Monday, November 30, 2020

The Kitchen Mantle #10: Thanksgiving in the Medieval Market

For the month of November, I went with a thematic "Thanksgiving" scene using my Medieval Market sets plus a few of my old Dragon Masters castle sets from when I was a kid.  

I could be wrong, but I think this was my son's favorite kitchen mantle set-up yet (yes, even better than the Halloween set-up last month).  

The Medieval Market is one of my personal all-time favorite sets and it's definitely a set for which I hope to build some similar buildings to help expand the market!  

The highlight for my son was probably the windmill set.  I was able to grab that particular set off of eBay not all that long ago - and yes, I do own the two goats that go with the set!  

On the other half of the mantle, I set up my old Dragon Masters set - and it was the Dragon Wagon that stole the show for my son.  He loved that thing and played with it almost every single day the mantle display was up!

You may also wonder what any of this has to do with Thanksgiving...but there is a small vignette in the middle of the layout (by the windmill) with a family sitting around a table eating a roasted turkey.  I should have snapped a better photograph of that particular scene but you'll just have to trust me I guess that it's there!

Overall, this was a fun month both personally (the end of the academic semester for me) and for my son (the holidays are in full force in our household now)!  It was also super fun for me to get out some of my old LEGO sets, rebuild them, and then see the joy in my son's eyes as he discovered all there was to see in each of the classic sets.  

Next month will be a return theme - our annual LEGO Christmas village!  I think my son and I will start setting that up tomorrow as a fun father/son project.  'Tis the season, everyone!

Friday, November 20, 2020

New LEGO 2021 City Sets Leaked!

A bunch of new LEGO City sets for 2021 have been leaked - and while I won't rehash everything on my blog I did want to showcase a few of the more interesting (to me) sets and give my thoughts.  For a complete look, here's where I first saw this information.

60304:  Road Plates  

Let's begin with what I think is the biggest news coming out of LEGO City for 2021:  a new road plate system.  This isn't "new" news in that I've heard about the change for quite some time but it's my first look at what we might expect from the new road plates.  My initial impression is completely positive - though I would like to see how curved plates will look before I can form a complete opinion on the change.  

I love the fact that a new road plate set gives you not just bits of road but also some street signs, a couple of street lights (which apparently glow in the dark now), and some foliage.  There's a lot to like here from what I can tell...though it does look like every road plate is going to be a "passing road."  

60287:  Tractor 

I missed out on the old farm sets that LEGO released a number of years ago...and now those same sets command rather hefty prices on the secondary market so I'll probably never own them.  That said, it's nice to see a return to the farm, even if it's only (so far?) with a single City set.  I know for a fact that my two-year-old son is going to love this LEGO tractor so it's an easy "must buy" for me assuming that LEGO prices it reasonably.

60291:  Modern Family House  

I'm not a huge fan of the design of this house but the set was worth mentioning anyhow because it's a City set as opposed to a Creator set.  You can see that LEGO is pushing the new road plate design pretty hard as you get a bit of roadway here (and on a few of the other 2021 City sets).  My biggest complaint about this particular set is that car...what exactly is it supposed to be anyhow?!?

60292:  Town Center 

Finally, the largest of the newly leaked City sets is the Town Center.  You can see more road plates but also a nice mix of mini builds that are a bit more unusual as opposed to the boring fire/police buildings that LEGO City is known for.  I like the recycling bins near the back of the photo and I also like the blind man with the dog walking across the street.  I don't know if that's the first instance of a blind person in LEGO form but I approve of the inclusivity.  

Overall, I think the leaked images show a fun and more vibrant LEGO City.  I do wonder if the deemphasized police/fire fighter presence was a conscious social decision or if LEGO simply was trying to expand what "city" actually means.  Either way, I think it's a solid choice that gives rise to new possibilities for LEGO collectors of all ages.  The biggest deciding factor for me is going to be price, but at least the overall designs for many of the sets are inspiring enough that I'll probably try to pick them up if the price is right.  Kudos to LEGO for this batch!

Friday, November 13, 2020

The Kitchen Mantle #09: All Dressed for Halloween!

Somehow, it's the middle of November and I still haven't found time to write about October's kitchen mantle set-up that I did for my son (you can see the September set-up in an earlier post in case you missed that).  For those that don't know the story behind this particular series on the blog, my son is now a two-and-a-half year old who absolutely loves LEGO (wonder where he got that from)?  Anyhow, each month I rotate out sets on our kitchen mantle which gives him a new display to look at (and play with) for that particular month.  Last month was October so the theme was kind of predictable!

