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Team J.A.F.


Set Review: 75529 Elite Praetorian Guard

Posted by xccj , in Review Dec 13 2017 · 142 views

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Man, I've been putting this one off for months waiting until just before the movie premier to post this! (Truth time, there are older set reviews that I'm still working on. Sigh.)

I'm waiting to see how many angry Youtube comments I'm going to get on this one. I hummed the theme music, added snarky captions, and generally felt meh on the set, so it's bound to set off a few folks. (Tis good to know I set the bar pretty low as the worst BZPower reviewer.)

Anyway, for the TL/DR (which probably applies to most people) the set is meh, who even is that character, action feature is lamez, but solid set with few gaps (yay robe) and also lotsa red pieces!!

I have at least one more review to post this year, but still needs a lot of effort, and just don't have the time or energy to do these anymore. :( (But it's an awesome one, so I do want to get it up.)



Review 70620: Ninjago City - Level 3

Posted by xccj , in Review Oct 26 2017 · 195 views

I have finished the Ninjago City model, so one last rambling of thoughts on it. The third and top level here consists of the rooftop sushi restaurant and the radio tower.

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The Sushi restaurant isn't too extravagant, because it is just sitting atop a rooftop. The edged of the curved roof are nice, with the two straight bits being made of door pieces. (One side is right hand doors, the other is left hand doors, so if you part this set out, you've have a full set of matching pairs.) There's plenty of seating up here, with nice use or rounded orange tiles filling things out, as well as a table with the menu sticker on it.

The big draw is the sushi conveyer belt, which totally works. I mean, it's not too complex; just 1x2 liftarms connected into a loop and placed in a nice slop, which uses some SNOT techniques to make a nice fit. It does get caught in a few places, and it's not secured in so if you tilt the roof upside-down (as one does with buildings) it'll fall right out. More irksome is the fact that the provided sushi dishes only fit in loosely, so a slight bump of the set and they go flying off the belt or their respective tables. There's a little table for the sushi chef to prepare the fish, but it's a little high for a standing fig, and I had to include a small stand for him for the display. (You can either refit the crab restaurant chef with a new hat and mustache and turn him into the sushi chef, or you could borrow the sushi chef from the Collectible Minifigure wave and have him man the table.)

Two of the final builds in the set are actually some of the best; the blowfish and squid sculptures, used to advertise for the restaurant. The squid makes excellent use of the small catapult arm and cheese slopes to get a striking design. (Granted, it took me a while to realize it was a squid, I thought it was just a fish design at first.) The blowfish is a bit more fragile but it's a technique I wouldn't have thought up, so it's quite impressive that they managed to design it and still pull off the look. Certainly a highlight of the model. (The last sticker of the set is also used on the green sign that hangs below the puffer fish, and is the final step to the entire set. Given how many stickers have been used, this seems fitting.)

But before you do those final designs, you have to build the big radio tower, using a fair amount of sand green elements (that look borrowed from the dragon mech.) It's a fairly sturdy structure, and the design of the hole looks pretty good from the front. The back, however, has a lot of anti-studs showing. Oh well. Not sure what all those bronze swords are supposed to represent, but they add some contrasting colors. What did surprise me was that the base of the tower has a small restroom built into it, thus being the last room built in the set. (And it's kind of needed; two residential houses, three restaurant, and a fish market... they needed a restroom somewhere.)

The figs are again less than impressive. You get a standard Ninja Jay, and although he was new to me he does appear in plenty of other cheaper sets. The Shark Army thug is the most common villain in Ninjago, so he's another repeat. Officer Noonan is slightly different, but basically just repurposing of standard police parts, so nothing special about here, really. I continue to be underwhelmed by the figs in this set.

The conveyer belt is a neat play feature, but not quite as nice as the crab grill. There are a few sushi stickers used here, as well as a couple of signs on the small black tower. (I think in the live stream, they mentioned one was a reference to Bionicle Glatorian? The top one with the circles reminds me of the Ga-Metru Kanoka disk design, although it's not exact.) This overall top level isn't quite as fulfilling as some of the others, but it serves its purpose as a rooftop restaurant and completes the model, so that's nice.

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I think it's easy to say that I like this set. The build was FUN, lots of different techniques used, some felt pretty standard, while others were quite creative. Plus, the designs generally don't skimp out; they use lots and lots of useful pieces. This set would make an excellent parts pack, with a fair amount of uncommon elements and colors. (But honestly, why would you not want to build this set? Unless you bought two... in which case you're way richer than I. This set was half the cost of my rent, or rather the majority of my Lego budget this summer.) But it was lots of fun and now I'm disappointed I don't have a new section to build after work every day. Heh.

This is a big set too. The rooftop restaurant is higher up than the top of the Airjitzu Temple. The top of the radio tower doesn't quite match the height of the Ferris Wheel, my other tallest set... but if you count the fishing pole antenna, it does. And there is a lot of room to desk this out with minifigs, which is what I've already started to do.

