Brickset news archive: Set review
Following on from my first Technic review I have done for Brickset, here is the second one!
I'm going to be looking at set 42022 Hot Rod, which at 413 parts sits in the mid-size set category and at a guess will have a price point somewhere around £35/$50 (US). The Hot Rod seems to be designed to resemble the Ford Model T style 'rods. I’m no hotrod expert myself, but having had a quick look around the web, it’s the closest I could find to the LEGO Technic interpretation of this custom car icon.
The finished model is instantly identifiable as a hotrod and has all the key elements for this type of vehicle. The big exposed engine block looks great, complemented by the upward facing exhaust pipes along with the large air intake scoop on the top. The huge classic steel grill radiator completes the look. The other nice feature of this set is the fold-down roof which really works well (I’ll comment more on this later).
The big news with this set though is it's the first to advertise and use the LEGO building App! It is available from both the AppStore for iOS devices, and Google play for Android. Sadly I was unable to use the building guide App for this review and give you my thoughts as it isn’t available yet! However once it is, I’d be interested to see it myself as well as hear your thoughts on it in the comments?
As with many Technic sets, this is a 2 models in 1. The alternative model is a Baja style desert/dune buggy. It looks neat but I won't be building it as part of this review.
When I was in Canada in the summer, I had the pleasure of meeting up with Chris McVeigh (aka Powerpig). Chris is, without doubt, one of the most talented LEGO builders around. Not only are his models fantastic, but his photography is superb which results in stunning works of art, as you can see in his Flickr stream and on Facebook.
Chris has started to make instructions of his popular models and produce kits for some of them which he sells at Storenvy. He kindly gave me one of his Christmas ornaments, pictured, so, now we're in the holiday season, I thought I'd do a quick review.
This is the first review I have done on a Technic set, and only the second I have built since coming out of my “Dark Ages” in 2009! The first set I built was 42007 Moto Cross Bike, which was given to me as a gift earlier this year. Whilst as a child most of my early LEGO consisted of Town and Space sets, it was later on that Technic became my theme of choice. I have many memories of building sets with my dad, the pinnacle of which was set 8865 Test Car. Technic was also probably the last LEGO I built before becoming a teenager and leaving my LEGO hobby to rest…
The Black Champion Racer appears to be based on a single seater, F1 style racing car. And actually considering it’s size, it does a good job of doing so! One of the smaller sets for 2014, and one of two that feature the “pull-back” motor (part no. 6024100) that has been seen previously on sets like 42010 Off Road Racer and 42011 Race Car. The other “pull-back” set soon to be released is 42027 Desert Racer which using online building instructions at LEGO.com, can be combined with the Champion Racer to build a larger 6-wheel Racing Truck!
LEGO fan websites in Europe are at a disadvantage at this time of year when it comes to reviewing new sets because we normally don't see anything of next year's sets until just before Christmas at the very earliest, whereas many of them are on the toy stores shelves in the USA and Canada already.
So I was thankful to Kim in the LEGO CEE team for sending us three Technic sets to review. I'll be looking at 42021 Snowmobile now, and kempo81 will cover the other two later today or tomorrow.
The truck driver is an old boy with grey hair and wearing sand blue dungarees. It's a nice torso that has appeared in only two other sets, including 7052 UFO Abduction.
Like the others, it too has a retro '1950s America' feel to it. To me, the cab, at 4-studs wide, looks too narrow. Short of some complex half-stud building techniques and a custom 5-wide windscreen, there isn't really a solution, though.
The price of this set cannot be bettered so grab it for free while you can!
Thanks to LEGO for providing the set for review.
This polybag is available in Toys R Us in North America. I don't think it's available anywhere else other than possibly Hungary, so I'm indebted to Richard over at YouTube channel BrickFormula for sending some over to me. It was the last 30xxx polybag released in 2013 that I needed.
Unlike the tree in 40058 which we reviewed a few weeks ago, this is a traditional 'four-pronged' square design. However what's cool about this one is that it uses inverted slopes, and dark green ones at that, rather than normal slopes which actually give it a more realistic look, in my opinion. The gifts under the tree are an integral part of the structure, although it won't topple if they are omitted. The starfish at the top has probably been used on a tree before but despite looking I can't find one.
Overall it's a neat poly -- nice design and parts -- and worth tracking down.
Yesterday I stated that one of the three 2013 polys I don't have yet was 30168 Gun Mounting System. Shortly afterwards I thought I might as well bite the bullet and get one off eBay, given I had no intention of ever buying the video game. Incredibly, it arrived this morning...
Of course the highlight of the set is the Iron Patriot minifig. This is currently the only way to get it and given that next year's Marvel sets feature Spider-man, it's unlikely to be available again any time soon.
It's very well printed and the end result is fantastic. The gun mounting mechanism can be seen better in this photo of the back of the model.
Under the helmet is, unsurprisingly, Don Cheadle's head. It's double sided: this is the 'calm' side. On the other side he's clenching his teeth.
It's an expensive thing to get hold of but if you're an Iron Man fan, or polybag collector, you'll need one. Buy it now before the secondary market price skyrockets...
Christmas sets are a relatively new phenomenon. Before 1999 or so, we were lucky to see a single Santa polybag each year, and even then they were not readily available. These days we are spoiled for choice, what with the winter village sets, Advent calendars, free sets from shop.LEGO.com and holiday-themed polybags. It's perhaps surprising that it took LEGO so long to cotton on to their potential.
This set 40058, Decorating The Tree, is one of this year's two Christmas polybags, and also one of four season-themed polybags we've enjoyed this year (40052 Springtime scene, 40054 Summer Scene and 40057 Fall Scene).
It consists of a tree, five presents, a little girl and a hapless dad fixing the lights on it using a stepladder. The tree is of the 'three-pronged' variety which makes use of Technic Rotor, 3 Blades to fix the branches at 120 degrees rather than 90. It's been used for this purpose many times before, at least since 2009 (in 30009), so it's perhaps a shame that it hasn't been made in green yet, I'm sure the tree would look much better if it was.
The minifigs are pretty good: dad has a nice plaid shirt on, but those red trousers have made an appearance again, but at least they are dark red this time!
For a polybag it has a high piece count -- 110 -- which is one of the highest (if we exclude the huge MBA ones), although admittedly many are 1x1 pieces.
It's a neat little set that will grace your desk or mantelpiece over the holiday period.
Thanks to the team over at Brick A Brac, who specialise in end-of-line and rare/exclusive sets, for sending me this and 40059 to review. They currently have an exclusive offer for Brickset readers: Mindstorms EV3 for just £199, that's £100 off the RRP. Go and check out their website if you're interested in finding out more.
In part one of the review, I estimated that the model would take about 6 hours to build. Having completed it now, that time wasn't too far off: 2.5 hours for the ground floor, and an hour for the first floor, and about another hour for the roof.
It was pointed out in the comments to part 1 that 'Chez Albert' means 'Albert's Place' or 'At Albert's' in English, which makes it rather strange that it's 'Chez' and not 'Albert' that's embedded in the floor of the outside seating area, doesn't it.
Also in the comments, someone asked for a scan of the parts list, which I've now added to flickr.
Right, on with the conclusion of the review...
The fantastic folks in the LEGO community team have sent us, and other fan sites, 10243 Parisian Restaurant to review ahead of its release in January. It's not often we receive sets, and are able to post reviews, so far in advance of release, but I'm certainly not complaining.
When the set was announced at the beginning of October it generated a lot of interest and positive comments, with many regarding it as the 'best modular yet' which is saying something given the high standard of recent ones.
I received it on Wednesday and spent yesterday building the ground floor. This review then, will be in several parts. Today I'll cover the ground floor, and hopefully later today or over the weekend I'll get the other stories built and the review concluded.
As you will see, this is not a set to rush: plan to spend at least 6 hours building it. The ground floor took something like 3 hours to complete because the level of detail is astonishing.
This year's seasonal holiday polybags have just made an appearance in the stores, so despite there being about 8-weeks until Christmas, I thought I'd do a quick review of them now.
The guys at web store Brick A Brac, who specialise in end-of-line and rare/exclusive sets, received them early and sent them to me, but being away for a couple of weeks recently, I've only just got to them. Today I'll review 40059 Santa's Sleigh and tomorrow, I'll look at 40058 Decorating the Tree.
This 77-piece set consists of Santa in his sleigh being pulled by a reindeer and some random guy with a walkie-talkie.
With Halloween just around the corner, now's a good time to review this year's Halloween set, 40055, Pumpkin.
LEGO has made various pumpkins over the years, ever since orange bricks and plates started to become available in 2000. This one, however, is not their best effort and doesn't really have much going for it at all.
For a start, it's square: there's been no attempt to round the corners other than on the top. I know it's difficult at this scale but I'm sure some SNOT techniques, maybe something similar to a Lowell Sphere could have been used.
Secondly, the parts are all different shades of orange and it really shows: the plates are one shade, the bricks another. The 2x2 slopes come in both shades as you can see from this photo.
So, it's not a good model, or a good parts pack, so is one strictly for the polybag completist to leave in their collection unopened.
From today until the end of October (or until stocks last), this cute little set is free with qualifying purchases at shop.LEGO.com and LEGO Brand Stores.
LEGO has kindly sent me one to review so you can see how cool it is and thus go and place an order right away, which you can do by clicking on the banner at the top of the home page :-)
The Thanksgiving Parts Pack, sorry, Feast looks to be widely available across the world and not confined to the USA, as Grahame reported earlier in the week. There were none out in the Shepherd's Bush brand store in London yesterday but while there I met up with Jeff from the awesome site BrickPicker.com who had brought one over from the US for me.
As has been pointed out, this really is an excellent parts pack stuffed with food (much like many of us after a Thanksgiving or Christmas feast..) and animals that individually cost a small fortune on sites like BrickOwl.
The female has a great torso that I think is usually used for historical minifigs. The only thing I'm not so keen on is the man's red trousers. How many men do you know that wear red trousers? Or is there something I don't know about Thanksgiving? :)
Cheers LEGO for a great little polybag!
The latest Architecture set, 21018 UN Headquarters, is released today. LEGO has kindly sent us one to review. Before I start, I should confess that I own 13 Architecture sets but that this is the first one that I've actually opened the box of and built, which is pretty shameful, isn't it...
The UN Headquarters is in New York, USA and was built just after the second world war. It was designed primarily by Oscar Niemeyer, who went on to design Brazil's capital city Brasilia. It's said to be in the 'modernist style' of architecture. You can find out more about it on Wikipedia, or by buying the set which, in common with other Architecture sets, has extensive notes about the building in the instruction manual.
On with the review...
My in-depth reviews of the latest Friends collectable animals sets concludes with a look at 41025 Puppy's Playhouse.
It consists of a kennel, a see-saw, a food bowl and a puppy. The puppy's design appeared in year 2012 sets, but this is the first time it's been available in tan. The head is very well printed, including its very appealing 'puppy eyes'.
The see-saw is pretty much superfluous, just there to meet the piece count requirements I suspect.
This is perhaps the most boring of the new batch of Friends collectables in my opinion, but nevertheless, like the others, it's worth picking up for parts and of course at £2.99/$4.99, makes a great pocket-money set for young girls.
41023 Fawn's Forest is the second of three of the new series 3 Friends Animals sets that I'm taking a quick look at.
This one features a baby deer, a fawn, which is new in this set. Like all Friends animals, it has a certain style which fits in well with the Friends line but which makes it unsuitable for use in other contexts, for example in a City layout.
A useful selection of brown parts make up the short and stubby tree which appears to be blossoming. The set also comes with a food bowl from which the fawn eats dark pink cherries, which have reappeared in that colour this year, having last been seen in Belville sets in the 2000's.
There's not much more to say about it really, other than in common with others in the series, it's a steal at £2.99/$4.99 and will be a big hit with the target audience of little girls.
Series three of the Friends collectable animals polybag sets has just become available. This new batch of three features a puppy, a fawn and a parrot. 41024, Parrot's Perch, unsurprisingly, features the latter. The parrot is new to this set. To me, it looks a bit fat: parrots tend to be tall and slender, don't they? But I guess it fits in with the style of other Friends animals.
The set itself consists of two parts: a 'cage' and a perch. The cage is open on two sides, so not really much of a cage then! The perch uses a minifig backpack for the food bowl which I believe is new in dark pink.
As with most Friends sets, there are some cool pieces in nice colours, particularly the round 4 x 4 bricks at the base of the stands. At £2.99/$4.99 you can't really go wrong, can you...
Furty is pretty much the same as the skunk but in light brown. His head is the same mould, as is his tail, which exhibits the same problem as the skunk's: the end which should be attached to his back stands about 1mm proud of it.
While we are on the subject of LoC, I haven't been keeping up to date with the episodes, but I do intend to watch them, so I'm grateful to The Brick Blogger for posting links to the episodes. It's interesting that LEGO is not publishing the English language versions of them on its official YouTube channel, but the Singapore subsidiary is...
It seems that the series is up to episode 9 already. I've no idea, therefore, how Furty's character plays out, but judging by the weapon he's wielding it looks as if he's not to be messed with...
Have you been watching? What do you think of it?
Minecraft has become a sensation worldwide since its release in 2009, and therefore it is no surprise that LEGO Minecraft is the first theme to sever ties with Cuusoo and have sets produced independently of the website. Nobody can question the huge success of 21102 Minecraft Micro World, which sold out on LEGO Shop at Home in the US only a matter of days following the release. It will be interesting to see if these new models can replicate this popularity now that the initial excitement has died down a little.
