Thursday, April 30, 2015

PREVIEW: LEGO Ferris Wheel - #10247

Yesterday, I saw an article with the first clear images (and video) for the upcoming LEGO Ferris Wheel set #10247.

 That's an awesome looking set!

Although I am sad that the price tag is $200 US, I think it's probably worth it since the set is almost 2 feet tall and you get 10 minifigures (2,464 pieces in total)!!  Heck, even my wife said "that's pretty cool looking" when I showed her - that's the best compliment I can give a set since she's decidedly non-LEGO in terms of her interests!

I like the fact that the Ferris Wheel turns via a crank (movement is always fun) and from the video you can see that it is also easy to add in an optional motor if you prefer.  I also think it was a good idea for the set to not fold up onto trucks like the Fairground Mixer from last year (a set that I have - and like a lot) since it would require a lot of trucks (and thus, "wasted pieces" or else an even higher price tag).

The sunburst color scheme in the middle of the Ferris Wheel is the most striking part of the design to me - along with the colored gondolas (though why aren't any of the gondolas red I wonder)?!  If I had to guess, I would say that this set will be a quick seller despite the high price...and once it's gone good luck getting one for anything close to a reasonable price point!

That's my thoughts on it - but what about you?  Is this a day 1 purchase for you?  Would you have preferred something more along the lines of last year's Mixer which folds up on a truck instead?  Does the Ferris Wheel and the Fairground Mixer even belong in the same comparison since one is movable and the other is most definitely stationary?  Let me know!

Monday, April 13, 2015

LEGO 10243: Parisian Restaurant - REVIEW

The LEGO Modular line is one of my all-time favorites so I was quite excited to acquire the Parisian Restaurant for Christmas back in 2014.  The restaurant kit marks my sixth modular building that I own (the others being the Palace Cinema (review) , Fire Brigade (review), Pet Shop (review), Town Hall (not yet reviewed), and the Grand Emporium (also not yet reviewed).  I have built all six models but as of the time of this posting I still have quite a bit of kit reviewing to do!

The Parisian Restaurant is notable for a couple of reasons.  First, it's the first restaurant building that I own - and it's also holds a pair of apartments in the upper portion of the building.  Thus, it fits in well with the Pet Shop set in that you get actual places for your minifigures to live as well as to eat or shop.  I think it's smart by LEGO to include apartments in their modular buildings since there aren't a lot of building ideas that can encompass three stories without feeling forced (I'll discuss the empty areas of the Grand Emporium when I review that set for example)!

The Parisian Restaurant is also notable because the back of the building is almost as detailed as the front of the building.  This is a first for the Modular line as most of the other buildings have a back wall design that is more afterthought than anything else.  While I do appreciate the model looking good from all four sides, I have to admit that I showcase my models on a high shelf from which only the front is visible anyhow!

The actual set comes in a giant box which holds 2469 pieces.  For comparison, the Pet Shop has 2,032 pieces, the Fire Brigade has 2,231 pieces, and the Palace Cinema has 2,194 pieces.  Of the four Modular buildings that I've reviewed to date, the Parisian Restaurant has about 200 more pieces than the next closest building!  I should note that a lot of those pieces are small 1x1 squares though so you can't judge a set solely on its piece count.

As I mentioned already, the set consists of three floors.  The ground floor holds the main eating area (indoor and outdoor) plus the kitchen of the restaurant.  The second floor holds a spillover deck with more seating plus a small apartment.  The third floor is quite small and features and artist's studio.

Since the instruction booklets begin with the ground floor, that's where we'll begin the review!

As you can see, there are two outdoor seating areas plus another two indoor tables.  The indoor tables get their own table lamps which is a nice touch.  The kitchen has blue and white tiles for the floor and it contains a bunch of different kitchen appliances including a fully stocked refrigerator (all brick built of course).

Once the first floor is complete, you also get a wine curio plus a few wall hangings (a painting in the main dining area and a clock in the kitchen).  There is a nice menu on the outside along with a Chez Albert sign signifying the name of the restaurant.

It's not really possible to make out from the photos, but the name Chez is also built into the design of the ground floor in the outdoor seating area (thus continuing the trend of spelling something out in brick form in the various Modular buildings)!

