Monday, January 26, 2015

LEGO 60003: Fire Emergency - REVIEW

Usually when I write my reviews for a LEGO set, I first build the entire set (taking photos as I go) and then eventually I sit down at my computer and write a review.  Sometimes the difference in time from when I build to when I write is a matter of hours, but more often it is a matter of weeks (or even months).  For today's set review, I decided to do something a bit different.  I'm going to write my review while I build the model.  In this way, you can get my unfiltered thoughts as they occur during the building process!

The box for the Fire Emergency set makes the set look quite exciting.  We get a nice sized firetruck plus a building to try and save from the wrath of the inferno.

Upon opening the box, I was a bit surprised to see that there are three different numbered bags.  The first two bags will be used to build the firetruck while the final bag will be used for the building.  We also get a 8x16 grey plate that is loose in the box, a pair of fire hoses, and a sticker sheet.  The good news on the sticker front is that there are only eight stickers...the bad news was my sticker sheet was jammed at the bottom of the box and came out a bit bent.  I think the stickers themselves will still ok though (we shall see).

The set comes with three minifigures - all of which are firefighters.

All three figures have the same exact pants and torso but the heads are different.  One firefighter is female (which is a good thing to see LEGO making sure to include females in more "action/adventure" roles).  The other two figures are male.  You get an axe, a power saw, and a brick built fire extinguisher as accessories (plus the one firefighter has a full air tank/face mask apparatus which is quite nice)!

As I mentioned, the first bag contains pieces for the three minifigures plus about half of the fire truck.  One interesting note is that the base of the truck actually uses a pair of 2x8 red bricks to "eat up space" in the interior.

Without those bricks, the firefighters would sit much too low in the truck.  That said, it does feel like LEGO could have done something a bit more creative there - maybe a storage area for other tools?

The first sticker used in the directions is for the license plate on the front of the truck.  It's a typical LEGO City front bumper - nothing fancy but it does get the job done.

The back bumper, on the other hand, uses three different stickers despite being a similar build.  The two red caution stickers look good once applied but I still hate the use stickers out of principle!

The remainder of the pieces from bag #1 go onto the model quickly and efficiently.  At the end, you do get a few extras - and that one single blue 1x2 transparent plate looks a bit odd right now.  I'm curious to see why LEGO placed that piece there...

On to bag #2 which should finish off the firetruck!

The build for bag #2 begins with a few flat tiles and then you construct the hose and nozzle.  I like how the hose looks - and the blue "flame" piece representing water works quite well too.  The only weird thing is when you clip the nozzle in place on the truck (when there isn't a fire), the hose is still shooting out water!

The hood piece is attached by a pair of single studs via jumpers.  And yes, that's another sticker.  At this point, the only stickers remaining are the three stickers that are to be used for the boards on the building portion of the build.

The final firetruck model is quite nice - I especially like the "pseudo-pneumatics" in the back of the truck.  It did take a few times of making the ladder go up and down before the system worked smoothly.  Also, when sliding the second ladder into the first, make sure to be careful doing so or else you'll likely jab your finger like I did!

Finally, we move on to bag #3 where we construct the building that is on fire!

The building itself is obviously something that was abandoned in LEGO City for quite some time.  The only thing you get for the inside is a barrel and a broom.

The final three stickers are used for the three boards nailed across the front of the abandoned structure.  It should also be noted how LEGO used this opportunity to show kids how to use jumper tiles effectively in order to have a removable roof!

The roof of the structure has an interesting play feature that I wasn't anticipating.  As you can see, there is a knob on the left side of the building which you can turn in order to have the flames either shooting up out of the roof or down and "hidden" representing the fire has been put out.  Those blue pegs will hold the flames shortly!

Once the building is complete, you get a nice looking model (complete with a blackened portion of the roof where the fire is located).

Overall, I like this set quite a bit.  The play factor is high - and both the firetruck and the burning building go well together.

The Bottom Line:
Fun:  9
Play value:  9
Kid value:  9
Adult value:  6
Overall:  8

For kids, this set is almost perfect.  All that is needed is a cat, dog, or even a person to "rescue" from the burning building.  For adults, there are a few useful pieces in the set but the fact that all three firefighters have the exact same torso is a small letdown.  The giant flame pieces were new to me (as were a lot of the pieces on the firetruck such as the ladder).

Friday, January 23, 2015

They are Finally Here! Woo!

