Monday, 30 December 2013

Apologies!

Hello everybody, I'm back! I have to apologize for not being online for the past week. Me and the family spent a lovely Christmas in France with lots of good food, good wine and plenty of 'Ah, pardon monsieur. Je ne parle pas Francais!!' The only problem was Google didn't want to let me access my blog, it thought I was a cyber threat to myself..... So now I'm back I'm slowly catching up on everybody's posts and comments and normal service will be resumed shortly!
   I have to thank everybody for wishing me a happy Christmas, your comments mean a lot!
   I didn't come back empty handed, thanks to my wife's parents, er I mean Santa, I brought back this:


   Hopefully some time in the new year I'll actually get to build and review it, while all the 2014 sets are in the shops and desperately need buying!
   
  I hope everybody has a safe and happy new year, and I look forward to reading all your blogs and having fun!
  
  Brian.

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Lego Winter Village and Village Market mini review.

It's the festive time of the year again and I've finally finished doing everything that needed doing for the holidays and can relax for a short time and do a post! 
  I've done something a bit different this time and put all my Winter Village sets from the past four years together to make a wintery scene. 
   As you will probably realize I've mixed in bits of the review with pictures of my village set up, so try not to get too confused! 
Winter Village.

Included above are sets: 10199 - Winter Village Toy Shop,
                                   10216 - Winter Village Bakery,
                                   10222 - Winter Village Post office,
                                   10235 - Winter Village Market.

The little pond is frozen over , time to get their skates on! 
Someone's not having a good day!
After I took the pictures and started composing my post I realized I had missed out a set - 10229 - Winter Village Cottage.....D'oh!!! I'll save it for next Christmas and make another scene with  everything in it, including whatever new seasonal set Lego adds to the series.

Despite the cold, the market is in full swing with loads of 
tasty goodies on sale.
The latest set in the series is the Winter Village Market. These sets are now included in the Creator Expert line. The set consists of 1261 pieces for 79.99 GBP / 99.99 US$ and includes three market stalls, fairground games and a nice little carousel.

Being  a white cat in the snow has it's disadvantages, 
especially when youget stuck and it takes hours to 
get noticed!
The three stalls are all fairly straightforward builds but all are constructed differently to add variety to the set. One stall sells sweets / candy, another has cakes and bread and the third has hot food.

The band plays while the singers sing, hopefully they're 
all on the same song!
All the minifigures are unique in their different combinations of head, torso and legs, something that Lego has done throughout the year with most City sets. There is a brand new piece of headgear in this set,  a black beret or flat cap which will probably crop up many times in the future!

The ideal way to get around in the snowy conditions.
The main part of the set is, of course, the carousel. This is the second carousel Lego has made, the first was a huge beast that I sadly didn't manage to acquire when it was available, you can see it here.  Having missed the first one I was very happy to be able to get this one, even though it is much smaller and simpler.

Sales of fir trees are booming at this time of year!
The carousel is attached to a fairground game, where a ball has to be thrown into a bucket to win a prize. To make things a bit harder, the buckets are spun around on a wheel. The mechanism that spins the wheel is the same one that turns the carousel thanks to some linkages and gears. Who says Lego can't get technical!!

The mail van on the last round before Christmas!
The carousel has four vehicles to ride on, two horses and two sleigh type things. The horses rock backwards and forwards when it turns thanks to curved bricks below the deck of the ride, simple but ingenious!  The horses are nicely decorated  and have gold saddles for an almost typical fairground look.

The centerpiece of the village is the big tree. Somebody
is already eyeing up the gifts!

There are quite a lot of stickers with the set, mainly used for the carousel itself and most have silvery reflective backgrounds which you don't get too often, especially with the City theme. I think I'm right in saying this set has the most short-legged figures (children) than any other set Lego has ever made, and you can never have enough kids in Lego!

The carousel and the back of the games stall, you can see
the handle that turns both the game wheel and the
carousel on the roof at the back of the stall. 
I would highly recommend this set, it has hours of playability, lots to build, the carousel isn't the most straightforward thing to construct, especially with the Technic gears and connectors. It's not the cheapest of sets but you do get a lot for your money and if you collect the winter-themed stuff it's a must have!

