Friday, 31 May 2013

60004 Fire Station mini review.

I've had this built for a couple of weeks now and I'm finally shifting my ass and reviewing it! 

The set consists of 752 pieces that include five minifigures, a dog, two vehicles, a helicopter and the fire station itself. Priced at 69.99 GBP / 99.99 US$ it's not the best value for money but beats Lego's licensed products by a long way. 
  The Fire Chief's uniform is unique to this set, as is the spotty print on the dog. 

The latest firemen (and firewoman) to Legoland's huge
fire department!

The fire station building

The fire station is quite a substantial building, having more height, width and depth than most sets in the Lego range. It has a simple facade that is quite refreshing, the designers usually love to make the front of these buildings as complicated as possible to add 'interest'. The three floors house a control centre, an equipment room and some living quarters. All rooms are well equipped, especially the living area which has a small cooker, a sink and table and chairs, along with a frying pan (and large sausage!) and cups. The control room is also well stocked with an emergency phone, a computer and a large screen showing a plan view of the city, pinpointing any trouble spots. Outside there is a pole for the firefighters to get down quickly from any floor. This is a bit of an oddity and just doesn't look right to me. I always thought the pole was to aid in getting to the fire trucks quickly, with this you would have to step outside onto a little platform, be lowered to the ground, go back into the station by the front door just to get to the trucks! 
  The trucks are housed in a double garage with roller doors. On the roof of the garage there is a helipad that is frighteningly close to the taller part of the building. It would need a skilled pilot to have the nerve to land there!

Living quarters and control room.
The helicopter is a small but nicely designed piece with an opening canopy. The tail stabilizer and boom look a bit too flimsy but I'm just nit-picking. It has a central water tank and pipe that can be connected to a water cannon., though the size of the tank doesn't look like it would hold much water!
  The small truck has an opening back to allow access inside where the breathing apparatus is stored. The usual fire extinguisher and radio are housed on clips outside the vehicle. My usual moan for this sort of vehicle is...no doors...
  The ladder truck is a nice model. It has a two-piece ladder that can be turned, raised and extended. There is a fire hose on one side of the truck and two containers on the other that house traffic cones. Best of all, this truck has doors! 
The emergency vehicles.
This is quite a sticker-heavy set (another of my pet hates!) but all in all it's a good model with plenty of playability that will keep me, er,  I mean my son, happy for hours. There have been many fire stations in Legoland's history and I'm happy to say they've done well with this one. Don't worry if you can't get hold of this set, there will be another new one along in two or three years, guaranteed!

Friday, 24 May 2013

My spares collection.

When I first started seriously collecting Lego (Late 1978), spare parts in sets were virtually unheard of. You had all the pieces to make the set you bought and there were, usually, no spares and if you weren't unlucky, there wouldn't be any missing either. Those were the days before computers took over the checking of parts going into every bag and every box. As the years have gone by some of the pieces became more intricate and, consequently, a bit more fragile so spares started to be added to the sets to cover for any unfortunate accidents. 
   My first recollection of spare parts is when the Town vehicles first got 'headlights' in 1980 and the 1x1 plate pieces became transparent. Something in the manufacturing process made the piece a lot more brittle than the standard solid 1x1 plate. The little pieces were prone to cracking on the corners and a crack could mean loss of adhesion to the pieces beneath, or one knock and the thing split in two. Lego must have had a lot of complaints because they started putting spare 1x1 tinted transparent plates with every set that had them in it's inventory. Gradually new pieces were added to the production output and some were small and delicate so Lego automatically put spares in the boxes even before anyone had a chance to complain. This years sets seem to have the largest amount of spares I've ever seen, and they're getting bigger! 

The contents of my spares box. All the bigger pieces are from
the past four years.
Included are Train wheels, antennas, hoses with string,
a battery box, fishing rod and 6 orange brick separators.
A quick word on the brick separators. These orange tools are useful for separating bricks or plates that need a bit of leverage to release from each other. Most big sets contain one. As you can see I've accumulated six of them, but the fact you get one free doesn't stop Lego from trying to sell them in their stores for 1.99 GBP / 2.49 US$. No wonder there's always a good stock left on the shelves! 
   I'm in two minds what to do with all these bits. I could give them away to my local school but the pieces are too small and would probably disappear within a week. I could open a bricklink shop which is like the Lego version of an 'Etsy shop' and list them for sale, or wait until I have a huge amount (which would take years!) and sell them bulk on eBay. Either way I don't think I'd get much for them. Maybe I'll just keep building up the stock and my son can inherit it all...

