Saturday, January 14, 2017

A New Project is (about to be) Underway!

Last November, I decided on the next "big" step that I wanted to take for my custom LEGO city.  At that time, I had the Ferris Wheel set (which is amazing) and the Fairground Mixer set (also amazing) set up in a small "amusement park" of sorts.  I decided that I ought to try and flesh out my park a bit more with a proper base plate and some more details.  To do so, I knew for sure that I would need a bunch of gray 2x2 tiles for the walkway that I envisioned building and so I bought a big bag full of the tiles.
This was a present from 2015...and to this day it remains one of (if not the) favorite sets of mine!

By the time the tiles arrived, I no longer had any time to work on my LEGO project (or really anything else "fun" thanks to the busyness of my work and the end of the semester).  To be honest, I didn't give the amusement park idea any more thought and the bag of tiles that arrived in the mail just sat on my desk.

Then, at Christmas my brother and his wife gifted me a whole bunch of awesome LEGO sets including a pair of LEGO friends amusement park sets (he must have had the same idea for me and my amusement park).  They got me the bumper cars set and the amusement games set with the target practice.

I ended up grabbing one of those giant gray base plates at Target...and I found a cheap polybag with another amusement park mini game at Wal-Mart last night.  And so, after months of (sort of) planning, plus some awesome gifts, I'm now ready to start working on my amusement park properly!

It is my hope that I'll be able to make some actual, real progress on this new project in the next few days (weeks?).  My first order of business will be to build the three Friends sets though...and then I'll probably mix and match those parts/builds with pieces from my own collection to hopefully create a vibrant amusement park square for my LEGO citizens.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Starting 2017 Out Right: LEGO Minifigure Style!

Because of a crazy work schedule last semester, I didn't have much time to dedicate to my hobbies.  However, near the end of the semester I did find enough time to make a single trade on SwapFig.  My goal is to eventually own all of the collectible minifigure series...so every time I can inch closer to that goal I'm happy!

For this trade, I sent away a couple of figure and got a couple in return.  The first is the Crash Test Dummy from the very first series of collectible minifigs.  The other figure is the fencer (which I needed but honestly it's a pretty boring figure).

I do like the Crash Test Dummy quite a bit - and that figure means I now own two of the original 16 minifigures from Series 1.  It's definitely slow going trying to track down figures from all of the series before I started collecting LEGO again!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

2016 LEGO City Advent Calendar (60133): Final Builds!

It's hard to believe that it is Christmas Eve 2016 already!  I don't know what happened to the month of December...it flew by as usual I guess.  No matter, I'm back with one last look at this year's LEGO City Advent Calendar - and we begin with the overview.

The last few builds had us construct a Christmas tree (that was quite small)...too small in fact for all the presents that came with the calendar.

I do like the simple build of the tree - the offset green slopes do, in fact, nicely mimic a tree.

After the tree, the next two days had you construct Santa's sleigh...which this year is being pulled by a husky (don't ask).

I like the small dog "feeding" station that you get as well - and yes, you do get an extra bone piece (not shown).

And finally, just in time for Christmas - the final door yielded Santa Claus!

While it's not surprise that you end with a Santa figure, this one did come with a red mug which was a bit of a surprise (though I guess it shouldn't have been because doesn't every City set have at least on mug in it these days)?

I must say, overall I very much enjoyed the Advent Calendar.  I ended up with a bunch of little "bits" that will end up in next year's Christmas Village.  I also got some things that will find their way to my big City layout (non-Christmas themed).

Until next year, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas...and to all a good night!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2016 LEGO City Advent Calendar (60133): Week 2 & 3 Review

Back in the early part of December, I took a look at the first week's worth of minibuilds from the LEGO City Advent Calendar from 2016.  Now that another two (!) weeks have passed, let's take a look at the next batch of minibuilds!

As you can see, the little "scene" is starting to come together nicely.  That's probably a good thing because there are only four more doors to open (and one of those four is very likely to be a Santa Claus minifigure - I try to stay spoiler free for my advent calendar but you can count on getting Santa on Christmas Eve).

