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  1. Mr Maniac

    Review: Witch's Windship

    Growing up, I was never really a huge fan of LEGO Castle. The one exception to that rule was Fright Knights, which honestly looked pretty cool in the LEGO Racers video game, as if the designers had taken the previous Castle racetracks and upped the difficulty and spookiness of it all. Years later, looking up some of the actual sets from this subtheme proved...underwhelming, with their occasionally slapdash designs and weird color schemes, suggesting that I should've stuck with the memories from that game instead. But I guess I love a good fixer-upper on occasion, since I still ended up buying most of the sets from that wave anyways. Among them was a MISB Witch's Windship. So let's go 'round the cauldron and check out this set review, which was double, double toil and trouble, especially since I took these photos last year and had to spend some time looking for them again: Info Set # - 6037 Name - Witch's Windship Theme/Subtheme - Castle/Fright Knights Year - 1997 Piece Count - 56 Minifigures - 1 Price - MSRP $8 US Links Brickset, Peeron, Bricklink, Bricksafe Box Forget your older castle subthemes, with their pleasant green fields and blue skies. We're in nightmare territory here, as you can tell from the box art. Craggy mountains in the background suggest this is a harsh, mountainous terrain with little vegetation, while the orange and red sky is very Halloween-ish, which is great. I also dig the...large bats? Dragons? Dragon bats? that are fluttering around in the background, again suggesting that we're not in Kansas anymore (or the Yellow Castle, at the very least). With all that being said, the model that is the main reason for buying this set also looks great, seemingly swooping through the sky. And don't forget that excellent logo in the upper right-hand corner of the box, still mostly visible despite the obnoxious reflection. As for the back, it's more of the same in terms of designs from 90s sets, with alternative models and additional practical photography. Given the parts selection, there aren't exactly too many alternative models you can construct, since some of these pieces are rather specialized. Though I do like how they placed Willa and that dragon-type monstrosity for the bottom-most build on what seems to be actual rocks, allowing it to mesh better with the rest of the photos in creating a consistent world. Not to mention the dragon daintily carrying her broomstick in the upper-right model photo . The sides of the box are mostly the same with a yellowy-orange color, and all are viewable on my Bricksafe folder, so we'll just put the most interesting photo in this review, leaving the others for completists. Again, it's nice to see LEGO use what looks like actual rocks here, even if they're just pieces of painted Styrofoam. I also think this alternative model doesn't look too bad given the limited range of parts we have to work with, opting for more of an aerial chariot look. Okay, enough ogling the cool box art. Let's punch a very satisfying hole in this old set and take a look at all of the nicely preserved pieces. Here's what you get if you pay a premium for this set still sealed in its box, and what you would have gotten if you picked this up back in 1997: one bag with the smaller parts, while the rest are just sitting loosely inside. We also get an instruction manual and promotional posters, which isn't too surprising. What is surprising is that Willa's excellent cape is completely unprotected from getting accidentally creased or crumpled due to loose parts. Fortunately, it looks to be just fine. Unlike some of the other older sets I've picked up MISB, the promotional materials for this one seem to be advertising new sets for next year instead of the current year, which is always a fun trip down memory lane. If I hadn't spent the summer rebuilding and playing with several of these older themes, I might feel inclined to take them out again in the near future. Instructions Now that we've got the box open, here's the instructions which...resembles the box, except with no UPC codes or appropriate age ranges, so it's cleaner. And here's your random page from inside the instructions. As you can tell, pretty straightforward, although you have to pay attention, since there are no parts call-outs telling you how many pieces you need to get through the next step. You also get treated to a really nice orange to yellow gradient, which helps maintain the spooky, creepy atmosphere that defines this theme. Unfortunately, I neglected to take a photo of the back of these instructions, but if you want to know what it looks like, simply scroll up to the photo of the back of the box, and there you go. Pieces There aren't too many parts that I personally thought were interesting, but that's largely because I've seen them in other sets I own. In any case, below are the parts of interest for me, which include the old-school LEGO dragon mold, first introduced in 1993 through the Dragon Knights subtheme. Willa's red magic wand, which has since been used in a number of clever LEGO Star Wars jokes as a substitute lightsaber blade, also first appeared in 1993 among the Dragon Knights subtheme and since then has appeared in 92 sets. Of particular interest to me are the last two parts, which are unique because they were introduced specifically for this theme. Willa's Slope 65 2x2x2 without bottom tube with dark gray and red witch's pattern has appeared in only six sets, all of which are Fright Knights with the exception of one castle set from 1997, which still does feature all the key figures from this subtheme and from the Royal Knights. Lastly, the crystal ball piece, which is always nice to have, also made its debut in the Fright Knights subtheme, and has since appeared in 48 sets. Minifigures Here's the only minifigure for this set which, as you might have guessed, puts the witch in Witch's Windship. Unless I'm mistaken, Willa the Witch is LEGO's first ever witch minifigure, and she certainly looks thrilled to be a pioneer, with that big, cackling grin complete with a single tooth. While many of the more recent witch minifigures more closely resemble the classic pop culture depiction of a witch by being green, she still looks nice all these years later. And the printed slope is also novel to me, since it seems like any kind of leg printing is a very recent phenomenon. And here's the back of Willa, with her gnarly spider cape, matching the brooch on her front. Much like Basil the Batlord's cape, we've got a nice little fringe on the bottom, giving it a slightly eviller look compared to other capes from other Castle subthemes. And for those curious, here's what Willa looks like without her cape. While the front of her dress is printed, it's clear that backprinting was still a little too advanced for the time. But since it's covered by a cape, it isn't really a problem. As far as wildlife goes, we have Willa's noble steed, represented here by that classic green dragon of yore. While Ninjago has given us plenty of really nice-looking brick-built dragons, this guy's still pretty cool and can easily sit on a desk or castle tower without taking up too much space. Seeing how this mold was first introduced in the Dragon Knights subtheme, I like to think Willa either grabbed a similar dragon or, better yet, stole him from Majisto . Another angle on this lovely dragon, which has a nice little hole in his mouth where you can place some of those older flame pieces. Sure, you can place Zamor Spheres and all sorts of other things in the newer dragon mouths, but it's still quite satisfying to have some fire shooting out of this guy's mouth. Uh-oh, looks like he's starting to sneeze. Better move on. The Build Since we only have a little over 50 parts here, the build goes fast. So fast, in fact, that I didn't have time to photograph each step. In any case, here's what I got: We start by building the base, inside the large black cockpit 10x10x4 octagonal with axle hole part. The round yellow bricks on the bottom make up the landing struts. Then after a few more steps, it's starting to take shape, complete with rear taillights, I suppose. After all, don't want to hit one of those monster bats! And after adding the ship rigging and a very simple harness for the dragon along with its wings, we have one lean, mean, medieval flying machine! For those interested, a closer view of the interior of this ship. One of the more disappointing things here is how little space there is for more than one minifigure. Sure, you could cram two more inside the basket while other Fright Knights ride on the rigging, but it sort of takes away from this working as an aerial siege engine, since space is limited. Willa even needs to stretch to reach the crystal ball for steering, which is too bad. Two wedge plates would quickly fix this problem, instead of the 2x6 plate we're stuck with instead. And here's another angle of the windship, showing those sweet taillights. Play Features Since we only have one vehicle, there isn't really too much you can do that would count as a "play feature," short of swooshing it around. The dragon can rock in its harness, which feels realistic, and as you can see below, the two axes are on red hinge bricks, which means airborne decapitations and lancings are now possible. When I first connected these hinge bricks, one of them was loose while the other was a little stiffer, but they both worked fine and I found it quite fun to swing them back and forth. And here's the complete set, with Willa and her (presumably flying) broomstick, in case this invention of hers doesn't quite work out. Overall I like the black and red, which both matches Willa's wardrobe and the Halloween-ish vibe they're going after, although I'm not quite sold on the light gray, which I too often associate with rock, something that wouldn't quite fly with something like this. Oddly enough, the yellow is fine, since it isn't as prominent as some of the Fright Knights' other vehicles. Final Thoughts Pricing and Value - Brick Insights suggests that this set is still worth it, based on the price-per-part ratio, which is currently at $0.22, an improvement over its initial price-per-part in 1997, which was $0.24. With that being said, I would probably place this at a 7/10, since cost-wise, it hasn't skyrocketed the way other sets from 1997 have, and that means plenty of unique parts for a buyer that have since been retired, without paying too much. Pieces - With only 56 parts in the set, that means most of them better count, and boy do they ever. That large octagonal part is very usable across a number of themes, and this is a pretty nice grab-bag of medieval parts if you're running low, from a magic wand, two axes, a broomstick, and a crystal ball. Oh, and don't forget that dragon, which is always a plus. So let's say 8/10. Design/Build - Surprising no one, this set is not exactly designed super well, which is a shame. While LEGO has now done several fantasy subthemes in their Castle line, with plenty of wildly impractical siege engines, I still think Fright Knights is impressive for the sheer number of medieval flying machines they tried to make. Unfortunately, with the strangely colored parts included with this set, along with the pitifully small plank for Willa to stand on, this only gets a 6/10 from me. Playability - You can swish around Willa on her broomstick, or if she doesn't feel like slumming it, put her in the windship. With the dragon attached by an axle brick, you can also get plenty of swinging action too, which seems right when your method of propulsion comes from a dragon instead of hot air. And with the axes that can swing open and close easily, I think I'm comfortable giving this an 8/10, which may seem high, but you can get a lot of mileage out of this set even though you only get a single minifigure and a dragon, without a separate faction to fight. Verdict - LEGO may have made many villainous factions for heroic knights to fight, from Vladek's forces to armies of trolls and skeletons, but for me, Fright Knights takes the cake. This faction remains one of those compelling subthemes probably because they got there first, and as you can tell by how much I gushed over the box art, has atmosphere to burn. While I love seeing some of the more recent fantasy-era Castle sets, those still seem to take place in a shared universe with the usual trappings of rolling fields and impregnable castles. Fright Knights, on the other hand, seems very different, with innumerable flying machines, booby traps, and a batlord who may or may not be a medieval vampire. Granted, the design of several of these sets leaves something to be desired, and Witch's Windship is no exception, with a lackluster interior and odd choices for the colors of certain parts. But since you aren't getting more than one minifigure, it isn't that much of a problem for me. Given how this set is a flagship vehicle of sorts, having driven by it several times on the Fright Knights' course in LEGO Racers, I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised that this set gets a 72.5% from me. Thanks for reading! Comments and questions are always welcomed! Little did Willa realize the downsides of traveling in a large, spacious basket instead of a small broomstick. Especially when dealing with a tenacious Monster Fighter. Happy Halloween!
  2. Well here I am with another exclusive review! I had no idea what to really expect with this set, so I was quite excited to see it arrive on my doorstep last week. (Though a package from Denmark is always great!) It's been a few years since my last large Technic set, but I knew a little bit about the original model released last year. When I found out I was getting this set, I did some digging and discovered that it was probably going to be pretty cool. Shall it live up to my expectations? Read on! Set Information: Name: 4X4 Crawler Set Number: 41999 Pieces: 1585 Price: $199.99 Ages: 11-16 Minifigs: N/A Theme: Technic Year of Release: 2013, Only 20,000 Made Brickset Flickr Set with all of the pictures in full size. Box: Well here's the box! This is the first set that I know of that doesn't have the completed model on the front of the box. However, it is also one of my favorite boxes, just for that reason. The stripes and dark blue, along with the LEGO and Technic logos make for a great box front. However, on the back of the box there is the usual collage of images. Most showing off the features, as well as some words, in several languages, proclaiming what features are what. Also of note, is the huge brand proclaiming this a Limited Edition set. The top of the box shows all of the Power Function elements included in the box. The 1:1 image is that of one of the new rims for the tires. Some shots of the other three sides of the box. Most giving warnings, or proclaiming in different languages that the set is Limited Edition. After slitting the tape that kept the box closed, the top of the box slides off. I do not remember a set like this one either. Most have some sort of flap that opens. I noticed on the inside of the box lid, there are signatures from what I can assume are members of the Technic design team. Do note that these are reprints and not actual signatures. And to the left as well as the right of the signatures, there's the LEGO logo and the Technic logo. Here's how the inside looked when I popped it open. This box is full to the brim! Contents: I could only fit all of the bags with pieces in my studio. There are 11 bags in total. And quite a few of them are full. The items I wasn't able to fit in the last picture are here. All of the Power Functions elements, the manuals, and all four tires. Which came out of the box that way. I believe they were packed so that the white print on the rims doesn't rub off, and it's done by hand too. That's a lot of tires! Inside the sealed manual holder that are the four manuals, the stickers, and the string. Everything was nicely flat. Quite a few stickers in this set! They really add to the set if you ask me. So I'm going to apply them all! Do note all of the rather funny designs on the stickers here before I spread them all out. The string is interesting. It's very, very thick. I had trouble threading it through the hook... New/interesting parts from the bags with a 1 on them. The large spring is cool, as well as the new joints for the drive chain. Parts that I found new/interesting from the bags with a 2 on them. Several large dark blue panels, chrome elements, and some redesigned elements. The extra parts from the bags labeled 1. Almost all of them are Technic connectors, but there's a 2x4 tile too. In case one would like to put that as their license plate instead of the specially printed one. Lastly the extra parts from all of the bags with a 2 on them. Just a few items, again mostly Technic connectors, but a few brick pieces too. Manual: The front of the manual has what I imagine the front of the box would look like if it had the truck on the front. It still has the nice dark blue with the white stripes. The first inside page tells you how to put the batteries in the multiple PF elements that need them. The next page is taken up with warnings, and then a nice image telling us only to drive it inside. Yeah I think mine will be going outside at some point. After you get through all of the warnings, the usual don't pour it out on the ground images come up and the first steps. The nice blue background is fitting for the Technic theme. The 'Smart Motor,' used in the steering column. I really think it's quite cool that it goes back to perfectly straight. Two of the manuals have build related material on them, but these two have ads for other sets. I really find these images that feature the functions from the set quite fun. There are two pages of them for this set! The first page of the part listing. And the second image of the part listing The Build: Very quickly, the steering chain is built, and the steering columns are added. The drive motors are added, and the truck starts getting taller. After the bags with a 1 on them have been emptied, the truck looks like this. You've pretty much finished the frame of the truck. Moving through the first few steps the truck gets the structural support that is needed to hold on the body panels. You quickly add the dark blue panels, and the body starts taking shape. She's all done! Boy she looks good. Completed Model: I made a few pictures of the truck before I put the stickers on it. I had no problem putting them on but I know some of you don't put stickers on at all, these pictures are for you. I really could have gone either way with the stickers. It looks great without them, but I think the stickers add just enough to make it look a TON better. This one has stickers on it. I immediately notice the stripes on the doors when I look at this picture. Though you can see quite a few of the stickers that have been put on the truck from this picture. The rally/muscle car design is great. I really prefer it over the SUV design of the original model. And the dark blue. Here's a front on shot. You can see the four headlights, the winch and the slight slope up of the engine cover. From the side shot, one notices most of the stickers that are put on the set. I also noticed how much room there is between the tires and the bottom of the car body. And a back shot. One can see the nice tail lights, the license plate, and some of the stickers on the back are visible. A close up of the front of the truck. The first thing I notice is the lovely chrome elements that make up the bumper. They really look great. Cockpit shot. Do note that the chairs don't go all of the way down, and you can also see the lever that operates the winch. And the back 'trunk' area of the truck. And yes, all of those are individual stickers. But they really make it look nicely like a rally car. The white print on the rims is nice. I think LEGO was trying for a white walled tires look, and it looks pretty good. As I said, LEGO only made 20,000 of this set. Each set came with an exclusively printed license plate with the number your set is. I got set 01366 of 20,000 which is a pretty low number. Opening the doors allows one to pull up the top so you can access the electrical components. With eight PF components there are quite a few wires in there. The winch mechanism. That small motor is jammed in there, and there's also a clutch gear to keep you from killing your motor trying to pull something. The red Technic bar slides into the two 2x1 rubber pieces to keep the door closed. Very interesting and works well too. One can see some of the large number of wires that are jammed into the body of this guy. LEGO has done a good job keeping them contained though. Drive chain close up. Not much to see on the outside but, this shot does allow you to see that the whole drive chain moves up and down. Here's the steering motor. It's encased in quite a few Technic parts. To try to give you a sense of scale, here's a shot of my sigfig standing next to the truck. It is HUGE! I rebuilt my Technic Bulldozer to get some comparison shots. It really is just about the same size. And a profile shot of the two vehicles. Functions: Just watch this video. It features all of the functions as well as some nice driving. Please try to ignore the television noises in the background. Conclusion: Well, she's complete! The design on this truck/muscle car really does a lot more for me than the SUV style original model. The build was thoroughly interesting, and the functions are quite fun. I can see myself using this quite often. Nice job Rm8, I really like your new cover design! And a big thank you to Eurobricks and LEGO for letting me review this set! Ratings: Playability: 10/10 I can't think of much else this should be able to do. And what it can do makes quite an extensive list. Design: 9/10 The design is very nice, like I've said it looks much more like a muscle car. Price: 8/10 Price wise, I think it is decent. If the price was $150 or so, I think it'd be a little bit better. Parts: 9/10 There is quite an array of parts in new colors here. Total: 36/40 This box is so cool, here's another shot of it. Like this review? Want to learn how to make good reviews? Then join the Reviewers Academy!