Overall, I would say my favorite designs include the bridge, the crowbar roofing, the comic shop, and Lloyd and Koko's house, plus the squid and puffer fish sculptures. Favorite stickers are the movie posters, comic book cards, and the Kimono lady. Best action feature is clearly the crab grille, but the elevator isn't bad either. The set isn't super great as far as figs go, but the exclusive ones like civilian Kai, Ivy, Mother Doomsday, and Tommy are my favorites. (Plus, I guess you always need some average figs to help bulk your city out. And from the mindset of a collector on a budget, it's nice that there aren't too many important exclusive figs here. There's nothing quite on par with the Airjitzu Temple's exclusive Misako fig.)

You do have the issue with the modular building design, where lots of details go into the interior, but it's too tight to really play in and it's not visible from the outside while on display. Luckily, there's plenty on the outside that it looks really good on display. The movie may have been a bit of a dud, but this set is excellent, and now I want to get even more Ninjago Movie sets to deck it out. (The street lamps from the smaller City Chase set can be easily placed on the roof, and the extra civilian figs can fill out the sidewalk and restaurant seats.) It's a great set... but it's super pricey and takes up a lot of room, so if you don't have the space or cash, you'll probably have to pass on it. Or just save up a lot and decide that you don't need shelf space in your kitchen for food. (Good thing too, cause you can't afford anymore now!)

That said, I should really get back to working on those front page reviews again...

Thanks for reading.



Review 70620: Ninjago City - Level 2 B

Posted by xccj , in Review Oct 25 2017 · 203 views

Onto the second half of the second level of Ninjago City. This level features the fashion store, another extension of the elevator, and an abandoned room with the bonsai tree growing out of it. And I also decided to add Lloyd and Koko's house to this section, although it's technically part of the third level.

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The main feature here is the fashion store, where they're selling a bunch of hats, as well as cell phones and a skateboard and a few other small things. (Basically, I think they rummaged through the accessories bin and threw in what they thought looked cool.) The color scheme of white and various shades of light blue is quite contrasting compared to the nearby buildings, which rely heavy on earth colors. In many ways, the fashion level feels like a Friends set, in that it has long sections of windows, a bright color scheme, and plenty of free space on the inside. (Seriously, it's the most opened "room" in this model so far, everything else has been very cramped.) I really did like the technique with the curved window piece on it's side... only after some research, I realized its been used this way before, although that was nine years ago. :o Overall, it's not quite as interesting as some of the other shops, but it is different.

I think there's a bit of wasted potential on the abandoned "construction" site on the right side of the fashion store. At this point, I'm guessing they were trying to keep from going over budget, because the room only has a few vines to represent tree roots, and single piece walls on the interior edges. (AKA the two sides not visible in my photo.) I'm tempted to redesign this region myself and make it more substantial, although I'd need to buy some more bricks in that light yellow colors, which is fairly rare. (And some pieces, like the 1x2 plate, only show up in that color in this set.) But this drab room can be forgiven because it attached to the amazing bonsai tree, which actually connects through the window using some CCSB parts. It doesn't feel like there were too many leaf pieces included here (really just four large leaf pieces with accompanying detaining) but they're spread out in a way that still makes the tree feel substantial. Quite a cool design, and the ball joints allow for easy positioning.

The elevator extension is just more of the same. The front end does use clips to get a neat window design. I don't know exactly what it's supposed to represent besides just some cool visuals to break up the wall. There is room on the inside to place a fig, although you have to disassemble the entire thing to get to it. Perhaps this could be a display room for the fashion store, or perhaps a place where Lloyd or Jay could hide as Ninjas (or even the Shark Army Goon.)

Next is Lloyd and Koko's house, and while it's part of Level 3, it doesn't actually connect to the rest of the level, so I put it here for greater visibility. It continues with the light yellow / tan color scheme, which is great, and it's packed with details, which is impressive considering it's only has the base of 10x10 studs. It has a bookshelf with the "book" plates connected to the back wall via clips, as well as a small table with a TV, a dresser, and a microwave. There are also bunk beds, with the upper bunk removable to place the figs in. Koko and Lloyd also have accompanying posters for their levels (although Koko's hair makes it difficult to fit her in.) The sloped roof is make using the plate with pin holes, and although the design isn't exactly groundbreaking, the repetition looks amazing. (This roof design also repeats on the one wall of the construction site, immediately below their house.) Finally, there's space in the roof to store Lloyd's ninja suit... although it's surprising Koko hasn't seen it since she just has to look up. Anyway, it's a cozy little house that would make an awesome Creator set of its own, and it's impressive that they squeezed so much detail on the inside.