Northcentral Pennsylvania (where I live) always seems to be a few weeks behind everyone else in terms of LEGO releases.  My local big box store is Wal*Mart and this was the first week where I found any of the new LEGO City swamp sets...and the snow plow set (which I really do want but I didn't buy it yet).  My Wal*Mart also finally had the Double-Decker Couch set in stock (another set I want) but they didn't have any of the other new LEGO Movie sets.

Like I said, it takes awhile for new sets to arrive in my neck of the woods.

That probably explains why I was so happy to finally lay my eyes on the newest Collectible Minifigures:  Series 13.

And yes, those I did buy!

More to come once I open 'em!

Monday, January 19, 2015

REVIEW: LEGO Storage Kit from Amazon.com

The other day, I made an order at Amazon and on a whim added in a LEGO Storage Kit to my cart as I completed my purchase.  The mail arrived a few days ago and I'm now here to review the kit for you.

First of all, it should be noted that the storage kit is basically a small tackle box.  In fact, it's not basically a small tackle box, it IS a small tackle box.  Here's the exact same box on Plano's website (the manufacturer of the box).  A quick Google search shows you can buy just the tackle box for about $11 online.

I ended up getting my "storage kit" for $25 on Amazon which means I basically spent $14 for 200 assorted LEGO pieces.


So the question remains, was it worth it?  The typical way to evaluate LEGO value is to take the cost and divide by the number of pieces.  In this case (using the $14 as my price point), I paid 7 cents per piece.  That is well below the standard 10 cents per piece which suggests this is a good deal...

Of course, it didn't come with any minifigures, nor any particularly large pieces so value is probably in the eye of the beholder.  I will say that I was happy enough!

For me, the piece selection was quite solid - and the color selection was vibrant.  I should also note that the storage case itself feels quite solid...and the clasps are easy to open but also feel much better built than other similar storage containers.  Again, I'm happy!

For those that are wondering, here is a close up of the pieces that I received in my kit.  Do note that the product doesn't promise any specific piece or pieces...just that you'll get 200 official LEGO pieces.

I did pick out a few of the more interesting pieces to show off...

I am particularly happy to acquire the yellow windows (complete with "glass" pieces).  The only downside to the piece selection was that for the most part the pieces came in multiples of five.  I would have preferred four or six since many LEGO models are built symmetrically...especially vehicles!

Overall, I think the kit is a decent value if you are in need of a storage container.  For straight up buildability (my made up word), the kit is lacking since you don't get any base plates (or really any large plates of note).  There are also no minifigures...and most of the pieces are in different colors - pretty, but not great for making a single object!  That said, this is an awesome kit to simply augment your collection while simultaneously giving you a sturdy storage option!

Monday, January 12, 2015

LEGO 60052: Cargo Train - REVIEW

This past Christmas served as a huge boon to my LEGO collection.  I probably ended up with more LEGO sets this year than I ever received back when I was a kid!  Despite all my good fortune, I couldn't help myself when I saw the LEGO 60052:  Cargo Train on clearance at my local Wal*Mart after Christmas was over.

I just had to have it.  And build it.  Immediately.

The back of the box shows off a lot of the play features - plus the fact that you have eight (!) numbered bags to sort through when building the train.

For a set with only 888 pieces, 8 different numbered bags seemed a bit excessive to me.  However, in the interest of good journalism, I dutifully photographed each bag as well as what was built from said bag.  This will certainly be an image heavy post - but it's worth it!

Bag 1:

Bag 1 has you build the cargo truck, a driver for that truck, plus a few random accessories (hand cart and a couple of trash bins).  You also get the useful brick separator in bag #1.

Overall, the Cargo Train has a TON of stickers (easily the worst part of putting together the set)...the cargo truck?  Well, it uses 5 stickers.  Personally, I found the cargo truck to be underwhelming, though I appreciate the fact that the bed of the truck includes jumper tiles that are designed to fit the crates for the train (which will be assembled later in the build).  For those that hate stickers as much as I do, here is the completely used full sticker sheet for the Cargo Train.


Bag 2:

The second bag finally gets you going on the actual train.  You know, the reason why someone presumably dropped $200 on the set (assuming you bought it at full retail price).  First, you need to track down a ton of AAA batteries (nine of them in all)!

The controller is nice enough - but both the controller and the engine box require a screwdriver to access the battery compartment.  That seems unnecessarily annoying to me.  Maybe it's a safety thing for kids?

