Monday, December 30, 2013

LEGO 60016: Tanker Truck - REVIEW

When I was a kid, I was mostly interested in the Castle and Space lines of LEGO sets.  However, I did have a few different town/city sets (including a sweet space shuttle with launch pad).  There was, however, one city set that I always wanted yet never owned...

You might have guessed:  A tanker truck!

Thanks to my brother (and the Christmas holiday), I now own my very own tanker truck as he bought me LEGO 60016:  Tanker Truck.  Oh sure, it might be twenty years too late for me to play with it like I would have, but it's still much appreciated!

As for the set itself, it contains 191 pieces.  Within those almost 200 pieces, you build a tanker truck, a small gas pump, and you get a single minifigure.  I should note that this set is (I believe) no longer being made by LEGO so if you want your own copy you might want to scoop one up now while they are still somewhat easy to find...prices will probably go way up once the big box stores' stock is used up!

Once you open the box, you are greeted by two numbered bags.

As I mentioned above, the set contains only one minifigure - and he's nothing overly special (but he gets the job done).

I would have preferred a second minifigure (but then again, when wouldn't someone want an extra figure)?!

The first bag builds two things besides the figure - the small gas tank and the bottom chassis of the truck.  The gas tank would look good with a full gas station - but by itself its pretty small and insignificant.

That said, I'm glad LEGO included it because it does help with the play value of the set (not to mention it is yet another small piece to add to a growing City layout)!

The rest of the first bag is used to build the bottom portion of the truck.  As with many LEGO City sets, you get a wide variety of colors used (many of which eventually get hidden by later pieces).  In this set, you get green, brown, red, white, and blue along with the grey and black.

Moving onto the second bag, you begin by building the cab space.  I happen to like cab a lot - you get moving doors plus the hanging side-view mirrors.  The top pops off for easy access to the driver's spot - and of course you get a red mug since that's apparently a "must have" in all recent LEGO City sets.

After building the cab, the only thing remaining is the big tank on the back of the truck.  Of course, without the tank you have a hauling truck should you wish to play that way instead!

Despite the tank being the largest part of the truck, it actually uses the fewest total number of pieces.  It's basically made up of two large green half cylinders, two large white half cylinders, and a few red plates.  However, the finished product is really, really nice!

As a whole, I think the Tanker Truck looks awesome.  I love the dual exhaust stacks and the fact that you get a cabinet on one side of the vehicle (complete with a small fire extinguisher) while on the other side you get a winch and hose (good for filling up that small gas tank)!  I also like the dual wheels on top of the truck - they help to complete the look of the set!

The only bad thing about the set is that you have way too many stickers.  In fact, the 191 piece set uses TEN stickers in its construction!  That's way too many - though I will say that the stickers add a lot to the overall look of the set (especially for the large tank portion in the back of the truck).  I would like to see LEGO go back to including more printed pieces rather than relying on stickers - but I guess cost savings trump anything that a lowly blogger might want!

When all is said and done, you get a fun truck along with a gas pump for your city.  You also get a decent sized stack of extra pieces including a hose with nozzle.

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  6
Play Value:  7
Kid Value:  6
Adult Value:  7
Overall:  7

This is a decent little set that provides your city with a great looking tanker truck.  The set's play value is limited by the fact that there is only a single driver for the tanker truck, though the small included pump does help somewhat.  Had LEGO included a second (small) car and driver to use the included pump, this set would have been a 10 across the board.  As it stands, it's still a solid set - and one that I'm plenty happy to now have in my own collection.

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Very LEGO Christmas!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!  I know I sure did.  In fact, this year might have set a record for the number of baseball cards that I got (all of which you'll eventually see posted over at my baseball card blog).  I also got a couple of things for this blog...

Yeah!  That's my fourth modular set that I own (it goes with the Pet Shop, Palace Cinema, and Fire Brigade).  I have a review for my Fire Brigade ready to go on this blog - and the Palace Cinema review has the pictures all taken but I haven't yet written the review.  Once those are both posted, you can expect me to build the Grand Emporium - and of course offer up my review of that set as well!

I also got one other LEGO set - the small Tanker Truck set you see in the photo.  As a kid, I always wanted a tanker truck but I never had I do!  You can expect a full review of that set (plus even more sets from my childhood) as we move into 2014!

