Monday, July 24, 2017

My Custom LEGO City: The Amusement Park (I Need a Name)

Here's another quick video update of my custom LEGO city.

This time, I'm simply showing off my 32x32 square that I built for my amusement park complex.  Unfortunately, I don't yet have a good name for my theme park, perhaps you have some ideas?

Soon (hopefully within the next month), I will completely redo my custom LEGO city.  I have a two more large tables to incorporate into the space which should allow me to expand the city quite nicely.  I'll have more on that as soon as I am able!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

LEGO 71040 - Disney Castle - REVIEW

Let's get this out of the way first:  I'm an adult male who never was much into Disney movies as a kid (or as an adult).  In fact, other than Aladdin, I can't think of any animated Disney movies that I wanted to watch multiple times as a youngster.  I start with that to say that I am probably not LEGO's desired target audience for the LEGO 71040: Disney Castle set.  And yet, it must be said, I love the set!

The set itself is huge - both in terms of number of pieces (4,080) and in terms of actual width and height (29" high and about 19" wide).  The set is easily the largest set that I've ever assembled!  Heck, even the single included instruction manual is huge (490 pages).

The Disney Castle set is full of great features and hidden nods to many classic animated Disney movies.  The view from the front of the castle is mostly what you'd see if you went to Disney World in Florida...but from the back, the Castle has an open back (much like a dollhouse) with a variety of rooms - each of which is dedicated to a particular Disney movie.  In addition, there is a large foyer/ballroom on the bottom floor complete with a pair of statues (that don't count as minifigures in the official sense but they are in fact minifigs).

Even on the bottom floor you can find some nods to classic movies (including the aforementioned favorite of mine:  Aladdin).  

I definitely appreciated the chandelier build.  In fact, the set is loaded with lots of little builds like that with interesting techniques or pieces (in this case, you use a ship's steering wheel as the base of the light fixture).

Moving to the upper floors of the castle, you can probably make out a whole lot of neat nods to various movies/fairy tales including the rose from Beauty and the Beast.  In the Cinderella room, the masonry bricks definitely add a nice touch of color (and texture) to what would otherwise be a kind of dull kitchen scene.

There are lots of secrets tucked away in the castle!

How about that bed?!  Definitely an ornate piece of furniture, and it fits within one of the castle spires perfectly.

The largest tower holds the magic mirror (and poison apple).  

The castle even holds one more secret that you wouldn't ever find just by looking.  If you lift that blue roof section up, you'll find one more "nod to Disney" inside.

That's a glass slipper and a book of fairy tales.  Both of those are actually hidden from view underneath the one tower section.  It was a fun surprise to find when building the set!

From the outside of the castle, there are a couple more movie references including an archery range from the movie Brave (I think, or maybe Mulan?)  I don't know.  There are a bunch of cookies there, whatever movie had archery and cookies in it.  See, I'm no Disney expert!

And finally, at the very bottom of the base of the castle on the outside wall, there is one last tiny nod to a Disney movie.  I believe this would be the Princess and the Frog, right?

The Disney Castle set comes with a total of five Disney figures.  You get Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Tinkerbell (shown in an earlier photo, sort of).  You also get the two gray guards/statue figures but I guess those don't officially count towards the minifigure count of the set.  Truth be told, the biggest weakness of the set is probably the minifigure selection - especially since all the figures (except Tinkerbell) were part of the recent Disney Collectible Minifigure line (even though the outfits here are different).  I would have liked a bit more variety in the figures but that feels like nitpicking at this point in time.

There's Tinkerbell!
Sticker sheet and all the extra pieces.

As whole, the Disney Castle set was a lot of fun to put together.  For such a large set, there wasn't a lot of repetitive building (especially since the backside of the castle isn't symmetric at all).  The worst part of the build was applying the stone decals on the facade - there were 12 total stone stickers (plus 5 other easier-to-apply stickers) in the set.  I think for the cost of the set, LEGO could have made everything printed.  It should be noted that the clock piece and the ornately designed white wall piece are both printed.  You can see the stone stickers at the bottom right corner of the above photograph.

