Monday, August 31, 2015

A New Line of LEGO for My Collection!

Once in awhile, I fall victim to an impulse buy - and today's latest LEGO set for my collection is definitely one such purchase!

That's right - I bought my first ever LEGO Architecture set.  I actually bought this psuedo-used off of an eBay seller.  The seller said that the box was opened but all the pieces were factory sealed.  You can tell from the above picture that the box has seen better days...but since I prefer to actually open my LEGO sets and build them, I didn't mind getting a busted box if it meant saving a healthy chunk of change on the set itself!

I was a bit apprehensive that everything would be there - but when the box arrived I was pleasantly surprised - not only was everything present (at least I think so) but the manual itself was in pretty good shape.

Speaking of the manual, did you know that the Trevi Fountain manual is super thick?!  Seriously, look at this:

That's a massive manual.  And it's really nice too - there's the usual step-by-step instructions but there are also a bunch of high quality photographs of the subject at hand, namely the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy!

I plan to build this set in the very near future - and when I do I'll be sure to have my actual review.  I simply couldn't wait to take some photos of the box/manual since it just arrived in the mail this week!

And if you are wondering why I made this impulse buy - let's just say I was pining for a return to Italy!  My wife and I visited Italy a few years ago (here's a couple of our photos of Trevi Fountain).


Italy was a wonderful place - albeit crowded!  I would return in a heartbeat if I could...but for now, I'll have to reminisce by building a LEGO replica of one of Italy's most famous cites (now if only there were a LEGO Colosseum to build)!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

LEGO 60077: Space Starter Set - REVIEW

It's been awhile since I've had time to post anything new here at Playing With Bricks.  Not coincidentally, it has also been awhile since I've acquired any new LEGO sets!  Happily, both events occurred this week thanks to a quick grocery trip to Wal-Mart.  My local big box store finally had the new City summer sets (space and underwater)!  I didn't have a lot of extra money to spend, but I did manage to pick up one of the smallest new sets from the LEGO City Space line - set 60077:  Space Starter Set.

The Space Starter Set comes with 107 for about $10 which is right about on point for the usual 10 cents per piece count that many people use to judge a set's value.  Of course, it's already been mentioned many times on other blogs and websites that much of the LEGO City space sets are not good values using that 10 cent metric...the biggest set, in fact, is a horrible value if that's how you judge a set.

Luckily for LEGO (and for my readers), I don't judge a set solely on it's price-per-piece.  Instead, I try to take into account a variety of factors (including price of course).  The best way to judge a set though is to build the thing - so let's get to it!

The front of the box shows off the entire set fairly well - as you can see you get a variety of figures (including a female scientist which is nice).  There is also a small car and a few other odds and ends.

The back of the box tries to emphasize the play value of the set - but ultimately that's probably a bit of a hard sell since there really isn't a lot in the box!  No matter, you don't judge a set on its box any more than you should solely judge it on its price-per-piece.  Let's rip it open and get building!

Opening the box up, you instantly find a pair of plastic bags full of pieces (unnumbered bags) plus the instruction manual.  I was pleased to see that there are exactly ZERO stickers in the set!  Yes!

One of the big questions many people have when trying to decide which new set to buy is "will this set provide any new, unique, or special pieces for my collection?"  For me and the Space Starter Set, that answer is yes.  In fact, there were a few cool or new pieces for me...

The brown piece in the upper left of the above photo was particularly interesting to me - especially since that piece is basically only used to drive over by the included buggy in the set.  I also like the space uniforms and helmets - both of which were new to my collection.  The keyboard tile (printed), wrench, and camera weren't new pieces for me but they were all appreciated since they are such useful pieces to have!

Now that we've taken a closer look at some of the elements, let's put the actual set together!  We begin with the four minifigures.

As I said before, I like the minfigs in the set - a nice variety for a $10 set!  There are two astronauts (same torso) but the one astronaut gets a jet pack and a camera.  The weird thing about the jet pack is that the astronaut has to hold onto the handles - it's not actually attached in any other way to the figure.  The construction worker and the female scientist are also both nice (and useful) figures to have (though I sort of wish the female's torso didn't have the space logo on the back of it).

