Monday, January 27, 2014

LEGO 6533: Police 4x4 - REVIEW

For many years, LEGO has released police sets (first as Town sets and more recently as City sets).  Today's set was one of my original Town sets that I owned as a kid - LEGO 6533:  Police 4x4.  The set comes with 62 pieces and one police minifigures.  Unlike most modern police sets, this set does not contain a criminal for the police officer to chase (an unfortunate omission by LEGO).

In terms of pieces, the set contains a few interesting elements.  You do get a printed Police 2x1 tile and a printed 2x2 caution sign tile.  You also get a nice hinged piece which is used for the roof of the police vehicle.  As a kid, I also liked the black "roll bar" that was included in the set.

The vehicle itself is based on the old style vehicle base piece.  The bottom of the 4x4 contains brick-built "shocks" which provide the vehicle with a bit of an off-road appearance.  Unfortunately, the tires are your basic thick tires with a small diameter so LEGO didn't go "all in" in terms of making this a true off-road vehicle.

For comparison, here is a more modern LEGO off-road police vehicle that I previously reviewed.  As you can see, that vehicle appears to fully embody the off-road aspect (unlike this set which only goes halfway).  I chose that particular vehicle as a point of comparison because the piece count between the two sets is almost the same (the Police 4x4 set having only 11 more pieces).  That said, the Police 4x4 vehicle is much more impressive (in terms of the structure of the vehicle) than the ATV in the other set.

Since the set only contains 62 pieces, it doesn't take long to complete the build.  In fact, the instructions consist of a single piece of paper that is double-printed.  Only twelve steps are required in total - and even that is probably generous as this set is designed for the younger crowd!  I am pleased to report that I still own the original instructions - and they are in great shape considering the age of the set!

Upon finishing the set, you end up with the 4x4 vehicle which happens to hold an emergency sign and a pair of blue traffic cones with yellow lights on them.  As a kid, I was never impressed with the traffic cones (they are much too small in size) but I did enjoy the printed sign.

Unfortunately, I never quite understood why a vehicle that was presumably meant to traverse rough terrain needed to hold traffic related signs in the first place.  Wouldn't accessories like a shovel or pickax make more sense if the vehicle is going off road?

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  6
Play Value:  7
Kid Value:  7
Adult Value:  2
Overall:  4

This set has lots of interesting bits, but unfortunately it's a case of where the whole is most definitely not better than sum of its parts.  Individually, the minifigure, vehicle, and traffic signs are all quite nice.  Together?  They simply don't form a cohesive group.  The set would have also benefited from having a crook included - or if this is really supposed to be a traffic cop, then make it a proper police car rather than an SUV-esque vehicle.  Unlike many of my previously reviewed sets, I can't recommend this set for adult collectors...but I do think most kids would enjoy it (which is the original goal of LEGO anyhow)!

Monday, January 20, 2014

LEGO 60011 - Surfer Rescue - REVIEW

This particular set was a recent Christmas gift courtesy of my youngest brother.  It didn't make my initial LEGO Christmas post because he forgot to bring it home with him in December - however, I won't complain about a January LEGO present!
Wrapping paper?  No.  Bow?  Yes.  Good enough for me!

Although small in size (the set clocks in at 32 pieces), this particular set goes well with a previous set that my brother bought me (a vintage jet ski race set that I'll showcase on this blog at some point in the somewhat near future I'm sure)!  Obviously, he saw this set and thought it went well with the previous set - and from what I can tell from the box art, he's correct!

However, let's not make assumptions.  Let's open up set #60011 and see what all is included in the Surfer Rescue set!

Upon opening the box, you are greeted with a surprising hefty instruction manual, a sticker sheet, a bag of pieces, and most of a shark's carcass.

The process of putting together the set begins with the two included figures.  One is a coast guard rescue guy and the other is the surfer who's about to have a scary date with a shark.  This set comes with four stickers (or one sticker for every eight pieces) which seems like a bit too much for me.  However, I will admit that the sticker on the surfboard does make the board quite a bit more interesting to look at.

The bulk of the pieces go into the small personal watercraft.  I have to admit, it's a nice looking jet ski - and it's definitely cooler and sleeker than the old vintage jet skis that LEGO used to make (though I'm sure some people will prefer the older, clunkier versions "just because").  

Personally, I like the orange, white, and blue motif that adorns the coast guard jet ski.  To me, it looks like it could easily be a real rescue unit, though I'm not sure I'd want to be the officer in charge of rescuing a downed surfer from a shark on a measly jet ski!

In the end, this is a solid little set for the money.  How solid?  Let's look at my ratings:
The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  10
Play Value:  10
Kid Value:  10
Adult Value:  4
Overall:  8

This set is perfect for kids!  For the price, you get a ton of play value - namely two minifigures, a shark, a small vehicle, a surf board, and a pair of life jackets (along with a life preserver ring).  For a set with only 32 pieces, I can't imagine a set boasting more play value than you get out of this set.  Also, for the price, getting a pair of minifigures is a good deal - both of which have some decent printing on their torsos as well!

As with many LEGO sets, you do get a few extra pieces (these are not included in the piece count on the front of the box).

Nothing to write home about, but still nice!  The extra life jacket is the best feature - if only the surfer had worn one to start with he probably wouldn't need to be rescued!

