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Team J.A.F.


Review: 41161 Aladdin's and Jasmine's Palace Adventures

Posted by xccj , in Review Jan 19 2019 · 277 views
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Aladdin is one of my favorite Disney movies (making Jasmine one of my favorite Princesses) but I’ve been disappointed that she hasn’t appeared in more than one Lego Princesses set. Well, this year she gets to be in a couple, likely hoping to capitalize on the live action Aladdin movie coming out. The biggest one of the Palace Adventure, so I picked that up. It’s $29.99 with 193 pieces.

The main draw is the characters. Jasmine has appeared in one set before as a minidoll (included in the picture in the lower right). In this set, she gets some printed upgrades on her pants, torso, and face, and I like the details. It looks like her hairpiece is unchanged. Aladdin appeared once in the Disney CMFs, so this is his first appearance as a minidoll, and the details totally fit the character. I think they also reuse his hairpiece, but the rest of the printing is new.

We also get the magic carpet; it was included in the Jasmine set as a simple build, but it’s a bit more detailed here. It uses a wavy wall with a decent sticker on it showcasing all the details. (Sadly, it’s not visible in my picture, and I didn’t quite get the sticker on straight, but it still looks great.) The bigger deal is the use of the gold tassels, which are a major part of the character. In theory, there is room for both characters to ride on the carpet, but minidolls aren’t really built to sit side by side like that. I added some studs to Aladdin’s feat, pushing him back just enough so their arms aren’t colliding, so it kind of works, but I think the set just wants you to use one character at a time.

There are some interesting parts, including some lavenders, golds, tans, magentas, and teals (although those aren’t quite the colors I picture when I think of the palace from the movie.) Some of the big white / lavender wall / window pieces are fairly new, and it could be useful for some builders. Some of the rare or exclusive parts include the teal 1x1x5 brick, teal 2x2 round corner brick, teal 1x4 arch, lavender 8x8 plate, magenta 1x4 tile with 2 nobs, medium lavender doorway, medium lavender 6x6 round plate, purple wavy wall, gold 3x3x2 arch, gold 3x3x2 fence, and the new white bird piece.

The build is. . . well, basic. The Lego Princess builds have never been anything to really call home about. You build two levels with some furniture and accessories on each. On the bottom level there’s a table with some seats, as well as a market stall. The top includes the balcony section with a domed room, and them a small patio with a chair, birdbath, and small tree. The big action feature is that the dome is built on a swivel and had a beam that can attach to the flying carpet, so you can spin it around and have the characters fly over the palace. I like this bit. There’s also a small Cave of Wonders build included, with a hidden compartment for the golden lamp, and a sticker with the Genie on it. The set comes with a lot of sparkly stickers, but I only included about half of them.

One feature that I wasn’t aware of until I read the instruction was that all the Disney Princess rooms this year are semi-modular. You can mix and match them together, and the example picture shows that you can create quite the impressive Disney Castle when you combine most of the sets. I obviously can’t do this because I haven’t bought any of the others (and don’t plan to) but it’s a neat idea and gives the infectious “collect them all” mentality to this line of sets too.

In short, I like the character designs and the flying magic carpet, and I really like the function that lets you spin them around over the palace. The rest of it is pretty bland, and I consider it an okay parts pack, since it does have a few interesting and rare elements. Worth the $30? Probably not, but I was impulsive. Maybe wait for a sale if you’re also a fan of the movie. (Or if you’re buying for somebody in the target audience; there’s plenty to like, but I’m a jaded AFOL who doesn’t appreciate that kind of stuff.)



The LEGO Movie 2 Collectible Minifigures

Posted by xccj , in Review Jan 15 2019 · 482 views
Lego-Movie-2, CMF
It should be fairly obvious that I have an obsession with collecting figs, and when I heard that stores in my area were releasing them early, I kinda jumped on it. The first store I visited didn’t have any, but the second one had a small selection, and I was able to grab 9 of the ones I wanted.

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First I want to address the bag issues. It was rumored that these figs were going to be double bagged like the UniKitty figs, which makes it difficult to tell them apart. But based on my selection, not all of them were double bagged, and there wasn’t some obvious reason why some were and some weren’t. Luckily, the man packaging changed, and it’s actually a bit thinner than the old CMF bags (which were starting to get tough to rip open by hand.) From my experience, the second bags do make it more difficult to identify the pieces, but it’s not as bad as I thought, and some parts are included outside the second bag. (Kitty Pop and the Cowardly Lion both had their tail pieces floating out in the bag, and the Crayon Girl’s crayon suit was totally out on it’s own.) So, overall, not the deal breaker I was expecting.

Another new thing I noticed were the inclusion of extra parts. The first three waves of CMFs included extras of the small parts, doubling up per the standard of most Lego sets. But after series 4, they stingier and stopped including extras of small elements. But that has changed for this group. Both of the pop singers received extra microphones, and the Giraffe Guy got an extra plant. So that’s a neat development. They also come with white baseplates this time around; it’s kind of cool to see each new series getting a new colored baseplate, as I was starting to get too many of the solid black ones!

From what I’ve heard, distribution on these is pretty even; of the 20 different types of figs, each ones comes 3 to a box. This means there are no chase figs, but don’t kid yourself in thinking that some will vanish faster than others. I fully expect the Wizard of Oz characters to go quickly, as well as the easy to identify costumed characters. Anyway, below is a quick review of the figs I got and then an even quicker feel guide to the others.

Crayon Girl: I like the purple and medium lavender coloring, and the costume piece looks great. It also has a pinhole in the top for hair accessories. Her torso and legs are plane, but the legs are dual molded. (A shame, I really want more straight lavender legs, but they only come with the DVD exclusive batman fig.) She also has two expressions; smiling with eyes opened and closed. To find, feel for the big crayon piece, easy to identify. The rest of her parts were included in a second bag.

Giraffe Guy: Honestly, my favorite of the series. The giraffe skin printing on the arms, legs, torso, and neck are excellent. The costumed head piece looks great, and the fig head has two different smiling expressions. Comes with a plant element plus a spare, so plenty of leafs for him to eat. To find, feel for the long giraffe head, which will have the distinct ears and horns on the top.

Watermelon Dude: Another neat food design, and you totally know there’s going to be a pizza guy down the line using the same mold. The printing is great, and you get an extra 1x1 corner watermelon slice tile too. Face has two expressions with and without sunglasses. To find, feel for the giant watermelon wedge.

Sherry Scratchen-Post & Scarfield: A fun remake of an original Lego Movie character. Sherry has a lot of cool armor printing, including a metal cat head buckle. She’s nice, but also similar to the other Apocalypseburg characters released in the other sets. That said, Scarfield features a cat mold with a new Mohawk; what’s not to like? She’s a trickier one to feel for; either identify the cat or her large hairpiece.

Dorothy and Toto: It’s about time they made the rest of the Wizard of Oz cast, since we also saw the characters rendered in Lego Dimensions years ago. Dorothy has some nice printing, a skirt, a happy and concerned expression, and a new hairpiece, and Toto makes a good reuse of the dog element. Plus, she has her ruby slippers printed on. Her pieces came in a secondary bag, but feeling for the rubbery hair piece is a good bet.