I had a rather large collection of the LEGO Scooby Doo sets that were released back in 2015.  In total, the line consisted of five different sets - and you can see four of the five sets made it into last month's mantle display.  For those that might be wondering, only the smallest set in the line "Mummy Museum Mystery" didn't make it onto the mantle (I do own that set but instead I went with the more thematic graveyard set from the more recent Hidden Side line of sets).

Each of the sets in this particular display were definitely designed for play - and I assure you, my son loved playing with all of the sets!  

I have to give an extra shoutout or special mention to the Hidden Side graveyard set - this one probably ended up being my son's favorite set of all, in particular, the haunted tree!  

Overall, this was a fun display for the month of October - and with the Headless Horseman and the Jack-O'-Lanterns around the Mystery Mansion, it was nice and thematic as well.  Oh, and did I mention that I made my son's Halloween costume and it was modeled after the classic red LEGO brick?

Yeah, Happy Halloween everyone...even if it is two weeks late!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Ocean Mini-Submarine - LEGO 60263 - REVIEW

The Ocean Mini-Submarine set is a set that is ostensible marketed to the youngest of the LEGO system crowd, those aged 4+ (as shown by the giant 4+ on the box front).  That being said, the box packaging also touts the connection to National Geographic Explorers which is something that I imagine is only of interest to older children (and/or their parents). 

The set comes with a bright yellow mini submarine, a shark, and a treasure chest in the sand.

The set contains only 41 pieces and retails for about $10.  When you open up the box, you are greeted with a single plastic bag of pieces, some loose pieces, plus an instruction book and a small ad for LEGOland.  There are no stickers in this set (which is great for a set marketed to 4-year-olds)!

As you can see from the above photograph, the bulk of the yellow submarine build is actually done via a single, large hull piece.  That said, there are still a few details that you get to build for the submarine including an opening and closing bubble hatch and (somewhat) posable arms with clips for grabbing oceanic treasures.

The set comes with a single minifigure who is wearing a baseball cap and has some nice printing on the torso.  The legs have a couple of pockets printed on them which kind of makes the diver look like he is wearing blue jeans (which seems like an odd choice to wear in a submarine but maybe I'm wrong about that).  

I'd be remiss if I didn't also show off the included shark in the set.  

Heck, the reason I bought this set in the first place was for that Hammerhead beauty!  

In addition to the submarine and shark, you also get a super simple treasure build - basically a sand plate, a single treasure chest, and the most minimal of ocean plants to "hide" the treasure chest behind.  The treasure chest holds a couple of gems but I can't help but wish that LEGO reverted back to including the chrome gold coins for treasure chests, that seems much more likely for a chest found at the bottom of the sea! 

Overall, this is a set that I can heartily recommend buying as an impulse buy if you fancy the (awesome looking) shark.  The submarine is perfectly fine for what it is (my two-year-old loved playing with it and the submarine build was strong enough to withstand his play, though truth-be-told my son is incredibly gentle with things despite being a toddler)!  The small treasure build is a nice inclusion for the set but you can't really manipulate the two submarine arms in a way to easily grab things inside the chest (claws would have been preferred over the simple black clips).  

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  9
Play Value:  8
Kid Value:  8
Adult Value:  5
Overall:  7

This is a solid set in the 4+ range.  The build isn't inspiring to adult collectors but the set is fun for kids to play with (I've tested that aspect)!  The shark is the real highlight and I believe that this is the cheapest set that you can buy in order to acquire an official LEGO hammerhead shark.  For $10, this one's an easy one to recommend without hesitation if you are a fan of the nautical theme and an easy one to skip if you don't care about the shark!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

The Kitchen Mantle #08: Summertime Vibes at the Beach!

For the past several weeks, our kitchen mantle has celebrated summer with our latest LEGO set-up:  a full beach scene complete with a boardwalk, beach, lighthouse, and a couple of places to get food and/or beverages.  

Personally, I think this was one of my favorite set-ups of the year but if I'm being honest my two-year-old son didn't dig it quite as much as he did the previous set-up which involved plenty of space shuttles.

For the summertime beach scene, I used a bunch of spare pieces (plus a couple of smaller builds from other sets) and combined those with a trio of rather wonderful Hidden Side sets.  I think LEGO had a great product line going with the Hidden Side brand but I fear the packaging turned off too many people (to me at least, it was never clear at a glance what the heck each set actually was all about based on the box art).  That's neither here nor there for today's post other than it allowed me to get the Hidden Side Lighthouse, Shrimp Shack, and Shrimp Boat all at a nice discount.

Speaking of the Lighthouse, let's start there.  I took the Hidden side set and completely reworked the rock portion to fit better with my mantle space.  I also added in a white picket fence and a small garden for the lighthouse keeper (I also eliminated most of the ghost elements that are included in all Hidden Side sets).  Finally, at my son's request, I added a light brick to the lighthouse so that he could actually turn it on and off.