The little moon rover is fairly nice - a surprising amount of functionality is packed into the small frame!

You get a trans-blue scanner on the front (along with a single red light).  The back has a place to store the astronaut's helmet (though why you'd take your helmet off on the moon is beyond me).  There is also a small satellite dish attached to the vehicle, presumably to send and receive data from the computer terminal.

Speaking of the computer terminal, I guess the idea here is that the computer terminal is attached to a moon-landing training ground - hence the large rocks to drive the buggy over.  I do like the computer itself - and all three of those tiles are printed (the computer monitor, keyboard, and the 1x2 tile next to the computer).

The final two bits to build are super simple - but their inclusion in the set is still appreciated by me.  You get a light stand and a camera - perhaps to fake a moon landing?  There is also a small pile of extra pieces - including a small white bar which I always find useful!

That concludes set #60077:  Space Starter Set.  Overall, I give the set the following scores:

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

You really can't go wrong with this one.  A great selection of pieces, plus four minifigures for slightly under $10 - pretty much perfect.  The buggy is probably the worst part of the set (even if it's the main "draw" on the package)...and even the buggy serves its purpose.  I think this is a great little set for pieces - and personally I cannot wait to get going on my own city MOC and include a space port!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Minifigure Museum: Gladiator (Series 5)



Gladiator:  LEGO Series 5 Minifigure
The Gladiator is a Series 5 minifigure that comes with a helmet, shield, and sword.

I am always a sucker for historically based minifigures so the Gladiator is right up my alley.  Even better, I've actually been to Rome (and the Colosseum) once before - so the Gladiator is even cooler to me than it might otherwise have been!

The gladiator comes with a gold helmet (used by the murmillo class of gladiator according to my research (wikipedia)).  The helmet has lots of small, circular openings in it - it's an odd design for sure!  The gladiator also has a small sword and a plain shield - neither are anything special...clearly the helmet is the main draw of the minifigure!

As for printing, the gladiator has a lot of nice printing on his front (both torso and legs).  He also has some gold armor printing on his right arm (but not his left arm).  There is no printing on the back of the figure however.

Overall, I like the Gladiator quite a bit - though I will admit that I don't see a lot of uses for the helmet pieces outside of a ancient Roman scene.  Even so, I actually like it when LEGO makes some specialized pieces for the Collectible Minifigure line!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Minifigure Museum: Lizard Man (Series 5)



Lizard Man:  LEGO Series 5 Minifigure
The Lizard Man is a Series 5 minifigure that comes with a mask/helmet and a tail piece.

Using the labeling on the figure sheet that comes with each minifigure, the Lizard Man is #6 in the series.  All things considered, I found Series 5 to be a fairly strong entrant in the Collectible Minifigure line - and the Lizard Man is definitely one of the top figures of this particular set!

For me, I've always loved dinosaurs - I had tons of toy dinos when I was a kid, Jurassic Park came out when I was a teenager, and then this year we had a reboot of both the Jurassic Park movie series AND dinosaur sets within LEGO.  That's pretty cool - and it definitely adds to the appeal of the Lizard Man figure.

After all, if you were to build your very own LEGO Jurassic Park MOC, surely you'd want some mascots running around said park...and who better for the job than Lizard Man?!

Although I do love the figure a lot, it must be said that you don't actually get much with this particular figure.  In fact, you get a tail piece (that attaches at the neck) and a face mask piece...and that's it.  There is no printing at all on the legs of the figure nor on the back of the figure.  The front of the torso does get some scaly stomach and abs printing but that's it!

All told, sometimes simple is still pretty cool - and in the case of the Lizard Man, I'd say simple works well!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Everything is Awesome (Ferris Wheel Edition)

I haven't had a chance to write up a proper review yet (it takes a lot of time to photograph the set) but I will give you a sneak peek of one of my next sets to review.

And, yes, I can report that the set is AWESOME.

Monday, June 15, 2015

LEGO 60023: LEGO City Starter Set - REVIEW

Note:  I actually wrote this post a few weeks ago but it kept getting moved down thanks to the Jurassic World stuff.  Now, finally, it's time for the review to shine!