The second of the two sets released today is 21105 Minecraft Micro World: The Village, priced at £29.99 or $34.99 and containing 466-pieces. This set represents the villages which can be encountered in the game, and includes many of the features which you will be aware of if you are familiar with Minecraft. Touches such as the inclusion of TNT and mine cart tracks underground will delight fans of the game and show the impressive attention to detail on the part of the designers.
Finally, before I get into the main body of the review, many thanks to Kim from the LEGO CEE team for sending these Minecraft sets out for review, and to Huw for sending one of them on to me.
Two new Minecraft sets are released today and we've been sent one of each by the LEGO CEE team to review. In this review, I will take a look at 21106 The Nether. Later today, capnrex101 will publish his review of 21105 The Village.
Judging by the difficulty of getting hold of the original Cuusoo Minecraft set, 21102, particularly last year in the USA, it was a tremendous commercial success for LEGO and it is therefore not surprising that more Minecraft sets have been produced. These are not Cuusoo sets though (this we've been asked to stress), but they are perhaps the start of a long-term Minecraft theme.
The original set featured a part of 'The Overworld', known as 'The Forest'. We found this out, and that there'd be more sets on the way in June this year when it was renamed.
The two new sets represent different parts of the universe. This one is of The Nether, which according to the Minecraft wiki "is a hell-like dimension accessible only by entering a Nether Portal from the Overworld. It is home to several hazards, including flames, widespread standing and flowing lava, and Nether-exclusive mobs, as well as exclusive items and blocks."
The wiki goes on to say that "Locations in The Nether correlate to Overworld coordinates" which implies that it is underground, to me at least, and certainly in this model all the 'action' and details are underground.
The guys in the LEGO CEE team have sent us a box of polybags to use for reviews and competition prizes. Among them was the new Mini VW T1 Camper Van that'll be free with purchases over a certain threshold from shop.LEGO.com and LEGO stores in September.
The 76-piece model sports the same colour scheme as its larger brother, 10220, and from a distance photos of the two look the same.
It's a 4-wide model, so not minifig scale, or at least not current minifig scale, which is of course 6-wide. It would, however, fit in well in an 'old-school' 1970's LEGOLAND town display when all vehicles were 4 wide and too small to fit minifigs into.
Quite possibly the most anticipated set of the year has been this one, 10236 Ewok Village. The iconic location of Bright Tree Village from Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi has been notably absent in LEGO since the earliest Star Wars sets were released in 1999. Many fans have been eagerly awaiting and hoping for a set of this kind to be released, and at last, in the 30th anniversary year of the final episode of the Original Trilogy, LEGO have provided us with a definitive model of the Ewok Village.
I have to say, I never fully saw the appeal of such a model. As far as I was concerned, an Ewok Village set would consist almost entirely of building trees, with only a tiny area of actual village at the top, as well as being extortionately expensive. While a model like this might have been an exquisite display piece, the playability of such a set would have been sorely lacking, and therefore I doubted a large Ewok Village would ever be produced.
I am pleased to say however that I was utterly mistaken. Now that LEGO have provided us with an Ewok Village, I am delighted with it. The model retains enough accuracy from the film to be credible as a village in the trees, and despite the aforementioned trees not actually being very tall, this does not take anything away from the appearance of the model as I had feared it would. Priced at £199.99 or $249.99 and consisting of 1990-pieces, this set has been a very pleasant surprise, as not only does this model represent fantastic value for money in my opinion, as well as being excellent from a perspective of displayability, but it is even laden with exciting and innovative features in every area of the set.
Needless to say, this review could be a long one, so I suggest you make yourself comfortable...
Thanks to The Minifigure Store, I'm now in possession of a complete set of series 11 minifigures. Given that they are not out everywhere in the US yet, but should be any day now, I thought it might be useful to post a few pictures of the more interesting ones over the next couple of days to whet your appetite.
We've had some 180-odd CMFs over the three years since they were introduced and still the LEGO design team continues to come up with new ideas. Sure, each series has its share of retreads but there are always some innovative figures in the mix as well.
The stand-out figure for me in series 11 is this cute-as-a-button gingerbread man. His ginger cream biscuit head and icing decorations are superbly executed and his 'dunk me' mug is the perfect accessory. Definitely one to feel for: the lack of a minifig head could be the giveaway.
In recent years, LEGO seems to have produced far more Prequel Trilogy sets than Original Trilogy models, and this wave is an excellent example of this continuing trend. 75020 Jabba's Sail Barge is the only set from the Summer 2013 selection which is from the Original Trilogy, and I am quite pleased with it overall.
Initial images of the set were not at all encouraging. The nose looked awful and the Minifigure selection seemed quite small for a set which costs £99.99 or $119.99 for 850-pieces. While this set is far from perfect, the Sail Barge is, in my opinion, far better in person than the artwork would suggest, much like the recent LEGO Cuusoo offering of 21003 The Delorean Time Machine. The Minifigures are excellent, and the actual vehicle is a nice representation of the Sail Barge in the film.
Before I get started, my apologies that it has been so long between the second and third reviews. I'm afraid real life and expensive data while I was abroad got in the way!
Anyway, down to business. Next up in my series of City Coast Guard reviews is 60015 Coast Guard Plane. While not strictly the next one up in terms of size, I am still waiting on replacement stickers for my copy of 60013 Coast Guard Helicopter - they arrived stuck to the inside of the box...
Set 60015 retails at £34.99/$44.99 and contains 279-pieces, giving it a PPP of 12.541p / 16.125c. The set includes a rather nice fishing boat, and a Coast Guard Seaplane (who'd have guessed!). This set seems to be the retailer exclusive of the sub-theme, at least in the US, though I'm not too sure where it's exclusive too! LEGO take what I feel is rather a strange approach to the retailer exclusives, denying their existence on the boxes and instructions of the other sets, even though they are available from LEGOshop.com. Exactly the same approach was taken last time, when the Coast Guard exclusive set was 7726, the layout featured in the back of the instructions just left out that set, as has been done here.
Enough of my waffle and onto the set. The box again features the standard city view, but this time looking at it across the sea. Notice the wind turbines in the distance, LEGO City has been investing in green energy! In the bottom right is a diagram showing that the 'Boat really floats'. I have to wonder how useful/playable this really is, since the Seaplane can't float...
This is a set which will divide opinion I should imagine. There is certainly a lot of fun to be had here and the Minifigures are excellent, however, the actual gate is weak in terms of accuracy as it does not capture the sheer magnitude of the setting in the book or the film. This model, 79007 Battle at the Black Gate is priced at £59.99 or $59.99, and I have to say, that seems rather expensive to me.
My complaint is not with the Minifigures or the appearance of the gate, both are superb. The actual accuracy of the gate on the other hand is lacking, this is a set which really needed to be sold at a higher price point in order to do the scene justice. The most notable exclusion is a second tower to attach to the left end of the gate, and for this, there is no excuse in my opinion. To be honest, I feel the second tower could have been squeezed in at this price point.
Nevertheless, it is certainly not all doom and gloom with this set. Read on to find out more...
41999 4x4 Crawler Exclusive Edition has been out for a couple of weeks now, and despite claims that orders placed through shop.LEGO.com on the 1st August wouldn't ship until the end of September, I received mine a couple of days ago, and built it right away.
I'm not going to do a full review because I see that zipsforbananas has written an excellent one already, and there's a thorough pictorial review on Eurobricks. Instead, I thought I'd just tell you what I thought of it and also solicit your feedback.
What I liked about it:
- The packaging is superb. Why can't all LEGO models come in a reusable box like that, rather than one that you have to destroy to open?
- The model is the best representation of a 'monster truck' that LEGO has produced, although perhaps after comparing it with real monster trucks, it would have looked better with larger wheels.
- Often with Technic models you get the feeling that the designers skimp on vehicle bodywork by over-using curved panels or by using flexible tubes to give an impression of bodywork, but that's certainly not the case here; the body is well built using plenty of beams, and consequently there are no gaps in it. Maybe this is because it was designed by an AFOL, and that's how we like to build our models.
- I didn't buy 9398, last year's Technic 4x4 crawler, the chassis of which this model is based upon, because I didn't like the colour scheme. Unless the the stickers were applied, it would have looked terrible, half black and half white. Applying stickers to Technic models is usually a mistake because they peel and flake over time. The colour scheme issue has been addressed and this new model looks terrific in dark blue and white, with or without stickers. The silver beams used for the bumpers and elsewhere look great.
What I didn't like:
- Until I finished it, there was nothing I didn't like. It was a interesting build, not too repetitive, and unlike some recent Technic models, it doesn't have a parts-dense multi-function gearbox which usually take ages to construct and are prone to mistakes. Then I switched it on...
- The speed at which it moves is a major disappointment. It crawls along at a pace that didn't even scare my cat. I think I was expecting something more like 8369 Dirt Crusher RC which zips along at a fantastic speed.
- The four wheel steering is very clever, and works well using the new PF servo motor but I thought the rear wheels turning looked a bit daft and un-prototypical. It's easily fixed though, I snapped open the rear axle assembly joint, removed one of the 3L axles and used pins to lock the rear axle in a fixed position. It doesn't have such a tight turning circle now but that's not much of a problem.
In summary, it's a great looking model, packed with functionality, but ultimately, playing with it is a bit disappointing.
Did you buy one? Have you built it, or are you like many people in the forum (it seems), keeping it as an investment for resale later? If you have built it, what did you think? Maybe it was your first Technic model. If so, will you buy more?
If you didn't buy it, it looks as if you won't be doing so unless you have deep pockets as it's out of stock now at shop.LEGO.com and prices on eBay are ridiculous (upwards of £400/$500).
In the second part of my review of 10237 Tower of Orthanc, I am going to take a look at the construction of the set and the tower itself. For the first part, where I reviewed the box, Minifigures and creatures, follow this link.
As I mentioned in the first part of the review, this set is really about the Tower of Orthanc itself rather than the Minifigures and I guarantee that with this set, you will not be disappointed. Of the sets I own, this is the tallest, the only other model which really comes close is 10212 Imperial Shuttle. When placed on its stand, that model stands about an inch shorter than the Tower of Orthanc. As one might guess, I think there are only a very few sets better for display than this one and there are plenty of fun features too.
Being almost entirely black and rather shiny, as well as the obvious size issue, made this set quite tricky to photograph. Therefore I can only apologise for one or two of the shots which I simply could not get right, hopefully they get the idea across though.
Lord of the Rings is rich with iconic characters and locations, few more so than the imposing Tower of Orthanc. Therefore, with the revelation of LEGO Lord of the Rings, it seemed inevitable that this setting would eventually make it into a set in some form or another. Few could have imagined that this set is what LEGO would produce.
10237 Tower of Orthanc is quite simply the best Lord of the Rings set around in my opinion. The detail and playability of the model could hardly be bettered and for display, I can think of only a few sets which improve upon this one. This marvellous model will cost you £169.99 or $199.99 for 2359-pieces, so whether or not you endorse the reliability of the infamous 'price per piece' ratio, I think this represents good value for money.
This review will be divided into two parts, in the first of which I will take a look at the box, the Minifigures, and the creatures included.
This is a set which has divided opinion from the moment it was announced. 79005 The Wizard Battle is a nice set on its own, no doubt about that, but the main source of complaint has generally been the fact that this model is almost identical to the third floor of 10237 Tower of Orthanc.
Nobody can deny the fact that this set is very similar to Saruman's throne room in the Tower of Orthanc set, but I would argue that this set is well worth purchasing nevertheless at £11.99 or $12.99 for 113-pieces. Obviously if you cannot afford 10237 Tower of Orthanc, or cannot justify the cost of the set, then this model is going to be a winner, but there is a single piece which might well draw in even owners of the larger model. You can probably guess which one I am talking about already...
Geoffrey the Giraffe was first spotted in captivity in the LEGO vault at Billund during the inside tour in May. He's now made it out into the wild and can be obtained for free with purchases of £15 at Toys R Us in the UK, or for £4.99. My local branches didn't have them until Friday, so I headed down yesterday to grab a couple.
For those that aren't aware, the 400xx number series is used for 'store exclusives'. They are usually LEGO brand store or LEGOLAND exclusives, and I think this is the first number from that series to be allocated to a set that's available elsewhere.
The news that Lord of the Rings was to get a second wave of sets was very well received and the second smallest of the five sets released this year is a highlight for me.
One of the most popular settings from the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy is Rivendell, the home of Elrond and elves under his rule. In this set, 79006 The Council of Elrond, we get our first taste of this magnificent location in LEGO, and it really is a treat, perfectly capturing the area as it appears in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring film, directed by Peter Jackson.
The model includes four lovely Minifigures, one of whom is an exclusive character to this set and two of whom have been updated. With 243-pieces, this set is priced at £29.99 or $29.99, and despite the fact that the 'price-to-piece' ratio (which I tend to take with a pinch of salt anyway) is some way out, I believe this set is well worth the price.
Probably the set I considered the least interesting prior to the release of this Summer wave of Star Wars sets was 75022 Mandalorian Speeder. The vehicle being recreated appeared only briefly in the Clone Wars television show (or at least a similar vehicle) and the box artwork for the set does not, in my opinion, portray the model or Minifigures in the most complimentary of light.
Despite my initial reservations, this has turned out to be a good little set, priced at £24.99 or $24.99 and consisting of 211-pieces. As a Clone Wars set, this will no doubt not be quite as popular as many other sets in this selection, and it will be viewed as good news by some that only two Clone Wars sets have been produced for this Summer wave. I was pleased to see a Clone Wars version of Darth Maul being produced before the end of the Clone Wars sets as a whole, but the Minifigure is a little disappointing in my opinion (although I believe it does look better in person than in photos).