Some of the more interesting spare parts.
A lot of these are from the collectible minifigure series where
most had a unique item which generally had a spare.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

60017 Flatbed Truck micro review

My latest acquisition (well, it was a few weeks ago) was this rather nice breakdown truck and car.  212 pieces for 17.99 GBP / 19.99 US$.  For that you get two minifigures, two vehicles and some traffic lights.
The mechanic has been used before in exactly the same combination as he is here, the last set was 4434 'Dump Truck' from 2012. The woman however is unique in this combination, though all the pieces have been used separately in different sets.  

The finished set.

  The vehicles consist of a car and a breakdown truck and for once there is a brand new piece that has never been used before (as far as I can tell). The piece is part of the car's front and sits over the two headlights and is itself covered partly by two other pieces. It adds a bit of variance to the car's styling which is always welcome as there are only so many ways you can design a car of this size in Lego! It is small and solidly built but, to my annoyance, doesn't have doors.
  The truck is a nice build and can tip it's flatbed part to transport the broken down car. There is a winch that really works (as is usual for Lego, they have rarely ever had a winch that DIDN'T work!) and the cab has doors (Yay!) The front of the truck has a fairly uncommon part, and is only in orange for this set, so there's something unique in both vehicles. I have a couple of small problems with this truck, the first is just me being pedantic, but this is not one of the emergency services so it shouldn't have blue emergency lights! I thought yellow light were customary on these vehicles.... Anyway, the second moan is the flatbed has to tilt at an incredibly steep angle for the winch to pull the car on to it, there must be a huge amount of power in the  winch!

It's a little bit tricky...!

  Aside from my minor grumbles it is a nice set and well worth getting. Even though Lego have done about half a dozen similar vehicles over the years, there are enough differences with this set to make it worthwhile having.

Safely on board.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Surprises!

I recently bought a small pile of Lego pieces off eBay that had been built into a house similar to an old 1976 Weetabix promotion. I was more interested in the pieces themselves rather than what had been built so I put in a low bid and was lucky enough to win. The pieces arrived a couple of days ago and after sorting through them I had a couple of surprises, one bad, one good. The first surprise was that they weren't all Lego pieces. I know there's a lot of Mega Blok fans out there, and that there are quite a few rip-off companies producing bricks that are compatible with Lego but to me these non-Lego pieces are poor quality substitutes that should be put in a huge pile, covered in petrol, ignited, melted into a big lump then dumped at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean so they can never be seen again!!


They may look like Lego but they're impostors!
Okay, I feel better for that. Out of the 100+ pieces of true Lego that were left there were some nice printed bricks that are fairly hard to find.


Some of the more interesting pieces.
There were two 'Police' bricks which will be useful for some pre-1980's sets, the S-21 brick was only ever used in one set as the tail boom for a police helicopter and are hard to find. The door is one of the first types Lego made from the mid 1950's up to 1977. The figure was a forerunner to the minifigures that adorn sets now. These early versions were made for sets released between 1975 and 1977. They had non-moving 'arms' and legs and no faces printed on their heads. I actually also had a pig-tailed hair piece with this lot but forgot to add it into the picture! The wheeled block was also a piece that was discontinued when the new sets of 1978 came out. This one has double tires which are a bit harder to find than the single version. 
I've managed to find homes for all the pieces I bought in various sets I'm slowly building up from scratch. It's taking a long time but the nice surprises help make it a bit more pleasant!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

60016 Tanker Truck micro review.

Back to the City vehicles with this review of the Octan tanker truck set 60016.

The set has 191 parts for a fairly reasonable 17.99 GBP / 19.99 US$. 

The box.

The set comes with one minifigure which, as is usual for sets released these days, has no unique parts but is new in this combination.
A small petrol pump is also included. It's nothing special but it does add a bit more play value to the set.
The tanker is a good design, not as big as some earlier tankers, it looks nicely chunky and robust and is pretty good scale-wise with the figure. There isn't a huge amount you can do with the truck, the hose reel can  be unrolled from the drum to fill the pump up, there's a small container box with what looks like a fire extinguisher in it on the far side of the truck and the cab doors open (Yay! I like proper doors on a vehicle!) There is a ladder at the back to access the roof of the tanker body and the driver has the now obligatory cup in his cab. That's about it. 
Not a huge amount of play value compared to other sets of this size but it is a good looking truck and what city can do without a tanker to help keep things moving?

The completed set.