The fig selection is mediocre again. Juno is the last civilian fig, and stands out with her umbrella, but all her parts are reused. Koko (or Misako) also uses a new head print to go with her unique hair piece, but the torso is pretty common and I'm surprised they didn't go with her movie outfit, although I guess they covered that with her collectible fig. Civilian Lloyd and his ninja suit both appear in other sets, so nothing too exciting about them either. (Granted, I suppose it's fitting that he shows up here... he's like Emmett or Batman from their respective movies; he has to be in a lot of the sets.) What did surprise me was the use of the training Ninja suits as the mannequins; if you want to make some for all six Ninjas, then you've got two right here. (I already have two, so I need to track down two more and the correct Ninja heads to complete that collection.)

No special functions on this level, unfortunately. Most of the stickers don't stand out either. The house has a few neat ones on the inside, plus some designs on the outside that resemble Gali's Nuva symbol. (This may have been intention... or not, it's not that uncommon of a design.)

All in all, it's not the most impressive level. The Fashion store is large and bright, but it doesn't quite compare to the crab restaurant or the comic shop, and the two side builds are dull too, although the tree is great. The house design is pretty nice, one of the highlights of the set really. (Now I'm tempted to make more compatible designs and start stacking up houses... maybe figure out how to add another level to Ninjago City. Eh, eventually, anyway.) Just one more level to go after this, nearing the end of this build...



Review 70620: Ninjago City - Level 2 A

Posted by xccj , in Review Oct 22 2017 · 231 views

Instead of finishing all of level 2, the first half had so much detail that I'm just going to do that part now.

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This involved bags seven thru ten, and makes the seafood restaurant, the comic shop, the ATM, an extension of the elevator, and an elevated sidewalk. There's another half level that sits on top of this that is technically Level 2, but there's still a lot going on here.

The restaurant is the biggest draw, and come with a small cooking area and a seating area. What throws me off the most is the array of tools that are hung in the corner: A frying pan (makes sense), a pick axe (um, I guess to crack the crabs?), Thor's hammer (just how tough are these crabs??), and a buzz saw (seriously?!?). This chef is serious. But the main attraction is the oven, which is the coolest action feature so far. By turning a knob on the outside, the interior of the oven flips, and stuff that was hidden in the bottom is now on the top. This is best displayed by a crab and a banana, which both come in two colors to show cooked and precooked versions. A neat idea, although there have been instances where the crab falls out when you open the oven and gets stuck beneath it, making it difficult to fish out. (PUN!) There's also a crab display over the main door, which is slightly pose-able. The placement of the round tiles in the clear 1x2x5 brick is also an ingenious idea. This could easily be its own set, either in City of even a stylized Friends verson.

The comic shop is cramped, but filled with details. Like, a large amount of stickers are in here. You have a display of 8 collectible character cards, similar to those in previous Ninjago sets. There are some that are easily recognizable, like Legends of Chima and Unikitty, and a few that are a bit vaguer. (I sort of recognized Fabuland, but did not catch the Rock Raider reference until it was pointed out to me.) No Bionicle, sadly. Only the Johnny Thunder one actually has a printed name. Luckily, the shop is split in two, for easier access to all the visual goodies, and the top half includes the Lego Movie cat poster, as well as an ingenious brick build "Comics" sign. (Does it count as cheating since they use printed plates pretty heavily?)

The shop also contains the action figure display, which has a dark blue, black, dark gray, dark red, sand green, and white figurines. They don't quite represent any Toa teams... the Inika come closest, if you could switch the sand green for dark green. And if you also switch the gray to brown, you could have the Metru. Apparently they're not quite matched up color wise for Galidor either, and the only sand green character I can think of is from Ben 10, but the other colors don't match up for that collection either. (But I've been told that they're actually supposed to represent the ninjas in their movie colors, which I guess is appropriate.)

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Between the comic shop and the restaurant is the ATM, which has a function to shoot out money tiles. Make it rain, eh! (The fence in front of it also rotates down, giving easy access to refill it.) Next to the elevator extension is the movie poster display. The posters are all quite epic, with the best being either the Galidor or Ronin posters. (Again, another chance wasted to make a cool Bionicle movie poster. I guess we'll have to make do with the subtle Bionicle references.) There's actually a cool mechanism to kick out the stored posters, so you can swap them out easily. The sidewalk also is bordered by the fences with various advertisements on them. Some are recognizable, others are in Ninja-script. My favorite is actually the reference to the Xtreme Team Lego Island Xtreme Stunts theme from the late 90s early 2000s... I may have to utilize the X on a brick badge now. The sign with the three boomerangs is also cool. The backside of these buildings, however, is fairly bland. :(

There aren't exactly any stand out figs in this section, but they make for a good civilian collection. Mother Doomsday is a character from the cartoon series, and I think Tommy closely resembles some of the kids from Darkley's School for Bad Boys... but apparently not their names. MD's Galador shirt is pretty nice. (Again, where's the Bionicle fan? :( ) The Chef and rich guy are also unique figs and fit in nicely with the cityscape, but again none that I would go out of my way to get. (This set is not really about the minifigures.)