If you stay on the horses long enough, you can get sea-sick!
Season's greetings to everyone, wherever you are, whatever religion you believe in. Have fun!

Lego: When Themes Collide!!




Wednesday, 11 December 2013

10233 Horizon Express Mini Review

Not strictly a City set, but cities have trains (usually) so I'm including it in mine!
  The Horizon Express is a Creator 'Expert' series model, which means it's a bit harder to build than general City sets and smaller Creator ones. 1351 pieces for 79.99 GBP / 129.99 US$ gives a very good price per piece value, but there are a lot of small pieces so it seems a bit better than it is. For your money you get 6 minifigures and half a train. Yep, that's half a train, an engine and two carriages (or 'cars' as they're called in quite a few countries!) To get a full train you would have to buy two sets. The set can also be expanded with the addition of a power unit to remotely control the train and operate it's headlights, but that would be at extra cost. Based on the French TGV and similar styles, it is a good representation of a modern, streamlined train.

Half a train... 79 cms (about 31 inches) long.
The minifigures consist of a female train driver, a guy running the restaurant car and four passengers. There are no new parts or prints for the minifigures but they are all unique in their legs / torso / face and hair combinations.
   The engine section is very nicely styled and, this being Creator, uses twenty parts where City or almost any other theme would use one. Take the chevrons on the side of the engine, most City sets would use a sticker for this, but Creator uses no less than 32 pieces to get the right effect. Very fiddly but worth the effort!

The business end!
Inside the business end.

The two carriages / cars are generally the same externally but internally they both have different functions. The first has a standard seating configuration with 3 seats, a partitioned toilet and a luggage hold. The second is a restaurant car with three seats, two small tables, a coffee machine and a drinks seller. The only major problem with these is space, or lack of. Fitting as much as possible into an already small space leads to some very cramped conditions with only enough room to walk sideways past the drink seller and the toilet cubicle, which, as luck would have it, has a sliding door! Both carriages have swing-open doors at one end and the windows are constructed in what I believe is a unique way, basically normal windows built sideways, with lots of connecting pieces to keep it stuck to the bodywork. That alone was a bit of a challenge!

Inside the carriage showing the toilet cubicle (a must when
 hurtling along in half a train!)
The very cramped restaurant car.

Nice to build and not too repetitive on the carriages, some neat construction techniques are used to help get the external shape, especially underneath.
  This is a great set, though not recommended for the younger audience that City sets are aimed at. The box states 14+ but I'm sure there's some younger people wouldn't find it too much of a problem. It's a shame it's only half a train, no track and there's no power functions included. Luckily the instructions show what to take out / change / put in to get it ready for remote control. Maybe one day...


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

60026 Town Square mini review.

I've had this built for about three weeks now so I think it's time I did a little review of the set! One of Lego City's big sets for 2013, it consists of 914 pieces and has 8 minifigures, 3 vehicles, 2 buildings and a statue.


The population of the Town Square
(I don't count the statue as a minifigure, though it actually is!)
The vehicles consist of a road sweeper, a bus and a mobile crane. The sweeper is a cool little vehicle, looking like a pimped up version of a ride-on lawn mower. Nicely designed and quick to build with a refreshing green/grey/yellow color scheme.



The bus is similar to other Lego versions from the past few years with a few design tweaks and many more stickers! With room to fit a driver and seven passengers it is a nice, solid vehicle. It has two doors but if you want to place the passengers in it, you have to resort to the good old Lego solution of taking the roof off!


Side, front and back view.
The mobile crane is a bit of a beast, beautifully designed and a bit more of a challenge to build (especially where string is concerned, my ham fists can't seem to do a small, neat knot no matter how careful I am!) There are a few great working parts on this, obviously the crane arm raises / lowers / extends / swivels and the hook can be raised and lowered, there are four swivel-out stabilizers to stop it overbalancing when lifting heavy stuff and the cab has opening doors (Yay!) Again it is a bit heavy on the stickers.



