Friday, March 23, 2018

REVIEW: Catwoman Catcycle Chase (#70902) - a LEGO Batman Movie set

Over the past few months, I've accumulated a fair number of LEGO sets that I need to sit down and build (and then review).  Today's set is one such set that I've had sitting around for quite some time.  If my memory is correct, I grabbed this set on discount from Walmart around Christmas time.

The set in question is LEGO 70902:  Catwoman Catcycle Chase - a lovely alliteration of a title if I ever saw one. 

The set comes with only 139 pieces but it makes up for that with three minifigures (Batgirl, Robin, and Catwoman).  The box contains two numbered bags of pieces, one for the catcycle and one for the jewelry store. 

Surprisingly (to me at least), the catcycle is 100% brick built, no large chassis piece or something similar like on many LEGO motorbikes.  Even better, the build of the catcycle was remarkably fun and varied for such a simple set...I think there were definitely a few new (to me) techniques used.  I'm also happy to report that the pieces with designs on them are all printed pieces on the catcycle (this is not true for the corresponding jewelry store however).

Speaking of the jewelry store, it's probably being generous to call this a proper store.  The main winder houses a display of two different gems (a diamond and a ruby presumably).  After that though, there's nothing inside.  No cash register, no drawers, no other stock, nothing.  Bare bones would be a generous way to describe the store, though I will admit that it looks pretty good from the outside looking in.

Overall, at a suggested retail price of $19.99 I can't honestly suggest the set but if you can nab it for less than it's a decent deal for three minifigures plus two small builds.  The three minifigures are nice enough (though I would say that Catwoman and Batgirl look much too similar with their fully purple outfits).  As I mentioned earlier, the catcycle is actually quite a nice little build but the jewelry store is lacking an interior entirely which is a disappointment for a $20 price point.  Even something as simple as a stool and a cash register would have helped (and it would have provided more stuff for Catwoman to rob in terms of play value).

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  8
Play Value:  9
Kid Value:  8
Adult Value:  2
Overall:  4

The set is undoubtedly fun - the cycle just begs to be raced up and down the furniture, floor, and anywhere else.  The three minifigures are all good - and it's nice to see a LEGO Batman Movie set that doesn't feature Batman as one of the minifigs.  That said, the set still doesn't feel like it's worth the asking price of $20.  If you can get this closer to $15 (Amazon has it for sale for sale right now) then I think it's worth it, especially for children since small buildings in LEGO are hard to come by (I remember being a kid and always lamenting the fact that my "city" had hardly any buildings in it).  The set also encourages creativity (accidentally I believe) but having the framework of a small building but nothing much inside it.  For adult collectors, this isn't much of a display piece...you are basically buying the minifigs and a parts pack of mostly Technic pieces.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

LEGO 2000446: Building my SG (a LEGO Education set from Singapore) - REVIEW

Today's set up for review is a different beast entirely.  First of all, I ended up with the set via a baseball card trade with Brett on my baseball card blog (I actually love trading cards for LEGO)!  Second, the set was a giveaway set to school children...in Singapore only!

This is LEGO 2000446:  Building my SG:


First, a word on the set itself from Brickipedia:
It can be built into either Gardens by the Bay, Changi Airport or Cavenagh Bridge. The set contains 244 pieces. The set is given to all students and teachers and they are encouraged to build their vision of Singapore in the future. As part of SG50 celebrations the students and teachers were given this set. Currently it is unavailable for sale.

Someone that is only in LEGO for the money would probably leave this box unopened (copies of it are listed on Bricklink for about $80 US right now for example) but not me.  When I get some LEGO in the mail, I build it and enjoy it for what's worth!

The set itself contains 244 pieces and it has instructions within it to build three different iconic Singapore landmarks.  I've never been to Singapore, so this my first exposure to all three structures.

First up, the Gardens by the Bay.  According to the single manual included in the set, the Gardens by the Bay captures the essence of Singapore - this is a "premier tropical garden."  The second build is the Cavenagh Bridge - the oldest bridge in Singapore (built in 1868).  The third and final build in the set is the Changi Airport, which the manual says is the sixth busiest airport in the world today.  