  3. Deep in the Sahara Desert, the villainous Sam Sinister has decided to lug a large, bulky crate in his too-small car to a mysterious lost tomb! Will he find the Pharaoh's magical Re-Gou ruby? Is the mummy's curse real? Will I be able to fit in more jokes for this review? Let's find out! Info Set # - 2996 Name - The Lost Tomb/Adventurer's Tomb Theme/Subtheme - Adventurers/Desert Year - 1998 Piece Count - 81 Minifigures - 2 Price - MSRP $8 US Links Brickset, Peeron, Bricklink, Bricksafe Box So...about that. Since I got this set used off Bricklink, no box came with it, but we'll chalk that up to digging in the wrong place. A fun footnote here is that LEGO basically chose to use the same name for an Indiana Jones set. Guess there's quite a few lost tombs in LEGO Egypt. Instructions It's just a book. No harm ever came from reading a book. Unless you're used to new instruction manuals, of course, with their neat, numbered bags and piece call-outs. Then you're in trouble. But first, the front of the manual, with the lovely background made up of reds and oranges. I always enjoyed the atmosphere of these manuals, where all the action seems to take place either at sunrise or sunset (for Sinister, let's hope it's the former, seeing how he has no flashlight or torch). While lacking in mirages that distinguish some of the larger sets' instructions, you still get some pyramids in the distance, which is nice, along with a fun little scene of Sam Sinister fleeing to his crate to get some heavier firepower to deal with the Pharaoh's Mummy and local wildlife. The back of the instruction manual continues with the gorgeous sky and harsh desert sand motif, plus a fun little box cut-out with hieroglyphic borders and two alternative models you can build with all 81 pieces. Admittedly, that's not a lot of parts to work with, so the alternative models aren't too interesting to me. Though the building facade for the larger image does have a nice look to it, and you get to see Sinister's crazy parkour skills. Inside the manual, we have more design decisions I love, including the old, cracked numbers and the papyrus-like background. Not to mention the mirage-like designs for specific call-outs, such as when you attach the door part to the hinge brick. And bordering it all are those lovely obelisk designs which, if you're willing to squint at them long enough, seem to have some Egyptian hieroglyphics etched on each one. Now that's attention to detail. And in the interest of being thorough, color distinction between parts is perfect. Pieces Maybe it wasn't Plagues of Egypt bad, but man was it annoying getting every single part lined up and organized, including the plates that will make up the base of the tomb and the car. So please take some time before you scroll past to marvel at my incredible organizational skill. Pretty impressive, eh? Now that you're done marveling, back to business. As far as interesting parts go, most of these are relatively common, but at the time, quite a few of these were a big deal. Sure, the 3x4x1 and 2/3 crate may appear in 221 sets now, but this was the first theme to introduce it. Similarly, the Vehicle Grille 1x2x2 Round Top with Lights may have appeared in 24 sets now (almost all of which were Adventurers sets), but again, for the time, it was pretty interesting to have such a unique part that would let you build an older car so quickly. Same for the two sarcophagus pieces. While the blue half has popped up in countless sets, the top half remains pretty unique, having only recently reappeared in pearl gold for three new-ish sets. The two black doors are more unique than I thought, only appearing in four sets total, compared to the 13 or so sets where they appeared in brown. While the Slope 45 2x2 Double is fairly common in black (though not compared to red), the Modified Brick 1x2x1 and 1/3 with curved top is somewhat rare in Dark Gray, unless you're one of the lucky few to own the original Chamber of Secrets set. And finally, the Mummy Headress remains very rare and unique in this form, having only appeared in 10 sets total, while the ruby is now far more common and appears in far more colors. But we'll get to that later. True to the theme, no stickers need apply here, because they're all printed. Obviously there are at least two sets that have stickers, but this is not one of them. Instead, we get a nice small grab-bag of hieroglyphic parts, with the two columns possibly spelling something funny if anyone knows how to decode these, while the center features an ominous warning for anyone opening black doors. Hmmm... Finally, we have the accessories, which are rather extensive despite it being such a small set, but useful for any tomb raiding you may want to do. While the ruby already appeared in the interesting parts photo, I decided to include it here because it's just too cool to be limited to one shot. Again, while these gem parts may pop up anywhere and everywhere to bump up the value of treasure, this was a pretty unique item to have back in 1998. Sure, the original Ninja sets used it everywhere, and Adventurers certainly wasn't stingy with it, but no wonder it popped up all over the place! I have several sets featuring non-chrome treasure before this part debuted, and what a difference it made when this came around, letting you drop the regular transparent studs which were supposed to be jewels in favor of these parts. Minifigures We go from worse to bad here in terms of characters, with the Pharaoh's Mummy/Hotep and Sam Sinister, with excellent detailing on Hotep's legs and both torsos, which can have extensive usage across a wide range of themes. I appreciate how for Adventurers, LEGO was willing to give us a number of sets without Johnny Thunder. The dude looked great, of course, and fit the bill as a dashing archaeological hero, but I appreciate how deep the bench of characters seemed where you could purchase several sets and not just get a duplicate of Johnny all the time, but duplicates of Baron Von Barron, Sam Sinister or Dr. Charles Lightning/Kilroy. The same, of course, can't always be said for more recent themes (sorry Hidden Side!). The backs of each of the minifigures have no printing, of course, which was the norm at the time, but doesn't matter too much. Sinister's fancy black suit doesn't need any detailing (even if it's not the wisest thing to wear in the desert), and Hotep's headress will cover up most of his back anyway. There we go! Now Sinister's ready for a night out on the town (or for a night out excavating a sarcophagus. Whichever comes first), while the Pharaoh's Mummy is ready to unleash a curse! And what good is a curse if you don't have any dangerous, poisonous creatures to do your bidding? Why, it's no curse at all! Hence the inclusion of a scorpion and snake, which make up all the animals in this set, with both capable of working quite nicely with more modern sets and parts. The Build Given the size of this set, it's fairly straightforward and not really complex, unless you're not paying attention to the instructions, which require a bit more concentration with no part call-outs. We start with the tomb itself, building the base using the 4x12 tan plate and the 2x10 light gray plate. Add the mysterious, foreboding black doors and some columns... ...An archway... ...Some of the printed parts, and... ...We have a not-so-Lost Tomb! Some additional angles of the tomb itself, which is rather shallow, as you can tell. That said, I like the recessed doors at the entrance. Next up is Sam Sinister's small car. We start with the vehicle base... ...Throw on some dark gray panels so he doesn't fall off as it meanders around some sand dunes... ...Add a steering wheel and a few more bricks, including some fairly convincing mudflaps for the front tires using those modified bricks... ...And we have a car! Sure it may be small, but look at the size of that front grille! Some more angles of this vehicle show you just how small it is. Realistic it is not, of course, but it does seem very fitting for the character driving it. If Baron Von Barron gets a heavily-armed, loud biplane, why shouldn't the sneaky Sam Sinister get a tiny little car to drive around in? To me it's the perfect vehicle to use when you're nabbing treasure from right underneath Johnny Thunder's nose. That is, if he had one printed on his head. Now all that's left are a few small builds. So after magically transforming these parts... ...Into a pretty convincing campsite (with a special shout-out to that extra 2x3 plate in case you want the crate closed up completely)... ...in addition to sealing the Pharaoh's Mummy into his sarcophagus with the magical ruby... ...The set is complete! Again, while small, the overall impression is pretty spot-on as a minor excavation project, complete with the vehicle, tomb entrance, campsite-as-crate, and sarcophagus. Play Features Admittedly, once you build it, there's not much to do here, short of zooming Sinister's car around the tomb. You can open the doors, but as you can see below, it's hard to pull it off if you're trying to cram the sarcophagus back there. There we go, much better (once you've taken the sarcophagus off the plate). Obviously the downside here is that the set is already not very portable, seeing how you've got to carry a crate, a car and a tomb. Add in the sarcophagus and you're going to have some full hands, since there's no convenient spot to place the sarcophagus. So how to get around it? Simple! By using these nine parts... ...You've got a brand-new (but still lost) tomb! Some additional angles of my...let's just call it The Lost Tomb of MOC-MOD. Benefits of building the set this way is that you can actually fit the sarcophagus comfortably in the structure (with the original printed columns on either side), and the doors open outward, much like the warning hieroglyphic on the front foretold. Plus using a 2x10 tan plate blends better with the 4x12 plate, if you're into that sort of thing. Final Thoughts Going to try to use some numbers on this one (even though I'm not a fan), so bear with me. Pricing and Value - According to Brick Insights, the price-per-part for this set today is $0.16, which is better than it was back in 1998, when it was only at $0.02. That said, I think I would have to give it a 6/10, as it's slightly above average, and isn't as valuable as similar small sets from this theme, like, say, Oasis Ambush. Pieces - Here's where this set shines, in my opinion. You get printed hieroglyphic parts, fancy early-20th Century car parts, digging equipment, guns, and a sarcophagus as well. Not to mention the black doors, which are nice to have if you want to build a larger tomb entrance with that hieroglyphic above. As a parts pack, it's pretty good, so let's try a 8/10. Design/Build - Not too much to say here, other than what you get with the instructions is pretty decent as far as tombs go, although lacking in some of the more innovative booby traps/play features that make up the rest of the sets from the desert subtheme. But I do like the car, and the recessed doors are pretty neat, so 7/10. Playability - Open the doors, close the doors. Say 'Open Sesame' or don't, but there's not much else to do with just this set. Sam Sinister's car is fun to drive around, and having him 'excavate' (even if he's missing the most crucial tool in any self-respecting LEGO archaeologist's arsenal) can be fun, although this set works best with more Adventurers sets and characters. So it'll get a 6/10 from me on that front. Verdict: The Lost Tomb (or Adventurer's Tomb, depending on how Sam Sinister fares) is a perfectly decent set. It obviously won't surpass Pharaoh's Forbidden Ruins, Sphinx's Secret Surprise, or even Oasis Ambush. What it can do, however, is complement those sets if you own them, giving you one more sarcophagus to play with and a neat little vehicle (if you choose to keep it built) for Sinister to tool around in. So that would be (if I didn't completely botch the math) a 67.5%. Thanks for reading! Comments and questions always welcome! Don't look Sam! Keep your eyes shut! (Or at least read the sign)
  4. Hey everyone! I am launching a new review series focusing on every single canonized model from the Bionicle fan community, be it via contests, books, or more. I intend to build every single one that has instructions published when this is all said and done, and if there's enough interest I'll keep updating this post to include the next models! Here's the first one, focusing on Tobduk, operative of the Order of Mata Nui. Let me know what you think or if you have any comments or suggestions for the reviews down below, and thanks for watching! Next up is Makuta Miserix!
  5. As I begin to write this review, I am enjoying the warm days of mid-September; Summery enough for kids to want ice lollies and for there to be fruit and green leaves on the trees. It still plays on my mind, however, that the local supermarket has Christmas goods already in stock, and I know of a fair few people who start their Winter celebration preparations as early as now (for a variety of reasons I shall not go into - I am not one of them.) With that in mind, LEGO are about to release this set which very strongly looks like it is meant to be a Winter Decoration, especially with the greenery and Saturnalian colours. The name "Christmas Wreath" is a dead giveaway, though. So, is it a decorative decoration? Is it a fun build? Is it worth buying? Read on to find out more. Number – 40426 Name – Christmas Wreath 2-in-1 Theme – Merchandise Year – 2020 Pieces – 510 Price – GB £30.99. EUR €34.11 (according to German Shop@Home), US $34.99 Links: Brickset, Peeron - not listed yet, BrickLink - not yet listed, Shop@Home - available from October 1st Information from LEGO shop@home: The Box The box is one of those nice flippy-top boxes that feels a bit sturdier than the usual set boxes, and this probably represents the fact that you’re meant to build this set, display it, break it down and put it back in the box ready to be rebuilt again next Winter, or even just put it back in the box still built. It strikes me as a wise choice, and it reinforces that this isn’t just a gimmick item; a novelty for one year, but rather something to be treasured for multiple years. The front has no-nonsense artwork; it shows the primary build against an ashen tongue and groove wooden background, presumably (but not certainly) a door. Very Scandi. The colour stripe down the side is green, a colour not often seen, which offsets the LEGO logo and the insert picture of the secondary build quite nicely. This is advertised as a 2-in-1, but as we’ll see there’s even more to it than that! The back of the box shows the secondary build on a mahogany-like table, in what looks like a real room with a window in the background and other ‘real’ items like the candle snuffer (as an aside, I couldn’t remember what that was called, so I googled “candle putter outer” and discovered that that’s quite a common thing to google as nobody else can remember it’s called a candle snuffer either.) Anyway, it all looks rather grown-up and serious. This is not a child’s toy, it is not for playing with, it is for display amongst antique furniture and items people can’t remember the names of. You must put it in a room with a window through which you can see proper (preferably well-tended) grass. The box sides are beige and inoffensive where they host the usual warnings and parts size indicator, and they are brightened up considerably by the green and bright green tile and plate tessellation pattern on the remaining sides. Again the red of the small picture of the primary build and of the LEGO logo really pop against this background. Once you get the box open, there’s a potentially confusing assortment of bags. Two bags are labelled “1”, three bags are labelled “2” and one bag is labelled “3”. If you’re getting this as a gift for someone who isn’t all that LEGO-savvy, they might wonder what on Earth is going on. Instruction Booklets Underneath the bags of parts, there are two instruction booklets, one each for the two main builds. These are labelled “1” and “2” and it’s pretty obvious what they’re for, especially as they have very nice pictures of the respective builds on the front of the booklets, just as they were on the box. The backs of the first instruction booklet has a very grown up and sensible LEGO man with a cup of coffee suggesting “win” in a slightly above normal speaking volume voice, as opposed to a Firefighter or a Police Officer shouting it as you'd find on the more child-oriented sets. I say that, but actually I spotted an instruction booklet for one of my kids' LEGO Movie 2 sets who also had genteel coffee dude, so maybe I'm reading too much into this. The back of the second booklet has the ever-useful inventory page. I really do find this useful, so here's a clearer picture. If you want to get a handle on what’s in this set, this will tell you, however don’t go anywhere because I’ll show you the actual bricks themselves too. Parts So I’ve done this bag by bag, because for some of these items the actual quantity seems somewhat astonishing. There’s not a massive array of colours, and anything that doesn’t fit into the Saturnalian theme, like the blue and yellow, you know will be destined to a supporting role somewhere deep within the model. I did think a few times, “ooh, there’s lots of those, that’s good.” There aren't really any parts that made me jump for joy, and nothing especially stands out to me aside from being present in a larger quantity. The pearl gold flower 1x1 plate was new as of 2019, and has been found in a few sets but only one in each, not 14. The bright green plant stem with 3 leaves was also new in 2019, and again has been found in a few sets but only in a similar quantity in three other sets. There are an astonishing 36 of the 4x3 plant leaves! The closest previously was16 each in 4209: Fire Plane from 2012, and 10173: Holiday Train from 2006. As for the plant plate with three leaves - there are 40 here, with the past closest being this year’s 80105: Chinese New Year Temple Fair. The Build So, if we go back to the instructions and compare the first steps of each build, we can see they are extremely similar. In fact, the difference comes only because one model is hanging and one will sit flat, and the chunk of the basic ring structure that holds the string with end studs to allow the hanging one to hang obviously isn’t present when built as a flat candle display. For the flat model (Build 2) that chunk is just built like all the others, but still has the red brick base as it’s useful for orientation when building. Regardless of which model you’re building, making 16 of these nuggets is pretty tedious. You can see why it’s necessary, there’s no other way of doing it, but it is still really quite dull. I could have stopped part of the way through to show you some build pictures, but there wasn’t really a sensible place to stop and I probably would have lost where I got up to. Putting the greenery on is like foliage greebling - is there a word for that? I am reliably told there isn’t, so maybe it should be “foliabling”? Or “greenbling”? Anyway this foliage greebling involves the most intense game of spot-the-difference I have ever played. Due to the lack of variety in colours (I’m not saying they should be different and I can see why it’s necessary, it would look a lot less Saturnalian with orange, magenta and aqua) it can be very hard to see where and how a piece of foliage has been added sometimes. It makes it a challenging build, but not necessarily a fun-challenging, I’m sorry to say. There are some nice techniques used, and a whole lot of SNOT-work, which is pleasing. Building the curved, rounded, bright red bow was actually my favourite part of the build, and it was a satisfying moment to attach it to model and complete the first build. It’s a really nice model once it’s built. I thought parts of it might look a little bare, but really any more foliage would have just looked messy. I particularly like that it isn’t symmetrical; the downside (or maybe an upside) is that the build is less predictable, but it makes the model look a little more organic, in as much as LEGO can. There’s a nice variety of plant parts used, but I have to admit I’m not completely convinced with the 6x5 swordleaf plant leaves in this. It was the best part that could be used, I can appreciate that, but it doesn’t feel (and I’ve been trying to avoid using this word) Christmassy. I know that December holidays happen in summer for half the world, but it is heavily implied that they’re trying for a particular mid-winter look when they’re using red and white berries, and styling palm fronds to look like holly. It looks really nice as long as you don’t look too closely at it and think about palm trees, and the bow is definitely the best bit. I successfully hung the build up for a while and nothing fell off (quite a lot of the 4x3 plant leaves are secured with the 2x1 curved slopes), and the string with studs was able to take the strain just fine. It doesn’t take too much to knock stuff off though, so don’t put it on the back of a door that might slam, for instance, or where kids can get to it and fiddle with it. Moving on to build two, which is slightly different. You’ll find yourself being quietly relieved you don’t have to rebuild all 16 chunks of the circular base, just fiddling with one chunk to take the string with studs out and make it more like its siblings. On the second build you put the bows on first, and then do all the fiddly stuff. It doesn’t make it better or worse, just different. There’s still plenty of greenery greebling. There is symmetry with this model, which makes the build slightly less headachey, but it can be tricky occasionally to see exactly where the right bits are meant to go. This is heavily implied to be a sort of Advent ring, with the four candles (to my fellow Brits I would love to make a reference to the joke here, but I can’t!) Following the instructions has the candles at different heights, but there are enough pieces provided to make all the candles tall if that’s what you’d prefer. I can see this on a table as a decoration; it looks much better from slightly above rather than straight down. It looks very pretty and festive, but it is very easy to knock bits off. It’s also going to be in an easier position to repair, but if people reach across it, it’s quite easy to knock the candles off. On the plus side they won’t burn your house down, so there’s that. I do like this model, but you’d have to have the right place to put it. Alternate Builds Imagine my unbridled joy at discovering four more suggestions for ways to build this wreath! Obviously building these foliage-festooned rings had been just too simple with instructions, so now it’s time to build them without! I am sure that when this set is available there will be links to instructions online, however no mention is made of that in the instruction booklet. This does helpfully illustrate that actually, you can make this wreath anything you want, and there are plenty of parts to be rearranged to your aesthetic whims. Having cut my teeth building the alternate crazy builds in FABULAND sets, I wasn’t going to let the opportunity to do so with this set pass me by. I did only build A and C though because, you know, I’m not insane. Alternate build A is probably my favourite configuration. It was fiddly to build it just from one picture, but it didn’t take that long and I like the way it ended up. The smaller red bows are super cute, and super easy if you’ve just built build 2 as they are the same! A lot of the pieces are there to help stabilise the foliage parts and anchor them down, but again there are still areas (particularly the swordleaf plant leaves) that are vulnerable to being knocked off. I do think this looks the best. As an alternative to build 1 I thought I would make build C as another hanging wreath. I was drawn to this over build D because of the removal of red. I like that the designer here has managed to be just as creative, and Saturnalian, without using any of the red detailing (the red index chunk of the wreath notwithstanding.) Again, I am pleased that it looks as good in the brick as it does in the instruction booklet. I had no doubt it would hang, as I knew the string with studs would hold, but I was also very much reassured that no bits fell off on hanging it up. Again, I would think very carefully where I’d put this, but it is very attractive as a decoration. Having built four of six possible models, I shall introduce you to the hero of the set. With a whole family crazily devoted to LEGO, we have an insane number of brick separators, but I was super glad to have this one to hand with this set. I have built and rebuilt all manner of things, but this is so fiddly, and there are so many small things attached to other small things that I have never been so incredibly grateful for a brick separator. I don’t even care that it’s orange. If you decide you’ve built this enough times already now and you’d just like to put it away for next year without breaking it down again, and that also you’d prefer not to have to rebuild it all over again next year, then you can just shove the whole thing as is in the box it came in. Hooray! for whoever made that decision, to make the box big enough to accommodate the built model. Somebody at TLC should buy that person a beer. So you might have to take the candles off, but chances are you’ll have spent a fair amount of time over the festive period reattaching the candles after they’ve been knocked off anyway, so you’ll be an expert. It's a very tight squeeze, as you can see, and there's a fair-to-middling chance that bits will come off. Even if they don't, you'll have to keep the box perfectly flat at all times, as those clippy swordleaf parts will just ping right off with any pressure. Assume some rebuilding will be necessary next year and put the instructions at the bottom and remember the bag of unused parts! Conclusion Design: 7/10 It's advertised as 2-in-1 but in reality there are six builds to try out, all of which are very pretty decorations in their own different ways. The design is really very Christmassy, or Saturnalian if you prefer, and there are many efforts to stabilise and anchor parts, but it remains fragile by its very nature. It's great that there are so many alternate examples, but I'm not sure how many people would be willing to try so many out after just building any configuration once. Parts: 7/10 Nothing here is hugely exciting, unless you love getting tons of greenery, in which case you'll be very excited! Using the swordleaf leaves with clips gives the wreath a slightly odd tropical feel, and although there's a lot of greenery here, I feel they could have mixed it up a bit. Minifigs: N/A Build: 5/10 I feel bad for saying this but I didn't enjoy the build all that much at all. There's a lot of moving on to the next 'nugget' and then going back to the 'nugget' before. You have to look very carefully at what you're putting down, how many and where. Trying to put new parts down can make you knock previously placed parts off, which can be very frustrating. My kids love building anything, but I think they would give up in exasperation and boredom if tasked with building this. Playability: N/A Price: 6/10 It's an odd price in Europe - £30.99 or €34.11, and it's probably been price-pointed (I don't know if that's a verb, but it is now) based on the US market. I think under £30 would have been reasonable, and before the price was released I was expecting it to be approximately £25 or so. I know it's designed to be used again and again, but isn't all LEGO? Overall 63% This is a very grown up LEGO model, designed for a very specific purpose. As a set you have a wide variety of ways to build in order to create some really quite lovely Saturnalian decorations. The builds aren’t necessarily fun, and occasionally are repetitive or fiddly, but the built models are attractive and would not look odd as decorations. There are some caveats in how they might be displayed, due to some fragility, and this is not a set for a LEGO novice. If you were to get this for someone, I would strongly suggest that you gift it well in advance of any celebration so there is time for it to be built and enjoyed over the holiday, and so that person is not spending a day of celebration getting frustrated with a fiddly LEGO build. I am very glad to have this, however, and I might well have bought this for myself although I find the price a little steep. Additionally, this is a remarkable leaf parts pack too, albeit an expensive one. I wonder if it might have worked better as an actual parts pack - by which I mean include a variety of parts to make your own wreath, with a few suggestions on how to in the booklet. Some ideas on how to build different bows and having more variety in the parts to truly individualise it would have been much more exciting and desirable. Nonetheless it is likely I will have this built and displayed over the festive season, although whether it returns next year remains to be seen. I made my own and used bamboo!
