Monday, January 25, 2016

My Custom LEGO Hospital (Version 2.0): The Finished Version!

I haven't had a lot of time to work on my custom LEGO city, but I did have a chance to finish off my first custom building - a hospital for my growing city!

From the outside, you can see a driveway for the ambulance, along with a covered walkway and some flower beds.  There's a bench for people to sit at and a trash can for throwing out your garbage before entering the hospital itself.  You may notice that the helicopter is the same as from the actual hospital set (which I reviewed here) and the ambulance is from the City Starter set - I only had time to build a custom building!

Next, a slightly skewed view so that you can see the elevator function (it really does work).  I used the general idea from the LEGO Modular line but it's not quite the same build.  I'm also happy with the way the roof of the walkway looks, the tiered approach seems to fit in with the way a lot of hospitals look!

Finally, here's the view from the top of the building (with the vehicles removed).  You'll notice that I built a raised helipad.  I didn't have a lot of other good ideas to make the top look more used, just a small HVAC unit and some radar dishes but I think it turned out alright.

The entire model can be taken apart just like LEGO's own modular line.  For the first floor, you can see the receptionist along with a waiting area.  There's also a full emergency room, complete with a swinging brick-built door.

Here's another, closer view of the emergency room.  You can probably make out the x-rays on the wall - that's from the doctor minifigure from LEGO's Collectible minifigure line.

Moving on to the second floor, you can see a patient recovery room (complete with two beds and two chairs for visitors).  The current patient must be loved because someone brought him a bouquet of flowers to wish him a speedy recovery!  The rest of the upstairs is used for a fairly large cafeteria.  After all, what hospital doesn't have a place to buy disgusting, overpriced food?!

I had a lot of fun designing my first custom building - it took a MASSIVE bricklink order but I think the end result was worth it.  If you have any feedback, ideas, or other suggestions feel free to let me know (but don't be too mean about it, my feelings are fragile ;)  )!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Bricklink Haul: 948 pieces for my Custom LEGO City!

Although my work is back in full session, I've still managed to carve out a few minutes here and there to work on some of my custom LEGO buildings.  Today I have quick video showing off a bunch of bricks that I recently ordered from Bricklink - it's my first official "brick haul" for my new custom LEGO city!

I actually received this mail day back in early January but only now am I getting it posted to the blog - it's nice to have a bit of material ready to go for the blog!

Monday, January 11, 2016

My Custom LEGO Hospital (Version 1.0)! Full Video View!

That's right, I took apart my Helicopter Rescue set and used those pieces (plus many, many more) to build my first custom building - a proper Hospital!

My Hospital sits on a standard, large 32 x 32 base plate and features an emergency room, a patient care room, a bathroom, a working elevator, a receptionist, a waiting area, and, of course, a cafeteria.  There is a covered walkway for minifigures to make their way to the hospital and a brick built road for the six-stud wide ambulance.  The hospital is a better size to accommodate the helicopter that came with the Helicopter Rescue set and for now I've simply placed that vehicle on its new landing pad on my hospital.

If you'd like to see more, check out my YouTube video!

Monday, January 4, 2016

LEGO 4429: Helicopter Recue - REVIEW

For the most part, I find myself satisfied with just about every LEGO set that I build.  In fact, I'm not sure if I have ever given a set that I've bought for myself less than a 6 out of 10 for an overall score...usually you know what you are getting when you look at the box (and so a bad decision can only be blamed on the purchaser).

However, that all changed when I bought LEGO 4429:  Helicopter Rescue.  At the time that I bought this set (probably about a year to year-and-a-half ago), I was planning on someday creating my own LEGO City layout and figured a hospital would be a good fit.  The set was actually on sale when I bought it ($10 off if memory serves) so I went for it.  The set then sat in its box for over a year before I finally built it a couple of months ago.

I figured I should write my review before I tear the set apart, so here goes.