Interestingly, LEGO structured the set to be as inclusive as possible to builders of all skill levels.  Each of the three landmarks (you can only build one landmark at a time) comes with three levels of difficulty.  I think that's a neat touch and certainly fitting for the LEGO Education label.

The set comes with a single sticker for Singapore's 50th anniversary of its independence.  The box also contains a pair of plain minifigures (one boy and one girl), both of which are nice inclusions since this is not a minifigure scale set!

I consider myself an "expert" builder, so I'm going to jump straight through to the level 3 build (suggested age 17+ according to LEGO). 

First up, the Gardens by the Bay.
Image source:  https://www.lokopoko.travel/product/singapore-attraction-ticket-gardens-by-the-bay/

The Gardens by the Bay looks like an amazing structure, now that I've read up on it a little bit.   The large structures you see in the above photograph are actually vertical gardens.  Super cool!  The LEGO version of the Gardens by the Bay is, admittedly, a bit lackluster.

In fact, I'd say that the LEGO model looks rather industrial with just a dash of vegetation, rather than the actual site which is basically vegetation with just a dash of buildings!  I do like that SG 50 sticker though - it makes for a nice addition on the display piece. 

As I mentioned earlier, the box contains the pieces needed for three different landmarks, but you can only build one at a time from a given box.  This does mean that there are a lot of unused pieces for each model, in the case of the Gardens by the Bay the extras in the box looks like this:

Next up, the Cavenagh Bridge.
Image source:  http://www.buildingmysg.com/landmarks-from-the-set/cavenagh-bridge/

Based on the box front, I felt like the Cavenagh Bridge model was the one that was of most interest to me.  I'll make my final determination after I build all three models, but I can say for certainty that the bridge model is more interesting (and a better approximation of the real thing) than the Gardens by the Bay model.

I think the bridge is a much better scale model of its subject than the Gardens.  I also like the little bits of blue "waves", it helps to complete the bridge look.  Overall, I like this model quite a bit (then again, I'm a sucker for bridges and water anyhow so this model was sort of meant for a person like me).

In terms of unused pieces, there are quite a few but this model uses most of the "big" pieces other than the round ones which will be used in the final model of the set.

That final model is the Changi Airport.
Image source: http://www.visitsingapore.com/travel-guide-tips/travelling-to-singapore/changi-airport-singapore/

The Changi airport is a busy place - and judging by the above photograph, it might easily be one of the prettiest airports that I have ever seen!

So how does the LEGO version compare?

Well, I guess it's alright though again LEGO definitely went with a minimalist approach to the model.  Truth be told, while this looks vaguely like an airport (mostly thanks to the giant control tower), I don't see how this model represents the Changi airport any more than say JFK airport in the US. 

I will say that this model felt like it used the most pieces (I didn't actually count) but here's a look at the "leftover" pieces.


Overall, this set definitely led up to its Education name in that I learned quite a bit while building the various models and writing this post.

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  2
Play Value:  2
Kid Value:  8
Adult Value:  4
Overall:  6

This set was extremely tough to grade because of a couple of key points:
1)  It was a giveaway set in Singapore (so value is off the charts strictly speaking).  I chose to grade it was if this were a $25 LEGO architecture set (which is the closest "regular" lineup option I could think of).
2)  The set is designed to be an educational tool more so than a toy.  The two included minifigures mean that there is some play element but ultimately the minifigures can't be anything other than "King Kong" for the models (which I suppose could be fun in its own way).  That said, it is kind of fun to be able to build three completely different models from the same kit. 

In the end, I think the kit succeeds for what it is trying to do.  It's educational - and the three different "skill levels" mean that kids of all ages could build their version of some famous Singapore landmarks.  As previously mentioned, the set was a giveaway for school kids so I think it hit all the right notes (even if I found two of the three models to be fairly poor representations of their subject matter). 