Monday, December 23, 2013

LEGO 1628: Santa with Reindeer and Sleigh - REVIEW

The Santa with Reindeer (LEGO 1628) was released back in 1989 but I'm going to review it just in time for the Christmas holiday in 2013!

This is another one of my original LEGO sets that I owned as a kid.  In fact, this particular set was owned by myself and my younger brother - we probably both received them as a gift in 1989 (though my memory isn't good enough to remember for sure how we each acquired our sets).  I do know that I managed to find all the necessary pieces to rebuild both the sets - one for my own collection and the other will eventually find its way to my brother.  The only downside, as you'll see, is that we no longer have the original string that came with either set.

The set itself contains two major components - one is an all white reindeer (with a red hat) and the other is a sleigh with a brick-built Santa Claus.  In total, the set consists of 63 pieces - and I have all but the 63rd piece (the black string used to connect the reindeer to the sleigh).  Luckily, if you are going to be missing a piece it's best to have it be string - that's easily replaced!

As for the pieces used, you don't get a lot of color variation.  In fact, you get exactly two black pieces (used for Santa's boots), one yellow brick with printed eyes and red nose, and 14 red pieces.  All the remaining pieces are white.  In addition, there aren't many unique pieces - probably the two red "hat" pieces are the rarest along with the printed face piece.  For the most part this is a good 'ol fashioned LEGO build!

The directions begin with instructions to build the reindeer - and so that's how I'll begin the review.

The reindeer is a straight-forward build with no building techniques of note.  In fact, I would say this is one of the worst official LEGO-designed sets in terms of construction - the reindeer itself is extremely fragile.  As you build it, you'll more than likely "break" the legs at least once trying to place some of the bricks in steps 4 and 5 above.

Even worse, once you finally have the reindeer completed you are left with a model with extremely fragile antlers - those 1x2 plates are only held on by a single stud...and it's a twisting collection of five of them for each antler.  It wouldn't be surprising to me at all if other people who owned this set lost an antler over time - they break off much too easily (especially since the model is designed for ages 7 and up).

After building the reindeer, you move on to the second half of the set - Santa and his sleigh.

Although this portion doesn't have any overly interesting building techniques either, it does have a bit more color.  I like the appearance of the brick built Santa - he's got black boots, a white beard, and white hair.  The worst part of the Santa is the fact that he has stubby little arms - I don't think they look good at all.

The sleigh itself is almost an afterthought - basically you stick runners on the bottom of a 4x6 red plate and call it good.  The two white bricks with the stud on the side are designed to have the string threaded through them and through the two corresponding pieces on the reindeer which serves as a harness of sorts.

All things considered, this is a cute set but ultimately not one that I would necessarily recommend to anyone else.  I remember as a kid thinking the set was kind of lame (there are no minifigures so that's always a bummer for a kid).  Even worse, it's extremely fragile so you can't even really pretend it's Santa flying through the sky without your reindeer falling apart.

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  1
Play Value:  1
Kid Value:  2
Adult Value:  3
Overall:  1.5

Maybe my judgment is swayed by how I remember this set as a kid (hint:  not favorably)...but as it stands, I don't see who would be particularly interested in the Santa with Reindeer and Sleigh set.  To their credit, LEGO has done better Christmas themed sets - many of them in fact (and virtually of them must be better than this one).  That said, it's still quite a bit of fun to go back and rebuild and review sets from my childhood.  I've got quite a few more such sets to review over the lifespan of this blog - so if you like vintage LEGO reviews, keep coming back!

Note:  If anyone knows how to fix the discoloration that a lot of the white bricks suffer from, I'd love to hear your solution.  Even if I wanted to, I don't think I could display this yellowed set!

Monday, December 16, 2013

LEGO 6024: Bandit Ambush - REVIEW

One of the things that I've been itching to do is to start reviewing some of my original LEGO sets from when I was a kid.  I've also bought a few different "vintage" LEGO sets from Amazon and Listia which I'll also review in due time.  In an effort to kick off the vintage reviews on my blog, I present one of the latest sets that I remember purchasing as a kid - LEGO 6024:  Bandit Ambush.

This set was released in 1996 which means I would have been 14 years old - just about exactly when I stopped buying/playing/using/building LEGO stuff.  In fact, by my memory, it is either this set or LEGO1793: Space Station Zenon (released in 1995) that served as my final LEGO purchase.  I'm happy to report that I still have the Space Station set as well - eventually I'll review that one plus many, many other space sets.

