2013 wasn't quite as big of a year for me as I might have wanted. Part of it's because I was only employed for like 3 months, and most of my money at the time went into rent and crazy travel across the country... and not into Lego. (Is that a bad thing? I dunno, I wish I could've bought more Lego then, but I also like how I did spend my earnings, so I wouldn't really change it...) But for the bulk of the summer, I was unemployed and mostly worked a lot around the house to earn up for all my major purchases around BrickCon. I bought a bit more last year, and a LOT more in 2010 and 2011. So Lego didn't get as much financially from me as in the past...
But anyway, onto the themes.
The best set I think I got this year was Cole's Earth Drill from Ninjago. I still love the design and general look of it. Overall, I did buy 4 of the 6 Ninjago sets (partially to collect the 4 Ninjas... never got the Gold Ninja) and overall I was impressed with the theme. The mini mech was great for the price, and the Garmatron, while odd looking, still pulled its weight as a massive, evil tank. I was less impressed with the Warrior Bike, but 3 out of 4 good sets ain't bad. (The Gold Dragon and Light Temple look okay, but I didn't pick em up, so I can't really comment.) If that had been Ninjago's last year, I would've been okay with it, but I am super excited for the upcoming Ninjago Rebooted sets.
In terms of quantity, the theme I bought the most of was the Collectible Minifigures, where I have the original 16 from Series 9, 10, and 11. (Didn't get Mr. Gold, but didn't quite want him, he looked kinda ugly.) However, when thinking back about it, all the figures look good and have personality and pieces good for custom creations... but none of them exactly stood out to me like some earlier ones. (I loved the S3 Elf, S3 Hula Girl, and S4 Hazmat Guy quite a lot, along with about a dozen others.) I suppose if I had to pick a favorite from this year, it would be down to the S9 Mermaid and S11 Yeti. While there were only a couple of duds this year, there weren't quite as many absolute shining stars either. But don't get me wrong; they were all really good, and it's just to hard to pick out which was the best. (Goldie would've been a dud IMO.)
Onto other themes: the big push from Lego was Legend of Chima. It had a lot going for it; animal-character figs, distinctively themed vehicles, a television shows, and game sets. I loved the idea of the animal figs, and was pleased that there were a bunch (AKA more than 0 or 1) of female animal figs, which I traded some serious dough for at BrickCon. The sets all looked fairly decent, with good designs and some okay parts usage. And the whole “vehicles that look like animals” works for me just fine. The gaming sets, too, were a cool idea, and felt like they had more value than the Ninjago spinners from the previous years. Unfortunately, most of the figs that came with the still-not-quite-impulse-priced gaming sets were quite to my taste, and I only ever picked up the smallest Chima sets because I didn’t have money to spend on the theme. (I did get the big Gorilla Mech, but it was for a parts draft, and it was an awesome set for that too.) Overall, I wish I could’ve afforded more of the theme, but instead I’ve settled for collecting the figs from secondary sources. (Also, the first 4 episodes of the TV show were lame. I never watched beyond that.)
Another theme that caught my interest but not my money was Galaxy Squad. The various vehicles looked pretty good, especially with their white-and-a-bright-color combos. Some of the insect vehicles looked good too, and man I still want that Green Robot guy! But for as awesome as the sets were, they were also pricey, and the best ones were the costlier ones. I’ll have to make due with just having the two polybags from the theme, which at least got me some of the new colored helmets.
Super Heroes… well, what to say here? I got the Spider-Man vs Venom (plus Nick Fury) and Batman vs Bane (Bat vs Tumbler) from the winter, which were both passable sets. But the Iron Man sets and Superman sets… I’m sorry, but none of them appealed to me. Plus, my distaste that (SPOILER) the Mandarin’s flamethrower truck and Zod’s yellow car are completely irrelevant to the plot of the movies also has to factor in to me not liking them. (Although I would still go for a Pepper or Louis fig if I could get one for cheap.)
And then there’s Hero Factory. The successor of my favorite theme, and I just wasn’t into it this year. I bought only two and got two for free (plus a free Chima Ultra Build) and I still appreciate the designs and parts and all, but there was nothing that demanded that I pick them up. I would have grabbed them all if money hadn’t been an issue, but since it was… yeah.
I guess Friends also had another run, and some of the set ideas (Soccer, Magician, Karate) were awesome themes to get girls into. But sadly, none of the small sets really had enough of the new color pallet to really attract my attention. (I did pick up the new car and learned the difference between medium lavender and just plain lavender.) The animal polybags were a cool idea, and I enjoyed being able to pick up a turtle and hedgehog for cheap. (Well, and a squirrel too, but I got that for the pieces.)
LotR only had a handful of sets, but there were some gems. Wizard Duel was good for its price, and I would’ve loved to be able to afford that Black Gate set. Elrond’s Council was kind of bland (and not as good for a draft, as I learned) but I liked the figs I got from it. (Arwen yay!) The Corsair Ship was okay, but not quite as iconic as Helm’s Deep from last year. (Which I still have proudly on display.) I suppose the best part of the ship was that it finally gave you Aragon, Gimli, and Legolas together in one set, but I went out of my way to get those three last year, so I saw no need. And even if I could’ve afforded it, the Tower of Orthanc just didn’t have the same majestic look. I know they had to scale it down to make it a set even at a ridicules price, but it just doesn’t share the same iconic look and feel that Helms Deep did. Plus, it about guaranteed that we’ll never see an affordable Ent set with Merry and Pippen.
Lone Ranger and Star Wars… well, there were some interesting set designs for the higher priced ones, but nothing I could afford. I was going to pick up most of Series 4 of the Planet sets, but then they didn’t release them in the US. (Probably because of dismal sales of Series 3 Planets, but come on, those were all lame!) TMNT… I’m sorry, but while the figs looked okay, the sets still look awful to me. And I was never a big fan in the 90s, so nostalgia doesn’t factor in either.
I guess the last set worth mentioning is the Delorian, the Back to the Future Cuusoo set. The design is good, and the figs are good. But the availability is bad, and the price is not exactly an impulse set. Plus, while it has some good stickers (with misspelled words) it has no parts that are really exceptional, although I guess it’s not supposed to be a parts pack. I would’ve bought it pre-BrickCon, but I couldn’t find it at any of the Lego shops until the day after BrickCon, and by then I had spent all my Lego budget. Once I start earning more cash again, I might snatch it up, but with so many other cool sets coming out next year, I don’t know if its really a priority for me anymore.
So, basically, this year I did Ninjago and Collectible Minifigs, with a few Chima and Hero Factory purchases in there. Galaxy Squad and larger Chima sets appealed to me, but I couldn’t afford everything. Next, I’ll probably type up an entry about my thoughts on next year’s sets, since we have almost all the info on them by now.
So, agree with me, disagree with me? Want to tell me what I should’ve spent money on instead? Wanna describe what you focused on this year? Didn’t bother reading and wondering what to do now? Reply and say something about 2013 Lego sets.