Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Christmas Present to Myself - My First LEGO Train (of my own)

Happy New Year everyone!

Yesterday, I went to Wal*Mart for some things and found myself drawn to the LEGO aisle.  I have no idea why seeing as how I had the best ever Christmas in terms of LEGO sets ever (more on that another day).  However, I was in the aisle so I had to look...and what did I see?

Only the LEGO Cargo Train (set #60052) on sale for $60.00 off!

Yeah, I bought it.  
Yeah, I built it.  
Yeah, it's pretty cool.  

I'll post a full review of the set sometime soon but I had to show off my find today!  This train is my first train of my own.  Back when I was a kid, my brother and I received the LEGO Load and Haul Railroad...but that set still resides at my parents' house.  This train is all mine - and it will serve as the main focal point for my LEGO City that I'm intent on building in the near future!

Monday, December 29, 2014

LEGO 60048: Police Dog Unit - REVIEW

My Christmas LEGO haul was one for the ages (as you'll see over time on this blog)!  To start things off, I had asked for this particular LEGO City Police set (Police Dog Unit) because I'm a lover of dogs!

Yes, I wanted this set mostly because of the dogs - but also because I hope to soon start my own custom LEGO City creation and getting those brick pieces that are used in the robbers' shack will be quite useful!  Overall, the set comes with three minifigures and 249 pieces which are used to build two vehicles and a small shack!

Upon opening the box, you are greeted with three instruction manuals which correspond to three bags of pieces.  It should be noted that the majority of the pieces reside in bag #2 which is used to build the police vehicle.  You also get a sticker sheet which contains seven stickers.

The first bag is used to build the two robbers plus their getaway vehicle.  The vehicle is some sort of pickup truck crossed with a muscle car.  It looks suitably rickety for a bunch of ragtag robbers!

The truck contains a removable crate which is used to hold the robbers' loot.  The treasure is random - basically anything shiny and not locked down becomes the robbers...which means there's a jewel, some cash, a shiny goblet, and the faucet off of someone's kitchen sink!

Moving on to bag #2, we get to build the star of the set which is the Police Dog Unit itself.  The set comes with a single police officer (who has a pair of handcuffs and a flashlight as accessories) and two police dogs.  The instructions only show one dog bone for the pair of police pups, but the set does come with an extra bone.  I think both dogs deserve a bone!

As for the police vehicle, the back of the truck opens up in a sort of ramp which allows the two dogs to climb in and out.  The dogs both fit in the back, though it's definitely tight!

The rest of the duplicates for bag #2 include the already mentioned bone, enough pieces to build a second flashlight, and a few other small pieces.  It should be noted that there were no extra pieces in bag #1.  In addition, all seven stickers are used on the police vehicle.

Finally, we move on to bag #3 which is the robbers' shack.  From the front, you can see a bit of brickwork coupled with a green front door.  There is a small light on the right side of the shack and a window on the left side of the front door.

There is also a set of Bilco doors on the left of the shack which can be opened (and it's where the robbers can stash their crate of stolen loot).  You can also see the rat (complete with a piece of cheese) and the extra pieces that come in bag #3.

From the backside of the shack, you can see that the two of the four walls are missing.  In doing so, LEGO made sure that set was easily playable - both in terms of light in the shack and space for fingers to get in there to move around minifigs!  The only other thing on the inside of the shack is a rather cool little periscope contraption which uses the binoculars piece in a clever way!


The bottom line:
Fun:  9
Play Value:  9
Kid Value:  9
Adult Value:  6
Overall:  8.5

Putting the entire set together, I had a favorable impression from start to finish.  The two vehicles are completely different and it's always fun to get both a cop's and a robber's car in the same set (after all, who doesn't love a good chase scene)?!  The added bonus of the small robber shack really fills the set out nicely (and is, in my opinion) better than most of the other cops and robbers sets that LEGO has released lately.  I initially wanted the set for the two police dogs (and the police dog vehicle) but I have to admit that it was the robber's truck and shack that stole the show!  All told, this set is highly recommended.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

LEGO 10245: Santa's Workshop - REVIEW

Just in time for Christmas!  Here's my review for LEGO 10245:  Santa's Workshop!