  6. 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
  7. Mr Maniac

    Review: Deep Sea Refuge

    Hello everyone! Long-time lurker, (relatively) first-time poster! With LEGO's latest Deep Sea lineup having taken longer than planned to come to the U.S. (wonder if there's any world events that might explain the delay?), I decided to browse through some of the old 1997 Divers sets earlier in the summer to see if anything caught my eye. Sure enough, I happened upon a MISB edition of Deep Sea Refuge on eBay. Having played with it at a friend's house as a kid, I decided to snap it up. But with the newest sets having a state-of-the-art underwater research station, does this original model still hold up? Let's find out as we go beyond the sea (just kidding, we're going under it. Sorry Bobby Darin.) Info Set # - 6441 Name - Deep Sea Refuge Theme/Subtheme - Town/Divers Year - 1997 Piece Count - 433 Minifigures - 5 Price - MSRP $60 US Links Brickset, Peeron, Bricklink, Bricksafe Box Aside from a few minor dents and scrapes, the box still looks pretty good. Love that sunshine pattern on the seafloor. Definitely way more inviting than the box art for Aquazone, Atlantis or recent Deep Sea sets. It gives off that peaceful tropical island vibe that quite a few of the 90s sets gave me, although it probably helps that the only foliage available at the time were palm trees or those little conical and spherical versions. We also have the very cool Divers subtheme logo in the upper right-hand corner, along with an old price tag sticker that's still on the box. I won't say how much I paid for this thing unless asked, but I can assure you it was far from the original $59.99 shown here. That said, that logo continues to be great, reeking of atmosphere. You can practically hear the Jaws theme playing as Mr. Mask and Snorkel here looks to the surface and sees the shark silhouette, wondering if it saw him, if he can make it to safety... Moving on, the back of the box gives you some very fun alternative LEGO models, including a goofy little water slide and diving board setup, along with a larger (and smaller) undersea research station. Overall, they all seem pretty good to me, even if the boat on the largest alternative model picture looks a little strange with the bubble windshield. But that's the fun of LEGO. Now here's the good stuff. Like most boxes from this age, we have a great inner flap with more set pictures and some flavor text to help unleash your inner Jacques Cousteau, which I transcribed for all of you lovely people. "The ocean depths hold many mysteries and dangers. Sharks, stingrays and possibly sunken treasure! With building sets from the LEGO SYSTEM Divers collection, only you, the LEGO MANIAC, will find the secrets of the deep." The same flavor text is also available in French and Spanish for those in the multilingual crowd. We also have the customary (for the time, at least) plastic window which has some of the specialized parts on the left, with a random assortment of parts in bags to the right, complete with fun little scenes of the divers trying to outswim an octopus while a possible Captain Redbeard shipwreck lingers in the background. I understand why LEGO doesn't do this anymore, but man, it'd be great to bring this back. The top of the box feature some attractive water patterns, complete with rays of sun hitting the waves and the top of the ship's antenna and flag, which suggests the boat sank. Guess the pilot should've read the legal notice on the side of the box, which clearly states "NOT FOR USE IN WATER." The bottom of the box has some more of that big beautiful water pattern, complete with a porthole-like window design for viewing the diver minifigures and all that sweet, sweet animal life. Plus a now-useless barcode. Finally, the sides of the box both feature another angle of the set, with a captured shark and a sawfish that's getting a little too close for comfort for one of the divers. Once you open it, the seafaring fun doesn't stop at the exterior of the box, with a blue tray that helps contribute to the aquatic atmosphere. Take all the bags out of the right partition and you get the instructions plus a small catalogue which shows the hottest sets of 1997. Had to take a photo of the Divers page, as it looks great, with none of the obvious computer backgrounds that most promotional art has now. Instructions No surprises here. It's about the same as the box front, except without the name or age range. On the back are those wonderfully goofy alternative models again, along with a small blue tag in the lower left corner, which would be cut out and sent to LEGO for a magazine subscription. It may be repetitive, but I'll take this over Win-Shouty Kid any day of the week. Here's a random page in the actual instruction booklet. As you can see, no call-outs for individual parts, although submodels do have little yellow boxes. This can make for a more challenging build if you're not paying attention, though it's what I'm used to, so no problems there. Given the limited color palette, you get very good color differentiation, along with some fun graphics of schools of fish swimming around behind the instructions. Pieces Here's the eight bags that'll make up the whole set, still freshly sealed from all the way back in 1997. While LEGO doesn't use the bags with holes in them anymore (presumably to ensure the parts stay fresh), they still have a nice tactile quality to them. As far as loose parts go, all we've got here is one long string that will make up the winch and one lone LURP, which were everywhere back in the day. Two tan 32x16-stud baseplates make up the last loose parts in the box. Not as exciting as some other aquatic baseplates, but does provide plenty of room for staging little dioramas. Here's my first attempt at creating a photo grid in PhotoShop, with four of the bags open. Again, much like the instructions, no neat and orderly numbered bags like they make now. Chaos reigns when it comes to what parts are in what bag, so you just have to open all of them. Depending on your point of view, it can be either incredibly frustrating or incredibly rewarding to scrounge around until you find the exact piece you're looking for. And here's my second attempt at creating a photo grid in PhotoShop. With another four bags open, we can get started...almost. In case you couldn't see what was in the one plastic window, which so ably displayed all the cool new parts from this subtheme, worry not, as I took another photo of the parts after peeling the film away. We get some more sea life, some seaweed, two minifigures that have been tragically bisected by the sawfish and a few printed parts. As for the parts of interest, we have not one, not two, but three light-blue bubble windscreens, which were the most common versions according to Bricklink and mostly appeared in Divers sets (and were always excellent to have). We also get some neat modified bricks which were quite rare, only appearing in two sets in white and five sets total. The white and yellow panels 4x3x3 with portholes are also somewhat rare, having only appeared in five sets total, and only two sets in the color white, both from the Divers theme. As for the white panel 4x4x6 concave, these parts only appeared in seven sets, including some older ones from the space theme. Both the white and yellow 3x3x3 corner convex parts are probably one the more unique items here, having solely appeared in divers sets, while the minifigure handjet was sprinkled among a number of themes and subthemes (no pun intended), including an Aquazone set and Alpha Team: Mission Deep Sea one. Perhaps one of the more surprising finds here was the bow top, 6x6x1, which only appeared in two Divers sets. All told, quite a catch. As befits LEGO's generosity, we get two separate DSS for this set. I opted to leave off the marine life ones that go on the LURP since we now have actual molds to fill the gap, but I ended up using all the ones on the larger sheet, as it helps give the set some more character. Fortunately, LEGO's not a complete monster, and does give us plenty of excellent printed parts to make up for all the stickers, including control panels, a diving flag and three fun sea life tiles that will be part of a play feature. While I don't think it's to the same level as Adventurers, we still get lots of nice accessories for the minifigures to use as they explore the depths, along with two baseball hats to wear when they're not. Minifigures After getting the minifigures into emergency surgery (otherwise known as my hands), they're back together and ready to go! While they work well enough as generic figs to play around with, the May/June 1997 issue of Mania Magazine saw fit to give them all names that, depending on your perspective, are either endearingly silly or irritatingly cute. From left to right, we have Cora Reef (I think), twins Tug Topside and R.C. Scooter, along with Diver Dan and Scuba Sandy. As befits minifigures from this era, no backprinting exists for any of these characters, although the front of their uniforms are on-point, with great little sub logos that suggests a level of financing and organization the blue divers from the same subtheme simply don't have. Here's the gang with all their uniforms and scuba equipment on. Now we have a little more differentiation among the identical ones, and some of the flippers come into play. Love how the red and black flippers contribute to the overall look of the uniform. A rear shot of Cora and Dan with their oxygen tanks on. Kind of wish LEGO still used these ones, instead of the dual tanks from space sets, which are smaller and less detailed. We also get plenty of aquatic life for this set, including two stingrays, the happiest (and rarest) dolphin I've seen, the common sawfish and octopus, plus a white shark that may or may not be great. Hard to say with the newer one from this year. The Build We start by building the boat, which fits in nicely with the color scheme of the overall set. Even the 1x4 red brick works given the color band that makes up part of the actual Refuge structure. Build it up some more with a crane boom and some steering... ...then after tying off the string to the winch and hook, which is one of the two most frustrating steps in the world... ...you'll have a boat! Though something's still missing. So, after the second most frustrating step in the world... The boat is complete! While I don't have too many of the larger brick-built boats from this theme, the design of the cabin is particularly nice with the raised platform for the sonar dish. Not to mention the stern of the boat works better than the one from Shark Cage Cove, which always seemed a little low. Some other angles of the boat. One thing I like here is how the number on the side corresponds to the set number, something that still gets done anytime you pick up a set that has a vehicle in it. Now to move onto the main course that is the Deep Sea Refuge itself. I was surprised the instructions had you start on the main model immediately after building one of the two vehicles, but so it goes. We start by building the base. The blue hinge brick in the center is part of a play function that we'll come back to later. Add some flooring and the all-important chrome silver knives... ...followed by some furniture and hooks that will make up the changing room for divers... ...and we're well on our way. But first, a sub-model in the form of an X-ray machine. Obviously sleeker versions can be made now, but it works just fine and fits in nicely. Now it's starting to take shape. The machine on the opposite side of the X-ray machine is supposed to be a microscope, though it may not be the best version I've seen. The changing room for divers looks good, and fits all the extra scuba accessories that come with the set. Once that's complete, the Refuge gets closed up and we start working on the rock formation. Add a LURP and a roof to the Refuge... ...and we're done! While Sebastian and Flounder may be missing, there's still plenty of room on the two 32x16-stud baseplates for the sea life and divers we do get from the set. Some more angles of the Refuge itself. While it's quite bulbous, the shaping actually works for the structure, even if the greenery is a little samey compared to the diversity of parts we're spoiled with now. Now that we've gotten through the appetizer and main course, time for dessert, in the shape of a yellow submarine. We start with the base... Add in some branded compartments and that fishy computer screen in rear... ...and the sub starts to take shape once we add the last bubble windscreen and the porthole panels. Much like Aquazone sets, this sub comes with two moveable arms, even if it's missing a magnet hand. Unlike Aquazone sets, the joints that make up the arms seem to be slightly sturdier and less breakable, since they use fewer finger hinge parts. Guess time will tell if they break as readily. Also of note are the parts they use for the hands of the arms. I've only seen the towball piece used as part of a winch before, so it's cool to see a different use for it here. And there we are, one yellow submarine! While not as fancy as the one used by The Beatles, it still pops nicely. Another two angles of the sub. If you can ignore my crooked sticker placement on the rear and the shoddy PhotoShop job I did, you'll see this is one sleek machine, a far cry from the Crystal Explorer Sub's bulbousness. The fence pieces on top, along with the light gray bar adds some nice greebling detail. Hats aside, the two spare parts here include a Technic axle and a trans-clear 1x1 round stud. Pretty basic. Play Features While lacking in such traditional fun-filled action features from our "enlightened" age like flick-fire missiles or stud shooters, there's still some good solid stuff here. The most interesting feature that springs to mind is how easy it is to get inside the Refuge. With two hinge bricks, the structure easily swings open. There we go! Plenty of room for Sandy to do her research and for Diver Dan to get a new oxygen tank. Here you can see the cleverness of using trans-light-blue for the bubble windscreens, making it seem as if they're actually underwater, instead of an ad hoc photo studio. The placement of seaweed right outside both of the windscreens is also a solid design choice, giving the illusion of swimming to a stingray on the left and Cora on the right. So I'm cheating here, but didn't want to figure out the proper exposure for a printed tile on black under a dark blue window, so I'm stealing from the instructions. All three tiles, much like the Exploriens gimmick (and maybe a few others) look scrambled under normal light, but once you look at them through the dark-blue window, you can see bones and other fun-filled secrets. Curious about what the Refuge looks like when closed up? Simply open up the roof and you'll be able to see the structure the way the minifigures would. Kudos to the designer for making the entrance to the Refuge four studs by four studs to fit an actual minifigure, although they lose a few points once you realize there's no easy way into the structure given the placement of the struts. The bubble windscreens are also big enough to accommodate a minifigure as well, which probably comes in handy if you want to do some lounging, and can open up. Much like the Refuge, accessibility is the name of the game with the sub too. The bubble windscreen opens wide to place R.C. in his comfy blue chair... ...and thanks to four hinge bricks in the rear, it's a snap to place another minifigure in the back, although this is clearly the less comfortable position given how there's no chair. And if a diver finds something they want to stow away safely, all they have to do is open one of the two boxes on either side of the sub. Admittedly, I don't know if the printed tiles would fit in here, but the coins definitely would, along with whatever other knicknacks they happen to come across. The arms on the sub are also just as capable as a minifigure's, and can grasp a number of things. You'll also notice that there's plenty of room to display the sub on the baseplate without needing to take something else out. And thanks to the miracle of trans-clear bricks, I can make it seem as if the boat is floating on the surface of the water, where our last few play features reside. But before I forget, the boat does have a nice little compartment near the bow for placing spearguns, hats, and whatever other accessories aren't in play. While lacking a hatch on the top to seal the compartment (along with an accessible way for the pilot to get to the compartment short of clambering around the outside of the bow), it's still nice to have. Last but not least is the boat's winch, which has plenty of string to reach the (imaginary) seabed. That 41L string piece can also attach quite easily to the roof of the Refuge, even if it's not exactly clear what it's function is. If you're a fan of the movie The Abyss, you could treat it as an electronic tether and recreate the scene where the drilling platform slides deeper into the oceanic trench by pushing the set off the table. Final Thoughts Pricing and Value - According to Brick Insights, which I use for this sort of thing because I'm lazy, the price-per-part for this set is $0.22, which is a slight improvement over its price-per-part back in 1997, when it was at $0.24, which makes it good overall. That said, I think this set was still worth it even if the score was worse, given how many rare and exclusive parts you get in this set. Speaking of... Pieces - You get three bubble windscreens, eight panels with portholes, some parts that are nice to have such as an anchor and a chain, along with plenty of seaweed, string and sea animals. I'd say that's a pretty good deal, especially when you look at how much you get, and the rarity of some of these parts. Design/Build - This might be one of the more satisfying builds I've gone through recently. With two vehicles, you have something to show for your efforts without it taking too much time. With a lack of small plates and tiles, you can quickly assemble one model after another, and it's all well thought out. The sub is longer than some of the other ones from this...ahem...subtheme, but still looks sleek with plenty of room to access the interior, and the Refuge is similar. No matter if your hands are large or dainty, LEGO made sure grubby digits of all sizes can get into the Refuge. While lacking some of the more homely touches that make up 2020's Ocean Exploration Base such as a bed, coffee maker or lamp, this one has the edge by actually making it seem watertight, something that is frustratingly lacking in more recent underwater sets. And the boat is a nice addition that didn't need to be included in a set whose main focus is underwater anyway, so adding one in is a nice touch, which I can't say for the more recent line. Playability - This review took me a little longer than planned, since once the Refuge itself was complete, it was hard to get back on track and finish the sub. There's so much to do, with all the divers, accessories and sea life that you can have a number of adventures and not once get tired. Swoosh the boat. Swoosh the sub. Swoosh the aquatic animals into the Refuge. Even if this is the only set you have, it's still enough to have a good time (although I might have to recommend picking up a set that comes with a shark cage). Verdict: There's a reason this is a flagship set, one that, judging by The Brickster's review, is still widely loved and appreciated. If you compare the more recent Ocean Exploration Base to this set, it's almost no contest in terms of what you get. LEGO Divers may not always sell as strongly in the aftermarket as other retired themes, but it's well worth your while to seek this set out. Heck, it even integrates quite nicely with more modern underwater City subthemes, yellow colorschemes and all. While this set wasn't the first one from this subtheme I was looking to buy, when I saw it, I figured it was worth the price. And boy was it ever. I suspect this will stay in my collection for quite some time. Thanks for reading! Comments and questions always welcome!
