Monday, August 12, 2019

LEGO 10264: Corner Garage - REVIEW

The last set I reviewed was a DUPLO set and now I'm going to the complete opposite end of the LEGO spectrum with a Creator Expert set review.  The LEGO 10264:  Corner Garage set contains 2,569 pieces and is part of the aforementioned Creator Expert line of modular buildings.  The set retailed originally for $199 which was about $30 more than the previous modular building (Downtown Diner which had 2,480 pieces). 

The big question that I had when I bought the set is why the price increase?  While I'm going to go into the full build in a moment, I think the price increase is the biggest question mark for the set - certainly an extra 89 pieces wouldn't justify a price increase of $30 in a single year.  Unfortunately, I cannot figure out why LEGO decided to up the price so substantially other than the fact that company probably figured that adult collectors will buy the set regardless (obviously that's what I did).  Truthfully, if price is your number one concern then I wouldn't recommend buying the Corner Garage.  That said, if you are willing to stomach the price increase then read on for my full review!

Before I get to the individual floors and mini builds within the model, I have to begin with the best part of the entire set which is the overall look of the model.  The set simply looks amazing from top to bottom.  I love the garage level with the dark green and white motif - and you'll notice a dark red stripe as well...a nice update to the classic Octan colors that LEGO uses for many of its City models.  The gas pump, the angled building front, and even the upper level color scheme all go together to create a great looking whole. 

For a model like this, having a gorgeous exterior is important since the vast majority of people will probably only view it from the outside.  That said, LEGO modular buildings are also known for their detailed interiors and that's where the Corner Garage begins to fall a bit short.

Before I get to the interiors, I should mention that the set does come with a nice tow truck to build as well.  Personally, I could do without the vehicles in the expert modular sets but I understand why LEGO sometimes includes them (the fire truck for the Fire Brigade set was probably necessary, for example)!

As with all of the other modular buildings, each level of the building pops off so that you can see (or play) with the interior of each floor.  As such, it's worth taking a look at each level beginning with the roof top.

LEGO usually goes to some effort to make the rooftop of each modular building look unique and have some sort of visually interesting element.  For the Corner Garage, there's a "can't miss" bright colored umbrella and lounge chair.  There's also a nice roof access entryway and a small flower garden with new (to me at least) red flower pieces.

Heading down to the top floor of the building, we see a person's apartment. 

While the owner of the apartment isn't totally clear, to me it would only make sense if the apartment belonged to the veterinarian who works on the second floor.  The reason being that the only way to get to the third floor is to go through the vet's office!  As you can see from the above photo, the apartment is very small - there's a red sofa with a television, a small kitchen, and an even smaller bathroom (that's what the blue door is hiding).  There's also a bed and a cute little mini build of a truck on sitting on a shelf on the wall. 

It's here that the first instance of a rather sparse interior shows up - you'll notice the kitchen has no fridge and I'll note that the small bathroom has no sink.  There's no wall separating the bedroom from the kitchen/living room and, perhaps worst of all, the entire apartment is left with gray studs rather than tiles.  Unfortunately, this isn't the only floor of the building that suffers from gray stud syndrome.

Moving down a floor, we find the veterinarian's office.  Much like the apartment above it, it's a cramped space with lots of gray studs but at least this does have some interesting mini builds.

My favorite mini build might be that desk light but also enjoyed the cute little frog habitat.  Again, the entire look of the floor is "ruined" somewhat by the gray studs - especially for a medical office, you'd expect it too be all white and sterile looking! 

I do have to give credit for the funny vet sign that is printed on the window.

Apparently the vet is either Indiana Jones or someone who really loves Indiana Jones!

That leads us to the final floor of the model which is the bottom floor of the building - the garage itself. 

The first thing you'll probably notice about the garage is that is way too clean for a working garage (you'll also notice all the uncovered studs I'm sure).  The garage has a few interesting builds (the mechanic's lift actually does go up and down thanks to a clever build in the back of the building and I like the red tool chest a lot).  That said, it's still way too sparse on the inside. 