I would be remiss if I didn't note that there is an entire webpage that is designed to go along with this set (found here). 

Another great big thanks to blog reader (and baseball card trader) Brett who sent me this set for my collection.  It's definitely a unique set for me...and one that I'll be keeping in tact (I like to take apart a lot of my sets and build my own stuff, but not with this set)!  I hope to have more LEGO related content on the blog soon, but for now let me know what you think of this set (and similar LEGO education sets that are out there).


Monday, February 19, 2018

Guest Post: LEGO Storage Options


Editor's Note:  The good folks from Ninja Brick LEGO News recently contacted me about doing a guest post on my blog.  Since I'm always happy to include more voices, I happily agreed.  Today's post is from them - and it's full of good information about different LEGO storage options.  Enjoy.

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We all love LEGO, but the thing is: how do you store them? Sure, some come with their own containers, such as the assorted LEGO 10697 box set, but what about sets? Well, we've looked at some LEGO storage ideas and how to stay organized. You don't want to lose pieces or worse: step on them, right?




LEGO Storage Ideas & Staying Organised

My first ever LEGO set was stored in a cardboard box. My set wasn't very big (it was around 250 pieces, which is fairly common in LEGO sets), but it wasn't a very good idea: the box frayed at the edge with time and handling, and dismantled fairly quickly. While most bricks stayed, it was easy to lose some of the smaller pieces such as studs.
So, it's fairly important to have some way to keep your LEGO organized and tidy. There are many ways to do it, and sorts of containers you can have. Let's take a look at some LEGO Storage Ideas and a full organisational plan.

Keep together or separate?

The first question to ask is: should I keep all of them in a single container?

Most people will prefer to do just that: toss all the pieces inside a single bin or container. I'd advise something more durable than a cardboard box to keep them (organizers made of a durable plastic should do the trick, such as these stylish LEGO head containers), but it's all up to quantity and how much you handle them.

The disadvantage of this LEGO storage idea is, how do you find a single brick you may need or want, without diving elbow deep into sharp plastic pieces? While children will not mind this (and truly, will often devolve to this anyway), adults might not want the hassle of diving through a mess of pieces. Besides, pouring them out to search for that one LEGO piece may well result in lost pieces. Still, it's a simple, cheap and effective way to store them.

The more organization-oriented among us may use divided containers. One may even keep several containers with different-sized pieces, whatever suits best and fits the number of pieces in question. It doesn't have to be all pieces of the same type in a single division or container, either, although that certainly helps.

How to separate them?

If you've too many LEGO bricks, you will want to separate them. This is especially true for adult LEGO fans, as we often have less time to dig around for the special piece we need in a project. So there are a few methods to do so.

By colour
Colour is one of the most obvious ways to sort LEGO, and this might be the easiest one to try for. Depending on the number, however, it might not be as useful, as you may fall on the same problem as the "bin everything together" situation: storing several pieces together only by colour might not actually help you find what you want. Still, it's a good way to categorize your LEGO pieces and find them quickly for a project -- it really depends on the need and space/availability of the owner.

By set
If you have many sets, you may want to keep the pieces separated by the set to make them easier to reconstruct. This is best for sets intended as toys (even though a large part of LEGO is creation itself), especially if you only have a few or several in the same theme and want them by themselves. While this removes a bit of the spirit of LEGO (being able to mix and match and build what you want), it has its uses, so that's a possibility as well: reverse the process and sort them into Ziploc bags, per set.

By type
Separating LEGO by type (plates, slopes, Technic, bricks, studs, etc.) is the next most sensible way to store LEGOs and the most effective for most collections. LEGO colours tend to be bright and easy to identify, so there isn't a lot of risk of confusing them in a mess of pieces. If they are the same type, it's easier to dig through and find what you need.
Type and colour
This only really applies to people who have a lot of pieces. Immense collections will definitely need storing this way. But some people, even with smaller collections, might want to try this to keep everything very accessible and tidy. Might take a lot of containers and space, though, and may not be worth if you don't have lots of pieces of the same colour and type.