Moving on the real build of bag #2, we get the lower half of the blue train engine.  The engine is by far the most interesting part of the entire train building experience.  It's the only piece of the train that uses any sort of interesting or non-standard building techniques.  Bag #2 also comes with a nice train worker.

Bag 3:

Bag three is used to complete the train engine.  I like how the large blue plates (seen at the top of the photo above) are used to hide the battery box.  I am not certain how easy it will be to take the engine apart to replace the batteries but we will worry about that bridge when we get there.

Overall, the blue engine is quite nice!  I like all the detailing (even if a lot of it is done via stickers).  Quite frankly, there isn't much that I would change about the model (though I would have preferred a grey binocular piece to serve as the train's horn rather than the way LEGO designed the horn).  That's being quite picky though...overall it's a great looking engine.

Bag 3 also has the yellow pieces needed to complete the Y-switch tracks.  The set comes with two Y pieces which is nice - it helps to have something besides a circle/oval for play purposes!

Bag 4:

The fourth bag introduces are first train car - and our third minifigure.  The car is a cattle car which comes complete with a cow, a farmer with (presumably) a bucket of milk, a feeding trough, and a stack of hay.  It's a solid design done with minimal parts.

I didn't own one of the cow pieces before so I'm happy to acquire that particular animal!  I don't quite get why there is a farmer included in the set though...is the farmer riding along with the cow in an open air train car?  I don't think so...and there isn't any particular vehicle included that the farmer would be driving.  It's sort of weird - but I guess I won't complain about extra minifigures (though another train worker would definitely have been preferred and made a lot more sense)!

Bag 5:

Bag #5 contains pieces to build the second cargo car - this one being a cable car.

There isn't a lot to say about this particular train car - it's incredibly simple but I think it's evocative enough that there is no confusion about what you are looking at.  I would have liked to see the LEGO Company include some string to wind around each of the "spools."  I also think there should have been two of the small chains included, but otherwise I have no complaints about the cable car.

Bag 6:

The sixth bag features pieces to build our third and final cargo car as well as pieces to build the forklift.

For me, this is the most disappointing train car as it really isn't anything special.  It sure feels like a cop out to have the wheelbarrow serve as a piece of cargo on a pallet.  I don't know anyone that would ship a single wheelbarrow via an open air cargo train.  It makes no sense.  I do like the small Octan gas tank though!  As for the forklift, it uses a rubber band to provide the springiness for the lifting fork, but otherwise it's entirely unremarkable.  It does add some play value for sure - but I don't think it should be in the third spot serving as a piece of cargo.  This particular train car should have been much more interesting with three unique pieces of freight!

Bag 7:

Finally, we move on to bag 7 which has us build the lower part of the train station.  The set comes with a pair of 16x16 grey plates upon which the cargo station is constructed.  Actually, calling it a station is probably being a bit generous as it's basically a single room building plus a crane.

I do like how the train track is incorporated into the design of the station - it'll be even more apparent once the final bag is opened up!

Bag 8

The final bag is used to finish off the cargo station.  Basically, bag 8 is used to build the crane apparatus which is then placed on the two tracks from the previous bag's build.  As you can see from the above photo, bags 7 and 8 could easily have been combined since there are so few pieces.  However, I am guessing LEGO chose not to do that since there a lot of large pieces in the final bag.

Overall, it's a nice looking depot - and the crane works like a charm!  The small red pieces are supposed to be a place for the forklift to sit the various crates down (presumably then to either move them to the truck or train).  Unfortunately, you have to be very careful when placing the crates or else they fall off...the width of the build isn't quite right - the top of the two stand pieces should have been 2 studs wide rather than just one stud wide.

Putting it all together, the instruction manual shows an oval with a small offshoot to serve as a go-around for the cargo depot.  If you build the layout that way, you end up with a pair of extra curves.  It should be noted, however, that you can go for a less symmetrically pleasing track layout and use all of the included track!

Overall, the Cargo Train is a great set - full of fun play features and a couple of great train cars (the cattle car and the cable car).  The train engine is also a work of art.  The depot is rather sparse, but it does provide a good deal of play value because the crane can move both forward/backward and left/right for lots of fun loading and unloading various vehicles and trains.

I did find the number of stickers used to be annoying - and the final cargo car is also disappointing. Neither of the two included trucks (the cargo truck and the forklift) will wow anyone with their design but they do open even more play options.

