow sides are well suited to a tall, narrow model, and allow the boxes to be stacked on shelves vertically. The left side features a beautiful low-down shot of the tower: ... while the right side, which forms the flap of the box lid, shows an interesting 'exploded' render of the model beside the 'Choking Hazard' warning in a vast array of international languages. A very small part-rendered picture graces the top of the box, and the bottom reveals that parts were sourced in DENMARK, HUNGARY, MEXICO, and the CZECH REPUBLIC. We suspect this represents different manufacturing sources for different regions. Interestingly, this set - despite being considerably larger - comes in a box no bigger than those of the smallest sets in the range. It is of identical size to 21002 Empire State Building, or 21000 Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, Chicago, pictured here: It is, as you might imagine, considerably heavier, and clearly requires two extra years of building experience to build it. Contents We love these Architecture boxes! There's a certain sense of nostalgia for the days of intricate packaging which heightened the whole LEGO experience. Admittedly these don't have the (expensive, we've no doubt) plastic inserts and lifting lids of the 80s, but it's clear that TLG have gone to some pains to make the box as collectable as the set. You can even flatpack the box for longevity without tearing or cutting! The box is almost as smart on the inside: This one is remarkably full, which helps to preserve the instruction manual. You are instructed clearly to 'Enjoy your building experience.' as you open the lid. It's a really nice touch, and emphasises the lengths TLG has gone to to maximise the ... um ... building experience. Out of the box are pulled four polybags, and two loose plates. As Siegfried/Sinner mentioned in the Sydney Opera House review, it's a shame that not all of the parts are bagged, but we can't really blame LEGO for this in this case. It's only two pieces, and would probably require much larger bags, which might in turn necessitate a larger box to allow automated packing. Looking at this picture, you immediately get a sense of the rather small parts variety - there are only 33 different pieces in the set, including different colours of the same part. Instructions Some serious thought has gone into this instruction manual. It is quite thick, and beautifully presented, being printed on high quality paper, like all the sets in the Architecture range. Aside from the difference in orientation, the cover is similar to the box front, but does reference the Architecture website. The rear cover of the manual features an alternative view of the tower from behind: but is otherwise rather plain. Most of the interest is contained inside the manual, where can be found ten pages of facts about the tower and its construction, an example of which is shown here: The text is superbly written. It is a potted history, packed with facts and interesting to read, without being a daunting mass of text. We learned quite a lot ourselves! Following the tower facts comes a double-paged biography of the architects: The pictures here are reprints of oil portraits of the long-departed designers of the tower. Again, kudos to LEGO for going the extra mile to add interest and value. The instructions themselves are clear, and nicely paced to avoid confusion without being patronising. About every eight or nine pages is a little inset depicting further little factoids about the building: It's easy to miss these, if you are concentrating on the building. We'd recommend taking your time when building, and enjoying these little tidbits of information when you encounter them! They are a really nice touch. Otherwise, there are some parts in similar colours (particularly black and dark bluish grey), which could cause confusion; however, if you follow the build order then there shouldn't be any problems. You would notice if you used a dark bluish grey 1x2 tile on the base, for instance (unless you're building in the dark ). Towards the rear of the manual is the now-standard parts inventory: Again, the small variety of parts is readily apparent, and belies the size of the set. Finally, we are treated to a discourse from the Artist himself, and an intriguing look at Architecture in the early days of LEGO (including the invention of the plate!) We're pleased to note that Rok Zgalin Kobe refers to SNOT (Studs Not On Top), implying it's the acronym used by LEGO designers themselves! We're easily pleased. The Parts But enough about paper, what about the plastic? We've arranged the parts according to the polybag they came in, which is roughly dictated by size. The largest bag contains the large tiles, including the unique printed 'Big Ben' piece, and a sea of tan. Most of these parts are commonplace; even the 2x2 clock face is often found at the Pick-a-Brick wall. Of note are the dark bluish grey 'Slope 45 1x2 Double', found in two other sets, and the 'Slope 75 2x2x2 Quadruple Convex' in DBG and the two earth green 2x3 Plates, each found only in one other set. Not rare, though useful, are the nine 1x1 bricks with four studs ('dalek pieces', as we've heard them called). Generally, part variety is small but quantity high: We're certainly not complaining about the 57 round bricks and 32 grille tiles in tan, useful for architectural MOCs. 2x1 tan plates were at the PaB wall recently, so we're not short of those... ... but jumper plates are always useful. Finally, we have the ubiquitous round 1x1 plates, and 1x1 tiles in tan are most welcome. Not a cheese wedge in sight! Overall, it's a part selection that won't get too many people excited, with only a small number of rare elements, although the quantity of some of the parts might make this useful as a parts pack. The Build Let's put these plastic blocks together! As you might expect, we start with the familiar Architecture base: Immediately, you can see by the jumper plates that the model uses a half-stud offset for the entire structure. This is presumably to centre the model, which is an odd number of studs in length. The jumpers make a surprisingly strong connection, meaning you can build the model whilst holding it, rather than on a flat surface, although it's worth noting that the two black plates at the base are only connnected via three tiles, giving them a tendency to separate slightly if you do do this. The 'trick' behind the SNOT wall detail is revealed in this shot: SNOT bricks - with 1 (white), 2 (light bluish grey) and 4 (black) studs on sides are used to attach 1x2 plate-grille tile pieces to give the sides their ridged detail. The 'gap' that remains under the grilles is filled with 1x1 tiles. This technique is a little fiddly, but surprisingly strong and effective, and is used throughout the model. For the second layer, rinse, and repeat... well, nearly. Here you can see that only black 'dalek' pieces have been used to add SNOT to the sides, rather than the two-sided stud pieces. Although this might at first glance seem odd - it prevents adding 1x1 bricks in between, which might weaken the structure - there are two reasons for this. One is that the side-facing studs are also used in some places - to hold SNOT tiling at the side, and the mysterious upward-pointing dark bluish grey tile you can see here - and the second is that the 'open stud' on the top of the dalek pieces is required to attach the roof at a half stud offset (similar to the use of technic 1x1 bricks in the White House, or Empire State Building) With the roof-pieces attached, the odd DBG tile fills a gap caused by the half-stud offset : As we add height to the tower, things get a little repetitive, with three identical layers to construct. As we approach the top of the tower, four single-stud SNOT pieces are added which will hold the clock faces: And here we can have a nice look at the rear of the building . Finally, the rather intricate roof is built: And we're done! The build takes about 30 minutes if you're rushing, or an hour if you're leisurely (and read the history while you're at it). It's a little fiddly in places (making sure the 1x1 tiles sit squarely is a pain, but this is always a problem), and gets a bit repetitive, but being a smallish model this is counteracted by the feeling of the tower taking shape. Some of the SNOT techniques, especially the roof, are a nice surprise. The Complete Set Now let's take a look at the finished article. Big Ben stands proud and erect in all his slightly phallic glory: This angle shows clearly how effective the half-stud offset is at centering the tower. We like the use of the SNOT grille-tiles for adding the ridged detail which is crucial for adding realism, and the differentiation between the various levels of the building is brought about quite neatly and simply by the use of 1x1 bricks or round bricks at various points. It's highly effective. Now, let's get this out of the way: the major flaw of this set is the clock faces, which stand proud of the tower by two plates, unlike the real clocks which are if anything slightly recessed. This is a product of the designer's decision to make the entire building three studs wide, which is necessary to make the building affordable, keep consistency with the rest of the Landmark Series, and itself makes the build more interesting in places. Moreover, the design of the 2x2 round tile on which the clock sits - with a cross in the centre of the underside, rather than an anti-stud - necessitates the use of the extra 2x2 plate, therefore exacerbating the problem. A possible solution to this would be to build the clock section of the tower in four-studs wide, at a half-stud offset. One day we'll try this. Maybe the designer did, but chose this method in the end. Now that's out of the way, let's continue enjoying the view. Here's the rear: The tower (obviously) looks the same from every angle, but here you get a view of the snippet of the rest of Palace of Westminster. It's 'cut off' from the rest of the building; the blank tiles/bricks indicate where the building would continue: here, and on the left side. Note the 1x1 round plates instead of cones at the rear: this approximates to a real feature of the building, which doesn't have spires on the inward facing parapets. Side views (left and right respectively): The left side features a little dark green, representing a small lawn area in front of the tower where politicians and press gather from time to time. Note again the cut-off where the building would continue to the river edge. The right side faces Parliament Square, where the tower sits flush with the edge of the Palace. Finally, a shot representing the most common view of the tower: Another slight niggle, and again due to the use of the three-wide scale, is that the lower part of the roof doesn't slope particularly gracefully, but the use of round studs is probably the best compromise the designer could achieve. Comparison Now lets compare the set to the real thing. Being rather camera-shy, Pandora and I grabbed an unsuspecting random American tourist to help with these shots. The model is rather small (as is the LEGO set ) making direct comparison difficult. It's approximately 1:350 scale, after all. Still, you can see that the overall impression of the model is pretty accurate, which we think is as good as could be achieved at this scale. Getting both the tower and the model in focus together was nigh-on impossible. This is about the best we could do: The blocky roof isn't so noticeable here; unfortunately, the sticky-outy clock faces are. But the time is uncannily correct. Our contract with the Random American Tourist demanded more than just one picture: He made himself useful, and got us into the London Eye for some aerial views: Well, we'd love a massive Architecture set of the entire Palace of Westminster, but that isn't going to happen anytime soon... ... so here's a shot focused on Big Ben himself, from a similar angle as the last set picture: We should mention here an interesting observation. On the way out of the London Eye is a gift shop filled with souvenirs (many relating to the forthcoming Olympics). This (and many other souvenir shops around the area) would be an ideal place to sell this set - it'll appeal to chance customers who wouldn't normally even consider buying LEGO. The set makes a great souvenir - it is instantly recognisable, despite its flaws, and this market would perhaps be rather more forgiving than the average AFOL. We hope TLG have already thought of this. Conclusion Bus and Grenadier Guard not supplied with set. We were a little disappointed when we saw the preliminary pictures, but having seen the set 'in the flesh', as it were, we think this is actually rather a nice set. Sure, the protruding clock-faces aren't ideal, but they're certainly better than stickers, and the flaw is balanced by the level of detailing which is astonishing for such a small scale. Moreover, if the preliminary prices are correct, this set represents far better value than most of the smaller Architecture sets, and perhaps hints that the line is firmly hitting the mainstream. The Big Ben set, together with its attractive packaging and informative manual, makes a wonderful collectors' item, and indeed potentially a lucrative souvenir piece (if TLG takes our advice on this ). I'm sure they've already thought of this, as the timing of its release with the 2012 Olympics hints. A larger-scale model might allow more detail, solve the clock problem, and enable perhaps a bit of gold decoration on the tower; but would restrict the target market to the die-hard LEGO fans. Perhaps TLG have deliberately decided to accept the smaller scale compromise; we think that, overall, the set is pretty good for the scale. Design 8 Were it not for the clock faces, we'd give this 10. It's remarkably detailed for the scale. Build 9 A pleasing build, sometimes a little repetitive, but with some interesting features along the way. If you follow the manual carefully, it is an enjoyable experience. Parts 7 It's not really a set for rare part hunters, but might appeal as a parts pack if you need tan grille tiles or round bricks. Value 8 We haven't seen the UK price yet, but going by the US and European pricing, this does seem to be better value than many of the smaller Architecture sets. Overall 8/10 Big Ben might not appeal to die-hard sticklers for accuracy, but it's a detailed and recognisable rendition of what is perhaps London's most iconic landmark. We were rather pleasantly surprised. Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoyed the review. Many thanks to CopMike for making this possible, TLG for allowing us an early look at the set, and Hinckley for being such a good model! Pandora and Rufus. More pictures on flickr.
  9. Thanks Merlict. I sort of agree about the windscreen, but I worry that if every car got a bespoke windscreen the parts would be useless for anything else and it would detract from the effort required to recreate real objects with generic bricks. And where do you stop? I don't want LEGO sets to turn into easy-build Airfix models. Hey Fangy! Glad you enjoyed the read. The three cars do make a great set. Thanks f2k. Fair enough - I had the reaction to the Beetle that you had to the Fiat!
  10. LEGO's latest addition to the CREATOR Expert Classic Car range gets the EB Review treatment: Check out my 10271 Fiat 500 Review in the Special Themes Forum!
  11. Rufus