On to the buildings! First we have 'City Pizza', a nice little restaurant in lime green (!) Small but with some nice touches. This is the first Lego City building that possesses a ceiling fan! Inside there are a table and chairs, a computer on a counter top and the pizza oven / grill with an  extractor hood. Outside there is another table with chairs and a parasol and on the other side of the restaurant is a menu wall poster, just above two rubbish bins! Flowers and flags complete the building.





















The bike shop is a nicely designed corner building with two floors selling bicycles, motorbikes and clothes. The bottom floor is mostly taken up with a cute revolving door that barely fits a figure through, a sales counter and items for sale. There are helmets, hats and jackets on display. I ought to mention the 'jackets' are minifigure torsos, without legs or heads....scary! The top floor has the bicycles and a motorbike on display with more hats. The floor has eye-catching orange / black checkered tiles To top it all off the roof has a revolving sign, though this is partly obscured by small spotlights!



Finally there is the centerpiece of the Town Square - the statue! A knight with a sword and shield, which is a minifigure in light gray with no printing, mounted on a small column with frogs on each corner for added interest I think! There is a plaque with '1432' on the front of the column.



This is quite an expensive set (79.99 GBP / 119.99 US$) but you do get a lot for your money and there are so many different scenarios that can be made. It is a great set that will keep the kids / adults occupied for hours.
A must buy for City fans!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Some seasonal sets!

I recently managed to get hold of four small seasonal sets, all hard to find and none that can be found in general stores unless you're really lucky! Three of the sets are in poly bags and one is boxed, but as they're all special the collector in me is urging me not to open them... 
  I'll describe them in chronological order, for no real reason other than I want to! 

Fall Scene set 40057.  72 pieces including 3 figures, which is
pretty good for a small set. The typically blocky,
hardly-any-branches type trees are used but that doesn't
detract too much from the set. Obviously everyone likes
clearing up leaves, they're all smiling!
Thanksgiving Feast set 40056. This is a smaller set containing
46 pieces but still has two figures and two cats! For your
money you get some wine, a turkey, a cake, a large sausage,
 a carrot and a loaf of bread. It was originally thought this
would only be available in North America but Lego let the rest
of the world enjoy it too!
Christmas Tree Stand set 40082. This 'Limited Edition' set has
115 pieces and is part 1 of this years Christmas special.
The second part is a old style pick up truck to deliver the
trees. Sadly it is not available yet. This should fit in well with
the Winter Village Market set which I now possess but haven't
had the time to build yet.
Decorating The Tree set 40058. Quite a big set for a bag,
containing 110 pieces. The usual style Christmas tree with
a small pile of gifts for the young girl to enjoy. I like the
step ladder, made from pieces usually used for fences!
Lego has produced more seasonal sets this year than ever before, there must be a market for these as small gifts, even though most of them are in the 6.99 GBP / 7.99 US$ price range (except for the boxed set, where you have to spend quite a lot with Lego to get it 'free'.)
  Hopefully there will be many more years of special sets, and who knows I might actually open them and build them in my old age!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Late October eBay stuff. *Updated*

Listed on my eBay page now is Lego Chima set 70113, 'CHI Battle' . Brand new, unopened pack and selling for less than full price because I'm so nice (!!) If you're interested, the link to my eBay page is here!
As usual, I post anywhere in the world. 
  Tomorrow I will be listing more of my son's old sets that he no longer wants. 'Old' in this case means 2 - 4 years, nothing from the 1960's!
  Sadly the original polybag packaging for all of the sets have disappeared, they either got thrown away or my son has eaten them or whatever...Otherwise all the sets are complete with instructions and in great condition.
Top from left: Ninjago 30081: Skeleton Chopper / Ninjago 30080: Ninja Glider /
Ninjago 30086: Hidden Sword

Middle from left: Pharaoh's Quest 30091: Desert Rover / Pharaoh's Quest 30090: Desert Glider / Atlantis 30042: Mini Sub
Bottom from left: Toy Story 3 30072: Woody's Camp Out /
Harry Potter 40028: Mini Hogwarts Express / DC Super Heroes 30160: Batman Jetski
There are also two other sets not pictured; Pirates of the Caribbean 30130: Mini Black Pearl and Pirates of the Caribbean 30131: Jack Sparrow's Boat. 
  I will add an update to this post when they go live. If you feel the urge to bid on something, I'll give free postage to any of my blog followers, wherever in the world they might be!

