Tuesday, October 9, 2018

REVIEW: LEGO 40320: Plants Made from Plants

It's been awhile since I've opened up any new LEGO to review (or old LEGO for that matter)!  However, I did make a purchase a month or two ago mostly because I wanted to get my hands on the "freebie" giveaway set:  LEGO 40320:  Plants Made from Plants.

For as long as I can remember, I've been a sucker for LEGO greenery - as a kid I always wanted to buy the classic trees and flowers pack (but I never did find it in a store near me).  Flash forward a couple of decades and I finally got the chance to get my own version of a plants pack - and as an added bonus, this time around the plants are made from plastic using sugarcane. 

LEGO claims that they will switch over to using all sustainable materials in core products and packaging by the year 2030 and this plant pack represents their first step in that direction. 

Enough of the packaging though, let's get into the box itself.  Now, I will admit that part of me cringed when ripping open this box (I imagine it will be a fairly good one to "tuck away" for a rainy day) but I'm not one for leaving my LEGO unopened.  Plus, this was my chance to finally get my own plants pack!

Inside the box, we find a pair of paper pamphlets and two plastic bags of pieces.  I'll get to the pieces in a second, but first the pamphlets.

For whatever reason, my box contained two pamphlets but they are exactly the same.  I imagine that I simply got "lucky" and scored two pieces of paper.  The pamphlet itself tells a quick story about LEGO's sustainability project and goals but otherwise is fairly nondescript. 

I should note that the nice tree you see in the image cannot be built with the pieces in the box.  In fact, only the lime green small branches are even included in the box (which is a shame)!  I keep most things LEGO related but I didn't find either pamphlet worth holding on to.  That's fine of course since it's the pieces that make or break the set so let's take a look at what you get.

Like I said earlier, there are two plastic bags in the box.  With only 29 pieces in total, neither bag holds a lot but I do think the overall mix was decent.  In the first bag, you get 4 of the aforementioned lime green small branches plus 16 of the three-leaf pieces.

In the second bag, you get a pair of small pine trees, three of the bushes, and 4 small palm branches.  I can never seem to get enough of the trees and bushes (in particular) so I'm obviously happy with this haul.  In fact, getting 29 plant pieces for free (with purchase) is a rather good deal in my book.  The box itself "lists" for about $5 which probably isn't all that much more than what it would cost you to get the pieces from a site like Brinklink (after shipping).

Overall, while I wouldn't necessarily buy a ton of these boxes, I am happy to have acquired one for my collection.  The new plant-based plastic seems to be virtually indistinguishable from the old ABS plastic plants - so much so that I'm going to simply dump these plant pieces in with all of my others.  That along makes me believe that LEGO will probably make good on their sustainability initiative!

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  1
Play Value:  1
Kid Value:  2
Adult Value:  3
Overall:  2

In the end, this is sort of a tough set to review.  The price per part is a bit high (if you consider this as a $5 set) and there isn't really anything much that you can actually build with the included parts (no stems, sticks, or other pieces are included).  For kids, the play value is virtually nonexistent - there's nothing to actually do here.  I also think the kid value is definitely in the eye of the beholder (myself as a kid, I would have loved this box but I don't think most kids would feel that way).  For adults, the novelty is the fact that the pieces are made from actual plants...but in the end you can't really tell (which is the point) but it maeks for a slightly overpriced box of plant bits.  Even worse, the most common element (the three-leaf plants) seem to show up on the LEGO pick-a-brick wall fairly often...and you get can get a TON of them in a single cup for a lot less cost-per-part if you are so inclined.

That leaves me in a weird spot where the individual grades for the set are all rather low (as is the overall grade) and yet I personally still like the set (such as it is).  I can't recommend buying it, but for a freebie set from LEGO we could definitely have done much worse!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Real LEGO for $0.30. Thank You TJMaxx

For those that read my blog but don't know, my wife and I had our first child this May (which should explain my relative absence from the blog since that time).  In fact, I haven't had much time (or money) to do a whole lot with LEGO...but now that my little guy is starting to sleep just a bit better, I'm hoping to be able to carve out a few minutes here and there to devote to my many hobbies, LEGO included.