    Pirates Mafia II

    Hi all. I thoroughly enjoyed spectating the last game and I will drag myself out of mafia retirement for this.
  12. Thank you everyone for taking the trouble to reply - it is greatly appreciated. Thank you! Interesting point about the ship being a two-seater; I hadn't thought of that. It's quite a roomy cockpit so should be moddable - but the rear-end of the big cockpit piece would get in the way and that part would need to be switched. Shouldn't be too difficult. Thank you! Thanks! Greg Grunberg who plays Snap is listed on IMDB, so we can only assume he gets a reasonably prominent role. Interestingly, Billie Lourd (Konnix) gets top billing on that list. Thank you! The stickers aren't so bad, though the ones on the cockpit are a bit of a pain. I've really mellowed on stickers in my old age. Thanks for the feedback! It was an excuse to get five sets out of storage . Get this one! It is such good value for a SW set. Thank you. To be fair, the differences between the RZ-1 and RZ-2 are subltle - or at least I thought so. It wasn't until digging around for comparison pictures that I realised there was a difference . I'd like to see a blue one too. Sorry, forgot about the broken poll. Hey Fangy! Get this one! You must. And get the Y-wing too! Thank you! It is nice of you to say that. It is feedback like yours that makes it worth still doing these reviews. Thank you! Glad you enjoyed them.
  13. Check out my Review of the new Star Wars Episode IX set: 75248 Resistance A-Wing Starfighter: Click the picture to have a good look at this new set in the Star Wars Forum!
  14. Rufus