Anyway, this is another awesome selection of shops. The crab restaurant could easily be its own set, while the comic shop is incredibly packed with details. It feels like this level has a majority of stickers here with lots and lots of references, some that I get and others that probably require some translating and / or research. :P And the crab grill is a great play feature (but does the chef know his grill can be accessed from a lever outside? Is he even cooking at all?) I'm excited to move onto the next level, although I have a feeling that they won't be quite as packed as this level. (Which may be a good thing... a little space to move the figs around helps with playability, IMO. The restaurant is accessible, but the comic shop is super cramped! Hope Mother Doomsday isn't claustrophobic!)



Review 70620: Ninjago City - Level 1

Posted by xccj , in Review Oct 19 2017 · 212 views

This model is so big and packed with detail, that a single blog entry won't suffice. (But not a full on front page review, that would be exhausting to finish.) I haven't even finished building it; partially because I was to spread out the build for as long as possible, partially because it already takes a really long time. (This would make for a great group speed build set, IMO, but I'm not rushing through it myself.) Anyway, I wanted to talk about some of my favorite bits, and because the levels are almost independent of each other, I thought I'd split it up that way.

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The first level is build using six numbered bags... although that's slightly off, since most numbers have multiple bags. It's a LOT of pieces. Not a lot of vibrant colors on this level; the buildings are mostly brown and white, with gray, dark tan, and olive green built into the base. The water uses a TON of trans blue tiles, which itself was a mighty task to put down properly, but the instructions weren't too bad. The water itself is a cool design, because they have different colors underneath the tiles, giving a vague idea that there's a waterscape below the city. (An interesting bit is that trans neon green was used as the base beneath the sewer... so take that for what you will.) There have been a few unusual parts here and there, so this does make for a good parts pack, but hopefully some of the newer, rarer elements will start showing up in cheaper sets.

The first thing that surprised me was how small the set's footprint is. Others have commented that it's only on a 32x32 baseplate, but at least a third of that is already taken up by water tiles, so the entire model is build up on three corners of a baseplate. :o There's already a lot going on the first level, as you have the clean up robot's storage area, the fish market, a small bedroom, and a tea house, as well as a cool bridge and the start of the elevator. The individual rooms are rather small, but have distinctive looks to them. It does remind me why I decided to avoid module buildings; there's a lot of detail packed into them, but they're hard to look in when the set's build, and even harder to access due to their size. (The cleaner robot's storage room is particularly irksome to access.) There are some nice details, and I especially liked the green Sabine hairpiece used as a plant. Some of them also have distinctive roof designs, but my favorites so far is the design using the crowbars. (Did that crowbar piece always snap onto a bar like that? Was I seriously missing their potential?)

The water is mostly tiles, but there are still a few studs popping out, either as plant life (the paint palette as a lily pad is great) or as 1x1 plates (to fit in the corners that the 1x2 tiles couldn't finish.) On one hand, that means the boat can't be slid along effortlessly through the water, but then there are also some connection points for it. The boat is an awesome little design, and I really like how they built the cover. (I mean, it doesn't feel like it's minifig scale, but I can let that slide.) They also included a neat dock on the back using brown technic connectors. The bridge is also a great design, and I'm impressed at how they designed the angles rails. Previous sets have used the clips, but they leave exposed gaps and sometimes aren't secured in. Well, they cleverly used the neck brackets to hide the gap, and the balljoints secure the tile at the bottom. The elevator is also a simple but effective and modular design. I skipped ahead and build the elevator stand, and it works great. There's also the small tower on the far corner, which is okay but the cooler part is the design they used to anchor it at the 45 degree angle, which is something we don't usually see in system sets.

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The figs are... well, they're not exactly the highlight of the set. Three figs have traditional Asian robe designs... that are seen in a lot of the Ninjago sets, wore by various civilians. Civilian Kai is great, mostly because he completes my civilian ninja collection, but the actual design is still pretty meh. I guess the best here is Ivy Walker, with her colorful torso design. (I thought she might be Jay's sister, since his last name is Walker on the TV show, although he doesn't have siblings. Instead, maybe she's his Aunt, and little Sally is his cousin?)

One thing I don't usually look forward to in sets is the stickers, but this one is an exception. Only, the ground level doesn't exactly have a ton. The two tiles along the bridge do reference Bionicle (they were the first stickers applied too) but sadly they're partially hidden by the plant life. My favorite here would probably be the kimono lady design on a door panel, but the tiger poster in the tea house is also well done.

There aren't really any fun play features on the ground level, although I know we get some as we move up in the set. I guess there's the elevator, as well as a few sliding door panels.

In conclusion, the bottom level is a solid design, and is sturdy enough to add more rooms to the top of this. The room designs are okay... some would be nice as their own mini set. The highlights so far have been the boat design, the crowbar roof, and the stone bridge design. I'm eager to build the next level and see what cool designs are waiting there.