It seems clear to me that LEGO took the majority of their "piece" budget for the set and applied it to the outside of the building - a smart move since that is the part that everyone will see first! 

The best part of the outside of the building is probably the rolling door (that actually rolls up if you spin the upper tire on the side of the wall).  That was a fun surprise when building the set!

I also really like the vet's office door - it opens directly to a stairwell but the outside of the building looks great (and the paw print piece is a nice touch for the door).

All the complaints of sparseness aside, what is present in the build is wonderfully done and the set itself was a lot of fun to build. 

Overall, I give the LEGO 10264:  Corner Garage set the following rating:
The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  8
Play Value:  5
Kid Value:  7
Adult Value:  7
Overall:  7

While I greatly enjoyed the building process of the set and I think the overall look of the building (from the outside) is incredible, it's impossible to not consider the $30 price increase when trying to objectively assess the Corner Garage set.  This is the first modular set since the Pet Shop was released where I felt like I ought to add a bunch of extra details to the interior of the set.  For a set as pricey as the Corner Garage is, that's obviously a disappointment.  However, all that said, I still recommend the set if you don't mind it not being a great deal from a money standpoint.  The build itself is as fun, interesting, and inventive as you'd expect from a modular set and ultimately that's what it's all about!

Friday, August 2, 2019

LEGO 10858: My First Puzzle Pets - REVIEW

I thought it'd be fun to do something a little bit different today - I'm going to review a Duplo LEGO set.

I bought the LEGO 10858:  My First Puzzle Pets set on clearance a couple of weeks ago and recently gave the set to my young son (who is 14 months old).  Like most Duplo sets, the box is much larger than a typical LEGO System box (City, Star Wars, etc.) but you get way fewer pieces.  Of course, that's because Duplo bricks are much, much chunkier than the average LEGO system brick (trust me, all any 14-month-old wants to do with anything is first stick it in its mouth)!  Obviously, the chunky Duplo blocks are great since they don't become a choking hazard for little ones. 

The front of the box is nice and bright and cheery.  You can clearly make out the three builds of the set as well the various printed pieces.

I had to show off the back of the box as well because I like the LEGO took the time to show that you could build other things besides the three main animals.  I'm not exactly sure what the little hybrid animal is supposed to be but you could probably convince someone that it's a penguin of sorts.

Once the box is ripped open, the contents were packed sort of curiously.  There were two plastic bags full of pieces and then there were two pieces left loose in the box (one a printed piece and the other not printed).  My best guess is that those are the two largest pieces in the set and so LEGO didn't want them in the small plastic bags.  You also get the "instruction" booklet which is really nothing more than a bunch of advertisements for other LEGO sets.

Before I started putting the set together, I had to take notice of the sheer volume of printed pieces in the set.  I guess it's kind of obvious when you look at the box front that there were lots of printed pieces but for someone who is so used to getting large sticker sheets in his LEGO sets the amount of printed parts here made me pause long enough to snap a photograph!

Now, on to the build.  The build is basically broken down into three sections - one for each of the three colors and animals beginning with the red dog.

Truth be told, I bought this set because of the dog.  We have a golden retriever as a pet but my son did not yet have a LEGO version of a dog and this was the closest I had seen from LEGO in Duplo form.  My son does have a molded Duplo cat but that definitely doesn't count since I'm a dog person, not a cat person!

The dog is also the most complicated build of the set - he even has a white tail piece (one of the few non-printed pieces in the set).  The dog bone brick is nice and you'll notice that each animal and its corresponding food share the same color palette.  Kudos to LEGO for that.

Next up, the weakest of the three builds which is the yellow chick.

The chick is made up of only four pieces, one of which is a large circular piece that is both yellow and orange.  It's a weird "paint" job and I don't think that I care for it much.  I also find that the chick's bird seed brick looks more like lemons (and rotten lemons I guess).

Finally, the last build of the box is the blue cat.