Looking at each of the clusters a bit more closely, we begin with the firefighter band.

The stage looks pretty good (though nothing new was added to this little ensamble since the first week).  I was sort of hoping for another band member (and another new instrument) but that doesn't look like it is going to happen.  I do like the street light quite a bit (though truth be told, it needs a few more black round 1x1s to make it the "proper" height).

Next, we have the hockey players (along with a pair of store front builds).

I have a big "pond" in my main Christmas village set-up this year...so I'm sure these two hockey players will find their way to my pond next Christmas season!  For now though, they'll have to be satisfied with skating on the cardboard printed pond instead.

Moving on to the pile of Christmas gifts (including a remote control helicopter and a "pilot" figure for the toy).

There's also the snowmobile (and fire extinguisher - or is that a mustard dispenser)?  Either way, I fully expect a brick built Christmas tree to end up here in the very near future!

Finally, we get to the funniest of the builds so far - a firefighter decked out in almost complete Hazmat gear baking some cookies.

There's also a "Charlie Brown" tree in the background, though I suppose it could also be a tree that burnt up (and perhaps why there are so many firefighters around now).

This has been a fun advent Calendar - I'll have to try and compare it to the 2014 version (the only other version I own) when all is said and done.  I still have four more doors to open...including today's, so I should be able to do one more wrap-up post around Christmas Eve/Day.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

2016 LEGO City Advent Calendar (60133): Week 1 Review

For my birthday (which is in November) this year, my brother and his wife gave me the new 2016 LEGO City Advent Calendar.  I was excited for the gift because I definitely enjoyed the 2014 LEGO City Advent Calendar (which was also a gift from my brother that year).

Unlike in 2014 when I had more free time, I (obviously) have not shown off every single day's calendar contents on the blog this year.  Instead, I figured I would show off the first week's worth of builds in a single post. That ended up being a good choice since two of the days' builds went together to create a full snowmobile (the one day had you just build the plow).

This year's Calendar theme seems to be firefighters - something you'll notice on the very first day when you build a snowman and stick a firefighter's helmet on it!

I didn't get the Calendar in 2015, but in 2014 the theme was definitely cops & robbers.  It works for me because the more "Christmas-y" stuff ends up in my season winter village display while the more "City" stuff ends up in my custom LEGO city display.  Either way, I can pretty much use everything I get in the calendar!

Overall, I'd say the first week of the Calendar was a success.  Most of the mini builds were quite satisfying - the only truly weak build was the "trumpet" that the one firefighter is holding.  It doesn't look like a trumpet - and I think LEGO would have been better served to include one of their many molded instrument pieces instead.  I do like the green wreath piece - I can never get enough of those for my holiday village!

I'm certainly looking forward to the next week's worth of builds - and hopefully by the end of Advent I'll have another big batch of things to add to my respective city builds!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

New LEGO Ideas Set Announced: Old Fishing Store

I'll admit that I generally don't pay a lot of attention to the LEGO Ideas set announcements.  To me, it appears that LEGO mostly only green lights projects that are based on existing IPs (although I know that isn't entirely true since they have done a birds set and a maze set, among others).  And to date, I've only purchased a single LEGO Ideas set - the Exo Suit (which I haven't yet built)!

With all that said, I must admit that I got caught up in today's announcement because I'm truly excited for the one set that made it through the review process:  The Old Fishing Store.

Even a single quick glance at the above model should "wow" you!  Now, it should be noted that the final released building will probably not look quite like the above model - but if it is even a close approximation (in terms of building size, piece count, innovate techniques, etc.) then I'll be ecstatic.  In fact, I might be the first in line to buy the set!

I want to congratulate LEGO for being bold here - this set doesn't have any brand or license to fall back on - it will have to sell based entirely on its own merits.  And it will have to do so at a (presumably) high price point.  all that said, if the end result looks as good as the above model, I think this will be a roaring success for LEGO (and hopefully a chance for LEGO to green light other nice buildings that outside the "normal City" line).