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  5
Play Value:  3
Kid Value:  4
Adult Value:  10
Overall:  10

Obviously my "overall" rating is not an average of the preceding scores.  For me, the set deserves a perfect 10 for what it is:  a massive set geared towards the adult collector.  There are tons of neat micro builds throughout the process and the end result is a display piece that looks equally good from the front as it does the back.  This is most definitely not much of a play set (though if I had the set as a kid I'm sure I would make the castle the center of whatever battles I was making up).  The selection of minifigures isn't great, but if you bought into the Disney Collectible line then you have lots of choices to fill up the castle.  Despite the sets massive cost, it's worth every penny!  Go get it before LEGO stops making it, that's my advice.

Friday, July 14, 2017

My Custom LEGO City: A Video Update!

With summer vacation upon me, I've been doing a bit more with my various hobbies.  One of those hobbies (and the reason for the the blog's existence) is LEGO.  For today, I have done a video tour of my LEGO table as it stands prior to demolition.  That's right, one of my summer goals is to completely redo my LEGO table (I bought two new large tables so that I'll have more space for even more LEGO soon)!  However, before demolishing the current set-up, I wanted a video to capture all the memories.

 I also snapped a couple of photographs for those that don't like to watch videos.

For the first, you can get a good view of my custom LEGO Hospital.  In the background you can see the large fire station.  If you look even further in the background, you might be able to make out my custom LEGO tunnel as well.
Moving to a different section of the city, here you can see my custom LEGO Ice Cream shop (nestled between a number of official LEGO kits).

The above shot is more of an overheard shot of what the least developed part of my city looks like.  I clearly need more blue base plates in order to make a better ocean/beach area.
And finally, a close up look at my custom LEGO train station complete with a bookstore and a couple of different places to get food and snacks.  I envision this plate becoming the center of town eventually (and yes, I'll eventually tile the entire base plate but it's not done yet).  I think I'll probably end up redoing the train station at some point as well, but for now it'll do.

That's a quick tour of the old city.  I hope that I am able to do another tour before too long of my new city (complete with two new tables).

Monday, July 10, 2017

LEGO 70910: Scarecrow Special Delivery - REVIEW

The LEGO 70910:  Scarecrow Special Delivery set contains 204 pieces and three minifigures.  You get Batman (no surprise there) as well as a security guard and a Scarecrow (in disguise) figure.  The bulk of the set is a small pizza delivery bike and an extremely small guard station.

The set comes with two numbered bags, a sheet of stickers, and a single instruction booklet.

Unfortunately, the sticker sheet is fairly large for such a small set.  In total, there are nine stickers for the tiny set which seems a bit excessive.  Even worse, the stickers are almost entirely necessary or else you end up with a very boring delivery vehicle or what would basically be a shack instead of a security checkpoint.

Quite frankly, the biggest reason to get most of the small Batman sets is for the included minifigures.  This set features Batman, complete with a pair of batarangs and Scarecrow (in Luigi's pizza disguise).  You also get a security guard...and in an unusual turn, he comes with two different heads rather than a double-sided head (likely because of the fact that his hat won't "hide" the back face).

The pizza delivery bike is basically a trailer attached to the bike's chassis.  The top of the trailer has a pizza icon that spins (which is part of the "action feature" of the set).  Basically, you can turn the top pizzas and knock out the two white panels to reveal...

...glowing ice cream?  Soap bubbles?  Who knows.  I think it's supposed to be noxious gas but it's not very convincing.

The other part of the set is the security guard's sentry post.  The build is extremely small, and again, not overly impressive.

The gate pieces are actually printed, but the rest of the labels on the building are all stickers.

All told, the Scarecrow Special Delivery set is underwhelming, especially at full price.  I didn't find the Scarecrow figure to be all that interesting (his disguise makes for a poor display piece).  The security guard is actually quite nice (and Batman is well, Batman).  However, the build isn't anything special.  For me, this is nothing more than a piece pack...and at a suggested retail price of $19.99, it's not a good deal for pieces.

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  6
Play Value:  6
Kid Value:  6
Adult Value:  2
Overall:  3

The set does offer a bit of play value in that you get a vehicle, a (small) building (but with a gate to crash through), and a pair of good guys to chase the bad guy.  For kids, that's probably good enough to mask the fact that the vehicle is pretty lame.  For adults, there isn't much here worth talking about (you can get a better version of the Scarecrow in the Scarecrow Fearful Faceoff set).  In fact, I'll be taking my set apart and using the pieces for my own creations...which probably means that my "overall" score of 3 might even be too generous!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

LEGO 70900: The Joker Balloon Escape - REVIEW

I ended up buying a couple of the small LEGO Batman Movie sets but for whatever reason, I didn't actually build any of them until now!  Today, I will take a detailed look at one of the smallest boxed sets in the Batman movie line:  The Joker Balloon Escape, set #70900.