Cowardly Lion: He looks pretty good with a dark flesh color scheme. The mane element is nicely done (and way better than the lion heads we got in Legends of Chima) and he has nice subtle printing on his torso and legs, as well as a tail element. The head is a shade lighter (regular flesh color in Bricklink?) and has two expressions that fit his character: happy and sad. He also has a trans clear 1x2 tile with a metal printed on it, to show off his courage. His parts (minus the tail) are double bagged, and the mane piece isn’t exactly easy to identify. While the tail piece and 1x2 tile do appear in other figs, he’s the only one who has them together, so that could do the trick.

Scarecrow: We’ve had plenty of scarecrow figs before, but this one is movie accurate and comes with a new hat element, as well as a diploma on his 2x2 tile. I honestly mistook his pointy hat for the Tin Man’s, but that is one piece to feel for, as well as the 2x2 tile.

Candy Rapper: I don’t know what her role will be in the Lego Movie 2, but some of the sets hint that there will be some massive dance party, so I’m sure she’s part of the band. She has the tutu skirt, but this time with some neat printing on the top. She has two smiling expressions, including one where she’s winking. The pink hairpiece also has some extra highlights on it, and her accessory is a cassette tape. She also has two pink microphones, so yay for extras. To find, feel for the large tutu skirt piece.

Kitty Pop: Her face looks fairly similar to Candy Wrapper, just with extra whiskers, which makes me wonder if this is just one Pop Star character in different outfits. She reuses the cat hair piece in what I believe is the new coral red color, and she also has a tail. Her accessories are a guitar and two pink microphones. Her parts are double bagged, except for the tail piece, but the item to feel for would be the guitar.

Here are the ones I felt for but didn’t pick up:
  • Awesome Remix Emmet: Feel for the 1x1 cylinder cup and 1x2 tile
  • Battle Ready Lucy – Feel for the binoculars
  • Swamp Creature: Feel for the whip
  • Apocalypse Benny: Feel for the airtank
  • Vest Friend Rex: Feel for the baby dino (a bit tricky, but I was able to identify the long tail)
  • Tin Man: Feel for the one piece axe or the bowtie. The 1x1 heart piece might be a bit tough to identify on its own.
  • Gone Golfin’ President Business: Feel for the blockish hair or golf club
  • Apocalypseburg Abe: Feel for the 3L bar and axe blade (they’re separate, unlike the Tin Man’s)
  • UniKitty: Feel for the 1x3 brick or 1x3 arch. Or identify it as the one character that doesn’t have minifig arms, legs, or head.
Here are the ones that were not in the batch I searched through, but this is how I would look for them:
  • Flashback Lucy: Feel for the 2x3 tile
  • Hula Lula: Feel for the 2x2 round tile
Honestly, I got most of the ones I was searching for. I do want to find the Tin man and Hula Lula, and maybe an extra Emmet for the headphone hair, but I personally don’t have a desire to grab a bunch of secondary costumes for the main characters. I might pick up a few costumed characters for friends, but I’ll probably wait until they’re more widely available. (If they stay widely available. The first Lego Movie CMFs sold out real quick due to the popularity of the movie.)



Best Lego Sets of 2018

Posted by xccj , in Review, Thoughts Jan 13 2019 · 132 views
Ninjago, Black-Panther and 3 more...
2018 has been an interesting year for me for Lego. I generally bought fewer sets compared to the last four years, but my budget was dominated by a couple of large purchases this summer, thus forcing me to hold out on buying a lot of sets in the second half of the year. I’ve also bought a couple of sets that I have yet to open, which is a strategy I haven’t applied before. (Usually I build any set I get soon after purchase. But this year, I bought a few sets exclusively for the pieces, and I want to sort the pieces into my collection directly, but I haven’t gotten to the sorting step yet, so they remain unopened.) Anyway, I thought I’d post a few quick thoughts on the sets I did pick up this year.


Ninjago was my biggest theme in 2018, although I wouldn’t say it was the theme’s best year. I collected a bunch of the S.O.G. sets, but I wasn’t particularly impressed by most of the vehicles. (Lloyd’s Nightcrawler wasn’t bad, but Kai’s Katana V11 was generic and Zane and Mr. E’s motorcycles were mostly boring IMO.) The S.O.G. Headquarters is okay for parts and figs, and has a lot of great play features to make up for the lackluster designs. My favorite set from the first wave is the Temple of Resurrection, which is a cool stylized building with nice details and a cool function. Still, it’s only a modest building compared to previous Ninjago structures.

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The best set of the year for Ninjago is undoubtedly The Dragon Put, which has an awesome functioning gate tower with a snazzy dragon skull throne on the top, a particularly intimidating guard tower, and a humdrum prison cell. The full size of the piece is impressive, but it also comes with a plethora of figs for the Ninjas and Dragon Hunters, as well as a decent earth dragon. It’s a pricy set, but still worthwhile. The other Dragon Hunter sets also looked good, but alas I didn’t have the dough to buy them all, so I focused on the big one. (I also find it mildly ironic that I bought most of the dull S.O.G. sets but had to hold out on the cooler Hunter sets. Oh well.)

Also, because I have become a bit of a Ninja fig completionist, I bought a bunch of the spinner and flyer sets this year, like the Golden Dragon Master. The pieces used to make the handles are okay, but I’m tired of the various spinner and ripcord pieces, which are large and bulky and generally can’t fit into other builds. The exclusive figs aren’t even as cool as some of the previous spinner packs. (I especially liked the crazy elemental designs of the Airjitzu Flyer Ninjas; the Spinjitzu Master Ninjas were boring in comparison.) I honestly wouldn’t recommend them unless you have a specific need for the pieces or the figs.

Marvel Super Heroes

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Super Hero sets have a tendency to be pretty bad builds, since the primary focus is usually on the highly detailed figs. But the Marvel side did a decent job this year for its various movies. The two sets for Black Panther were pretty good, with the highlight being the brick build rhinoceros. The head design was as good as or better than anything we saw out of Chima, and while the body was armored it still looked fairly natural, so with a few changes this rhino could easily fit into a safari MOC. While the various versions of the Black Panther suits were a bit dull, the other figs included were great, like heist Killmonger, Klaue, Nakia, and Okoye (although her uniform should’ve been red and not dark orange.)

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The Infinity War sets also were better than I would’ve expected from the theme. While some of the designs were meh in order to include more figs (Bearded Cap and Blonde Widow in Outrider Dropship Attach, and Shuri in Vorvus Glaive Thresher Attack), some of the designs were quite nice. I didn’t pick it up, but I like the detail they put into the large Sanctum Sanctorum set. My favorites were the two sets that put together the Guardian’s new orange spaceship. It has a nice sleek design, which is similar to the Milano but still distinct in its own right. The smaller dropship alone is kind of odd, but I appreciate how seamlessly it fits into the back of the main ship. Plus, Thanos and his Infinity Gauntlet is a huge draw, although you need to buy each set to get all the infinity stones. (Or trade them with friends; Chocolate Frogs helped me fill out my gauntlet.) Still, I think they did a good job of making decent sets for this movie, and not just some lame builds to go along with the new figs. Excelsior!


