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!

Monday, February 16, 2015

LEGO 60083: Snowplow Truck - REVIEW

It's been awhile since I had a new update for Playing with Bricks but I'm pleased to say that I'm back!

Not only am I back, but I have a few things in my mind that I hope to do with this blog over the next few months.  We shall see how those plans pan out...but for today, it's time to take a look at one of the newer LEGO releases from the City theme.

The Snowplow Truck (set #60083) comes with 196 pieces and a single minifigure.  I have to say that the 196 pieces is misleading since 15 of those (16 if you count the one extra) are simply 1x1 flat white round tile pieces used to simulate snow.  The actual build of the truck is incredibly easy - though LEGO did spread the build across two numbered bags to make life even easier!

I'm a big fan of the LEGO Winter Village theme - so when I saw LEGO was releasing a snowplow in their City theme, I knew I had to have it.  Unfortunately, the actual truck would be out of place given the other Winter Village sets...but there's enough good stuff here that I think I could manage some sort of customization in order to make the truck work with the village should I choose to next winter!

As I said earlier, the set comes with a single minifigure.

The snowplow worker doesn't appear to be dressed well for the elements - especially when you consider that he is shown on the box art using a shovel to do some digging by hand!  The figure doesn't contain any back printing, nor does he have a second face.  I would have preferred to have seen the minifigure with the big hooded headgear rather than the ball cap but that's a minor quibble.

The real star of the set is the actual snowplow truck.  From the side, I think the wheels look a bit odd but otherwise it's a solid design.  I like that the truck has two minifigure accessories (the brush on this side and the shovel on the other side of the truck).  The green and orange colors scheme works well here too.

Looking at the plow from the front, you can see that the plow itself is substantial in size!  It actually looks pretty good - the bright orange works well here too.  I do think that some sort of solid angled orange pieces would have been better for the "scoop" part of the plow (as opposed to the orange seat pieces that LEGO used here).  You can also see the driver of the truck has his trusty red mug.  It wouldn't be a LEGO City set without that mug!

I was most surprised (in a good way) with the back of the truck.  When I bought the set, I didn't even look at the back of the box so I had no idea that there was an included "salt spreader" on the truck.  You can probably make out the gear on the back of the truck...  When you push the truck along, the gear actually turns the salt spreader which is a fun inclusion!  Unfortunately, the salt spreader itself doesn't actually spread anything - you'll have to use your imagination for that part.  It definitely looks good though - even if that blue arrow is a sticker (which is a shame since LEGO used to make street signs with that exact design as a printed piece)!

The set comes with 15 (actually 16) of the 1x1 round, smooth white tiles which are supposed to simulate snow.  You can easily push all 15 tiles with the gigantic plow which is nice.  The set also contains 12 (!!) stickers to apply.  You can see seven of the twelve stickers in the above photo.

The final bit of "play value" for the set comes with taking apart the snowplow.  You can easily take the plow off of the truck as well as both the salt spreader and the back bucket.  The downside is that the back bucket isn't on any sort of hinge - a big missed opportunity in my book.  It would have been nice to have some sort of dumping action (complete with a hinge on the bucket) in order to dump snow...

Overall, I give LEGO 60083:  Snowplow Truck the following rating:

The Bottom Line:
Fun:  7
Play value:  7
Kid value:  7
Adult value:  7
Overall:  7

That's right, sevens across the board.

There are a lot of things to like about the set (the color scheme, the "working" salt spreader, the large tires) but there are a lot of missed opportunities too (no warm headgear for the driver, no hinge for the bucket, too many stickers for such a small set).  In the end, I'm happy to have this set in my collection...and I definitely hope LEGO continues to do a few snow related sets here and there, but I think with a bit more thought this could have been an excellent set.  Instead, it's simply a good set without any real wow factors.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Five Pack (Video) Rip of LEGO Collectible Minifigures from Series 13

Here's a quick video of me ripping five packs of Series 13 Collectible Minifigures.  Can you guess which five figures I ended up with?  Can you guess which figure took me (an embarassingly) long time to put together?


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!