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

I would have given the set straight 10s across the board for the price in which I got the set ($60 off retail).  However, for a set priced at $200 it seems to be lacking in a few key areas. If only LEGO had gone the extra step in a couple of spots (the third cargo car and the depot mostly), this would have been a near perfect set.  Even so, if you can get it closer to $150 or so, I would consider it a must buy!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Christmas Present to Myself - My First LEGO Train (of my own)

Happy New Year everyone!

Yesterday, I went to Wal*Mart for some things and found myself drawn to the LEGO aisle.  I have no idea why seeing as how I had the best ever Christmas in terms of LEGO sets ever (more on that another day).  However, I was in the aisle so I had to look...and what did I see?

Only the LEGO Cargo Train (set #60052) on sale for $60.00 off!

Yeah, I bought it.  
Yeah, I built it.  
Yeah, it's pretty cool.  

I'll post a full review of the set sometime soon but I had to show off my find today!  This train is my first train of my own.  Back when I was a kid, my brother and I received the LEGO Load and Haul Railroad...but that set still resides at my parents' house.  This train is all mine - and it will serve as the main focal point for my LEGO City that I'm intent on building in the near future!

Monday, December 29, 2014

LEGO 60048: Police Dog Unit - REVIEW

My Christmas LEGO haul was one for the ages (as you'll see over time on this blog)!  To start things off, I had asked for this particular LEGO City Police set (Police Dog Unit) because I'm a lover of dogs!

Yes, I wanted this set mostly because of the dogs - but also because I hope to soon start my own custom LEGO City creation and getting those brick pieces that are used in the robbers' shack will be quite useful!  Overall, the set comes with three minifigures and 249 pieces which are used to build two vehicles and a small shack!

Upon opening the box, you are greeted with three instruction manuals which correspond to three bags of pieces.  It should be noted that the majority of the pieces reside in bag #2 which is used to build the police vehicle.  You also get a sticker sheet which contains seven stickers.

The first bag is used to build the two robbers plus their getaway vehicle.  The vehicle is some sort of pickup truck crossed with a muscle car.  It looks suitably rickety for a bunch of ragtag robbers!

The truck contains a removable crate which is used to hold the robbers' loot.  The treasure is random - basically anything shiny and not locked down becomes the robbers...which means there's a jewel, some cash, a shiny goblet, and the faucet off of someone's kitchen sink!

Moving on to bag #2, we get to build the star of the set which is the Police Dog Unit itself.  The set comes with a single police officer (who has a pair of handcuffs and a flashlight as accessories) and two police dogs.  The instructions only show one dog bone for the pair of police pups, but the set does come with an extra bone.  I think both dogs deserve a bone!

As for the police vehicle, the back of the truck opens up in a sort of ramp which allows the two dogs to climb in and out.  The dogs both fit in the back, though it's definitely tight!

The rest of the duplicates for bag #2 include the already mentioned bone, enough pieces to build a second flashlight, and a few other small pieces.  It should be noted that there were no extra pieces in bag #1.  In addition, all seven stickers are used on the police vehicle.

Finally, we move on to bag #3 which is the robbers' shack.  From the front, you can see a bit of brickwork coupled with a green front door.  There is a small light on the right side of the shack and a window on the left side of the front door.

There is also a set of Bilco doors on the left of the shack which can be opened (and it's where the robbers can stash their crate of stolen loot).  You can also see the rat (complete with a piece of cheese) and the extra pieces that come in bag #3.

From the backside of the shack, you can see that the two of the four walls are missing.  In doing so, LEGO made sure that set was easily playable - both in terms of light in the shack and space for fingers to get in there to move around minifigs!  The only other thing on the inside of the shack is a rather cool little periscope contraption which uses the binoculars piece in a clever way!


The bottom line:
Fun:  9
Play Value:  9
Kid Value:  9
Adult Value:  6
Overall:  8.5

Putting the entire set together, I had a favorable impression from start to finish.  The two vehicles are completely different and it's always fun to get both a cop's and a robber's car in the same set (after all, who doesn't love a good chase scene)?!  The added bonus of the small robber shack really fills the set out nicely (and is, in my opinion) better than most of the other cops and robbers sets that LEGO has released lately.  I initially wanted the set for the two police dogs (and the police dog vehicle) but I have to admit that it was the robber's truck and shack that stole the show!  All told, this set is highly recommended.