How to store them?
Once you figure out your method, there's the actual storing. There are several LEGO storage ideas, the most common being, of course, plastic containers and organizers. Ziploc bags might be good for fewer parts. If using plastic containers, it's good that they have lids to protect against spills and things such as weather and dust. Depending on the size, they can be carried around easily. Some organizers come with internal divisions, which is neat.
LEGO has licensed storage bricks which are often stackable as well, and work just as well as plastic containers (while looking very stylish).

Drawstring bags

You don't have to put them in a plastic container, however. They can go into drawstring cloth bags, the size of which depends on your needs. Several smaller ones can make it a lot easier to store a small collection divided by type or colour, too. Being cloth, it's also easier to shake out some missing pieces, but depending on the bag you may need to pour all of them out before work.

Stacking
If you don't have many LEGO, you can simply... stack them. Yes. Making use of what LEGO do: stick together. You can stack them by type and even by colour and thus make nice towers of LEGO to store them together.

It definitely makes them easier to store and to find, especially when you don't have many of the same type (too many and it might compromise the stability of the tower). This would be especially cool for DUPLO bricks, as they are larger and thus, more stable as well. Still, it's an option to keep your bricks together and organized.

A possible con to this LEGO storage idea, however, is unsticking the bricks once you need them. Sometimes LEGO bricks stick to each other very strongly, so you may need a brick separator for this purpose. Whatever the case, though, it's still an option.

Furniture

Well, that's a possibility as well. Might not be the most efficient, or organized, but specialized furniture to store LEGO does exist (in special, IKEA). For a serious collector this might not be the best, as furniture isn't exactly flexible to growing collections, but still, it does exist, so there's that. This is especially fun for children, though, as many double as activity tables.

Plastic drawers/drawer stacks


Many crafters make use of these drawers to store supplies, so that's also a possibility as a LEGO storage idea. Drawers make them readily accessible and, depending on the sorting used, easy to find as well. Plus, drawers often can be stacked themselves, and look clean and decorative. Some of these drawers also come with divisions (these are more specific types), which helps if you have a huge collection.

Cardboard boxes
I know, I know. I was against them at first. But truly, it only depends on the way you store your stuff, how much you handle them, and how many you have. In the past, I found unused shoeboxes very useful (they're also easy to label) and some cardboard boxes can be quite strong as well. LEGO is all about creativity; finding ways to store them can also be as creative as you want.

Storing Minifigures

So what about minifigures? Thus far we deal only with individual bricks, but what about minifigures? Well, this depends on how you want to store them. You could dump them all together, depending on how many you have. You could also disassemble them and treat their parts as you would LEGO bricks themselves (heads, hairs, torsos, etc.). This also applies to accessories and animals, which may have their own sorting system in a system like the bricks themselves, depending on how many.
If you'd rather store them by themselves, fully formed, you could use tackle boxes, plastic bags, or any other previous method to store them together in a way that makes sense. You could organize them by gender, for exemple, or by theme, or style. Also note there are things such as mini-dolls and maxi-figures as well that may not fit smaller containers meant for minifigures. Whatever the way, do what makes most sense for your collection and needs. Many people love display cases for minifigures (and even sets).

Conclusion

In essence, the best way to organize your LEGO depends on you. It varies according to the size of the collection, diversity of bricks, usage, the age of the person playing with them, and other factors such as available space for storage and how much handling and moving around they need. I do hope this article helps you find the best LEGO storage ideas and way to organize your LEGO collection according to your needs. Have fun!


Saturday, February 10, 2018

My Custom LEGO City: A Complete Overhaul of the Layout!

I had a snow day last week where I was pretty much stuck inside the house.  While I suppose there were some things I could have done, I figured I'd take the time to rip apart my old LEGO city and put it all back together again.  The main reason for the redo was that my first choice of boards (to elevate the back part of my city) ended up warping horribly within a few months.  So much warping, in fact, that I was afraid the buildings themselves would soon slide off the table! 