    MOC: T4a Lambda-Class Imperial Shuttle

    You're welcome Thank you K_W! Thanks vador22! Thank you Kristof. You have to do it by hand; there's a little push to overcome the springs to release the feet from the body, then it's simply a matter of swivelling the 3L technic beam outwards. It's quite a satisfying action. A side effect of using the springs is it helps to maintain the balance (quite what led the Empire to design a ship to land on two points is anyone's guess! ).
  15. Rufus

    MOC: T4a Lambda-Class Imperial Shuttle

    Thank you, t-brick. If and when one becomes available I'll be waiting! (And then waiting again for it to come out in white ) Thank you! I've spent years moaning about the lack of decent landing gear in official LEGO sets so am trying to do something about it. Thanks, BrickSixty. This your first post? I'm flattered! I will probably work on some instructions (much for own reference as for sharing) but it involves learning a whole new skill set so might take some time. I've done LDD instructions before but they are a bit sucky, so will try to learn L-Pub which involves tackling something like Bricksmith first... Umm... thanks Kristof? Thanks, jimmynick, glad you like the studs Glad you appreciated the joke! Here's the basic structure of the landing gear, deployed on the left and folded on the right. When folded the 'feet' sit inside the 2x4x5 half cylinders.
  16. Rufus

    Lambda_Title_100H.jpg

    From the album: Rufus's Personal Album

  17. Rufus

    Rufus's Personal Album

  18. It's 1964. Vietnam is starting. Martin Luther King receives the Nobel Peace Prize the year Nelson Mandela is jailed. Sony introduces the Video Cassette Recorder, and the computer mouse is invented. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor marry for the first time. The Beatles are riding high in international charts, but I want you to put I Get Around by the Beach Boys on your internal gramophone, grab your shorts and the keys to your Bug, and head on over to Californ-eye-ay coz' we are going surfin'! Apparently. The VW Beetle, or Volkswagen Type I, was already over 25 years old in 1964. It was conceived in Germany in 1938, but let's gloss over that part of its history; production didn't pick up until 1945. Over the car's 65 year production span, an astonishing 21 million were built; it is unsurprising therefore that the Beetle was named in 1999's Car of the Century competition as the fourth most influential car of the 20th century (after the Citroen DS? Really?) and that may explain its inclusion as the logical LEGO follow-up to 2014's 10242 Mini Cooper, which came second in that competition. Review: 10252 Volkswagen Beetle This is not The LEGO Co.'s first VW Beetle set. Believe it or not, it's not even the second - many of you will remember the largely studded 10187 from 2008. To find the first, we have to go all the way back to the first year of LEGO mass-produced toys - 1958 - when an ambiguously numbered die-cast metal 260 VW Beetle was available; several iterations of the Beetle featured in the early days of LEGO metal cars, including one from 1964, but I believe 10187 was the first to be built in LEGO bricks. This latest offering joins the Mini in the recently introduced LEGO Creator Expert range. It's a very different bucket of worms to the last Beetle, making use of curves and angles rather than its predecessor's studs-up sculpture, and ascends to the mainstream another peripheral colour: Dark Azure. Set Information Name: Volkswagen Beetle Number: 10252 Theme: CREATOR Expert Release: 2016 Parts: 1167 Figures: N/A Price: EUR €89.99 - 104.99 | GB £69.99 | US $99.99 | AU $149.99 | CA $129.99 | DKK 799.00 Links ... LEGO Shop ... Brickset ... Bricklink The Box Click for a larger full-frontal image The minimalist Creator Expert packaging shares more in common with the Exclusives sets than the main CREATOR range, but it's smart and allows the set picture to dominate. Here a surf-equipped Beetle drives itself (hilarity ensues) down a sandy track. The set manages to stand out even against the similarly-coloured sea; the choice of surf theme for the set really dictates the box art. I wonder whether the set's colour scheme was decided by the reference image, or whether the artist hunted around for a suitable image. If the latter, they found one, and it's displayed on the right hand side: Click for a larger image Judging by the roof rack, I think the set designer must have used this image for inspiration. It also affects the set's historical accuracy: the real-life Beetle here is a pre-1965 model, given the smaller window apertures. On the back of the box, the sentient car parks itself among the dunes, and leans its surfboard against a conveniently-placed inset of the set features: Click for a larger image I love that. The board even casts a shadow on the inset! The insets show off the set's salient features well, though the main image is rather similar to the box front and I would have shown the car's rear off here. The box measures H 279 x W 478 x D 72 mm (11" x 19" x 3" approx) and weighs 1352 g (3 lb). It is tape-sealed . On the underside is the Volkswagen licensing information, interestingly in the official VW typeface. As is customary for CREATOR sets, the set inventory is displayed on the box top. The Instructions Now, I was under the impression that The LEGO Company had listened to the whinges of its die-hard fan-base, and endeavoured to wrap the instructions and sticker sheets of the more expensive sets to prevent bad things happening. Not so here. My instructions were loose and crumpled in the box. I hope that is just because I have an early promotional copy of the set, and that this doesn't represent a policy change. The single, perfect-bound volume has a cover similar to the box front. There are no technical or historical tidbits, unlike the LEGO Ideas or Architecture sets; I'd like to have seen a bit of information about the Beetle, but not if it would inflate the price of the set. The instruction steps are clear, with part call-outs, and a handy yellow line to show you where new bits are added. This doesn't help when you miss an entire step, as I did! The only other problem I encountered was trying to identify the colour of a 1x1 round stud which looked either white or grey (but probably meant to be flat silver). Sticker Sheet Mercifully, my sticker sheet was only crumpled but not damaged by its journey loose in the box. There stickers are handily numbered, though not unfortunately in the order you apply them. There's a lot of redundancy here, so you can get away with applying as few as 12 of the 24 decals: stickers 13 - 16 are duplicated, and the instructions suggest only applying one of each. You can choose which country's registration to use, though I was delighted to find that there are tiles enough to allow you apply all of them, and change the registration plate to enable a James Bond escape or something. The countries represented are USA, Australia (I think, assuming 'QLD' is Queensland), the UK, and (West) Germany. The Parts The parts are divided into three modules, of 3, 2, and 3 polybags each, as shown here, and the tyres were loose in the box. My first task was to confirm the colour - having not read the official LEGO blurb, I did what I always do when confronted with an unfamiliar colour, which is compare it to a part in a known set. Most of our LEGO is packed away, but fortunately the kids came to the rescue. So Duplo confirms this blue is Dark Azure. The three modules' parts are laid out below. Click each frame for a close-up It's great to see such a large choice of parts in a relatively rare colour, previously found mostly on minifigs and Duplo, or, more recently, in Basic Bricks sets. Prior to this Beetle there were no plates available in Dark Azure. Whether this means there'll be an abundance of regular sets in this colour remains to be seen; I had high hopes for Bright Green after the CITY recycling sets a few years ago but nothing came of that. Unlike, say, Dark Green or Dark Red, I can't see that there'll be much demand for Dark Azure amongst MOCers, though it might make a nice base colour for a re-imagined Classic Space. Otherwise, there are a load of handy SNOT bricks and plates of various kinds, and a few parts of interest: The dark azure corner brick is a new part, ID 24599, and I think would be described as Brick, Round Corner 5x5. Its curvature matches that of the Brick, Modified 1 x 2 x 1 1/3 but it is only three plates high. The 24246 heel-print tile is new this year in a few Mixels sets, and only in white; 23443 bar holder with handle is new, and listed on Bricklink but not yet appearing in any sets. New to me are the 1 x 1 x 3 brick, though it's been around since 2014 and quite common, the Technic axle 3 yellow, and the Ring pull tile, which I can see being very useful. The Round 1x1 tile with gauge featured of course in the Mini and several other sets. The clippy plate is shown only because of the mold difference: both types occur in this set (or my copy, at least) - they are I believe Bricklink types b and d. Then of course there's the new VW print tile. The tile is light bluish grey with a slightly reflective 'negative' print; I would rather have seen a shiny VW 'positive' print on a darker tile, buy hey. There are two spares in this set and I can see these being useful for CITY cars. Finally, there's the vaunted 'updated windshield design': I didn't even notice this until I read the blurb when writing the review: hence the stickers are already on! The mold is a stud less deep, but still quite sturdy; this design would have been quite handy for the Mini whose older design windscreen is also shown here. The Build The build starts with the chassis and is largely pedestrian until towards the end of module one, where SNOT begins to be applied in more detail and things quite suddenly get