• Hydro Reef Wrecker

    Overall rating
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    Value for money

    The Aquaraiders Strike

    Written by (AFOL) in United States,

    I recently bought this set used off of eBay for a relatively low price of $30.00 (including shipping!). The first Aquaraiders line only consisted of three sets, which is a bit of a bummer. All three sets were strong and had unique features (or gimmicks depending on how you look at it) not found in other Aqua Zone sets of the time. This set is worthy of its status as the largest of the original Aquaraiders sets. It's nothing like any of the sets from the earlier Aquanauts of Aquasharks lines, nor is it that similar to the later Hydronauts and Stingrays.

    Box/Instructions

    I did not receive the box when I bought this set. The instructions are typical of mid-late 90s Lego. The cover features the set artfully placed over an underwater background and the back cover features alternative models.

    Parts

    The parts are sweet. The cockpit pieces on the main vehicle are a must have. I know some people have complained about the use of technic pieces as drills (unlike the drill pieces used for Rock Raiders about 3 years later). I personally don't think that's a fair complaint. Lego made due and designed the set with the parts it had at its disposal, and I think the goofy simplicity of the technic gears adds to the charm of the set.

    Minifigures

    The set includes two Aquasharks:

    ? - the commander (who shares a head with the Exploriens commander) and features a yellow hook on one hand

    - the Aquashark, who shares a head with the Aquashark minifig. I'm personally a fan of the Aquaraider torso design and head gear.

    The build

    The set took me maybe 45 minutes to an hour to build (including distraction time). Building this set was a great activity. It wasn't an extremely quick build, but it didn't drag on too long either. Just put on some tunes (I always prefer the Grateful Dead) and spend a nice, relaxing hour building this set. Great fun!

    The completed model

    All in all, the model is impressive. It's big, it has a few nice moving parts. The detachable submarine on the back is one of the major draws of this set. It's big enough to be a pretty neat craft on its own. The three wheel construction is novel and rarely seen in Aquazone sets (I think the only other wheeled Aquazone set is a Hydronauts set) and is used effectively in my opinion. The set is structurally sound and stays together well. Another bonus it there are only two stickers (the eyes on the cockpit).

    If you're a fan of Aquazone, Aquaraiders (I) or the latter day underwater adventure themes (which are vastly inferior to the classic Aquazone subthemes in my opinion) I'd recommend picking this set up, especially if you can find it at a good price.

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  • Parisian Restaurant

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    [FR] Plus pour l'exposition que pour le jeu

    Written by (AFOL) in France,

    À chaque nouveau set de cette gamme "modular", je reste ébahi par l'expérience de construction proposée. Ce restaurant parisien ne déroge pas à la règle.

    Je ne compte pas le nombre d'heures passées à la construction de ce modèle. Il compense un prix qui, au premier abord, est plutôt élevé.

    Il faut noter la précision des meubles que ce soit dans le restaurant (le buffet), la cuisine (le frigo), l'appartement au premier étage (le lit pliant) ou la chambre de bonne du second étage (le poêle). Le bâtiment en lui-même regorge de détail, des pierres de la cheminée qui courent le long du mur ; au pavage de la terrasse, qui révèle une petite surprise.

    Passée la construction, reste la jouabilité. La salle de restaurant est plutôt réduite (alors que la plaque de base n'est pas entièrement utilisée) et le nombre de minifigs (cinq) est limitée.

    Peut-être que cela s'explique par une volonté de mettre cette gamme à la portée des adultes (n'est-il pas écrit +16 sur la boîte ?) et donc plus à de l'exposition qu'à du jeu.

    1 out of 2 people thought this review was helpful.

  • Cosmic Laser Launcher

    Overall rating
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    Value for money

    Back to the Futuron

    Written by (AFOL) in United Kingdom,

    Looking for a vintage set to re-build one rainy afternoon, I pulled this from the cupboard. Despite producing a relatively large number of sets, Futuron seems to be the almost forgotten Space theme (#6990 Monorail aside). Classic Space gets most of the nostalgic attention, with Blacktron and Space Police sets usually considered most synonymous with the 1980s and are the styles that MOC’ers seem to favour over the more peaceful explorers and scientists of the Futuron theme.