Today's post is a bit different in that I wanted to share a cheap LEGO find that I landed at TJMaxx. Now, I actually hate going into TJMaxx (it's like a giant yard sale).  Sure, there are bargains to be had...but usually only for items that you normally would never buy. 

And yes, I fell for TJMaxx's tricks.

You see, I bought three packs of LEGO Nexo Knights Nexo Powers blind bags.  This purchase was made despite me owning exactly zero Nexo Knights sets.  Why would I buy them then? 

Well, they were 30 cents each. 

I don't know what is in each pack, but thirty cents for 10 official LEGO pieces was a good enough deal for me to take a gamble.  And so, let's dig in!

Pack 1:

Inside the main blind bag, you get a small clear plastic bag plus a "base" piece that's surprisingly large.  After opening up the plastic bag, I have to admit that I'm quite pleased with my purchase already!

The gray side clips and blue 2x2 tile are both super useful pieces.  The trans orange bumper piece isn't as useful for me, but it's a rather unique piece within my collection so I'll take it.  The real star of the show, however, is the printed shield tiles!

I bought the pack knowing from the cover that you would get shields, but I was expecting them to be stickered pieces (yuck)!  Instead, all the shields are printed - and they are quite nice.  I am already thinking of possible places within my custom LEGO city where I can incorporate some of the pieces.  The green medical looking shield, in particular, may end up in my custom hospital if I can figure out how to make the colors work!

The pack also came with a checklist of sorts for all of the different printed shield options that are out there.  By my count, there are 35 of them.  I have no idea if some are rarer than others (and frankly, I don't care given that I'm unlikely to find cheap packs of this stuff again). 

That said, with two more blind packs remaining I'd love to get the following:
1 desired shield already acquired, cool!

So.  How did I make out?  Let's rip into the next pack now.

Pack 2:

Well, the good news is that I got another one of the ones I wanted - that blue LEGO piece shield is pretty sweet.  I can probably find a use for the green welding mask as well as the white chain piece.  The piranha plant shield and the cheese wedge shield will take some more creativity however!

Pack 3:

Pack 3 was fairly close in contents to Pack 1 - but the two "new" shields were both ones that I wanted (I didn't circle the bow/arrow shield in my image above but I do like it) so I'll still consider this a solid win!

I mean, for 90 cents total this was a lot of fun even if I don't understand NEXO Knights stuff at all.  I look forward to fitting some of these tiles into my layout and custom builds - a fun challenge for sure (and more printed pieces are always appreciated in the city)!

Monday, May 21, 2018

REVIEW: LEGO Collectible Minifigures - SERIES 18 (Part 4)

I'm back with the fourth (and final) part of my review of the LEGO Series 18 Collectible Minifigures.  It took a bit of doing to track down the last few minifigs, but now that I have them all let's take a look.

Dragon Suit Guy

This was actually the last minifigure that I needed to find.  I made the mistake when feeling for packs thinking that I needed the Cat Costume Girl so I bought a second of that instead (this is why I should write things down and not go off of memory when in the store).  No worries though as the Dragon Suit Guy is pretty easy to find (both in terms of numbers, there are four in each case but also in terms of feeling the package). 

I do like his head piece quite a bit (and you assemble it a bit with the black horns).  The Dragon Suit Guy is one of the minifigs with multiple faces as well - a happy one and an angry one (perfect for the costumed character I'd say).

Party Clown

From what I read prior to the release of the Series 18 figures, it seemed like a lot of people were super excited for the Party Clown.  That excitement was dampened a bit when it came out that there were only three Party Clowns per case (putting him in the rare tier of figures) but I think he should be one of the rarer ones.  For one, he isn't an "army building" type of character.  Second of all, he is pretty cool - but probably not nearly so interesting to kids as some of the other figures.

