Monday, June 26, 2017

LEGO 30607: Disco Batman & Tears of Batman - REVIEW

Earlier this year, I greatly enjoyed The LEGO Batman movie that came out in theaters.  Of course, LEGO wouldn't let a great marketing idea slip by them...and so they released a whole bunch of sets (and a full collectible minifigure line) specifically for the movie.  In addition to all the sets and figures, LEGO also released a smattering of polybags, one of which I got (free with purchase) from the LEGO Store in Rochester, NY a number of months ago.

The LEGO 30607:  Disco Batman, Tears of Batman set has almost as twice as many letters in its title as it has pieces within the bag!

Upon opening the bag, you are greeted with the expected pieces along with a pair of cardboard "boxes."

Each cardboard box houses one of the capes for the set.

The green cape isn't anything overly special but the gold cape is very nice:  it's shiny gold on one side and solid black on the other.

In the end, the polybag is really nothing more than two more Batman minifigures.
The only extra piece is an extra pearl gold skate.

However, both designs were 100% new for my collection (and thus appreciated)!  I really like Batman's torso in the Disco Batman figure while the Tears of Batman has some interesting pants (though I will say that the pants don't seem to "go" with the shirt at all for that figure).

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

Overall, you can't really knock a "free" set.  However, attempting to judge this set as if I had paid a "normal" polybag price for it made the ratings make more sense in my head.  For both kids and play value, I think having Batman paired with one of the hundreds of villains from the movie would have made more sense (I'd get rid of "Tears of Batman" and replace that with someone like Condiment Man or something).  However, this set is probably more geared to adult collectors who simply want every version of Batman that they can get their hands on.  As far as I know, these two versions of the caped crusader are both unique to this polybag...and that alone makes the adult value skyrocket.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Look Back: 1992 LEGO Magazine (Featuring Minifigures, Road Signs, and More)

Today it is time to say goodbye to our 1992 LEGO Magazine.

After perusing Castle, Pirates, Space, Town, Trains, Boats, Model Team, and Technic all in previous posts, we are left with a few assorted sets (with actual prices listed) as we close out the magazine.

Page 22 of the magazine has a half page ad for the LEGO Builders Club.

Joining the club you'd get a whole 4 issues of their magazine plus a small set worth at least $2.59.  All for the low cost of $7.95 for one year or $14.00 for two years.  Even today, that doesn't sound like a very good deal to me.

The other half of that page contains some assorted building accessories.  You can get an old school brick separator or a 9V motor.  I actually owned that red storage case at one point in time (and my brother and I each shared the Idea Book).  In fact, not all that long ago I bought myself a new copy of the Idea Book since I have no idea whatever happened to the book that my brother and I owned as a kid (and I wanted a copy for the nostalgia factor if nothing else).

The next page of the magazine is where you can start to see how LEGO's prices have changed since 1993.

Quite frankly, all things considered LEGO has always been expensive!  For my money, the Lighting Bricks is probably the best deal on that page, though it does require another $11 for the 9V battery box.  As a kid, I owned the Police 4x4 set...and looking back, I wish I would have bought the Castle Elements set.  Finally, the page also features an itty bitty look at LEGO's efforts to acquire more female builders.  The Poolside Paradise set is actually kind of neat looking but the other two sets leave quite a bit to be desired.

Finally, we reach the backside of the magazine which has an order form and a few more sets available for mail order purchase.

I am pleased to say that I owned the Castle Mini Figures set (and my brother had the Space Mini Figures set).  Otherwise, though, this is a page full of things that we both wished we owned back in the day.  Heck, I'd still love to get some LEGO street signs...and I can never have too many LEGO trees!

This was a fun trip down memory lane for myself...and, as it turned out, it inspired me to see if I could track down a couple of old sets from sites like eBay (one of which I did buy and will show off soon)!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Look Back: 1992 LEGO Magazine (Featuring Model Team and Technic)

I'm back to continue my look through the 1992 LEGO Magazine.  It's been a fun romp through history...and the next couple of pages promise to bring back even more memories!