exciting. In the interest of brevity, I will not describe the build process in detail here, but it is shown in detail on my flickr; I will instead show a few interesting techniques. This is the back end of the car, late in module 1: A large chunk of tan and bley plates and bricks has been inserted, studs facing to the rear, with male and female clips pointing upwards. It's not until module 3 that you find out what the clips are for - they attach the rear window and engine cover. Behind that, a light bley 2x2 SNOT plate tessellates perfectly with a dark bley 1x1 SNOT brick with two 1x1 bley plates: these hold the tail lights; this technique is used in a few places in the set. Interesting SNOT abounds (*thinks of children* ). Here the rear (centre) and front (right) seat uprights are made; the rear one makes use of a stack of headlight bricks alternating studs right/studs up to make a stud reverser that is exactly 3 plates wide; when combined with the left and right halves, this makes 20 plate-heights or exactly 8 brick widths - so the seat rear fits neatly in the gap. I'll remember that technique! The front seats use 1x1 bricks with studs on two sides; these seats are slightly wider than 4 bricks each as they don't need to fit into a confined space - see here (you can also see where I missed a step - the bley plates either side of the rear seat should be a brick higher ). The entire front end of the car is initially attached only via the front axle, and at a half-stud offset: This is then corrected with the judicious application of jumper plates. You'll be able to see more when we look at the underside later. More delightful SNOT-work builds the front wings, including a repeat of the tessellation I pointed out earlier: The small construction I have removed here contains a SNOT plate that is used to correct the sideways-facing studs shown in the picture. I love that sort of thing! You can also see how the headlights are attached, with a technique similar to the Mini's. You'll be able to see more when we come to the features, or check my flickr. The Finished Car I've chosen the German plates for my car, partly because it's a German car, and partly because I put the British number plate stickers on badly. Plus I built it left-hand drive before thinking about it (you can very easily convert it). It does also mean that I can point out The Significance Of The WOB. The bonnet boot luggage compartment cover (from now on, it's 'luggage cover' and 'engine cover', mkay?) has popped open in the above picture, which happens all too easily. Here it is from the reverse angle with the cover closed: The designer has gone to extraordinary lengths to recreate the challenging curves of this iconic vehicle. Look at the nearside headlight: below it is a SNOT-mounted 1x2 cheese wedge; above it a regularly-placed 1x1 cheese next to a 1x3 bow; the contour these form almost perfectly matches the curve of the new 5x5 cover piece forming the wing. The entire wing then marries reasonably neatly to the luggage cover, itself a two-part design attempting to recreate the curves of the real thing. Conscious as I am that the stuff on the roof distracts from the car itself, I removed it: You can see a bit more clearly how the wing curves of the 5x5 corner bricks matches the 1x1 modified bricks at medial ends of both front and rear wings. Strangely, without the roof stuff, the wheels and wings themselves start to look a little too chunky to my eye, but we'll do a formal comparison shortly. Note the use of the new bar with handle parts to mount the door mirrors. From this view, the problem with the car's windscreen is becoming increasingly apparent. There's something I just don't like about it, but it's hard to put my finger on what. Here's a comparison shot of a '64 Beetle: Image from photogallery.classiccars.com It's not a perfect comparator. The wings are indeed a little too chunky on the LEGO version, but that's not the problem with the screen; '64 Beetles had flat screens with an arch shape, which the dark bley tile above the screen fails to recreate convincingly. Let's look at it in more detail from the side: Image from lehnan.hol.es The rake of the windscreen is too steep. It's a small difference, and it ought to be subtle, but combined with the relative loss of curvature of the front end of the roof, it has a dramatic effect making the windscreen look more like a Citroen 2CV than a Beetle. However, aside from the chunky wings and steep windscreen, the overall shape is otherwise remarkably good. Let's move rearward, where things start to get better again. The wonderful curves continue towards the engine compartment: You can see how the tapered door pillar gives gradient to the side of the car, and the 4x4 corner slope helps to smooth the lines from the wider sides to the narrower rear. This part sits, incidentally, on one of these, which defines the slope of the rear window. The engine cover uses a SNOTty construction to achieve a half-plate step, giving the (faint) illusion of a lateral curve. The curves of the rear wings are a little fussier than the front ones, but they still create nice effect even if they are not quite as flared as the real thing: Image from foundonthestreet.net The LEGO version uses grille tiles to depict the iconic air-cooled engine intakes; the effect is not entirely successful, and I wonder if they might have been better off using these (or even these, if they were still available). I do like the rear lights; I'm tempted to replace the deeper of the two bley 1x1 plates under the amber light with a body-coloured one (there are spares in the set!). Front-on, the gap between the luggage cover and bodywork starts to show, but this is the only angle from which it's noticeable. The windscreen, again, looks odd, but the wing curves look great. The tyres are possibly a little too wide. This view isn't quite so forgiving of the rear, which looks better from oblique angles, but I still think the rear is the car's best side. Note the bumpers, made with modern curved pieces, with a hinge to help at the rear; they are nice (but they're crying out for some chrome). I'm conscious at this point that I'm being quite critical. Take a look at this shot from above: Look at the apex of the luggage cover at the front, and follow the ovoid line of the bodywork backwards, round to the side, and in again at the rear, and then back again; then look again at the curves of the wings, especially at the front; then compare to the schematic: It is a remarkable feat to get anything near to the shape of this delightfully contoured car in LEGO. And back down to earth, quite literally: The underside is remarkable for one point, which I alluded to earlier: the axles are not threaded through the chassis as you might expect, but attached almost independently until the structure is built around it. You can also see how the front end of the chassis sits at a half-stud offset, I think in order to accommodate the spare wheel. Features Now let's have a look in a bit more detail. We saw this earlier, but here's another look at the elaborate work going in to get the wings looking as smooth as possible. It's not the most elegant solution, perhaps, and not perfect, but reasonable. Behind the wheel you can see some studs facing outwards - these are from two inverted brackets that form the walls of the luggage compartment; the studs don't connect to anything. Talking of which ... ... here it is, and looking roomier than in real life. The black bit with the VW badge is the fuel tank. The spare wheel just sits there; it rattles around a bit. Being the same size as the Mini spare wheel, it's also too small when compared to the main tyres! Some fiddly jumper plates go to make the door attachment, but the result is smooth and surprisingly sturdy, if a little unsightly. The seat construction is gorgeous, and I like the telephone door handles. The gauge behind the steering wheel is the sole instrument on the dashboard. No radio? I've removed part of the roof to give a better view of the interior. Again, the seat construction is highly effective; it's not obvious here but they are mounted on jumpers to give a brick-wide gap between in which sits the handbrake. Towards the front is a gearstick, made simply from a classic space aerial, but which sits on a semicircular curved brick representing the transmission tunnel ... ... and which continues to the rear: Both front and rear seats flip forward; behind the rear seat is a luggage shelf - true to life - in which the Picnic Rug is stowed. Note further clever SNOT supporting the door pillars. I alluded to this earlier, but here is how the rear window and engine cover are fixed: The upward-pointing male clips hold the window; the two flat silver (these are the ones that caused me trouble in the build) 1x1 studs prevent the window collapsing in. It looks fiddly, but it comes together easily and is remarkably durable. And here's what's in the rear: This is a simple but reasonable facsimile of the VW aircooled engine of the original Beetle. It looks like it might be a rotary engine but it's actually a flat 4; the larger wheel looks like it might be the fan, but it's actually the fan pulley - the fan being in the round black thing behind. In case you wanted to know! I think the LEGO version works really well. Finally, there's the window-dressing: A cool-box containing two green bottles and a green can with a ring-pull top, nicely made with simple but clever SNOT, and a surfboard that looks a little thrown together - I think it would be possible to make it without the white protrusions at the tip and the tail, but it's a minor thing. You might also just be able to make out the lip of a white 1x1 tile in the exact centre of the board - why they didn't use a plate here, I don't know. It all fits snugly on the roof rack, the box via one stud, the board by being wedged between