  8. Hello fellow muggles! It's September, which means it's back to school for the students at Hogwarts. And what better place to get all your wizarding school supplies than in Diagon Alley? I've been a Harry Potter fan ever since the first book was published and this magical shopping street has a special place in my heart as Harry's first trip there with Hagrid was the first time we ever got a glimpse of the wizarding world. Some parts of the alley have already been adapted into Lego over the years, but never at such a large scale, so does this set finally do Diagon Alley justice? Let's go "through the bricks" as LEGO puts it and find out! Set Number: 75978 Name: Diagon Alley Theme: Harry Potter Release Date: September 1, 2020 Pieces: 5544 Minifigs: 14 Price: £369.99 / $399.99 / €399.99. Links: S@H Brickset Bricklink S@H description: The Box The box of this set is huge! It's the same size as that of the Ghostbusters HQ. Since this is a European box, it only has the set number and name on the front along with the age suggestion which is 16+. Fortunately, even though this is aimed at adults, it doesn't have that boring, depressing black background as many of the other recent AFOL-oriented sets do. Instead, it has the same dark blue color as all the other HP sets and features a vibrantly colorful view of Diagon Alley under a partially cloudy sky on the front. There is also a minifig lineup. the Wizarding World logo, and a profile view of the back of the set showing off its impressive length. On the back of the box, there is a profile view of the front of the set and another view of the back of the shops with the four modules separated along with names for each of the shops. Above each module is a close up of the interiors that recreate scenes from the books/movies: Harry getting his first wand at Olivander's, Draco getting the Nimbus 2001 from his father, Harry and the Weasleys attending Lockhart's book signing, and Hermione and Ginny eyeing the love potions at the Weasley's shop. All of these scenes are very charming (no pun intended), although that last one is a bit odd since it's from Half-Blood Prince and the girls look way too young to be looking at love potions. There are four more close up scenes on top of the box. I especially like the first two as they recreate the scene from Chamber of Secrets where Hagrid guides Harry out of Knockturn Alley and they meet up with Hermione who fixes Harry's glasses. The other two scenes which show Ron getting ice cream with Harry and shopping at Scribbulus with Hermione weren't shown in the movies but are things that happened in the books and look very nice as well. There is also another minifig lineup. Hedwig is the figure that is highlighted to be at 1:1 scale, although all of them seem to be 1:1 scale to me. The long bottom () just shows some choking Hazard warnings. The sides are nearly identical as they both feature a smaller version of the front box art. There is a Lego Life ad on side, and name translations of Diagon Alley and Daily Prophet Photographer on the other. I assume all the other names are pretty much the same in every language. Contents Inside the box there is another box and a bunch of bags numbered 9-20. There are two bags for each number, a large one with a stripe and a smaller one without. Excuse me if I don't lay them all out for you since that would probably cover my entire floor. Inside the white box there are 4 dark bluish gray 16x32 baseplates, a bag of large plates, a bag with the instructions and stickers, and the rest of the bags numbers 1-8. Again, each number has two bags, except for number 6 which has 3, meaning that there are over 41 bags of parts in total in this set! And... wait... Is that a secret bonus set for number 21?! How exciting! What could it be? Stick around until the end of the review to find out! Unfortunately, this set comes with a ton of stickers, four fairly large sheets of them to be exact, each labeled with an A, B, C, or D to correlate with one of the modules/instruction booklets. Even the book covers which are normally printed get stickers here and several of the stickers are shop signs that are broken up into up to 4 separate stickers. I'm pretty sure this is what many AFOLs' boggart looks like. The only new printed pieces in the set are 1x6x5 panels and 1x2x5 bricks with window frames printed on them which look quite nice and should be very useful for MOCs. Other printed pieces include the Daily Prophet tile that has appeared in many sets before as well as the 1x2 danger stripes tile, the 1x2 Wingardium Leviosa tile (pardon me, "Levi-o-sa"), and the 2x2 window glass covered in newspapers from the Stranger Things set which are not pictured here. We get one brand new mold in this set, the wand box, of which there are 10 included, all in dark brown. It's 1x3x2/3 large and has similar features as the 2x2x2 crate. It uses 1x3 tiles as the lid and just like the crate it can be stacked to create an interesting pattern. We also get several new recolors such as two of the new ice cream glass that Ginny comes with in the latest CMFs in trans. orange. This set comes with not one, not two, but three new colors for the door with window: dark green, dark red, and light yellow. We also get our first dark brown broom along with other parts in new or rare colors. There are also some pieces that haven't appeared in an unprinted form before such as the 2x4 rounded tile from Super Mario in tan, the 2x2 triangle tile in sand green, a Ninjago skull, and Minecraft baby zombie heads. That's the benefit of having stickers instead of prints I suppose. There are 4 instruction books, one for each module. They have a higher quality cover than normal instructions and each one has a little blurb about the shops you're about to build at the beginning which is a nice touch. The inventory is listed at the end of the second book which is kind of random. The instructions are easy enough to follow, although it was a bit tough for my shortsighted eyes to distinguish between all the dark reds, browns, blacks, blues, greens, and tans at times. That's not unusual for instructions these days though. Towards the end of the final instructions book there is a full page dedicated to the team that worked on this set and a few words from the model and graphic designers which provides a great glimpse into the development process of a set like this. On the back of the last booklet, there is an ad for the rest of the summer wave with a text bubble saying that these sets have "limited availability", so if you're interested in any of them, I'd pick them up while you can, especially if you're in the States. Minifigures There are over 14 minifigs in this set. Let's begin with the most obvious ones, the main trio Harry, Hermione and Ron as seen in Years 1-2. As you can see in the "magically" moving picture below, they all come with a new torso that shows closed school cloaks with a Gryffindor crest on them. Hermione and Ron come with the same head as they do in other sets and look just as adorable and screen-accurate as ever. Harry on the other hand comes with a new head that has a delightful smile on one side and worried expression with dirt on his face and cracks in his glasses on the other as he had during the Knockturn Alley scene in Chamber of Secrets. The new torso has a hood printed on its back which is a nice touch. Here are some screenshots from Chamber of Secrets for comparison. It's clear that these torsos were designed specifically for the Diagon Alley scene in that movie since they have casual clothes on under their cloaks instead of shirts, sweaters, and ties as seen in the rest of the scenes at Hogwarts. Besides Ron, we get four more Weasleys: Molly, Fred, George, and Ginny. The only ones missing in this set from the Diagon Alley scene in CoS are Arthur and Percy Weasley which is a shame, but we already got half the family, so I guess it's alright. Molly comes with young Qi'ra's hairpiece in dark orange along with a new dark brown jacket torso and unprinted skirt. Her head is the same as that used for Helga Hufflepuff in the UCS Hogwarts set (Maybe she's related to Helga Hufflepuff? Probably not, but I'm sure there's a fan theory like that out there.). It works quite well for her. It has a smile on side and a determined grin on the other which would be perfect for a recreation of the "Not my daughter, you bitch" scene. The twins come with the same heads as in the CMFs, but with the shorter hair that they had in Half-Blood Prince. Their torsos are new and have different colors for the vest, shirt, and tie for each twin just like they had in the movie. It's nice to see these three characters finally getting some more love from Lego. Both Molly and the twins have back printing: A hood for Molly and some buttons for the twins. Here is a comparison with the previous versions that we got of these characters. The Qi'ra hair is perhaps not perfect for Molly as her hair needs to be curlier, but it's certainly much better than the old Hermione hair that they used on the figure from 2010. The Fred and George figs that we got back then were pretty close to the ones we get here, although in the old Diagon Alley set they were literally the same fig, so it's nice to see that they gave them some individuality this time around. Like the trio, the outfits are specific to scenes in Diagon Alley. Molly's is from Chamber of Secrets and the twins' are from Half-Blood Prince and they look very accurate. Aside from the Weasley twins, we get three more characters that work in Diagon Alley: Garrick Ollivander, Florean Fortescue, and Bozo the Daily Prophet Photographer. They all come with brand new torso and head designs. While Ollivander and Fortescue use the Doc Brown hair in gray and dark brown respectively, Bozo has a recolor of the S14 Whacky Witch's hat/hair which works surprisingly well for him. He comes with a clever little build for his old-timey camera. All three have nice back printing as well. Here you can also get a better look at Bozo's alternate face. The Ollivander in this set is not much different from the one that came in the GWP Micro Diagon Alley from just 2 years ago. The only real difference aside from facial expressions is the torso which has a slightly different printing and is cast in dark red. It's nice that they went the extra step to make him different and didn't just include the same fig. Comparing both figs to Ollivander's appearance in the films, the brown jacket actually looks more accurate, but it's not a big deal. He looks pretty spot on otherwise and so do the other two Diagon Alley workers. Don't worry, I didn't forget about Ginny! Here she is along with the Malfoys. Unfortunately, the set doesn't include Tom Riddle's diary to recreate the scene where Mr. Malfoy slips it into her cauldron, but I suppose that would render Moaning Myrtle's accessory from the CMFs nonexclusive. Her head and hair are the same as those of Maisie Lockwood from Jurassic World and the same head as Susan Bones from the Great Hall set, but they work well enough for her. Her torso on the other hand is new with a dark pink cloak print. Draco Malfoy has the same head as in the Great Hall set, but comes with a new torso that is similar to that of the trio, but with a Slytherin crest and a shirt collar and tie showing under the cloak. His father Lucius comes with a blond version of the Dumbledore/centaur hair and some nice new torso and leg printing. Like the other figs, they all have back printing which is always appreciated. While Draco and Ginny have double-sided heads, Lucius does not. I really like Ginny's adorable sad face. The last version of Lucius that we got was already pretty close to perfection, but the new hairpiece, shorter cane, and more detailed torso and leg printing do make him even better. The only thing that I don't like on the new figure is the face. It works well enough for him, but it's just a generic head that appears on dozens of other figs. The personalized snooty face on the old fig suits him much better, not to mention that it also came with a Death Eater mask on the other side, and I also like how he looked with a cape. The new fig with the old face and maybe a cape would make the perfect Lucius fig. I'm not sure why they gave Draco a shirt collar and tie as he didn't have those during the Flourish & Blotts scene. They could have easily reused the design of the Gryffindor torso and just switched out the crest. Oh well. Ginny is the least movie-accurate out of the three as her hair looked very different and her cloak looked more dark red to me than dark pink. That's not to say that the fig we got looks bad though, in the contrary. Since this set seems to be mainly based on the Diagon Alley scene in Chamber of Secrets, the inclusion of Gilderoy Lockhart was as he would say "pfffretty obvious" and I was excited to finally get an updated version of him as it has been 18 years since we got a minifig of him. Unfortunately, the fig we got in this set turned out to be a pretty big disappointment. The new face print and Chris Pratt hair that they chose for him don't really capture Kenneth Branagh's brilliant portrayal of the character very well at all. I do kinda like the cartoony embarrassed alternate expression that he comes with for when one of his spells inevitably goes wrong. We also get Hagrid in this set and he is the same as in the Great Hall and Hagrid's Hut set which is fine since that is accurate to the Diagon Alley scenes he appears in. Lockhart comes with a cape that is lilac on one side and dark yellow on the other. If you take it off, you can see that he has some detailed back printing. Honestly, I liked the old version of Lockhart much better. His hairpiece and smarmy grin represented the character much better in my opinion. Here is a picture of both versions along with a shaved Hagrid so that you can see his face. Still no alternate face for him sadly. The oddest thing about Lockhart isn't actually his face or hair, it's his outfit. It doesn't match any of the ones that he wore in the movie. The one he wore during the Flourish & Blotts scene that this is supposed to be based on was blue. The color that we got looks closer to that of the pinkish outfit that he wears a lot during the rest of the movie, but it's lilac. This would probably make Lockhart happy as that is his favorite color, but to me it's just confusing. Is it meant to be some kind of amalgamation of the two? Who knows. Hagrid on the other hand looks... like Hagrid. Nothing to complain about there. While they aren't really characters, we do get two more minifigs: Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw Quidditch player mannequins! It's exciting to finally get Quidditch uniforms for these two houses which don't get nearly enough love, although it's a shame that they don't come with capes. We also get a new tan owl with a cute sleepy face and the new Hedwig figure with the spread wings that appears in a few of the other summer sets. I don't think it's actually meant to be Hedwig in this set, I think it's just one of Daily Prophet's delivery owls, but let's be honest, we're all just going to use it as Hedwig anyway. The uniforms match the design of the Gryffindor and Slytherin ones that we got recently, and just like those they have hoods printed on the back. There is only one of each of these torsos included in the set, so it will be difficult to assemble entire teams with these. Hopefully they will appear in a cheaper set down the line, perhaps a Quidditch player minifigure pack like the recent Hogwarts students one. The Build I'm not going to show you all the stages of the build because otherwise we would be here all day and I don't think any of you have time turners to make up for that lost time. So, let's just quickly take a look at just a few points of the build. As mentioned before, the build is broken up into four modules. It starts with the shops on the left and progresses down to the right. The first module you build includes Ollivanders and Scribbulus Writing Implements. I really like how the cobblestone street is made out of various random round plates and tiles. This is what the build looks like after bags 1 and 2. The next section is the one with Quality Quidditch Supplies and the Daily Prophet. Below you can see what the store looks like after bags #6, right before you add the storefront which is only attached by two Technic pins at the top to give it a slight forward-leaning angle, a very interesting technique which I've never seen on a building like this before. The third module includes Florean Fortescue's ice cream parlor and Flourish & Blotts. I like how they achieve a wavy look for the roof of Fortescue's using alternating sizes of slopes and the brick-built SNOT awning is pretty nifty too. I also love the intricate SNOT work and little dragon statues made out of flippers and Ninjago sword hilts on the exterior of the bookstore. This is where we're at after bags #12: Lastly, you build the largest and most colorful module using 12 bags of parts, Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes with the Knockturn Alley entrance. There are lots of interesting techniques here and the SNOT work on the window frames is more complex than you might expect. In fact, there are clever SNOT techniques all throughout the set. Trying to align all the stickers on the shop signs is a PITA though. Here is the shop after bags #16: Feathers and fangs, branches and claws, burned sausage and cheese. No, these are not the ingredients for a strange magic potion, they are just some of the literally hundreds of spare parts left over after the build. In addition to the usual bits and bops, there are also a couple of extra wands and some black lipstick which should make the goth minifigs in you Lego town happy. Well, as happy as goths get anyway. I'm not sure if I should keep the sprue from the wands. Do you keep the sprue? Let me know in the comments. The Completed Set Welcome, reader, to Diagon Alley! 5544 parts and several build hours later, the alley is finally finished, and it looks very impressive! When combined, the four modules form one side of the alley. The whole alley is 128 studs long, 16 studs deep, and about as high as an average modular building. At first, I thought Lego had just taken random shops and placed them next to each other, but as I was rewatching all the movies while building this set, I payed close attention to the layout of Diagon Alley in the films and I was happy to see that Lego's recreation of the movie set is actually quite accurate to how it appears in the first two movies. In the following screenshot, you can see Ollivanders in the back with Scribbulus next to it and Quality Quidditch Supplies with the Daily Prophet entrance in the foreground. It all looks just like the Lego version, except for the DP entrance which is a bit more simplistic. Here is a picture of the ice cream parlor and bookstore from one of the extra features on the Chamber of Secrets DVD. When you compare the Lego version to this, it looks very accurate as well. The reason why the Daily Prophet entrance looks different is because it seems to be based on its appearance in The Half-Blood Prince. I'm not sure why, but the filmmakers changed the design of Diagon Alley for that movie. As you can see below, Scribbulus was now to the left of Ollivanders instead of the right and the Knockturn Alley entrance is to the left of Scribbulus instead of to the right of Flourish & Blotts which got a complete redesign, while QQS was taken out completely. This movie is where they added Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes to the alley as you can see in the back. TLDR: Lego's version of Diagon Alley is a mix between its appearance in Chamber of Secrets and Half-Blood Prince. I like that as it combines both versions of the alley that we have seen into one cohesive model. As you can also see in this image, all the buildings should actually have four stories, not just 2 or 3, but it's understandable why Lego reduced their size. However, if you don't like how it looks in the movies, you can mix and match the shops as you please thanks to the shops being built on separate modules and only connected via a single Technic pin. You can even split the alley in half and put the halves in front of each other as I have done for the title image at the beginning of the review to form a full street, although that makes it hard to see the beautiful facades. Here is one example of a rearranged alley: Sadly, I don't have the previous Diagon Alley set that was released, so I can't compare them, but I do have 4723 Diagon Alley Shops, the first Diagon Alley set that was released in the very first wave of Lego Harry Potter way back in 2001. It was a small, overly colorful set with two 8x8 vignettes that looked like they were cobbled together out of leftover parts from Belville and obviously it's nothing compared to this year's Diagon Alley set. Lego Harry Potter sets sure have come a long way since then. Although I have to admit that I actually quite liked that set. I still remember my mom buying it for me at a bookstore back in the day and I think it captures the spirit of Diagon Alley quite well in such a small space rather than the actual look of it in the movies: A whimsical couple of little shops with a wide array of witch and wizard items. Keep in mind, the set designers back then had nothing to go off of than the books and maybe some concept art for the first movie. It was a neat parts pack and a cheap way to get Hermione in casual clothes. Let's take a closer look at the individual shops, starting with Ollivanders and Scribbulus. The exterior looks nice and detailed with all the hanging signs, candle lamp, and textured bricks. The bay windows on Ollivander's shop have trans. yellaw glass panes giving the shop a cozy glow. It's not really accurate to the films, but it's a nice effect all the same. All the modules are open-backed for easy view and access to the interior. On the roof of Scribbulus Writing Implements is a chimney with trans. clear rod stuck on it which holds the flying owl. From there, there are steps leading up to the roof of Ollivanders which has its own pair of chimneys - one of them is short and offset, the other is long and crooked, giving it a nice whimsical touch. On the back of the building, there are stairs sticking out that lead from the ground floor of Ollivanders up to the upper floor. I guess you're just supposed to imagine that the shops continue past the baseplate towards the back. Inside Ollivander's shop, there is a desk with a cash register, some paper, and a quil. Each display window has a single wand on display as described in the books, and behind the desk there are shelves full of fake wand boxes made out of various plates and tiles. However, there is one 1-brick high gap on one of the shelves which holds a real wand box that you can pull out which is pretty neat. The layout of the interior is inaccurate, though, as the desk should be facing the entrance door and the stairs should be on the right and going up towards the back, but there is a reason for why it is like this which we will talk about later. Under the stairs, there is another pile of wand boxes, both real and fake ones. Inside Scribbulus Writing Implements, there is a table with a paper, a quill, and a lamp as well as shelves full of more quills, scrolls, and ink bottles. The scrolls are cleverly built out out of tan cones and ice cream cones while the quills are represented by plumes of different shapes and colors. The display window features an open scroll and a few more quills. This should make all you Pirates and Castle fans happy as this set comes with 7 white and 5 red single feather plumes as well as 2 dark red and 1 blue triple feather plumes, plus at least one spare for each. What I don't like about this store is that the grate under the display window is open towards the street instead of being covered up like in Ollivanders and there is a 1-brick high drop behind the door. Adding some tiles to serve as steps like in Ollivanders and other stores would have been as easy fix. Going up the stairs, there is what I assume is Ollivander's wand making workshop. It has a swiveling chair, a desk with a candle and a wand, a ladder, and more shelves full of fake wand boxes. Like on the shelves on the ground floor, there is one space for a real wand box. There are more wand boxes in one of the windows and a lamp in the other. The use of a hinge brick for an open drawer on the desk is not a new technique, but still pretty clever. All of these details give the workshop a nice cluttered feel. On the other side, above the Scribbulus shop, there is a small living room for whoever runs that shop. It features a fireplace and a small cabinet with a skull and a potion bottle on it. The potion has the same design as those Minecraft oddly enough. There is also neat, old-looking couch with a carpet in front of it, both of which have been placed DiagonAlley across the room. Get it? Let's move on to Harry and Ron's favorite store, Quality Quidditch Supplies. As mentioned before, I like how they recreated the forward-leaning storefront and the printed window bricks look great on it. I also like how they built the mobile with the quaffles and Golden Snitch hanging in front of the door, although they are missing the three Quaffles hanging from the banner above the awning. It's also nice to see the small window panes covered in newspapers from the Stranger Things set reused at the top of the building. The pink color of the upper floors seems a bit bright, but the dark red, sand green, and tan color scheme for the ground floor looks great. You may recall the press release for this set referring to the Daily Prophet section as an "entrance" rather than an office. That's because that is literally all it is - a big empty entrance way. There is only a box of newspapers (all of which are fake except for the one in front) and a spiderweb. It looks very boring and makes that whole quarter of the building feel pretty pointless. I think they could have put a printing press, a desk for developing photos/stories, or many other more interesting things here. And like with Scribbulus, there is a 1-brick high drop after the door which could be easily fixed. The QQS section of the building looks pretty good though. On the left side of the store, there is a display window with the Hufflepuff uniform and a broom as well as a rack with some Beater bats, including an extra thick one. To the right, there are shelves with the Nimbus 2000 displayed on top and with what I assume are meant to represent folded uniforms. Based on the colors, I'm guessing these are uniforms for each of the Hogwarts houses, although it's odd that they chose to represent Ravenclaw with dark gray plates instead of dark blue ones. For what it's worth, they tried to add some detail to the Daily Prophet entrance with a big sticker showing various newspaper headlines and a Sirius Black wanted poster hung on the wall. There are references to Voldemort's return, so this part of the alley must take place during Years 6-7. It's kind of odd how chronologically all over the map this set is. There is another "Have you seen this wizard" poster on the other side of the wall. On the second floor, there are more shelves with uniform plates, a box with another black bat and two Quaffles, the Ravenclaw uniform, and a broom display with a sign inviting customers to "feel free to test-fly any of our brooms". It's a bit odd that they don't seem to sell any Bludgers or Snitches. Maybe they're out of stock. Above this floor there is an attic which seems to belong to the Daily Prophet as it has boxes and stacks of newspapers. It's almost as pointless as the the entrance, but the addition of a rat with a literal cheese-slope is a cute detail. There is a hatch on the left of the attic that provides access to the roof where there are more newspapers on the floor. There are a total of 6 of these printed "The Boy Who Lived" newspaper tiles in this set. It would have been nice to at least get a new newspaper print, but oh well. Next is the store that many of the minifigs included in this set are centered around, Flourish and Blotts, along with Fortescue's ice cream parlor. Again, I really like the detailed exterior of the bookstore with its different shades of green, especially the boxes full of brick-built books to the sides of the entrance. Fortescue's also has some nice details such as the table and chairs in front of the parlor with miniature versions of them sitting on top of the roof. The chairs use fangs as the feet which is an interesting technique that I wouldn't expect in an official set. Now THIS is a bookstore! If you were disappointed by how small and bare the bookstore in the latest modular building turned out to be, this set will likely scratch your bookstore itch. All the dark colors give it an old bookstore feel and there are shelves and piles full of books on each floor. Plus, the open back makes it much easier to access the interior than in the aforementioned modular building. Like in Ollivanders, there are stairs sticking out of the back that lead up to the balcony above, and like with Ollivanders, this is actually inaccurate as the stairs should be going up towards the back, but since the back doesn't exist, this is understandable. To the left of the stairs, there is a large bookcase with various brick-built books in different colors and sizes and a precariously stacked pile of books that uses one of the trans. clear crooked minifigure stands from the DC CMFs to hold the top book at an angle. I love the use of the 1x1 "bump" brick as I like to call it as book spines. It's a shame that they didn't make the shelves like in Ollivanders where there could be a space to put a real book piece among the fake brick-built ones. As it is, you can't take any of the "books" off the shelf. I like how the bookcase looks, though, with the grill tiles adding some nice detail. I just don't like how mixed the colors are on the side. I wish they would have stuck with just brown parts there. Fortescue's interior also has some shelves along with a counter. The shelves hold glasses for serving ice cream, including the new wide glass. Unfortunately, the tall glasses are nearly impossible to remove as they are tightly stuck between the shelves. The glass dome on the counter on the other hand is easily removable as it only rests on a lipstick piece. There's not much under the stairs aside from a window display advertising Lockhart's new book. I wish they would have added some more books here like there are in the movie, but I do like that column next to it with the nice sand green details. On the right wall of Fortescue's, there is the list of daily suggestions as seen in the movies, complete with the misspelling of "Fortescue's" as "Fortesques" (yes, that was actually in the movie). Today's suggestions are chocolate with peanut butter , black beer & raisin , and bat juice and earwig. On the balcony of the bookstore, there is another bookcase with another pile of books. Inside the bay window, there is a lamp and a book rest with a generic brown book with the levitation charm tile. Above Fortescue's, there is cozy little living room where good old Florean sit in a completely SNOT armchair and sip on some tea. There is also a tall lamp, although it doesn't have anything to represent a light bulb inside which is kind of odd. A simple trans.