We begin with the one page worth of Model Team sets.  As I recall, the Model Team line was aimed at slightly older kids (and probably adult collectors, though I don't think there were all that many adult fans of LEGO back then).  Anyhow, in 1992 LEGO had four Model Team sets that they were pushing including the awesome (but stupidly named) "Whirl N' Wheel Super Truck" set which I owned.

Not only did I own the set, I still have the set built (and on display) today!

It is, in fact, a super truck and perhaps I shouldn't have said the name of the set was stupid.  Ok, it is stupid, but it's still a cool set!

The next three pages all detail the LEGO Technic sets of the day - Technic being a line that LEGO is still producing to this day.

Out of the sets shown on the first page, I only owned the Universal Building Set #8024 (the one with red, not yellow, bricks).  I also owned an older version of a motor which you could use with the red Universal Building Set (I believe the motor shown on the ad was a new version...something I never owned).

Moving on to page 20 of the magazine, we get even more Technic.

Once again, I am pleased to report that I owned a set off of the page - in this case, the Night Chopper set.  As a kid, I remember thinking that the Shock Cycle looked cool (springs!) but I also recall thinking that the little dude in the Rally Shock n' Roll Racer car looked terrible.  It's funny what one can remember from so many years ago!

And finally, we get to the last of the Technic - a full page devoted to the Whirlwind Rescue set.

Obviously this set was LEGO's "big one" for the Technic line at the time.  The helicopter was equipped with flex system cable connectors which were apparently a big deal.  I don't buy or build Technic stuff anymore so I have no idea if flex system cables are still a thing.  Still, it is a kind of need (though very chunky) looking helicopter.

One thing that has struck me as I've looked through the magazine is that there hasn't been any mention of prices anywhere.  That will change on the last couple of pages (as you'll see when I post the conclusion of the magazine).

Thanks for the trip down memory lane, see you again soon!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A Look Back: 1992 LEGO Magazine (Featuring Trains and Boats!)

Last time, I showed off the LEGO Town sets from the 1992 magazine.

Today, we take a look at a pair of themes that I always considered sub-themes of Town, but it appears LEGO did not:  Boats and Trains.

The first page features the three boats in the theme.  I never owned any of these but my brother used to have the Cabin Cruiser set (I remember thinking the fishing pole was particularly cool in that set).  Looking at the sets now, I have to admit that the Boats sub-theme didn't age well.  I think LEGO produces much, much better looking boats today (though the Fire Rescue boat is charming in its own sort of way).

Moving on to the other theme:  Trains!

Trains seem to be one of LEGO's most popular themes - and while the way trains have been motorized has changed over the years, the excitement of running your own train never fades.  Back in 1992, LEGO released a new collection of 9V trains (still my favorite way to power a train, for what it is worth).  You can see that you could purchase extra track if you wanted to expand your layout...or add to it with a sweet yellow train station (another set I never owned).

Back in '92, there were exactly two trains to choose from:  a freight train and a passenger train.  My brother and I received the Load N' Haul Railroad set as a shared Christmas present one year...and I think that present will probably go down as our all-time favorite present ever!  Today, my brother owns most of the train (I kept the one blue car but otherwise he was the set).  Hopefully some day he'll put together his own LEGO train table and play with that set with his daughter!

As for me, I now own three of my own train sets (four if you count the Christmas train).  Unfortunately, none of the three sets I own are 9V powered - but I did pick up an extra 9V motor off of eBay a couple of years ago (along with some metal track) so maybe I can convert one of my trains to run on 9V!

At this point, we are nearing the end of the 1992 LEGO Magazine catalog.  There's still a few other themes to go - one of which includes the biggest set (in terms of both size and piece count) that I ever received as a kid.  Stay tuned for that!