Monday, January 13, 2014

LEGO 6036: Skeleton Surprise - REVIEW

I've been happily rebuilding a bunch of my own LEGO sets from my childhood.  Today's review features another such set.  Much like last week, this set belongs to the Castle theme - but now we move on to the Royal Knights rather than the Black Knights of last week.

This set was released in 1995 and contains 74 pieces along with two minifigures (one Royal Knight guard and one Skeleton).  You also get a small green base plate (8x16) and one printed castle wall (along with three other non-printed large castle wall pieces).  As a kid, I liked getting so many large castle wall pieces because I enjoyed creating my own castles for play!

As with most of my childhood sets, I do own the original instructions but I don't have the original box.

In the grand scheme of things, 1995 was one of the final years that I was buying LEGO sets so it makes sense that I'd have these instructions.  In fact, I also own two other Royal Knight sets that will eventually be showcased on this blog too.  Brickset claims there are nine different sets in the Royal Knight's line, however it appears that there are really only seven unique sets (one small set was apparently released three different times for reasons that are unknown to me).

As I mentioned above, you get 74 pieces - almost all of which are grey.  In terms of interesting pieces, you do get three 1x1 bricks with a technic pin hole in them.  You also get a single large black arch which is nice for castle building!

Building the set is a rather quick exercise thanks to the all the large pieces (in addition to the four wall sections you also get a tall 2-stud wide black wall piece and a 1-stud wide gray wall piece).  Most of the initial set construction involves making specific set-ups for the four large wall pieces!

When I was little, I enjoyed the action mechanism in the set.  It's simple, but effective.  If you pull out the lance on the right side of the building, the skeleton swings down from its hiding position.  The idea is that some would be thief sees the yellow goblet in the back of the base and then gets a "skeleton surprise" when he tries to steal the valuable piece of glassware (which gets placed on that L-shaped brick in the back right corner of the above photo).

The final build is compact, but quite nice.  In fact, this is a great seller for the (original) cost since it contains so many tremendous castle building pieces (not to mention the (at that time) new skeleton figure for a low cost).  You also get a single guard which any castle can use more of!

The one downside to the play value is that the skeleton is attached by LEGO bricks to the pole that it swings.  That means if you want to play with the Skeleton, you have to carefully remove it from the swing contraption (though that isn't too difficult if you have small enough hands)!

It should be clear from my review thus far that I like this set a lot.  In fact, I have exactly one complaint of any significance and that is that LEGO left a space in the roof of the set.  As a kid, that open gap always bugged me - and that feeling has changed now that I've rebuilt the set all these years later!

Other than that one minor gripe (which a single plate could have fixed), this is pretty much a perfect little set.  It looks like a fort - and if you happen to be lucky enough to own the castle, you could use this a guard house instead.

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  8
Play Value:  9
Kid Value:  9
Adult Value:  5
Overall:  9

This is as close to a "must buy" castle set as there is - at least for 1995!  The fun value could have been slightly increased with a "bad guy" as I always assumed the skeleton was on the Royal Knight's team.  The adult value is a five - but that's mostly because this is a great parts pack if you are into castle MOCs.  For kids, this set is almost as good as you'll find and I highly recommend it!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Most Wanted 2014 Set is Now Mine!

The 2014 LEGO is season is finally underway - and I've already landed one of my "most wanted" sets of the early round of releases.

Yep, the logging truck!

There's a few of the LEGO Movie sets that I'd like to track down as well, but I haven't seen those in any stores near me yet.

You can expect a full review of the Logging Truck set, plus plenty of vintage set reviews in the upcoming days and weeks!

Monday, January 6, 2014

LEGO 1624: King's Archer - REVIEW

This is another one of my original (now vintage) Castle sets from my childhood collection.  This particular set clocks in at a minimal 22 pieces - but there's plenty of play value despite its diminutive size!

The set is part of the Black Knights line of sets (and was released back in 1993).  The Black Knights had quite a few different sets released over a time period ranging from 1988 - 1998.  By Brickset's count, there are 14 different Black Knights sets in total.  Unfortunately for the Black Knights, most of their sets are small - not all as small as this one but many aren't much larger.




As for this particular set, it's basically exactly what you'd expect from the set title.  You get a single minifigure archer along with a target for him to shoot at.  Since the build is only 22 pieces, I'll show off the pieces as I often do...

...and then the complete build.  I think you could build the entire set without once consulting the directions - just look at the picture!  However, since I have the original instructions - here's a full scan!
As a kid, I always liked this set for a few reasons.  First, it was a fun set for weapons since the Black Knight comes with his bow and a quiver as well as an extra spear.  I guess the spear could be used with the target as well - but what is this, the stone age?!  

I also liked the printed target (no stickers) and the big spiky green bush.  I mentioned it before, but I always loved any sort of LEGO greenery.  Heck, I still do.  Old habits die hard I guess.

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  4
Play Value:  6
Kid Value:  5
Adult Value:  2
Overall:  5

Despite my fond memories of this little set, I have to admit that it's one of the weaker Castle sets that I owned.  As a whole, there's almost no way to do much in terms of an alternate build.  Furthermore, with only one figure you can't even have a mini battle.  And, of course, a lot of imagination is required to see if your little archer ever hits his target!