Ant-Man and the Wasp Competition Extended to August 31, 2018 [pinned post]

img_2218A few weeks ago, I announced our building competition, to win one of two  ‘76109 Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantum Realm Explorers’, thanks to our friends in the AFOL Engagement team at the LEGO Group. Continue reading

Time to get moving: first steps into the Powered Up system [Review: Passenger Train 60197]

img_2285In which I finally get my hands onto some of the new Powered Up components and find myself dealing with a system full of immense potential. I compare the Powered Up system with the old Power Functions system for driving the train, draining the batteries in the process. And I start to wish for a little bit of magic…

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Harry Potter and the Minifigure Innovations

With new Harry Potter LEGO Sets and Collectable Minifigures occupying the Zeitgeist, I look back on ways in which our minifigures have been innovated through their use in this theme over the years.title

When we recently looked at the new Harry Potter Collectable Minifigures, we had a look at the new leg elements – the ‘miniskirt’ and mid length legs. These new elements are a great inclusion during this, the fortieth anniversary of LEGO Minifigures.  I found myself wondering ‘What other innovations in figure design have we first seen in Harry Potter?’  We have seen so many different characters and creatures since the series first appeared in 2001: house elf, giants, goblins and trolls, as well as humans. To adequately depict these characters as minifigures form, a number of modifications to the standard form were introduced. Some of these we now take for granted.

The First (Second and Third) Double Sided Head Print

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Figures

 

Harry Potter Minifigures are out in the wild. Once again, new legs are released in the Harry Potter theme.  Here are some scattered thoughts and pictures. 

When I first heard about the Harry Potter Collectable Minifigures, I was not feeling too excited. We had already been delivered the second series of The LEGO Batman Movie collectable minifigures, as well as the brilliant series 18 – celebrating the 40th anniversary of the arrival of the LEGO Minigfigure. I really loved that set, but my taste for it was somewhat soured by the presence of the chase figure: the Policeman.  While I loved the idea of this reimagining of the 1978 classic ( I mean, there were no stickers!), the presence of only one figure in a box pushed up the price on the secondary market. The fact that the ‘chase’ figure could be found in the same place in every box meant they were rapidly identifiable by enthusiastic collectors, and people looking to flip them on the secondary market.

Now the inclusion of chase figures in collectable minifigures is not new – There was Mister Gold, back in series 10: but that was SO rare that most people considered it a special surprise, rather than an integral part of the set.  Having a rare figure in every box makes it feel like a necessary part of the set. Especially when the package insert lists it as an integral part of the set. So I let the Policeman pass.  I purchased an ‘incomplete set’, and occasionally had a look at the well rummaged boxes that I came across on random. Around two months after its release, a friend gave me a call as asked if I was still interested? He had come across a couple of extra policemen in his travels, and we organised a simple trade.

IMG_9980And now we have the 71022 Harry Potter Collectable Minifigures Series.  With twenty two figures, it is the largest collection of minifigures to date. Early rumours suggested that there would be twenty four characters, and this is indeed the case, as we discover that two figures in fact have dual identities.  We have sixteen figures related to the Harry Potter Series, some represented for the first time; and six from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them.

IMG_9986There are also a number of special features introduced in this series:

Forty years of minifigures continues: Changes a foot.

As we have already considered this year,  we are now celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the arrival of LEGO Minifigures. In this series, we see the continuing development of minifigures with the arrival of a brand new minifigure element: the mid-height legs. One plate shorter than the standard minifigure legs, these are perfect for ‘not quite adult teens’, they are seen with seven of the twenty two figures present.  Initially I was concerned that these elements were isolated to a licensed, collectable minifigure series. However, this is not the first time that Harry Potter has been used to introduce new minifigure leg elements…The mini leg (design ID 41879), frequently used for children, Ewoks, Yoda and dwarves, was first introduced in 2002, as part of Gringotts Bank 4714, and Dobby’s release 4731, in tan, black and brown. These legs also featured in Star Wars, and train sets in the first year. Now, they are everywhere.

It is a shame that four of the seven figures that use the mid length legs have the markings associated with the gowns and uniform of Gryffindor students, and have limited reuse potential.  Fortunately, three figures have plain leg markings: Cho Chan and Neville Longbottom both have black legs, while Luna Lovegood has blue legs.

Here are the legs of all sizes in action:

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The other change that we have seen this year in in the use of the a new 2x2x1 2/3  curved slope (Miniskirt No.6 39139) : In this series of minifigures, we have three different colours and prints of the new part. It has also recently arrived in the Star Wars theme, worn by the Pretorian guards in 75216  Snoke’s Throne Room (Another August 2018 release). This element now means that figures wearing gowns or dresses are the same height as regular minifigures. Of interest, it is slightly tapered across the studs, and is slightly narrower than the bottom of the minifigure torso.  This has been the case with legs for years, but a point of difference with skirt wearing minifigures”

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Otherwise, what does the series have to offer?