Review 41184: Aira’s Airship and the Amulet Chase

Posted by xccj , in Review Feb 23 2017 · 584 views
Elves, Airship, Review
I’ve been sick for the last couple of days, but the highlight has been getting in a Lego order and putting together some of the sets I’ve had sitting around for a while. The new Ninjago stuff has been fun, and the Nexo Knight year 2 sets aren’t too bad either. The BickHeadz are pretty meh outside of being parts packs. But although I was expecting to like the new Elves airship, it still turned out to exceed my expectations.

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The set comes with three figs; Aira, Emily, and a goblin. The goblin is a single mold and kinda bleh. Same style of arms as the Nexo Knight imps (which can be given to regular figs) but otherwise I’m not impressed. Aira and Emily have new outfits, but it’s fairly minor. Emily’s necklace now comes as a separate piece, but it only fits loosely around her neck. Also, I tried to put it on a standard fig; too tight a fit. Still, I expect someone will find a neat way to incorporate it into a small MOC. Aira comes with a new medium lavender boomerang, which is a total plus.

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It only has 343 pieces (plus a fair amount of extras) which may be a bit light for a $40 set, but there’s a lot of good stuff here. Some of the obvious choices are the lavender balloon pieces, white dragon wings, and gold tubing, some of which I think might be new. There are some gold twirely decorative elements that I believe are brand new, so they’ll be highly sought after. The set also comes with a decent amount of medium lavender and dark purple pieces (and some standard tans and browns too.) The goblin also comes with two purple ball joints with mouths printed on them. (Lego is certainly doing a lot of printing on ball joints nowadays.)

The goblin’s flying postbox is forgettable, so I’m going to forget about it for the rest of the review. The airship itself is fabulous, and reminds me of the Elves ship from the first year as well as the Ninjago pirate airship from last year. And yet it turns out to be so much better. The hull is built around the wing mechanism. They hang loosely down in a rest position, but when you pull the lever on the back, they snap up alongside the edge of the ship. It’s quite a cool technic design, and I very much approve. The use of the curved gold elements really provide the ship with its shape, and the air balloon is just the right size for the craft. (Aesthetically, now sure if it would actually be large enough to realistically float the craft.) There’s not quite room for the whole gang of elves to climb aboard it; you might be able to squeeze them all on, but it would be a tight fit. And Aira’s position by the wheel is quite exposed; one step backwards and she’s falling overboard. They should really install guardrails back there.

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Overall, I’ve personally been less than impressed with the third year of Elves. It’s either more of the same or just straight up bland for my tastes. (Not saying it’s bad, just that last year’s selection was amazing so I personally don’t favor these new models as much.) But this airship is epic. I mean, it's taking design cues from two other great sets and then surpassing them. I might go as far to say it’s my favorite set of the year so far. (Although the Ninjago Dragon’s Forge and Samurai VXL have been quite epic too.) Anyway, the Airship is a great design and comes with some decent pieces too, so win-win there. I’d totally recommend it. (And I’d do a front page review, but that is way more effort than I can put in at the moment.)

(Also, no posting about how I'm wrong and Elves Year 3 is great and I should like it. You know who you are.)



Review: 76035: Jokerland

Posted by xccj , in Review Feb 22 2016 · 464 views

To take a break from official front page reviews, I’m going to do a couple of blog review. Mostly these were sets that I was planning to review, but for one reason or another they didn’t end up making it to the front page. So here are some thoughts but without all the super details and pictures and video. (I mean, some pictures, but they’re not great quality cause I already had this on display and I wasn’t going to move it just for a photo shoot.)

The priciest Batman set last summer was Jokerland, which weighed in at $119.99 USD. It did have 1037 pieces to it, in a bunch of colors (I think all the primary colors were covered, and not just as filler either.) It came with eight figs, four models of various amusement park rides, and a Batmobile, plus a few smaller models as well. There’s a lot to it, but it is pricey, so is it worth the cost?

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The big draw should be the minifigures. You get four good guys and four bad guys, so an even lineup. However, right away there are some drawbacks, as only two of these characters are actually new in minifig form, and some don’t even have new designs. Specifically, Poison Ivy and Penguin are reused characters. The Joker’s technically new, but it’s a similar design that’s been used before, and although Batman and Robin have some updates (new cowl, duel molded legs and arms) they’re not exactly breaking ground either. Harley Quinn probably goes the farthest for a new outfit design, but it’s easy to see why there was disappointment for the others.

Still, there are two figs that are a major drawl. Beast Boy and Starfire are brand new, with recolored hair pieces. (BB reuses the elf / werewolf design with the pointy ears) Fans of the Teen Titans will surely want these two. (And bemoaning the fact that Raven hasn’t gotten a fig yet.) And they are two excellent figs... but they alone don’t make the lineup super appealing. But it worked out for me, because I didn’t have any of the other villain characters yet (given that they were previously only available in expensive sets too) so I didn’t mind the repetition. But I can see why it bothered folks.