The Joker Balloon Escape set comes with 124 pieces and two minifigures.  As with most of the LEGO Batman sets, you get a rather generic Batman figure (though this time he does come with a grappling gun/hook).

The star of the set, however, is the Joker.

The Joker comes with a long, purple cloth robe piece and a dual-sided head (happy face and a sinister happy face).

In terms of interesting pieces, for such a small set I would say that this set has a nice piece selection.  For starters, you get a couple of the new macaroni pieces in red.  You also get a total of five balloons to build (two red, two yellow, and one blue).

Other pieces of note include include a couple of sand green pieces, the yellow gate piece, and two sticks of dynamite.  The set also includes two stickers (both of which add to the overall look of the set) but neither is difficult to apply.

After assembling the two minifigures and Joker's balloon pack, the remaining few pieces are used to make a (very) small industrial plant bit.

Joker's plan is to use the bomb with the obnoxiously large clock to explode the canister of flammable materials.  The set includes a bit of an action feature in that you can push down on a lever to make the tank "explode" into two pieces.

Overall, the Joker Balloon Escape set offers up a quick, easy, and cheap way to get the movie's main star and the main villain.  For parents (or kids) on a budget, you have to respect that as an option.  Add in the fact that the little set has a bit of an action feature in a small assembly and you end up with a set that should definitely appeal to kids (of all ages).

The Bottom Line (out of 10):
Fun:  10
Play Value:  10
Kid Value:  10
Adult Value:  9
Overall:  9
The extra pieces in the box.

For me, this set hit all the right notes.  You get the two main movie characters, a bit of structure to mess around with (and blow up), and a sweet balloon getaway vehicle (plus Batman's grappling hook so he can go along for a ride).  And all of that is relatively inexpensive (by LEGO standards).  As of the time of this post, Amazon has the set available for only $11.99.  A veritable steal for what you get!

It isn't hard to imagine kids "swooshing" the Joker all over the place with Batman hanging on for dear life (with the kids cackling much like the Joker).  The industrial bit might be a small build, but it packs enough details in it to allow kids imaginations to fill in the rest of the story so to speak.  This is an easy set to recommend to anyone wanting to get a taste of the Batman sets (or simply the main Batman figures).  Highly recommended all around - and that's without even mentioning that you can combine this set with a couple of other smaller LEGO Batman sets to form a larger play scene (something that I think is a great idea by LEGO).  Good stuff all the way around here, highly recommended set.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Three More New Minifigures: Series 4, Series 10, and The LEGO Movie!

For the past several months, I haven't had a lot of time to work on expanding my LEGO Collectible Minifigure master set.  However, I did manage to make a single trade on SwapFig which netted me three new figures for my collection.

The first, and oldest, figure is the Kimono Girl from way back in Series 4.

The Kimono Girl has some nice printing on both her hair piece and her kimono.  I only wish the fan piece had some printing as well, it feels a bit like she got the short end of the stick in terms of minifigure accessories.

Now that I have the Kimono Girl in hand, I am exactly halfway done with Series 4 (which is impressive given how old the series is now and since I wasn't collecting LEGO when the series was originally released).  For the record, here is what I still need from Series 4:

Series 4 Needs (need 8/16):

  • Lawn Gnome
  • Ice Skater
  • Musketeer
  • Surfer Girl
  • Viking
  • The Monster
  • Hockey Player
  • Street Skater

Next up, from Series 10:  The Trendsetter.

I'm fairly certain this figure is basically supposed to be Paris Hilton, right down to the little tiny doggy that is included (no basket or purse to carry the little dog in though, sadly).  The best thing I can say about this figure is that I no longer need it...and quite frankly, it will look good in my custom city as a generic city folk person.

I'm a lot closer to having Series 10 complete, though truth be told, Series 10 will probably be the final series remaining on my want list since I'll probably never have a chance to acquire the Mr. Gold figure.  For what it is worth, here's what I still need:
Series 10 (need 3/17):

  • Bumblebee Girl
  • Revolutionary Soldier
  • Mr. Gold

Finally, from The LEGO Movie collectible series, I tracked down the movie's main protagonist, Emmet.

Specifically, this is "hard hat Emmet."  Emmet looks suitably dopey in this form which is fitting if you have seen the movie.  Perhaps "dopey" is too harsh, how about naive and boringly content?