Friday, May 12, 2017

A Look Back: 1992 LEGO Magazine (Featuring Town!)

Back in 1992, LEGO didn't have the CITY theme that we know today.  Instead, LEGO had the Town theme (with one of the big differences between the two themes being the scale).  Most CITY vehicles are at least six studs wide while most Town vehicles were only four studs wide.  Even so, with a little modification you can make the old Town sets work fine within today's modern CITY layout.

Of course, back in 1992 we didn't know about LEGO's future plans.  Instead, all we had to go off of was their super sweet magazine showing off the sets that were currently available for sale.

Like the first few pages of the magazine, LEGO introduces the theme with a short little blurb (in this case, basically laying out the various subthemes for the year including Nautica, RSQ911, Flight, and Race).

As a kid, I remember looking longingly at the Launch & Load Seaport.  I always loved boats and I though that set looked awesome.  I also was interested in the Pier Police set a lot since I owned the Coastal Cutter (which was another police boat).  It's strange to think that the only "bad guys" set here is the Dark Shark - a far cry from today's CITY line-up which features tons of cops and robbers!

On the next page, we get some of the "regular" town sets including the Suf 'N Sail Camper set which my brother owned when we were kids.  When I flipped to this page as I was preparing this post, it was amazing that I still remember looking at that image of the Octan trucker heading up the pine-tree-lined hill.  A cool image for sure - and probably a big reason why I love LEGO trees so much today!

The next page of the magazine features Flight and RSQ 911.

On the flight side, the biggest, baddest set there is the Airport Shuttle.  I imagine every LEGO fan that's ever been alive has wanted that set at some point in their lifetime.  I know I sure did!  I also wanted the International Airport set - so many base plates in that one!   The only set on this page that I actually did own (and still own to this day) is the Space Shuttle set.  That set was always a favorite of mine - one of the true treasures of my childhood (and the set design looks just as good today as it did 25 years ago if you ask me).  My brother owned both the little Rescue Runabout (I think?) and the Flame Chaser helicopter.  I am also fairly certain that we both thought the color scheme of the Trauma Team set was hideous (it's one of the few sets in the magazine that I distinctly remember not wanting).

Finally, we end with the Race subtheme.

I didn't own any of these sets (though I did almost buy the Checkered Flag 500 set off of eBay a few months ago...kind of sorry I didn't now that I see the images again)!  My brother had both the Mag Racer and the Mud Runner - but if I had my choice of the smaller vehicles I would have gone with the overly patriotic Screaming Patriot set for sure!

That's it for the Town subtheme, though the next page of the magazine features sets that I consider going with Town (Boats and Trains to be precise).  If you enjoyed this look back, I encourage you to also check out the Castle section of the magazine and the Space/Pirates section.

Friday, May 5, 2017

REVIEW: LEGO Collectible Minifigures Series 17 (Complete Checklist)

LEGO officially released Series 17 of their popular Collectible Minifigure line on May 1, 2017.  Like most series prior, Series 17 features 16 different minifigures (of varying degrees of difficulty to find) in the checklist.  However, this time around LEGO chose to make one of its figures a mystery figure (for reasons that I still don't understand).  We'll get to the mystery figure soon, but for now, here's a look at the packaging for Series 17.

As you can see, it's a bright blue - a color that makes the minifigures seem to "pop" when sitting on a store shelf (which is a good thing)!

Like with every other series, each blind bag features a single minifigure and a leaflet showing off all the figures in the series (again, with the exception of the "mystery figure" who is shrouded in black on the leaflet).

Now that the series is officially released, it's safe to report that the mystery figure is the "Highwayman."

Here are the rarities for the various figures (numbers are based on a case of packs - i.e. 60 packs and from what I could gather online.  I don't have the budget to buy a full box for myself!).