UPDATE!

* As promised, the sets are now live on eBay and can be found here! If you're thinking of bidding, good luck! *

Friday, 25 October 2013

Lego Creator set 31012 Family House mini review.

Between work and real life I've finally managed to finish the latest Creator house, set 31012. For your 59.99 GBP / 69.99 US$ you get 756 pieces which includes 2 minifigures and a light brick. The instructions come in a bag with a cardboard backer so they don't get scrunched, ripped or battered which is nice! There are no unique pieces here though some parts are in certain colors for the first time in this set. 

The house owners and their sporty little car.

General view of the front.
I like the fact the roof has been made from two different colored slope pieces, it adds a bit more interest to the model, as does the chimney stack. The light brick is operated by pressing the black-topped vent near the top of the roof, and internally the light brick is nicely hidden.

Back of the house when swung open on it's hinges.

The house has two floors (just about) and is hinged down the middle so you can swing the garage away from the living area which give access to both parts. The living area is a double height room with a large ceiling light which is nicely designed and is lit up by the light brick from above to give the impression that the ceiling light works. There is also a table, swivel armchair and a fireplace along with a staircase to the top floor. 

Fireplace with a blue, very square, armchair!

Sadly there is no kitchen which would have added play value, the space is taken up by the garage, which, to it's credit, has a very nice brick-built door that swings up for the little car to enter / exit. 

Nice garage door with car.

The top floor consists of probably the smallest bedroom Lego has ever made and a small balcony over the garage that hosts a barbecue along with a partially decked floor. The bedroom has a bed and a modern style free-standing spotlight which wouldn't look out of place in an interrogation scene! 
Outside there are a few 'plants' with a small pond and a tree with a bird on top. As usual with Creator, the trees and any animals are brick-built, using lots of pieces instead of one which helps add a bit of variety.
This is a nice set and there's lots of playability here, despite the lack of a kitchen. The light brick adds a little extra to the whole thing and makes the inside look nice and cosy!


There have been quite a few houses in the Creator line and they certainly help add a bit of 'normality' to an otherwise emergency-service overloaded City! Along with the modular buildings you can actually have something that resembles a little part of a city suburb which can't be bad! 

Sunday, 13 October 2013

60020 Cargo Truck micro review

After a 5-year hiatus Lego is back with a Cargo sub-theme for the City line, and like 5 years ago it is very aircraft oriented except for this set, 60020, a rather nice truck!
  For your 24.99 GBP / 39.99 US$ you get 321 pieces including three minifigures. It's nice to see Lego continuing to include female figures in their usually male dominated sets. There's no new torso or face prints but they are unique in these combinations.

The workers.
There are two pallets containing an engine and four gas bottles (I presume).The forklift has a nice shape to it and looks as functional as a real forklift should. The forks are operated by pushing down on a tab to lower and they automatically rise again thanks to a small rubber band attached to the top of the fork's mast. This means (contrary to forklift safety procedures) all loads are carried along at it's highest possible point. A minor grumble to go with the fact the front wheels should be bigger than the back ones....

Forklift with pallets.
The truck itself is a very nicely designed kit. One whole side of the container opens up to reveal two pallet spaces inside and I'm pleased that the cab has doors, something that is lacking in other models. My only concern is that it is a bit of a sticker - fest with no less than 11 adorning all sides of the body and cab. Other than that I am very pleased with this set. There is a lot of playability for a good price. Recommended!

The truck.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Lego Creator set 31010 Tree House mini review.

I've collected Lego Creator sets ever since they started making houses in minifigure scale so they blend in with City sets perfectly. The plus point with Creator is there are, generally, more pieces per set. The idea is to be able to make several different models out of one lot of parts, so whereas a dog in a City set is one single piece that is undeniably a dog, in Creator it is made of several which resemble the shape of a dog, or thereabouts.
  The tree house comprises of 356 pieces and includes one minifigure, a  little boy with a big smile on his face! At a cost of 24.99 GBP / 29.99 US$ it is very good value for money. There are no new pieces or colors but, as is usual, the minifigure is unique in this combination of hat, head, torso and legs.