The good news is that much like Series 10, I'm only three figures away from having the LEGO Movie series complete.  The better news is that there isn't a super rare Mr. Gold standing in my way of completing this set.  Here's all that remains on my want list:
Lego Movie (need 3/16):

  • William Shakespeare
  • Gail the Construction Worker
  • Martha Staplebot

All things considered, I am always pleased to make progress on my collection - especially with the older series (which for me is anything prior to Series 5 when I started collecting).  If you have any minifigures available, check out my want list here (or find me on SwapFig).

Monday, June 26, 2017

LEGO 30607: Disco Batman & Tears of Batman - REVIEW

Earlier this year, I greatly enjoyed The LEGO Batman movie that came out in theaters.  Of course, LEGO wouldn't let a great marketing idea slip by them...and so they released a whole bunch of sets (and a full collectible minifigure line) specifically for the movie.  In addition to all the sets and figures, LEGO also released a smattering of polybags, one of which I got (free with purchase) from the LEGO Store in Rochester, NY a number of months ago.

The LEGO 30607:  Disco Batman, Tears of Batman set has almost as twice as many letters in its title as it has pieces within the bag!

Upon opening the bag, you are greeted with the expected pieces along with a pair of cardboard "boxes."

Each cardboard box houses one of the capes for the set.

The green cape isn't anything overly special but the gold cape is very nice:  it's shiny gold on one side and solid black on the other.

In the end, the polybag is really nothing more than two more Batman minifigures.
The only extra piece is an extra pearl gold skate.

However, both designs were 100% new for my collection (and thus appreciated)!  I really like Batman's torso in the Disco Batman figure while the Tears of Batman has some interesting pants (though I will say that the pants don't seem to "go" with the shirt at all for that figure).

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

Overall, you can't really knock a "free" set.  However, attempting to judge this set as if I had paid a "normal" polybag price for it made the ratings make more sense in my head.  For both kids and play value, I think having Batman paired with one of the hundreds of villains from the movie would have made more sense (I'd get rid of "Tears of Batman" and replace that with someone like Condiment Man or something).  However, this set is probably more geared to adult collectors who simply want every version of Batman that they can get their hands on.  As far as I know, these two versions of the caped crusader are both unique to this polybag...and that alone makes the adult value skyrocket.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Look Back: 1992 LEGO Magazine (Featuring Minifigures, Road Signs, and More)

Today it is time to say goodbye to our 1992 LEGO Magazine.

After perusing Castle, Pirates, Space, Town, Trains, Boats, Model Team, and Technic all in previous posts, we are left with a few assorted sets (with actual prices listed) as we close out the magazine.

Page 22 of the magazine has a half page ad for the LEGO Builders Club.

Joining the club you'd get a whole 4 issues of their magazine plus a small set worth at least $2.59.  All for the low cost of $7.95 for one year or $14.00 for two years.  Even today, that doesn't sound like a very good deal to me.

The other half of that page contains some assorted building accessories.  You can get an old school brick separator or a 9V motor.  I actually owned that red storage case at one point in time (and my brother and I each shared the Idea Book).  In fact, not all that long ago I bought myself a new copy of the Idea Book since I have no idea whatever happened to the book that my brother and I owned as a kid (and I wanted a copy for the nostalgia factor if nothing else).

The next page of the magazine is where you can start to see how LEGO's prices have changed since 1993.

Quite frankly, all things considered LEGO has always been expensive!  For my money, the Lighting Bricks is probably the best deal on that page, though it does require another $11 for the 9V battery box.  As a kid, I owned the Police 4x4 set...and looking back, I wish I would have bought the Castle Elements set.  Finally, the page also features an itty bitty look at LEGO's efforts to acquire more female builders.  The Poolside Paradise set is actually kind of neat looking but the other two sets leave quite a bit to be desired.

Finally, we reach the backside of the magazine which has an order form and a few more sets available for mail order purchase.

I am pleased to say that I owned the Castle Mini Figures set (and my brother had the Space Mini Figures set).  Otherwise, though, this is a page full of things that we both wished we owned back in the day.  Heck, I'd still love to get some LEGO street signs...and I can never have too many LEGO trees!

This was a fun trip down memory lane for myself...and, as it turned out, it inspired me to see if I could track down a couple of old sets from sites like eBay (one of which I did buy and will show off soon)!