Rare:  (3 per box):  
Pro Surfer
Gourmet Chef
Butterfly Girl
Rocket Boy
Dance Instructor
Elf Maiden

Uncommon (4 per box):
Hot Dog Vendor
Roman Gladiator
Battle Dwarf
Retro Space Hero

Common (5 per box):
Circus Strongman
Corn Cob Man

It's interesting to note that the mystery figure is actually one of the most common figures in the set.  You'll also notice that there are a lot more "rare" figures than there are common figures - that will make collecting the full set all that much more challenging!

Let's take a look at each figure in more detail - going in the order that the figures are listed on the leaflet.

Note:  I will add in more images as I acquire the various minifigures*!

*I actually bought 12 packs at the store today but six of them ended up being duplicates...Not great, but that's ok.  If I manage to get the remaining figures soon I'll update this post accordingly.  Until then, enjoy my review as it is!

Note #2:  After three trips to the store, I located the entire Series 17 set - all figures now have a corresponding image!  For what it is worth, the Battle Dwarf was the final figure that I had to locate.

1.  Pro Surfer (Rare)

Series 17 starts off a bit slow with a surfer - a figure idea that we've seen in previous collectible minifigure series.  I do like the surfer's "shark" board quite a bit - but I don't get the feeling that another surfer was necessary.  In fact, given that LEGO includes surfers in its regular CITY offerings, this figure seems like it's taking up valuable space in the Series while offering little to no value.  At least the figure is one of the rare ones which should limit the number of extra surfboards that you'll end up with if you buy blind packs *ahem* blindly.

2.  Circus Strongman  (Common)

The Circus Strongman looks like a combination of a weightlifter and Fred Flintstone.  It's interesting to see LEGO continue to use the circus theme in its collectible minifigure line - are there even circuses around anymore that people can go watch?  Unfortunately for collectors, the Strongman is a common figure with no real useful accessories.

3.  Gourmet Chef  (Rare)

While I may not be enamored with the first two figures in the series, the Gourmet Chef is an instant winner for me.  I love her hat/hair piece and her strawberry pie - but the real prize for me is her whisk accessory (and her chef's torso).  The Gourmet Chef is one figure from Series 17 that I won't be disappointed by if I end up with multiple copies - she'll fit right into my custom city in any number of possible locations.

4.  Corn Cob Man  (Common)

LEGO has recognized that people love costumed minifigures - and so almost without fail every Collectible Series has at least one figure in costume.  For Series 17, the Corn Cob Man gets the costume treatment - and what a treat he is!  With a great corn cob costume (and bushy mustache), he certainly looks the part of a midwestern farmer trying to drum up business for his roadside stand.  I don't know that I need a lot of copies of this figure, but I'm still glad he's considered a common since I am guessing he'll prove to be one of the most popular figures from the series.

5.  Veterinarian  (Rare)

As a dog person, I love the Veterinarian minifigure a lot.  The scrubs printing is top notch, and while I sort of wish the name tag didn't have a paw print on it (so that the figure could double as a doctor or nurse in a hospital setting), I still think the figure is great.  The included rabbit is a nice touch as well.
6.  Hot Dog Vendor  (Uncommon)

The Hot Dog Vendor is the perfect figure for people who have created custom sports stadiums.  After all, you can almost smell the popcorn in the air whenever you look at a vendor like this.  I'm also excited to see what people come up with to do with that tray piece - it's interesting enough that I'm guessing it'll be used in all sorts of unique ways in custom builds.  Finally, I should note that I love the drink accessory - it looks perfect (and I could use about 30 more of those in different colors)!

7.  Butterfly Girl  (Rare)

I have to admit, I don't completely understand the point of the Butterfly Girl.  With wings and "sparkles" all over her, I guess she's supposed to be a kid dressed for Halloween (or maybe a ballet recital)?  I have no idea...

8.  Roman Gladiator  (Uncommon)

I normally like the Roman themed figures a lot - but I have to be honest, this one doesn't interest me much.  I think it's because he's extremely plain with only a trident as an accessory.  This isn't the finest effort from LEGO.