After tearing everything off the table, I went back to the drawing board and came up with brand new design for my LEGO train track as well.  This is a much better system in that I can now run three different trains simultaneously without any sort of fear or worry that the trains will collide.

Of course, the beauty of LEGO is that it's much better to see it than it is to read about it...so let's take a look at my new video of my city!

That's all for now.  I certainly have hundreds (maybe even thousands) of ideas, both big and small, to improve my city.  That said, as long as make progress that I'm happy with every now and then, I'll call it a success!

Thursday, January 25, 2018

REVIEW: LEGO 60171: Mountain Fugitives

The LEGO 60171:  Mountain Fugitives set is basically a starter set for the mountain police subtheme introduced in 2018.  The set comes with 88 pieces which is on the low end for a $10 set - but it also includes four minifigures which is definitely on the high end.  So, given that, the question is:  is the set worth $10 or should you pass on this one?

For starters (pun intended), the idea of this set is to simply introduce kids (and adults) to the mountain police subtheme.  Believe it or not, there is actually one set in the theme smaller than this one, but unless you want even more police vehicles, I found the Mountain Fugitives set to be the most appealing set after the largest police station set in the subtheme (and obviously this set is much, much cheaper to acquire)!



Let's take a look at the set and see if you agree with my assessment.



As stated already, you get four minifigures.  Two of them are the "good guys" and two are the "bad guys."  In this set, I think the bad guys are more fun...but the best minifigure is actually the one police woman.

That hair/hat combo piece looks amazing - and there's no doubt I'd like to acquire a bunch more of those (preferably in different color hat/hair combinations).  I'm not sure if that was a new mold for 2018 or not, but it was the first time I saw it!  A pleasant surprise from the little set for sure.

The other policeman (who is a man) gets to drive the 4-wheeler.  As builds go, the 4-wheeler isn't anything special but I do think it looks better than most of the other similar police 4-wheelers that LEGO has done lately - that newish grill piece really helps!

Moving on to the criminals, we also get a 50/50 gender split between male and female crooks (which is great).  The lady crook gets a backpack to store a couple of gold bars while the male crook doesn't even get a shirt to cover up his jail clothing.  I do wish LEGO would "cool it down" a bit with having to make every crook in LEGO City wear a black-and-white striped jail top, but otherwise these are nice enough figures.

I should point out that the wooden "end" piece is actually a printed piece.  That was a very pleasant surprise when I built the set (I had assumed it was a sticker used there like most LEGO City sets seem to employ).

The star of the show, however, is the new beehive piece.  I basically bought this set strictly so that I could be sure I owned one of the beehive pieces and it didn't disappoint.  It's bright - so it sticks out nicely...and in a fun touch, you can even fit the entire beehive over top of a minifigures head!



The only other play feature in the set is that you can swing the small plant piece at the base of the tree out of the way.  Behind it lies a small little storage cubby, big enough for a those gold bars but not much else (which is fine since the set doesn't come with any other "treasure" for the robbers to have looted).  I'll never turn down getting more LEGO plant pieces so I'm happy with the inclusion.

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  10
Play Value:  10
Kid Value:  10
Adult Value:  4
Overall:  8

For $10, you get four minifigures, a small vehicle, a bit of scenery, and a beehive.  That's a lot of play value for a kid for a  low price point (by LEGO standards).  Kudos to LEGO for that.  Unfortunately, for adult collectors this set doesn't really offer anything new or overly desirable except for the beehive (and maybe the printed 2x2 round "wood" tile).  The two criminal minifigures are hampered in their use by the striped shirts and I'm guessing any adult LEGO collector already has more police officers than they could possibly need in a LEGO City.  Still, at $10 you can't go wrong if you want to simply "scratch the itch to build."

Monday, January 15, 2018

REVIEW: LEGO 60160: Jungle Mobile Lab - REVIEW

The LEGO 60160:  Jungle Mobile Lab contains 426 pieces including four minifigures, a small waterfall, a venus fly trap, and a large mobile lab vehicle.  The question is, is the set worth the money or should you spend your hard earned dollars elsewhere?  Lucky for you, I'm here to help answer that question - so let's take a closer look at the set.