In the second part of my review of 79111 Constitution Train Chase, I will take a look at the build and the Constitution train itself. While many licensed sets rely on the Minifigures alone to carry the entire model, in this case I feel that the vehicle more than lives up to the standard of the superb figures.
In the first part I took a look at the Minifigures included and you can read about them here.
Once again, please avoid spoilers in the comments section for the sake of those who have yet to see the film.
Set 79111 Constitution Train Chase was considered a highlight of the Lone Ranger theme by many prior to its release, and is the largest set of the theme, priced at £79.99 or $99.99 and weighing in at 699-pieces. Since the Lone Ranger sets were only released in the UK over the last couple of weeks, I thought it worth composing a review of this excellent set, some three months after the rest of the wave was ably reviewed by Huw and DrDave. As this is such a large set, I have split the review into two sections. In the first of these, I will take a look at the box and the Minifigures, and in the second, the set itself.
In the interests of members who have not yet seen the film, it would be appreciated if the comments section could be kept spoiler free just as the review will be.
Before I get on to the review itself, well done to Brickset member coson for being the first to guess (or perhaps deduce) which set I was going to be reviewing after 75019 AT-TE.
In the midst of the excitement (and dread) surrounding the Comic Con exclusives which plague LEGO every year, allow me to bring you a little light relief in the form of a review. It has been far too long since my last Star Wars review, over a month in fact, and now that I am back from my cruise around the Baltic, which was excellent, I can sit back and continue my documentation of this Summer's Star Wars sets.
This Summer, Star Wars sets can be split into two entirely different groups. There are five Battle of Geonosis sets, and five from elsewhere within the films and the Clone Wars television show. The second largest of the Battle of Geonosis sets is the seemingly ever-present AT-TE, now in its third outing at Minifigure scale. Therefore this set, much like many others from this wave, is simply an updated version of a previous model, and no doubt it improves vastly on earlier editions.
The AT-TE played a fairly significant role in Star Wars Episode II, and is certainly not one of those 'blink and you miss it' vehicles unlike some others I could think of (most notably the B-Wing, which now has as many models made of it as seconds it was in the film). This particular edition, 75019 AT-TE, has a slightly inflated price, in the UK at least, over the last incarnation, costing £79.99 or $89.99. The US price has remained the same while the piece count has gone down by a grand total of four parts from the 2008 edition, to 794 pieces. While not initially struck on this set, due to the fact that it is rather more stubby than earlier AT-TE models, I am fairly impressed with this set, and beside its older counterparts, this one is far superior in my opinion. Add five excellent Minifigures to the mix and one has the makings for a great Star Wars set.
Earlier today at the San Diego Comic Con, the next LEGO Cuusoo model, 21103 Back to the Future DeLorean, was unveiled. It became a review qualifier in June 2012 and passed review in December. It's taken just over a year then to be turned into a retail set. In the interim, licenses have been acquired and legendary designer Steen Sig Andersen has turned the original submission into a model suitable for becoming a boxed LEGO set.
I am certain that the LEGO Cuusoo team would have liked today's unveiling to have been the first time the model was seen but unfortunately the LEGO marketing department had other ideas and published a photo on the July store calendar which found its way into the public domain a few weeks ago. Thus we have all had an opportunity to form an opinion on this set and unfortunately much of the talk has been negative. [Note that this review was written several weeks ago before the official images emerged earlier this week.]
Anyway before reviewing the set, let's remind ourselves what the model submitted to Cuusoo, and the car in the movies, looked like...
The box art again is the standard City backdrop with a beach in the foreground and displays the set in the most action packed scenario possible, but without the inclusion of someone to rescue. The bottom right of the box features a diagram demonstrating that the 'boat really floats'. I don't particularly care for floating boats as I have yet to work out a scenario when water can be used realistically in a LEGO context, but in this set the inclusion of a floating boat doesn't have any negative effect on the rest of the set as the dinghy piece is widely used anyway.
The Coast Guard sub-theme of the LEGO City range is something I have always had a bit of a soft spot for, despite the limited sets released in the past, indeed it was not for nothing that I was originally known as LegoCoastGuard on Brickset.
2008 was the last time we saw any new releases from this sub-theme, so I was particularly pleased when five new sets were announced for Summer 2013 release. I'm pleased to say that I have acquired all five and I have them lined up for review over the next few days.
Today I'm going to crack open the very smallest set, 60011 Surfer Rescue.
Summer has finally arrived in the UK and consequently it's uncomfortable being in the house playing LEGO and running websites. Luckily, LEGO news has been really slow this last week or so, so like many fan sites, I'm struggling to find things to post on the home page anyway.
I've just about mustered the energy to build this Lone Ranger polybag, that arrived in the week from Denmark, thanks to icey117, where it had appeared on a kids' comic cover as we mentioned the other day.
Mind you, there's isn't a lot to say about it other than the minifig is the same as in all other LR sets (except the mine) and it's a neat little polybag model that'll work well with the Constition Train Chase set (which I still haven't got round to building yet).
Hopefully it will become more widely available in future, perhaps in WalMart/TRU/Target, or with the forthcoming Daily Mail promotion, which we have on good authority is scheduled for August.
Incredibly, LR sets are still not available in UK shops. Amazon.co.uk is selling them although not at a discount yet: I guess they don't need to. I suspect the launch of the new Argos catalogue at the end of July will be their debut on the high street.
My copy of the Batman: DC Super Heroes Unite on Blu-Ray/DVD arrived from the US via the Amazon.co.uk marketplace yesterday.
I can confirm that the Blu-Ray disc is not region coded and played just fine on my UK player. I didn't try the DVD.
The movie is about 70 minutes long and I'd like to tell you that I enjoyed it but to be honest I found it a bit boring and only watched the first 20 minutes of it last night. There's no doubt it looks stunning but it's nowhere near as entertaining as the Star Wars ones, particularly the Padawan Menace.
The main reason for buying it, of course, is for this minifig, Clark Kent in a transitional state, which as you can see looks great. Clark is sporting the same hairstyle as Robin and a number of other recent minifigs. The head printing isn't the best I've seen but looks fine from a short distance.
It's a figure every Super Heroes collector will want and thankfully it's not too hard to get hold of it. The comments on this news article suggest it's available in quite a few places but, alas, not in UK shops...
As a Star Wars and Super Heroes minifigure collector among many other things, the seemingly constant release of exclusive figures can become frustrating at times. However, I was lucky enough to source one of the exclusive 'NY I Heart' Yoda minifigures. One thousand of these were distributed in conjunction with the unveiling of the largest LEGO model ever created in Times Square, the X-wing Starfighter, with a purchase of 9493 at the nearby LEGO store.
Immediately this minifigure struck me as a 'must have' more than many other exclusives do. Beyond being rare, and therefore highly desirable, I also find his shirt rather witty. As this is a limited edition minifigure, of course not everybody is going to be able to obtain one, nevertheless, to Star Wars minifigure collectors (or collectors of hard to find minifigures) this is inevitably going to harbour a great deal of interest.
I just happened to be passing today when I saw the new Speedorz sets on display, among them 70107 Skunk Attack. I'm not much of a fan of the Speedorz, but purely so that I could review it for you, I picked up one.
The main reason for buying the set (since actually playing with the Speedor is downright near impossible) is to get hold of the skunk, which is unlikely to feature in another set any time soon.
Read on to see if he's any good...
In this review, I will be taking a look at 75021 Republic Gunship, which was perhaps the most anticipated set of the entire Summer 2013 Star Wars line-up. Much like many of the other sets from this wave, it is only fairly recently that LEGO last produced a Republic Gunship model (7676) which was released in 2008. As one of the most prevalent and iconic vehicles from the Prequel Trilogy, previous editions of the Republic Gunship have proved to be very popular indeed, and I would imagine that this set will continue in this vein as it only improves on the earlier models in my opinion.
This is the largest edition of the Republic Gunship so far with 1175-pieces. Naturally though, with a greater piece count comes a higher price, and this set costs £109.99 or $119.99, so is significantly more expensive than either of the Republic Gunship sets released before if you are in the UK, the US price has remained the same. Not only do I consider this set to be the best edition of the Republic Gunship yet, but the minifigures are also outstanding, and five of them are brand new and exclusive which only furthers their appeal.
This set contains 560-pieces and retails for £50 in the UK, $70 in the USA. How refreshing to see that we in the UK aren't being ripped off compared to the USA for a change...
It contains the largest bug in the theme, three minifigs and two new bug larvae.
In my second review of the Summer 2013 LEGO Star Wars sets I will be taking a look at 75017 Duel on Geonosis. Priced at a (surprisingly) reasonable £39.99 or $39.99 and boasting 391 pieces, this is one of the mid-sized sets of the selection this Summer, and I am rather impressed with it.
Naturally, being a set based on a scene from the Prequel Trilogy, the appeal of this model is limited. Nevertheless, I have found it to be a very enjoyable set, much more so than I had initially anticipated. The actual Geonosian hangar is not at all bad, including plenty of play features and a smattering of details which are most welcome.
What really makes this set for me however, as with most Star Wars sets in fact are the Minifigures, which are about as good as you can get in my opinion. Much like set 75015 Corporate Alliance Tank Droid there are stand out Minifigures which make the set particularly desirable, those being Yoda and Count Dooku, who have both been in dire need of an update since 2002 (excluding Clone Wars editions of the characters).
While I wait for more Galaxy Squad sets to arrive from shop.LEGO.com, I've time to slip in a review of one of the new City Cargo sets: 60020 Cargo Truck.
There are certain sets that as soon as you see them, you want them, and this was one such set for me. I'm a sucker for 6-wide City trucks, as you'll know if you've read any of my previous reviews of them.
60020 is one of three sets in this year's Cargo theme, the other two being a helicopter and a plane. It's similar in concept to 7733 Truck and Forklift from 2008's Cargo sets, but much better executed in my opinion.
In the UK it costs £25 and contains 321-pieces, making it a 7.7p a piece, which is low compared to many 2013 sets. It doesn't appear to be available in the USA yet, but I suspect it'll be in the region of $30-35.
While Huw is doing an excellent job providing some reviews of the second wave of Galaxy Squad sets, I have been charged with reviewing some Star Wars sets this summer. Apologies for my photography; I am not nearly as experienced with the actual taking of photos with the correct lighting and such as Huw or DrDaveWatford, nor am I particularly savvy when it comes to Photoshop. Hopefully I will improve with time.
The LEGO Star Wars summer wave met with some criticism when set names and images were first revealed as the vast majority of these sets are remakes, as well as being almost exclusively from the Prequel Trilogy and The Clone Wars, which is not necessarily as universally popular as the Original Trilogy.
The smallest set of this summer’s selection is 75015, Corporate Alliance Tank Droid, consisting of 271-pieces and priced at a very reasonable £19.99 or $19.99. While the set itself inspired little interest initially, thanks both to the relative obscurity of the vehicle and the fact that we last saw a Corporate Alliance Tank Droid only four years ago in set 7748, one Minifigure in particular has created some excitement surrounding this set, that being the notorious Jango Fett, in his first outing in LEGO since 2002.
70707 CLS-89 Eradicator Mech is the second of four Galaxy Squad sets to be released in the second half of 2013.
It weighs in at 440 pieces for £35 / US$40 and consists of a mech, two bugs, a orange Galaxy Squad trooper that BrickLink calls 'Jack Fireblade', and his robotic sidekick.
So, alien bugs and a mech, what's not to like...
For reasons best known to the LEGO marketing department, the UK was the last country in the world to get the GS sets, but at least both the first- and second-wave sets have been released together. I won't bother reviewing the first batch because I suspect you all already have them, so I'll concentrate on the new ones.
70706 Crater Creeper is in the middle of the price range, at £17.99 or $19.99 for 171 pieces. It consists of a fearsome looking bug -- some sort of beetle -- with snapping mandibles, and a small hover-craft for the squaddie.
Nevertheless, given its quality, I felt it worthwhile posting a couple of photos and suggesting how you can get hold of one of these.
BR is a chain of toy stores with branches in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Germany. I believe this minifig with the store's logo (which can be seen on their website), has been produced to commemorate its 50th anniversary.
In many ways, it could be considered to be the 172nd  collectable minifig because it's very similar in terms of it being made in China, and having brand new -- and very high quality -- printing and hat, and comes with a CMF 4 x 3 plate to stand on.
It's a very desirable minifig and if you don't live in a country where BR has stores, I suggest you head to the forum marketplace topic and see if you can hook up with someone who has them to trade.
Thanks to Diggydoes in the forum who traded with me for this one!
 160 series 1-10 + 1 Mr Gold + 1 Toy Soldier + 9 Team GB = 171
This pictorial review will consider its design, construction, the completed model and will also compare it to the original 2000 UCS X-wing which I reviewed last month.
Since the start of the Star Wars licence in 1999, an X-wing has always been part of the product line-up and this is, I believe, the 9th version. We've had three mini versions, four minifig-sized ones and, with the release of this set, two UCS versions. You can view them all in the database.
41021 Poodle's Little Palace is the third of the series 2 Friends Animals sets that have just been released, so to fill time before we are able to bring you a review of a far more exciting set tomorrow, here's a quick look at it.
It features a poodle, a 'palace', a grooming table with a brush, and a food bowl with a bone.
As you can see, there are plenty of pink and light blue parts in the set, so it's bound to appeal to young Friends fans.
I've just time to post a quick review of the second of three Friends animals series 2 sets: 41022 Bunny's Hutch, although to be honest there isn't a lot to say about it.