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The first model you build is the Batmobile. This is easily the star of the set. Great use of various slopes and such give it a classic shape, and it even has a decent missile launcher mechanism. (Although, to be fair, the missiles don’t always load in properly, so that can take some extra effort.) I mean, this alone would’ve made for a great $30 set or something. It has the look and play features down; they didn’t phone in this vehicle.

Now, the rest of the amusement park rides… those are certainly weaker. On their own, I think they would’ve made for some decent cheaper sets, so this model could’ve easily been split up into five parts. But for what this set is worth, it just seems a bit underwhelming. A lot of effort went in to making these pieces tall and functional, but also sort of hollow looking. I would expect this from cheaper sets, but I think they could’ve gotten rid of a ride or two and make the others more substantial.

The funhouse mirrors is the biggest set piece, with a decent joker head on the top. The hat spins, you can rotate the eyes, and when you throw somebody through the mouth, they go down the purple slide and into the vat of spare parts. (First time I’ve actually picked up one of these new Lego slides… they work, I’ll give it that.) There’s a little room at the base for funhouse mirrors, where they use the reflective stickers nicely. (The various signs also have stickers, but they were all lame so I didn’t apply them.) There’s also a functioning cannon (which doesn’t function very well), and a brick built jokerbot, which is nice enough for its size. Still, the model looks impressive from the front, but not from the side or back. It’s like they wasted all their time designing the (admittedly cool) Batmobile.

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The next three rides feature the other villains messing with the Teen Titans. Harley Quinn can ride down a ramp and drag Robin into some fire. The design holding the cycle to the ramp works, and it even has a lever at the top to kickstart the bike and send it down the ramp. The function works, but... this thing is fragile. If you try to move it, to reposition the bike or something, the ramp (connected just via a clip) slides around or breaks off. It’s long and tall, but too flimsy.

The Free Fall ride has been taken over by Poison Ivy. The ride has some nice green pieces to it, and the stands and shell pieces in green are exclusive to this set, I believe. I do like the carnivorous plant design, probably my favorite after the Batmobile. But the seats on the ride are also well done, and while they don’t have studs, a standard minifigure will be held in place by the handlebars. The mechanism is if you hit the plant, the seats crash down to the ground, presumably without the breaking system the normal ride would have. Not sure what Poison Ivy gains from this, as she’s shown hanging from the same seats that are going to drop. All in all, with a little bulking up, this probably could’ve been its own $20-$30 set.

Finally, you have the Duckies ride. Of all the rides, this is probably the most fleshed out. It has a decent background, detailed duck cars, and a fun mechanism to spin it. (It would’ve done well as its own set... I know this because they have released a similar ride as a SpongeBob set.) Although the Penguin threw in some dynamite and some shark fins underneath it, the biggest danger for the riders is probably getting queasy as the duckies spin around.

Overall, it’s an interesting set, but quite a lot of faults that make it undesirable. A few great figs, but repeats will only appeal to those who (like me) didn’t get the originals. (I’m sure this still applies to plenty of folks, tho.) The Batmobile is excellent, and the rides all have various functions that offer plenty of play value. But I think they tried to squeeze in too many rides, and a few of them are severely lacking in heft. A lot of good parts in a lot of colors, but besides maybe the green shell / plant pieces, nothing I’d go out of my way for. This set has a few perks, and if there are enough to entice you (How much do you want Starfire and Beast Boy?), then pick it up, but otherwise, it’s still a safe one to skip.


Review 70751: Temple of Airjitzu

Posted by xccj , in Review Feb 18 2016 · 1,135 views

To take a break from official front page reviews, I’m going to do a couple of blog review. Mostly these were sets that I was planning to review, but for one reason or another they didn’t end up making it to the front page. (In this case, the Airjitzu Temple was just too large.) So here are some thoughts but without all the super details and pictures and video. (I mean, some pictures, but they’re not great quality cause I already had this on display and I wasn’t going to move it just for a photo shoot.)

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The Temple of Airjitzu is one of the most expensive sets I’ve ever bought. This took a whole afternoon to build (with Hobbit making-of video in the background.) But it was certainly quite interesting, and certainly makes for a highly detailed Ninjago set.
First off, the figs. On one hand, it’s absolutely amazing that all the main protagonist characters are in the same set; it’s usually a challenge to get the full set of Ninjas, but they’re all here. I was planning on just getting this set to fulfill my Ninja collecting desire… but I did end up getting a bunch of other Ghost sets, so this will be my second full set of Ninjas. They’re all pretty cool, but then again they have all been seen before.

You do get some extras. Sensei Wu is always a nice addition, and he’s in a unique outfit here. Dareth also gets to show up in a proper set, although still without a brown ninja hood; maybe later. Clair and Jesper seem to be civilian characters; I don’t remember them in the show, and they’re basically rehashes of city characters. But whatevs, you need your civilians in Ninjago too. The Postman is a neat addition and a nice surprise, but the real deal breaker is the Misako fig. She’s played a moderate role for at least three seasons, so it’s about time she got made as a fig. And the details match the show perfectly, which is great. So if you were after this for the figs, then it’s delivers. I mean, still a bit pricey to pay $200 for twelve figs (thirteen if you count the statue) but still, they’re good.