22 minifigures, 24 characters, 27 faces,7 sets of the new ‘teen legs’, wands in 6 colours, 5 items of food, 2 suitcases ,5 animal familiars and a mandragora plant, dark green broom and a Golden Snitch!

So Much Pottery Goodness! Let’s cut to the chase and look at the Figures. Continue reading

Rage of Atlantis: Buy for the Minifig, Stay for the Movie.

In which I pick up a LEGO® DC Superheroes DVD for the purpose of just getting the attached minifigure.  Then I got caught up trying to workout how I could reproduce the Justice League figures as they are depicted in the film.  Do I escape from that rabbit hole before it is too late? Read on!

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It’s the start of August, and there has been a wide range of new LEGO® Sets just released: Depending on where in the world you are, there are new City, Friends, DC Superheroes, Unikitty and of course the long anticipated return of Harry Potter to choose from. But today, I am going to look at something completely different…

This week, the latest in direct to video LEGO® DC Superheroes Movies was released:  Aquaman: Rage of Atlantis. I have not been a dedicated viewer of Direct to Video LEGO Movies, and the target demographic – kids pestering their parents for Super Hero LEGO Sets – is now absent from my house. I confess I bought this one primarily for the exclusive Jessica Cruz Green Lantern Minifigure, which is included with the DVD. But I thought I would sit down and see how the movie played out.

I shall not dwell too much on the plot: in reality spoilers are not a major issue.  This is the kind of movie that will be watched by the target audience time and again. Running at just over seventy minutes, the animation is bright, action shifts from location to location at an reasonable pace, but not so fast as to make my head spin.  The music fits the mood of the action brilliantly – giving appropriate moments of dread, excitement and happiness. A musical highlight for me was the musical nod to the theme from ‘The A Team.’ However, there are no surprising plot twists, and corny jokes and cliches abound. I admit I might have had more than the occasional chuckle as I watched it.  That said, I have nothing against the use of cliche: to paraphrase the late Terry Pratchett, ‘Cliches are the hammer and nails in the toolbox of communication.’ The film delivers a positive message about the power of Teamwork, and Believing in Yourself.

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They look common enough, but only two of these actually exist as a single minifigure…

The Justice League in this film are represented by Aquaman, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and the self doubting Green Lantern Jessica Cruz. Along the way, Batfamily members Barbara Gordon/ Batgirl. and Damian/Robin join in the action. Continue reading

Getting the full picture: Upgrading the light box

In which I supersede my soft light box with a quick trip to the local hardware shop, for less than the cost of medium size LEGO set…This gives me a place to take pictures of Voltron, who has learned some new moves.

Over the last couple of years, I have used a number of techniques to light and photograph LEGO Models and minifiugres here at the Rambling Brick.

I started out using a relatively minimalistic set up, using a phone, a foldable light with baking paper as a diffuser, and a piece of white paper.

Before too long, I started using a small, reliable ‘Soft box’ – with two compact fluorescent tubes, some diffusing fabric and folding up into a convenient carry case. This has been my mainstay of LEGO® photography over the last few years. It is pretty good for most smaller, which have a footprint of less than a square foot.

A Sizeable Challenge

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Short of breaking Voltron down and stacking the individual lions, I was never going to make this set fit in this box, all at once.

Voltron 31211: this set challenged my sensibilities with regard to what I could fit in the light box. In real life, I don’t have the space for a dedicated studio, with large lights. A bit of bench space in my build room is all I have. (you can read my review here)

But it was time to revisit my photographic setup, ideally while maintaining enough budget to pick up one of the new Powered Up trains. Perhaps I will need to look at the passenger train rather than the freight train now. I took my inspiration from my friend @frostbricks, who recently shared images of his kitchen table photo studio on Instagram.

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71043 Harry Potter: Hogwarts Castle Announcement

As we await the official release of the new range of Harry Potter Sets on August 1st, today the LEGO Group announced the largest Harry Potter Set to date.  Due for release on September 1st , the massive 71043 Hogwarts Castle is the second largest LEGO® set ever produced, with over 6000 parts, it is only outnumbered only by the Millennium Falcon 75192 from 2017. Unlike previous Hogwarts sets, this one is a microscale construction, with 27 microfigures.  There are also four minifigures, representing the Four Founders of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As a microscale model, this is possibly the most comprehensive model of Hogwarts to date!

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71043 Hogwarts Castle, 6,020 pieces
US $399.99 – CA $499.99 – DE 399.99€ – UK £349.99 – FR 419.99€ – DK 3499DK

Explore the magic of Hogwarts Castle!

Make the magic come alive at the LEGO Harry Potter 71043 Hogwarts Castle! This highly detailed LEGO Harry Potter collectible has over 6,000 pieces and offers a rewarding build experience. It comes packed with highlights from the Harry Potter series, where you will discover towers, turrets, chambers, classrooms, creatures, the Whomping Willow and Hagrid´s hut, plus many more iconic features. And with 4 minifigures, 27 microfigures featuring students, professors and statues, plus 5 Dementors, this advanced building set makes the perfect Harry Potter gift.