Monday, September 5, 2016

REVIEW: LEGO 60080 - Spaceport

When I was a kid, one of my favorite sets was LEGO 1682: Space Shuttle.  Now that I am back into buying LEGO sets, I knew that I eventually had to track down the newest take on the classic space shuttle, LEGO 60080:  Spaceport.

Now, before I go any further in the review it must be stated that this set was originally priced at about $120 US.  That's crazy expensive for what is only a 586 piece City set.  However, I was able to nab this set for about $70 or so on discount - and so my opinion of the set is much more based on the lower price rather than the full sticker price!


The Spaceport set comes with five minifigures including a female scientist (and my favorite of the entire bunch of minifigs)!  The blue shuttle tile is a printed piece which was also a pleasant surprise.  And, of course, it wouldn't be a LEGO City set without a red coffee cup making an appearance.

Like most people, I built the set in the order of the instruction booklets - so I began with book 1 which had me construct the small transport car, the "countdown" clock, and the small radar tower.  The countdown clock is fun for kids to simulate a launch - but the highlight of the first little bit for me is the car.

The car has three seats (one for the driver plus two passengers) AND it has hooks on the back to hold extra helmets.  It's a small, simple build but it gets the job done.
Next, we begin to build the shuttle transport vehicle.  As you can see, the base of the shuttle transporter is largely Technic pieces.  Once you put the first bit together, the entire bit is actually quite sturdy feeling.
The finished transport vehicle has eight wheels plus an offset cabin for the driver.  Admittedly, the vehicle looks kind of dumb without the shuttle on it...especially all that empty space in the middle.  However, once the shuttle is in place the entire contraption looks quite nice (more on that in a moment).

Next up, the shuttle itself!
Here you can see the fourth and fifth minifigures from the set - both astronauts.  Amazingly, both astronauts will fit in the finished shuttle, albeit only barely.  A trade off for that bit of realism is that the shuttle cockpit is woefully under decorated.  In fact, you only get a single printed slope piece for the shuttle driver which I find to be disappointing (it's not even a unique print).
Surprise, one of the astronauts is a female (another great move by LEGO).
As you can see, the finished shuttle looks quite nice.  I'm not a huge fan of the giant nose piece - it feels like "cheating" when you build the shuttle but the end result is probably worth it.
The inside of the shuttle (with the nose piece off) shows how the two astronauts fit in along with the satellite and the Canadian arm which can be used to launch the satellite.  Everything fits in quite snugly but also quite easily - a good use of space for sure!
The Canadian arm is quite small - but as you can see it has decent articulation.  The satellite has a pair of stickers on the "wings" to make it look more techy - and actually the set has stickers all over the place to help it seem more realistic.  That said, I think the vast majority of the stickers do add to the overall look so I recommend using them.
Finally, the fuel tanks.  The large center tank is made up of a bunch of huge pieces - and it's all held together with a bit of Technic know-how.  The smaller white tanks aren't nearly as interesting to build but they all look quite good together.

And finally, the finished product:

As I mentioned at the outset, this is a tough set to judge.  If you can get it with a substantial discount (like I did), then I would recommend it.  It was a fun set to build (though not particularly challenging as it is a LEGO City set after all).  I do like the selection of minifigures and the shuttle looks quite nice given its relatively low piece count.

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  10
Play Value:  10
Kid Value:  2*
Adult Value:  2*
Overall:  5*

The above score is for the set at regular retail price.  For the money, you could get many more pieces if you went for a different large LEGO set - and frankly, this set doesn't feel like it's worth $100+ dollars to me.  Therefore, it gets hammered pretty hard for Kid and Adult value.  That said, the play value is very high - two astronauts, a shuttle with removable fuel tanks, a shuttle launch vehicle, a small truck to cart the astronauts to the shuttle, and a countdown clock?  I'm not sure what else could have been included to up the play value any more!

If you get the set for a steep discount, then obviously those value scores go up considerably.  However, in the interest of fairness I try to rate all the sets I review based on the original price rather than relying on getting a deal somewhere!