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Alas, this appears to be the last year of the fun Elves theme. I’ve enjoyed the pastel colors, animal designs, and general collectability of this fantasy theme, even if it involves minidolls instead of minifigures. Luckily, the theme got some decent sets to go out on. The first wave was great, especially since it included some new styles of creature design like the Eagle, the Turtle, and the Fox. I also liked the inclusion of lots of Teal pieces in the various sets. (Apparently, the Elves team played a major role in getting teal reintroduced.) My favorite animal design is the green Earth Fox, and Noctura’s teal and dark blue tower is also another nice highlight to the set. It’s also fun that the Elves got some weaponry this year, which I think may be a first for a minidolls set. (Okay, some Friends sets had crossbows for sport, but I think this is the first wave where the Elves are specifically armed to fight evil.) I haven’t built the final two sets released last summer, but they look pretty good too. I’ll be sad to see this theme go; I hope they’re able to replace it with another cool fantasy theme with the same fun colors and designs.

Star Wars

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Okay, I barely bought any Star Wars sets this year, but I still want to highlight one of the best CCBS characters they’ve made: Boba Fett. When they first introduced the concept of Star Wars Buildable Figures, I thought Boba Fett should’ve been in the first wave. . . but instead they went with his father, Jango Fett. Six waves later, Boba Fett appears in the final wave of these CCBS sets, which have generally reused the same humanoid design so much that it’s become rather boring and predictable. Boba Fett doesn’t deviate too much from that design, but he does include some additions like the hip pouches, wrist rocket launcher, and a detailed jetpack to fill out his back. However, he make’s excellent use of colors to recreate the character from the movies, which also provides us with some unique pieces too, like the shells in sand green, dark red, and light grey, Keetongu orange shoulders, and blue Technic connectors. And the printing on the pieces is also well done. I’d say Boba Fett is up there with General Grievous and K-2SO as the best Star Wars CCBS, and it’s fitting that he’s in the final wave. (I’m not necessarily sad to see Star Wars CCBS go, but it doesn’t look like any other theme will be providing us with CCBS sets any time soon. While I’m sure some of the pieces will still be used to supplement system and technic sets, I think the CCBS building style may be on its way out.)


Lego Ideas had a good year in 2018 with a handful of exceptional sets. TRON had an affordable but iconic depiction of the vehicles from the film, and the Pop-Up Book had a fun function. (I also got to meet the designers of the latter when they held their signing event in Portland.) I also heard good things about the Ship in a Bottle, although I didn’t pick it up myself. Still, one set stands above the rest (both figuratively and literally.)

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I picked up Voltron as a “feel better” gift to myself after I got bit by a dog this summer. (From a budget standpoint, I shouldn’t have bought this, but the pain made me impulsive. :P ) To be fair, I never watched the original Voltron; it was before my time, although I did follow the Netflix series. Still, I was familiar with the concept of individual vehicles forming a big humanoid mech from Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, so I went for this. The five individual Lions were fun to put together; there were some interesting designs used, lots of nice colors and pieces, and generally satisfying builds. (I mean, I was seriously surprised at how many teal plates are hidden inside the build.) It is truly impressive that the Lions can work as standalone sets while still easily combining into a giant mech. And it is massive; if it’s not the largest humanoid Lego set ever, then at least it holds that distinction in my collection. It’s easily identifiable as Voltron, and I particularly like how the face is built into the Black Lion’s head. Articulation is a bit of a weak point; the arms are a bit restricted with the double ball joint connections and the legs have no mobility at all. Still, given the size and weight of the set, those restrictions are absolutely required, making Voltron much more of a display piece than a playable toy. It would’ve been cool to get a set of Paladin figs for display, even if they can’t fit inside the Lions; maybe they could be included in future sets, if Lego ever decides to expand on the Voltron license. (Wishful thinking, probably.)

Roller Coaster

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The Roller Coaster is the largest and most expensive Lego set I have ever picked up, which I blogged about four times this summer. It’s a lengthy and tedious build (seriously, I got really tired of building the supports over and over again, and putting together the chain was aggravating.) It doesn’t quite have the same level of cool visual designs as Voltron or Ninjago City, but having a fully functional roller coaster is still amazing. I eventually got a motor hooked up to it, and I like to run the carts through a couple of rounds every so often. The set is far from without issue: the fact that the top wheel mechanisms are run by the chain puts a lot of stress on it, and it doesn’t take much for it to jam or snap. There is a braking feature in the dock that doesn’t quite work for me either; a train moving at full speed just pushes through without issue. And while the supports and track make it sturdier than I expected, it’s still fairly flimsy, and a slight nudging in the wrong place can break the track off. But still, IT’S A FUNCTIONING LEGO ROLLER COASTER!! That generally outweighs a bunch of the issues. Of course, at $379.99 it’s insanely expensive and the primary reason I didn’t get a bunch of other sets this summer; I can see how some people can easily afford this set, but it kinda broke my budget. Still, I could easily claim this to be the best set of the year.

Collectible Minifigures

I’ve always been a completionist for Collectible Minifigures, but I am starting to get turned off by the licensed waves they keep doing. The second wave of Batman figs was mostly disappointing, although I did like getting some secondary Justice League characters and a few third string villains. Series 18 with the party theme was excellent and had many great costumed characters, and I totally got all of them. The Harry Potter wave was okay but it could’ve included a lot more secondary characters. (As nice as it was to get the cast from Fantastic Beasts, most of them appeared in sets, and new variations of the core Harry Potter characters weren’t exactly required here.) Still, the biggest draw for me were the new medium legs for the teenage students; I hope these style of legs appear more often, and they’re not just a one-off thing like the extra-long legs were for Woody in Toy Story. Because of that, I did end up picking up most of the Harry Potter figs, although I avoided picking up a few. Also a great way to stock up on those new wand pieces.

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My favorites from the Batman line were some of the Justice Leage characters like Black Canary, Black Vulcan, and the Wonder Twins, although Doctor Phosphorus was appreciated for his trans lime green flame pieces. There were a lot of great costumed characters, but my favorites were Dragon Suit Guy, Cactus Girl, and Race Car Guy. There weren’t a lot of standout favorites in the Harry Potter wave where the main draw was the short legs, but first time appearances for Cho, Dean, and Cedrick were appreciated. I also like Newt and Tina’s updated outfits compared to their Lego Dimension figs. Cho also has the first Ravenclaw torso, but I think that skin color was a bit too dark for her.