the edges and those black rubber cheating-pieces: Comparison to 10242 Mini Cooper I don't have the 2008 Beetle, and anyway this set's immediate ancestor (and main competitor) is 2014's Mini Cooper. How do they compare? Next to the clean Mini, the Beetle's lines do look a little fussy. The Mini also highlights another minor complaint about the Beetle - the lack of chrome (or metallic silver, at least); though I understand that the Beetle would require a lot of silver parts or it would appear mismatched. The front end of the Mini is so good that meaningful comparison is lost; the Beetle is, after all, a much more difficult shape to render in LEGO. This really isn't a fair comparison! Everything about that Mini is spot on - probably the only thing about it I would change is the tinted windows. So how do they sit together on the shelf? Pretty well, actually, though the scale is off, and the Mini is noticeably larger than it ought it be compared to the Beetle (I estimate it would need to be 3 studs narrower to be at the correct scale). But who cares about that when they look so good! If you had to choose, which would you buy? The Mini, despite slightly fewer pieces, is more expensive, though only just - this may be a licensing issue. The Beetle is a more interesting build, even if the end result isn't quite so good. Here is how I would sum up this comparison: people might say of the Beetle, 'Wow, that blue LEGO car looks like a Beetle!' But they would say of the Mini, 'you know, that Mini model is actually made of LEGO!' But is that a good thing? Maybe it's all down to the Battle of the Picnics: Conclusion This has been a really difficult set to review. Inspired in no small way by the joy that is the Mini, I was eagerly anticipating this set, and really wanted to love it. I like it, but do I love it? I'm not so sure. The parts selection is interesting and useful, and largely in an unusual colour. The build is fun and instructive. The way those curves are achieved is delightful ... but it's just not quite accurate enough. I've been spoiled by the Mini's near-perfection, and this is a much more difficult and less forgiving original, so it's understandable - but disappointing all the same. Design 7 It's just not quite a Beetle, though it's close. Parts 8 A useful selection and unusual colour. More chrome or silver would be welcome. And what's with the crumpled instructions, TLG? Build 9 Fun, engaging, and instructive. Features 7 Opening compartments, doors, folding seats, picnic stuff, but this is a display set, really, and the cool box and surfboard are actually a bit of a distraction. Give me chrome instead! Value 9 At under £70 this is really good value - in the UK, at least. Overall 80% My Score 7/10 Do I like it? Yes. Do I love it? No. Would I buy it (if I didn't already have it)? Oh yes. Do I want to see more classic vehicles? Absolutely. I just wish they'd tilted that windscreen ... Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the review. Comments welcome. Rufus Resources 1. VW Beetle on Wikipedia 2. VW air-cooled engine My flickr album
  19. Latest up in the fourteen-year cycle of remakes of the original Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series is the BTL A4 Y-Wing Starfighter. I reviewed the 2004 original back in 2010; it suffered for being over-long but scored praise for the use of gruelling on the ship's exposed innards. We’ll see here if the new offering has addressed the issues of the earlier version and how it compares to the movie original. Review: 75181 UCS Y-Wing Starfighter Name: Y-Wing Starfighter Number: 75181 Pieces: 1967 Figures: 2 Year: 2018 Price: GBP £169.99 | USD $199.99 | EUR 199.99 | DKK 1799.99 The Box A dramatic view of the Y-Wing in the obligatory Death Star Trench setting makes for a bold and attractive front. The box has the same frontal dimensions as that of the set’s predecessor 10134 - shown behind - but somewhat surprisingly it is deeper that the earlier version. The ‘ULTIMATE COLLECTOR SERIES’ designation has returned to prominence; it disappeared from the boxes quite early in the series’s run, around 2002 if I remember. Normally Star Wars sets share a box logo with all contemporary merchandise, LEGO or otherwise; this set’s logo is currently shared only by the new UCS Millennium Falcon, possibly indicating that it is expected to have a longer run than the regular sets. We shall see if this trend continues, and if subsequent UCS sets use the same livery. For a square-on frontal image click here. The ship is shown from a similar angle on the back, though the angle is reversed: There is less drama here. The ship sits on its stand in what appears to be a hanger, though the ground looks suspiciously like floorboards; I’m surprised that more wasn’t made of the Y-Wing’s return to prominence in Rogue One. A few features are demonstrated in insets. It’s a smart-looking box, and understated, with minimal clutter; on the top is a line-drawing of the ship with dimensions and a photograph of the figures, but there’s little on the sides worthy of comment. Contents I was surprised to find a smaller box inside the outer carton, and very pleased to find this delightful line-drawing of the set gracing the front and extending to the bottom and sides. There is a further outline sketch on the bottom, this time showcasing the ship's underside: Whilst it is not unheard-of for larger sets to contain inner boxes, I've never seen one with decoration before - a nice touch, though I suspect fans would rather pay a little less for a plain box, or at least one that doesn't require destruction with thumb-tabs. Accompanying the inner box inside the outer are eight polybags - numbered 2 to 6, 8, 12 and 13; insider the inner are a further seven (1, 7, 9, 9, 10, 10, 11 - 9 and 10 are duplicated) and the large black tile for the stand. There doesn't seem to be much logic to the packaging, and you need to open the inner box to start building. Instructions Also in the outer box can be found the single instruction manual wrapped in plastic with the sticker sheet: The front view is a cut-down version of the box front, though they have managed to avoid cutting off parts of the ship. There's no cardboard backing, which seems no longer to be a thing, but the Perfect-bound manual has remained reassuringly crumple-free without it. Inside are some four double-pages of information not unlike the manual that comes with Architecture or Ideas sets. It opens with a foreword from the head of the Star Wars design team, Jens Kronvold Frederiksen, who I believe designed the earlier 2004 version. There follows a double-page spread of trivia about the Y-Wing itself: I'm not sure of the value of list of fictional statistics, but the schematics and cutaways, and Ralph McQuarrie concept art on the facing page are nice. The model shown bottom left in the picture shares several features with this LEGO version and I'm sure was used as a reference. Next follows an interview with set designer Jordan David Scott in which he is asked the question, 'How accurate is the LEGO Y-wing, compared to the real in-universe vehicle?' I will not spoil his answer, but will attempt to answer it myself during the review. There is also an interview with graphic designer Madison O'Neill, part of which is reprinted below: Mostly I showed this page for the further reference models; I will make reference to the top right picture later. The studio models (bottom right) appear to be in the process of being painted; they are largely coated in (presumably) a primer which looks to be a lovely sand blue colour: sand blue features quite prominently in this and the current System versions. The set construction is modular with two or three polybags per module, counting the engines separately, and a single bag for the stand; there are two pages demonstrating the modules so you can plan your build accordingly. The instructions are clear with call-outs and sub-builds (example), and I encountered no colour-differentiation issues. I felt it important to show that real starfighters wear pink, or at least contain pink as filler. I like the plain grey background, with white for the module header, blue for part call-outs and tan for sub-builds: smart and clear. The obligatory decal sheet isn't too terrifying this time, and unlike 10134 there isn't a large and fiddly cockpit canopy sticker - the sand-blue decals go on the cockpit sides, but the top and front are printed. The console is unfortunately stickered too (12 and 13). The information sticker contains similar information to 10134's, though rearranged somewhat, and it's a little less fussy. Parts The spread of parts is shown below in thumbnail form; you can click each for a close-up. They are divided according to module, which corresponds to polybags 1, 2, and 3; 4, 5, and 6; 7 and 8 respectively: I haven't found any parts which look new or especially rare; there are however a larger number of sand blue plates in 1x3 and 1x4 which I am pleased to see. There is a useful quantity of jumper plates, and some 80 1x1 round plates in flat silver, along with 22 grille tiles in the same colour. I like flat silver - it is an inexpensive way to make something look metallic when bluish grey won't cut it. There are also 26 light bley ingots, used to good effect here and useful for paving. Disappointingly, there are fewer pieces of flex-tubing than I would like (or expected, after the multitude of copper and long dark bley tubes of 10134); here there are only 6 in reddish brown, and most of the pipe-work is achieved with 3, 4, or 6L bars. Bags 9 and 10 are duplicated; one of each is shown here, along with bag 12: bag 11 is the same as 12 minus the figures. I wonder why they did that. The 6x6 round brick is new in light bluish grey and sand blue; it is previously available only in 2015's 60080 Spaceport. The corresponding 6x6 round plate is common but