The clown comes with two of my favorite accessories of the entire line - the balloon dogs.  I don't particularly care for the long orange "tail" of his jacket but otherwise this figure is pretty awesome.  Feeling for it isn't too bad, you can either try for the balloon animals or go my route and simply feel for the hat.  Just make sure it's not too long (or else you might be feeling one of the larger costume pieces in the series).

Cactus Girl

The final minifigure from the rare category with only three in a case is the Cactus Girl.   She sports a rather humorous cactus outfit with movable cactus limbs for arms. 

The Cactus Girl also features a secondary face.  In her case, it sort of looks like she got pricked by her own needles!  I found the Cactus Girl to be super easy to feel for (honestly, this entire series of figures is one of the easiest to feel for since I'v been buying blind packs).  For her, just look for a long slender body/costume piece and make sure it has bumps on it (otherwise you have the fireworks guy in your hand). 

Police Officer

When LEGO announced that the Police Officer would super rare, I immediately had flashbacks to the Mr. Gold figure which I never found (and probably will never own).  Happily for me, while rare, the Police Officer is still easy enough to find at one-per-case. 

Frankly, this is exactly the sort of character that LEGO should make rare (that is, assuming that they actually need to make any character super rare).  The Police Officer definitely isn't designed to appeal to kids (look at just about any current City set for a more interesting police figure).  Instead, it's designed to appeal directly to adult collectors...and so having it be rare isn't the worst thing in the world.  In fact, as a kid I'd be disappointed getting this minifigure as compared to just about any other figure in the set!  As an adult, I love the vintage LEGO "set" the figure holds in the printed piece but otherwise there isn't much here besides mental nostalgia for the olden days.

That's it for Series 18!  Now that I've located and reviewed the final four figures, let's rank the full series.
  1. Dragon Suit Guy
  2. Flower Pot Girl
  3. Cowboy Costume Guy
  4. Unicorn Guy
  5. Elephant Girl
  6. Cactus Girl
  7. Party Clown
  8. Birthday Party Boy
  9. Birthday Party Girl
  10. Race Car Guy
  11. Birthday Cake Guy
  12. LEGO Brick Suit Girl
  13. LEGO Brick Suit Guy
  14. Police Officer
  15. Cat Costume Girl
  16. Spider Suit Boy
  17. Firework Guy
That does it for Series 18.  By and large, I think this series has a lot of good figures (not a lot of great ones, however).  Luckily, it also doesn't have many "duds" in my mind.  In fact, other than the Firework Guy, I have something good to say about pretty much every other minifigure - and even the Firework Guy isn't awful.  On the flip side, you could easily shuffle the order of my top seven figures and I wouldn't complain as I think they are all great in their own ways!  Overall, I'm definitely happy with the series though I do hope that LEGO returns to an even more traditional series for #19.  The themed series can be fun but too many of them can be overkill (or simply boring if the theme itself doesn't appeal to you).

Now it is your chance.  What is your favorite minifigure in the series?  Do you agree with my rankings?  Let me know in the comments below!

Monday, May 14, 2018

REVIEW: LEGO Collectible Minifigures - SERIES 18 (Part 3)

Welcome back to my continuing review of the LEGO Collectible Minifigure Series 18.  Previously, I looked at nine of the figures from the set.  Today, I'm back with the contents of my next round of purchases  Actually, truth be told this is about half of my next round of purchases because I thought I felt my way to all of the remaining figures that I needed.  Unfortunately, I found out when I got home and opened the packs up that I was incorrect...but more on that in my next post.

For today, we get to look at some of the easier minifigures to feel for - but just because they are relatively easy to find doesn't mean they aren't wonderful, right?!

Birthday Party Girl

The birthday party girl (and boy) each come with a balloon and a present.  It should be noted that the balloon is a single piece (that is, it comes assembled and is not designed to be taken apart).  The balloon is super easy to feel for (look for a ball shape with a stick attached and you have either the Birthday Party Girl or Boy.  How to tell which is which?

For the birthday party girl, she comes with a present that holds a pair of 1x1 round food tiles (a cookie and a doughnut).  Once you've located the balloon in the blind bag, shake the tiny bits to the bottom corner and feel them.  If they are round bits, you have the Birthday Girl.