To begin, you get four minifigures in the set (a doctor, a nurse, a pilot, and a patient).  The patient isn't anything special but the other three figures are all quite nice.  So far so good.  The set also comes with a pair of vehicles, the helicopter (for which the set gets its name) and an ambulance.  In total, the set contains 425 pieces.

As you can see from the photo, the ambulance is much, much smaller than the helicopter.  In fact, the ambulance is built as a four stud wide build which is pretty unusual for modern LEGO City sets.

While the ambulance is definitely small, it can still (amazingly) hold both a driver and a stretcher holding an injured minifgure.  There isn't any room for an attendant to join the injured minifig but for such a small vehicle that can be overlooked.

The ambulance may seem a bit too small...but that complaint is dwarfed by the much-too-large helicopter that is included.

Much like the ambulance, the helicopter can actually hold both a driver (pilot) and an injured minifigure on a stretcher.  And yes, you get a pair of stretchers with this set which is nice (though there are more stretchers than there are "city folk" to rescue)!

The helicopter may look alright from the above photo but when you see it on the actual hospital structure you can see why I say it is too massive.

If you can ignore the helicopter, the rest of the hospital is fine (though slightly underwhelming).  The hospital has two floors with the bottom floor holding a reception area plus the garage for the ambulance.

I like the inclusion of the sliding garage doors (you can never have too many of those) but I was saddened by the fact that the side of the garage is completely open.  In fact, there's nothing at all inside the garage (besides the ambulance if you park it there).  It should be noted that other ambulances (such as from set 60023) won't fit inside the garage.

The second floor of the hospital contains a room with a pair of beds for patients.  You get a small infusion pole build and a control panel but otherwise there isn't much there.  The patient is holding a banana which presumably is what caused him to slip and hurt himself.  It's a cute inclusion by LEGO which I applaud.  You can also make out the helicopter landing pad on the roof above the garage.

The top of the building features a couple of an antennae (plus the landing pad) which provides just enough visual interest to keep things fresh.  Outside the hospital you get a single bush plus a sign and a bench, all of which helps to add to the overall appearance of the set.

Overall, I like the general look of the hospital quite a bit but I cannot get past the oversized helicpoter and undersized ambulance.  For me, the set as a whole seems terribly out of proportion to other City sets.  I also wish the hospital had a bit more on the inside, maybe an operating room or at least a better room for the patients.

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  8
Play Value:  9
Kid Value:  9
Adult Value:  4
Overall:  6

Alright, so the set didn't dip below an overall rating of 6 (mostly because there is quite a bit to do with the set from a play value).  I also like the fact that LEGO created a hospital, there have been surprisingly few such buildings created by LEGO over the years!  That said, for adult collectors this set is simply begging to be taken apart and "improved."  In fact, that's precisely what I hope to do in the near future - I want my custom city to have a proper hospital so this set will provide me with a good start...but it's not good enough on its own!


I don't usually do this but since Hospitals are quite rare (Brickset shows only three hospital sets released in the past twenty plus years) we can quickly compare the hospitals.

First up, LEGO 6380:  Emergency Treatment Center.
Image from Brickset

This set is an old set done in the old LEGO town style (4 stud wide vehicles) and using a road base plate.  The set contained 5 minifigs and 308 pieces but only one vehicle (the ambulance).

The third and final hospital (counting the one I reviewed in this post) is LEGO 7892:  Hospital.

This set contains slightly more pieces than the other hospital (382 pieces) but only 4 minifigures.  It also has fewer pieces that the Helicopter Rescue set putting this set smack dab in the middle in terms of piece count.  This hospital is also a closer match to the one that I reviewed in today's post in that you get a building, a helicopter, and a rescue vehicle.  However, while it may be close in contents to the Helicopter Rescue set, I find the Hospital set to be one of the ugliest sets that I've seen in quite some time!  The raised base plate doesn't help the set at all...and both rescue vehicles are disappointing.