Worst Set of 2018

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To be honest, I don’t really have any sets that would fit here based on what I bought. (I mean, there were a lot of sets that I had no desire for this year, but I didn’t pick them up. And also, price level and age range tend to skew things, so while I might not personally like them, I am also probably not the targeted audience.) There were some sets that I picked up but haven’t built because the design just doesn’t appeal to me. The Incredibles Great Home Escape has lackluster builds and no real standout pieces, but it is a Juniors set, so I can’t blame it that much, and I only got it for the Dash, Violet, and Jack-Jack figs. Arctic Air Transport is another boring city helicopter, made worse by the fact that I bought a very similar Arctic Helicrane set four years ago. But this one was the cheapest way to get a Sabretooth Tiger, so I grabbed it on sale earlier this year. There’s also the plethora of BrickHeadz sets released this year, and I ended up picking up more than a few just for the pieces. (Some of the Disney Princess ones had unusually good parts selections.) And, as mentioned earlier, the various Ninjago Spinners are pretty lousy sets too.

Anyway, that’s it for 2018. Honestly I hope I can cut back my spending for 2019, because I can’t afford another Roller Coaster / Voltron summer with my budget! The 2019 Ninjago theme looks fun, but I’m not quite as impressed with all the Lego Movie 2 sets, so at least I won’t be motivated to buy all of those. (Still, Emmet’s House Rocket Ship looks appealing, and I am a sucker for the new color introduced in the party bus.) I’m also interested in some of the Overwatch and Disney Aladdin sets, but so far nothing that’ll break the bank! Still, the year’s still young, so I could very well end up broke by this time next year. :D



Review 70644 Golden Dragon Master

Posted by xccj , in Review Jul 21 2018 · 390 views
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Here is Lego's latest Ninjago spinner / action / unique character only available here set: 70644 Golden Dragon Master! Some people might be enticed to buy these because of the figs. (Guilty.) Some people might do it for the pieces. Some might do it for the action. And some people might mistake the price of these things and think they're getting a legit set. (I mean, really, $15? I get there are more pieces, but did this new design really need to be this big... or needed at all?)

Piece wise, there's a decent selection of tan elements that go into decorating the handle, including some slopes, a wedge plate (sadly only two of one side), and various other plates. Then there are some elements in black, but nothing noteworthy. You do get some new "flyer" pieces. The core that the fig sits in now has a longer step, to which the wings are attached via two other specialized pieces that wedge in the plastic wings. Neither of these pieces have standard System or technic connection points (at least that I could see) making them kinda worthless to a MOCer. Meanwhile, I believe we return to the original propeller piece again as the spinner. I mean, I'm not nessessarily against Lego release big bulky elements, but it would be nice if they could connect to other pieces. At least the cool dome piece has rod connections.

The minifigure is of the new Golden Dragon character. Who is he? A new character, or perhaps one of the Ninjas leveled up? Or perhaps another well developed character who they're trying not to reveal is special at first but it becomes increasingly obvious who it's actually suppose to be as the sets come out... by which I mean, we may never know. (Until the show comes out, obviously.) Anyway, he has a cool gold and white color scheme, and the various strap designs do look like he's preparing to strap into a flying vehicle. It might be a mighty expensive way to get this set of figs, but gosh they look nice.

The actual build is a handle that launches the spinner, similar to the last... three?... times they've made these spinner sets. This handle is a bit more complex, with the angled plates creating a bend to make it feel more like... a gun? Really, these sets are Ninjago guns, aren't they? Anyway, you can fit the spinner in, adjust the angle, and let it rip! The wings are supposed to help it glide, with the actual spinner acting as a propeller rather than a rhotuka. And it... kind of works. But for mine, the full contraption is just too heavy, so it just glides slowly for about five feet. This feels a bit sluggish compared to the other flying spinners, which could get some legitimate distance. On one hand, these feels more controlled, but the control can also be seen as boring. Or perhaps I am not the target audience and will be scrapping this for the pieces instead of playing with it. Hmm.

So yeah, there are some pluses here. The handle has a couple of useful elements (and also a new 2x2 circular tile with the dragon master symbol printed on it, those are always neat.) The plastic wings don't exactly have a system compatible gap, but I'm sure they could be used in MOCs, and they have a neat design on them. The rest of the spinner parts... I'm going to need to buy a bin just for these junk specialized spinner parts. Maybe there's some connection points I'm not seeing.

The fig is great, but I'm not sure the full set justifies spending $15 to get one. And especially if you want to get the full set of characters. (Which I do.) Bricklink or other secondary markets are always an option, but I've found that most of them price the figure so highly that it just makes more sense to go for the full set and score the extra pieces. And I don't see these sets on sale a lot; not that they're big sellers, but I think stores just don't carry a whole lot of them. (Or maybe I'm just not looking hard enough because I was just buying the spinners full price earlier. But $10 was easier to justify than $15.) (I guess what I'm saying is if you want some slopes and tile pieces and cool dragon wings but don't care about figs, give me a call and we can work out a deal! :D )

(And gosh, what a pain this set is to photograph. Also, I do have a legitimate review almost ready for the front page, for realz!)



Review: Harry Potter Collectible Minifigures

Posted by xccj , in Review Jul 18 2018 · 277 views

Technically the Harry Potter Collectible Minifigures aren't supposed to hit shelves until August, when the whole Wizarding World line releases worldwide. But my local Fred Meyers scoffs at such release dates, and there were at least five boxes to choose from, three unopened! So I spent way too much time feeling out my favorites... which accounts for most of the series!

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For the record, I did not get Dobby, pajama Harry, or Credence because I don't want them. I did miscount and so I didn't buy a Mad Eye Moody, even though I found a couple. The hardest to fine were Cho and Luna, and I was only able to get to them when I got to an unopened box. And because I can, here's a short review of em.

Newt: His design is very similar to his Dimensions fig, but this time his inner jacket is burnt orange. Head has more unnecessary wrinkles on it. :( The suitcase is rad; I've never been a fan of the classic Lego suitcase, so if this one becomes the new norm, I'd be cool with that. But the raddest part here is the Niffler... which sadly is behind Cedrick in my photo. :( To find, feel for the suitcase and then the spikey hair or wands. (Niffler was difficult to feel for).

Tina: Again, a very similar design to her Dimensions fig, but more blue coloring this time. Sausage is rare in dark red, bun is new in dark nougat (or whatever that color is.) To find, feel for the hot dog pieces.

Queenie: A little bland compared to her bright pink fig that shows up in the other set. Maybe it's just me, but her smile looks a bit creepy. (As opposed to fun / innocent to match her character.) To find, feel for the bread piece.

Jacob: C'mon, easily the best character from Fantastic Beasts. His suit is plain and kinda boring, but it matches the character, and the head works. Plus, another suitcase! To find, feel for the suitcase and the two round 1x1 tiles.

Trelawney: I'm not fan of the new dress / robe piece because of the unusual slope on the back, but I guess I'm just used to the standard slope pieces. Either way, it is far sturdier. Nice hair piece which wouldn't look out of place on a hippy fig. Nice teacup and platter pieces, but they missed a chance to print a Grimm shape in the teacup. To find, feel for the dress and then the fluffy hair piece.

Dumbledore: Neat blue robe design. The Pensieve plate is a neat design; I could see using multiples as decorations on something big, because the blue swirls on the silver plate could be a lot. To find, feel for the dress and then the long hair piece or the beard. (Or the plate, although that's not what I noticed.)