It consists of a bunny, a hutch (or rather, a fairly poor excuse for one), an exercise ramp and a carrot.
The hutch is a typical multi-coloured Friends affair, and pretty unremarkable. The exercise-ramp-thing is superfluous and probably just there to pad out the set a bit.
41020 Hedgehog Hideaway, as its name suggests, contains a hedgehog, its hideaway, some autumn leaves, a pitchfork and an apple.
Pitchforks first made an appearance in 1980s Castle sets and until their reintroduction in 2011 in an Alien Conquest set, they were rare and highly sought after. Its inclusion in the set is therefore welcome, although perhaps not by a sleepy hedgehog caught on the wrong end of one when hibernating in the leaves...
I received my copy this week, just days after placing the order. I thought it'd be worth doing a quick review so that those of you who may have more difficulty getting hold of one can judge whether it's worthwhile doing so.
Before taking a look at this set, it's worth remembering that the last police helicopter of this size, 7741, came out in 2008 and is still being sold from shop.LEGO.com, some 5 years after its introduction. Clearly there's demand for such a model. I wonder why then that LEGO made this one an airline-special and not part of the regular City line-up.
The second of this year's seasonal scene polybags isn't widely available yet but I managed to get one from one of the traders at the Brickish Association meeting at the weekend. I think it came from the Manchester Discovery Centre where, it's been said, they are for sale already. No doubt it will turn up in brand stores and at shop.LEGO.com when (or, in the UK's case, if...) summer arrives.
I'm only 13 years late posting a review of 7191 UCS X-Wing, originally released in 2000, but I thought it might be worth taking a look at it ahead of the release of the new version (10240) next month for comparison purposes.
2000 was the second year of the Star Wars license, of course, and this set, together with 7181 TIE Intercepter, were the first Star Wars UCS models to be made.
2013 marks the 10th anniversary of the introduction of what are now called Creator sets. Originally called Designer sets, they were groundbreaking at the time because, until then, LEGO System sets for older children were all based around minifigs and to minifig scale.
2003's line up of Designer sets included robots, wild animals, micro-scale aircraft and trucks, all without a minifig in sight. Their instruction books were very hefty, packed full with instructions and inspirational photos. My favourite from that first batch was 4101 Wild Collection, which contained instructions and photos for 63 models, surely some sort of record!
Since then I've always had a soft-spot for large Creator animal sets, be them dragons, dinosaurs or real-life animals. This year's Creator animal set is the subject of this review, 31004 Fierce Flyer, with which you can make a bald eagle, a scorpion or a beaver.
Unfortunately in about 2008 LEGO stopped providing inspiration for alternative models in the form of photographs and I heard that it was because customers were complaining that instructions for them were not provided, which is a great shame. So, we have to make do with '3-in-1' these days.
Welcome to the first Brickset review with video! This is a first for me as well as the site and I look forward to contributing more in the future. I'm going to be taking a look at one of the early 2013 Super Heroes sets to hit the shelves and one of the most anticipated as it's the only set to tie-in with the Dark Knight Rises movie from last year.
So, please enjoy the review and let me know what you think of it in the comments.
It’s always exciting to get a sneak peek at a new set before it appears at retail, and I’m particularly pleased to bring you a review of Set 79108 Stagecoach Escape because out of all the Lone Ranger sets, it was probably the one that I was looking forward to the most, apart perhaps from the Constitution Train Chase set.
At 279-pieces, the Stagecoach Escape is one of the smaller Lone Ranger sets in terms of piece count, as it’s a sizeable jump to the next largest set in the theme, the Colby City Showdown set, which weighs in at 587-pieces.
Continuing on with our exclusive reviews of The Lone Ranger sets ahead of their April release, today I take a look at 79109 Colby City Showdown, which sits in the middle of the range in terms of size and price.
It features a bank and sheriff's office/jail, five minifigs, and a whole host of interesting features and parts.
What is it with mines? Not only has LEGO made dedicated mining themes Rock Raiders and Power Miners, and also mining City sets, but it seems that every licensed theme contains a mine or underground cavern of some sort, from 7199 Indiana Jones Temple of Doom to 9473 Lord of The Rings The Mines of Moria. We've also had 7036 Dwarves' Mine and in the original Western theme the bandits hid out in a gold mine in set 6761.
So, Silver Mine Shootout joins a rapidly growing collection of such sets, and having built it, it's clear that it shares design similarities with many of its predecessors.
Before reading this, be sure to read part one of the review first, which covers the minifigs.
79110 Silver Mine Shootout is the second largest Lone Ranger set which comes with 5 minifigs.
I'll therefore review it in two parts.
Part 1 covers the minifigs, and part 2, which I'll write later on once I've built the set, will cover the rest.
I was waiting for a Blu-Ray release before ordering but it seems that there isn't going to be one, so I was then going to order the DVD from Amazon at the weekend. However although until yesterday the limited edition version with minifig could be ordered from there, there was a note on the page stating "The Limited Edition with Mini Figurine is no longer available from Amazon.co.uk", so I hot-footed it to Tesco earlier today and found one left on the shelf, priced £5.
The figure is, as could have been predicted, of Oriental origin. The Star Wars minifig completest will require it in their collection but otherwise it's nothing special. The head is the same as that used on other recent versions of Darth Vader.
Those of you who collect minifigs attached to books and movies will be interested in a list published by FBTB that contains all those that have been, or will be, available.
I haven't watched the movie yet, I'll do so later!
Since building the cavalry set yesterday I can't get the camp and slightly cheesy pop song Quantum Jump, The Lone Ranger from the 1970s out of my head...
Anyway, on with todays's review of 79107, Comanche Camp, the second-smallest set of the theme which features, among other things, a teepee and three minifigs.
Today I take a look at the smallest set, 79106: Cavalry Builder Set which consists of four minifigs including the Lone Ranger and Silver (pictured left), a cannon and a few other bits and bobs.
It's been a while since I posted any reviews, hasn't it. I've been busy with scanning my instructions, but now that's coming to and end I have time to crack open some sets and review them for you.
From a polybag point of view, this year has been unusual in that nearly all those that were revealed earlier in the year by LEGO in their building instructions portal, are now available in one place or another. Normally, we have to wait months to get our hands on them, more often than not, for the first UK newspaper promotion (which may or may not be happening this year).
Thanks to Bricksetters in the USA, Canada and elsewhere, I now have the four Star Wars polybags 30240-30243, so I thought it might be worthwhile taking a look at them all together so you can decide which to buy. Of course if you're a polybag collector you'll want to get hold of them all, but if not you might want to just pick up those that are decent models with good parts, because polys can be comparatively expensive when sold in the likes of Target and even more so on the secondary market.
Galaxy Squad sets appeared in the shops in North America before Christmas but, as I discovered at the London toy fair, they are not going to be available in Europe until the summer, when all 10 boxed sets will be released.
I am therefore very grateful to Jeff from BrickPicker.com, the LEGO price and investing guide, for bringing three of them over from the US for me when we met in London last week.
70700 is the smallest of the Galaxy Squad sets, containing 86 pieces, including two minifigs. It's $11.99 in the USA and I imagine it'll be £9.99 or so in the UK.
Actually it's still freezing in the UK at the moment, but LEGO brand stores have put this set, 'Springtime scene', out on the shelves to remind us that, hopefully, warmer weather is just around the corner.
40052 is the latest in the 40000 series of sets that are normally exclusively sold in LEGO brand stores and shop.LEGO.com. They are usually seasonally themed, designed for specific shops (e.g. in New York), or for special in-store offers.
This one is unusual in that it's the first seasonal one to contain minifigs.
There’s not long to wait now until the UK launch of the TMNT theme, and of all the first wave of sets, this was the one I was most excited about, so I was understandably pleased to be offered the opportunity to review it here for Brickset.
Having now seen the first fourteen episodes of the 2012 TV series (and having thoroughly enjoyed them too), I can tell you that The Shellraiser is yet to make an appearance other than in the title sequence. I for one can’t wait to see this baby in action, so I’m kind of hoping it will make an entrance soon and kick some Kraang butt.
This is the largest set in the launch line-up, at least in piece count (620), and will set you back a cool US $59.99 / GBP £59.99.
Now I’ll lay it on the line, I’m pretty certain this is a new mode of transportation for the turtles that has been freshly created for the 2012 reboot. I’ll be honest though, I’m not familiar with any source material save for the original cartoon and the latest incarnation, so all I can say for sure, is that it doesn’t appear in the original cartoon series, in which of course, the preferred mode of transport was The Party Wagon.
Well, The Party Wagon has some pretty large boots to fill, so let’s see what The Shellraiser has to offer.
Update: TLG have made some alternate build instructions available to the fan community (source: Brick Fanactics) so I thought I'd have a go at making the Hot Rod, which I think is pretty cool. Skip to the end of the review to see some pictures.
Honestly, if you’d told me when the first wave of Ninjago sets appeared in 2011 that I’d be looking forward to building and reviewing two Ninjago sets in the space of just over a week then I’d have laughed in your face. It took me a while to warm to the Ninjago theme, but I’m now well and truly on board, with a growing pile of Ninjago sets to prove it….
My first encounter with the 2013 Ninjago line-up was extremely positive, as you can read for yourself in my review of Set 70500 Kai’s Fire Mech. The question was whether Set 70503 The Golden Dragon would impress me as much…
There’s fifteen or so Creator sets released or due to be released in 2013, and with this year’s modular, the magnificent Palace Cinema and train offering, the Horizon Express now included in this theme (albeit badged as Creator – Expert sets), there is some serious competition to stand out amongst the crowd.
LEGO and jets, what’s not to love? This is the third jet (not including polybags) to be released in the Creator theme: in 2007 we had 4953: Fast Flyers and in 2010 LEGO gave us the slightly larger and excellent 5892: Sonic Boom.
Seems like LEGO doesn’t want us to go more than three years without a jet fix, because in 2013 we have 31008: Thunder Wings, a Creator 3 in 1 set and one of the medium sized offerings from the 2013 Creator line-up, weighing in at 235 pieces and costing £14.99/$19.99.
I have a feeling that these sort of vehicle-based Creator sets often get overlooked in favour of the flashier Creator houses, certainly something I’ve been guilty of in the past, so it’s great to get to spend some quality time exploring this one in more detail.
We don't seem to give Technic much love here at Brickset but, as I say every time we do, I'm a long-time fan of it, so I'll try and redress the balance by reviewing one of the better sets that has been released in the first half of 2013: 42007 Motocross bike.
There was a time when I bought every Technic set released, but nowadays I'm a bit more selective, one reason being that I don't have room to store them all (I tend to keep them made-up due to the time it takes to make them) but also because, increasingly, there is a lot of repetition of un-interesting vehicles. Racing cars, go-karts, buggies and that sort of thing are not that interesting to play with or to look at, so I tend to give them a miss.
However there are some things that you can never have too many of: mobile cranes, helicopters and motorbikes.
That brings me neatly onto 42007, the latest in a long line of Technic motorcycles that started in 1979. This is the third off-road bike to be made. The first was 8838 Shock Cycle from 1991, which was one of the first Technic sets I bought after emerging from my dark ages. We then had a long wait for the next one, 8291 Dirt Bike from 2008.
After building this latest one I thought it would be fun to dig out the old models to compare them with it, and whilst doing so, appreciate how far Technic has come in 22 years.
75011 Tantive IV and Alderaan is another Series 4 Star Wars Planet Set that is available in Spain and a few other European countries, but nowhere else much yet.
I had mine shipped over from Amazon.es so I could review it for you early.
The two Series 4 sets I've reviewed so far (B-Wing and Snowspeeder) have been something of a mixed bag: The B-Wing is terrible but the Snowspeeder is one of the best Planet Sets to have been released.
So, how does this one fare. Read on to find out...
You may recall us mentioning that, for some reason, series 4 of the Star Wars Planet sets have made an appearance in shops in some mainland European countries already. They are not due in the UK until August, apparently, and I don't think they are in North America yet, either (correct me if I'm mistaken).
Thankfully being in the EU enables us in the UK to bypass anomalies such as this, especially so when the European Amazons stock them. So, I ordered the two I didn't already have from Amazon.es and they arrived today.
You may also recall that when I reviewed 75010, the B-Wing from series 4 that was kindly sent to me by Ahrien a few weeks ago, I thought it was the worst Planet set ever. Surely this one was going to be better that that...
I’m a big fan of LEGO mechs, so I was pleased to get the chance to review the latest effort from LEGO – Set 70500 Kai’s Fire Mech.
My enthusiasm for a third Ninjago mech was however somewhat tempered by the realisation that Kai’s Fire Mech is by far the smallest set in the 2013 Ninjago line-up, and I was curious whether at only 102 pieces it would be able to live up to previous efforts.
So how did it turn out ?
One year on from the initial launch of the Friends range and my own favourable opinion of City Park Cafe 3061, Heartlake has now expanded to include various buildings such as a marina, vet’s office, large stables, among others. After a summer focusing heavily on equestrian activities, the third wave of sets, featuring a broader range of themes, was released on 26 December.
I’ve kindly been asked to write another review for Brickset; this time of 41007, Heartlake Pet Salon, which is a mid-sized set priced at £29.99/$29.99 and has 242 pieces and two ‘mini-dolls’.
When LEGO finally announced they had secured the licence to produce sets based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it certainly seemed to fire people up, with seemingly equal volumes of excitement and disappointment.
Now that the sets have been released in some countries (though not in the UK at present), it’s time to take a look at the smallest of the six strong launch line-up: 79100 : Kraang Lab Escape.