this is its first appearance in yellow. The large Viking Wagon Wheel is new in light bluish grey. The right-hand picture features bag 13 which builds the stand; of note here is only the four black 1x2 - 1x2 SNOT brackets; only two are necessary so you can easily pilfer two if you need to. Figs Two unique figures are included: a flat silver and dark bluish grey Astromech droid, and Gold Leader. The droid is unnamed in the manual, but the box top reveals him to be R2-BHD ('Tooby'), and who featured in and was created for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. His body is, I believe, the same as that of the droid R3-S1 who features in the latest System 75172 Y-Wing Starfighter, but the head is unique. Gold Leader, aka Dutch Vander, has a beautifully detailed torso with leg printing to match - vastly superior to the previous generic Rebel pilot torso, and the helmet is a thing of beauty with olive green printing on the top, crest, and even sides. No wonder he's grinning! He also has a scared face on the rear; his head also sports a detailed visor and microphone. The torso rear-printing is also an improvement over the older design, with a more detailed tabard and a buckle. He comes with a small blaster, not shown here. Here is Dutch (centre) next to his earlier incarnation from 9495 (left) and Jek Porkins from 9493 X-Wing fighter: I'm sure you will agree the new design is much more detailed and a great improvement over the older torso; whether it will remain unique and exclusive to this set remains to be seen. I'm still unsure whether I like minifigures in UCS sets, but they make nice extra collectors items, and in the case of this set you can actually seat the figure in the cockpit. Whether you should remains unanswered. Build Rather than an exhasutive trawl through the build process, I have selected a few pictures to demonstrate important features of the construction or interesting techniques; for a more complete set of pictures, see my flickr album. Like her older sister 10134, we start by building the main body of the ship. Here, midway through module 1, the large Technic block is lined with cross-axle bricks (green), and flanked with further Technic bricks; this will form the main receptacle for the wing pylons: Some greebling and an axle connector is left dangling at the front. Already some detail is added to the underside; the square hole will of course receive the stand, and some flat silver Technic connectors at the rear look like they should have some function, but they don't. Maybe they are bomb doors (it's a bomber, after all). See their construction here. It is not until module 2 that we start to add the serious greebling to the top of the body. The reddish-brown whip piece will fold forward and clip into two of the grey clippy tiles to make an interesting feature. Note the Ingots of Bley which are used instead of 1x2 tiles to add texture, and to good effect. Also note the 4x2 bley SNOT area at the side towards the front ... ... this is built on sideways to add bulk, with some nice usage of various SNOT parts: It is nothing ground-breaking, but adds interest to the build, and reflects the build-process in general which is never dull. You can also see here where the whip got clipped. Next we see how the wing pylons are attached: slotting into the Technic bricks on long axles and secured with pins: To see inside the pylon, click here. Much like 10134, the pylons are a sandwich of bricks inside plates, but the attachment with Technic axles is much more secure in this version. They are stop-end axles, so they will stay in position if you want to dismantle the set. Removing the pylons from the body will however not be easy, because the join gets built on. Under the dark tan jumper plates and dark red grille tiles at the rear are several long 1-wide plates placed over the join: The jumper plates are used to good effect to add features to the top. The 1x3 double-inverted slope in the inset will be attached upside down into the centre jumper plate, using a 1x2 round tile with bar and pin holder as a stud reverser. Just in front of the centre jumper plate is a shield under an inverted 2x2 round tile with hole, attached via a clip in a technique similar to the headlights of the CREATOR Mini and VW Beetle. Every so often you have to flip the body to add details to the underside, and this is done gradually so that you're building on a flat, stable surface ... ... at least until you add the two 1x4 arches via SNOT bricks to make yet another interesting feature. This is not done until the end of module 2 - and it's a good thing, as this little add-on is somewhat fragile. Module 3 builds the cockpit section. The angled sides of the head are attached via hinge-plates at the rear, and skeleton arms at the front, to make a reasonably secure connection. The sudden appearance of some minor Technic here surprised me; the axle at the rear will insert into the dangling connector we met at the beginning. Note the brown and yellow double-headlight brick constructions, which produce some downwards-facing studs ... ... allowing the whole underside to attach, studs-down. This leaves only a few available connections on the top surface; the 2x3 white slope attached to only one stud on its base, but it will be secured with a tile on top. The engines are formed from a central stack of SNOT bricks and green cross-axle bricks, to which will be attached some side panels; note the use of headlight bricks to reinforce the connection on the sides with the green bricks. The clever part is that the engine needs to be rotated through forty-five degrees relative to the pylon attachment for the long axles to sit correctly, and this is achieved using a large 4x4 turntable at each end - a wonderfully simple solution; see here for more detail. At the end of the long engines, the Viking Wagon Wheels are attached using pneumatic T-pieces pushed into the little holes in the front, and marrying up to Technic crankshaft parts which allows a half-stud offset. The remaining point of the T-piece is used to attach a curved slope to neaten the join, though it remains rather flimsy. Note the flag pieces, which form the 'thrust vectrals': the instructions are very specific about placing the pole half-way into the upper clip (inset) - the free end of the pole needs to be long enough to insert into the centre holes of the wagon wheel. The construction of these thirst victuals seems rather inelegant, but we'll see how well it works later. Finally, some panels will add detail and texture to the sides of the engines. Panels 2 and 4 in the picture below sit higher on four 1x8 plates; these connect to the headlight bricks on the green cross-axle brick faces of the engine centre: the sides that will connect to the wing pylons. Panel 4 has a hole ready for the attachment; panel 3 has the landing gear. There now just remains the stand, and we're done. I thoroughly enjoyed this build; little details and surprises abound, and keep it interesting at every stage. Even the repetition of the engines isn't particularly tedious. On a personal note, I found the construction of the side panels of the engines and the SNOT underside of the cockpit reminded me greatly of building the Bullfrog all those years ago. The Complete Set First impressions: the set looks smart, which is no mean feat for a ship with all her innards on display. The colour scheme works well; the flashes of white, yellow and sand blue stand out against the grey, with pipework nicely picked out in brown. The shape is good, and looks about right, but we'll compare in more detail later. Incidentally, the stand can be attached in-line (as here) or transversely, and has two positions: upright - as here, although it doesn't lock in this position - and tilted to about 20 degrees. From the front, and slightly above - the ship almost disappears when viewed directly from the front - we can admire the shapely head, although I am not sure the shape is quite right, and should perhaps be two studs wider - compare to the reference picture I pointed out in the manual earlier. I'm also conscious that the wing pylons are a little fatter than they ought to be, though that may have been a compromise necessary for strength; I do like the use of 1x4 groove bricks to make a stripe at the front of the pylons. Perhaps my favourite angle is what I might call 'Darth Vader's view': Like the 2012 X-Wing, the ship's exhaust is (correctly) pinky-red. Here we get our first look at the thirsk victories on the rear of the engines, which seem to have come out quite well, but we'll look more closely later. I was looking forward to see if this set had addressed perhaps the biggest issue of her predecessor: the length of the engines. I am pleased to find that it has: they look about the right length. The smartness of the colour scheme again stands out in this view; note the sand blue stripe along the side of the cockpit. From the top, the relative proportions of body, pylons, and engine look pretty good: Compared to the schematics, the proportions seem about right, though the head still looks too small. The front of the engines should perhaps be more conical (I think they are parabolic in cross-section) rather than flattened hemispheres as the are here, but that's a minor point. I don't think I've ever seen so much detail on the underside of a set before: Hats off to the designer for going the extra mile here, and acknowledging that it's nice to have something that looks good even on the top shelf! You can also see that the landing gear sits unobtrusively when folded. Take a moment also to appreciate the smooth SNOT of the cockpit underside, seen more closely here. Here is the 'real thing' for comparison: Picture from starwars.wikia.com You can see here that the overall shape is good. The engines in LEGO's version should perhaps be a little fatter, but the length is about