You can probably see that I also added in a nicer dock for the lighthouse.  The dock is also nice for the couple of boats that I put in the scene (the already mentioned Shrimp Boat plus the speedboat shown in the above photos).

For me though, the real highlight of this particular scene was my beach set-up.

I knew I wanted to try and create a small boardwalk of sorts that would sit up above a beach area.  I'm limited on the kitchen mantle to a depth of about a single 32x32 base plate so it was a bit of a tight squeeze to fit everything that I wanted in to a pair of side-by-side base plates.

The beach portion of the scene features a sand castle, a lifeguard, a few lounging minifigures, plus both a hot dog vendor and an ice cream vendor.  Add that to the coffee shop on the boardwalk and the Seafood Diner and no minifig should go hungry!  

I had a lot of fun putting this particular scene together, it's definitely the one where I did the most custom work for a single scene.  I ended up taking the summer scene down last night and put up a more appropriate scene for the month of October!  My son woke up this morning excited to see what I had set up for him and when he saw it he was super excited (always a fun moment for me as the dad)!  I'll be sure to show off that set-up at a later date...especially since I did an online LEGO shop order earlier today in order to get a few more little bits of things to add to our newest layout.  See, fun for me and for my son!

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Finishing Off a LEGO Collectible Minifigure Series (finally!)

It's been a long, long time coming but I finally acquired the last remaining missing minifigure from my Series 13 set!

That's the Egyptian Warrior and she's the last remaining holdout that was keeping from being able to knock Series 13 off of my want list.

The Egyptian Warrior comes with a nifty pearl gold curved sword along with a shield with a design invoking both the sun and the pyramids of Egypt.  She also comes with a toga wrap of sorts for an outfit - complete with printing on the back (no alternate face however).

For me, it's a tie between the shield and the headpiece for my favorite part of this particular figure.  

Overall, I must say that Series 13 was quite strong - I mean, just look at this checklist:

There's hardly a dud figure on there!  In fact, there isn't a single figure that I actively dislike...and only one or two that I wouldn't mind have more than a single copy of for my personal collection!

With Series 13 officially complete, I've now managed to collect 11 different series of collectible minifigures (Series 5, 7, 8, 13, 15 - 19, as well as Disney Series 1, and LEGO Batman Series 1).  As for the other sets I'm still working on?  Well, my full want list is here if you have any figs for trade (or sale).  Let me know!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Hitting Up eBay for Some New (to Me) Collectible Minifigures

 Earlier this month, I decided to take a quick gander at eBay in the hopes of finding one (or more) Collectible LEGO Minifigures that I needed for some of the many, many sets that I'm trying to complete.  One of my standard searches over the past several weeks has been to look for the Series 6 Roman Soldier.  For whatever reason, that particular minifig goes for crazy expensive prices compared to most in the set...and of course, it's one of two minifigs from Series 6 that I still need (the other being the Clockwork Robot).

As luck would have it though, I did find a seller with the Roman Soldier listed and while it wasn't cheap it was about as good of a price as I had seen lately so I pounced.

And now, I'm the proud owner of the Roman Soldier!  I have to admit, this is definitely a cool little minifig and I'm super happy to be able to add it to my collection.  It's even more special to me since I have a particular affinity for Italy and Greece (and Rome in particular in Italy) thanks to my History of Math travel class that I teach!

I think the Roman Soldier ended up going for a bit less than sometimes simply because the seller listed it with a second figure - the Series 6 Highland Battler.  

I already owned the Highland Battler so I've put it up for trade on my Swapfig page, though that poor website doesn't seem to have nearly the traffic that it used to which is a shame!  I love their checklist feature and how easy they make it for me to keep track of what I own, need, and have available for trading purposes!

Finally, like any good eBayer, I checked out the seller's other auctions since he promised combined shipping.  As luck would have it, he did have one more minfigure that I needed - this time from Series 4.

That's the Muskateer and by acquiring him I'm now only missing one more from Series 4 as well (the Viking).  

Speaking of missing minifigs, if you want to take a look at the entire list of what I'm still hunting for, you can find my want list here.  Obviously, I'm happy to chip away slowly at the list...after all, half of the fun is the hunt - that's why I don't buy complete series to begin with!  I do wish there was a more active place to trade minifigures though, that'd help me out quite a bit since I do have a number of extras from older series that I'd like to try and flip into older minfigs that I still need.  

For now though, I'll be content with the two new additions (though I have a third new minifigure that should be on its way to me by now - I'll be sure to show that one off as well once it arrives).