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But the main set is also amazing, and that’s probably what drew in so many non-Ninjago AFOLs to get this set. The two smaller buildings are fairly well done and stand off well enough on their own. The Blacksmith shop has a good interior, a nice sloped roof, and a few interesting trees on the outside. The marketplace is less interesting on the inside, but they did a fabulous job using the garage door panels as the sloped roof, which also has the benefit of folding back to reveal some hidden crates.

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The overall temple tower has five main levels; the shadow theater, a tea room, a training room, a study, and a small attic. The shadow theater mechanism is build into the base and isn’t really accessible. The lever for activating the light is a bit different; it hardly has any room to move, but it turns out to be just enough to switch the light on and off, so a clever design idea. And the theater works, so very neat. Another thing that caught me off guard were the doors on the tea room level; they are actually sliding doors, and they totally work. (I expected the window pieces to go in a wall panel or something, so was pleasantly surprised with that design.) The sloped roof elements are also a neat touch, if a little flimsy at times.

The way the final product sits is angled differently than most models; it still covers about a square 48x48 base, but rotated 45 degrees, which means it can be troublesome to display. The fountain in the center is a neat touch, but I especially like the angled stairs leading to it. The bridge is also neat, but surprisingly doesn’t have a stud attachment to the main structure, so it just kind of sits in place.

There’s a lot of playability with this, from the various features in all the rooms to some of the extra vehicles. (The firework shooter has the six stud launcher, but it comes with medium azure studs, so it’s worth it. The hang glider seems like too simple of a design and I would write it off as lame... except it’s a callback to the original Ninja line, so I guess it’s also passable.) There’s plenty to role play, since you have quite a diverse cast of characters. You don’t really have any enemies, but if you’ve collected other Ninjago sets, you can have the baddies storm the temple and force the Ninjas to defend it. But it’s also a stellar piece of Asian architecture, and makes for a great display piece, which is primarily what I’m using it for. And plenty of room to showcase the figs too. (It even makes sense to put the Ninjas on the roof, because that just means they’re training.)

A great set, both for Ninjago fans and architecture fans. Good cast of characters, amazing designs, and a few neat pieces pop up here and there. (Sorry, not going to make a full list, but lots of special plates and bricks and walls that you’d expect to find in a larger structure set. Although there were four golden rings of power used in some of the pillars.) I can see why people have been praising this set, and it totally deserves it. Granted, at the price point ($200 USD) it’s not an easy buy. (Like I said, it’s tied with the Ferris Wheel as the most expensive set I’ve ever purchased.) But if you have the cash (not to mention the display space) it would be worth it.



Review: Raptor Rampage

Posted by xccj , in Review Jul 16 2015 · 426 views
Jurassic World, Dinosaur
So the other day I finally got my copy of 75917 Raptor Rampage (otherwise known as the Chris Pratt V3 parts pack) in the mail. I had ordered it for double VIP points in June, but it was backordered, so it took three weeks to get here. :shrugs: Full disclosure, I haven't seen the film, and don't feel inspired to see it in theaters either. I just assume that the raptors chase and eat people. And Owen takes them on friendly motorcycle rides.

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The figs are... decent. Owen's okay, pretty much like a cross of Indiana Jones and Star Lord. (Maybe I'll attach the Piece of Resistance to his back, just 'cus.) Claire has a good printed torso that I know I can use in custom figs, so plus there. ACU guy is boring, IMO, but I see potential for space army building stuff. Too bad this one is just a boring white guy.

The two raptors are also fun, realistic depiction aside. Movable arms and legs and neck and jaw... kinda odd that the tail doesn't pop off, but okay. I didn't get into the dino theme last time, so these molds are new to me. Nice printing and colors, and it is cool that we get two. Think the theme could've done with a few more herbivores, but I guess those aren't the exciting action ones. (For the record, I still have my Johnny Thunder Dino Island dinos, and they're great even if they're mostly large molds.)

The vehicle is... blocky. Like, this can be positive and negative. On one hand, it's large and bulky, looks like something that could take a beating. It's made up of some useful parts, particularly large plates and bricks, which I can certainly find useful, and an interesting chassis that keeps it pretty high off the ground. On the other hand, the design is fairly unimaginative. The back, in particular, is a mostly uninspired box, and there's not a whole lot of interesting designs in the cab either. Maybe I'm just jaded now as an older, more experienced builder, but I'm just disappointed in something this basic, even if I do like the pieces. Although I must admit, the clever way the turret slides in the back works. But to end on a sour note... there are stickers everywhere. I applied the one Jurassic World sticker to the hood, and that was it. For me, this set is a parts pack, so I'm not going to sully the other bricks and panels with dino scratch stickers. Meh.

