You may have noticed that some of the recent (coming in August to North America) releases of LEGO City and LEGO Friends have been cobranded with the National Geographic brand.
The new City: Deep Sea Explorers, as well as Friends: Jungle Rescue subthemes have been developed in collaboration with National Geographic to encourage children to explore the world, and consider their own ways to solve some of the problems that we are facing, going forward.
The recent launch of the the Space X Falcon9, successfully delivering astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken aboard their Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station has renewed public interest in the space program. And at a time when there are so many other problems affecting the world, a little excitement and optimism is what the world needs.
Space exploration has often been associated with this hope and optimism, as we see parts of the universe through new eyes, and discover that we can achieve things that had previously only been dreamt of.
A child excited by the the dream of space travel today might look at the range of LEGO City ‘Mission to Mars’ sets from 2019, and be inspired by such a future, as some of us were 40 odd years ago, when we first saw LEGOLAND Space.
Back in those days, we started with spacemen on a planet somewhere. They had a spaceship, a rover or a base. Or all three. They were all working together: no fighting, just cooperation in achieving the teams goals.
March the 8th marks International Women’s Day, and I thought I would briefly return to my occasional analysis of Gender Balance in LEGO® City. I haven’t visited the topic for a couple of years, and was wondering if there have been significant changes here.
This year seems to have become unreasonably busy, for reasons I do not fully understand. As such, I have not had the chance to sit down on a daily basis to Build, photograph and describe the LEGO City Advent Calendar’s builds. In this era of binge watching and instant gratification, where we cannot bring ourselves to wait a whole week to see how this episode’s residual issues get resolved, but follow straight on, I have taken a similar approach to the Advent Calendar.
I will almost, but not quite complete the calendar in this post.
A quick recap:
One of the advantages of binge building the advent calendars is that you can see how the narrative threads develop and resolve. Last time, we saw a number of random activities out side, as well as a small boy looking at presents under the Christmas tree, while eating a biscuit. We were left with 2 developing scenes, somewhat like this…
Where will our stories go now? Will we see new characters and situations? Will we see the source of the cookies? And will we understand why the smiling man in blue is carrying a broom, despite standing outside, with lots of snow around? Hang around as we set out to complete the stories over the next couple of days…
This collection of elements struck me as a little odd, until I realised there was a giant target drawn on the frozen lake. It looks like a curling match is in progress: sliding these polished stones towards the target, our man with the broom must be trying to sweep the ice clear to get his closer to the centre of the target.
Behind window number 12, we find ourselves moving inside again: a few telescopes, a chair and some inverse curved slopes: without a doubt, this is a rocking char, and lamp on a table. I certainly remember seeing this kind of set up in days gone past…
And on day 13, we find someone to sit in the rocking chair, by the lamp, and read a book. The Tile, reading “Once upon a Time” looks great and makes it feel like a real book. I wonder if this lady is the cool Grandmother, or aunt, of the child we met earlier in the month. The cardigan torso has been previously seen in the 70657 Ninjago Docks, as well as the recently release 60203 Ski Resort
To add to the effect, while sitting in her rocking chair, Grandma now has a cup of milk, and a cookie, while sitting in her chair reading. Or has it been left for Santa to find by candlelight? I’ll let you be the judge.
A couple of skids, small Technic elements, handlebars and some small slopes brings us a snowmobile: I suspect we aren’t in the lounge room anymore!
A mixture of elements today, including a disk missile launcher and a frying pan, resolves itself into a stove, employing the open studs on the front of a SNOT Bracket as gas dials. Now we know where the cookies are coming from!
Another figure today, but where does he below? Inside our out? This older man might have a real thing against candles. Perhaps he wants to ensure the fire is out before Santa Claus comes to visit. Or perhaps there has been a nasty accident with the snowmobile in the snow.
We have a small, elegant table setting behind the 18th door. With a table wreath and drumstick, it has the makings of Christmas dinner. For one…
Just in time to help us keep time, we build a grandfather clock. This relatively recent clock face tile shows us that it is a little after 10 minutes to midnight. The kids are staying up really late tonight!
Today, we have another figure with a torso from the Ski resort set – calling back to the X-Treme Team sets of the late 90’s. This child is enjoying the chance afforded by the weather to go snowboarding.
It all depends on how you look at things… and this looks like another night time activity: a telescope. Perhaps all the better to try and find Santa flying through the sky in his Sleigh.
Perhaps this is what Grandpa was worried about back on day 17: this fireplace, still ablaze, with a number of NSOT bricks, Stafford slippers and profile bricks, this is a really elegant representation of a small fireplace, with trans orange tooth elements as the fire. (or is is a gas heater… a fire place will be more practical for Santa, wherever he’s gotten to!) We must be pretty close to the end of the story inside the house.
And just to throw us off the scent, day 23 sees us putting together a few clip elements to make a sled, being pulled by a single husky.