right; as you can see the wing pylons should be thinner and mounted towards the top of the engines rather than on their midline. Features Let's now take a closer look, starting with the head. No LEGO UCS ship would be complete without cockpit detail, though not much is possible at this scale; there are stickered panels, a seat back cleverly made from a flag piece, targeting computer, and I love the bucket handle control stick: And it will seat the figure! It shouldn't, of course; the scale is all wrong. The cockpit should also open sideways rather than backwards; no official LEGO Y-Wing has tried to correct this. There should ideally be more of a curve to the cockpit canopy, but this would be difficult to render with existing pieces. As it is, the cockpit comes out a little boxy - but the sand blue colour works well. There's a little surprise in the turret, which is otherwise similar to the System version. Remember the surprising Technic in the head section? It connects to the turret: Turning the turret moves the little 8-tooth gear in the neck; or, you can move the gear with your finger and the turret turns. It's not much, but I appreciate the little extra. The silver droid gets a little lost in amongst all the grey; and like all UCS ship droids he's still too small. However, let's not focus on him; as we move back, the greebling detail becomes quite impressive. The pipework steals the show here, but there are some small features at the side of the neck, and even the rear of the head section gets some greebling via a hinge brick sandwiched between two white flags. The flags don't quite line up with the slopes, but I can forgive this. Note the droid body forming some extra detail at the back of the neck. Now we come the really good bit. The use of various parts to form arcane equipment on the body of the ship is superb. I've taken guesses as to what it might do. Moving backwards from Tooby, there's a couple of bley ingots (battery?). Behind this, a couple of wheels on a Technic pin sit within some tan wall elements (starter motor), all a few layers deeper in the model. Behind this are two dark tan bucket handles sitting in corner wall elements, which look like switches or circuits and between them bley binoculars on a round tile with stud (distributor cap - you can see where I'm going with this). Over all of this runs the brown whip piece (HT cable); this passes rearward past a hinged grille tile (carburettor) and between an inverted ice skate (oil filler cap) and what looks like a cylinder head from a two-stroke engine to the shield-disc (air filter). I'll dispense with the lame analogy now. Moving ever-rearwards, you can admire the inverted double-slope, in front of a wheel hub and two binocular pieces sandwiched in. Either side of the flywheel are two mechanical claw parts best seen in the picture above, and another shield-disc behind. There is an incredible amount of detail covering every part of the body with barely a stud left exposed, and what is more, the height/depth of the features varies considerably: it is not simply a plate with lots of small parts stuck on. Round the back are two frames constructed from handlebars and fire hose nozzles, resembling rear-end bull bars; I hadn't noticed them on the real ship, but they are supposed to be there. Notice the vertical brown 4L pole on the right - there is space for one on the other side, but the instructions don't have you place one there. This is an opportunity to compare again to the 'real' ship, this time in the form of the Bandai 1/72 model: Looking towards the rear of this model, you can hopefully recognise several of the features I have pointed out on this LEGO version: the shield-disc, binoculars, flywheel, inverted double-slope, cylinder head, oil filler, carburettor etc. are all there in as much detail you could render in LEGO pieces. A splendid effort. I bet the Bandai model doesn't have landing gear. LEGO's does! It looks totally flimsy, but it is really quite sturdy, and does the job well. I don't recall any other UCS set having retractable landing gear; I'm sure I will be corrected if I'm wrong. The ski parts work well ... ... and the gear sits at a slant which looks better than the vertical stanchions you tend to see on System sets. As I have already shown, they fold quite neatly and are unobtrusive when folded; click here for a further picture. Now let's look again at the thrush vegetables, er, thrust vectrals: Despite the rather Heath Robinson construction, I think they work quite well. The curved slopes at the edge of the wheel are a little flimsy and easily knocked out of alignment, but the flag pieces are reasonably sturdy. I believe those parts are like rudders and should tilt around 'y' and 'z' axes rather than rotating around the long axis of the ship, but I can live with that - certainly a better solution than any other LEGO Y-Wing set. Comparison to 10134 I dug around in some boxes and rescued 10134 from retirement especially for this moment. The senior UCS Y-Wing was notable at the time for the extensive use of greebling, but when I reviewed her before I worried that the proportions were out. Principally, 10134's engines are far too long; 75181 gets it right here: I was surprised to the new set had used grey rather than white for the long engine struts, but I think this gives a smarter finish; they are attached more neatly to the nacelles too. The engine greebling on 75181 better resembles the original ... ... as does that of the body, and by a country mile: 10134's detailing is very much parts-stuck-on-a-plate, and there is minimal attention to accuracy; 75181 is the winner hands down ... ... as she is again on the underside: 75181's belly is remarkably detailed, almost pretty. Little effort was made on 10134 where plain plate undersides are all that is to be seen. Note also the colour schemes; again 75181's smart livery is a vast improvement over 10134's blocky, almost random colours. If there is one way in which 10134 edges it slightly over her younger sibling, it is the shape of the engine cones - closer to the real thing, though still not perfect. There isn't so much difference in the cockpit design, compared here without stickers. I prefer the tapered outline of the newer set, and the sand blue canopy, but if anything the scale is worse, going from a three stud to a two stud wide seat. Compare to this movie still (featured in the manual of the set): I think the System version is a better representative of the ship's size relative to a minifigure, and I would rather have had a wider cockpit on this UCS set and forego the figure altogether. Conclusion I confess I didn't have particularly high expectations for this set, mainly because the Y-Wing itself isn't the most interesting ship, but what 75181 lacks in functionality it certainly makes up in style and detail. The designer has gone to extraordinary lengths to recreate every mysterious lump or bump on the surface of the original in as much painstaking detail as possible with LEGO bricks, and for the most part has done a fantastic job. The colour scheme is smart, and attractive, and going by the various models around is close to the original; the scale of the LEGO version is much closer to the real ship than the older set, and it's a thousand times better overall. There remain some issues: some fixable, some less so; it may be difficult to render the thrust vectrals better, and the nacelle cones aren't perfect but probably optimal with the parts available; however, I would have traded in the new figure for a new side-opening cockpit mould, and I think the head shape could be better. Design & Accuracy 8 A great-looking set that is for the most part a faithful rendition of the original, with some wonderful detail. I remain uncomfortable with the scale, and I think the cockpit needs to be bigger; the shape of the entire head section isn't quite right. Build 9 An entertaining build process with minimal repetition and no frustration and several interesting techniques; it is well-structured allowing for you to pick up and leave off with ease. Parts & Figures 7 I don't think there are any new parts in this set, but there are older parts in new colours. The selection is all generically useful without being exciting. Some may be excited by the unique figures; they look great, but that's not why I buy UCS sets. Display & Function 8 The ship looks great on the shelf; it's one of those set that is a little tricky to tell from a distance that it is LEGO. There are a number of display options, with two stand orientations and two configurations; thanks to the landing gear, you can dispense with the stand altogether. The ship is well-balanced, sturdy, and reasonably swooshable; of course, there's also the turret function! Value 9 The older set 10134 cost £109 in 2004; that equates to about £165 now - for some 500 fewer pieces than 75181. £170 for 2000 pieces in a licensed set seems like good value; throw in a smart and informative manual and the price starts to look very good. Overall 41/50 (82%) This is an excellent rendition of the Y-Wing, good value, and a great addition to the collection. I wouldn't say it's a must-have, though sadly that's the problem with the Y-Wing herself - not perhaps the most sought-after of Star Wars ships. Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoyed the review. Comments welcome! Rufus With thanks to the LEGO Group for the review set. My flickr
  20. This is a beautiful MOC and something I haven't seen before in LEGO (though I'm sure it's been done!). I would love to see it in real bricks - though I notice there are a lot of parts in there in non-production colours. Have you thought how you might get around that? I wish you all the best with the Ideas project. This MOC would fit quite comfortably in Town, Special Themes, History or even Trains. Moved to Special per OP's request.
  21. Rufus

