Monday, April 13, 2015

LEGO 10243: Parisian Restaurant - REVIEW

The LEGO Modular line is one of my all-time favorites so I was quite excited to acquire the Parisian Restaurant for Christmas back in 2014.  The restaurant kit marks my sixth modular building that I own (the others being the Palace Cinema (review) , Fire Brigade (review), Pet Shop (review), Town Hall (not yet reviewed), and the Grand Emporium (also not yet reviewed).  I have built all six models but as of the time of this posting I still have quite a bit of kit reviewing to do!

The Parisian Restaurant is notable for a couple of reasons.  First, it's the first restaurant building that I own - and it's also holds a pair of apartments in the upper portion of the building.  Thus, it fits in well with the Pet Shop set in that you get actual places for your minifigures to live as well as to eat or shop.  I think it's smart by LEGO to include apartments in their modular buildings since there aren't a lot of building ideas that can encompass three stories without feeling forced (I'll discuss the empty areas of the Grand Emporium when I review that set for example)!

The Parisian Restaurant is also notable because the back of the building is almost as detailed as the front of the building.  This is a first for the Modular line as most of the other buildings have a back wall design that is more afterthought than anything else.  While I do appreciate the model looking good from all four sides, I have to admit that I showcase my models on a high shelf from which only the front is visible anyhow!

The actual set comes in a giant box which holds 2469 pieces.  For comparison, the Pet Shop has 2,032 pieces, the Fire Brigade has 2,231 pieces, and the Palace Cinema has 2,194 pieces.  Of the four Modular buildings that I've reviewed to date, the Parisian Restaurant has about 200 more pieces than the next closest building!  I should note that a lot of those pieces are small 1x1 squares though so you can't judge a set solely on its piece count.

As I mentioned already, the set consists of three floors.  The ground floor holds the main eating area (indoor and outdoor) plus the kitchen of the restaurant.  The second floor holds a spillover deck with more seating plus a small apartment.  The third floor is quite small and features and artist's studio.

Since the instruction booklets begin with the ground floor, that's where we'll begin the review!

As you can see, there are two outdoor seating areas plus another two indoor tables.  The indoor tables get their own table lamps which is a nice touch.  The kitchen has blue and white tiles for the floor and it contains a bunch of different kitchen appliances including a fully stocked refrigerator (all brick built of course).

Once the first floor is complete, you also get a wine curio plus a few wall hangings (a painting in the main dining area and a clock in the kitchen).  There is a nice menu on the outside along with a Chez Albert sign signifying the name of the restaurant.

It's not really possible to make out from the photos, but the name Chez is also built into the design of the ground floor in the outdoor seating area (thus continuing the trend of spelling something out in brick form in the various Modular buildings)!

The back of the building includes a brick built dumpster plus some greenery and a trash can (and a rat for good measure).  The dumpster contains a few extra food items such as a pair of hot dogs, a couple of bones, and some cherries.  I'll never complain about getting more LEGO food items!

Moving on to the second floor, you actually build two separate components.  The first is the second floor apartment and the other bit is the outdoor seating area for the restaurant.  Beginning with the apartment, you can see the front is really quite nice - a pair of large windows (complete with flower boxes) and a super small balcony.  The back of the second floor contains a second super small balcony as well the stairs to upper artist's loft.

The inside of the second floor contains a fully fledged (small) apartment.  There is a small kitchenette (with microwave, stove, and some drawers) along with a small table and stool.  There is also a nice recliner by the fireplace and a tall floor lamp in the corner.  The bed is actual a stowaway bed which you can pull down when it is time for sleep!

The other part of the second floor is the outdoor seating area.  Here, you get another pair of tables plus a pair of lamps (with flower pots).  It's definitely a simple build but it looks really nice when combined with the rest of the model!

Finally, we make our way to the third and final floor - home of the starving artist!  The front of the third floor is entirely decorative - but it works well within the context of the entire model.  The most striking design element is probably the white croissants that serve as some scalloping for the design (notice the white clam shells in the middle of the design)!  Neat the bottom, the design features a bunch of feather pieces (which were totally new to me).  I love the look - and the dark blue of the roof makes the entire design pop!

The only way to access the third floor is actually from the back of the model.  The back portion of the roof flips down to reveal the artist's studio.  The studio isn't really a proper apartment as there isn't actually anything in it besides a small wood stove, artist's easel, paint palette, and a small storage area for finished paintings.  Perhaps the artist actually lives downstairs and rents out the upstairs just for work purposes?

Overall, the Parisian Restaurant looks awesome from both the front and the back.  It is, by far, the best looking Modular Building from all angles - and the front of the building can hold its own against any of the other Modulars in its own right (though I think I give the nod to the Palace Cinema for best front design).