   Being a Creator set the build is slightly more challenging than City sets and uses more complicated techniques to achieve the end result. There are lots of nice little features such as a fold away ladder to stop unwanted intruders, and a container of 'water' to pour on their heads if they do manage to get up the tree. There's a working winch to pull a bucket of water from the pond below, though in the best traditions of Lego, in City sets the bucket is a rubbish bin! At the base of the smaller tree there is a secret compartment that hides a treasure map and there's a pull along trolley to fill with goodies for the tree house.

The treasure map with the secret compartment open.

  The boy also comes equipped with a telescope, a radio and a nice big pizza, no wonder he's got a smile on his face!
  The house part is sparsely furnished with only a bed and a storage container. A table and chair would have added a bit more fun.


  Okay, the tree doesn't look much like any tree I've seen but the main part of the model is the house and it's deck and they are nicely designed. With all the extras this is a great set with lots of play value and the instructions show two alternative builds as in all Creator sets, so if you get bored of the tree house there's always another house or a little hut with a jetty to keep you amused.
  It's a thumbs up from me!
 

Friday, 27 September 2013

A Pumpkin for Cathey

A different kind of post today, it's the blogaversary of Cathey a.k.a. Pumpkin over at Pumpkin Patch & Co . Daffycat from It's Daffycat has organised loads of people to make today 'A Pumpkin for Cathey' day. An amazing amount of people from all over the world are doing a pumpkin related post and dedicating it to Cathey, and this one is mine!
  A simple pumpkin from set 40020 which also includes a ghost and a bat (which, incidentally, will be for sale on eBay soon!) 


Sunday, 22 September 2013

60015 Coast Guard Plane micro review.

This is another set I've had built for a while so it's finally review time.
   The set comprises of 280 parts and retails for 34.99 GBP / 44.99 US$ making it fairly expensive price - per - piece. For your money you get a fishing boat, a float-plane and three minifigures, two fishermen and the pilot of the Coast Guard plane. As seems to be the usual way with Lego, the three figures are made up of pieces used elsewhere but are unique in their combinations here. The rarest piece is the grey hair which is only used in one other set, namely 75014 - Star Wars 'Battle of Hoth'.
  The boat is quite a nice design. The hull is made from one large single piece so there is less there than it seems. The boat really  floats on water thanks to the shape of the hull and it being all one piece, something I refuse to test out! I like the color scheme of light grey, brown and green, for some reason i think it suits the shape and function of the boat. Nice as it looks there are no functioning parts on the boat.


The boat with fishing rods ready to use.
The plane is a good, meaty looking thing that has a nice shape with big floats to land on water. Sadly the plane won't actually float on real water due to it's 'floats' being made up of several parts. This limits the playability of the set if someone took it on themselves to actually play with it in water. There are a couple of parts on the bottom of the hull that are unique in orange which adds to the model's desirability for some collectors. The cockpit roof comes off to allow access to the cockpit which has room only for the pilot and a couple of tools.  The wing part of the fuselage doesn't open, so apart from the propellers turning there are no other working parts.
  So in summary, both the boat and plane are nicely designed but a float-plane that doesn't float and has no room for the people it rescues seems a bit useless! ☺ Fairly expensive and a bit low on playability this is not a must-have set but fills a need in the City Coat Guard and I'm happy enough to have it!



The 'nice looking but ultimately of little use' plane! 

  

Thursday, 19 September 2013

60019 Stunt Plane micro review (oh, and an eBay link!)

I've had this set built for a while now so I thought it would be a good idea to finally do a little review of it!
  You get 140 pieces for 9.99 GBP / 19.99 US$ which makes it good value for money. Two minifigures - the pilot and a support crew person. As far as I'm aware there are no new pieces but the pilot's torso has a new design which is used in this set and 60027 Monster Truck transporter. (That set is on my wants list!)
  The support truck is basically a toolbox on wheels, everything to fix or maintain the plane is there. However the poor driver has to stand up to operate it, no seats! Small, simple and a very straightforward build, there are no surprises with this vehicle!