In fact, when I was a kid my two favorite themes were definitely Space and Castle (with Castle getting a slight nod over space despite the fact that I may have had more Space themed sets).  Within the realm of the Castle theme, I had two favorites - the Dragon Masters and the Forestmen.  Technically, the Bandit Ambush is for a line called the Dark Forest but to me these were simply more Forestmen!

Speaking of the Forestmen, in this set you get two different figures.  One comes equipped with a bow along with a quiver full of arrows while the other minifig has a sword and the sweet buck logo'd shield.

The actual build for this set is incredibly easy - after all, it's only 59 pieces.  The entire base is built upon a green plate measuring 12 studs by 6 studs.  Considering the fact that the set is only 59 pieces, that's a decent sized base - of course, having one of those giant rock structures count as only one piece helps a lot!

However, you get a lot of value out of the 59 pieces including a large rock piece, a catapult (with three projectiles), a treasure chest (with three translucent pieces representing gems), a ladder (in black), plus three tree pieces.  You also get a single torch and flame and a pair of extra weapons (an axe and a black spear).  This is the only set that I owned as a kid with a black spear if memory serves!

From the front of the set, a potential attacker would see nothing but a single torch giving away the fact that there are bandits hiding here.  The attacker would also have to deal with the catapult hidden nicely among the greenery.  Speaking of the greenery, that was always my favorite part of the Forestmen as a kid.  I loved trying to make forests and then hiding the figures - and this set would have fit right in with that idea beautifully!

From the back, you can see the ladder "hides" the treasure chest (while giving the Dark Forest figures a way to climb to the top of the little base).  They also have more weapons than hands which is amusing - but I guess appropriate for bandits.

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  10
Play Value:  10
Kid Value:  9
Adult Value:  4
Overall:  8.5

For my ratings, it's much easier for me to rate the Fun, Play Value, and Kid Value for sets that I owned when I was a kid!  This particular set, though small, packs a big punch in terms of fun (the catapult, treasure chest, and pair of minifigures helps).  The Play Value is also quite high as not only can you do quite a bit with the set as instructed, it has a lot of great pieces to make other structures.  That said, for adults this set score much lower because it's not modular in any sense nor does it have any outstanding building techniques or overly interesting pieces.  You do get a large pot which serves as the holding piece for the catapult that you could use for a campfire scene instead...but otherwise there's not a lot on offer (besides the obvious tree pieces).

Note:  In doing a bit of research for this post, I discovered that LEGO only made three different Dark Forest sets (this one was by far the smallest).  The other two sets I don't think I ever saw in stores:  LEGO 6046 Hemlock Stronghold and LEGO 6079 Dark Forest Fortress.  The Hemlock Stronghold has 213 pieces while the Dark Forest Fortress clocks in at a whopping 461 pieces!  I don't recall seeing either set before - and given the high prices on eBay, I doubt I'll ever have either set in person!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Minifigure Museum: Holiday Elf (Series 11)

Holiday Elf:  Series 11 LEGO Minifigure

The Holiday Elf is a Series 11 minifigure that comes with a present and a teddy bear.

The Holiday Elf is number 7 in the Series 11 Collectible Minifigure set and is one of three winter-related figures in the set (the other two being the Yeti with popsicle and the Gingerbread Man).  Having three winter/holiday related figures makes sense since Series 11 was released around the time of Christmas!  Of course, this isn't a Christmas elf but rather a holiday elf...

The figure itself is quite nice because you get two accessories which makes up for the fact that it's a "short" figure.  Of course, having the non-movable short (or kid) legs makes sense for an elf!

In all, you get a present (complete with a printed tile - no sticker!) and a teddy bear (notice the bow on the bear).  You also get bright green legs and an elf hat (with attached ears).  You also get a goofy grin on the elf's face (and some nice printing on the front of the torso).  Unfortunately, there is no back printing on the figure.  The other disappointment for the figure is the fact that the legs are a much brighter green than the torso.  I would have preferred for everything (hat, torso, and legs) to be the same shade green.

The figure's hat piece comes with attached elf ears which works great for the figure (but not so great if you want to use this figure's hat for some sort of MOC scene)!  For me, I keep my Collectible Minifigures complete and in tact so I like the hat piece a lot!

