Thursday, October 22, 2015

My First Experience with the Pick-a-Brick Wall!

I went to my first actual LEGO store a couple of weeks ago which was exciting for me.  I picked up a number of sets (including the Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine which I already reviewed on the blog).  I also wanted to experience the joy of the Pick-a-Brick wall firsthand, so yes, I bought myself a big 'ol cup of LEGO bricks.

If memory serves, I think the cup was somewhere around $16 or so.  I know that I didn't do an optimal job packing the cup with bricks (you can fit a lot more in if you take the time to actually stack the bricks together).  I didn't do that - I just dumped stuff in until I ran out of room.

I'm such a novice, huh?!

Anyhow, the real question is:  What did I manage to fit into my cup?

To start, a whole bunch of 2x4 bricks.  47 bricks in total including 12 red, 16 tan, 10 light blue, and 9 green.  It was probably a rookie move to grab so many basic bricks - I could have acquired those in one of the prepacked Classic branded box sets at my local Wal-Mart.  I am happy with the green and tan bricks though - I have very few of them!

I also went pretty have with various sized plates including 9 2x6 brown plates, 8 4x4 green plates, 4 4x6 yellow plates, and 7 4x6 blue plates.  That's a total of 28 fairly large plates.

Next, I tried to "fill in" some of the spaces in the cup with a bunch of smaller stuff from the wall.  Included in that bundle was a ton of 1x2 purple pieces (36 in total), some 1x2 white jumpers (15), some white 1x2 cheese slopes (13), some 1x4 white plates (11), some 2x2 white slopes (13 - 2 of which had printing on them).  I also picked up 3 axle pieces and 5 of the black side pieces (which I don't know their "official" name).

So far, not so bad - but there's more!

The next batch consists of 20 tan pieces with side studs, a single 2x4 green plate (wish I had picked up more of these), and 46 1x1 round bright green studs.  I also picked up 7 flower stems though somehow I neglected to grab any flower pieces!!  The best of the entire wall (in my opinion) was the final two pieces - the three piece plants and the white picket fences.  I picked up 12 of the fences and 41 of the plants.

All told, I managed to grab 298 pieces for about $16.  That comes out to a bit over 5 cents per piece which is certainly better than most "packaged" LEGO sets.  Of course, those numbers are a bit inflated since I had so many of the 1x1 round studs...  

I guess the real value in the Pick-a-Brick wall is that you get to pick exactly what you want.  The downside is that the wall is most definitely limited (I know that I wished there was a greater selection of parts type in a single color of MOCs).  Even so, I had a lot of fun at the wall - and yes, I'd do it again given the chance (especially for more plant pieces)!

Friday, October 16, 2015

LEGO 75902: The Mystery Machine - REVIEW (Scooby-Doo!)

When LEGO announced that they would be releasing a bunch of Scooby-Doo related sets, I immediately dismissed the idea as something that wouldn't interest me.  Sure,  I was a kid of the late 80s / early 90s and I watched plenty of Scooby-Doo reruns on TV but I didn't think I'd have much interest in the actual LEGO sets twenty-five years later.

In a word, I was very much WRONG!

Obviously LEGO knows how to market to my generation!

I was actually at my first official LEGO store when I decided to take the plunge and purchase set 75902:  The Mystery Machine.  It ended up being a wise decision, as you'll see!

First, the bad part.  The Mystery Machine set has an obnoxious number of stickers (and I hate stickers)!

In fact, the set has 301 pieces and a whopping 23 different stickers!  That is the worst piece to sticker ratio that I'm aware of.  I will say that the stickers do add a lot to the finished model though - you need them in order to capture the true look of the Mystery Machine!

Eight stickers on each side of the van should be a sign of just how many stickers get used in this model, though as I said, the stickers are a necessary evil here as look how great that van looks when stickered up!

Amazingly, the model actually does have some printed pieces including the flower hubcaps.  The newspaper is also a printed piece (and cleverly references the spooky tree that is also included in the set).

The set comes with three minifigures (Shaggy, Fred, and Zombie), plus a Scooby figure.

Both Shaggy and Fred have alternate faces while the zombie had two buttons on the back of his head which alludes to the fact that the zombie is nothing more than a man in a mask.  I think that's a great little touch which fits in with the Scooby-Doo theme perfectly.  Those meddling kids!
It should be noted that the Fred minifigure is unique to this set.  If you want the whole gang, you have to buy the Mystery Machine set.  Of course, if you want the whole gang you should want the Mystery Machine as well since the vehicle was essentially another member of the squad in the cartoons.

Speaking of the zombie, you get a haunted tree that the zombie is controlling (both the arms are movable).  The back of the tree shows how the zombie controls the beast...and somehow I guess the crystal powers the contraption?  I'm assuming that the tree and zombie were actually featured in a specific episode of Scooby-Doo but it's not an episode that I can remember all these years later.

Moving back to the Mystery Machine, I was actually surprised by the fact that Machine opens up in the back to reveal a whole slew of equipment.

The gang has a camera and a flashlight for solving mysteries.  You also get a big 'ol sandwich for Scooby and Shaggy to fight over.  There is also a small sink and oven in the van (which seems a bit unsafe).  Finally, there is a variety of computer stuff including radar and an old-fashioned video tape for recording things.

And for those that care about this sort of thing, there are a handful of extra pieces as well.

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  8
Play Value:  8
Kid Value:  9
Adult Value:  6
Overall:  9

The Mystery Machine is definitely a set where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts (I give the set a 9 overall despite none of the individual rankings being a 9 or higher).  The actual parts used in the Mystery Machine don't offer a lot (especially when you consider how many of those parts are plastered with stickers).  However, the finished model is a perfect representation of the cartoon's source material - and it looks instantly recognizable when sitting on a shelf!  For kids, I would say the play value of all the Scooby-Doo set is quite high since you get both heroes and villains (though I think the tree and zombie combo is one of the lamer villains in the set).  For adults, the set is all about notalgia.  If you are my age and watched Scooby-Doo, buy the set.  If you never watched the show and/or have no connection to the source material, well, your $30 can probably be better spent elsewhere.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Scooby Doo Mystery Machine LEGO Set Has So. Many. Stickers.

I had the opportunity for the first time in my life to visit an actual honest-to-goodness LEGO store recently.  While there, one of the things that I picked up was the Mystery Machine (set #75902).  Before I built it, I was struck by one thing....the overwhelming number of stickers used in the set.

That's an amazing amount of stickers for a $30 set.  In fact, it's almost one sticker per dollar (23 stickers in total).  Even more amazing, there are actual printed pieces in the set as well - 4 small hubcaps, one front piece, the newspaper, and the classic video tape piece.

I'll eventually get my full review of the set up here Playing With Bricks - but for now I couldn't help but comment on the staggering number of stickers in the set!