For me, the fish brick is the star of the cat build but the entire thing is quite nice.  Not nice enough to make me change from being a dog person to a cat person, but still a nice little build. 

Overall, this is a great little set that introduces youngsters to common animals and primary colors.  The included food bricks lends the set some play value and of course you can mix and match the pieces to your heart's content (as with any LEGO set).

I'll forgo my usual rating system since this is a Duplo set that's clearly marketed to the youngest possible members of LEGO's audience.  I will say, however, that I do recommend the set and that my little guy has enjoyed playing with the various animals. Of course, he's still at the age where "playing" mostly means ripping the pieces apart but hey, at least I'm getting pretty good at putting the animals back together again quickly!

Monday, July 15, 2019

LEGO 31058: Mighty Dinosaurs (3-in-1) - REVIEW

I was rather excited when I first discovered that LEGO had a 3-in-1 Creator set that featured three different dinosaur builds.  I was even more excited when I learned that the set retailed for under $15.

The LEGO 31058:  Mighty Dinosaurs set contains a total of 174 pieces and includes instructions for three different dinosaurs:  a Pterodactyl, a Triceratops, and a Tyrannosaurus Rex.  There is also a fourth dinosaur that LEGO provides directions for on their website, a Brontosaurus looking thing (check that out here). 

Of course, as with all 3-in-1 sets, you can only build one dinosaur at a time - I didn't actually build the online only dino but I did build each of the other three "terrible lizards" so let's take a look.

Before I get to the builds, a quick note on the box and packaging. 

The fact that this is a 3-in-1 set is clearly marked on the box (which is good) and you can quite easily see all three models that the set allows you to build.  Of course, T-Rex gets star billing (and he is most definitely the "main build" of the set as you'll see), but the other two dinos look alright on the box front as well.  I also have to mention that I dig the volcano in the background of the box art, pretty cool and it sets the tone well for imaginative play.

Once you rip open the box, you find three individual instruction booklets (one for each of the three dinosaurs) plus the 174 pieces split into three different (non-numbered) bags.  No matter which dinosaur you choose to build first, you'll need to rip open all three bags and spread the pieces out prior to building!

I decided to build each dinosaur in order of my presumed interest beginning with the Pterodactyl.

The Pterodactyl has a movable head (but not a movable jaw which I feel like was a missed opportunity) along with wings that you can pose in a variety of ways.  Of course, all three dinosaurs in the set make use of the same selection of pieces so the green color scheme will be apparent throughout the review.  That said, the Pterodactyl makes decent use of tan as a secondary color to add a bit of variety to the look. 

The Pterodactyl also gets some crazy looking feet and claws, though that red technic pin and gray connector piece is definitely off-putting and ruins what could have been a decent enough back end of the dinosaur. 

It should also be noted that the Pterodactyl build leaves a whole lot of pieces from the set unused.  I guess that's par for the course in a 3-in-1 (especially for what is ostensibly the #3 build in the set).

Moving on to the second dino in the kit, the Triceratops.

Like most people, I think I prefer the land dinosaurs naturally - my favorite dinosaur as a kid, after all, was Ankylosaurus who definitely wasn't about to take to the air any time soon!  The Triceratops in this build is actually quite nice, especially when viewed from the front of the model.  The LEGO designers did a nice job capturing the Triceratops' crown and three horn look. 

From the side, once again we see the red technic pin (which is still off-putting to me) as well as the large grey ball joint.  In addition, the back of the Triceratops' head looks quite poor - the backside of a bunch of plates isn't usually a good look, especially for animals!  Finally, I should mention that the two different shades of green on the legs (the front legs being brighter than the hind legs) is kind of weird.  I get the limitations from the available parts but the look isn't great. 

Once again, the Triceratops doesn't use all of the available parts, but it does do a bit better job of part usage than the Pterodactyl.

That brings us to our final build of the model - and the main build:  the mighty Tyrannosaurs Rex.

Let me get this stated right away:  No matter what you think of either of the other two models this set is worthwhile simply for the T-Rex build.  No question about it.