The back of the building includes a brick built dumpster plus some greenery and a trash can (and a rat for good measure).  The dumpster contains a few extra food items such as a pair of hot dogs, a couple of bones, and some cherries.  I'll never complain about getting more LEGO food items!

Moving on to the second floor, you actually build two separate components.  The first is the second floor apartment and the other bit is the outdoor seating area for the restaurant.  Beginning with the apartment, you can see the front is really quite nice - a pair of large windows (complete with flower boxes) and a super small balcony.  The back of the second floor contains a second super small balcony as well the stairs to upper artist's loft.

The inside of the second floor contains a fully fledged (small) apartment.  There is a small kitchenette (with microwave, stove, and some drawers) along with a small table and stool.  There is also a nice recliner by the fireplace and a tall floor lamp in the corner.  The bed is actual a stowaway bed which you can pull down when it is time for sleep!

The other part of the second floor is the outdoor seating area.  Here, you get another pair of tables plus a pair of lamps (with flower pots).  It's definitely a simple build but it looks really nice when combined with the rest of the model!

Finally, we make our way to the third and final floor - home of the starving artist!  The front of the third floor is entirely decorative - but it works well within the context of the entire model.  The most striking design element is probably the white croissants that serve as some scalloping for the design (notice the white clam shells in the middle of the design)!  Neat the bottom, the design features a bunch of feather pieces (which were totally new to me).  I love the look - and the dark blue of the roof makes the entire design pop!

The only way to access the third floor is actually from the back of the model.  The back portion of the roof flips down to reveal the artist's studio.  The studio isn't really a proper apartment as there isn't actually anything in it besides a small wood stove, artist's easel, paint palette, and a small storage area for finished paintings.  Perhaps the artist actually lives downstairs and rents out the upstairs just for work purposes?

Overall, the Parisian Restaurant looks awesome from both the front and the back.  It is, by far, the best looking Modular Building from all angles - and the front of the building can hold its own against any of the other Modulars in its own right (though I think I give the nod to the Palace Cinema for best front design).

As I said, the back of the building is hands down the best of any of the Modulars to date.  I didn't discuss it previously, but there is even a bit of chimney design that goes up the one side of the building adding that much more texture to the finished product.  Top to bottom, this is a great set design!

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  9
Play Value:  8
Kid Value:  7
Adult Value:  10
Overall:  9.5

The Modular line isn't exactly catering to the young crowd (as evidenced by the high piece - and high price - count).  On the other hand, LEGO is ultimately a toy so kid value shouldn't be totally discounted.  I think the Parisian Restaurant does quite well for kids' play in that who doesn't like to play "kitchen"?  The included red Vespa also makes for some fun!

For adults, the set is flat out awesome.  I think the design is topnotch - quite honestly it's probably the best designed set from any LEGO set that I've ever built.  I would have liked to have seen one more minifigure included - you get a chef, waiter, two patrons (a guy proposing to his girlfriend), and one lad who is presumably the artist.  I think it would have been nice to have one more patron so that you could make use of both the indoor and outdoor seating (and make the waiter work a bit more)!  Other than that minor quibble, this set is awesome and comes highly, highly recommended!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Minifigure Museum: Businessman (Series 8)

Businessman:  LEGO Series 8 Collectible Minifigure

One of the great things about the LEGO Collectible minifigure series as a whole is that you get a wide range of figures that can be used in a variety of settings.

In Series 8, for example, there are a number of figures that could be at home in a CITY type setting (football player, female skier, businessman, DJ, and cheerleader) but then there is also a space villain, a wild west rodeo gal, a Santa Claus, and even a pirate in the set.  It makes it fun to have a wide variety of figures to choose from!  That said, most of the time I aim to make sure that I acquire all the CITY type figures since I eventually hope to set up my own custom city in which the collectible minifigures will have a starring role!

The Businessman is a great addition for anyone hoping to build their own LEGO City.  He comes with an iconic bowler hat plus a briefcase and a City Financial News newspaper.

I really like the businessman's torso print - the suit is certainly snappy with the purple tie and pinstriped shirt underneath the jacket.  The only downside to the figure is that he doesn't have any printing on the reverse at all.

Overall, I don't expect that many people were excited to pull the businessman from a blind pack (there are certainly more exciting figures in series 8), however, I think the businessman is one of the easiest figures to put into a LEGO City scene which makes him an instant win for me!
Time to go home for the evening!