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I have quite a few sets from last Christmas to review on my blog still - so let's get to one of the stranger sets (at first glance anyhow):  Set 60023:  LEGO City Starter Set.

The LEGO City Starter Set is designed to be (you guessed it) - a starter set full of all sorts of things that any good LEGO city would need.

You get a cop on a motorcycle and a crook for that cop to chase.

You also get an ambulance with a medic and a kid on a skateboard who presumably gets hurt quite often.

Finally, you get a firetruck with a firefighter and a small box to set on fire.


The back of the box shows off some of the play value of the set in a fun way!


While each of the individual components are alright on there own, none are particularly difficult to build (which is perfect for a starter set)...except for the stickers.

So many stickers in this set - TWENTY-THREE stickers in total.  That's insane for a set of this size (and with the targeted age range).  So, is the set worth your dollars?  Let's take a closer look at each of the individual parts and then you can make up your mind.

I'll go in the order of the manuals.  You get three manuals plus two different sticker sheets.  You also get a comic book that would be fun for kids I guess (but not so much for adults).

Moving onto the actual build, the first manual and corresponding plastic bag of parts provide everything that you need for the cop and the robber portion of the set.

Here, the cop gets a nice police bike plus a pair of handcuffs (along with an extra pair).  The robber gets two $100 bills, a gold bar, plus two gems.  The robber actually has more look than he can possibly hold - especially if he keeps his handy red crowbar with him!  Another nice touch to bag #1 was the LEGO provided a brick separator.  It's nice to see that those aren't only available in the biggest, most expensive sets!

Moving on to the second manual and back, we get the ambulance plus the skateboarder.

The ambulance looks ok except for the fact that there are no doors for the driver!  I don't particular care for the brick "pretending" to be a door.  You do get a pair of large doors on the back of the ambulance for the stretcher to fit in.  I also like the fact that the paramedic gets a black briefcase - presumably some sort of medical bag for on-the-spot treatment.  The kid skateboarding is as basic as it comes - though I think he needs a dual sided head to make this scene work...the other face should be one with tears!

Finally, we get to the third bag - the fire truck!

I am pleased to report that the firetruck does have doors for the driver (unlike the ambulance) - and as such, this is definitely the better vehicle.  You also get a ladder plus a section in the back for storing the firefighter's equipment.  Finally, you get a single small crate plus a large flame so that the firefighter has something to do with his time!


Overall, I'd say this starter set is nearly perfect.  I wish the ambulance had actual doors and I would have preferred more printed tiles rather than all the stickers (especially for the age group that this set targets).  Otherwise though, it's a great set.  You get five minifigures - plus plenty of accessories.  The two main vehicles fit right in with similar vehicles from the City line (meaning this set would be a nice complement to a LEGO hospital set or a LEGO fire station set).

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  10
Play Value:  10
Kid Value:  10
Adult Value:  6
Overall:  9

It's hard to find much to complain about here in terms of the ratings.  The adult value is the only thing that is low since the set doesn't really come with much in the way of unique pieces - and none of the minifigures are of a rare design (though all are certainly useful figures to have)!  This set is highly recommended for all!

LEGO 75916: Dilophosaurus Ambush (Jurassic World) - REVIEW

Ever since I heard that there was going to be a new Jurassic Park movie, I was excited.  When I learned that there would be a full series of LEGO sets to go along with the movie?

Well, that made me ecstatic.

Flash-forward to the movie's release (I'm going to the movie this coming weekend) and here's my first Jurassic World LEGO set.  Before I get to the specifics of this set, let's review the entire Jurassic World LEGO line of sets for a moment.

This time around, LEGO created six dinosaurs for everyone to collect.  Two of them are raptors ("Blue" and "Delta") which you can get in set #75917.  There is also a sweet Pteranodon that (unfortunately) comes in the helicoptor set (#75915).  The Dilophosaurus comes in the set that I have in hand and then there are the two big baddies of the movie.  The T-Rex is available in set #75918 while the star of the movie, the fearsome Indominus Rex is only available in set #75919.