9.  Connoisseur  (Uncommon)

Most collectors probably have enough bread pieces by now - but I for one can't ever turn down additional food items.  I also like the small french bulldog (?) that's included - something that will work with the veterinarian figure as well.  On the other hand, the Connoisseur himself isn't all that interesting - and unless you are clamoring for his accessories I don't think this figure will prove to be popular either.

10.  Battle Dwarf  (Uncommon)

The Battle Dwarf is certainly armed to the teeth with both a mini ax and a battle hammer.  His red mohawk completes his "no nonsense" look - and while the Dwarf isn't for me I do see the possible appeal in a character like this (I would have loved him when I was a kid for example)!  It should be noted that there is printing on his hammer which is a nice touch as well.

11.  Retro Space Hero  (Uncommon)

I always liked the classic Space sets from my childhood, but the Retro Space Hero predates even those sets in his appearance.  For my money, while he is a nice representative of cheesy space movies, I would have preferred something that would have fit in with the old Space Police / MTron / Blacktron sets of yore!

12.  Yuppie  (Uncommon)

The Yuppie has a phone accessory that's hilariously large (and true to the era I guess).  He looks a little bit like Elvis to me too for some reason...otherwise, there isn't much to say here.  He's a perfectly adequate figure.

13.  Rocket Boy  (Rare)

The third costumed character in the series (if you count both the Corn Cob Guy and the Butterfly Girl).  I actually like the Rocket Boy the best of the three - mostly because of his "classic space" hand drawn flag.  The rocket piece itself is also quite nice - I'm sure it'll show up again in custom Jetson's builds or something.

14.  Dance Instructor  (Rare)

The Dance Instructor got the "honor" of being the first figure that I opened up from Series 17.  I went ahead and simply grabbed a big handful of packs from my local big box store - I didn't do any pack feeling or searching.  Once I got my haul home, I grabbed a single pack to open up (again, without any feeling or searching) and I ended up with the Dance Instructor.

As for the figure itself, other than being the first that I got see in hand from the series, it's fairly unremarkable.  The biggest (literally) part of her is her hair piece.  In fact, the hair is definitely the highlight of this particular figure...although I admit it does scream "80s fitness" to me (that's not necessarily anything that I actually want screamed however)!  Her only accessory is a printed transparent blue 1x1 round brick that simply says H20 (i.e. water) on it.  I guess that print could be useful for a grocery store creation or something but I don't think custom builders were begging for a "water" bottle print.

15.  Elf Maiden  (Rare) 

While I don't care for the sloped dress pieces (I much prefer my minifigures to all have the standard leg pieces), I have to admit that the Elf Maiden is quite nice.  She would have found an instant home back in the day when I would spend hours playing with my Castle sets - and with a new shield design she would have been even more valuable to me then!

16. Highwayman  (Common)

And finally, we reach the end of the series with the last figure - the previously mysterious Highwayman.  While I have nothing against the figure, I simply don't understand what LEGO was trying to do by surrounding the figure with a shroud of mystery.  It's not like the figure is that special...and since he's common there isn't even the rare chase like there was for the Mr. Gold figure.  I don't get it...  I will say that I do like the figure's hat a lot - it's from the old classic Pirate set complete with the small hole for the feather plume).

And with that, we've completed our look at Series 17.

I have to admit, I don't think that Series 17 is nearly as strong as some of the previous series.  There are very few "must have" figures for me in this series, in fact, I think my list only consists of the:
Chef, Vet, Corn Cob Guy, Hot Dog Guy, Rocket Boy, and Elf Maiden.  Six out of sixteen isn't a good ratio for "must haves."  On the flip side, I generally don't care for the Surfer, Strongman, Butterfly Girl, Gladiator, Yuppie, or Fitness Instructor.  That's six figures that I find generally uninspiring (again, not a good ratio).