-clear or -yellow stud would have done the trick. Since the building doesn't include the back of the store where Lockhart's book signing actually takes place, they included the desk where he does the signing as a separate little build. It's simple but fine looking desk with a mat, a quill, and a stack of black books next to it which I believe are meant to represent copies of Lockhart's book "Magical Me". Having the books attached to the desk wouldn't be a problem, except it's very obvious when you look at it from the back since the leg on the other side of the table is black instead of tan. Yet another minor odd design choice that could have easily been fixed. Last but not least, we have Weasleys' Wizard Weezes. The twins' joke shop really stands out among the other stores, not only because of its size, but also because of its color. The orange and lavender facade really pops and the giant Weasley statue is certainly an eye-catcher as well. It all looks very polished, except for the Technic holes on top of the bay windows which I wish they could have covered up somehow. Also, that gray 3x3 plate on the roof looks out of place and I wish they would have used a lavender plate instead. There are some nice details such as that orange/purple paper spinny thingy (anyone know what it's called?) which can technically spin as it is mounted on the bars of robot claw pieces, but I wouldn't recommend it since there is some resistance and each of the slope pieces is mounted on just one stud, so they can break off, or worse... get misaligned. The Knockturn Alley entrance gets kind of lost next to the WWW, but it looks good for what it is. The slanted window and street sign give it a nice creepy, wonky look. There is a dark gray lever behind the top of the corner of the building which when moved back and forth makes the giant Weasley twin lift its top hat using a gray Technic liftarm behind the statue's head. It's a simple mechanism and it doesn't move as much as in the movie (and there certainly isn't a magically appearing/disappearing rabbit either), but I appreciate that they included at least one play feature in this giant playset. There is nothing in the instructions on how one could motorize this feature, but I'm sure someone will figure it out. Normally, there should be a window behind the head, but they probably made it a solid wall to hide the mechanism, meaning that they had to sacrifice accuracy for playability, which is perhaps why there aren't any other play features in this set. If you thought the exterior looked colorful, wait until you see the inside! The interior is bursting with all shades of orange, purple, pink, and green and I love it. There are so many shelves and piles of various little packages and objects that it really feels filled to the brim with fun magic products! It looks so fun and whimsical, just the type of feeling you expect from a magical joke shop. On the side of the building there are stickers advertising some of their products such as Jinx-off. This is easily my favorite of the shops in terms of interior detail. This building comes with a separate build for the love potion fountain, but there is enough space to put it next to the register as you can see here. The ground floor has the striped cash register, shelves with various jars and boxes, and a pile of boxes under the stairs, including one with a Dancing Doxy. On the second floor, there is a pot of lollipops, a pile of Fred Weasley's Basic Blaze Boxes, and a few more shelves with a golden goblet, a blue crystal, and various little packages. I really like the stairs here with the randomly colored banister and the balloons hanging on the side. On the third floor, there are a few more boxes with the WWW branding, a geode, some dark blue trophies, and other little packages. This wide variety of products seems really fun, but you get a little disappointed once you realize that just like the books in Flourish & Blotts or the ice cream glasses in Fortescue's, many of these objects are stuck on the shelves and you can't take them off to play with them, so there's actually not much to do in this whole big shop. As you may have noticed, Each module has Technic connection on both the side and the back. This is so that you can connect them back to back to form a full modular building. In order to be able to do that, you can swing the stairs in Ollivanders and the balloons on WWW inward and lift up the stairs in F&B. Once connected, this is how they look. The different modules combine to form a modular building fairly well and the roofs line up seamlessly. If nothing else, it's a more space efficient way to store/display the set. Here they are between two modulars. Aside from the different style of sidewalk, they fit into a modular city pretty well. It doesn't take much imagination to pretend that these are regular muggle stores in an old English district of your town. Of course, WWW sticks out a bit due to its wacky colors, but it makes sense if you think of it as a toy store. It's pretty cool that the set designer has included this option. That's all there is to say about Diagon Alley. Did we forget anything? Oh yes, the mystery box! For those of you who want to know what's inside, click below to open the spoiler section. Anyone who doesn't want the surprise spoiled and wants to find out for themselves, continue to the ratings. Ratings Design: 5/5 - This set looks fantastic! There are so many little details and aside from some small inaccuracies and minor odd design choices, it looks just like the Diagon Alley in the movies. Build: 5/5 - The build is long and fairly complex with many interesting techniques. It starts with the smallest, darkest module and ramps up to the largest, most colorful one, giving you the sense that the build gets progressively more challenging and fun as you go. The surprise build at the end is the cherry on the cake! Minifigs: 4/5 - There is a decent amount of figs included and they all look pretty good except for Lockhart who really could have been better. Playability: 2/5 - It's a big doll house, but a lot of the objects are stuck in place. You can lift a hat and... that's about it. Parts: 4/5 - There is a wide assortment of colors with several new recolors and a new wand box mold. I just wish more of the parts would have been printed. Price: 5/5 - $400 may be a lot to drop on a Lego set, but it's a very fair price for what you get, especially considering other licensed sets of this size. Overall: 4/5 - I had a magical time building this set while rewatching all the movies and the end result looks amazing. It's a great combination of scenes from different movies to give you a timeless recreation of this iconic location from the world of Harry Potter. The fact that you can easily integrate it with the modular buildings is a nice option and finding the secret bonus set inside was a very peasant surprise. However, it's clearly designed to be more a display piece than a playset which is disappointing, even for an adult-oriented set. AFOLs want to play with their plastic wizards too dangit! Also, many have been saying that they should have sold each module separately which is understandable since the $400 price tag is hard to justify for many, especially during these rough times, but I think the idea was to have a modular Diagon Alley out of the box where the main feature of the set is the ability to rearrange and display it the way you want and it's a fair price for 5544 pieces. I don't think you would have the full Diagon Alley experience otherwise, so I understand why they did it this way. If you do have the money for it, I can definitely recommend it, not only for Harry Potter fans, but also Modular fans and fans of detailed Lego builds in general. I hope Lego will make more sets like this, such as a Hogsmead in the same style! I could also see them doing add-on sets to this such as Gringotts. This modular style also lends itself to builders designing their own modules to add to the Alley. I can't wait to see what people come up with. With that, I would like to thank you for reading through this long review and give a big thank you to Lego for sending me this set for review. I hope you enjoyed it. Please don't forget to rate the set using the poll above let me know what you think of it in the comments! I look forward to your responses. To finish off, here is a potential situation that you will run into when you try to play with this set:
  9. REVIEW - 42069 - EXTREME ADVENTURE INTRODUCTION It's time for yet another review. This review will handle the second most expensive set of the 2H 2017 wave, the 42069 - Extreme Adventure. It represents a Land Rover like vehicle with a modified undercarriage. This vehicle has link treads instead of wheels. I am not the biggest fan of link treads, unless the vehicle is full RC. This is because treads limit the playability, especially on smooth surfaces. This is actually the first Technic set with rubber inserts, so I am eager to find out if they will improve playability. I couldn't help but think how this model would look with wheels on it. At the end of this review I will be attaching several different types of wheels, so you can check out for yourself. PICTURES Pictures can be clicked to view hi-res versions. More pictures can be found in my Flickr album. DISCLAIMER This set has been provided by the CEE Team of TLG. It's not my goal to promote this set. It's my goal to give you an honest opinion about it. Therefore the opinion in this review is my own and is in no way linked to TLG. SET INFORMATION Number: 42069 Title: Extreme Adventure Theme: Technic Released: 2017 Part Count: 2382 Box Weight: 2,79 kg (approx) Box Dimensions: 58,0 cm x 37,4 cm x 9,8 Set Price (MSRP): € 139 Price per Part: € 0,058 Price per kilo: € 49,8 Links: Brickset, Bricklink THE BOX The box is as wide as the box of this year's flagship (42070 - 6x6 All Terrain Tow Truck). Since it is less deep and high it doesn't look a lot smaller. You can't judge a book by its cover and sometimes you can't judge a set by the box! This set contains 520 more parts than the 42070 (2382 versus 1862). The part count obviously isn't the most important factor, but it doesn't happen often that a non-flaghip set has the most parts. The snow does a good job of making the model stand out. BACKSIDE There is barely enough space to show all the functions of the main model. The B-model looks more like a Research Exploration Vehicle than the one used in the 42070. It is called Mobile Base Vehicle though. The base seems to be detachable and it even packs a crane. It does help when the designer of the main model is one of the best B-model designers CONTENTS OF THE BOX The box contains: 1 Book and Sticker Sheet (packed together) 20 Bags (unnumbered) BOOK AND STICKERS THE BAGS No loose parts, just 20 unnumbered bags. HIGHLIGHTED PARTS PURPLE PARTS A modest collection of new purple parts. We already got some 3x13 Curved Panels in the 42048 - Go Kart in 2016 and now we can work with the parts below as well. Hopefully TLG will release sets with the bigger panels in purple, so we can all start building a purple Porsche SILVER RIMS Eight Wheel 18mm D. x 14mm with Pin Hole, Fake Bolts and Shallow Spokes in metallic silver have been provided in this set. That is quite a few, considering the fact that they only have been released in two sets, where you got one and two of 'em respectively. Sorry for the unsharp picture btw. 6x3 PANEL IN DBG For the first time this panel has been released in dark bluish grey. 40 YEAR ANNIVERSARY BRICK This set also contains the 3L liftarm, also known as the 40 Year Anniversary brick. PERPENDICULAR 3L CONNECTOR WITH CENTER PIN HOLE It has been a while since we have seen this in yellow. As a matter of fact I only owned two of these from last year's (2016) Volvo EW160E. Always funny that some common parts are actually not so common at all. Glad to see these making another appearance, much like the red #3 connector. RUBBER TREAD LINK ATTACHMENT These attachments already appeared in two Nexo Knights sets and now they make their first appearance in a Technic set. You get 52 attachments. In the Factory Store in Legoland Germany you can buy bags with these attachments, where each bag contains 28 of 'em. This is how such a bag looks like. SUSPENSION Not a very special part, but I still wanted to highlight the fact that you get six shock absorbers, four soft ones and two hard ones. Two of the soft ones will be used to dampen the door opening mechanism. ROPE This set contains a new rope. It has kind of a metallic touch to it. It is slightly thicker than the regular rope. Thumbs up for this new version. It looks and feels a lot better. (ctrl+c, ctrl+v from the 42070, which contains the same rope) 11L AXLE LBG Seemingly ordinary, so I almost forgot to shoot a picture of it, but this set introduces the 11L Axles in light bluish grey. Also found in this year's 10257 Carousel and 75172 Y-Wing Starfighter. Strange enough TLG introduced the 11L Axle in yellow first. DARK GREEN JUMPER PLATE Also a quite common part, but released in a new color, a dark green 1x2 Jumper Plate. PART LIST This set contains 2382 parts, spread out over two pages. THE BUILD Time to get building! This set contains 10 u-joints and in case you are wondering where they are going?! You already need four of 'em early on, in the middle of the chassis. After some additional building steps, you will be attaching the V8 engine to the chassis. It's very cool that this model has V8 engine, instead of a V6. Or even worse...a 4 cylinder engine. Thumbs up. You can also see the first few purple parts invading the model. As opposed to All Terrain Tow Trucks, we actually do find a winch at the front of this vehicle. How on earth would you go on an Extreme Adventure without a winch?! It has a cool lock which is made, using a simple Rubber Double Axle Connector. It has enough leeway to unlock the winch and it bounces back into place upon release. A very simple, yet very effective mechanism. The front of the vehicle shows the initials MR, which stands for Milan Reindl. Milan is one of the members who made the switch from Eurobricks to TLG, so it feels extra special to be reviewing one of his sets. I sure hope that Milan isn't in charge of designing the stickers though, because there are quite a few MR stickers on this model Here you can see the start of the door opening mechanism. The rotating axles will be connected to springs, to provide some cool damping when opening the doors. The axles are connected to the soft springs. This results in the need to apply some pressure when opening the doors, but when you have passed a certain point, the doors will ease out. Yet another thumbs up for this mechanism. Have we lost count of the thumbs up already?! Another cool feature is the roof that can be tilted up and down. It is operated by the mini Linear Actuator, connected to the liftarms. I will show the entire mechanism in a bit. Several steps further the doors have been attached and you have created the rear side compartments. This model has a ton of cool little details... ...which you see in the image below. Both side compartments contain a fire extinguisher and one the compartments even contains a medkit with a syringe. Adding these kind of "LEGO Sytem details" really add appeal and playability to the model. I will elaborate on that in the Features and Functions chapter. Here's is view from the other side, where you can also see the fire extinguisher. The following two pictures show the two states of the folding tent. I especially like the white color of the panel to emphasize that this is a different material. Another thing I really like about the tent is that it actually looks like a tent, even though it's just a simple panel. I am not really sure you would want to sleep in the vehicle with arctic temperatures though, but that's a totally different discussion The compartment under the tent holds a shovel, so you can dig in the snow or maybe even dig a hole in the ice to catch yourself some fish. You can also see the door lock which prevents the door from opening while you are driving. At this point we are almost done with the bodywork, except for the roof rack and the bonnet. Now it's time to build the undercarriage. The rear axle doesn't have a rack for steering, but it does have a differential. The front axle does have rack-and-pinion steering. Both axles are live axles, so they don't have independent suspension. At this point the bottom of the chassis looks like this. Two axles going to the front of the vehicle, one for steering and one for driving. One axle going to the rear of the vehicle, which is obviously for driving. There's no center differential in this vehicle, but it is 4x4...or 4WD...or AWD. There are subtle differences, and there will be discussion by the purists, but most of the time it boils down to marketing mumbo jumbo. For the average Technic enthusiast this is considered a 4x4. Voila, undecarriage complete. Live axles attached and we can hit the snow!! Let's not be hasty and get ourselves a proper bonnet and a roof rack first. Maybe we can throw in some jerrycans while we're at it. That's more like it. The roof rack has three different type of jerrycans, so be careful mixing them up. You don't want to be drinking fuel and driving on water (unless it's hydrogen powered). Luckily the cans have been color coded for our convenience. The roof rack even holds a couple of spare link treads, in case we ruin some of them. If you do actually need them, you must have had a pretty rough (and enjoyable) ride. The first time I laid eyes on this vehicle, my intial response was "yuck, what is that supposed to be. And what's with the color scheme?!". This was obviously after seeing some preliminary images. When the images from the toy fair popped-up things had changed for the better. And when looking at the following image, you can only say...WOW! I know some people aren't too fond of the black and purple color scheme. They think it's too dark, and while they might be right about it being dark, I personally think TLG nailed the color scheme. There's that typical Ken Block Monster vibe going on. FINISHED MODEL Unlike the All Terrain Tow Truck this model actually is a finished vehicle! The level of detail is extraordinary. There's so much to look at and to play with. Of course there will always be debate about purple and/or the color scheme, but I really love this purple color. Hopefully we will get more panels, liftarms and connectors, so the AFOLs can make better use of this color when building their own creations. The 3L printed liftarm is prominently placed in the front bumper, near the winch. Here you can see that Milan takes pride in his work...MR stickers all over the place. Narcissistic personality disorder maybe?! Just kidding of course. Milan is a great guy. Recently I had the pleasure of talking to him for a couple of hours and I am sure he will stay as friendly as he is now, even though his LEGO star seems to be rising! Enough with the praise, because this picture also shows a minor concern. The weight of the vehicle results in the treads slightly bending. It's not a very big problem, but it is noticeable. The rear of the vehicle, with the quadruple metallic silver exhausts, has been designed as beautiful as the rest of the vehicle. I do like the use of the yellow connectors and half bushes to add some yellow details. Yellow and purple make a nice color combination. Orange and purple works nicely on the Go Kart, but yellow and purple works even better. The tread wheel on the rear door provides a lock to prevent it from being opened. You have to turn the wheel before you can open the door. The side view shows the fake dampers in the suspension. All these cool details add value to this outstanding model. For the chassis lovers Milan didn't take the easy way out when creating the chairs. These aren't simple panels, but actual chairs. And last but not least....the icing on the cake....the jerrycans! 360 DEGREES VIEWER Back by popular demand, the 360 degree viewer! Okay...nobody actually asked, but I will throw it in anyway Swipe the picture to rotate the model. NOTE! In some browsers or in some cases the 360 degree viewer doesn't seem to work. I have yet to figure out why. Sorry for the inconvenience. FEATURES AND FUNCTIONS This set contains so many cool features that I don't even know where to start. ACKERMAN STEERING GEOMETRY This vehicle has HoG (Hand of God) steering. It works okay, but the vehicle is a bit too heavy to operate the steering when you are not driving. Other than that; the gear easily comes off. On the bright side; this model uses Ackermann steering geometry, which is something we hardly see in Technic sets anymore. 4x4 Four wheel drive has been realised with a differential in both axles, without a center differential. SUSPENSION The suspension is comprised of two live axles, which is done nicely. There's no independent suspension. WINCH Missing on the 42070, but present on this vehicle is the winch. Works like a charm and has a cool locking mechanism. The winch is operating by turning the 12T gear on the shotgun side of the vehicle. FOLDABLE ROOF/TENT By turning the gear on the driver's side of the vehicle, the roof can be lifted and the tent will pop-out. OPENING BONNET The bonnet can be opened manually, nothing out of the ordinary. OPENING DOORS What is out of the ordinary though, is the mechanism for opening the doors. Using a spring for each door, there's damping when you open and close the door. The door opens by moving the upper side up and the lower side down. This is a unique mechanism which we have never seen before and which will be hard to trump. OPENING REAR DOOR The rear door can be opened manually, by pulling the tread wheel. REAR DOOR LOCK The rear door has a lock to prevent it from being opened. You need to turn the tread wheel to unlock the door. OPENING SIDE COMPARTMENTS Both side compartments can be opening manually. SLIDING REAR COMPARTMENT The rear compartment slides out and contains a shovel. There's a mechanism in place to prevent the compartment from falling out of the vehicle. ADDED EXTRA DETAILS Something I like to emphasise is the added extra details, like the jerrycans, medkit and fire extinguishers. Not only do they look cool, but they actually add playability to the set. I highly recommend that TLG designers do this more often. Here is a video demonstrating the functions: PLAYABILITY I like to go into more detail about the playability of this set. One of the reasons this review has taken some more time is that I had my nephews visiting for a couple of days. They are aged 4 and 6, so they like to be entertained. And they brought a 7 year old friend LEGO-lover and his 4 year old sister. This is my chance to be the cool uncle. And a cool uncle has cool LEGO! This gave me a perfect opportunity to see how kids enjoy Technic models. They are too young to be building these models, although the 7 year old would probably be up for the job. Anyway, they all started with "WOWs" when I brought the sets downstairs. They have seen big Nexo Knight sets, but never any big Technic sets. Score one for the cool uncle. They definitely like RC vehicles, but they tend to operate the functions manually....at least they try to. After some time they asked for paper towels to make artificial snow and they were actually playing with the Extreme Adventure vehicle. It is so cool that this set includes new Technic figures, because the kids love to add them to the mix. Ohh, wait a minute....those were my 30-odd year old Technic figures. Come on TLG, bring back these guys. Kids really don't matter that they don't have the proper scale. Just sell them as a separate set if you are concerned about that, but how cool would it have been to include a Technic figure in this set. I can see the guy carrying the jerrycans, using the fire extinguisher, etc. You have done an outstanding job adding details, now go another extra mile and design some cool new Technic figures. I am not a big fan of models with link tread, except for RC ones (8043 is probably still me favorite model). The reason is that they tend to lack playability, especially on smooth surfaces. The slide over the surface, instead of driving. This bothers me. Luckily, this set contains the new rubber attachments, to make up for that. Obviously the total amount of grip depends on the number of attachments. You can add two to each tread, one on each tread, etc. This set doesn't have one on each tread, so it still slides over smooth surfaces. The weight of the vehicle does help though. I was surprised to see the kids drive the vehicle through the entire living room and kitchen. Apparently there is enough drivability in this vehicle, more than I expected. Fun fact is that the mother of the 7 year old and his 4 year old sister was picking them both up, so she was also looking at the models. She loved the purple look and figured it must have been used to appeal to girls as well. I am pretty sure this is not the case, but it shows what goes in the mind of potential customers. The 4 year old girl loved the Extreme Adventure, she couldn't stop playing with it. Technic Mini-dolls anyone?! All in all we had great fun and it was interesting to see these kids playing with both models (hadn't built the 42068 yet). The All Terrain Tow Truck required alternating turns, but the Extreme Adventure offered the possibility to play simultaneously. They liked both models, but they all prefered the 42069. And I did get the impression that having the jerrycans and the other playable extra's did the trick. I highly recommend TLG to motivate the designers to do this more often. B-MODEL The Mobile Base Vehicle looks interesting enough to give it a go. I am tempted to buy an extra set so I keep the main model built as well. The vehicle has a base which can be deployed. The base can open and close, and it even packs a crane. SUMMARY This set absolutely takes the cake. I was a bit hesitant about the playability with the treads, but my test team has proven me wrong. When you hear kids asking if they can play with the set again, you know you did a good job as a designer...and me as the cool uncle An impressive list of functions and features: Ackermann steering geometry 4x4 Suspension using live axles Winch Foldable roof/tent Opening bonnet Coolest door opening mechanism ever Opening rear door Rear door lock Opening side compartments Sliding rear compartment Added LEGO System details (jerrycans, medkit, fire extinguisher) I am starting to like the vibrant colors more and more after each build. Black and purple work really well together. Besides the color scheme, the design of the model is outstanding. From the well formed chairs to the jerrycans, the details are amazing. Even @Kitty (my partner) is very enthusiastic about this set and she is not into Technic at all. I am not allowed to put the wheels back on after switching back to the treads. Even though this model doesn't contain as much gears as the flagship, this still was a very enjoyable build. The cool mechanisms definitely make up for the lack of gears. Technically it's a very sound build as well. This set offers outstanding playability and at a total price of € 139 (5,8 cent per part ) you just can't go wrong with this set. We've lost a lot of good men out there! Milan Reindl a.k.a. grohl was one them. I feel sorry we lost him from our community, but I am very happy that he started working for TLG. As a wise man once said: "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few". I really liked his Heavy Lift Helicopter and the Extreme Adventure is definitely a winner too. Please, do bring back the Technic figures SCORE How do I rate this set? 9 DESIGN Absolute eye-catcher. 9 BUILDING EXPERIENCE Lots of cool techniques used. 9 FEATURES Long list of cool features. 9 PLAYABILITY Playability proved to be endless. Treads do somewhat limit drivability. 8 PARTS Nice collection of parts, albeit mostly common parts. Does have a unique purple selection. 10 VALUE FOR MONEY Can't go wrong for 5,8 cent per part. 9,0 ANOTHER HIT BY MILAN EXTREME ADVENTURE ON WHEELS As promised I have added a bonus section to this review, showing you different wheeled setups. This is how the front and rear axle look like. It took some time to come up with a proper solution. I am pretty sure there will be better solutions, but this one does use four Technic 5.5L Axle with Stop, in order to prevent the wheel from falling off. I started with a different setup just to shoot the wheels, but since I had me nephews around, I needed a more "kid-proof" setup. I haven't had any problems with the setup below. As you can see I have also changed the antenna setup. They kept falling off, so I ran them through the connectors. The front and rear axle setup. The next pictures still use the old setup where I used yellow axles. POWER PULLER TIRES AND RIMS Technically these are the 8466 - 4x4 Off-Roader wheels, but people like to call them Power Puller wheels. These wheels do touch the chassis when steering. TUMBLER TIRES AND BLACK RIMS Batman just isn't up for this job. 4x4 CRAWLER TIRES AND BLACK RIMS These look okay, although we might need to try yellow rims. CLAAS TIRES AND RED RIMS Somehow red does look okay, but we would need some more red details in the car itself. These wheels do touch the chassis when steering. CLAAS TIRES AND YELLOW RIMS A little bit too much, don't you think. These wheels do touch the chassis when steering. With hub caps. I cheated a bit here UNIMOG TIRES AND SILVER RIMS I do like the Unimog tires for this vehicle. UNIMOG TIRES AND YELLOW RIMS Now this is what I'm talking about. I really do like this setup. Big wheels and yellow rims, but not exaggerated. With minor details (pulleys) in the rims. BACK TO TREADS Although I absolutely love some of the setups, I have come to the conclusion that this model is better with treads. Maybe not for playability, but they make this a unique set, instead of yet another 4x4. Thanks you for reading this review. All pictures can be found here.