The T-Rex is highly posable which makes him perfect for play (or for display).  His jaw opens and closes (and I love the many teeth in his mouth)!  His little tiny arms are adorable (and movable) and his strong hind legs can also be moved.  Finally, you can position his tail in a number of ways to help T-Red maintain his balance.  I even found the small included dino skeleton cute - and it works well since the designers needed the pair of large bones for the Triceratops' horns in the second build!

Overall, I didn't care much for the Pterodactyl build but I did kind of like the Triceratops.  However, the T-Rex is definitely a winner and it makes the entire set worth picking up.  Heck, for under $15, I'm tempted to buy another copy of the set and maybe make the Triceratops to have a couple of dinosaurs to display together!
You get a few extra pieces in the set but otherwise the T-Rex build uses up all the pieces in the box.

Overall, I give the LEGO 31058:  Mighty Dinosaurs set the following rating:
The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  10
Play Value:  10
Kid Value:  10
Adult Value:  5
Overall:  10

This set is clearly aimed at kids and not adults (there aren't any minifigures or overly interesting pieces included) but it's absolutely perfect for what it is.  In fact, I'm guessing any dinosaur loving adult will find plenty of value in the set (I know I did, for example)!  For kids, this one is a slam dunk.  Three different dinosaurs to build means lots of opportunities for play (and building) and each dino can be posed in different ways to complement play even more.  Even better, all three builds are fairly strong - only things like horns and claws are likely to pop off under normal play conditions which is important for a set designed to be played with!  I don't give a lot of 10/10 ratings on sets but this one undoubtedly deserves such a score based on fun, price point, and replayability. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

LEGO 2126: Train Cars - REVIEW

Last week, I placed a bid for LEGO 2126:  Train Cars on eBay and happened to win the auction.  I have been watching auctions for this particular set for about a year (maybe longer) now and was definitely happy to finally have the set in my possession.  The seller claimed the set was 100% complete (which was a big reason that I bid on it) and while that turned out to be not quite true, I'm still happy with the set as a whole.

First up, this was a used set and so all the pieces came packed up in a single Ziploc bag.  The original set came with 378 pieces, five minifigures, and retailed for about $70.  Today, you'll be lucky to get a used copy for about $40 more than the original retail price.  From what I could tell online, this set was a limited release which probably contributes to its fairly high markup (the set was actually released in 1997 despite it looking more in line with the early 90s LEGO Train sets).

Unlike in most newer LEGO sets, the Train Cars set begins with you assembling the five included minifigures.  As you might be able to tell from my set, the guy in the middle clearly had his sunglasses and smile drawn on (or at the very least, "touched up").  I particularly like the train conductor in the yellow jacket as well as the lady in the blue hoodie.  Getting a pair of train workers (complete with the LEGO trains logo on their work vests) is a nice touch as well.  In fact, getting five minifigures for a set like this is great all around!

The meat of the build begins with the red Christmas tree wagon.  The wagon hauls three trees in total (two small and one large tree) and each half of the train car has its own separate compartment.  There are a total of eight doors that swing down which allow for easy access to the trees (perhaps for a not-included LEGO forklift)? 

Next up, the blue tanker car.  My copy of the set was missing a long blue piece that was to connect the tops of the three barrels (you can sort of see the piece in question in the instructions that the car is sitting on in the above photo).  Other than that, I have to admit that I'm sort of confused as to what this car is meant to be hauling.  What do you store in wooden barrels besides whiskey?  I have no idea - but I can admit the car looks kind of cool nestled among the other cargo train cars.

After building a pair of train cars, we switch gears momentarily to build a truck.  This is a simple little dump truck with a working bucket - but at least for my copy the back bucket comes off way to easily when you actually try to play with truck.  Still, the dump truck is a nice inclusion because of the next train car you build...

That's an awesome rock (gravel?) carrying car complete with a pair of tipping hoppers.  The color scheme on the car looks great for a construction train car - and actually the set as a whole looks nice with a red car, blue car, yellow car, and a gray car. 