To be fair, not every series of Collectible Minifigures can top the previous - and while this series has more than its fair share of clunkers, there are still a number of nice figures available.  For me, I'd like to see LEGO return to the "odd CITY jobs" for it's regular minifigures (i.e more characters like judges and plumbers and less surfers please).

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Look Back: 1992 LEGO Magazine (Featuring Pirates and Space!)

A few days ago, I began going through this gem that I discovered from 1992.

That's the LEGO magazine that came (I think?) in large sets.  I deeply treasured that magazine back in the day - and as luck would have it, I kept it all these years.  I've already talked about my favorite theme (Castle) in the previous blog entry but today we get to take a look at my second favorite theme (from when I was a kid).

First though, we begin with my brother's favorite theme:  Pirates!

The Pirates theme has been popular for LEGO - so popular, in fact, that they seem to bring some sort of Pirates theme back every three or four years.  I believe there is a new Pirates of the Caribbean movie coming out soon(ish) so I imagine we'll see another round of Pirate movie sets soon(ish) as well!

However, despite the popularity of movie tie-in sets, I don't think anything Pirate line can beat the classic Pirates of the early 90s.  I must say that I love how LEGO included a bit of a "bio" on each of the factions - they did that for the Castle factions and now here for the two Pirate factions.  As a kid, I didn't own a lot of Pirate sets - but my brother did (including Raft Raiders and Buried Treasure).  I think he might have also owned Smuggler's Shanty but I could be wrong about that.  I also know he owned a big Pirate ship, though I don't recall if it was the one shown here.  As for myself, a couple of years ago I found Forbidden Island for a (relative) steal on eBay and so I bought it...that was the one set that always caught my eye as a kid.

On the next page, we get sets from the Imperial Guards.

Once again, my brother gets the glory here - I know for sure he had both the Broadside's Brig set and the Lagoon Lock-Up set.  He also had the small Bounty Boat.  As for me, I always thought Sabre Island looked cool (and it's one that I've had my eye on a few different times on eBay, but I've never pulled the trigger).  I'd also like to track down the Imperial Trading Post some day - a great looking set!

While I didn't own a lot of Pirate stuff, I did have a lot from the next theme:  Space.

As with the previous two themes, LEGO took time to explain the various factions in this theme as well.  I always loved the MTron (and later Ice Planet).

Looking at the sets on the next page, I only owned the Vector Detector (in fact, that is my lone MTron set that I own to this day).  That said, I did almost win the Multi Core Magnetizer on eBay a few weeks maybe someday I'll add to my MTron collection.  As for the Space Police, as a kid I only owned one little Space Police car (not shown here) but as an adult I have since bought Rebel Hunter (see my review here).  That's a pretty cool set - in fact, it's much nicer than it looks in the image on the page.

Finally, we turn the page to the last of the Space stuff:  Blacktron.

The Blacktron were definitely the "bad guys" of Space.  I remember getting the Allied Avenger as a kid (and loving it).  I think my brother had the Sub Orbital Guardian...neither of us had any of the big Space sets from this time unfortunately (the Alpha Centauri Outpost looks pretty cool).  Notice in the bottom corner of the page that there is a Space Mini Figures set.  I know my brother owned that as well.  I wish that LEGO did more things like that these days - for kids on a budget, that was a great way to add to our collection of figures without having to spend a lot of cash.

Finally, the Space section ends with the rest of the huge Blacktron diorama and then an advertisement for the Value Pack which includes a Blacktron vehicle, a small castle set, a pirate set, and an Octan race car.  As a kid, I always wanted that value set...but it never happened (in fact, I don't ever recall seeing it in a store).

That ends the Pirates and Space portion of the magazine, but there are still plenty of cool things remaining (including Town for which both my brother and I owned a few sets).  I'll have more from this magazine later on, so stay tuned!

PS:  If you happen upon this blog entry and you have some old LEGO that you no longer want.  Let me know, maybe we can work out some sort of deal!