The set itself was priced at $60 though as of this moment you can find it for quite a bit less on Amazon (link provided to the left).  However, for the purposes of the review, I'll assume you spent the original asking price of $60 (which is what I did since I happened to buy this set in the summer).

So what does the $60 get you?  For starters, you get 4 minifigures and 426 pieces which on the surface doesn't seem like a great deal.  However, it's always possible that the set delivers in unexpected ways, so let's take a look beginning with the first build you do.

Here, we see the four minifigures that come with the set.  It should be noted (happily) that two of the figures are females (the other two are males which makes for a great gender balance).  I particularly am happy to see that the "Indiana Jones" figure of the set is actually a woman - and better yet, a woman without a scared face (the scientist woman does have a scared "second face" which is perfect for the role she plays).

The other star of the first part of the build (and the set for that matter) is this Venus Fly Trap with the spider.  The fly trap has a rubber band that truly "snaps" its jaws shut with a fair bit of force.  It's a simple mechanism, but it works well and is quite satisfying.  As a kid, I would have loved this piece for sure!

The set comes with two large components, the mobile lab which we'll get to in a bit and a waterfall/temple build.

Looking at the build, you can see a large waterfall (complete with a plastic "curtain" that acts as the falling water) and the remains of a small, ruined temple.  I particularly like the little footpath through the waterfall, but there's a hidden action feature there that makes it more dangerous...there's an alligator waiting from behind the waterfall to strike at an unsuspecting person! 

The other action features of the set include the branch at the top of the temple which can be "cut away" with the machete to reveal the gem and the green whip piece which is supposed to be a vine you can use to swing across the river.  For such a small build, it's quite well done and I like it a lot.

That's what the back looks like.  You can see the simple push mechanism for the alligator.

Next, the mobile jungle lab - the set's namesake.  First, it should be noted that this is a large, heavy duty vehicle.  Perfect for the jungle (or for rolling around in a child's sandbox).  The vehicle actually seats two people in the front while the other two minifigures can be put in the back research area.  That's awesome because it means all four included figures can ride in the one vehicle.  I like self-containing sets like that.

The main play feature of the vehicle has two components.  On the outside (of the backside) of the vehicle, you get a pair of collection bins with opening doors.  These are perfect for sliding in 1x1 or 1x2 tile pieces (though you don't get any tiles included for the exact purpose).  Still, you can use the two boxes as storage compartments as well which is always fun.

The main play feature though is the mobile lab itself.  To get access to the inside, the front panel swings away and the top roof swings up which allows plenty of space for both minifigures and human hands to get inside!  Speaking of the inside, you get a radar, a contour map, and a scale (all stickers) plus a couple of green bottles meant to represent vials holding specimens to be studied.  Pretty cool set-up and definitely worthy of being called a lab. 

As a whole, despite the 10 stickers and only 426 pieces, I think this set is actually worth the original asking price of $60.  There is a TON of play value packed into the set - and with enough new pieces (and interesting uses of some older pieces), the build itself was fun as well. 

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  10
Play Value:  10
Kid Value:  10
Adult Value:  8
Overall:  9
Be careful crossing that path!

Looking at value, you get four minifigs with great printing, an awesome vehicle, the new kayak piece, plus a Venus Fly Trap, alligator, and decent sized waterfall/temple build.  That's quite a bit for the money - and none of it feels tacked on or incomplete.  For those that are wondering how this set compares to the similarly priced LEGO 60159:  Jungle Halftrack Mission (which I reviewed here), I'd say this set is worth the extra $20.  In this set, you get twice as many minifigs plus a much larger structure build and a larger, more detailed truck build.  While you don't get the black panther in this set, you do get the Venus Fly Trap which is equally cool (along with the alligator). 