Voldermort: Did this guy ever show up in dark green robes? I feel like he was always dressed in black; the green color just doesn't feel right. New snake mold is an interesting shape but only with one bar connection on the end of the tail... I wish they wouldn't gone a different direction for it. :( To find, feel for the superficial snake.

Cedrick: Hufflepuff represent! Great torso printing (and yellow stripes on legs?!) but the TriWizard trophy feels like a bit much. To find, feel for the trophy.

Luna: A bit different from her previous fig version, but not a huge update. (Then again, her original fig was extremely popular, making it on the list of 100 most expensive figs, so why change it too much?) I like the hair piece better, but from the side it looks awkward as it strangle juts out to allow space for her shoulder strap. The skirt has nice printing, but I still dislike cloth skirts on figs. The new medium sized legs in blue are nice! To find, feel for the 2x3 tile, or maybe the long hair piece. She only appears 2 to a box, a little rarer than the others, so she was a tough one to find.

Dean: I expected Dean to have darker skin tones, but always good to have more heads in that color. Flag is okay. Torso is basically a slightly modified Gryffindor robe, so nothing special. To find, feel for the 4L bar (you know, the original wand piece) and the flag.

Cho: Honestly, I don't think this skin tone matches Cho, maybe it would be better for Padme or Parvati. Still, a subtle blue Ravenclaw torso, so yay. Hair matches the character, and the medium sized legs in black are nice. Owl is okay, grey skirt is not. To find, feel for the rubbery hair piece and the owl. (She was a tough one to pin down, since Harry also has an owl.)

Neville: The Mandrake is cool, with a new beet and green stem piece included. (Which is reusable if you like your beets to have faces.) Neat recolored hair piece, and again the medium sized legs in back are cool. He also has two facial expressions. It's not exactly a battle scarred Neville, but it shows off his Herbology skills. To find, feel for the Mandrake pieces.

Percival Graves: He's an okay fig of a neat villain from the Fantastic Beasts movie. Torso and leg printing is a plus, as are arm prints. He comes with two faces and two differently colored hairpieces to represent his two variations, since he was a character disguised with polyjuice potion. (They do the same thing with the Moody fig.) The only reason this fig is special is because it's rare, only 1 to a box, so people will be abnormally happy to get it. To find, feel for two separate hair pieces, preferable the ones that are smooth and similar. Moody also has two hair pieces, but he also comes with a Maraca, a staff, and the wands, while Graves only has the wands.

Flitwick: Hey, another professor! He's short, has a megaphone, and a col bowtie. The megaphone is a new piece, with a few bar connections to make it utilizable. To find, feel for the megaphone. (And you can narrow him down by confirming he has the shirt legs; only Dobby, Pajama Harry, and Malfoy also have short legs.) (And no, feeling for medium size legs doesn't tend to work; I generally can't tell the difference between them and the regular sized legs.)

Hermione: She has a basic Gryffindor robe, which is nothing to call home over, but she's a main character so a new variation is nice, and she has the medium sized legs, so yay. She also comes with a car who is not quite Crookshanks but hey, an extra cat is still nice.

Harry: The Boy Who Lived... in almost every set. Again, basic Gryffindor robes, nothing too exciting. Hedwig is a good addition, although I don't think the printing is that updated from previous versions. (But hey, you need Hedwig somewhere.) To find, feel for the owl, and then confirm that you have the shorter hair piece.

Ron: Hey look, another main character with a basic Gryffindor robe! But he does have Scabbers as a new rat mold with a scuff mark printed on the head, so that's well done! To find, feel for the rat.

Malfoy: Well, at least they didn't include him in the Quiddich set this time, but he still shows up in Slytherin sports robes. Although a lovely excuse to include a snitch! Hair piece is the same mold from the last variation of the character, but this time in blonde instead of tan. Dark green broomstick is there too... I guess. Maybe someday they'll design a broomstick that the figs can actually ride. To find, feel for the broomstick.

One last quick note: most of the characters include the new wand element... or technically two of them. Two come connected together, and that piece feels like a grille tile in the bags, but since it's in almost every bag, it's not useful in determine the fig's identity. You do get some colors. The common wand colors are reddish brown (Tina, Cedrick, Luna, Cho, Flitwick, Ron) and dark brown (Trelawney, Dean, Neville, Harry, Malfoy, and presumably Moody.) Dumbledore, Graves, and Hermione also have wands in dark tan (not counting Hermione, the other two characters may be wielding the Elder Wand, so nice connection there.) Three other characters have wands in unique colors, including burnt orange (Newt), black (Queenie), and white (Voldermort). If you're interested in getting extra wands, this series is for you!

As for the figs I skipped... I already have a Dobby, and I didn't particularly like him anyway, so I see no reason to get another. Similarly, pajama Harry doesn't really offer anything I'd want. And Credence's design is just boring, and he wasn't a compelling character to me either. I will have to seek out a Moody; I mistook Neville for him initially, but then determined it was Neville, but somehow still thought I had Moody and so skipped him when I found more. Whoops, the risks of trying to get all the figs you want in one go. The only one I might want a duplicate of is Cho, but Cho and Luna were very difficult to find, given that I think others were also searching for them and because they don't exactly have parts that really stand out while feeling. Still, collecting more medium legs is always worthwhile, and it would be nice to have a few spares for future trading.



Review 10261: Roller Coaster - Night 04

Posted by xccj , in Review Jun 13 2018 · 247 views
Aaaaaand done!

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Bag 10 builds up the rest of the left side, including the large pole tower with the angled supports. As precarious as it is, the geometry on the angles is impressive. Honestly, I don’t know how I could MOC my own Roller Coaster; I was not keeping up with the various brick heights to get the math just right. I did have one column that wouldn’t fit on right… and lo and behold, it was because I forgot a single 2x2 round plate in the stack. You start off Bag 11 by building the roof over the loading docks, which has an interesting SNOT design and utilizes the circular cutout plate in brown, which is a fairly useful element. The sign also has a bunch of signs showcasing the various things that you can’t bring on the roller coaster, namely a camera, a mug, a popsicle, a baby, or a dog. While it seems fairly obvious that these items shouldn’t be taken on the ride, the signs also look like something President Business would post. (Now I want to make a baby invasion with the no baby sign above them.)

Bag 11 continues by connecting the two halves together and then building a bunch of supports to really lock them in. I suppose it would still be easily to separate them with a little dismantling, but they do get locked together pretty well. You also build the double track contraption, which allows you to store a second train (or slide it out to add the carts to the track in the first place.) You also put together the six carts and… the chain. The small chain links have been around before (for a while, I was having trouble finding them because they were relatively rare, only appearing in the occasional Technic set) but I believe that this is most that ever appear in one set. There are 203+ of these that you need to individually link together… the process maybe took me 10 - 15 minutes and was far more tedious than building all the columns. But you know what they say about the weakest link.

