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...