The set was released in fall 2014 and comes with 883 pieces.  I ended up purchasing the set directly from LEGO.com during one of their seasonal promotions.  I have a love for the Winter Village sets (though I missed out on the early sets including the Post Office, Bakery, and Toy Shop).

I had hoped that the Santa's Workshop set would be a nice addition to my Winter Village scene.  Is it?

Read on to find out.

We begin with the first set of instructions in which we get to construct the reindeer (only 4 animals pull the sleigh rather than the proper eight).  We also get to build a fifth reindeer (a baby) plus we get a nice Santa minifigure.  The first part of the build also includes Santa's sleigh (which looks really nice), a small North Pole sign, and a rather pathetically small Christmas tree.

I find the reindeer to be quite nice - and the sleigh is pretty much perfect!  The North Pole sign is adequate (though I despise stickers)...but that little Christmas tree?  You'd think Santa would have more Christmas spirit than that!  The four 2x2 stacked bricks are the "backs" of the reindeer if you choose to unattach them from Santa's sleigh.

Moving on to the second bag, we get what I felt was the funnest part of the build - Santa's house (plus Mrs. Claus with a plate of cookies).

From the front, you can make out a nice stone sidewalk and a a great big door flanked by a pair of nicely built pillars.  You also get a big 'ol clock in the front of the house (the same clock from the Town Hall modular building).  The Santa's Workshop sign on the side of the building uses a sticker (boo!) but otherwise it certainly looks nice!  I'm not a huge fan of the two red brick built candy canes (but it does make the workshop seem a bit more fanciful I suppose).

Looking at Santa's house from the back, you can see he has a big 'ol chair in the top floor surrounded by letters (presumably written to him from children around the world).  You also get a pair of stickered bricks in the downstairs - one is a door mat while the other shows Santa and Mrs. Claus on vacation somewhere warm!  It's a cute addition to the set but I don't think it would have a lot of use in other builds...

The third, and final, build is the workshop plus four elves and a toy machine.  The elves aren't anything new but they all look great (with just enough variety in clothes and facial expressions to keep things fresh).  I like the strand of lights on the top of the snowy roof, though I wish the clips were black rather than yellow.

Looking at the workshop in its entirety, you can see the two halve clip together at a somewhat odd angle.  It does look nice in that it's different - but I couldn't help that the entire workshop was a bit too small.  In fact, you can't even fit the toy machine in the workshop - the thing has to sit outside!  The included workbench is also rather poor - in fact, the "free" Toy Workshop set that LEGO used as a promotional item in 2014 is much, much nicer!  I think next year I'll try to expand this Santa's Workshop a bit and include the workbench from the promotional set.

From the front, you can see how the odd angle of joining the two buildings together works nicely.  The building really does look good (and cold)!  I love the green and gold combination - and there's plenty of nice shades of brown plus various grays to keep the entire thing looking homey - and definitely in line with the mythical vision of Santa's home!

Overall, the Santa's Workshop set is a nice set.  I enjoyed building the main house (and the sleigh) but the workshop half plus the tiny Christmas tree left me a bit disappointed.  I get that LEGO was probably shooting for a lower price mark than some of the other recent Winter Village sets...but in this case I think a higher price would have been preferred if it meant a more fleshed out workshop space!

I don't think that this set goes all that well with the other Winter Village sets since this one is more rooted in fantasy.  However, it wouldn't be that difficult to take the "Santa's Workshop" sign off and repurpose the building to fit in your Winter Village.  Or, I suppose, one could treat this as a "photo op" opportunity for the residents of your Winter Village and then you could leave it all in tact while still maintaining an air of realism!