Even at double VIP points, this set is overpriced at $50. I like the figs (well, two at least) and the two Raptors are nice. I'm disappointed with the truck, but don't mind the pieces that make it up. So yeah, I stand behind my statement that this is a Chris Pratt parts pack. (I haven't gotten it yet, but I think the Dilophosaurus Ambush might be a better value set. Even though the Gray fig is boring, at least the ACU trooper is non-flesh.) For the Raptor Rampage, maybe wait until you can find it on sale. (Assuming these do go on sale. I still think they're mediocre sets, but they've been flying off the shelves thanks to the movie's popularity, it seems.)



Review: Flash Speeder

Posted by xccj , in Review Jul 13 2015 · 573 views
Star Wars
The other day I ordered the 75091 Flash Speeder Star Wars set. I was planning to pick it up anyway, but I decided to wait until the Star Wars collectible poster promo, so I got that too. The set was actually pretty delightful, and I'm glad I made the purchase. Although, honestly, I don't remember this vehicle from the movie very much, but it's green, so yay!

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First off, the figs. I may or may not have wanted this set primarily for the medium nougat not-super-frowny head of the Naboo Security Guard. (I was tempted to get the $90 MTT for him last year, but that was too costly and the fig's Bricklink price was also too steep, so glad he showed up in a cheaper set.) (Also i guess it's the same head used for the not-white ACU Trooper in Jurassic World, so maybe a new standard head for diversity?) (I have a fig who needs it.) Anyway, I guess nice design, with a fancy hat, but it's the head that's important. There's also the security officer, who is just another frowny flesh-toned guy (who apparently reuses the head from Hobbit style Legolas), showing that half the people in Star Wars (and I suppose also Middle Earth) are just not happy ever. (That probably affects the force.) I do like his sand blue arms and legs, but otherwise he's kind of meh. Then there's the Gungan guy. (Do we hate him because he's Gungan, or do we just hate JarJar and the others are cool?) I wasn't too excited about him until I realized he had lavender arms... and then got less excited when I realized it was the lighter shade of lavender. (Still, a fairly uncommon arm color, just not my favorite.) Then we got two Battle Droids, and I realize that I don't like Battle Droid figs because they are way too flimsy. So, in conclusion, I guess there are a few rarer fig parts here, and while the figs themselves are detailed enough and fit with the scene, they're otherwise nothing too special.

But once you get over the disappointment of the figs, the actual ship actually is pretty neat. First of all, its green, and I like green and can always use more green pieces. But this is also a cool green design, with a lot of smooth curves and SNOT techniques. Like, there are a bunch of curved green slopes, and I like that. (I guess I wish there had been some green cheese slopes, cause I could use more of those, but you only get two 1x2 cheese slopes.) Another interesting design bit is that the interior has offset seating for four, which is a neat trick, and I like the backrest designs too. Even cooler, IMO, is the door design, in which the sides just entirely lift up. Wasn't a feature I was expecting, TBH. The blasters on the back have a decent range of motion and such, so I guess they're okay. Oh, and there are small hidden compartments in the headrests in the back, which ends up working quite well.

The set comes with 312 pieces (plus a few extras) and a bunch of them come in green, so as a parts pack it definitely excels, at least in my book. (Granted, not a lot of rare pieces, but the 10 length green curved slopes are exclusive, so I'm pleased enough.) The figs are worth more for their parts than their whole selves, and end up being a little underwhelming, even if I can find a use for those parts. And the set itself has a great, smooth design, a bunch of nice features, and it's fairly sizable and swooshable. And it's only $29.99 USD, so it's fairly affordable. (Gosh, I used to think $10 were affordable, and now I'm stretching it and saying $30 counts... so maybe less "affordable" and more "won't break the bank.") I think it has enough pros to be considered a decent set for most folks. But if you just don't need green slopes or really dislike the Phantom Menace, I guess maybe look elsewhere? Works for me, anyway!


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Is that the light at the far end of the tunnel, or just the train.
~ Owl City

Lisztomania, think less but see it grow. Like a riot, like a riot, Oh.
~ Phoenix

I took a sip of something poison but I'll hold on tight.
~ Foster the People

Birds sing for you, you can make this blue sky blush
~ Oh Land

On the other side of the street I knew, stood a girl that looked like you.
I guess that's Déjà vu, but I thought this can't be true
~ Train

But even the sun sets in paradise
~ Maroon 5

Crazy how that shipwreck meant my ship was coming in
~ Train (Again?)

So make now your ally, and leap before you look
~ Nothing's Carved In Stone

I'm just too much a coward to admit when I'm in need.
~ Passion Pit

Just believe in far away, ikiru tame ni sore wa
~ Song Rider

Everything that drowns me makes me want to fly.
~ One Republic

I live my life in shackles, but I'm borderline-free.
~ Tove Styrke

Silver Lake, Mercury Mining, This Mistake, No Silver Lining.
~ Alkaline Trio


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