    REVIEW: 75214 Anakin's Jedi Starfighter

    Thanks for the awesome review Fangy! I love seeing the set alongside the other recent prequel/CW sets and the figures. It's great to see a Clone Wars Anakin without the ugly eyes of the earlier version of this ship. The ship itself I'm not so keen on: it looks a bit lumpy to my eyes, and like every other LEGO Delta starfighter it's too big. These Deltas are tiny things. I don't know how the price in Singapore compares to the other SW sets; this doesn't look too overpriced in GBP to me (being the same price as the Han Solo speeder) and not a rip-off like some of the other sets from this wave (I'm looking at you, X-Wing!) Keep up the good work Fangy!
  22. Rufus

    [MOC] The Last Place on Earth

    Saw this on Flickr and came here to congratulate you on a fantastic MOC - so imaginative On balance, more Sci-Fi than Fabuland but it's great to see Fabu-figures (or their heads at least ) in a different environment! How did you get the heads onto regular minifig bodies?
  23. Check out this awesome MOC from EB MOC Expert and Brickworld aficionado Pepa Quin: Click the picture or here to take a closer look in the Special Themes Forum!
  24. Rufus

    Eddie Riggs from Brütal Legend

    I love it, Matt! I'm not familiar with the game, but that's an awesome figure and love the poses you've put him in. The guitars are gorgeous, and the pile of skulls is a nice touch. Hope you enjoy Brickworld! It's going on the frontpage.