The bottom line:
Fun:  8
Play Value:  9
Kid Value:  9
Adult Value:  6
Overall:  8

This is a recommended set - especially if you love Christmas!  I think this set needs to be combined with the Toy Workshop in order to make a more proper Santa's Workshop (plus you get two more elves that way) but otherwise it's quite nice.  The sleigh is definitely the star of the extras!

Merry Christmas all!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Day 24: 2014 LEGO City Advent Calendar (LEGO 60063)

It's all over!  While I am definitely excited for Christmas tomorrow, I am a little bit sad to see the end of the 2014 LEGO City Advent Calendar.  It's been a blast having something new to build each day (no matter how big or small)!  Even more so, it's been fun knowing that the vast majority of the builds from this year's Advent Calendar will end up in next year's Winter Village scene!

How do we end such a fun run?  Well, no better way to prepare for Christmas Eve than to get Santa Claus!

This is actually my third Santa minifigure.  I have one from the Collectible Minifigure series, one from Santa's Workshop (a set that you can find my review of tomorrow on this blog), and now this one.  I guess you can't go wrong with Santa!  This particular Santa figure comes with a bag for gifts plus a delicious cookie.  You also get a second cookie and an extra beard with the figure.

And for the final time, here's a look at the entire Advent Calendar contents in one town square scene!

(and a look at all the extras in the calendar - lots of good stuff there too!)
Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Day 23: 2014 LEGO City Advent Calendar (LEGO 60063)

Christmas is finally almost here - tomorrow's Christmas Eve and with that our final day of the 2014 LEGO City Advent Calendar.  That means today is our penultimate Advent Calendar build!

What did we get for a finale?  Well, how about a three-wheeled trike?  Not a bad little build at all - 14 pieces in total which definitely puts this in the upper half in terms of piece totals for a single bag.

Only one day (and thus one build) remains - pretty sure it'll be Santa Claus...somehow his gifts all arrived before he did (he really is magical)!

Monday, December 22, 2014

LEGO 40058: Decorating the Tree - REVIEW

Today's review is a small polybag set that was originally released back in 2013.  I happened to pick it up at some point last year and then packed it away so that I'd have something to open around this year's Christmas season!

The set which is aptly named Decorating the Tree contains two minifigures, a decent-sized brick built Christmas tree, a short ladder, and five Christmas presents.

The father minifigure has a plaid shirt and is the one climbing the ladder in order to fix the red bulb on the branch.  The kid is (presumably) the daughter and is about to be spoiled rotten with five presents including a nice blue train minibuild!

Overall, this is a really nice set considering the fact that it is a polybag!  The 110 pieces is a bit misleading in that many of the pieces are only 1x1s but even so, it's a highly recommended pickup for your Winter Village or any other winter/Christmas themed layout.

And for those that are interested, yes you do get a few extras including an extra wand.



Day 22: 2014 LEGO City Advent Calendar (LEGO 60063)

Only three days 'til Christmas not counting today...and counting today we only have three more mini LEGO City 2014 Advent Calendar builds to construct!

Today's build came with a (comparatively) large number of pieces - 25 in total in the bag.  The build itself was the not-surprising but certainly necessary, Christmas tree!

This particular tree contains 8 branches (two different sizes) with a 1x1 round trans piece serving as a light or ornament on the bottom of each of the 8 branches.  You also get a yellow jewel to serve as the tree topper.  I do wish that LEGO had given us 2x2 round green pieces rather than the 2x2 square pieces for use in constructing the tree, but otherwise I have no complaints!  You also get four extra trans pieces as spares today - no complaints about that either!

The tree certainly makes for a fine decoration in the growing LEGO City!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Day 21: 2014 LEGO City Advent Calendar (LEGO 60063)

With only four days remaining in the advent season, we are rapidly approaching the end of the 2014 LEGO City Advent Calendar.  While I'll definitely miss having a small build to complete every day, I am ready for the Christmas holiday!

Today's build helped to put me in a festive mood.  We got a bag full of pieces (17 total) which were to be used to complete a lime green present and a red and white striped stocking.