If I were going to buy a single hospital set, I think the choice is very clear - you pretty much have to buy the Helicopter Rescue set.  The set has a much better selection of vehicles...and the hospital actually looks like a proper (albeit small) medical center.  For my money, the Hospital with the raised base plate is the worst of the three which means the older Emergency Treatment Center finishes in the middle of the hospital ratings.

In a nutshell:
First choice:  LEGO 4429:  Helicopter Recue
Second choice:  LEGO 6380:  Emergency Treatment Center
Third choice:  LEGO 7892:  Hospital

Despite all that, I still think the actual best choice is to buy the Helicoptor Rescue set and then make your own modified hospital building (which is precisely what I plan to do)!  When/if I ever finish my custom hospital, I'll be sure to show it off on the blog!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

LEGO Collectible Minifigures: Series 14 - A Two Pack Christmas Surprise Rip!

Right before Christmas, I received a gift in the mail from Duff, one of my baseball card blog friends.

 Included with the Christmas card was a pair of unopened LEGO Series 14 Collectible Minifigures.

Now, this was an exciting gift for me because I have yet to open any of the Series 14 figures.  In fact, before I show off which figures I got, let's take a look at the entire checklist for Series 14.

Looking at the checklist, there are a few figures that I'd definitely like to track down including the guy dressed up as a carnivorous plant, the gargoyle, and the two ghostly figures.  I'd also like the trick-or-treater and the big foot figure.

So how did I do with my two packs?  Let's find out!

Pack #1:

Woo!  The first pack that I opened contained the Gargoyle.  In a series full of monsters, the Gargoyle is one of the few figures that could potentially find itself used in a custom City set-up (perhaps as a decoration on some gothic-themed building).  I particularly like the wing piece on this figure, very cool!  I actually wouldn't mind getting at least one more Gargoyle figure...because if I ever were to build a custom building there's a very good chance I'll want at least a pair of Gargoyles to flank the entrance!

Pack #2:

Sweet!  The second pack contained Big Square Foot.  LEGO had fun with this figure naming him Square Foot and giving him a camera to capture his movements (or is the Square Foot finally about to capture rare footage of the yellow minifigure)?!  Either way, it's a fun addition and he'll pair nicely with my Yeti figure from a previous minifigure series.

I'm really pumped that both packs provided me with a figure that I really wanted.  Heck, since I didn't have any figures I'd have been happy with any of them...but to get two of the six most wanted figures from the set?  That's pretty darn cool - and a great Christmas present!

Thanks Duff!!

Monday, December 14, 2015

LEGO 31014: Power Digger - REVIEW

Judging from my blog stats, people generally only seem interested in reviews of large LEGO sets.  On the one hand, I can certainly understand that because the large sets are much more of a financial investment (and the risk/reward is higher given the high cost of the set).  However, I would also wager that more small LEGO sets get sold every year as compared to large why not try and hold the small sets to the same standards as the large ones (keeping the lower cost in mind)?

Today, we go to one of the very smallest sets that you can buy - LEGO 31014:  Power Digger.  The set contains a mere 64 pieces but it does include instructions for three different models which is impressive given the small piece count.

As I mentioned already, the set is one of the 3 in 1 LEGO Creator sets - and amazingly, LEGO managed to make three distinct vehicles using only the 64 pieces included in the set (and in two of the the three cases, substantially fewer than the 64 pieces)!

Based on my ranking, let's start with the least impressive of the three builds:  The Bulldozer.

The Bulldozer isn't a bad build, but it looks too much like some type of farm equipment rather than an actual construction vehicle that you'd see on working on highways.  I also think of bulldozers as having treads rather than tires which obviously wasn't going to be possible with a set of this size.

While the bulldozer may have been a disappointment (and notice all the unused pieces), the next two builds are much better.  Continuing with the worst-to-best ranking, the Dump Truck places right in the middle of the three builds.

Unlike the bulldozer, the dump truck actually looks pretty close to its real-life counterpart.  You can even actually use the truck to dump out stuff held in the back (though admitted the back of the truck won't actually hold more than a stud or two worth of LEGO bricks)!  I also think the dump truck is a bit squatty looking - though with the rather poor selection of leftover pieces I'm not sure that the LEGO designers could have done much better.