As most of you will already be aware, this theme is based on the cartoon currently airing on Nickelodeon and not the original 80’s cartoon show. It contains 90 pieces and retails for US $12.99 / GBP £9.99.
When news first broke that we'd be getting some decent City sets in 2013, and not just more fire and police, a lot of people, myself included, could not wait to get our hands on them.
60018 Cement Mixer is one of three new 6-wide trucks that LEGO now refers to as 'Great Vehicles'.
The 'Great Vehicles' range was introduced in 2007, with a recycling truck (7991) and a cement mixer (7990). Before them, Town and City vehicles were largely 4 wide and/or juniorised. We can consider 2007, then, as the year that LEGO started making decent City sets, after more than 10 years of mediocre offerings.
Since then, LEGO has made some excellent vehicles, and it looks as if the three 2013 sets will continue to live up to the high standard we've come to enjoy.
75008 TIE Bomber and Asteroid Field is a little different from all the other Planet sets in that an asteroid field isn't really a planet, is it?
Nevertheless it is one of the better looking 'planets' to be featured in these sets.
This one, 75007 Republic Attack Ship and Coruscant, like all Planet sets consists of a Planet, a spacecraft, a minifig and a display stand.
According to Wookiepedia...
Coruscant was, during most of galactic history, the most politically important world in the galaxy. Its hyperspace coordinates were (0,0,0) which effectively made it the centre of the galaxy.
The entire surface of Coruscant was covered by sprawling kilometers-high ecumenopolis (single worldwide city), and boasted a population of over a hundred billion to several trillion, depending on the era.
Anyway, on with the review...
Wasn't it a quiet weekend for news? Two days without finding anything to post about is unusual. So, let's kick-start the week with short and sweet reviews of all three of the Series 3 Star Wars Planet sets.
Kamino is "the watery world where the Clone Army for the Galactic Republic was created, as well as the Kamino Home Fleet. It was inhabited by a race of tall, elegant beings called the Kaminoans, who kept to themselves and were known for their cloning technology. Kamino was located just south of the Rishi Maze, and was governed by the Ruling Council, headed by the Prime Minister. "
In most markets, Series 4 of the Star Wars Planet sets are not due in the shops for some months, but for some strange reason, as we reported last week, this one is available in TRU in Spain already.
Avid Brickset reader Ahrien picked one up for me in Barcelona and I received it today. So, I'm pleased to be able to being you this exclusive review way ahead of official release. (Many thanks Ahrien!)
The B-Wing is an interesting craft and one which LEGO has made several times in the past, including most recently at UCS scale. This however, is the first micro-scale version and one I was particularly looking forward to because I made my own version back in 2009, so I wanted to see how well it compared.
2013 promises to be another excellent year for LEGO fans, and I’m already looking forward to getting my hands on a number of the recently released and upcoming sets. Of all those sets, however, I reckon the one that I was most looking forward to was Set 10937 Batman : Arkham Asylum Breakout, particularly as I missed out on the original Arkham Asylum set in 2006.
I’m therefore delighted to report that I’ve already got my hands on a copy of the new version, and I’m pleased to bring you a review of it right here on Brickset. So buckle up for the ride, and don't forget to click on the images if you want to look at bigger versions...
70000 Razcal's Glider is the smallest of the Legends Of Chima construction sets, weighing in at 109 pieces, £7.99 / US$11.99.
It contains one minifig, the Razcal of the set's title, and like all other LoC construction sets we've reviewed so far, is made to look like the species that flies it, in this case the ravens who, in the Chima universe, are allies of the crocodiles and wolves and thus are 'baddies'.
Continuing with our reviews of sets from the highly-anticipated Legends Of Chima theme that's just hit the stores, today I'm going to take a look at one of the smaller sets in the theme, 70001, Crawley's Claw Ripper, which weighs in at £12.99, US$14.99, for 139 pieces and two minifigs.
Like the Eagle Interceptor I reviewed a couple of days ago, this one also takes design cues from the species that drives it, in this case crocodiles.
When pictures of Legends of Chima sets first emerged a few months ago, it was difficult to know what to make of them from the small images. Many appeared to be a bit strange, but 70003 Eris' Eagle Interceptor stood out as looking like the best of the bunch.
I was therefore very pleased when it was included in the bunch of LoC sets Kim from LEGO sent us to review just before Christmas.
From the initial pictures we saw, some remarked that the legs were a bit fat and un-eagle-like. Read on to find out why they are, and whether I agree.
OK - here we go with the next in our series of Brickset Legends of Chima reviews...
When Huw sent a message to the Brickset staff informing us that LEGO were sending some Legend of Chima sets for us to review I figured it’d be pretty straightforward, so I offered to help. And then Legends of Chima Set 70102 CHI Waterfall arrived in the post and I started to wonder what I’d let myself in for...
This is the first of a series of reviews we'll be publishing at Brickset to mark the official launch of the next big thing in the LEGO world: Legends of Chima.
The first set we are going to be looking at is one of the 'construction' sets of the theme, 70004: Wakz’ Pack Tracker
Legends of Chima was originally planned as the natural successor to the popular Ninjago theme, although recently TLG have stated that Ninjago will continue into 2014 so these themes will be sitting on the shelves competing for your attention and cash.
Just like Ninjago, Legends of Chima is going to be backed up by a cartoon show to be aired on The Cartoon Network starting in 2013. This is a wise move I think, given how the Ninjago cartoon drove the sales of the sets, at least in the US (it was not aired in the UK due to strict toy advertising laws).
The world of Chima is said to consist of six tribes, three good: Eagles, Lions and Gorillas and three bad: Wolves, Ravens and Crocs. There’s no sign of any sets containing Gorillas in this wave, I’m assuming they will appear in a later wave, but all the other tribes make an appearance in the first wave.
In Wakz’ Pack Tracker we have a medium sized set containing 297 pieces, 3 minifigures. It costs US 29.99 and is suitable for ages 8-14.
This is the third of the Friends collectable animals polybags, 41019 Turtle's Little Oasis.
The oasis is actually a very cool beach hut which I'm sure the turtle will be very comfortable in.
I thought the white clam shell was new but it's actually the more common colour according to BrickLink. Nevertheless, it's the first one I have.
Now I've built all three, I'll give you my marks out of 10:
Squirrel -- 9, the best parts pack and most interesting structure.
Cat -- 7, cute kitty but light on parts.
Turtle -- 8, cool model, nice parts.
They are all very good and a welcome addition to the Friends range.
By popular demand, here are some photos of the second of the series one Friends collectable polybag sets, 41018 Cat's Playground.
This one consists of a cat, an 'activity centre' that'll be immediately recognisable to anyone who's had a cat (the likes of which you can see here), a scratching post and a fish supper.
Here's the kitty: isn't she adorable? :-) Actually she's not unlike one of my own cats, Tammy, but with a bit more white on her face. I think Tammy would run a mile if I tried to tie a ribbon on her head though!
There are ten less pieces in this set than in the squirrel house, and overall it seems a lot less substantial, so is not such good value from that point of view. Both sets contained more spare parts than you'd normally see; this one has two extra ribbons and a tan 2 x 2 dish.
The instructions quote the URL http://www.lego.com/friends/animals/ that isn't live yet but will apparently have instructions for combination models using parts from all three sets as well as instructions for alternative models for each set.
Turtle's Oasis coming up next...
2013 sets are appearing in many places now, and I thank everyone who emailed while I was away to report their sightings. They are still thin on the ground in the UK, although my local Smyths (which you recall only opened a month ago) had most of the January Legends of Chima and Friends sets when I looked this morning, including the three polybag sets, which I bought.
They are perhaps the most anticipated of the new Friends line-up because of their interesting pieces and lack of a mini-doll, which has enabled a low price point (£2.99 in the UK).
They are packaged like the Ninjago booster packs, in a heavyweight plastic bag. Inside, the parts are in a regular bag along with the instructions.
It's an elaborate, sturdy structure, built onto a useful array of brown slopes. A brown arched window frame in the centre of the house keeps the roof square.
Doesn't the squirrel look cute with a bow in his tail? Actually I think he'd probably look better without, to be honest. Can you imagine trying to put a ribbon on a real squirrel's tail? You'd probably end up with less fingers than you started with!
This is a nice set that will be a big hit with Friends fans. It fills a gap in the market for pocket money priced sets that girls will want to buy and collect. Furthermore, it contains a useful selection of parts that AFOLs will find useful, at a price point that will encourage duplicate purchases.
Would you like me to photograph the other two sets? Let me know in the comments.
While you're waiting for me to review the last boxed Hobbit set, Attack of the Wargs, I thought I'd take a quick look at 30212 Mirkwood Elf Guard, which I now have in my possession thanks to DaveBey.
It's one of the better polybags to have been released recently, for two reasons. Firstly, the minifig is excellent. It's generic which means you can never have enough of them, and it features a piece in a new colour: the dark green cloak hood. It would have been better had it come with a dark green cloak as well, but I guess that would have increased the price too much for a polybag.
Secondly, the parts that make up the tree are all good and useful. Polybags with vehicles in them are all wheels, axles and tyres and not much else, but this one is full of useful slopes, arches, a plant limb and a mushroom top, as you can see from the parts list.
If you're in the US, and you haven't done so already, get on over to TRU and snap some up while you can.
79003 An Unexpected Gathering is, without doubt, the best Hobbit set. It's also the best set of 2012. In fact, I think I agree with Andrew over at Brothers-Brick who said in his review that it could just be the best set of all time.
That is a very bold statement to make but it really does tick all the boxes.
Read on to find out why you have to buy this set...
As you've probably noticed from the section above, the Hobbit sets are now listed at shop.LEGO.com, and they'll be back in the UK shops -- officially this time -- on December 1st, so I had better get my mini-reviews finished...
79001 Escape from Mirkwood Spiders is the second smallest set but it carries a hefty price tag in the UK (£25) and a not-quite-so-hefty one in the USA ($30).
It features 4 minifigs, two giant spiders and two tree-like structures. As you can see from this picture, at last LEGO has started making autumn-colour foliage, but there are only two pieces in the set so to make a decent sized tree you'll need a lot of sets! Other interesting pieces include tan 2x2 dishes printed with a mushroom pattern. There are two in the set, and for some reason a third, spare one, was in mine, presumably it's in them all.
79004 Barrel Escape is what LEGO call a 'market driven' release which I think means that, other than direct from LEGO, it's only available in a given country when a specific retailer wants it as an exclusive. In the UK it's Toys R Us; I'm not sure about the USA.
Not having seen the movie yet, I can only guess that it's some sort of tavern with a prison cell in or next to it, and going only by the action scene on the box (and the name of the set), it appears that Bilbo releases the dwarves, who presumably are being held captive by the elves, from the cell, and they escape in beer barrels.
The main structure, consisting of a barrel ramp, a bar and the cell, is hinged in two places. The set also contains a weapons rack, table and chairs and a free-standing barrel stand. There are three of those nice gold elven-swords that Elrond brandishes in 5000202, and two spare One Rings. If you have all the LotR sets you'll have quite a collection of spares by now!
There isn't a lot of 'action' in the set. The cell doors can be opened and the barrel ramp can be raised so that the barrels, with dwarves inside, roll down thus making their escape. The only other action involves sitting the figs in the bar and drinking which, while fun for many of us, probably isn't too exciting for kids :-)
This is not a terribly exciting set to play with, then, but it's well designed and full of useful pieces. Although I've only built three of the Hobbit sets so far, I suspect this may be the weakest of them. Nevertheless, the Hobbit completest will need to buy it for the 4 unique minifigs.
As reported yesterday, TRU in the UK were  stocking The Hobbit sets early. I picked up a couple, including this smallest one, 79000, Riddles for the Ring.
It features Gollum and Bilbo Baggins, a small boat covered with bones and a 'cave'. Both of the minifigs are unique to this set. Gollum has a different face print to that in 9490, with 'narrow eyes'.
The box helpfully reminds us that the 'Boat does not float'.
It's not immediately obvious when you see pictures of the set that the 'cave' is actually quite elaborate. The two front 'rocks' are on hinges that open to reveal the ring, which can be rotated from horizontal to vertical by means of the Technic axle on the side.
Like the Goblin King Battle that I reviewed in depth a couple of weeks ago a lot of effort and pieces have gone into making it irregular in apperance. Consequently, there are a lot of dark grey slopes which you're bound to have use for in your own constructions.
There's not much else to say about this set other than it's a great little impulse purchase and a good introduction to The Hobbit theme.
Jason over at The Brick Show has posted video reviews of all The Hobbit sets on YouTube, which brings me on to a question I have:
We get quite a few people emailing us about video reviews or other LEGO related video content that they've posted on YouTube. Personally, I can't stand the forced adverts and can't really be bothered to sit down and watch them for 5-10 minutes so I don't know if they are any good or not, or whether video reviews are worthwhile.
What do you think? Do you like video reviews? Are they the future, or do you, like me, prefer a few high quality photos and a couple of paragraphs that you can digest in seconds?
Footnote:  It seems that TRU pulled them from the shelves yesterday afternoon, which I can only imagine is a direct result of publicity here and at other LEGO fan sites about their early availability. The 'Brickset effect' strikes again :-)
If you made it to a brand store you've probably already got hold of this year's Christmas giveaway set, 3300014, but if, like me, you're waiting for it to arrive in the post you might be interested to read Rich from Brick Fanatics review which you can read either here or over at Brick Fanatics, and also see it in all its glory on flickr.
I'm looking forward to it arriving, and displaying it with my Christmas set collection which, like yours I suspect, is getting rather large now!