And this almost brings us to the end of our stories. There seems to be a fairly coherent narrative inside the house, with the family relaxing: eating, playing, reading, and extinguishing the candles with extreme prejudice, while waiting for Santa to arrive.
Meanwhile, outside, it seems a little more disjointed: we have a number of activities underway, with people well dressed and rugged up to keep warm. We seem to have a disproportionately large number of modes of transport, compared with the minifigure count. We also have a number of activities – snow ball hurling; curling and stargazing/Santa Spotting, as well as snow boarding. We have certainly had some interesting builds, and some quite unexpected. The outdoor narrative is well suited to the design on the box.
Will the next day go inside or out? Will it be a minifigure, or something else?
And I am going to leave it there for now: I want to avoid spoilers for the final build – so come back in a day or so, when we shall be able to see all our final builds, perhaps along with a little something Xtra.
In which we take further inspiration from LEGO® Friends, by looking at Olivia’s Service and Care Truck. We follow up by developing a modification to allow two minifigures to sit side by side in a contemporary vehicle, that otherwise only seats one. Now read on…
Last time, we looked at a couple of Olivia’s vehicles from Friends – from 2016 and 2018. Both of these cars have our friends sharing the two seats in a 4×3 space, allowing them to sit side by side in a vehicle that is six studs wide – within the constrains of a four stud wide cabin (so long as there window are open). Today I would like to look at another of her sets from this year. Who knows how it might inspire us…
Looking out for her Friends on the Track: Service and Care Truck 41348
The Service&Care Truck (41348) which was released in the mid-year wave of friends sets in 2018, and has 244 parts. It seems to fit in a similar part count and price point (AUD29.99/€19.99/£14.99/USD19.99) as Olivia’s Mission Vehicle.
In which I struggle with the ideas of combining two sets into a completely seperate model, attempt to answer the riddle “What do you get if you combine a truck with a LEGO Robot?”, and find a sticker sheet that I really really like……
A couple of weeks ago, I brought you the first part of my look at the 2018 LEGO City Arctic Scout Truck. As a medium sized city set, I thought it was pretty nifty: a bit of landscape, a dog and polar bear, a few different figures and cool (Ahem!) truck, with drive wheels and caterpillar tracks. How could it be improved on?
Now, some days I worry about the kind of LEGO builder I have become. The idea of taking a recently built set, and combining it with another set, featuring a similar colour palette caused me a little consternation. Both sets would now be potentially irreversibly combined. Or uncombined. I found myself lacking the necessary motivation to carefully seperate both sets at the end of the exercise. Perhaps this is a clear signal to continue the sorting exercise which I began last year, before getting a little… distracted. Again. Continue reading →
In recent years, the LEGO® City sets released in June have featured an adventuring/exploration theme. The folks from the City have been Exploring the Deep Sea (2015); Volcanos (2016) and the Jungle (2017). After a stand-alone Arctic theme in 2000, and a successful excursion from the City in 2014, we return, once again, to the polar regions.
I have found myself picking up a couple of sets in this theme, but would like to focus on one particular set: 60194 – the Polar Exploration Truck. As the other minifigures and vehicles might creep into photographs today, I’ll disclose the presence of the 60190 Arctic Ice Glider(RRP $AUD9.99) and 60191 Arctic Exploration Team (RRP $AUD15.99) floating around in the build space as I took some pictures.
There are a few things that I find myself immediately warming to with this year’s Arctic sets: Continue reading →
Forty years ago, we saw the change in LEGO® sets: the arrival of the minifigure. Now we had articulated figures to bring our models to life: no need to remove the torso for our figures to sit down. As part of #minfigure40 I received access to a large number of media assets: today, I would like to look at some of the features of the advertisements in the LEGO Town/City series, one of the few themes to have been continuously available in some form or another for forty years! The majority of these advertisements were placed in comics, or magazines featuring comic strip anthologies, and puzzles and kid’s news. They have been published in multiple markets – ands languages. I have attempted to translate them as well as an online translation engine will allow.
The art style is typically similar to that seen in contemporary catalogs: certainly I suspect the early advertisements were shot at a similar time to the catalogs for that year.
In 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…
Over recent weeks, the LEGO® Powered Up App has become available, initially with programs for running both the new Passenger train and Cargo Train Sets, and now also the Powered Up Batmobile.
As well as controlling the speed of movement, there are also a number of sound effects associated with the app. The sound effects are played through the phone/tablet speakers, rather than the powered up brick itself. While exploring the app at the breakfast table one morning, Mabel the Cavoodle hopped up to join us. She was more engaged with the sounds made by the Batmobile App than the City Passenger Train App. Except for the one that sounds a little like our front door bell. Her responses were captured for your enjoyment.
I have a more comprehensive review of the passenger train coming up in the near future. In the mean time, don’t forget about our Antman and the Wasp MOC Competition, open until the 15th of August. Until next time,