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Getting the extra-long chain in place is another troublesome hassle. Basically, you need to feed the chain through the various holding mechanisms, but some of them are difficult to access behind the support beams. (Especially if your hands are somewhat clumsy like mine.) There is a rubber band powered stopper that’s supposed to cut down on the slack of the chain… but it works only moderately well. My chain also catches a lot when I use it to drag up the trains; perhaps there are some pieces that are not flush, but I notice the chain tends to wobble a bit and not remain central along the track, so I may also need to adjust the length. But I’m careful about putting too much force on the lever when rotating the chain; I’ve had it break twice already, and to fix it you basically need to rethread the entire system. It’s a bit disappointing that the wheels on the top of the curve are basically powered by the chain, which I think adds extra stress to the chain. It might’ve been better to build a separate system that goes up the columns and spins those wheels without relying on the chain, but that would’ve complicated things and wouldn’t be as intuitive as just having one system that powers the whole thing. I haven’t attached my motor in yet, so I don’t know how problematic that would be to have the chain in constant motion. I fear the trains would get caught on something, the motor wouldn’t relax on the stress like I’ve been doing by hand, and then the chain would snap and I’d have to put together the whole system again.

Oh, and also I haven’t been able to get the braking system to work; the carts blows through so quickly that it just pushes past the wheel if it’s extended. The only way it works is if I’m manually pulling it out, and I don’t think that’s the intention.

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So while the lift mechanism is less than desirably... once that train starts dipping down the track, it moves along quite smoothly. And it’s awesome and totally worth the giant set... well, mostly worth it. Basically, it’s the same kind of mesmerizing movement out of a Lego set that I’m used to seeing in Great Ball Contraption, which has always been something that I’ve never felt qualified to build for. But motors today are far cheaper than they were ten years ago (and I also earn more money) so it’s always a possibility for the future.

As for the trains, you get two cloned designs with different shades of blue. The first cart also has a longer nose that covers the clip, so the other two need a different design to easily attach to each other. The three cart limit seems ideal for the lift mechanism, although I have had some trouble with the first cart getting attached to the chain at the bottom, forcing me to give it a manual push. You can attach all six together, but the carts tend to snag when they reach the top curve, as they’re moving with the side wheels and the chain. When I’m doing it manually, I sometimes had to back up the chain to get something to hook before I could get it moving forward again. (Still, it’s fun seeing the six carts together rush down the track.) Despite the warning signs, the young child is capable of riding by just standing in the cart, so realistically it’s not a deal breaker. (Although when I made it so her feet were loose on the studs, she did get thrown off on the curve after the first big drop... so safety first.) Ironically, it’s the taller minifigures who could be in more trouble, because they’ll hit the sign at the top of the climb. (Batman’s mask, in particular, is just over the limit, so Batman cannot ride the Roller Coaster. Bruce Wayne, maybe.)

The final product is actually sturdier than I would’ve expected. While the individual beams and columns are still wiggly (the far left tower in particular) the inclusion of the tracks actually help lock everything in more than I was expecting. And it’s strong enough that you can lift the whole thing by grabbing onto particular sections (or just the baseplates.) All together, it’s not that heavy, since there’s a lot of opened space between all the bricks. So, despite taking up twice as much shelf space as the Ferris Wheel, I’d say they weigh about the same.

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The last bag gets you three more civilian figs, bringing your total to 11. They include some interesting pieces, but nothing particularly noteworthy. Above is the full collection of figs from the set. Overall, some of them have uncommon hair pieces, and lots of them have alternate facial expressions that work nicely with the Roller Coaster, so it’s a fun lot. Most of the torsos appear to be generic City styles, although I recognize more than a few from the “Fun at the Park” minifigure pack from two years ago. Plus, the two park employee yellow torsos are nice, and have the Lego logo on the back. (And Batman doesn’t actually come with this set, but let’s be honest, you didn’t know that at first. :sly: )

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This is my most expensive set I’ve ever purchased, and it’s also probably one of the largest too; the foot space is about the combination of Ninjago City and the Ferris Wheel. But in terms of height... well, the other two beat it. The top section only comes up to the top of the third Ninjago City level (not entirely visible here, since my Ninjago City has been modified with an extra level) but the sand green tower would still beat the Roller Coaster. However, the Roller Coaster only gets up to the midpoint on the Ferris Wheel, which continues to hold the title of tallest Lego set (in my collection.)

The final question of is this set worth it is... a challenging one. The $379.99 price point is insanely high. Luckily, they’re releasing the Creator Roller Coaster at a far more affordable level. (I mean, $89.99 isn’t exactly cheap, but it won’t break the bank either.) Plus, the track pieces are appearing in other sets too, either as part of a coaster or trolley system, or just as decorations. (The pieces do have some use. In fact, the ones angling upward would be place side by side and make for an interesting Golden Gate Bridge design. I’m not taking apart my model to test it out, but it could be done.) The only exclusive track piece is the vertical climb track, and we’ll inevitably see that again. Sure, it would be problematic to motorize your own mini Roller Coaster, because you’ll need to track down the chain and build the lift mechanism yourself. But honestly, if that’s what you’re going for, you might as well go big and get this set which includes all you need to pull that off. (Well, you need to supply the motor and battery pact, but there’s an easy connection point already built in.) Or you could go insane and buy three copies of the set and build a monstrous Roller Coaster with a full vertical loop! (I mean, you'd be spending $1,139.97, but it would be worth it, right?) Besides the high price, this set also takes up a lot of space; you’re going to want to keep it on a hard table. (Building it on carpet, like I did, is not recommended.)

So really, I wouldn’t recommend this set for the average builder; you need to have a certain level of dedication to invest time, money, and shelf space into this set. And even then, I’m still not very impressed with the chain lift system. That said, if you are the kind of dedicated builder this set is targeted towards, you probably know. In that case, the high price point would be the major deciding factor for whether you should get this. For the same price, you could get 19 Toa or Star Wars CCBS figures, 4 of the Creator Roller Coaster, Ninjago City and the Fire Mech, or a little less than half of the big Millennium Falcon. Or also the cost of two months’ worth of lunches, more than half a month’s rent, or a plane ticket to go to BrickFair Virginia (but not quite enough to also cover the ticket back.) The point is, it’s expensive, so I recommend that you take financial consideration of the purchases. (To be fair, I did this and still bought the set anyways.)

I might put together a short video review showing off the set in action, but honestly I don’t have the setup to make it any good; I barely have the shelf space for this!


Edit: I've tweaked the chain and added the motor, and it seems to be working alright.


Review 10261: Roller Coaster - Night 03

Posted by xccj , in Review Jun 12 2018 · 251 views
Yeah, I skipped a night, sue me. And then sue me for this... SMOKE BOMB! :rollaway:

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Today I got through bags 6 - 9. 6 build the base, 7 added more columns (ugh), 8 added the ticket and fruit stands, and 9 built the gearbox beneath the loading zone. Overall, I've probably put in 5-6 hours of build time into this, but splitting this up across multiple days does make it seem like a less monumental task. (I have two bags left to go, so I'd estimate another hour and half of building time left.) It's going a little faster than Ninjago City, which has more small pieces to put together, despite costing less. But it's taking longer than the Ferris Wheel, which I believe I pulled off in a single 6 hour sitting. The building here is honestly less enjoyable than Ninjago City. That model had clever building techniques crammed in in every available space. The Roller Coaster, instead, is built more for functionality, so while there are some interesting designs, there's a lot of repetition required for structural integrity. I did include the "Coaster" sign in the picture since I built in with this batch, and it has been one of the more clever designs; I like how they created the letters in a new style.