10233 Horizon Express won't be available until January, but LEGO has kindly provided us with one to review and Bluemoose has done the honours this time. Read his in-depth pictorial review to find out what he thought of it, and whether you'll need to save some of your Christmas money back for it.
As usual, when you've done so, let us know what you think of it in the comments.
We have the largest of the yet-to-be-released The Hobbit sets, 79010 The Goblin King Battle to hand and we're pleased to bring you an exclusive review of it!
Read our in-depth pictorial review to find out if the set is as ugly as the Goblin King, pictured, or whether you need to spend yet more money on LEGO this year.
When you've done so, let us know what you think about it in the comments.
It's not too shabby, is it? It looks great from the front, although the back is a bit sparse.
It also contains a glow-in-the-dark spider, not shown.
There seems to be no shortage of work for zombie drivers. This particular one appears in three Monster Fighter sets, although this is my first one: I'm trying to avoid buying MF sets (at full price, anyway :-) )
If you fancy owning this set yourself, click on the banner above and spend over $75 / £50 and you'll get it for free, and of course help Brickset stay online in the process.
In part 1 we covered the box contents and the minifigs. Today CapnRex101 and I complete our review with a look at the build and the completed model.
So, I've teamed up with CapnRex101 again to bring you one.
Part 1 deals with the box, contents and minifigs.
You may recall that last week I encouraged you to download the instructions for the SDCC mini Sith Infiltrator and build it yourself.
Being a SW mini fan, I did just that. I had to order a few of the new brackets and a couple of other parts from BrickLink to be able to do so.
It's not a bad looking model but unlike the other minis which are built to some microscale, this one is something of a hybrid: it's microscale but it has room for a Darth Maul minifig to stand on the back!
The best way I can think of to describe it is this: I'm sure you've seen 'sit on' spaceships outside supermarkets or in shopping malls for kids to ride on once you've fed it with a few coins. This is a model of one of those: A miniature version of the Infiltrator for Darth Maul to play on :-)
Consequently, in my opinion, it's a bit daft. It probably wouldn't take much to convert the back into something more realistic, though.
So, if you haven't already gathered the parts together, I wouldn't bother, and I certainly wouldn't recommend paying the $100 being asked for it at BrickLink at the moment...
Actually, having thought about it more, I guess it's no worse than, say, 10188 Death Star which is also a less-than-minifig-scale set populated by minifigs.
Take a look then tell us what you think. Worth £180 or would you, like cavegod, expect more for your money?
9497 Republic Striker-class Starfighter is the second model based on The Old Republic to be released this year.
CapnRex101 is on vacation now so you'll have to make do with just me reviewing it, I'm afraid.
Being unfamiliar withThe Old Republic, I thought I'd try and find out about the ship before reviewing it, but I've failed to find any mention of it anywhere. A Google image search just returns pictures of the LEGO model!
The closest match at Wookiepedia that I found is the Talon-class Republic Starfighter which shares some design similarities with this model, and the page does state that 'The title of this article is conjectural.' so maybe they are one in the same.
Anyway, on to the review...
Today, CapnRex101 and I turn our attention to 9498 Saesee Tiin's Jedi Starfighter.
It's not the best of the summer sets but it does have its good points. Read on to find out more...
They hit the shops, a couple of weeks before they were supposed to, late last week. Many branches of John Lewis broke the 'embargo' on selling before July 1st but my branch refused to sell them to me. However, thanks to Brickset member richo I now have a set.
It must be incredibly frustrating if you're not in the UK and you want to get hold of them, and I sympathise with you. Unfortunately my mini-review won't make you want them any less because, frankly, they are excellent.
I'm not going to write huge descriptions because the photos below will show you all you need to know. Instead I'll just point out a few things that aren't obvious from looking at them:
- The horse rider's helmet is the only new piece. It's slightly rubbery. The rider has a ponytail, of course :).
- Some pieces appear in new colours, like the weights and the tennis racquet
- Only the judo fighter has a printed back: the Team GB logo in black and a continuation of her black belt
- The relay runner's competitor number is 1948, the year that the Olympics were last held in London
I've photographed them without their medals so you can see the full detail of the torso printing, which is superb.
LEGO has done a magnificent job with these, they are miniature works of art, almost. If you are outside the UK and you want to get hold of a set, you have two choices: you can resort to eBay or BrickLink and pay a bit of a premium for them, or you could post a message in the marketplace topic of the forum, hook up with someone in the UK and sort out a trade. There are, after all, plenty of sets around that are not available in the UK to barter with.
Read on to find out why this is one of the best Star Wars ships LEGO has made...
Now I've seen him for myself I have to agree that he is very cool, and his armour is superbly detailed and painted, but the best ever? Probably not. The main problem is, er, who the heck is he? I'd never heard of him before now, so I don't have any connection with the character, unlike Queen Amidala or Boba Fett.
Anyway, I've teamed up with CapnRex101 again for a review of the set he comes in, and in part one we look at the packaging, parts and minifigs.
In the final part of the review, we look at the build and the completed model. Words by CapnRex101, pictures by me...
The build takes about two hours and is quite an enjoyable build. Although not many construction techniques of interest are used, most of the build uses traditional bricks and there is very little Technic involved. The way in which the difficult curved outer surface of the throne room has been formed is quite nice as is the large domed roof which looks superb when completed. No SNOT or other techniques really feature in the construction, but it is a fun and traditional build nevertheless and one which would be ideal for younger Lego fans as it is quite easy to put together due to the numbered bags.
When the model is all finished, it looks exquisite. Both the guard tower and the throne room are just about perfect for display and there are a huge number of excellent features to keep younger buyers interested.
In this second of three parts to our review of 9516 Jabba'a Palace we take a look at the minifigs. Words by CapnRex101, pictures by me...
There are ten fantastic minifigs, almost all of which are brand new! I will start with heroes.
The least interesting minifig of the entire set in my opinion is Chewbacca, he has been seen plenty of times before but is nevertheless a great addition to the set. His sandwich board style head and torso piece is exactly the same as previous versions, it is cast in reddish brown and has a bit of printing on it, his nose is printed in black and the bandoleer he has slung across his chest is printed in silver on both the front and back which is accurate to the film. His torso is plain reddish brown as are his arms and hands. His legs too are just plain brown with no printing at all. In this set Chewbacca comes with light grey handcuffs as he has been captured and is being ransomed to Jabba at this point.
The next minifig is Han Solo. The figure is very nicely detailed indeed. He is quite similar to the Han Solo minifig included in set 8097, Slave I, but on this occasion his head printing is totally different. The hair is just the standard male minifig hair in brown, it suits the figure and I am very satisfied with this hair piece overall. His head is printed on both sides and I think it is great. On one side he has a concerned expression with brown eyebrows and a chin dimple. The other side has the same eyebrows and dimple, but his eyes are closed as he is in a state of hibernation trapped inside the Carbonite and, following his release, for a while he is blind due to hibernation sickness which is demonstrated very well by this lovely expression. His mouth is slightly open on this face which looks excellent.
His torso is printed with the creased shirt which Han was wearing when he was encased in Carbonite. It has a lot of detail including plenty of creases in the fabric and his open collar which leaves a bit of flesh visible. There is sadly no back printing, but this is forgivable. His arms are plain white and his hands are the standard flesh colour. Finally, his legs are plain reddish brown just like they are in this scene during Return of the Jedi.
This is such a highly anticipated and sought-after set so it's important that we review it fully. I've therefore enlisted the help of gold-rated reviewer CapnRex101 to help. He has provided the text and I've taken the pictures. The review will probably be in three parts.
Today we will look at the box, the contents, and Jabba the Hutt. Then, we'll cover the minifigs, and finally we'll take a look at the palace itself.
So, here we go...
This set is based on one of the most famous scenes from the entire Star Wars saga and is an ideal representation of the legendary lair of Jabba the Hutt in my opinion. It is the set I was most excited for of all of this summer’s sets and I am far from disappointed. In fact I am delighted with this wonderful model! The set is a huge step up from the previous incarnation of Jabba's Palace, set 4480, Jabba's Palace which was released in 2003. The model of the building is utterly fantastic, but the Minifigures are even better than that, all ten of the minifigures (I am considering Salacious B. Crumb, the carbonite piece and B'omarr Monk minifigures) are superb, especially the excellent new Jabba the Hutt figure and the brand new Boushh which were both highly anticipated.
This set comprises an AT-ST, an AT-ST driver and the forest moon of Endor. It has 65 pieces and like the others costs £9.99 or US$9.99, so it's very expensive for what you get.
The AT-ST driver is new. It is similar to the only other one that's been made, in 7657 from 2007, but does have a new torso print, and a new reversible head print, too.
The other side of the head is, I believe, the same as the other version's.
This, then, is 9677 X-wing Starfighter and Yavin 4. On first glance it's not as interesting as the cloud car one, and on closer inspection it's even less interesting. Read on to find out why...
The minifig is a generic X-wing pilot. BrickLink claims it's a new figure, but everything but the helmet is the same as Dutch Vander in last year's Y-Wing set. The helmet has appeared many times before, I believe. So, all in all, pretty boring.
9678 Twin-pod Cloud Car & Bespin is a series two planet set and is the same as the series one ones in that it consists of a hollow planet, a minifig, a mini-model and a base to display them on. In the UK it costs £9.99 and in the USA it will be US$9.99.
The box can just about be flexed enough to remove the planet without tearing it. There's nothing in the box except the planet containing the parts, and the instructions booklet.
This is a quick build. The anchor is the new type introduced last year in the PotC sets, but this is its first apperance in blue.
Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan are new. Obi-Wan has a new torso and head. Qui-Gon looks the same as the one in 7961 Sith Infiltrator...
This morning's Desert Skiff review was a bit brief, for which I apologise. It had slipped my mind that the summer SW sets are not yet out in the US, so many of you are eager to know more about them before their release so you can make informed purchasing decisions. So I'll take my time with them\ reviews from now on...
Next up then, is 9499-1 Gungan Sub. This is one of the more iconic vehicles in Episode 1, and this has obviously been released to coincide with the 3D version of the movie hitting the theatres this year.
The set also contains one of the most iconic characters from Episode 1: Queen Amidala. A minifig version of her in full ceremonial regalia has been anticipated since the original release of the Episode 1 sets in 1999.
It's likely then, that you'll want to buy this set...
This is the second Gungan Sub to be made, the first one being 7161 from 1999. It looks very crude in comparison to the new version. One definite improvement you can see straight away, is that the three minfigs all fit in the cockpit, which wasn't the case for the old one.
Here's the back of the box showing the craft and the minifigures.
Being from the original Star Wars trilogy, this was one of the most anticipated of the summer Star Wars sets. A reworking of a Desert Skiff was long overdue: the last one (7104) was released in 2000 and is very crude compared to this version which does now look something like the prototype.
The set also comes with Sarlacc which is quite cool: you can fit a minifig inside the jaws, which snap shut.
Lando is much better than the last 'in disguise' version of him in Jabba's Sail Barge: the helmet looks to be the same design but has been painted this time.
We haven't had a Kithaba minifig before so he's all new. As someone has mentioned in the flickr comments to this picture, his red trousers stand out a bit much, don't they. Dark red would have been preferable. I think Luke is just sporting a new torso print.
One thing I noticed with this set is that the instructions are printed in a much higher quality paper than other 2012 sets: it's thicker and shinier so is less prone to creasing as you flick through it. It's no doubt more expensive, too.
Overall, a nice set, if a tad expensive, but then which Star Wars set isn't these days...
That's all I have time to write at the moment but for an excellent in-depth review, check out the one written by CapnRex101.
I was sent a copy of it by the Cuusoo team last week and I've had the opportunity to build, photograph and play with it.
Read my thorough pictorial review to find out if you need to buy it!
When you've decided that you do, you can order it from shop.LEGO.com, for immediate shipping:
Let me know what you think of the set, and my review, in the comments...
9473 The Mines of Moria is the second largest LotR set, weighing in at US$80 for 776 pieces.
It features six minifigs, a cave troll and various structures to enable re-enactment of the scene from The Fellowship of the Ring.
The pillar-and-wall and door structures are frangible and have levers at the back to enable them to be broken easily in response to the troll wielding his club around the room. The two smaller structures are the well that Pippin manages to push the skeleton into, and thereby awaken the Orcs (and worse!), and the Tomb of Balin, which gets smashed half-way through the battle.
The cave troll is very well made and looks suitably vicious. My only complaint is that he topples over when holding his club unless it is positioned right behind his head, as shown in the photo on the right.
This is a well made set containing many useful pieces and a great selection of minifigs. Given that it uniquely contains 1/3rd of the nine members of the Fellowship, including the ever-popular Legolas, it will be an essential purchase. You can find more pictures on flickr.
This then completes my quick photo reviews of the LotR sets. I have been very impressed with them all: not only are the minifigs excellent, which I could have guessed they would be, but the sets themselves are great too: no juniorisation, a useful selection of pieces in them all and once built look they impressive and have a lot of playability.
I could complain about certain key characters not making it into any of the sets (e.g. Saruman, Eowyn, Arwen, Bilbo) but we can hope that with interest in LotR likely to remain high for at least a couple of years, what with two Hobbit movie releases, we will see another range of sets that will address the shortfall.
To summarise, all I have to say is 'Well done LEGO!' :-)
Thanks again to Darren and Tim for loaning me the LotR sets months before they are available in Europe. Tim is offering Brickset users a 5% discount in his BrickLink store Brick Buy Brick, and will also do so in his new web toy shop, ToyAddict, when it launches in June. Darren is also offering 5% discount on orders under £50 and 10% on orders over £50 from his BrickLink store Gizmocom, until the official release day of the LotR sets. Just mention Brickset in the notes when you check out!