Note:  Upon doing a bit of further research, there is a set called Raptor Escape Set #75920 which has two more raptors (named "Charlie" and "Echo").  You also get two minifigures in that set that aren't mentioned in the manual that came with my set (the vet and Barry).  It appears that set might be a Wal-Mart exclusive (while also available at LEGO.com).  There was also a polybag exclusive from GameStop which you could only get if you pre-ordered the LEGO Jurassic World video game (which unfortunately I did not do).  That polybag has yet another dinosaur - the Gallimimus.

On the one hand, it's great that the dinosaurs are all spread out among all the different Jurassic World sets (at all price levels).  On the other hand, it does mean you can't just buy one set (say the biggest set) and get the full assortment of dinos.  That's a shame - and it doesn't end there because all the movie characters are also spread out across the various sets.  It's sort of strange to me that you can only get the Owen (the character played by Chris Pratt) in a single set...likewise with Clair, Dr. Wu, and the rest of the gang.

So, all that said, how does this particular set stack up?  Is it worth the $30.00 price tag or is it a set that should be avoided (much like a dino in the wild)?

First, a word about the box.

This is one of the better box designs that I've seen from the LEGO Company lately.  The front looks great - especially the scaly design at the top of the box (nevermind that there should be more feathers on the dinos given what science tells us now).

The back of the box isn't a slouch either - plenty of exciting looking scenes...which is impressive given how limited this set actually is in terms of parts!  I like how you get to see the other dinosaurs that are available in different sets - good marketing for sure!

Of course, you don't buy the set for the box - you buy it for the pieces (and the sweet dinosaur)!  Opening up the set, you get a pair of numbered bags with a total of 248 pieces.

With a price of $30, this set definitely doesn't meet the "standard value" ratio of 10 cents per piece.  Instead, this set is basically 12 cents per piece.  I suppose that can be forgiven here though because of the dinosaur mold plus the gyrosphere pieces - but more on that in a moment.  In addition to the numbered bags, you also get a bag containing the dino parts (in separate pouches) plus a sticker sheet.  The best news here is that the sticker sheet "only" contains eight stickers.  I had no trouble applying them (they are all small stickers so that makes it easier) but really you could get away with only using the three larger blue stickers and still end up with a nice looking truck.

Looking at the first manual's build, you assemble the two minifigures, the dilophosaurus, the gyrosphere, the two crates, plus the base of the truck.  As you can see, there are a few extra pieces here, nothing spectacular but the transparent red squares are always useful!

From other reviews that I read, I was expecting the gyrosphere to be a letdown in the set.  Happily, I was surprised by it - it worked exactly as advertised (you can roll it along and the Gray minifigure will remain sitting upright).  I also feared having to put those blue stickers on the sides...but those are actually printed on so thank you LEGO!

Moving on to the second bag, you get to finish off the vehicle.

The vehicle is pretty simple though there were a few clever / different uses of parts.  For starters, you get a pair of blue crowbars which are used to create the roll bar for the Jeep.  I don't have any particular use for the flick-fire missiles but I get why they are on the car...play value and all that.

I might be getting old these days...I was a kid when the original Jurassic Park movie came out...but even I couldn't help "playing" with the set a bit after I built it.

Yeah, it's fun!

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  10
Play Value:  10
Kid Value:  10
Adult Value:  7
Overall:  8.5

I had to dock the set a touch for the price - $30 is a bit steep (even with the dino) for only 248 pieces...especially since the majority of those 248 pieces are quite small.  The minifigures are also really boring in this set.  I haven't yet watched the movie (as of when I wrote this review), so I have no idea how big or small of a character Gray is, but the ACU guy is just dino fodder.  All that said, as I built the set I couldn't help but have fun...and really that's the biggest compliment I can give the set!  I will also say that I did a bit of research trying to figure out which Jurassic World set seemed to be the best value and I ended up choosing this set (which was still a bit short on the price-per-piece count).  Don't buy the Jurassic World sets for piece value, instead buy 'em for fun value (and, in the case of older people like me, nostalgia value)!