    Box/Instructions

    Sadly the box has long since disappeared, both physically and from my memory - a shame as the old boxes always showed an intriguing array of alternate builds. The instructions are a thin A4 booklet and, in keeping with the more challenging style back then, the entire build is complete in just 19 steps (with a couple of sub-build along the way). All of the black pieces are printed as dark grey, but as there aren’t any of the latter in the set to confuse them with, it’s not such a problem once you mentally adjust to seeing grey but picking black…!

    Parts

    Creating a space station from a mere 200 pieces means that there are some large pieces in the set and, due to the era, few are ‘interesting’ from a modern perspective. The Futuron colour scheme of white and trans-blue is in full force, with the latter primarily represented via two large arching panels which make up the roof of the base, both which are printed with a ‘Futuron stripes’ design unique to this set. There is more trans-blue in the oddly shaped panels that sit either side of the base. There are quite a few printed elements, from classic printed computer 2x2 slopes, to a couple of black 1x4 bricks printed with a white grill design and a white 2x2 tile with a printed arrow design. You also get six 2x2 turntables, and the rack and winder mechanism which operates the roof and launcher mechanism (of which more later!), which has been used in a few of the larger Space ‘Base’ sets over the years. Most of the other bricks and plates are fairly standard and plain white.

    Minifigures

    There are three figures included with the set, all in the Futuron ‘updated’ version of the classic space livery which includes the legs and half of the torso in a colour (in this case, two red and one yellow), with a diagonal zip separating this from white. The face is a classic Lego ‘smiley’ and accessories include the traditional air tanks, and helmets with blue visors. There is also a spanner and a single walkie talkie, though I'm not sure who they're going to chat to on it...

    The build

    Maybe it’s the nostalgia factor, but I really enjoyed the build process. It does provide a few more challenges than most modern builds and it goes without saying that this is due almost entirely to the instructions – there are none of the piece call-outs we’ve got used to, and each step requires multiple pieces to be set in place all over the model, often white-on-white just to make it more difficult! This is further complicated by the angle of the picture in the instructions which, apart from a top-down view of the baseplate at step 1, doesn’t always make it clear on the spacing between some of the pieces. I found it surprisingly refreshing to get back into the more observant mindset and it certainly made the process more engaging.

    The first five steps aren’t too thrilling, putting together a small vehicle which is hinged in the middle and with a small platform on the rear. It’s the base that is the main focus and it goes up fairly quickly, with a number of supports placed on the large baseplate, topped with large angular white plates to provide a raised walkway. The shuttle cradle is a little sub-build mounted onto the rack, after which the actual mechanism which will open the roof suddenly comes together almost without you realising what is being built – a few plates, turntables and hinges suddenly all snap together to form the structure. A classic example of less is more showcasing the capability of a few basic pieces.

    There are no particularly advanced or fiddly tricks used, though there is an early example of sideways building on the shuttle craft, using angled plates which in my mind were more commonly associated with vehicle bumpers from the Town theme. These are used to sideways-mount hinge brackets which, in turn, are attached to the shuttle wings, a technique that was something of a revelation to me, aged 7!

    The completed model

    The completed model does look pretty good as a small base, though a bit sparse to stand alone which I've reflected in the value for money rating. The strange little vehicle is a bit of an afterthought, but adds a bit of extra play action to the set when it has other places to go to. The highlight is the roof mechanism which, while being fairly simple, is still an impressive effect – as the rack is wound up, the roof sections hinge outwards and the shuttle rises up on a small launch platform. Even now, the effect doesn’t lessen with repetition and works well, though there are a few weak points in the attachment which could be affected by any reduction or increase in clutch power over time.

    The ‘cosmic launcher’ ship itself is a bit of an oddball design, made slightly bulky by the requirement for a minifig to fit inside, whilst also needing to be short enough for it to fit inside the base prior to launch. Though as the artwork implies it is being launched from a planet with no atmosphere, maybe aerodynamics weren’t the first concern in the design!

    Overall opinion

    This is a great little set, and absolutely indispensable for anyone looking to expand a Futuron / Classic Space layout – particularly to fill a gap in the middle of the #6990 Futuron Monorail track. The roof opening and shuttle launching effect is great and works very well – I defy anyone not to hear a stirring John Williams-style theme in their head when it is in action! There isn’t an awful lot to it, and if you want a fully functional Space base then other sets would be more appropriate, but as an ‘outpost station’ or expansion with additional building or vehicles, this set is a delightful exemplar of the Futuron range.