Three train cars down, one to go.  But before we get to the final car, we have some other builds to complete beginning with this little train repair car that is meant to travel on the train tracks.

The little car is mostly notable for the full complement of LEGO tools that it holds as well as the Octan oil drum in the back (complete with the iconic white, green, and red color scheme that LEGO still uses today). 

The repair vehicle isn't the only small car to build though - next up are a pair of small sports cars that will eventually go on a flatbed train car.

The two cars are built virtually identically other than the back spoilers.  My second missing piece was with the white car (a missing 1x2 plate in white but luckily those are super common pieces and I had a spare to use).  The two cars don't work in scale with the new LEGO City stuff but they do work with the current LEGO Creator sets (especially many of the 3-in-1 Creator sets).

Finally, we build the last train car which is the flatbed meant to hold the two convertibles.  This is by far the simplest train car (and in my opinion, the least interesting).  I suppose real trains have plenty of flatbed cars but they don't make for overly exciting models to build.

For me, the set build ended with a bit of a thud (two small cars and a flatbed) but otherwise it is a great set, even for today's inflated prices on the aftermarket.  I believe LEGO train cars are always in demand and this set offers up some truly unique cars (the blue barrel car and the dual hopper especially). 

Overall, I give the LEGO 2126:  Train Cars set the following rating:
The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  9
Play Value:  7
Kid Value:  7
Adult Value:  9
Overall:  9

The play value suffers slightly since you don't get a train engine but otherwise this is an awesome set.  The extra trucks are a nice touch and each train car is suitably different from the others to make for a much more varied cargo train.  If the set wasn't so expensive on the aftermarket, I could see myself going after another copy or two, that's how much I like this set!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

My LEGO City: Finally Going to Build Some New Stuff!

It's been quite some time since I had the opportunity to work on my custom LEGO city but that's finally about to change!  You see, earlier this week I nabbed a set from eBay that was a set that I wanted ever since I saw it for sale. 

The set in question?

LEGO 2126:  LEGO Train Cars

I love the old LEGO 9V train system.  When I was a kid, my parents bought my brother and I one of the 9V cargo trains and a slew of metal track.  We had a blast with that set - probably more fun with the train than any other set either of us every owned.  I continue my love of metal tracks and 9V trains today (my brother has our original train but I bought myself the green 9V cargo train a year or two ago).  Now, I'm about to have a bunch more cars for my trains (I also have three of the newer Power Function trains that I eventually hope to convert to 9V train engines).

I'll have more on this gorgeous set once I get it built and assembled.  Of course, because it was an eBay purchase of a open (used) set I'll have to be careful to make certain everything is there.  Still, I can't wait to dig in and had to share a quick teaser here on the blog!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

REVIEW: LEGO 40311: LEGO Xtra - Traffic Lights

Somehow, the month of May came and went without me writing a single post here at Playing with Bricks.  Luckily, June is getting off to a much better start with a post early in the month!  I actually have quite a few different LEGO sets to build and review - it's more a matter of finding the time to actually sit down and build stuff!

Anyhow, today we take a look at yet another polybag from the LEGO Xtra line of sets:  LEGO 40311:  Traffic Lights.

This polybag officially contains 46 pieces plus a (very) small instruction sheet.  There are no printed pieces (and no stickers) in the set. 

Out of the 50 or so pieces (counting the extras), there are really only four things to build in the bag - all of which are traffic lights. 

The first two traffic lights are plain while the final two traffic lights share the exact same design but add on a "push to walk" button.  The simpler lights take 8 pieces to build while the slightly more detailed lights take 10 pieces.  That's 36 of the 46 official pieces right there.

The rest of the bag contains some random bits that seemingly have very little to do with traffic lights.

 You get a red wheelbarrow, a green trashcan, a broom, and then some trash to sweep up (banana, bottle, a bone, and a pair of leaves).  I find plenty of uses for wheelbarrows in my own city layout (though I do wish there were dark green wheelbarrows to go with all of the red ones that I own).  The other accessories are fine additions to virtually any LEGO City as well (even if they don't go with the traffic lights in any meaningful way).