Expect to see a LotR minifig gallery in the next few days...
Here's a quick look at the smallest LotR set, Gandalf Arrives. It might be the smallest but it's actually one of the best. Not only does it feature two of the movie's main protagonists, Gandalf and Frodo, it also comes with a new articulated-back-leg horse and a very nice cart which is stuffed full of fireworks of various shapes, colours and sizes.
Both minifigs are unique to this set, although Frodo pops up in a couple of others, but with a different torso and face.
There isn't really much more to say about it: it's small, cute and if you buy only one LotR set, make it this one. It costs $12.99 in the USA and will be £11.99 in the UK when it's released later in the summer.
Thanks again to Darren and Tim for loaning me the LotR sets months before they are available in Europe. Tim is offering Brickset users a 5% discount in his BrickLink store Brick Buy Brick, and will also do so in his new web toy shop, ToyAddict, when it launches in June. Darren is also offering 5% discount on orders under £50 and 10% on orders over £50 from his BrickLink store Gizmocom, until the official release day of the LotR sets. Just mention Brickset in the notes when you check out!
It comes with eight minifigs: King Theoden, Haldir (both unique to this set), Aragorn, Gimli and four assorted Uruk-hai, including a berserker, which only appears in this set.
The King has a articulated-back-leg horse to ride and has been suggested in comments to previous reviews, if you put two plates on his feet, you can achieve a more realistic pose as you can see from the picture.
The castle itself is modular, constructed from six sections that are held together with Technic pins. Like the other LotR sets, they are constructed from a lot of bricks, plates and slopes and while there are some large castle-wall pieces, you don't get the impression that the castle has been designed around them, I guess partly because it's based on a 'real' castle rather than one that LEGO has designed. The use of the new 1x2 brick piece, 1x1 slopes and sand green parts give the exterior walls a nice-uniform appearance.
The aerial view below clearly shows the size of the set, which is most impressive. If you want it even bigger, you can extend the walls using the 9471 Uruk-hai Army set.
It's an expensive set but I'd say it's worth every penny: excellent figs, well designed castle and, once you've done with it, a thousand useful parts for your own castle constructions.
Thanks again to Darren and Tim for loaning me these. Tim is offering Brickset users a 5% discount in his BrickLink store Brick Buy Brick, and will also do so in his new web toy shop, ToyAddict, when it launches in June. Darren is also offering 5% discount on orders under £50 and 10% on orders over £50 from his BrickLink store Gizmocom, until the official release day of the LotR sets. Just mention Brickset in the notes when you check out!
You may remember that LEGO announced that this set is going to be available to a 'select number of customers' at the opening events of brand stores in the USA during 2012 (see the list here).
I've been sent one by the LEGO community team for review purposes, so to make a change from Lord Of The Rings set review this week, here goes...
It contains 280 pieces and comes in a surprisingly large box (26 x 14 x 6 cm)
The finished model. There's a few more photos on flickr.
This is an excellent set and there's nothing not to like about it. If it's going to be free, that makes it even better! If you have the opportunity to get to one of the new brand store opening events in the USA, I strongly recommend that you do.
(Special thanks to the LEGO community team for making this review possible!)
The main part of the set is some sort of primitive machinery for hoisting metal chunks (silver 1x1 round tiles) and tipping them into the black crucible. At the front there's a fire for heating the chunks, which is illuminated with a light brick. The base it stands on looks great and the slopes that go to make it, which includes 18 1x1 cheese slopes in olive green, account for a large percentage of the parts in the set.
The black thing at the front of the picture, which has trans-orange plates inside, is probably supposed to be for annealing the swords.
The set comes with four minifigs: Lurtz, two Mordor Orcs and a Uruk-hai. Unlike the Urak-hai armour in the army set reviewed below, the armour in this set has hand prints printed on it, which look great. As you can see, the ears on the Orc are a slightly different shape to those on the collectable minifig Elf. They are all highly detailed with printed backs and either double sided heads (Lurtz and Uruk-Hai) or back-of-head printing (Orcs).
This is a fun playset that probably won't appeal to everyone due to there being no 'conflict' in it. In the US it costs $40 and it will be £40 when available in the UK later in the summer.
Here are a couple more photos on flickr:
As mentioned below, I've been loaned the LotR sets for photography purposes by the good people at Gizmocom and ToyAddict, which is just as well because it's going to be a couple of months until they are available to buy in Europe. I understand several shops in the USA (including TRU) are selling at least some of them now: I guess it's only fair that you get something early given Europe had Star Wars and Marvel a few weeks before you earlier in the year :-)
Anyway, I'll be creating a full minifig gallery in due course but for now I'm going to post photos of the sets, which were sent to me assembled, so I won't be able to tell you what the build is like.
First up, then, is 9471 Urak-Hai Army. This costs $35 in the USA and consists of a section of wall, 6 minifigs and a siege machine. The great thing about this is that not only is it a great 'army builder' it's also designed to be a 'castle extender': the wall section can be connected to 9474, The Batle of Helm's Deep, and I guess you could buy as many of these as you liked to build a massive castle wall. The back of the box shows how they can be combined.
The six minifigs are Eomer, a Rohan soldier and four Urak-hai. The latter all have the same legs, torso and head printing, but the addidion of helmets and armour to some of them has created three variations.
This is the only set that Eomer comes in, and one criticism is that, given the set is likely to be bought in multiples by those that want to stage large battles, it would perhaps have been better to have another generic Rohan soldier instead: after all, you only need one Eomer, right?
The horse is of the new articulated-back-legs type so it's possible to pose it in new ways. Unfortunately, however, the saddle prevents the minifig from bending forwards to be upright, which I'm sure he'd try and do in order to stay on the horse :-)
The seige machine is perhaps a little disappointing in that it looks big, heavy and fearsome, but it fires only small projectiles that don't look as if they'd have much of an impact on the castle walls. They do, however, launch at quite a speed.
So to conclude then, it's a neat set and one that will be worth picking up multiples of. $35 doesn't seem too bad for it, although it'll probably be £35 in the UK which will make it a bit on the expensive side.
Next up, probably tomorrow: 9476 The Orc Forge.
I hope everyone that wanted to managed to secure a 5000063 TC-14 minifig either in their local brand store or by ordering from shop.LEGO.com. I bought a UCS R2-D2 at AFOLCON so received mine with it there.
It's a nice figure. The chrome plating is very good although as you can see the hands are light grey, which is a shame. I guess it's impractical or too expensive to plate them. It's certainly better that the gold-painted C-3PO, which is very unevenly coated.
Although it's made in China the properties of the different ABS that's used there are not evident because of course the parts are plated. However, as you can see in the picture, the torso is covered in micro-scratches. I've noticed this on collectable minifigs too. You never find them on figs made in other factories. They are only really visible when you hold it to the light, so not really much to worry about, and they don't detract from the desirability of the figure which is sure to rocket in value in the coming months; well, at least until it's offered as part of the next promotion, whatever that might be...
Christoph Bartneck has been busy of late. Hot on the heels of the three minifig books he published earlier in the month is this new title, The Complete LEGO Figure Catalog, that deals with 'non-standard' figures.
Its just-over-100 pages covers LEGO 'people' (for want of a better term) that are not minifigs, which includes 4 Juniors, Belville, Bionicle, Duplo, Primo, Scala, Technic and, probably of most interest to us here, Fabuland.
As with his other books, each figure has been given a number in his nomenclature system, which you can read more about in my review of the first minifig book. This, and the BrickLink number, is given underneath each image, along with a price guide in US$ for new and used figures.
This is a unique reference work and if you're a collector of even just one of the themes covered, it is worth getting hold of a copy.
Paper copies of all of Christoph's books can ordered from Amazon:
There's more information about them, including links to order electronic copies, at the official website, minifigure.org.
To conclude my mini-reviews of the Marvel sets, here's a quick look at 6868 Hulk's Helicarrier Breakout.
This is the second largest of the Marvel sets. It consists of four minifigs, a SHEILD jet plane and some sort of laboratory. The laboratory no doubt adds some play interest to the set but I have no idea what it's supposed to be or what happens in it. Maybe that will become apparent in the movie.
For me however, the minifigs and jet plane are far more interesting although it's perhaps disappointing that the only unique one in it is Hulk.
The minifigs are Loki (his 3rd appearance, presumably he's the baddie in the movie?), Thor, Hawkeye and Hulk. To call Hulk a minifig is a bit misleading though, as he's double the height of regular figs. He's made in China (the polythene packaging gives that away) and consists of 5 parts: his legs/torso/head are one part, his arms and hands make up the other four. As with the vast majority of Chinese parts such as these, the quality is top-notch.
The jet plane is very reminscent of the Agents sets, in particular the dark blue and yellow colour scheme. It's actually a very nice model in its own right, and certainly very swooshable. It has a mechanism built in to jettison the cockpit: maybe to re-enact a scene in the movie?
I haven't photographed the lab. as my setup can't handle large models such as that, so you'll have to look at the official pictures instead.
So to summarise, this is a nice set but the duplication of minifigs with other sets is a little disappointing.
And to summarise the reviews of the Marvel sets, which one do I think is best, having built them all? I'd say 6866 Wolverine's Chopper Showdown because it's only £20/$20, the three minifigs are all very cool and unique to the set, the helicopter is great and, well, it has the best minifig in it: Wolverine...
6869 Quinjet Aerial Battle is the largest of the Marvel sets and comes with five minifigs: Loki, who's the same as in 6867, an alien foot soldier, the same as the one in 6865, Thor, and two unique to this set: Iron Man with a different torso to that in 6867-1, and Black Widow.
Thor is certainly very colourful, what with his blonde hair, red cape and dark blue clothes.
Update: I was going to post some pictures of the Quinjet but 18000pieces has done such a good job in his pictorial review at Eurobricks that I won't bother, I'll direct you to his review instead.
6865 Captain America's Avenging Cycle is the smallest and cheapest (£12) of the Marvel sets. It comes with three figures, an 'avenging cycle', and some weaponry and contraptions for the baddies. The box doesn't give them a name so I have no idea who they are!
As you can see, the standard City police motorcycle is used in the set and when stood next to a minifig it becomes apparent just how ridiculously over-sized it is, what with the handlebars level with his head! Nevertheless, once CA is on it, it doesn't look too bad.
It's expensive at £12, but being the only set with Captain America in it, this is a must-have.
I don't have any recent Hero Factory models so I don't know how these compare with them, although I suspect many of the parts are the same. However I do have one of the Ben 10 maxi-figs and I can say that this is far, far better than those, both in terms of parts quality and quantity, and the actual build.
I think this is a pretty good representation of Iron Man, given the parts available. The big, bad, kick-ass weapon on his shoulder is pretty good, too.
I'm not sure I'll go so far as recommending this set, but if you're a fan of these big figures you will like this one.
The main reason for buying this set, and I suspect most of the Marvel sets, will be for the minifigs, as it certainly doesn't disappoint in the minifig department. As well as Iron Man we get Loki and Hawkeye, too. Loki's helmet is excellent and Hawkeye has what I believe is a new hair piece and a new style of bow.
I'll conclude this short review by saying the set has surpassed my expectations and I look forward to building the rest of the Marvel sets, which the postman kindly delivered this morning, on Good Friday of all days. Stay posted over Easter for more mini-reviews and photos!
It's been a few weeks since I reviewed the minifigs in this set, so this concluding look at the X-Wing itself is a bit overdue.
I wasn't able to photograph it satisfactorarily in my 50cm light tent so I ordered up an 80cm one from eBay (for about £15/$20). It's certainly big enough now but it's huge and a bit unwieldy to use in my LEGO room. The photos here and on flickr are the first I've taken in it and, while they are not bad, I'm sure they'll get better as I refine the lighting setup.
Anyway, on to the model itself. This is the fourth minifig scale X-Wing to be made (7140, 1999; 4502, 2004; 6212, 2006) so if you have any of the others you'll want to know whether this set is any better and whether to buy it. The simple answer is yes, this is the best X-Wing yet. However I think there's room for improvement...
The first thing you notice when comparing this to previous versions is that the wings on the other three were all 'studs-up' whereas on this one, the lower wings are 'studs-down'. It seems such an obvious way to build it to ensure symmetry that you have to wonder why LEGO hasn't made them like this in the past. It makes such a huge difference to the final appearance that if this was the only change made it would be worth 'upgrading' to this model for this reason alone.
The use of SNOT doesn't end there though. Clever use of upside-down sections round the wings has further ensured the symmetry between top and bottom: the 65 degree 2x2x2 slopes at the bottom of the back are, of course, upside down because LEGO doesn't make an inverted slope at that angle.
Other differences between this and the last X-Wing were neatly summarised by Kulturkampf in a comment to the last news article, so I will copy those here:
- The laser cannons are at a more correct length.
- The engines are now placed correctly off center.
- The nose is now 3 studs wide instead of 2 before it hits the 6x4 slope, giving a much better ease into the nose.
- The pieces on the side of the cockpit are the new, longer slopes, making it sleeker.
- The fuselage is now correctly hexagonal.
- There are now slopes at the side of the engines down to the wings, like there's supposed to be.
- There are now markings inside the engines (even though they are stickers.... :/)
- This one has proton torpedos.
- The best one - on the old X-Wing, it took ages to open the wings. On this one, they snap open with only half a turn.
So, what can be improved? Well I'm not totally sold on the colour scheme. Apart from the first 1999 version of the craft, all others, at all scales, have been predominantly white with splashes of red and grey. Correct me if I'm wrong but don't the pictures at Wookiepeida show that they should be red and grey without any white at all? Why then do LEGO insist on making them white? It would be a useful and interesting exercise to convert this one to grey to see the result.