Birthday Party Boy

On the other hand, if you have the square 1x1 tiles, then you've found the Birthday Boy!  Like the Birthday Girl, the boy comes with a balloon (in orange rather than purple) and a different (printed) present box.

Inside the boy's present is a pair of 1x1 square tiles that are meant to represent the first Collectible Minifigure Series that LEGO produced.  That's a kind of cool little Easter egg to throw in, I approve.

Both the Birthday Girl and Boy are going to be tough to find in a searched box because they are each seeded 3 per case.  Even worse, if someone is trying to get both but they don't double-check the 1x1 tiles they may end up buying multiple copies of the same gender figure which would eliminate the chances for someone else to get that minifig.  Still, if you can find an unmolested box you should have no trouble picking out either birthday kid.

Firework Guy

When I first saw images of Series 18, I was sort of excited for the Firework Guy.  He seemed like a cool costumed character that would be quite charming.  Unfortunately, there's something about him that makes him seem sort of unfinished compared to most of the other figures in the set.  He doesn't get any accessories...and I think the biggest omission is that his fireworks suit doesn't have a fuse of any type. 

I also have to remark on his unfortunate printing on his pants.  Once you remove the firework costume, he looks downright silly (or worse) with an explosion printed on his crotch.  Not the finest look, that's for sure.

The one bright side to this figure is that he's more common than the Birthday Kids (he's seeded 4 copies per case).  He's also fairly easy to find, just make sure he doesn't have "spiky arms" because then you are holding the Cactus Girl instead (see the final part of my review of the Series 18 to get my thoughts on her).

Elephant Girl

Finally, we get to the last figure for today's post:  the Elephant Girl.  The Elephant girl comes with two faces (which is great) including one where she looks very upset at the nearby mouse.  Speaking of the mouse, that little critter is actually the star of this minifigure.  It's a new animal mold by LEGO and it's great...so much better looking than the more common rat figure that LEGO has used for a long time now.

The Elephant girl is seeded 3 per case making her another one of the trickier ones to locate by chance.  I found feeling for her head piece to be the easiest route but I imagine others would do better feeling for her ruffled skirt (since that's a piece that has been used before).  Either way, she's worth locating as I think she's quite charming.

Now for the tough part, let's rank the four new figures in with the rest of the previously ranked minifigs from the series.  Here's my list so far with four figures remaining to look at...

  1. Flower Pot Girl
  2. Cowboy Costume Guy
  3. Unicorn Guy
  4. Elephant Girl
  5. Birthday Party Boy
  6. Birthday Party Girl
  7. Race Car Guy
  8. Birthday Cake Guy
  9. LEGO Brick Suit Girl
  10. LEGO Brick Suit Guy
  11. Cat Costume Girl
  12. Spider Suit Boy
  13. Firework Guy

As you can see, the Firework Guy is now at the bottom of the rankings.  His costume piece is probably useful for some sort of MOC by by and large he is a dull minifigure.  I ranked the Birthday Party Boy two spots ahead of the similar Birthday Party Girl because of the contents of their gifts.  The printed Series 1 packs are pretty cool while the food pieces in the girl's package aren't anything new or special.  Still, you can't really go wrong with any of the top eight or so minifigs on the list!

Monday, May 7, 2018

REVIEW: LEGO Collectible Minifigures - SERIES 18 (Part 2)

Previously, I started reviewing the 18th Series of the LEGO Collectible Minifigures (link here).  After my initial purchase (blind purchase direct from LEGO's website), I made a trip to my local Wal-Mart in order to find some more minifigs.  Since I knew I needed a ton of the figures still, I didn't bother trying to feel the packs.  Instead, I grabbed a handful of 10 packs and left the store.

Out of the ten packs, I ended up with only five new (to me) figures.  The good news is that brings my total number up to nine - but still quite a ways to go to collect the full series of 17 minifigs.  For today's post, let's take a look at the next five minifigures to enter my collection...and at the end I'll try to rank them along with the four that I already showed off in a previous post.