As I said, the back of the building is hands down the best of any of the Modulars to date.  I didn't discuss it previously, but there is even a bit of chimney design that goes up the one side of the building adding that much more texture to the finished product.  Top to bottom, this is a great set design!

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  9
Play Value:  8
Kid Value:  7
Adult Value:  10
Overall:  9.5

The Modular line isn't exactly catering to the young crowd (as evidenced by the high piece - and high price - count).  On the other hand, LEGO is ultimately a toy so kid value shouldn't be totally discounted.  I think the Parisian Restaurant does quite well for kids' play in that who doesn't like to play "kitchen"?  The included red Vespa also makes for some fun!

For adults, the set is flat out awesome.  I think the design is topnotch - quite honestly it's probably the best designed set from any LEGO set that I've ever built.  I would have liked to have seen one more minifigure included - you get a chef, waiter, two patrons (a guy proposing to his girlfriend), and one lad who is presumably the artist.  I think it would have been nice to have one more patron so that you could make use of both the indoor and outdoor seating (and make the waiter work a bit more)!  Other than that minor quibble, this set is awesome and comes highly, highly recommended!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Minifigure Museum: Businessman (Series 8)

Businessman:  LEGO Series 8 Collectible Minifigure

One of the great things about the LEGO Collectible minifigure series as a whole is that you get a wide range of figures that can be used in a variety of settings.

In Series 8, for example, there are a number of figures that could be at home in a CITY type setting (football player, female skier, businessman, DJ, and cheerleader) but then there is also a space villain, a wild west rodeo gal, a Santa Claus, and even a pirate in the set.  It makes it fun to have a wide variety of figures to choose from!  That said, most of the time I aim to make sure that I acquire all the CITY type figures since I eventually hope to set up my own custom city in which the collectible minifigures will have a starring role!

The Businessman is a great addition for anyone hoping to build their own LEGO City.  He comes with an iconic bowler hat plus a briefcase and a City Financial News newspaper.

I really like the businessman's torso print - the suit is certainly snappy with the purple tie and pinstriped shirt underneath the jacket.  The only downside to the figure is that he doesn't have any printing on the reverse at all.

Overall, I don't expect that many people were excited to pull the businessman from a blind pack (there are certainly more exciting figures in series 8), however, I think the businessman is one of the easiest figures to put into a LEGO City scene which makes him an instant win for me!
Time to go home for the evening!

Monday, March 30, 2015

LEGO 60072: Demolition Starter Set - REVIEW

I'm still hoping to eventually create my own LEGO City layout just for fun.  As such, I occasionally find myself in the LEGO aisle at my local Wal*Mart (or my not-so-local Target) looking for sets that might make for a fun addition to a layout that I haven't even started.

Enter today's set:  LEGO 60072:  Demolition Starter Set.

I know that a lot of people seem to think rather little of starter sets, but I have to say that this particular starter set caught my eye immediately.  For under $10, you get a small construction vehicle, FOUR different minifigures, plus a couple of construction cones...and a toilet.

Yes, you get a toilet to demolish...  How do you beat that for a fun time?  In fact, LEGO seems to have decided that potty humor was the thing this year as this isn't the only demolition set to prominently feature a toilet (the other being LEGO City Demolition Service Truck - a set that I also purchased but have not yet built (as of the time of this review anyhow).

I like the back of the box as well as it shows a (sort of) alternate build...or at least it show some demolition in progress.

Turning our attention back to the Demolition Starter set, let's begin by taking a look at the real star of the set - the four minifigures.

You get four figures which are all different - an awesome move by LEGO.  From left to right, you get a guy with red tinted safety goggles and a jackhammer, a construction lady with a giant hammer, a driver for the vehicle, and presumably the pit boss with a megaphone.

Looking at the figures from the back you can see that they all have some back printing (none of the figures have alternate faces however).  It should be noted that the hearing protectors on the jackhammer guy's helmet are built in - they are not removable like some of the sets had in previous years.  Also, the female construction worker's hair is attached to her helmet piece as well.  It is nice that LEGO included a female worker - a better gender balance is always appreciate for those who wish to create their own city layouts (like me)!

The set itself only contains 85 pieces but you get two small builds in addition to the four figures.  The first build is the construction vehicle.

The vehicle is a small digger of sorts, though the front scoop has extremely limited movement (mostly a couple of "clicks" up or down).

I do like the look of the vehicle - for such a limited part count I would say this is a successful build.

The other build in the set is the toilet portion which is supposed to be what the crew is demolishing.  I can't quite comprehend why it takes four people, plus a vehicle, to take down a single toilet and a short wall but whatever.