  10. Here is my video review on the new 71374 Nintendo Entertainment System: THE GOOD: Great building experience for both the NES and TV. The console really captures the look of the NES. The TV is definitely one of the best build so far this year in my opinion. The TV action showing Mario jumping around is great. Printed pieces. There are only 3 stickers in this set. Works ever so well with LEGO Super Mario. The little easter egg added to the NES is nice little touch. THE NOT SO GOOD (Really nip picking here): TV is more interesting than the console :P The game pak eject mechanism can be improved. Missing AC adaptor and actual connection from the console to the TV ... lol Overall, I love this set. The building experience was great and the end result is very very good. I'm surprised how well the Super Mario level works. Although it's one hell of a mission to align all those 1x1 tiles. There are so much packed into the TV. The console is also great, it's realistic and the way you are able to interact with the game pak and controller are great. Also, all those printed pieces!!! It's also interesting how the TV is designed, it's quite easy to switch the moving parts. I wonder if LEGO is planning to add expansion to this. (e.g. different game pak different game on screen?) Totally recommend this and definitely adding the LEGO Super Mario adds more fun to this.
  11. Lego City. It's a dangerous town. It may seem all happy and colorful at first glance, but if you've lived there as long as I have, you'd know that it's a dirty cesspool of crime and corruption. It seems like there is a bank robbery, jail break, or fire every day. The police refuses to use guns and seems to be more concerned about getting haircuts than fighting crime, so they're not really helping. And ever since candy got outlawed, several smuggling circles have cropped up all over town. This city has gone to the dogs, and that's why I decided to become a private eye, to solve the crimes that the bumbling police force can't. It was a cold afternoon. I was sitting in my office, lost in thought. Only a few rays of light entered through the windows into the dark and dusty room. There were various letters and documents scattered across my desk. I was working on a case that I had been working on for months. I was trying to find a criminal who had been eluding authorities for a while. The wanted poster hung on the wall behind me, but the description on it was very vague and since everyone has the exact same face and body type in Lego City, it was nearly impossible to find him. I was getting hungry, so I reached into my own secret stash of cookies and started eating one. "Who could outlaw something that tastes so good," I thought to myself. In that moment, there was a knock on the door. I quickly hid the cookie under the desk and said: "Come in." The door slowly opened and a woman in a red dress and long, wavy hair entered the room. The dim light from the window glistened on her smooth yellow skin. She had a big smile on her face, but by the look in her dark, round eyes, I could tell that she was troubled. "Are... are you Oky Brickman, the private detective?" she asked hesitantly. "Yes, I am, ma'am," I responded, "please, have a seat." The woman in red closed the door behind her, walked across the room, and sat down in the chair in front of me. There was a moment of silence, then I said: "So, what can I do for ya?" She paused as if to think about how best to start, then replied: "Well, you see... There is a new Lego set coming out soon, 10246 Detective's Office, the 10th addition to the modular buildings series, and I am very interested to get it, but I am not sure if it lives up to the standard of the other modular buildings. So, I was wondering if you could review it for me and find out if it's worth the price." I was perplexed. This was not what I was expecting to hear, but I was intrigued. "I see," I said slowly, "that is quite a tough situation you're in." I paused dramatically, then I said, "Alright, I'll do it." "Oh thank you, Mr. Brickman! I will see to it that you get a copy of the set and will reward you handsomely if you succeed." She got up and left, and sure enough, one week later I received a package at my doorstep with the Lego logo on it... Set Number: 10246 Name: Detective's Office Theme: Advanced Models Subtheme: Modular Buildings Year of Release: 2015 Pieces: 2262 Minifigures: 6 Price: $159.99 USD S@H description: S@H Bricklink Brickset Box The box is about the same size as the other modulars, but it has a slightly new design. Note the new five-brick "Expert" logo in the top right corner as well as the three small images underneath it showing the back of the building, its sections, and its width. These are quite useful for seeing more views of the set without having to look on the back of the box, although they do take away some of the space for the box art. Like with the Parisian Restaurant, there are several small close-ups of the set on the back as well as a large picture with the Detectives Office displayed next to the last two modulars. I especially like the pictures of the pool room and the rooftop where Ace Brickman is peeking around the corner to spy on people. The rooftop picture is particularly humorous as it seems that Ace has climbed on the outside of the railing in order not to be seen. This detective will apparently do anything to solve a mystery, no matter the risk! This modular building is unique in that there is an actual story going. This set is set in the prohibition era, but since TLG doesn't want to promote alcohol, they replaced booze with candy, which is a pretty clever idea, even if a bit unnecessary considering this set is aimed at adults. I recommend watching the for this set to learn more about the story from the designer himself. The top of the box features a parts inventory and a 1:1 picture showing the newspaper vending machine for scale. On the bottom of the box, there is just a small version of the picture from the front of the box, a Lego Club ad, and the usual fine print. Nothing interesting here. As you can see, the right side of the box I received got a bit damaged on the way from Denmark unfortunately, but it's not too bad. Here you can see a picture of all the minifigs with various accessories. Quite a nice little scene that shows you what items are included in the set. On the other side, there is yet another instance of the box art with the name of the set in six different languages. It's interesting to know that the word "detective" is more or less the same in most languages. Contents Inside the box there are 18 bags of varying sizes, each numbered 1, 2, 3, or 4, with the larger bags having more, smaller bags inside of them. That's a lot of bags! The fact that all these pieces are split into only four sections is what makes this an advanced build, I assume. Unfortunately, the box wasn't the only thing that was damaged. The large bag with the number 2 and one of the small bags inside of it had a small rip right across the middle of them, so there were three loose pieces inside the box. Fortunately, nothing was missing, but it is disconcerting nonetheless and I hope this is an isolated incident. How this happened is a mystery that only a detective like Ace Brickman could solve. Also included in the box are the instruction booklet, an dark gray 8x16 plate, and a 32x32 baseplate in reddish brown which is the first appearance of this part in that color. That's right, no stickers! Following the example set by the Parisian Restaurant, all decals in this set are printed! Let's hope they continue this trend in future modulars. Here is a picture of a random instructions page. The part call-outs usually feature several different pieces at a time. There is a new feature where all the parts that are added during each step are outlined in red. Some may say that this makes the build less challenging, but I think it is quite helpful on such a large and complex model. I hope they use this feature in future sets, at least the big ones. Minifigures There are six minifigures in this set, all with the classic smiley head. First, there is Ace Brickman the detective. He comes with a fedora and a magnifying glass. His torso is J. Jonah Jameson's with yellow hands. Then there is Al the barber. Him and Ace are the first two named characters in the modular building series! He comes with the new scissors which also appear in some 2015 Friends and Elves sets. We have seen his torso in other D2C sets before, such as the Palace Cinema and Fairground, but they suit him very well. Next, there are the dart player and pool player. The dart player comes with a red baseball cap and cleverly uses Indian feathers as darts, while the pool player uses a 4L bar as a pool cue. Then there's the female cop who comes with her police hat. She uses the same torso as Ma Cop. I like to think that this is Ma Cop when she was young. And then there is the woman in red who doesn't really come with an accessory. As you can see, only half of them have back printing, and very minimal ones at that, but that's ok. Build The first section of the build focuses entirely on constructing the pool hall which is apparently called "The Highlander", so there are a lot of tan, gray, brown, and green pieces. This set is clearly inspired by film noir movies (hence my intro story), so it makes sense to start with one of the most common settings of that genre. Here are some of the notable pieces from these bags. We get two 4x4 domes in dark green and one of those little clip pieces in pearl gold. There are also a few printed pieces such as the two windows with the name of the pool hall, a new dart board, and one of those 2x2 tiles with a red star and a golden brick on it which appeared previously in the Palace Cinema (and an exclusive Legoland set). There is also a new round tile in white with a stud in the middle. There are two of these pieces in this set, both of which are used as table cloths, and they will undoubtedly be useful for sets and MOCs in the future. At step 6 of the build, most of the sidewalk and pool hall floor is finished. The mix of dark colors for the floor looks great and I like how they included dispersed studs among the tiles so that you can position minifigures around the room. Or maybe they just didn't want to include any dark tan tiles other than 1x2s and 1x6s. Ten steps later, the pool table, dart board, and trophy cabinet are constructed. The pool table is not quite as good as some MOCs I have seen, but I do like the SNOT technique they used and it looks decent enough. At the end of section 1, the pool hall is complete. Please ignore my building mistake on the awnings. I only realized after taking this picture that they should be built one stud more outward. This is the first time the Mixels joints have been used as decorative elements and they work quite well. Unfortunately, this is just a pool hall and not a pub, so there is no bar which is a shame, but I guess it makes sense with the whole no-alcohol thing. Some minifigures might be upset about this though. The bags with the number 2 contain the rest of the pieces for the ground floor. There are lots of nice dark blue bricks along with some gray, white, and black parts. You get two cookie and three swirly mint tiles in these bags which have appeared in Seasonal and Friends/Princess sets before. There are also three of those cupcake tops in dark pearl silver and a fez in white which are rare in these colors. I was happy to see that you get three of the new scissors piece in this set! The white rectangle on the right is the new mirror element. It's on a sturdy cardboard and has protective sticker. Now we begin constructing the barbershop. At step 31, the tiling is finished, and you can already see the barrel of candy hidden under the stairs. A few steps later, the interior of the barber shop is taking shape. There is a cabinet, a sink, an old-school barbers chair, and two manikin heads with different hair styles on them. Now we know where Luke Skywalker and Doc Ock get their hair done! By step 45, most of the barbershop is done, and it seems that young Ma Cop couldn't wait her hair done. I don't blame here; after all, this is the first Lego barbershop we've ever gotten! And as you can see in this picture, the mirror is fully reflective. It's not a sticker, so it just held in place by those grooved plates. It's the best mirror that we've ever gotten in a set and I'm sure mirrors like this would be very popular in other sets, especially ones aimed at girls. At step 57, the ground floor is nearly finished. Only a few objects are missing on the side walk which will be added later. After this section, the step numbering starts over at 1 for some reason. The barbershop looks great, especially the cleverly constructed sign with the scissors and the brick-built lettering. The little bench and the barber's pole are nice details as well, even though the stripes on the latter are horizontal instead of diagonal. On the back, there is a grate with some foliage and a trash can. Also, a partial roof has been added to the pool hall which is separately removable. In the bags for section 3, there are tons of great nougat-colored brick-bricks and bricks in two shades of light blue. If you're a collector of rare bricks, this is worth getting the set for right here. There are also several printed pieces here. There is the window with the Ace Brickman writing, a wanted poster which is so humorously vague that it could be about pretty much any minifigure, the usual Lego newspaper which is apparently still running the story about "the greatest LEGO hero ever", a street level map which first appeared in Shredder's Dragon Bike set (which is fitting since the map in that set depicted a part of New York City, which could very well be the location of the Detectives Office as well), a painting with a sail ship, a $100 bill, and several letters, one of which is the old-school kind with a heart stamp. We also get the paint roller handle in black for the first time and an unprinted white R5 head. The second half of the build begins with the floor for the 1st floor. Then you start constructing the staircase and bathroom. The R5 head is used as the toilet bowl. As C-3PO would say: "How perverse!" At step 28, the bathroom and hallway section of the building are finished. The paint roller handles have been cleverly used as curved lamp posts. Now we finally get to the most important part of The Detective's Office - the actual detective's office! At step 32, most of the furniture has been constructed, including a messy desk, a file cabinet, a safe, a coat hanger, and two chairs. There is also a flower pot on the fire escape balcony with three differently colored flowers. At the end of this section, the first floor is complete, minus the Pool sign which will be added at the end of the build. The detective's office looks great. It looks just like something out of a film noir flick or something like Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The back is a bit plain, but there are still a few details to keep it interesting such as the flowers on the window sill. Then we add it to the building and the build is 3/4 complete. The last few bags contain the pieces for the kitchen, rooftop, and anything else that's still missing. Most of the parts are gray, but we also get a few more of those nice light blue bricks. We get three more newspapers and cookies in this section, as well as a printed clock. Also included are the 2x2 L-tile and round tile with center hole in red which are used for the letters on the Pool sign. There is also an inverted 2x2 dome in red and two more unprinted R5 heads, one in orange brown, and another one in white. The most unusual parts here, however, are four dark gray Unikitty tails and that stud with a hole that usually holds her horn in black. Don't worry, no Unikitties were harmed in the making of this building. With the new red tiles, you can spell all kinds of words! Mostly silly ones though. The build of this floor starts out very similar to the last one, except this one has an extra hole for the skylight. The numbering of the building steps resets again. I guess they wanted to have separate sets of steps for each floor. At step 15, most of the interior of the kitchen is done and the cat is already after those cookies! It's interesting to note that the banister of the staircase is built the same way as the one on the first floor. Nice consistency there. Four steps further into the build, the blue part of the walls is finished and topped off by a bunch of gray jumper plates. The rest of the walls is built at a half-stud offset to create the protruding arches. At step 30, the kitchen is done and the construction of the detective office's rooftop begins. Ten steps later, the third floor is finished. There is a very clever use of Hero Factory hands as roofline decorations. Once again there are flowers on the window sill on the back, and it's nice to see the watertower is brick-built using tank treads. Next, you build the roof of the kitchen. This is a fairly simple and quick build, although is still some neat SNOT building going on with the Unikitty tails. When we add them all together, we are almost done! It's already looking quite impressive. Once we add the Pool sign, newspaper vending machine, the tree, and the lamp post, the set is finally complete. And what a fine set it is! Like all modulars, the building stands quite tall and is gorgeous to look at from most angles. Looking at it from the front, there are many great details to look at. It definitely looks like the type of building you would see in one of the large American cities such as New York or Los Angeles which are typically the setting for detective stories. All the different colors make it look fun, but still realistic and aesthetically pleasing. The left side of the building, however, is admittedly not that nice to look at. there are two gray and two black spots on the wall that stick out like a sore thumb, but are necessary for the interior. However, if you connect this building to one of the other modular buildings, I suppose you won't see them anyway. The back of the building looks nice and colorful like the front. I especially like how the profile bricks add some nice texture to the walls of the hallways and detective's office. The right side of the building looks a bit better than the other side, even though there are some white, gray and black spots here too, but those can just be chalked up to flaking paint. Spare Parts After the build, there are quite a few pieces left over, mainly the usual bits and bops, plus the obligatory brick separator. Play Features Since there is a story being told, there are lots of play features in this set. It begins in the kitchen where the smugglers make the candy. There is an oven with a stove, a rolling pin, and a cupboard with a pot. The only problem is that the rolling pin is much too big for the small 2x2 tables in the kitchen, but oh well. Then, they can bring the barrel with the candy down to the back alley where they can open the grate with the foliage and push it into the barbershop. By the way, the instructions tell you to put the red hat into the trash can here, so perhaps this is meant to be a clue for the detective to find. In the barbershop, the stairs can be lifted up to play inside. Here, Al can open the secret passage behind his cabinet, take in the candy barrel, and open another little secret door under the stairs to move the candy to the pool hall. The stairs in the little alleyway between the barbershop and pool hall can be removed in order to easily move the barrel from one room to the other or to simply hide it there. Lastly, the minifigs in the pool hall can slide the black board under the trophy cabinet aside thanks to a clever SNOT technique and bring the candy inside through the secret hole. Brilliant! On the other side of the pool hall there are clips for holding the cues and darts. There is also a well constructed ceiling fan that uses snowshoes for blades and can swing to the side to access the interior. I really like the rooftop as well. It looks just like the type of rooftop you'd see on a building in New York or some other big city. In fact, I could easily picture some of the superheroes from NYC leaping across it, like Spider-Man or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so this set has some re-usability in those themes. The skylight can be fairly easily removed to look inside the detective's office. This is where the smugglers check to see if Ace is in his office or not. The newspaper vending machine can be opened to take one newspaper out. There is another one in there, but it's stuck to the back of the machine. The detective's office itself is not without play features either. There is a secret hiding spot behind the painting which can be swung to the side to reveal it. On the other side of the room, there is a coat hanger for Ace to hang his hat on and a safe to hide money in. There is also a fire escape ladder on the side of Ace Brickman's office which can be lowered by pulling a tab that holds it in place, but it only reaches down halfway and makes it impossible for anyone on the second floor to climb down when it's lowered. Not the best design, but I appreciate the attempt. In the hallway outside of Ace's office, there is a potted plant. Not really a play feature, just a neat little detail in my opinion. The bathroom is confined to a 3x4 studs space and isn't even fully enclosed, but they managed to cram a lot of details in there. Aside from the pull-chain toilet, there is also a roll of toilet paper and even a tiny sink. That's about it. Now that I have fully examined this set, it's time to write my report for the woman in red. Ratings Design: 5/5 - The building looks absolutely fantastic. It is very reminiscent of those old detective movies as it has many of the typical elements from those films. The colors are fun, but still somewhat realistic, and the walls have a nice texture to them. There are lots of clever details all over this set. Build: 5/5 - The building is so asymmetrical that the build never gets repetitive. There are some uncommon techniques and the fact that the bags are split into only four groups makes it challenging. And the new red outline for newly added pieces in the instructions are helpful. I had a lot of fun building this. Minifigs: 4/5 - The minifigures are nothing all that special, but that's to be expected. They do come with some rare torsos and hairpieces and there is a relatively high number of them, so as far as minifigures in modular buildings go, they are pretty good. Playability: 5/5 - This set has more play features than any of the previous modulars. I love the fact that they came up with a story for this set and designed the building and play features around it. This set has so many hidden compartments and moving stairs that it could rival any Hogwarts castle! Parts: 5/5 - Like every modular, this set has many bricks in new and/or rare colors such as light blue. It also has a brown baseplate, lots of those brick-bricks, and even some new molds like the scissors and that 2x2 round tile with only one stud. Plus all of the decals are printed! Price: 4/5 - 2262 pieces seems a bit low for the price considering the Parisian Restaurant had over 200 pieces more, but I'd still say it's a fair price for a model of this size. Overall: 5/5 - This is my first modular building, so I can't really compare it to any of the nine that came before it, but on its own it's great in my opinion. In fact, it made me want to start collecting this series. I would recommend anyone to add this to their collection right away, whether you already have the other modular buildings or are a newcomer to this line like me, especially if you are a fan of mysteries. So there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this special Academy review as much as I had fun making it. Big thanks to Lego and the EB ambassadors for giving me this opportunity. The Detective's Office is now available at S@H and Lego Brand Stores, so go and get your copy today! By the way, Homer Simpson is not the only minifigure who is upset about the pool hall...