LEGO Brick Suit Guy

Not surprisingly, if you simply grab a bunch of packs without doing any sort of pack searching, you'll probably end up with at least one of the LEGO Suit characters.  These are by far the most common in the box (5 copies of each figure, the only figures that appear that often in a case).

The LEGO Brick Suit Guy has a red 2x3 brick torso (it's a modified torso NOT a "cover up" like most of the other costumed figures in the series).  He also comes with a 1x1 blue plate which is a rather lame accessory but it works alright for the figure.

LEGO Brick Suit Girl

The Brick Suit Girl is basically the same as the Brick Suit Guy except A) it's a female and B) she gets a blue torso and a red 1x1 plate.

The two figures can be stuck together - their brick torsos actually do have clutch power.  I went with the least risque pose possible though I'm sure that others aren't going to be quite so family friendly when playing with these figures.

If you are interested in finding either of the Brick Suit figures, it's super easy to feel for the brick torso piece (it's like a thick brick and you can't miss the studs).  The only challenge is determining whether you found the male or the female version - and to tell the difference your only hope is to then feel for the hair piece (you can feel the color difference of the torso or 1x1 plate in a blind bag)!

Cowboy Costume Guy

The Cowboy Costume Guy is pretty cool - his horse costume is definitely spot on.  The costume actually comes with two parts - the horse's head is attached to the minifigure's neck while the tail piece goes around the minifigure's waist.  The Cowboy is seeded 4 copies per case so he's not overly tough to find.

Trying to feel for the Cowboy guy is actually a bit trickier than it ought to be due to the abundance of costume pieces.  I think your best bet would be to find the cowboy hat - it's a common enough element and it feels substantially different than pretty much every other element in the series.

Unicorn Guy

I applaud LEGO for making the Unicorn figure a male this time around - and I love the new printed shield piece.  Back in my early 90s Castle loving days, I would have been ecstatic to add another different shield to my various armies (I'd probably want four or five copies of this figure for the shield alone back then)!  For today's kids, acquiring a bunch of the Unicorn guy should be easy enough since there are four in each case.

As far as the figure itself goes, it's fairly close to a previous LEGO Unicorn collectible minifigure (only blue instead of white).  At least this one comes with some accessories (unlike the Unicorn Girl from Series 13).

To feel for the Unicorn Guy, I'd recommend either finding the long sword or the shield piece.  With no other weapons to speak of in the Series, both of those should be enough to convince yourself that you are holding the Unicorn Guy.

Race Car Guy

My final new minifigure is the Race Car Guy.  He comes complete with a race car costume that you assemble (two wheels get added and a small piece on the back of the car to cover up the one stud).

I appreciate the figure's color scheme - he looks the part of a true racer.  I also like the wheels on the car costume actually turn...and getting the one stud on the back of the car is a nice bonus as well.  The only downside that I see to the figure is that he is one of the toughest to find in a case - only three such figures will be in each box.  Luckily, feeling for him is easy enough as the car piece is quite large and the two wheels/axles are pretty easy to find in the packaging.

That does it for this round of minifigures - all that is left to do is to try and rank them with the other four that I already reviewed.
  1. Flower Pot Girl
  2. Cowboy Costume Guy
  3. Unicorn Guy
  4. Birthday Cake Guy
  5. Race Car Guy
  6. LEGO Brick Suit Girl
  7. LEGO Brick Suit Guy
  8. Cat Costume Girl
  9. Spider Suit Boy
The LEGO Brick Suit characters are basically tied for 6th place but I placed the girl ahead of the guy only because I like her hair piece better (the rest of the two figures are virtually the same with only a color swap).  If I were to rank these figures on a different day, I could see reordering the first five in a number of different ways - I like them all but for different reasons.  The Cat Costume Girl is actually quite good as well, but in my mind it simply doesn't interest me as much as the first 7 on that list.  I still have eight more minifigures to track down for my set (including the elusive Police Officer).  As I work towards completing my set, I'll keep reviewing the new figures (and updating my rankings)!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

REVIEW: LEGO Collectible Minifigures - SERIES 18 (Part 1)

Welcome to Part 1 of my LEGO Collectible Minifigure Series 18 review.  I will be working to complete my set (and my review) of the entire Series 18 over the next few days.  To start things off, I ordered a LEGO set from LEGO's own webpage and then added five of the blind minifigure packs to my order.  Those arrived a couple of days ago and that's what I get to use to start my review.  I should note that I ended up with one duplicate in my five packs so for today we are looking at only four of the seventeen minifigures in the set.