Once again, LEGO nailed the build while keeping things super simple.  It's instantly recognizable as a toilet - and a leaking one at that!  I don't know that a hammer is the best way to fix it though...

The last bit to build is a pair of super, super simple traffic cones - but anything that adds to the play value is a welcome addition in my mind.

Overall, I would say this an extremely successful small set.  The cost is low and the minifigure count is high (much higher, in fact, than some of the larger demolition sets)!  I love the fact that you get four different figures plus the vehicle, traffic cones,and the toilet mini build.

The Bottom Line:
Fun:  10
Play Value:  10
Kid Value:  10
Adult Value:  6
Overall:  9

For kids, this set is pretty much perfect.  I could see a lot of play potential including different builds with the extra pieces just to then destroy 'em with the giant hammer!  For adults, getting four minifigures is nice (of course) but the construction truck doesn't offer a lot of alternate build options.

Although that competes the review of the set, when I was building the set I happened to notice the following picture at the end of the instruction manual.

I was ecstatic to see the scene - as a kid I LOVED staring at photos like this with all the different LEGO sets "in action."  I recall spending many happy hours looking through my LEGO magazines and enjoying the different scenes.  In this particular scene, there's actually a lot of stuff hidden including a cop and robber chase, a cat on a roof, and some kids hiding in the woods!  It's enough to make the adult collector in me want all the I can only imagine what a kid would think looking at this!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Minifigure Museum: Bride (Series 7)

Bride:  Series 7 LEGO Collectible Minifigure

The Bride was one of the first LEGO Minifigures that I ended up with that had a cloth piece as part of its ensemble.  In the Bride's case, she gets a white cloth veil which is held on to her head by her wedding crown.

Overall, the Bride has a few interesting pieces besides the cloth veil and crown.

The Bride gets a nice printed torso along with a printed dress piece.  Both the torso and dress only have printing on the front however which is too bad.

Finally, the Bride also comes with a bouquet of pink flowers which is mostly notable because the flowers have a different stem piece - notice the bride can hold the flowers rather than the usual "cupping" of the flower piece on top of a minifigure's hand.

From the back, the figure is exceedingly plain though the long, white veil does add some sort of interesting element to look at.

All things considered, the Bride makes for a pretty decent minifigure - and one that is a good fit for the LEGO Collectible minifigure line since a Bride wouldn't easily fit in most CITY themed sets.  In fact, the only set that I own that has a bride figure included in it is the LEGO Modular City Hall set - and now with two brides in my collection that can cause some confusion for the one poor groom!

Decisions, decisions!

Monday, March 16, 2015

LEGO 70818: Double-Decker Couch - REVIEW

Over the past several weeks, I have managed to pick up a few small sets here and there.

Unfortunately, what I haven't had time to do (until now) is actually build any of those sets!

For today's review, I decided to dig into the Double-Decker Couch set from The LEGO Movie line of sets.  This particular set was one of the  three sets from The LEGO Movie released in 2015.  It was also a "must have" set for me since it featured most of the crew of the movie at a nice, affordable price point ($14.99 at Target).

The question is, was it actually worth the price - and is the double-decker couch really as good of an idea as poor 'ol Emmet thought it was?
Vitruvius: We are entering your mind...
Emmet: What?
Vitruvius: To prove that you have the unlocked potential to be a Master Builder.
[Vitruvius and Wyldstyle make chanting noises around Emmet, followed by a big flash of light]
Emmet: [floating in space] Whoa, are we inside my brain right now? It's big. I must be smart.
Vitruvius: I'm not hearing a whole lot of activity in here.
Lucy: I don't think he's ever had an original thought... in his life.
Emmet: [chuckles] That's not true. For instance, one time I wanted a bunch of my friends over to watch TV, not unlike this TV that just showed up magically. And not everybody can fit on my one couch, and I thought to myself, well, what if there's such a thing as a bunkbed but as a couch? Introducing the double decker couch! So everyone could watch TV together and be buddies!
Lucy: That's literally the dumbest thing I ever heard.
Vitruvius: Please, Wyldstyle, let me handle this. That idea is just the worst.

First, the real stars of the set are the actual movie stars.  You get Emmet (with a hair piece and a hard hat), President Business, Unikitty (sitting version), Benny, and Ghost Vitruvius.

Each figure (other than Vitruvius) features double-sided faces.  The Unikitty figure gets a second face as well in the form of a couple of extra bricks.

I should not that all the bricks (including the waffle brick) are printed.  Not a single sticker in this set - yay!

In addition to the great assortment of minifigures, you get two small objects to build.  First, Emmet's car.

