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Review 70620: Ninjago City - Level 2 A

Posted by xccj , in Review Oct 22 2017 · 25 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!)

:music:


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Review 70620: Ninjago City - Level 1

Posted by xccj , in Review Oct 19 2017 · 34 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.

:music:


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Ninjago City Arrives

Posted by xccj , in News Oct 15 2017 · 56 views

It's here!

Say what you want about the movie, the sets have been pretty epic, and this one had me drooling from the get go. I won't be able to build it straight away (have a few things to clear out first) but it's going to get built sooooon. It was either get this set or collect all the other Ninja sets from the theme... so I chose this. It's only about half a month's rent, plus the largest Lego set I've ever purchased.

... and yes, I know it's probably the priciest way to get civilian Kai, but I have to complete my collection somehow.

:music:


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BrickCon 2017

Posted by xccj , in Lego Conventions Oct 08 2017 · 66 views

I made it back to BrickCon again this year, having missed it last year. This was the first time I've visited as part of the public since 2008... and I realize just how hard it is to see all the MOCs during public hours. :bigeek: Got to hang out with some old friends and meet some new people from BS01 who were fun to hang out with. (And one kid who talks 100MPH and is really opinionated about Bionicle!) There was a lot of cool stuff on display, although between chatting and going out for lunch, I didn't really get much time to browse through it all. (Alas, the problem with day trips in cities that require 3 hours of driving to get to.)

The Bionicle display was pretty good despite being squeezed down to two tables; saw some impressive designs. Although the star themes were probably Space and Castle (per usual). There was a Dinotopia colab that looked cool (although I was thrown off by seeing a 15 year old show referenced), and also a fairly extensive Nexo Knights display. You can check out some of the photos that I posted on Instagram here and here. (They're even worse than my usual photos, since these are untouched straight from my phone cameras, so quality is lacking. I'm sure you can find more extensive galleries of the event on Flickr.)

The trip was too short for me, but t'was all the time I could afford this year. Maybe in the future I can return to BrickCon for the full event to contribute to the cool displays, hang out with the fun people, and also chill in Seattle. For now, I guess I will just focus on helping make Portland's BricksCascade into just as cool of a convention. :)

:music:





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Blog Subtitles

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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