Lots of tools, ear protectors and, probably, aching legs!
The plane itself is quite a nice design, the big engine air intake and wheel cowlings give it a suitably sporty look. Apart from the wheels and propeller, the cockpit canopy is the only moving part. Nice to build but a lot of stickers, some which have to be applied on curved surfaces making it slightly trickier to get level and look like they should. That's only a minor grumble. 

Ready for inverse loops, stall turns, flat spins and a sick bag!
   For some reason Lego are marketing it as part of the City 'Freight' range. A nice little addition to an airport or sporty scene.

  I have now listed the first three small sets from my sons collection on eBay, if you're interested, my eBay page is here! Just look for them among all the books, comics, clothes etc!

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Coming soon on eBay...

After a 60-hour working week I can finally get back to doing a bit of blogging! 
  My son has decided he only wants to collect Star Wars Lego (and a select few other sets including Castle and Racers, oh and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.........)  The result of this is a small pile of sets from a range of different themes that are going to be listed on eBay in the very near future so he can have money to buy more Star Wars sets. 


Complete sets with boxes (or polybags) and instructions.
  Themes include City, Power Miners, Toy Story, Monster Fighters and one or two from Prince of Persia, Ninjago, Atlantis etc. There is another pile of small sets that are complete but don't have their packaging. These were mostly promotional sets and some are now quite hard to find, another post on them in the near future. There are also a few incomplete sets where I know a piece or two has been broken or sucked up the vacuum cleaner (a constant hazard!!) I will be completing these sets later on with a Bricklink order, again, more about that nearer the time. 
  I will post links to the listings when they go live. I post anywhere in the world and always include insurance if I have to post outside the UK. 
  Enjoy your weekend, I'm off to top up my glass of wine!
  

Monday, 2 September 2013

Lego Coast Guard and Medieval violence!

I'm back! The holidays are over, everything is back to normal, a new school year starting for my son and back to work for me. On the plus side it's back to normal with my blogs, if I get the time! Today I have a quick review of Lego City Coast Guard sets 60011 and 60013 and on a totally non-Lego related note, a few snapshots that my wife took on one of our day's out recently.

Firstly the Lego. 

   60011 Surfer Rescue is the smallest of the current Coast Guard theme and consists of 32 pieces including two minifigures and a shark. There's not a whole lot I can say about such a small set, the Coast Guard jet ski is a small but meaty looking thing and is nicely designed. The surfer guy looks suitable cool and even though he's being attacked by a shark both him and his rescuer have big smiles on their faces! Great as a small gift but at 4.99 GBP / 6.99 US$ it is a bit expensive for what you get.

The entire Surfer Rescue set.

   The next set, 60013 Coast Guard Helicopter is a much bigger set with much more play value and even comes with a working winch! 230 pieces with 4 minifigures and another shark, this time a white one. There's a small catamaran in trouble and a menacing shark nearby, luckily the Coast Guard helicopter is on hand to rescue the sailor! (Again, obviously unaware of any actual danger, everybody is happily smiling!)

The crew.
   The helicopter itself is a well designed and sturdy thing though the tail boom is a bit thin for my liking (seemingly a common problem with Lego helicopters!) The winch is pulled down manually and at the press of a button it retracts itself back to the raised position. The same mechanism was used on 60010 Fire Helicopter, also released this year. Nice to build but way too many stickers for my taste. It's a fairly large size but most of the internal space is taken up with the winch parts which means when they've rescued the sailor they can't fit him inside the helicopter...that could be a problem!

The nifty little catamaran.

   Overall I would happily recommend this set, there's a lot of play value in it but there are I think there are too many similarities with the Fire helicopter for most people to buy both unless, like me, they're a bit of a completist!

The nicely designed helicopter, except for the lack of internal space!

In the words of Monty Python: And now for something completely different...

A family day out at Warwick Castle saw sword fighting, jousting, falconry and an enormous trebuchet flinging fireballs! The weather was acceptably bright and warm but the wasps were being a right pain in the...ahem...
Getting on with the job - medieval style!
A very big Sea Eagle
The trebuchet ready to fire. Sadly our camera couldn't keep
up with the fireball as it wooshed across the Warwickshire
countryside!