Overall, I give the LEGO 40311:  LEGO Xtra - Traffic Lights set the following rating:
The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  1
Play Value:  1
Kid Value:  2
Adult Value:  6
Overall:  3

I have to be honest, this polybag was one that I knew I "needed" for my set but the included accessories didn't spark a lot of interest for me.  Sure, the pieces are all useful in their own way but there isn't anything overly special here to get excited about.  I think the street light Xtra polybag is a much better value - at least there the extra accessories were a little bit better themed (and certainly more interesting).  All that being said, there's a good chance I'll pick up a few more of the Traffic Light polybags simply to get a whole bunch of matching traffic lights for my custom city.  I haven't quite gotten to the point of all the fine-tune decorating of the city streets, but when I do I know I'll be happy to have a bunch of traffic lights pre-built and ready to go up in the city!

Monday, April 15, 2019

REVIEW: LEGO 40312: LEGO Xtra - Streetlamps

I haven't much time lately to devote to my LEGO City - and that includes building any new LEGO sets.  However, that doesn't mean my life has been completely devoid of LEGO goodness though since I recently bought a bunch of LEGO Xtra polybags to help me "scratch the building itch" when it occurs!

I've already gone over two of the bags in a full review (Sea Accessories and Bicycles).  I quite liked the Bicycles polybag and gave it a 7/10 in my review but the Sea Accessories pack didn't float my boat and only scored a 4/10.  Obviously, my first two forays into the land of LEGO Xtra elicited mixed reviews from me, so let's dip our toes back in the water and see if a third polybag can tilt the scales one way or the other.

For today's post, I'm going to look at LEGO 40312:  Streetlamps. 

The Streetlamps polybag comes with 34 pieces.  It also had a small instruction paper which wasn't present in either of the other two Xtra polybags that I looked at previously.  If nothing else, that probably tells you that there are more substantive builds in this set (and you've be correct).

Speaking of the builds, let's start with the set's name sake:  the streetlamps.

In the bag, you get pieces to build two large streetlamps and two smaller lights.  One of the large lights has a pair of street signs attached to it (but no stickers or printing on the tiles to indicate street names).  I like both large lights (though I wish the light poles were white and not black to better go with the modulars).  I don't necessarily love the smaller lights, though at least the parts for each light can be used in other ways within my collection.  I would also be remiss if I didn't point out the cute little hand lantern.  I'll definitely try and find a way to work that into my custom LEGO city at some point in the future!

The other portion of the bag could best be described as containing other things you'd find along the sidewalk besides streetlamps. 

Here, you can see you get a bench, a newspaper stand (with printed tile), a mailbox (but no letter to go in it), as well as a camera and a cellphone (another printed tile).  The set also comes with one single extra piece (the flat 1x1 trans clear stud).  Nothing in this portion of the polybag is amazing, but the cellphone piece is super useful (as is the mailbox).  I'm not sure who uses a lime green camera however!

The polybag comes with only two printed tiles, but as I already mentioned they are nice tiles.

I like the newspaper print, it's not one that I can recall seeing before - or at least not very often.  I also know that cell phone will be hot demand among my LEGO City denizens!

Overall, I give the LEGO 40312:  LEGO Xtra - Streetlamps set the following rating:
The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  2
Play Value:  1
Kid Value:  2
Adult Value:  8
Overall:  7

So far, each of the LEGO Xtra polybags that I've looked at has seemed to cater to a slightly different audience or purpose.  This particular polybag is definitely for the custom city creators out there.  There's virtually nothing in the bag that elicits reactions of "fun to play with" for a kid, but for adults there is very little wasted here.  Arguably, I'd eliminate the two small lights and put in a third large streetlight but otherwise pretty much everything can be plugged right into an existing custom LEGO city without much effort.  For that reason, I think overall that this is a great bag for adults (or older kids) but not a great choice for younger kids who are still interested in only the "play" aspect of LEGO.