  12. Here is my review on Monkie Kid 80014 Sandy's Speedboat: THE GOOD: Great Spider Mech. Brilliant design on the legs and overall shape. Excellent Spider's Queen minifigure. In comparison, a cheaper way to get Pigsy and Sandy's minifig/big fig in the same set. Love the cloud piece attached to Monkie Kid's surf board. THE NOT SO GOOD: Still pricey ... The speedboat not the star of the set, May be it's just me but that's how I felt after I built it. Overall, I like this set and think it's a good addition to the Monkie Kid theme. For those who knows about Journey to the West will definitely appreciate the Spider's Queen minifigure. Although the set is called speedboat, I do feel after building the set the Spider mech is way better in terms of design and look compared to the speedboat. Yes, the theme is overpriced but the contents often quite good. Great minifigures and parts. This set though, is a cheaper way to get both Pigsy and Sandy in one set. I do recommend this set if you like this theme or keen in getting a cool spider mech build, a few modifications would easily made the mech into a legit spider.
  13. Here is my review on 75980 Attack on The Burrow: THE GOOD: The Burrow itself is excellent, love some of the techniques they used to make it nice Lots of interesting small exterior details and furnitures builds 2 Owls and 1 pig (Great to see the pig return and utilised) 8 minifigures and most of them are great and I love Bellatrix's hair piece THE NOT SO GOOD: Harry Potter minifig is a bit dull compared to the other minifigures included The fire build kinda just there to make the set name legit but not really significant even though it's nice to get more flame pieces. Overall, I think this is an excellent set. Harry Potter line has been very consistent in the past 2 years. This is one of the best buildings from this theme. I don't have the previous version so I can't really compare but I really like the exterior design of this set. I think it's a smart design, given it's a doll house type build but it still look like a complete 3 dimensional building because of the way they designed it. The Burrow itself has so much cramped inside and so many things to discover. Also it's very nice to see 8 minifigures with some exciting hair pieces. I'm very happy with the end results and would totally recommend this set to everyone!
  14. Here is my review on 60266 Ocean Exploration Ship: THE GOOD: The ship does look massive. Love the new sting ray. Glad the Great White is back. Interesting new diving gears. Great use of stickers to make the aquariums. Great lab area. THE NOT SO GOOD: The scale of the main hall is a bit off. Look even a bit small for minifigure to stand in top level. Not indication on how minifigures can get to the lab. The pirate shipwreck's steering is a bit too modern. This set by no means is bad, it has it great parts and its own flaws. I particularly like its size when view from the size, the minifigures, the marine animals and the research lab. And I really like the use of stickers this time round. However, I really feel disappointed when there is no implication on how the minifigures are going to get to the lab. The scale is a bit off. This is indeed an expensive set but I'm glad I bought it 25% off which was a good deal. I will only recommend if you desperately need the great white or never own a lego boat before, otherwise wait for a clearance later this year.
  15. Here is my review on Monkie Kid's 80009 Pigsy's Food Truck: THE GOOD: Great interior details inside the food truck. Great opening mechanisms for interior access. I like the graphic designs on the stickers. Excellent Pigsy minifigure. Interesting build for the Pig Mascot Machine Gun. Several elements that feed some dark humours for corrupted mind like me XD THE NOT SO GOOD: Because of the size of the truck, you can't just put it into a typical Lego City setting. I wonder if there is a way to replicate the excelling opening mechanism without visible gap for the joints. Overall, I think this is a good set. I enjoyed the building experience, the outcome and the minifigures. Thanks to size, the designer is able to put a lot of interior details into the food truck. I do feel the weaponised look is a bit over the top and too Zombie Apocalypse type of truck but it's ok the good parts overcome the little shortcomings and it's my personal preference anyway. The Pigsy minifigure is just great, can't wait to use the head with the torso and legs of the Pig Costume Guy XD. And I really wonder what's the idea behind using sausages on the grill and decorations while Pigsy is obviously related to Pigs. Also the back of the Pig Mascot on top, what do you think it looks like? XD. Despite a few flaws, I will still recommend this to everyone. It's not as good as the Monkey King mech but this is also good. And the price is probably one of the better ones in the overall Monkey Kid theme, in fact I found this set with the most reasonable pricing.
  16. REVIEW - 42024 - CONTAINER TRUCK One of the first images of the 1H 2014 sets which appeared was the 42024 Container Truck. It's is what you'd call a skip truck. A skip is a large open-topped waste container designed for loading onto a special type of lorry. Instead of being emptied into a garbage truck on site, a skip is removed, or replaced by an empty skip, and then tipped at a landfill site or transfer station. As usual the first opinions where very divided, varying from great looking truck to looks unfinished and ranging from color vomit to I love the colors. My first thought was that the cab indeed looked a bit unfinished, but the color scheme, although having a lot of primary colors, did appeal to me. Luckily I had the opportunity of reviewing this set, so let's find out what it's all about! Note: Pictures where taken with a Canon EOS 600D (18-55mm kit lens). Every image can be clicked to show a high resolution version. 360 DEGREE VIEW For this review there is a 360 degree view available. Unfortunately I cannot embed it here on Eurobricks, so I've created a support page for this. Please note that this 360 view is experimental and not yet as I would like it to be. First I tried a big rotating home made turntable, but the results weren't fantastic. Then I came up with the idea to make a Technic PF stand, which works better. The bottom of the stand needs to be upgraded, probably using white studded Lego (with SNOT, studs not on top) to make it look better. And I am contemplating making an NXT version, so I can hook it up to a computer. When I manage to get my own software communicating with the camera, I can fully automate the process. There's even the possibility to do multi-row, so you can rotate up and down to change the vertical view angle. Anyway, check it out further in this review! Loading can take a while since it's 42 images, totalling 16MB of data. SET INFORMATION Set Number: 42024 Title of Set: Container Truck Theme: Technic Released: 1H 2014 Part Count: 948 Box Weight: 800 gr Set Price (MSRP): DE 69.99 EUR / UK 59.99 GBP / USA 79.99 USD Price per Part: DE 0.074 EUR / UK 0.063 GBP / USA 0.084 USD THE BOX The box measures 48cm x 28cm x 9cm. It's the same width and height as the 42023 Construction Crew box, but slightly thicker, 9cm instead of 7cm. The set does have more parts, so it makes sense. FRONT SIDE The front side shows the truck, loaded with the container and in the upper right corner it's shows some functions, like extending the outriggers and tipping the container to empty it. BACK SIDE The back side shows that the container can be emptied or it can be removed to replace it with an empty one. It also shows the optional Power Functions setup. B-MODEL ROAD GRADER The back side also shows a fairly detailed image of the B-model, a Road Grader. There's a 2-in-1 sign and a reference to the building instructions, which can be found online. CONTENTS OF THE BOX Opening the box reveals seven unnumbered bags, a sticker sheet and two booklets. The set doesn't contain a card board back for the instructions, like the flagship sets do. The booklets and sticker sheet are in near mint condition. The instructions are divided over two booklets. Opening the bags and collecting the liftarms provides the color vomit people have refered to. Luckily things where sorted out pretty quickly. This set contains a nice collection of liftarms, perfect for young or starting builders. HIGHLIGHTED PARTS The set contains some new 2014 parts and some existing parts in new colors. 49.5 x 20 TIRE Already mentioned in my Construction Crew review, which has these tires as well, and I quote: 2014 would be a year in which new tires would be released. Well, here they are. These tires are perfectly suited for smaller scale vehicles. They use the same rims as the Tire 43.2 x 22 ZR, but as you can see the diameter is 49.5mm instead of 43.2mm. This provides a more realistic proportion, especially suitable for trucks and construction vehicles. Basically they are small Unimog like tires. Big thumbs up for TLG! 5L Axle with Stop One of the new parts for 2014 is the 5L Axle with Stop (or Axle 5 With Stop), basically the same part as the 4L Axle with Stop only one unit longer and in dark tan (looks like normal tan in this picture) color. BIONICLE CHAIN LINK SECTION Not a new part, but never seen in a Technic set before, is this very nice looking Bionicle Chain Link. My guess is that these will sell a lot more on Bricklink, starting today. 1x6 THIN LIFTARM This is a very rare part since it has only be released in one set, the 8457 Power Puller from 2000. No more 3 to 6 bucks a pop for a new one on Bricklink. 1x5 THIN LIFTARM WITH AXLE HOLES Already present in some of the 2013 sets, but still this fairly new part is worth to mention. 5x11 PANEL PATE IN BLUE The 5x11 Panel Plate has been around for a while, but never in Blue! It seems blue is getting special attention this year, so here it is. Next to it is a picture of all the panels included in this set. PART LIST This set contains 948 parts and then some. THE BUILD The build starts with the front of the truck. A 1x7 Gear Rack is used for steering the front wheels, much like the 8109 Flatbed Truck. The front part of the truck, located below the cab, is starting to take shape. The axle for HoG steering is clearly visible. After the front section, the gear box will be built. This gear box is not used to drive a fake engine, but it's used for driving the two main functions (besides steering), and switching between them. The two functions are operating the boom and extending the outriggers. Here you can clearly see the two new 5L Axles with Stop which will be connected to the Linear Actuator in one of the next steps. The LA's are used to operate the boom, for raising/lowering and emptying the bucket. The Technic Cam is connected to the Technic Changeover Catch which will switch between operating the boom and operating the outriggers. Building the gearbox almost takes up every gear in this set. At the rear (which is on the left side in this picture) the Mini Linear Actuator is visible. This is used to operate the outriggers. Switching between functions is done at the front of the truck, near the cab. To transfer controls from the gearbox to the front, the mechanism shown below is used. Movement of the lever is limited by the 18x8mm wheels with fake bolts. This image shows the end of the first booklet. Stickers are applied on each side, to explain the functions and switching between them. The functions are activated by turning the Black 12T Double Bevel Gear at the right side of the truck. It's not the easiest way to operate, since turning the gear is quite cumbersome. And you need to turn it a lot to fully extend the boom. The second booklet starts with building the cab. The picture below shows the finished grill. It's your average joe truck grill, nothing out of the ordinary, but it looks okay. The license plate reads CU11014. As far as I know there aren't any designers with the initials CU, so it remains a mystery what this plate means. Some have suggested it might be the release date, See You in 2014 10th of January. If anyone knows the actual meaning, let me know! With the grill attached the cab, the truck is almost done. The seats are grey for a change, not the commonly used blue seats. The doors of the truck can be opened manually. This picture shows the steering wheel in a vertical position. Obviously it needs to be tilted a bit to have some angle. Otherwise, steering this truck would be quite a challenge. The next two pictures show the finished model, without the container. I must admit that the truck looks way better, than in the first box image. The cab doesn't look that unfinished anymore. It is a very simple can though. For starters, an extra liftarm could have been used to fill the gaps at the back sides of the truck, behind the doors, like in the 42008 Service Truck. So the cab is not bad, yet relatively simple. There is indeed a (yellow) 5x11 Panel Plate at the back of the cab, as some suggested. And there are two 4L Thin Liftarms which will be used to hold the battery box, when operated by Power Functions. MISCELLANEOUS BUILDING STEPS CONTAINER After finishing the truck, the skip (container) is left to build. Liftarm galore, if you will. The build is pretty straightforward, connecting pins to liftarms....and more liftarms. The back of the container shows two 3x3 L-Shape Thin Liftarms which are used to tilt the skip, when emptying. Here you can see the Bionicle Chain Links attached to the sides of the container. The chains are attached to an axle which is attached to the boom. That way the container can freely rotate when emptying or replacing it. The color combination of blue and grey, combined with the stickers, does make this container look very realistic. I like it!! PARTS LEFT I am still wondering whether I missed using two friction pins and two 3/4 pins. FINISHED MODEL Like most Technic models, this one looks better in real life than in pictures. The colors are very vibrant and having three different colors for the cab, loading bed and the skip is pretty common on a skip truck. The use of different primary colors actually improves this model. Otherwise it might look a bit dull. The yellow Axle Connector with Axle Hole is used to switch between operating the boom and operating the outriggers. The stickers show the corresponding action for the position of the lever. Looking at this picture, reminds me of a movie quote from Falling Down (1993) with Michael Douglas: "Can anybody tell me what's wrong with this picture?". Well, can you? Although being a simple compact cab, it does look good on this truck. At the back you can see the mechanism used to tilt the container when emptying it. The 4L axle between the two 3x3 L-Shape Thin Liftarms on the truck will be stuck behind the Perpendicular Double Split Axle and Pin Connector which will tilt the container when operating the boom. With the outriggers fully extented, the skip won't tilt when operating the boom. Instead the container can move freely and therefor be put on the ground behind the truck. Replacing the container takes a lot of manual turns. It's nice to have optional Power Functions, but I would almost say it's mandatory for having some playability in this set. This picture shows the bottom of the truck, where you can see most of the functionality in place, switch lever, operating gear, mini LA, part of the gear box and steering rack. Chck out this cool 360 degree view of this model. You can swipe from left to right to rotate. Loading can take a while since it's 42 images, totalling 16MB of data. MISCELLANEOUS PICTURES OF FINISHED MODEL SUMMARY So what do I think of this model. I am halted between two opinions. First of all this set does look great. It's vibrant colors do this model justice. Compared to the 8109 Flatbed Truck and the 42008 Service Truck the new tires are way better for building in this scale. Secondly, the new tires and some new parts are introduced. In my opinion these parts are not as interesting as the ones in the 42023 Construction Crew set. Unless your name is Conchas and you really need those blue panels for your Dunechaser. So it all depends on your needs. Besided opening the doors and HoG steering, this set offers two main functions: Operating the boom Extending the outriggers Operating both functions by hand is very cumbersome. It takes a lot of turning until the boom is fully extended and the container is on the ground. For having actual playability using Power Functions seems mandatory. I hate to start a Linear Actuator vs Pneumatics discussion again, but Pneumatics might have enhanced the playability. Obviously this would have been hard, since both functions use LA's but when emptying the container, the LA's aren't fully extended. So I do understand why LA's have been used. Somehow it feels that this set might have been better with pneumatics instead of LA's. So I do like this set, but it is missing a clever mechanism, like the 8109 Flatbed Truck to make it a great set. PROS Authentic looks New tires Lots of liftarms in different colors (great for starting builders) Power Functions optional (which reduces the price) CONS Operating the outriggers and boom is cumbersome without Power Functions Cab design is very simple New parts have very specific use No wow factor anywhere in the build SCORE Design 8: When fully built, it does look great. Build 7: Nothing spectacular. No wow factor. Functionality 7: Besides HoG steering, two main functions, which is okay. Playability 7: Operating the outriggers and boom needs Power Functions. Parts 7: Some new, yet very specific, parts. Does have new tires. Value for Money 7: Average value for money. Might be valuable, depending on your needs. 7,2 A Bit Too Average For Greatness Thank you for reading! And special thanks to Bonaparte and TLG for giving me the opportunity of reviewing this set Please rate this set at the top of this topic! All review images can be found on my Flickr page.