For another comparison, here are the two land structures from the two sets side-by-side.  As you can see, the structure from this set pretty much dwarfs the other sets "temple."  Also, it should be noted that with all the extra greenery provided in this set, it feels more like a jungle than the other set as well. 

The Jungle Mobile Lab is an easy one for me to recommend...and if you act quickly, you might even be able to nab this at a fairly substantial discount!

Monday, January 8, 2018

REVIEW: LEGO 60159: Jungle Halftrack Mission

One of the LEGO City subthemes that interested me the most over the past few years is the jungle exploration theme.  For whatever reason, I've always loved LEGO greenery - so having a bunch of City sets based in the jungle seemed like a surefire way to acquire some new foliage...and get some pretty cool sets in the process.  Of course, things didn't turn out quite that way - most of the jungle sets don't actually include all that much foliage, but they do have some...and many of the jungle sets still look interesting to me which means if I can find them on sale there's a decent chance I'll pick them up.  That's exactly what I was able to do with LEGO 60159:  Jungle Halftrack Mission.  I get this for about 25% off after Christmas - and at that price, I pretty much had to buy it!  Now, I need to review it...

The set comes with 378 pieces including two minifigures, the new spider (in red), and a black panther.  You also get two vehicles and a bit of a jungle temple / ruins.  Not bad for a suggested retail price of about $40.  The price to part ratio is a bit higher than the generally accepted $0.10 per part, but with the large panther mold and two nice minifigures, I think that can be overlooked without any issue.

Opening up the box, you get four numbered bags, three instruction booklets, and a sticker sheet containing ten stickers.  The first bag has you build the undeniable star of the set:  the black panther (ok, you don't actually build anything, it's all one piece) but it's awesome.  You also get to build the smaller of the two vehicles and a small campfire build.

It would appear that the panther really wants that chicken leg...and I'm not sure that the frying pan will do much to stop the creature from getting what it wants!


The second and third bags are both used for the main vehicle in the set, the halftrack jungle truck.  I love the treads on the back end of the vehicle - and there's are two "cheater wheels" hidden underneath the model to ensure the treads move whether you are driving the car on soft carpet or slick tile/hardwood.  That's a nice touch in the design - and it definitely adds to the playability factor in a positive way.

The halftrack looks good from pretty much every angle and I like the inclusion of the two clips on the side for minifigure accessories (such as the machete and the walkie-talkie).  The back of the truck contains a fairly long chain piece as well, perfect for ripping apart old temples!

The fourth and final bag builds the bit of the jungle temple, complete with a spider trap for those foolish enough to try and grab the red ruby. 

All told, this is a fine little set at $30 (the sale price that I was able to get it at).  It's too expensive, in my mind, for the regular retail price of $40 even though you do get two vehicles.  Actually, I think that's the problem.  The first vehicle is fine enough in its own right, but when you compare it to the second vehicle that comes in the set, the first seems pretty pointless.  After all, what kid would want to play with the little mini-Jeep like car when they could use the halftrack?!  No kid, that's who. 

I think LEGO wanted to make a set in the $40 range...and probably that's why the black panther is in this set (to serve as a sales driver).  LEGO's plan obviously worked because I wouldn't have bought this if the panther weren't included...but even with the panther, I waited until I could get the set on sale.

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  9
Play Value:  10
Kid Value:  10
Adult Value:  4
Overall:  8

For kids, this set is a pure winner.  Two minifigs (one male, one female which is nice), the black panther, two vehicles, some random accessories, and a bit of temple makes for a great self-contained playset.  For a child, this set is definitely worth the $40 original price tag.  However, for adult collectors I don't think the value is quite there.  The smaller of the two vehicles doesn't offer up anything new or unique and could have been easily omitted for adult collectors.  The halftrack has a nice design and while small, the jungle temple bit is nice enough as well (though what are the two blue pins on the side of the model for anyhow)?  At the current $30 sale price, I feel justified recommending this set to anyone.  If you can only find it at $40, I'd probably holdout a bit and hope for another sale at a future date unless you are buying this for a kid who will use all the various vehicles in some sort of jungle play scene.