Before we get to the individual figures, let's take a look at the mini poster showing off the entire set.

From what I can tell, the individual figure rarities for Series 18 are as follows:

  • 5 - LEGO Brick Suit Guy
  • 5 - LEGO Brick Suit Girl
  • 4 - Dragon Suit Guy
  • 4 - Firework Guy 
  • 4 - Spider Suit Boy 
  • 4 - Flowerpot Girl 
  • 4 - Cowboy Costume Guy 
  • 4 - Unicorn Guy 
  • 4 - Birthday Cake Guy 
  • 3 - Elephant Girl 
  • 3 - Party Clown 
  • 3 - Birthday Party Girl 
  • 3 - Cactus Girl 
  • 3 - Cat Costume Girl 
  • 3 - Race Car Guy 
  • 3 - Birthday Party Boy
  • 1 - Police Officer

The Police Officer is unique in that he comes one-per-box.  Good luck finding that one in the wild!  Luckily, other than for nostalgic reasons I don't expect that the Police Office will be overly popular.

Spider Suit Boy

The Spider Suit Boy comes with a large spider "backpack" as well as a small, more standard black spider accessory.

He is also one of the few figures with two faces - one in which he looks simply nonplussed while the other he is showing signs of being concerned about too many spiders in his vicinity.  With four Spider Suit Boys in a box, this one should be easy to feel for - just look for lots and lots of little legs!

Birthday Cake Guy

The Birthday Cake Guy is another one of the four per box minifigs.  I didn't have to try and feel for him (since I bought the five packs sight unseen from the website) but I imagine that he's easy enough to feel for - just look for a big circular thing (making sure it has two "layers" so as to not confuse it with the flower pot (see below).

Birthday Cake Guy comes with pink pants and a frosting splattered shirt.  It's cute for the figure, but I imagine that it severely limits his uses in other scenarios.  I do expect that cake piece to show up again in a bakery set.  His goofy facial expression reminds me of Benny from the LEGO Movie - and I mean that in a good way!

Flower Pot Girl

The Flower Pot Girl is another 4-in-a-box figures, and like the Birthday Cake Guy, to find her look for something large and round.  Make sure it's not the birthday cake and you'll have her locked down.

My favorite part about this figure is her shirt with the vine on it.  I don't know where that could be useful outside of the figure but I'm sure that someone will come up with something clever for it.  It's weird enough to fit in well with the Collectible Minifigure line-up.

Cat Costume Girl

Finally, we get to one of the rarer figures (only three per case).  The Cat Costume Girl is easiest to find by looking for the common fish piece (though here it's in a new-to-me color of bright, light blue).

I appreciate the extra detailing on the girl's face (especially since most of it is covered up by the girl's cat mask).  This face could be used in a number of Halloween inspired settings - and the cat costume itself could double as a werewolf or some other creature.  I love the little paw print collar as well.

That does it for the first four minifigures that I've managed to acquire.  Truthfully, after getting these four figures I went to my local Wal*Mart on three different trips to feel for and acquire the rest of the set.  Did I manage to land the Police Officer to go along with the rest of the series?  Stay tuned to find out - and for more of my Series 18 review.

As for these four figures, I would rank them (best to worst) as follows:

  1. Flower Pot Girl
  2. Birthday Cake Guy
  3. Cat Costume Girl
  4. Spider Suit Boy

What do you think of the four I've shown off so far (or the series as a whole)?  Are you digging the party theme?  How about the orange base plates as opposed to the usual black plates?  Inquiring minds want to know!