All in all, the Holiday Elf is a solid addition to the minifigure line.  It's certainly not my favorite figure in Series 11 (see my review of the entire series 11 here), but it's a solid figure.  Had the legs matched the green of the torso, I would really have no complaints!

Monday, December 9, 2013

LEGO 40071: Lawnmower - REVIEW

This time of year is always fun for me.  First, in November I have my birthday followed closely by Thanksgiving.  After that, it's full-on holiday cheer as we ramp up to Christmas and then New Year's.  Even better, the school year winds down at this point (at least for us professors - the students' anxiety starts to climb as we near finals week).  

My birthday was extra cool this year (at least in terms of this blog) because my wife bought me the LEGO Palace Cinema set!  I'll have a full review of the set on the blog at some point in the future (spoiler alert:  I like it a lot)!  She also posted a picture of me with my set on Facebook which eventually led to Becky (an old friend of mine) seeing the photo and saying "hey, I have one of those LEGO Movie stickers that can go on your Palace Cinema."

When the enveloped containing the sticker arrived in the mail, I was pleasantly surprised to see that she threw in an extra goodie for me - namely, the LEGO Store monthly build for November 2013.  I'm sure some people would keep these in the package for "future value."  Not me.  I like to build - and it's the build from my birthday month so you know I'm going to make it!

The bag set contains 44 pieces and is designed for ages 6+.  

I must say, this build will be a lot easier (and quicker) than the Palace Cinema!  That said, I can have lots of fun building almost any new LEGO set - big or small!  Let's rip the polybag open!

This is the first of the "free" monthly builds that I've ever had the opportunity to assemble for myself.  As such, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.  I have to admit that I was surprised (in a good way) that the build was more minifigure scale as opposed to a micro build.  For whatever reason, micro builds don't interest me all that much - but minifigure scale is perfect!

The only downside to the set in that sense is that you don't actually get a minifigure.  I would have loved to get a farmer figure for the tractor - but I think that would turn a free polybag into a paid polybag in stores so no complaints from me!

It's probably not surprising the build is relatively simple (though there are a bunch of small pieces used so the set really isn't for tiny kids)!  You also get three extra pieces - something that I like since I also enjoy making my own builds once in awhile (and the more pieces I own the better)!

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

It's really hard to score this set because it was originally a free set given out at stores.  As such, I couldn't possibly give it anything other than a 10 for "value"!  I will say this, based on the limited number of other monthly build sets that I saw when I was doing a bit of research for this article, I would put the Lawnmower in the upper half.  In fact, I like this particular build quite a bit - especially the hook on the back end of the tractor which could be used to haul a trailer.  Hence, the 7 rating overall!

Many thanks Becky!  And, as always, should anyone else want to send me LEGO stuff - it's always appreciated (even if it isn't my birthday again for another 11 months)!

Oh, and if you were wondering how the tractor was actually built - here are the complete instructions including the piece checklist for the set.

Monday, December 2, 2013

LEGO 10229: Winter Village Cottage - REVIEW

A few months ago, I was browsing eBay when I saw a winter themed LEGO set.  At that time, I had no idea that LEGO had created an entire winter village's worth of sets to which they add one more piece each year.  I quickly added all of the winter sets that I could find to my eBay watch list and patiently waited.  Eventually, one such set went for a price that I was willing to pay...and with it, the beginnings of (yet another) LEGO collection!

My winter village begins with the Winter Village Cottage set (number 10229).  The set contains 1490 pieces (officially) and was released in 2012.  You get the cottage, an igloo, a small woodshed, and a snow plow.  In addition, you get EIGHT minifigures including a nice mix of kids and adults (two of the kids get skis though they don't get poles to go with their skis).

For the purposes of the review, I tried to take a variety of pictures throughout the build.  This is the fourth winter village set in the series - and it happens to contain the largest number of pieces!

Speaking of pieces, when you dump out the box you are treated to a whole bunch of plastic bags plus some loose plates and an instruction booklet (along with a sticker sheet - boo!) packed with cardboard.

Although the set gets its name from the namesake cottage, there are a bunch of other builds besides the main structure.  I followed the instructions from start to finish so I began with the igloo seen above.  The igloo's roof comes off in order to see the inside (of which there is a stove)!  It's probably the most pimped out igloo that I've ever seen.  I also like the owl on the top - that's a new piece for my collection.

After the igloo, the next thing to build is the snow plow.