    A side note – as an ambitious youngster, I attempted to motorise the roof movement function using the motor from #740. I can’t remember the exact setup, only that it resulted in gears, elastic bands, technic axels and bricks pinging off everywhere without moving the panels one inch. Maybe it’s time to revisit that plan some 27 years on…

    1 out of 1 person thought this review was helpful.

  • Knights' Castle

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    Great first Lego set

    Written by (Parent) in United Kingdom,

    This is the first proper Lego set I've bought for my son - currently 3 yrs 3 months old. He has a bucket full of Duplo, but after seeing him playing with proper Lego blocks at Legoland Windsor I've realised he's more than ready for the real thing. I was planning on buying just a box full of bricks, but he chose this set and I'm very glad he did.

    Box/Instructions

    The box is a very handy plastic tub, which has an obvious use as a storage box for a growing collection and is a well thought out move on Lego's part to supply this with what is likely to be a first set.

    Whilst he's too young to follow the instructions alone, I could easily see him being able to in a year or so, and we had great fun building it all together. He enjoyed putting together a lot of the minifigs and putting the wheels on the catapult.

    Parts

    This is our first proper Lego set (I'm returning to Lego after 30 years) but I'm very impressed with the selection of parts. The doors and windows of the dungeon are especially nicely done.

    However, what makes me especially pleased with this set is that you get three full bags of extra pieces that aren't needed for the main build. With these you can build all kinds of things - we've only done farmyard animals so far - making it great value for getting started.

    Minifigures

    The minifigures are I think all pretty standard from the Castles theme, but it's been interesting to see how my son has taken to them. He loves the skeleton and the bad knight (who reminds him of the bad red pirate at the Legoland Windsor pirates show).

    The build

    As you'd expect the build wasn't difficult for an adult and took less than an hour. I don't have a "non Juniors" build to compare it to and can't comment on how feasible it is for a child, but everything was very clearly and logically labelled and easy to follow.

    The completed model

    For a supposedly simple set I'm really impressed by the attention to detail. Lovely little features like the table with the wine cup and leg of chicken, the shield above the gate and the ladder to the tower have really impressed me. We've only had it a couple of days and he's loving playing with it, and I've easily been able to modify it with the extra parts to build a double height tower.

    Overall opinion

    Really, really impressive first set for making the transition from Duplo, and enjoyable to build even for an adult. Recommended.

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  • Pet Shop

    Overall rating
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    Value for money

    Awesome addition to modular buildings line!

    Written by (TFOL) in United States,

    This set is awesome! It has lots of cool building techniques and parts. The price is also great because it come out to being about 7.3 cents (US) per piece.

    Box/Instructions

    The box is huge. Since it is so big, there are lots of pictures of the playability features on the back of the box. The instructions are just like any other set, but it does come with a cardboard backing so they don't get folded/creased. Good thinking LEGO. (There are probably other sets with the cardboard backing, but this is the only one that I know of.)

    Parts

    The parts are normal, and lots of them come in hundreds of other sets. But the way they designed this one with those normal parts is amazing. The printed details on the dog and cat are awesome, and you don't find those very often. Also, they used garage door bricks (like the ones used in fire/police stations) to make the second floor of the actual pet shop look detailed.

    Minifigures

    The minifigures are not that special in any way, but if you need random civilians in stop-motions, these figures come in handy. Also, I like how they brought back the classic head. (Design #001)

    Overall, the minifigures are great!

    The build

    I got this for my birthday, as well as some Galaxy Squad and City sets. I built the other ones in about and hour. Then it was time for the Pet Shop. I built it in five hours, and only got up out of my chair twice. (I wasn't gone from my seat for over 2 minutes.) Awesome new building techniques were discovered when building this set as well.

    The completed model

    All I have to say about the completed model is that it looked epic and had lots of playability included.

    Overall opinion

    I give this set on average a 4.8 out of five stars. I would recommend this set to anyone. (Except kids 6 years or younger) That concludes one of the longest reviews I've ever written. So if a review on this set is this long, the set is probably really awesome.

    1 out of 1 person thought this review was helpful.