The car is exceedingly tiny - but it is an accurate representation of what was shown in the movie.  The car does having opening doors plus a tiny storage area in the back that is just large enough to stash Emmet's hard hat.

The other object is the main focus of the set - the Double-Decker couch.  The couch features two levels of seating plus four cup holders (and four white mugs).

The one bad thing about the couch is that there isn't room for all five included figures to sit on it - poor Ghost Vitrivius has to simply hover nearby I guess.

The Double-Decker couch set goes nicely withThe LEGO Movie releases: Bad Cop Car Chase (in which you get Wyldstyle, Bad Cop, and two Robo Swats) and Batman and Super Angry Kitty Attack (in which you get a different Unikitty plus Batman, Skeletron, and a Micromanager).   For under $50  ($14.99 + $23.99 + $9.99), you can pick up three sets and end up with all of the main characters from the movie, plus an alternate Unikitty version, plus a number of bad guys - and some vehicles.  That makes for a solid deal - and while I would argue that only the Double-Decker Couch set has anything resembling an "iconic" build from the movie, the three sets work wonderfully together.  So wonderfully, in fact, that I think I will have to give serious consideration about picking up the other two sets for my own collection!

The Bottom Line:
Fun:  9
Play value:  9
Kid value:  10
Adult value:  5
Overall:  8.5

For the money, this is a hard set to beat since you get a ton of minifigures.  Of course, if you don't have any interest in The LEGO Movie then this set probably isn't for you since there isn't much the set other than the figures.  I do like the printed waffle piece a lot - and the top of Vitruvius' staff is nice as well (it's bubble gum from a BlowPop in the movie).  The set does come with a number of small extra pieces as well - including an extra 1x1 with a hole in the middle which is a very useful piece to have!

Movie Quote Source:

Monday, March 2, 2015

My Valentine's Day Gift from my Wife (LEGO Edition!)

My wife is the best.  Not only does she put up with my multiple hobbies (LEGO, baseball cards, woodworking, etc.), she oftentimes actively encourages them!

Case in point:  Valentine's Day 2015.

As a guy, Valentine's Day doesn't usually excite me all that much - too much chocolate, flowers, and mushy movies for my tastes.  However, if I continue to have Valentine's Days like this year's, I may rethink my stance on the holiday.

You see, my wife gave me seven unopened packages of LEGO Collectible Minifigure Series 13 packs!  As of Valentine's Day, I only had four different figures from the set (Evil Wizard, Construction worker, Goblin, and Space Marine guy).  So, how did I make out from my gift?

Quite well I would say!

Out of the seven packages, I ended up with four new figures (Alien Trooper, Samurai, Paleontologist, and the hard-to-find, incredibly popular Hot Dog Man)!
The new additions to my collection!

I ended up with two Paleontologists (which is ok since the new Jurassic Park sets are coming out soon)!  I also ended up with an extra Goblin (available for trade) and an extra Carpenter (which I think I'll keep for my city layout)!

My collection for Series 13 now stands at 8 of the 16 possible figures.

You can find my full want list (including all the previous series figures that I still need as well)!  All things considered, this was a great Valentine's Day present!  And, of course, just another reason why I love my wife!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Minifigure Museum: Computer Programmer (Series 7)

Computer Programmer:  Series 7 LEGO Collectible Minifigure

Back when I was in college, I was a mathematics/computer science double major so I have a soft spot in my heart for the Computer Programmer from Series 7.  Oh sure, I never rocked the argyle sweater - and thankfully I never had glasses either (taped together or otherwise).  That said, I'm still probably pretty high up on the "nerd-o-meter" since I write a blog focused entirely on LEGO.

The Computer Programmer is one of sixteen figures from the seventh series of the LEGO Collectible Minifigure line.  Personally, I think the seventh series was one of the better series - I happen to like most of the figures and I even love a few of them!  Series 7 is also one of the few series that I've managed to collect all the minifigures!

As for the programmer himself, he comes with two accessories - a mug with a command prompt smiley face (very dork-a-licious) and a folding laptop.  The laptop piece is particularly nice - I don't think I recall seeing in any actual LEGO sets...certainly none that I own at least.  The minifig's face is suitably (stereotypically) nerdy as well - there's even a bit of white tape holding the programmer's glasses together!  The bow tie is a nice touch too...all that the programmer is missing is a pocket calculator!

All told, this is a fun figure for people like me.  I also think it's good when LEGO includes some "City-esque" figures in their minifigure series since LEGO City is one of the most popular themes year in and year out.  Figures like this are perfect for AFOLs who build custom city layouts as well...something that I am considering doing in the near future!