An excellent rendition of the most iconic Star Wars vehicle and some superb minifigs to boot: the set deserves a place in everyone's collection!
More pictures on flickr. Which do you prefer -- a black or white background?
To conclude my review of 9494 Anakin's Jedi Interceptor, today I take a look at the ship itself and the duelling platforms that are also included in the set.
The ship is very similar in design to the two previous Jedi Starfighters (Anakin's yellow one in 7256 from 2005 and Obi-Wan's 7661 from 2007) so I'm not sure why its name has been changed to Interceptor this time.
As is usual though, new parts and building techniques have been used to improve it and one definite improvement is that R2-D2 fits in the wing in his entirety rather than having just his head plokned on top.
Someone asked in the comments to part one whether the set contained many useful dark green parts. So, discounting the wedge plates, it has just 16: 8 2x4 plates and 4 each of 1x4 and 2x2 tiles.
The duelling platforms are an interesting build. I can't remember the scene in episode 3 to know what they they are supposed to look like, but one seems to resemble some sort of robot. (I must watch the Hexalogy (right word this time!) on Blu-Ray my daughters bought me for Christmas ASAP!). They certainly add some playability to the set, though.
To summarise then, this is a great set. The craft is very swooshable, the minifigs are excellent and the extras in the form of the platforms add an additional dimension to the playability. Of course you know there's a 'but' coming... The price, at £35, is as usual, probably higher than it should be, particularly when you consider that the price of 2005's 7256 was just £15!
More pictures on flickr:
Today I'm taking a quick look at 9494, Anakin's Jedi Interceptor, in particular the minifigs. I'll finish building the ship and photograph it tomorrow.
This set is the most elusive of the new Star Wars sets in the UK at the moment. I believe it, and the Y-Wing, are not part of the normal retail assortment offered to most shops, so Argos is not stocking them. The Brighton shop was also out of it when I went in just before New Year's day, so I had ro resort to good old shop.LEGO.com...
It comes with five: Anakin, with new head, Obi_Wan with new head (which is less cartoonish than the other Clone Wars one) and torso, a dark red battle droid, R2-D2, and leaving the best until last a brand new Nute Gunray, the ever popular Neimoidian from The Phantom Menace.
He now sports a 'skirt slope', a new dark red hat and most significantly, olive green head and hands. Compare him to the one in the advent calendar and you'll agree this one is far superior. However quite why he's been included in this set (other than for the reason stated above) is anyone's guess.
Once again, LEGO is pulling out all the stops with the Star Wars minifigs this year: they are improved in every way and it seems certain that minifig collectors will feel obliged to continue buying every set, which is of course what LEGO wants...
I haven't quite finished building the new 9493 X-Wing, so until I have, please make do with pictures of the minifigs.
The set comes with four, two of which are new.
The first new one is Jek Porkins, left, who was pilot of 'Red Six' X-Wing. He was killed in the Battle of Yavin. You may recall his cockpit filling with smoke when his X-Wing was hit by enemy fire. His helmet and head are unique, and LEGO has done a good job on the markings on the helmet, which look close to those shown in the image.
The second new one is Jek's astromech droid R5-D8. This uses the new conical dome part for its head.
On first glance you could question why LEGO has included two pilots and two mechs. It becomes clear when you view the instructions: you can build either Luke's or Jek's X-Wing: there's an extra set of tiles and stickers in the box to mark up the wings with a 6th red stripe to indicate Jek's machine.
If I can get the X-Wing in my light tent I'll photograph it tomorrow...
My wife's been at a football match today (soccer I think most of you call it) so I found myself with time on my hands for a quick trip to Argos. My youngest daughter is a keen piano player so I thought I pick up 3932 Andrea's Stage for her. Unfortunately, being 17, she showed no interest in it whatsoever so I had to build it :-)
However, I do know that if these sets had come out 10 years ago she would have loved them. When my daughters were younger they had both Scala and Belville and enjoyed them both. However, I think they failed as LEGO sets because of the scale of the dolls. Because they were much larger than minifigs, the sets were full of large, specialised, and probably expensive parts which meant the sets themselves had few parts in them and scope for reuse was limited.
Friends, however, are pretty much minifig-scale and the sets and accessories can be used interchangeably with regular 'system' sets. I'm prepared to believe that little girls don't like minifigs and will find these mini-dolls far more appealing, remembering what I do about my two when they were young.
So, what about this set? Well, it consists of a 'stage' with a neat curtain-effect, a piano and another piece of stage with lights and mic. stand. All three parts are well designed but it's a shame they don't all go together with the piano on the stage and the fancy purple stage bit integrated into the main one. Still, I don't suppose it will be too much work to do just that with parts in your collection.
The magenta and medium lavender parts in this set are absolutely gorgeous and the tiles are printed which is always better than stickers, so there's nothing not to like about this set.
I'm going to end this by repeating what Lucy said below because I agree entirely: "I certainly will be buying more of the Friends range, partly for the new parts and colours which I know MOCers are drooling over, but also on the basis of their own merits." If you want to see what skilled MOCers are doing with the parts, check out this spacecraft at Brothers-Brick.
You've probably had enough of reviews of drab Star Wars sets, so I thought I'd bring you some colour in the form of a review of 3061 City Park Cafe by female AFOL Lucy, aka LostInTranslation:
As a girl who has loved Lego since birth (thanks to a 9-years-older brother), when I first heard that LEGO was bringing out a new range of sets specifically for girls – and without standard minifigures! – I received the announcement with a healthy degree of scepticism. Why can’t TLG just produce more female minifigs in girl-friendly settings within City (like Paradisa)? And what’s wrong with girls playing with adventure themes and Star Wars anyway (like I did – ok, still do!)?
But as more information emerged regarding the reasoning behind the decision and the extensive market research that had been undertaken with the aim of getting Friends right, the more intrigued I became, and by the time final images of the 14 sets became available, I was convinced enough to at least give Friends a chance.
One of the Friends sets I’ve purchased is 3061 City Park Cafe, and I’ve got to say, overall I’m impressed. The build is not overly complex in structure and maybe you could expect more parts for your money, but where the design really comes into its own is in the details, including cute little cupcake moulds, a multitude of kitchen utensils and a brick-built burger, while the gumball machine standing outside is also a nice touch.
The colours of the cafe (pink yes, but also red and white and some nice light-blue plates) are not so overwhelmingly girly as to prohibit their inclusion in any City layout, and with a little modification and expansion this set could easily be converted into a 50s-style diner, as the half-dozen or so stickers have a very retro feel to them. I’ve also bought 3183 and my nephew fell in love with the predominantly purple car, so I would also encourage the parents of future MAFOLS to consider buying some of these sets, despite the advertising focus on girls.
But what about the mini-dolls, I hear you cry? Well, I have to say that although I can see that they will appeal to their target audience due to their similarity with toys such as Polly Pockets, I personally will be populating the sets with standard minifigs. I’ve experimented with putting mini-doll hairpieces on minifigures and have yet to find a combination that I like (aside from C3PO à la Brian May), but I hope to eventually find at least one!
I certainly will be buying more of the Friends range, partly for the new parts and colours which I know MOCers are drooling over, but also on the basis of their own merits.
They’re good sets; tell your Friends!
I had fun taking these photos, they certainly look a bit brighter than your average Star Wars set!
The set consists of two rebel troopers, one of whom has a new torso print, two imperial troopers (which you'll recall have the new printed heads), a bit of tree and a speeder bike.
I say it's the least exciting because the tree is unremarkable and the speeder is virtually identical to that in last year's 7956 Ewok Attack.
The minifigs are OK but not a patch on the elite clone troopers in the other battle pack. However there is good variety, each one being different, and if you can afford 10 or so of these packs you'll be able to put together a pretty good Endor battle scene.
This is not an essential purchase like many of the other new SW sets and given it's currently priced at £13 (it'll probably be $13 in the USA), this is definitely one to wait for until it plummets in price at Amazon or can be had in a 3-for-2 offer somewhere.
More photos on flickr:
The TIE Fighter is second only to the X-Wing in terms of its iconic stature in the Star Wars universe but all LEGO's previous attempts at TIE-craft have been pretty poor. Not only were the blue highlights totally inappropriate, but they never managed to capture the shape and distinctive structure of the radiator panels effectively.
Not only is this new version correctly coloured black and grey, it also has a grey band round the edge of the panels which makes it look excellent and pretty much spot on when compared to the prototype. My only criticism, comparing it to the prototype, is that they have used the same huge great 6x6 sloped-bit to attach the panels which is far too bulky. I suspect it will be easy enough to modify it, though.
Previous incarnations of TIE-craft have mostly just come with a pilot, but as has become common in recent Star Wars sets, this one comes packed with minifigs, no doubt in an attempt to make it more appealing to collectors. Not only do you get a TIE pilot, but also a Death Star Trooper who's wearing a new helmet, an imperial officer and R5-J2, who we have discussed before.
I highly recommend this set. It's the best TIE Fighter yet and the minifigs are great. As usual though, it is expensive (£50 in the UK, probably $50-$60 in the USA) so you may want to wait for it to be on offer.
More photos are available in my flickr stream. Due to the size of the model they are not quite up to my usual standard: I probably need a larger light tent...
9491 Geonosian Cannon is, like Droid Escape, another minfig-heavy mid-priced set, weighing in at £19.99 in the UK. However this one comes with four unique minifigs, a Geonosian zombie and warrior, Clone Commander Gree and a slighly different version of Barriss Offee, who's sporting one of the new shorter-length capes which can also be found being worn by Lloyd Garmadon in the new Ninjago sets.
Again like Droid Escape, this is a reworking of an old model: a Geonosian cannon appeared in 4478 Geonosian Fighter released in 2003, and this version is much improved on the original. It's much bigger and beefier and looks like it could inflict some serious damage to low-flying craft. Comparing it with reference images at Wookiepedia, the designers have done a good job.
However, the minifigs are the stars of the set. The Geonosians are excellent: they have wings similar to the original Geonosian (sw078) but with the improved head of the one that came in 7959 last year. They carry weapons based on the ray-gun from the collectable minifigs, but they have a large appendage on the front that makes them too heavy for the minifig to hold without toppling over (which is why they are not holding them in the photo above!)
Commander Gree is sporting a standard clone army uniform and helmet but with unique colouring in dark green.
In summary, this is a nice set, but the price will probably put off anyone other than the hard-core Star Wars minifig collector, who will be delighted with the 4 new figures, which I guess will help justify having to spend £20 on it.
Check out the other pictures in my flickr gallery:
Seeing as the new Star Wars sets seem to be only available in Argos and the LEGO brand stores in the UK at the moment, I suspect many of you in the USA want to know more about them before their release in the US, which I am told will be the end of January, with shop.LEGO.com accepting pre-orders from Jan 1st.
So, I thought I'd do a mini-review of 9490 Droid Escape which costs £19.99 in the UK. It consists of four minifigs, three of which are new, an escape pod, and a small speeder bike, which I think is a new design
It's a reworking of 7106 which was released in 2001, so you could say it's long overdue.
The pod itself is a good rendition of a class 6 escape pod, and certainly much better than the one in 7106. This one has somewhere for the two droids to sit confortably and a control panel, so it's much more realistic. The speeder bike is also an interesting design. It's a shame there aren't two of them, though.
I suspect the main reason many of us will buy it is for the minifigs. As you can see above C-3PO gets a new torso that looks great, showing as it does his innards.
Like some of the Toy Story figs, the sand troopers are 'weathered', and covered in random dirt -- sand -- marks. They are identical apart from the colour of their pauldron, though, so the dirt marks are the same on both. They have printed legs and backs, although you can't see much of their backs due to the back-packs they are carrying.
This is certainly a set that minifig collectors will want to get hold of (but then, I think all Star Wars sets fall into this category these days, don't they?), although as with all SW sets it carries a hefty price tag so you may want to wait until it's on offer at Amazon, or 3-for-2 or something.
Here are some more pictures from my flickr gallery:
So, you've acquired all 64 collectable figs and you want to have them on display, but you hate your LEGO getting dusty... well now there's a solution in the form of these minifig display cases which are sold exclusively in Europe by Simply Bricks. Emma of Simply Bricks has sent me a sample for review, so here goes...
The first thing that strikes you when see and handle these is the quality. They are not made by LEGO but the dimensional accuracy and quality of the plastic is such that you'd think they were. They are very clear and virtually scratch-less, thanks partly to the way they've been packaged. They are supplied with a 4x4 plate upon which the case fits very snugly. For the picture on the left I've added two 1x2 jumpers so that the figure is positioned in the centre of the box. They are 6 bricks high which should be tall enough for even the largest of hats, like the witches'. There are studs on top (minus the LEGO writing, of course) to enable them to be stacked and built into larger models and I would think a 'wall' of these would look very cool indeed.
There isn't anything to dislike about them: they fill a definite need that every minfig collector has, very elegantly. There are other storage solutions, of course, but none that look as good, that are infinitely expandable and most importantly, affordable. I'd like to see a 4x6 version in addition to this 4x4 one to accomodate minifigs with capes and accessories: caped figs will fit in these but it's a bit tight. Who knows, if these are popular, maybe one will be forthcoming in the future.
They are available from Simply Bricks at BrickLink, priced £1.35, which is about €1.50. They can be shipped to most European countries.
Update (just an hour after posting the above...): It seems the 'Brickset Effect' has struck again -- it looks as if Emma has sold out! Hopefully the stock will be replenished soon.