We are only a day or two away from the Christmas tree build (and the Santa)...which probably only leaves one day's worth of mini builds unaccounted for.  Sure, I could look at the back of the Advent Calendar box but what's the fun in that?  After all, isn't this the season for fun surprises?!

Looks like our city robber is about to help himself to the villager's turkey feast!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Day 20: 2014 LEGO City Advent Calendar (LEGO 60063)

It's hard to believe how close Christmas really is...  After today's post, we will only have four more Advent Calendar doors to open up!!  For as much as I love Christmas, it's a bit sad to know that the LEGO goodness is about to end!

No need to be dour this morning though, let's take a look at Day 20 of the 2014 LEGO City Advent Calendar.

Today's door features a bag full of tools - plus a barrel and a couple of round bricks designed to be logs I guess.  Either that or the two round bricks are supposed to be some sort of poor-man's seat for the table that we got yesterday with the turkey on it?  There were two spares today including one extra ax and one extra shovel.

Not a lot of change to the City scene today though I did use the two round bricks as stools for the table.  They happen to match the legs of the table in terms of color so I'm now assuming that's what the pieces were meant to be (why they came with two shovels and two axes though is beyond me).  Maybe the axes are to cut the turkey?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Day 19: 2014 LEGO City Advent Calendar (LEGO 60063)

For the most part, the 2014 LEGO City Advent Calendar features builds that all belong "outside" in a scene.  The one real exception to date was the window display...but the window itself was designed to be looked out from "outside."  Today, that all changed.

If you can't tell from the plastic bag of parts, today's build was a table complete with a roast turkey (with 2 removable turkey legs), a pair of wine glasses, and a bottle of wine.  There is no way that table (and meal) was designed to be enjoyed outside - which makes it tough to fit the table into the play scene included with the box!

Despite the fact that it's an indoor build, I must say that today's piece selection is probably one of my favorites to date!  I love the big 'ol turkey - and it's not easy to find the turkeys in LEGO sets these days!  I also love getting more glasses - and the green wine bottle is equally nice.  All things considered, I'd say today's build was one of the best of the calendar!

I also would say that the dog has decided his bone in his dish doesn't look quite as good as what the "people" are having...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Day 18: 2014 LEGO City Advent Calendar (LEGO 60063)

It may be getting harder and harder to come up with a new way of saying "let's open up today's Advent Calendar cubby" but that doesn't mean I'm not enjoying the process.  In fact, I would say this December has been 10x more fun than usual since I know I have a LEGO build (albeit small) each day to look forward to!

With that preamble out of the way, let's take a look at Day 18 in the 2014 LEGO City Advent Calendar.  Today, we are treated to our sixth minifigure of the Advent Calendar - and our second police officer.  I guess with all the crime in LEGO City it makes sense to have more than one officer on duty for the holidays...

Today's police officer comes with the standard City mug plus a pair of handcuffs.  You also get a second set of handcuffs as spare parts for today.

Other than the face, today's officer is exactly the same as the previous cop figure which is a bit too bad.  That said, I do like the police hat a lot (and the print on the torso is also very nice) so no real complaints from me.

Now where will that robber hide?!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 17: 2014 LEGO City Advent Calendar (LEGO 60063)

It's hard to believe that it's December 17 already...  That means we are down to our final week of the 2014 LEGO City Advent Calendar!  It's been a fun ride so far - and I have to admit that I love knowing I get some new little LEGO thing to build each day...I'm just like a five year old kid, what can I say?!

Speaking of kids, today's mini build is a little sled designed to be carted behind the policeman's snowmobile from yesterday.

The sled is perfect for holding one of the kids plus a pair of ice skates in the little yellow storage bin.  I think I would have preferred the storage bin to match better (maybe have it dark blue) but I guess the yellow makes it stand out more.

I will admit that all the colors from the various Advent Calendar builds make for a rather appealing LEGO City when they are all together in spot!