That leads us to our final build, and yes, I saved the best for last!  The Power Digger.

Since the set is called Power Digger, it's really no surprise that this is the star of the set.  The truck definitely looks the part - the main part of the truck even spins around 360 degrees and the digger arm is articulated in three different spots.  The only downside to this build is that the scoop of the digger doesn't actually hold anything - it's a flat plate.  Even so, for a build this small that can be overlooked.

I give the LEGO designers a lot of credit for packing three completely different builds into a set with under 70 pieces.  Each of the three trucks is instantly recognizable and I'd say that two of the builds are actually really nice.  In fact, I could see picking up a second set #31014 so that I could have both the power digger and the dump truck working together!

So how does the set fare overall?  Well, let's take a look:

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  5
Play Value:  5
Kid Value:  7
Adult Value:  3
Overall:  5

While I did like two of the three builds quite a bit, the set suffers from a lack of play ability for young collectors and a lack of interesting or new pieces for adult collectors.  For the young collectors, this set would have benefited from about four 1x1 round brown pieces to serve as dirt for the trucks to push around, dig up, and haul away.  I don't think four round studs would have added much (if anything) to the cost but it definitely would have made for a lot more play value.  As it stands now, you either get a digger with nothing to dig or a dump truck with nothing to haul.

For adults, I think the set mostly suffers for its size.  It's much too small to fit into any LEGO CITY style layout and yet it's much too big to work for any microbuilds.  I will say that I had fun building all three models but with such a small piece count it's hard for that to affect the bottom line much (since any one model takes less than two minutes or so to put together)!  In the end, I gave the set a rather low score of 5 but I'm still impressed by the pure variety of the three builds given the limited number of pieces.  There's certainly no harm in buying this set as an impulse purchase...and it definitely makes a fine addition to any LEGO gift you might give someone (which is how I ended up with this set thanks to my brother)!

Pull out a few extra "dirt" pieces from your own collection to use with your trucks while you play and you've got yourself a winner of a mini set!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

REVIEW: LEGO 850617: LEGO City Police Accessory Set - REVIEW

Last month, I had a birthday and with that came a large assortment of LEGO sets.  One of the sets that I was given was set 850617:  LEGO City Police Accessory Set.  This is a simple set (34 pieces) that's basically a collection of four minifigures, a dog, and some accessories.

The question is, how does the set stack up for someone who owns quite a bit of City stuff already?  The four minifigures are all quite nice - I especially like that one of the four officers is a female since female minifigs are a bit rarer.  However, it should be noted that all four minifigures have the exact same torso (and legs) pieces so really the only difference is the face, the headpiece (hair or helmet), and the accessories.

Speaking of accessories, you get quite a few including two megaphones, 2 walkie talkies, 2 pairs of handcuffs, a pair of binoculars, 2 flashlights, and a metal detector.  The metal detector is an odd choice but I suppose it provides something rather unique to this set.  You also get a dog (with a dog bone) and a small, one-piece barrier for official police work.

For me, I'd say this is a solid set to pick up if you need to expand your police force.  The four figures all have a bit of a SWAT team vibe to them, perhaps it is the dark helmets with visors that really hammer that feeling home.  The one thing that I didn't like is that the minifigures all felt cheaper than those you'd get in a "regular" set.  The hair pieces in particular seemed extra loose fitting...something to keep in mind if you are thinking of buying this set for small children I guess.

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  5
Play Value: 5
Kid Value:  7
Adult Value:  4
Overall:  5

I would be remiss if I didn't note that you don't actually get anything in this set for the police officers to do.  There are no criminals (or even innocent townsfolk to interrogate for fun).  I think had one of the two helmeted officers been a criminal instead that this set would have had much more play value.  As it is, it's a solid set to bolster your police department but that's pretty much it.  I like though since one of my other birthday presents was a new police station!