That said, there are a few nifty builds on this half of the track. There's a little path leading to the ride's entrance and exit, and reminds me of the meandering queue lines I used to build in Roller Coaster Tycoon (man, that was an older game that I played way too much.) Funnily, the path forms a loot on the interior of the plate; I get that people are supposed to enter and exit on either end of the ticket stand, but there's not much room there and no colored plates, so I just image that some riders are forced into a constant loop of riding over and over again. Anyway, some of the little details include a small pond, another tree, a fruit stand, and a ticket / photo booth. The latter is impressively fitted on a single stud, but the clips on the top attach it to the curved track and hold it in place nicely.

There are also a couple of technic contraptions built here. The first is the mechanism for the chain lift on the far end, which includes various gears and a neat wedge that looks like it will pull out any slack on the lift chain. (Not looking forward to putting together those links, and that's one of the very last steps too.) Even more complicated is the gearbox beneath the loading platform, which has a few interesting placements for the gears. The far right lever reaches across the baseplate and it used to manually work the lift chain, for those who forgo buying a motor. The bar on the far left is the break; it pulls in a time that's supposed to stop the cars at the loading dock. The middle lever then spins that wheel, allowing you to "start" the ride. Meanwhile, the bar can be pushed back so that the cars don't stop when the ride is going fully automatic when you plug the motor in. However... at this stage, the bar doesn't like being pulled out far enough to catch the cars. I've double-checked the build and it's all correct, and I don't think there's anything else added to this later that makes it more effective... so I dunno. It would be lame if you have to manually pull it out to catch the cars as the zoom into the station.

This set doesn't have any new figs until Bag 8, so I guess they decided against dispersing the figs equally. In Bag 8, you get an employee to man the ticket counter and other to work the fruit stand. Bag 9 offers you the ride operator and two riders. There are a few rare parts, like the white female hairpiece and the long brown female hairpiece. Two employees get a fancy yellow jacket to show that they're ride operators, so that's fancy. As for new pieces, you get a few nice curved tiles in light yellow with the fruit stand, and also the 2x2 triangle tiles used beneath the ticket stand, the latter of which I can see being very useful. The gold roller skates, Ninjago City ornate fences, and BrickHeadz glasses are also nice to have. There's also the new rock element, which is modestly rare too, and it's my first chance at getting this piece.

One thing that I've started to notice about this set is that it's skimping on the extra pieces. Normally, when a bag contains a small element, it includes an extra of it. But then you have sets like Ninjago City, which reuse the same small element multiple times across multiple bags, so you essentially get an extra of the piece for every bag it shows up in. Well, this set doesn't appear to do that for me; I'm getting an extra of the small elements in the first bag they appear in, but if they show up again later (like the white 1x1 plates) the extra doesn't show up. And that's not the only penny-pinching this set does; it asks you to save a rubber band from one bag to use later on in the build. I swear they use to just include an extra rubber band later on instead of this whole "remember to use this rubber band a hundred steps from now" deal. I wonder if this was a conscious decision on their part to limit the number of extras... I mean, is sparing a couple of 1x1 studs really that big deal when the set is already costing $379.99? The running tally for this set is just at $0.09 per part... but that also includes 280 of those small links, so that bloats up the part count, and then you have the specialized track parts that probably cost more. But... come on, this is not a licensed set and is already uber expensive, there's no need to get cheapskate-y.

Anyway, I have more column builds to look forward to. :bored: And there's also putting together all those links. Still, although the build is less enjoyable than some sets, I'm eager to finish it and start playing with a motorized Roller Coaster! The car's been fun to test out on the track, but it still needs to go the full loop!



Review 10261: Roller Coaster - Night 02

Posted by xccj , in Review Jun 11 2018 · 432 views
And the building continues...

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So tonight I finished bags 3 - 5. Well, mostly; I left out the sign bit to do later, and I jumped to the end to build one of the cars (literally the last bits you build for this set.) But in general, the right half of the Roller Coaster is finished.

The build was tedious, to say the least. If I wasn't building more columns (which had enough slight variations that I had to pay attention to each one) then I was building one of the supports. The whole thing is modestly sturdy; I wouldn't bet on any stress tests, but it'll hold it's weight for the most part. The most precarious design is the angled bits on the front (where Batman's standing) which is essentially a base for the tracks being held up by two clipped support beams, which is currently not sturdy at all. (But upon closer inspection I realize the sign bit would lock the bases of the two angled beams, thus creating a full triangle.) So it would probably be sturdier if I accurately followed the instructions. There was a bit of technic building on the top, consisting of the gearbox for the top of the chain and the wheels that pull the cars around the top curve. A few clever designs there, but I'm sure nothing a Technic fan hasn't seen before.

This is about as tall as the structure will get... and it's tall. It's not quite as high as the Ninjago City tower, but it definitely reaches the top of the third level with the sushi table. There weren't any actual new figs built here, but there were a couple of new pieces I found interesting. One was a 2x3 plate with a bar underneath which has shown up in a few sets, but is new this year. It's not exactly versatile, but I'm sure it'll be useful for some designs. More interesting is the 1x2 curved brick which is not only brand new but exclusive to this set at the moment. (Alas, it only contains two.) This element would be extremely useful, although I didn't test how the curve compares to similar bricks. Hopefully it starts making a wider appearance in cheaper sets, but it has a very specific use in the chain gearbox for the Roller Coaster, thus requiring it's creation, because I don't think any other bricks could pull off the same design. Getting to add in some of the track pieces was fun too, and the little car glides easily down them.

Looks like I'm back to building the base tomorrow, but there's the more complicated loading platform to make, as well as a few of the stalls, so hopefully enough to keep me entertained. Although I do get to build the sign; I was saving that for when I'm not burned out; I need a break from building more supports. :annoyed:



Review 10261: Roller Coaster - Night 01

Posted by xccj , in Review Jun 10 2018 · 472 views
So I caved in and bought this. It's now the most expensive set I've ever purchases, beating Ninjago City by about $80, and it's definitely looking to be the set that takes up most of the shelf space; it will be taking over the display space where I previously had Ninjago City and the Ferris Wheel. But it just looks so cool that I couldn't NOT get it, right? Now, this does kind of kill my Lego budget for the rest of the summer, and there are some cool sets still coming out, so I am going to have to show a little more self control over my purchases for a while...

But anyway, while I get started building this, I'll do a short documentary in my blog. Not a full on review because, well, I don't have THAT kind of time.