  17. REVIEW - 10242 - MINI COOPER Mk VII INTRODUCTION After the 10187 - Volkswagen Beetle in 2008 and the 10220 - Volkswagen T1 Camper Van in 2011 LEGO has released another brick built version of an iconic car. Now it's MINI's turn to be immortalized in the form of a LEGO Creator set. The model has been designed by British senior designer Andy Hugh Seenan, who allegedly can't work without coffee. He has been designing toys for LEGO since 2007 and joined the LEGO Creator department in 2011. He also designed the 31010 - LEGO Creator Tree House and 10525 - DUPLO Big Farm, which is his favorite self-designed model. We can judge by the Tree House that Andy is very creative in both implementing various features and maintaining aesthetics. Let's see if his creativity has founds it's way to the MINI. Review images can be clicked for hi-res versions. FROM LEGO PRESS RELEASE Take this MINI Cooper for a nostalgic drive down memory lane! Experience the iconic MINI Cooper first hand, with its classic lines, detailed interior and fun picnic theme. Take the iconic MINI Cooper for a drive! This beautifully crafted LEGO brick replica of the classic MINI Cooper Mk VII is full of authentic details, from the classic green and white color scheme with white wing mirrors and racing stripes, to the opening doors, hood and trunk, sporty fog lights, detailed engine and separate spare tire compartment. You can even remove the roof to access a tan colored interior with patterned seats, veneer-style dashboard, turning steering wheel, and moving gearshift and handbrake. And of course, no MINI Cooper would be complete without a picnic basket and blanket, the perfect accessories for a cozy day in the countryside! Features opening doors, bonnet and boot, spare wheel in separate compartment, detailed engine and 2 fog lights. Accessories include a picnic basket, bottle and blanket for nostalgic picnic theme. Authentic replica of the MINI Cooper Mk VII. Classic green and white color theme with white wing mirrors and racing stripes. Lift the bonnet to reveal the detailed engine. Remove the roof and access the detailed interior. Go on a countryside picnic with this iconic classic! MINI Cooper measures over 4” (11cm) high, 9” (25cm) long and 5” (14cm) wide. Available for VIPs from July 18th. SET INFORMATION Number: 10242 Title: Mini Cooper Theme: Creator (Expert) Released: July/August 2014 Part Count: 1.077 Box Weight: 1330 gr Box Dimensions: 37,2 x 35,0 x 8,9 cm (WxHxD) Set Price (MSRP): US $99.99 / CA $119.99 / AU $149.99 / DE 89.99€ / UK £74.99 / DK 799.00 DKK Price per Part: US $0.093 / CA $0.111 / AU $0.139 / DE 0.084€ / UK £0.070 / DK 0.742 DKK THE BOX The almost square box measures 37,2 x 35,0 x 8,9 cm and feels like it is filled with lots of parts. Holding the box and looking at the images, I immediately got the feeling that this will make a great present for young and old. The box is slightly smaller than the box of the VW Van which does have more parts. FRONT SIDE The front of the box shows the model in a countryside picknick scene. The age recommendation is 16+ which is a bit high in my opinion. The upper right corner shows the detachable roof. The box also states this model belongs to the Creator theme, Expert series. BACK SIDE The back side shows a variety of different smaller pictures, explaining most of the neat features. By the number of pictures we can see that there's a lot going on in this set. SIDES One of the sides shows a comparison between the model and it's real life counterpart. Most noticeable is the difference in the number of fog lights. And the rear of the real MINI is more curved than the LEGO version. The next side shows the front, side and back of the model. The front view is my favorite view. The combination of the grill, head lights and fog lights is well executed. The third side shows the part list, which is common for LEGO creator sets. What I like about the part list on the box is that you can see the variety of parts included in the box. Like most Creator sets, this set has a vast array of different colored bricks, which are very appealing to potential buyers. I would recommend including such an image on every larger box. CONTENTS OF THE BOX Since the box is not overly big, it feels like it's filled to the brim. It contains: 8 Numbered Bags (1, 2 and 3) 2 Booklets 2 Sticker Sheets 1 Brick Separator BAGS The set includes 8 numbered (1, 2 and 3) bags in varying sizes. The larger bags contain some smaller bag with smaller parts. The set also contains a brick separator. BOOKLETS The set contains two booklets with 64 and 51 pages for instructions, adding up to 76 steps. The booklets are almost identical. The only difference is the sequence number. STICKER SHEETS Not one, but two sticker sheets are included in this set. Two sticker sheets while there are a lot of printed parts?! One of the sheets has four stickers with metallic look. The other sticker sheet contains five different types of license plates to choose from. HIGHLIGHTED PARTS There are a lot of dark green parts in this set and some of them hadn't been released in this color before. Especially the first two common parts are very welcome in dark green! 1 x 1 PLATE Believe it or not, but this plate wasn't available in dark green before. 1 x 1 MODIFIED BRICK WITH STUD ON ONE SIDE Also a new part in dark green and a very useful one. 2 x 2 ROUND TILE & 3 x 2 PLATE WITH HOLE The round tile is new in dark green and the plate with hole hasn't been used since 2005. 3 x 4 x 2/3 PLATE WITH BOW WITH NOPS Not a very commonly used part, but from now on, it's available in dark green. 3 x 6 x 1 CURVED WINDSCREEN Like the previous one this part has a very specific use and is available in dark green for the first time. 1 x 4 x 1 1/3 MODIFIED BRICK WITH CURVED TOP This part is also new in dark green. It comes in two variants, one with and one without striped pattern. The stripes are printed on the part, so no hassle with applying stickers. 2 x 1 CURVED SLOPE A new flat silver curved slope. Introduced this year (2014) but not unique to this set. It has been used in several other sets. MINIFIGURE SKATE As we can see in the image below, the minifigure skate is a very versatile part! PART LIST Here's the complete list for all 1077 parts. BUILDING EXPERIENCE The set contains bags numbered 1, 2 and 3, which means the build consists of 3 stages. Each stage requires opening the corresponding bags. So let's start with the first stage! STAGE #1: CHASSIS The first stage requires opening the two bags numbered #1 which results in using the following parts. The chassis pretty symmetrical when it comes to the wheel base. Being a Creator set some oddly colored parts are used, like the blue Technic bricks. At the rear we can see the single fog light mounted on the right side of the fender. Here we can see the Neck Bracket with Technic Pin cleverly used as the exhaust pipe. The middle bottom section of the vehicle is where the front seats and rear couch will be mounted. The mounting points are already visible. The side skirts make sure the MINI gets it's sporty Cooper look. The shift stick is very simple and very well-thought-out at the same time. The base consists of a Modified 2 x 3 Tile with 2 Clips and a Technic Axle Towball, which results in a freely moveable stick. The floor of the trunk can be lifted to reveal the spare tire. Using the 1 x 6 x 5 Panel results in having room for the tire AND the entire picknick basket, which is quite an accomplishment for a model this size. At the end of stage #1 the chassis is complete. It already has the shift stick and trunk with spare tire. It's about 30 studs long and measures around 25 cm. STAGE #2: INTERIOR AND REAR BODYWORK During the next stage you will add the following parts to the model. A Curved 3 x 6 x 1 Windscreen is used as exterior wheel hump. The checkered upholstery looks fantastic and it's not even finished. The handbrake is one of the many great details! At the rear you see one of the stickers (MINI badge) you need to apply. funny enough, you need to apply this sticker to a part which has printed stripes on it. It's for the first time LEGO has printed a curved part like this. The dainty picknick basket is so cute! The details are remarkable. It even has two different types of cheese! Probably Gouda cheese The blanket is an actual piece of cloth, not plastic. The bottle and baguette are the icing on the cake. Being a right driven model, I have chosen the British registration. The MINI has an R registration, which means the year of registration is 1997/1998. Could this possibly be Andy's old registration number?! The boot is very efficient. It holds the spare tire and entire picknick set! STAGE #3: ENGINE BAY, FRONT BODYWORK AND ROOF During the final stage you will finish the front of the car and the roof. Lots of dark green parts will be added to the car. Under the hood the twin-carburetor 1,275 cc engine is mounted. I love the use of the Small Barb (Helmet Horn) as spark plug cables (or high tension leads). The dashboard is pretty detailed, with a glove compartment and several printed gauges. The steering wheel is a bit big, but the old MINI's did have a big steering wheel. Although the Cooper has a smaller sports steering wheel, I still think this one suits best. The seats and neck rests can be adjusted to a certain degree. The checkered upholstery looks amazing, much like the rest of the car. The door handles are actually Minifigure Iceskates. FINISHED MODEL It took me approximately 3 hours to build this model, one hour per stage. FRONT VIEW After finishing the model I really felt a WOW! Just WOW! Granted, the rear section should be a little more curved to resemble the real MINI better. In my opinion this is just a minor detail, since the model captures the overall look of it's real life counterpart very well! The front of the car with the grill, fog lights and bonnet, screams MINI Cooper! The white striping, mirrors and roof give this model it's iconic Cooper look. The sloping bonnet is very well designed. REAR VIEW The trunk lid with embedded license plate is another nice detail which adds to the recognizable MINI design. The tank filler cap is on the left side. Small details like this make the MINI an outstanding model. BOTTOM VIEW The bottom view shows the chassis of the car and in the front you can see the towball construction used for the shift stick. PARTS LEFT Most of the smaller parts have a spare one in every stage, so you end up with quite a few extra 1 x 1 plates and tiles. FEATURES This model some dainty details and exquisite features: Opening hood Opening bonnet Opening doors Detachable roof Storable spare tire Filled picknick basket with bottle Cooper-ish wheel covers Moveable steer Moveable shift stick Adjustable seats Should LEGO have gone the extra mile and include parts to turn this MINI into a convertible, like Dirk1313 did over here?! There's probably a good reason LEGO didn't, but it would have been a nice addition. On the other hand; you can easily do this yourself. SUMMARY Since the MINI has quite a few great details, building it is never boring. After every step it's getting better and better. When you have finished the model, you really get that WOW! feeling. Choosing dark green for the bodywork gives this model the characteristic British Racing Green look. Although it could have been blue or red, I think LEGO made the right choice with dark green. The model lacks a bit of playability when it comes to driving. Without actual steering it's hard to turn the car. Driving back and forth gets a little boring after a while. But then again; this model is probably not meant to play with. Maybe that's one of the reasons it has 16+ as an age recommendation. As a display model, this is one of the best cars LEGO has created...ever! Quite a few people will be having a hard time believing that this actually is a LEGO model. Andy has a great job capturing the essence of the real MINI in this LEGO Creator set. PROS Astonishing model Lots of dainty details Lots of features Lots of (new) parts in dark green Some silver/chrome parts Most of the decals are printed CONS Lack of steering Rear is a bit too square SCORE Design 9: The model screams MINI Cooper. Build 8: Fun build, never a dull moment. Features 9: Lots of nice features. Playability 8: Lack of steering diminishes playability. Parts 9: Great parts pack, if you like dark green. Value for Money 9: Iconic MINI Cooper for a reasonable price. 8,7 Instant classic! MEDIA I have included some extra content for your viewing pleasure! DESIGNER VIDEO PREVIEW VIDEOS Hope you enjoyed it! Thanks for reading and please rate this set at the top of this topic!
  18. Here is my review on 70437 Mystery Castle: THE GOOD: Looks awesome and very massive when view from front. Great Observatory! Nehmaar Reem is my new favourite minifigure, the lower part of this minifig is great. Rarely I like stickers but the decorative windows are great. Love the throne chair. THE NOT SO GOOD: A few areas a bit bland. May be a little bit more roof for the main part of the castle? Overall, this is an excellent set and definitely will recommend to everyone. The look of this is just stunning, it looks massive from the front. The back is a big shallow just like other facade type sets but the two towers gave this a lot more depth than most similar builds. The Observatory is one of my favourite part if the set. Smart design on the dome and the telescope. Even the set is heavy on stickers, the 2 stickers as a decorative windows look very good. Once again like other Hidden Side sets, the minifigures are excellent especially the villain. The lower body part is my new favourite part now. Although it's not without flaw (like interior a bit empty on several areas) the pricing is very good in my opinion, I thought this gonna be like close to $200NZD but no, it's $159.99 and I got it with 20% so I am a very happy man.
  19. Bob De Quatre

    REVIEW: 21031 Burj Khalifa

    Introduction Hi fellow EB members! I'm back with a review of one of the 2016 LEGO Architecture sets: #21031 Burj Khalifa. I must say that I have a love/hate relation with this building, since I'm very interested in architecture and how those skyscraper are build, but I also suffer from vertigo... So reviewing the (second) LEGO rendition of the tallest building in the world made me anxious before opening the box. Will this set take me to the top of LEGO Architecture or will it makes me want to jump into the void? Thanks to EB LUG Ambassador CopMike and the LEGO CEE Team and Designers for giving me the opportunity to review this set! Set information Name: 21031 Burj Khalifa (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) Theme: LEGO Model Making / Architecture Year: 2016 Pieces: 333 Price: USD NA, GBP NA, EURO NA Resources: Brickset, BrickLink Packaging The box is as classy as all LEGO Architecture's boxes. The front shows the build on a black background, with some blueprints under. In the top left corner is a big LEGO Architecture logo, and just under it the name of the set in both English and Arabic. Just under is a picture of the instructions booklet and an indication saying that the booklet is written in English and Arabic. Let's talk about it right now: Arabic isn't one of the usual languages we see on LEGO boxes, but this set is most probably made to be sold everywhere in the world, and particularily in the Arabic-speaking countries. The rear of the box has a nice picture of both the real Burj Khalifa and its LEGO rendition, and a comment about the tower in a few language. It also indicates the size of the final build: 95 mm wide and 390 mm tall. Content of the box The box contains the instructions booklet, 5 unnumbered bags and a brick separator. Sadly I lost the picture of those beautiful bags... Instructions booklet The 107 pages instructions booklet is very classy and well printed. There are a few pages with informations about the tower and its construction, with lots of pictures. The main problem with the booklet is that due to it using a portrait orientation and being thick, you can't have it stay open without holding it! That's why you can see my hand in the next pictures, and why I almost did all the building with only one hand. That issue ruined most of the building fun. The instructions are pretty clear and (too) easy to follow, with no fancy techniques, which is either a good or a bad thing, I'll let you decide. Build The base of the build is rather simple. It's the only time you'll see a fancy color with the two dark red 1x1 round plate with open stud. With the first levels of the tower in place, you can see the desert flower pattern of the building... And from now on will start building up and up again! First stop in the construction, we've reached the 124th floor and the At the Top observatory. You can see that the building to this point is very repetitive, and I even placed the 1x4 hinge plates at the wrong places, as building with only one hand isn't really easy. We'll then add some plating on the 3 faces, each different. As you can see the lower part of the outer plating is made of three to one layers of plates and 1x2/3 or 2x2/3 slopes. And the upper plating is only made of 1x2/3 or 2x2/3 slopes, each attached to a single stud, which may cause them to rotate slightly, which is quite annoying. Note that there is no (small) Tom Cruise attached to the surface of the tower, which is quite disappointing. And finally the last stories. The top of the tower is built with a totally diferent technique than the rest, using simple bricks with studs on sides and tiles. There are not much spare parts for a set of this size, but they are still welcome. Interesting parts The part selection isn't great, I could even say it is poor. We got lots of light bluish gray bricks, some with studs on sides, tiles and 2/3 slopes, and a few brackets and curved slopes. But we also get three 1x1 round plate with open stud, and three 4x1 curved inverted slope in light bluish gray, which are exclusive to this set. If you like gray parts, then this set is for you. Comparison with set #21008 Burj Khalifa The Burj Khalifa has already been featured in the LEGO Architecture theme. Back in 2011, LEGO gave us the tallest skyscraper in the world in the set #21008. If the height of the tower hasn't changed since then, its LEGO representation has evolved a lot. Built on the exact same base, the two tower seem to have the same scale. But the similarities between those stops here. The old Burj Khalifa was entirely built with round elements, while the new tries to be more accurate to the angles and proportions of the real tower. The new Burj Khalifa is definitely an improvement over the old one. Conclusion Design: 8/10 - Definitely an improvement compared to the previous rendition. The booklet design issue is quite problematic for a standard two handed human. Parts: 6/10 - No variety in shapes and colors, and too few rare parts. Build: 7/10 - The build experience is quite boring, with no difficulties. Price: --/10 - The retail prices aren't published as I write this review. I'll update that score when they are. Overall: 21/30 (64%) - A nice build and a great rendition of the original tower, but not very interesting to build. The part selection do its job, but isn't really interesting. And please LEGO, test the usability of your instructions booklet.
  20. 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.
  21. REVIEW - 42090 - GETAWAY TRUCK INTRODUCTION The Getaway Truck is the "other" Pull-back Racer of 2019. Since TLG has introduced the "cops and robbers" theme again, this set is considered to be the antagonist, or bad-guy if you will. The picture below shows the previous Getaway Truck from 2016. That set looked Bad-ass with a capital A. The latest versions follows TLG's new design philosophy (for smaller sets anyway), which is using less parts and more panels. Check out the picture below to see all the cool details. PICTURES Pictures can be clicked to view hi-res versions. More pictures can be found in my Flickr album. DISCLAIMER This set has been provided by the CEE Team of TLG. It's not my goal to promote this set. It's my goal to give you an honest opinion about it. Therefore, the opinion in this review is my own and is in no way linked to TLG. SET INFORMATION Number: 42090 Title: Getaway Truck Theme: Technic Released: 2019 Part Count: 128 Box Weight: 297 gram Box Dimensions: 26,2 x 14,0 x 7,1 cm Set Price (RRP): € 19,99 Price per Part: € 0,16 Links: Brickset, Bricklink THE BOX As usual this model can be combined with the other Pull-back to create a combined model. This time it is a rather unconventional tank-ish vehicle. You can see the image on the back of the box. The combined models are often odd vehicles, but this one is taking the cake. CONTENTS OF THE BOX The box contains: 1x Booklet 1x Sticker sheet 1x Pull-back motor 4x Tire 2x Unnumbered bag HIGHLIGHTED PARTS The only interesting parts in this set are the dark bluish grey panels. The 7x3 Curved Panels on the left have been introduced in 2017, so they aren't new. But the #3 and #4 Panels on the right are new in dark bluish grey. The previous Getaway Truck also used these panels, but they were black with stickers. PART LIST The complete part list for the 128 parts. COMPLETED MODEL Granted, the completed model definitely looks better than the Police Pursuit. But like that one, this model also relies heavily on panels. It's basically six panels connected with some liftarms. Spared no expense? On the contrary. Spared all expenses and made it as cheap as possible. Where are the wheel hubs?! The mandatory bottom view. The pull-back motor is dark bluish grey, but it looks like old dark grey in this pic. The usual left-over parts. SUMMARY I will repeat here what I said in the Police Pursuit review. The pull-back models confirm my suspicion that TLG is drastically looking at ways to optimize profit, instead of delivering cool sets. One can argue that kids will hardly notice the difference when they get a pull-back set, but only using a couple of panels and liftarms is totally different than the setup of the previous Getaway Truck. That one had a very cool design and cool details. PROS The design is better than its Police counterpart CONS Mostly comprised of panels Simple design Way less detail than the previous version SCORE How do I rate this set? (most scores are copied from 42091 - Police Pursuit) 6 DESIGN Okay-ish. 4 BUILDING EXPERIENCE Done in a minute. 7 FEATURES On par with other pull-back sets. 7 PLAYABILITY I have rated other pull-backs the same grade. 4 PARTS 42 parts less than its predecessor. 5 VALUE FOR MONEY The low part count makes this set less attractive than previous versions. 5,5 AT LEAST IT LOOKS LIKE A NORMAL VEHICLE FINAL WORDS Thanks you for reading this review. All pictures can be found here.
  22. A good-looking Technic bike with a transmission, unique new pieces and Ducati license? Sign me in!
  23. Here is my review on 76157 Wonder Woman vs. Cheetah. THE GOOD: Excellent Minifigures. The satellite dish panels are all PRINTED! Interesting way to build the vent. Very smooth rotation on the action feature. THE NOT SO GOOD: Very bland (close to none) interior. Re-use of head for Max. Overall, this is an interesting set. I do think the set building experience and exterior are a lot more sophisticated than most other similar price range super heroes themed sets but than the interior is really lacking. The satellite rotation and the printed panels are cool though. Especially the printed panels are good for other space crafts build. Minifigures wise, it's good. It would be better if Max looks a bit more like Pedro Pascal and a variation of wings for Wonder Woman. One thing I want to highlight is the availability of this set is very unclear at the moment. It is released in some retailers and LEGO certified store (where I bought it) but shop@home is showing 1st July, so keep an eye out if you are looking for this. I will still recommend this set if you are a fan of the DC movies and love super heroes in general.
  24. Introduction Hi fellow EB members! In this early spring, Lego takes us to a walk on the 5th avenue, New York. The Guggenheim Museum is worldwide known for its art collection as well as for its architecture. I'm not sure what LEGO thinks of art, but I'm sure they're very interested in architecture, and that's why they released the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum as their new set in the Architecture theme! Thanks to EB LUG Ambassador CopMike and the LEGO CEE Team and Designers for giving me the opportunity to review this set! Set information Name: 21035 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Theme: LEGO Model Making / Architecture Year: 2017 Pieces: 744 Price: USD 79.99, GBP 64.99, EURO 69.99 Resources: Brickset , BrickLink Packaging The box comes in the usual LEGO Architecture 's black livery, but in an odd almost square shape. It is also quite thick, as there's 744 parts to stuff in. The front shows the full set, proudly standing on blueprints against the black background. On the upper left corner is a rather big LEGO Architecture logo and just under is the name of the set and its location in the world and the set's sizes... Nothing fancy here, just the good old Architecture box! The back of the box has a front shot of the set and a picture of the real buildings and a short comment on the museum in a few languages. Size of the set is also indicated: 190mm wide and 125mm tall. Content of the box The box is almost full, with the instruction booklet and 6 unnumbered bags, one of which contains a brick separator for your collection. Instructions booklet The 167 pages instructions booklet is, as always with Architecture sets, very well done and good looking with the classic black background. There are a lot of nice pictures of the building and its interior, with lots of facts. The instructions are easy to follow and no color errors should be made. You can see here one the many pictures and facts that pop up in the corners of the booklet. You can also see that some steps need quite a bunch of parts, but I reassure you, many steps onl require a single plate! Build First steps passed. If you look closely, you may notice a big change compared to the other sets of the theme... The set makes a great use of the newly released rounded tiles to add details. The build uses lots of 1/2 studs offsets and snot techniques. Continuig with the building... The technique used to achieve the rounded sections is really nice and makes use of many new parts. The finished set in all his glory! My finger hurts of placing all those tan 1x1 tiles! As always there are some spare parts. Interesting parts The set comes with a nice selection of white curved slopes, and among them the rather new 3x2 white curved slope. Three 2x3 white tiles are also present. The set is also at the moment the best source for 1x1 quarter round tiles in light bluish gray. Parts in new or rare colors include the 6x6 round plate in white and black, the 10x10 inverted dish in sand green, the 2x4 wedge plate in sand green, a 3x3 cross plate in tan, a white 1x3x1 panel , and 4 of the new 1x1modified brick with 2 studs on adjacent sides in black! And of course two nice printed tile and curved slope with the museum's name on it. Conclusion Design: 9/10 - A really nice set in the Architecture theme! One of my favorite. Parts: 8/10 - Some very interesting parts in this set, and maybe more variety than other sets of the theme. Build: 8/10 - An interesting build, not too monotonous. Price: 7/10 - At 9.4 cent per part, this set is in the price average of the Architecture theme's sets. Overall: 32/40 (80%) - I really enjoyed building this set! I think it may be one of the best set of the recently released Architecture sets. If you're a fan of the theme, go grab it, you won't regret it.
  25. BaneShake

    Macku (2003) Review

    I have never done a Bionicle opening-and-review video, but the theme meant so much to me as a kid, I’ve decided to dip my toes in the waters and give one a try with the Mask of Light version of Macku. (If this is in the wrong section, please move or remove this post as necessary) https://youtu.be/iX2eO_Futx8