Let me say it now, I love, love, LOVE the snow plow.  The front of the plow is simply perfect - and the whole thing makes the winter scene look so much more authentic.  You even get a broom for the driver (probably to clean the snow off his windshield after a snow storm).

Here's another look at the truck:

The final small build for the set is the woodshed.  The woodshed contains a stack of wood on the outside and a small workbench (complete with tools) on the inside.

However, the real prize for this build is the brick built chainsaw.

Now that the small builds are complete, it's time to move to the main cottage.

As you can see from the above photo, there are plenty of pieces remaining for the cottage (and this is only the first set of bag's worth)!  The build begins similar to the modular buildings (like the Pet Shop or Fire Brigage) in that you do a bunch of tiling.

In the case of the cottage, the tiles represent a kitchen floor and a rug in what will become the living room.

It should be noted that you don't actually get a base plate for the cottage.  Instead, you build the cottage up on a pair of large white plates.  I would have preferred to have a base plate (so that the base would be the same height as the modular buildings) but I can only assume that the other Winter Village sets are also built up on plates.

After doing the tiling (which was a bit monotonous, especially in the kitchen), the build quickly became a lot more interesting.  In fact, you can see that the first floor of the build also included some outdoor elements like the light pole (complete with holiday decorations).  The set comes with two pine trees (one large and one small) which also helps to further cement the wintery theme.

At this point, the bags numbered 1 are now exhausted.  You do get a fair number of spare parts though - including a brick separator (something I really could have used when I was a kid)!

The second half of the build completes the cottage.  Unfortunately, I didn't take any photos of the second half in progress but that's mostly because it's building the roof (which is nothing more than a lot of white bricks and plates).  The only thing interesting about the roof is that you build each piece individually and then snap them into pre-placed hooks on the cottage.  It was a different way of creating roof pieces (and the end result definitely looks like a cottage with a roof full of snow)!

The final touch is the string of lights which you put on the top of the roof - the perfect final bit to a wonderful winter scene!  I can only image how great my winter scene would be if I owned all the previous Winter Village sets!

While I definitely like the look of the outside of the cottage, the inside holds the vast majority of the interesting bits.  You get a living room (with a fireplace and stockings) plus a small build for an easy chair and Christmas tree.  You get a full kitchen (complete with cupboards and a pan) and you get a loft for the young boy figure.  The boy's loft has more gifts and a simple bed build (reminiscent of the bed build in the Pet Shop set).

It's tough to see in the above photo, but the kitchen not only has plenty of cupboards but it also has a stove and a sink (complete with a rather large gold faucet piece).  You do get one pan - you can see the handle sticking out in the cupboard closest to you.

I happen to love the kitchen but I think LEGO was hoping that the living room would be the main attraction for the cottage since that's where the light brick resides.  As you can see in the photo, the light brick is placed behind the fireplace which makes for a really nice effect when you light up the brick!  I have to admit, I wasn't expecting much from the light brick but it ended up being a great addition to the set.  It sort of makes me wish I had more light bricks for myself just to mess around with in other builds!

The final bit of the cottage is the loft.  You do get a cat but you don't get any way to actually get to the loft (no stairs, no ladder)!  I guess that's where the "pretend play" kicks in.

As a whole, the Winter Village Cottage is a great, great set.  You get a ton of figures, a couple of trees, an owl, a cat, an igloo, a truck, a sled, a woodshed, and a beautiful (and fairly large) cottage.  For the price ($99 as of the time of this review), the set can't be beat!  Don't forget, you also get about 1500 pieces for that $99...another good deal by pretty much any measure of price-per-brick!

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  8.5
Play Value:  9.5
Kid Value:  8
Adult Value:  9
Overall:  9

For the price, you can't beat this set.  You get a ton of figures and a bunch of different pieces.  There's plenty of fun stuff for kids to play with - and plenty of loose mini-builds for adult collectors to arrange as it suits them.  Of all the sets that I've built (and reviewed) for this blog thus far, I think this set has one of the highest play values...and amazingly, it's just as a good for adult collectors.  The only improvements that I could see being made would be to have stairs (or at least a ladder) in the cottage for the boy to get to his loft and for the front door of the cottage to actually be able to open (the roof overhangs it much too far keeping it shut).  I also think a $99 set shouldn't have stickers but that's more a reflection on my stickering skills than anything else (hint:  I stink at putting on stickers nicely).