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So Night 1 got me through the first 2 bags (although each number really includes two or three bags a piece, but this is the terminology I use for smaller sets, so I'm sticking with it here.) Basically, it builds the base and first level of supports for the right half of the full set. Now, I thought the Ferris Wheel had some tedious builds, but I have a feeling I'll be sick of constructing all these white columns after a while. That set, the design technique for using clips on the base really holds them together, although the various support beams look like they'll be only partially effective. It's cool how they're using Mixel joints to create some angled beams on the end, but I feel like it's more for show than true support. Seeing at this set is supposed to get three times taller than this, I think the top might be more rickety than I'd prefer, but I'll make that judgment when I get to that point. And one thing that I haven't seen stressed in other reviews is the hazard for pinching yourself while trying to snap these columns together. Maybe it's just due to my hap hazardous building style, but I got pinched a couple of times and actually drew blood once... so now I am being a tad more careful.

There are a couple of small builds that fit in with the base. The cotton candy cart is a neat design; nothing super impressive, but it works. (I would've liked to see a gear mechanism to spin the inside of the machine... but how one could pull that off at this scale, I do not know.) The beehive piece as cotton candy (or, as I learned from another British review, is called candy floss in the UK and fairy floss in Australia) is quite ingenious, and I'm kind of disappointed that I only get two of them here. The tree is another nice design for it's size. It's simplistic but manages to work, mostly thanks to various newish plant molds. Even the park bench (not quite visible in the photo) is a neat design, using a new spoiler element to build the backrest.

As for the figs... well, let's be honest, these theme park sets just create a bunch of standard city figs, which are useful but not exactly a reason to get these sets. The first bag includes a young girl (too small to ride the coaster, unfortunately), a cotton candy vendor, and a grandpa. The vendor's blonde hairpiece is new, I believe, but not exclusive. I guess points could be had since this set actually includes more female characters, which is a trend not often found in Lego sets. (Six ladies to five men.) Honestly, I'm going to use this Roller Coaster to display some of my more unique figs. Since the Marvel characters have taken over my Ferris Wheel, I'm thinking the Roller Coaster will go to DC, and Batman's already swinging in to claim his spot!

I'm not going to look into parts too specifically, because I don't plan on scrapping this for pieces, ever. But I mean, if you want white or gray plates or tiles, or if you're really hurting for some 2x2 round bricks in white... well, this set would have you covered. I haven't gotten to the new track pieces yet, but I've looked through the bags that contain them, and they look like they'll be fun. (For the record, outside of some spare track from the Black Panther set, this will be my first Roller Coaster set, so I won't be comparing it to the Batman set because, clearly, I don't own it.)

Anyway, expect more ramblings on this tomorrow when I get to build a little more after work. Maybe when I finish I'll do a short video review, but maybe not, since people generally aren't fans of my talking. (I'm not sure they're fans of me writing either, but if you got to this point in this entry, then you've got a lot of time on your hands. :P )



Review: Gahlok Pen

Posted by xccj , in Review Apr 19 2018 · 670 views
There was some talk in the forums a while ago about the Bohrok pens, an abstract collectible item from the era of excessive Lego merchandising. In looking up some pictures, I discovered a relatively cheap copy of a Gahlok pen on BrickLink, and because I have no impulse control, I now own it. And since I previous wrote a review on the Lewa and Onua Mata pens, I decided to do the same with this one. So without further ado...

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It seems like the standard pen case for the Lego pens at the turn of the millennium. (Although I guess it's missing the plastic backing that would hold the spare beads on display.) A cool design bit is that the top is somewhat shaped like a Bohrok faceplate.

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(Click for larger images)

The leaflet shows off some of the other various pens, including the original Toa Mata pens, the rest of the Bohrok pens, and a collection of the Toa Nuva pens. (I have the masks from all the Mata pens, but I haven't found any of the Nuva pens. There are a few available online from ebay and such... but I think they're going for $40 to $60. So that's a no from me.) There are some quirky descriptions of the pens (with a tip to add them to your collection ASAP, subtle marketing there) as well as a bio for the Gahlok Bohrok. (Which sounds vaguely familiar, so it's a little more official than the Mata Bios on the previous pen leaflets.)

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The full pen can hold about six beads, and comes with a handful of extras to let you customize the design. I mean, neat concept, but Lego played that out for a ton of different pens back in the day, so it's not exactly revolutionary here. The grip is kinda cool with the swirly blue design. Alas, the ink is long since dried up (it's been 16 years now) and I have yet to find a replacement cartridge. (I have looked through a few craft stores... if somebody more knowledgeable knows anything, please share, it would be kinda cool to make these pens usable again.) The main unique feature here is the Bohrok faceplate. Unfortunately, it's attached to the top of the pen (and as such to the pin that runs down the center of the entire thing) so you can't really use it to make a mini Bohrok. But it folds up and down nicely to cover the krana and keep it from falling out. (Kinda.)

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You get 11 beads plus the mini krana. The cooler beads, IMO, are the printed ones. The giant black one with the Bionicle logo appears in all the Bionicle pens, as far as I can tell, but it's still a decent design. Then you've got some medium blue beads with the Bohrok symbol, Gahlok shield, and a silhouette of the Gahlok Va. Then there's a blue bead that has an outline of the Mata Nui island on one side, and the name spelt out on the other. The rest of the beads are generic filler, including a blue, orange, trans orange, and thin medium blue bead (the latter of which it still on the bar in the image above.) The last large bead is actually molded after the Bohrok limb piece, which is clever.

Of course, the beads are largely superficial decorations. Yes, they do roughly fit onto a system stud, but there's no real practical MOC use out of them. Instead, everybody's interested in the krana and the head bead it attaches to.

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The head bead does attach to a minifig neck... kind of. It attaches as well as any of the other pen beads, which is to say barely. Unfortunately, while the original Toa Kanohi hung down and covered the neck gap, the krana does not. (The head bead also sticks out quite a bit in the back, making it even more awkward to place on a minifigure torso.)

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The krana is a hard plastic orange Krana Yo (the tunneling mole krana, for those who haven't memorized the powers). It has a small pin connection that fits exclusively into the mouth of the head bead. It is too small to fit into a traditional system bar hole, but too large to fit into the small accessory holes seen in minifigure hairpieces. Basically, it's useless without the head bead to attach to. And the attachment is weak... I don't know if that has to do with age or not, but the clutch power is barely there.

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It's not to say the head bead is completely worthless. It attaches firmly to a stud, so it would actually work nicely to incorporate a small krana into a system MOC. There's potential... but not enough for me to go and track down the other five Bohrok pens. :glare: Unfortunately, it looks like the Toa Nuva pens also have unique masks that clip to the same head bead, which means that making Toa Nuva minifigures using the pen masks does not seem like a feasible project either, even if the pens were moderately affordable.

So the pen is only sorta meh, and the beads and krana aren't quite as worthy as the Toa Mata pen masks. There's a nice nostalgia kick for those of us who grew up in the Bohrok saga, but honestly it's not a must-have collectible.

And standard disclaimer: the Toa Mata masks pictured are from the *spoiler* Toa Pens from 2001. The torso decals were done by Nuju Metru (I gave him a handful of collectible minifigs for them.) I already did a post about maybe getting a bunch of torsos printed on commission, but there was no interest and instead people just griped about my color choices.)


June 2019

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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.
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Silver Lake, Mercury Mining, This Mistake, No Silver Lining.
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