Thirty Years of LEGO® Helicopter Transporters [Review 6357 vs 60183]

IMG_1069Just as Minifigures (Happy fortieth birthday for last weekend folks) bring life to a LEGO® Town layout, so do vehicles.  Sorry for the use of a dodgy  segue there.  And the only thing better than a LEGO set with a vehicle to build, is a LEGO set with two vehicles to build!

This year, as I have previously discussed, we are seeing some interesting parallels between the LEGO city sets, and sets that are 20, 30 and 40 years old.  I have also seen a particularly strong set of coincidences between the Town range of 1988 and that of today, and I would like to explore this further today.

Today I would especially like to look at the helicopter transporter truck.  Just why a highly manoeuvrable flying vehicle needs a truck to take it from Point A to Point B, unless it has broken down, and managed to land in a somewhat controlled fashion without dismembering all on board,  in such a circumstance, I am not entirely sure. However, I am going to jump past that flaw in logic to examine this special class of set, which not only celebrates its thirtieth anniversary this year, but also has its tenth representation in a LEGO Set. Continue reading

Coincidence or Coverup? The Covert Celebrations in LEGO City, 2018 [ Land Jet 7580; Speed Record Car 60178]

In which I postulate a trend of rebooting Classic LEGO Town vehicle sets in a year otherwise chock full of LEGO Celebrations. A conspiracy? A cover up? An unexpected Easter Egg?  Step inside the Rambling Brick House of Advanced Aluminium Millinery and join us on a rollercoaster ride of unfounded supposition, speculation, and imaginary voices calling from inside the LEGO Room as we look at Jet Cars, past and present.

Coincidence or Coverup? The Covert Celebrations in LEGO City, 2018

IMG_9838As has been previously discussed, this is a year for celebrations at the LEGO Group. We have seen sixty years of the LEGO Brick, forty years of the minifigure (to be celebrated next month with series 18 Collectable Minifigures), and twenty years of Mindstorms. The fortieth anniversary of the Minifigure also commemorates the arrival of classic town, space and castle. Now space and castle don’t have individual representation at present, but LEGO Town has Grown over the last 40 years to LEGO City.

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Some of the new Great Vehicles in  the 2018 LEGO Catalogue.

There are themes in LEGO City that recur on a regular basis: Fire, Police, Coast guard. And there also less frequent themes: Volcano, Jungle and Arctic Explorers to name a few.  But fitting in between all of these are some Great Vehicles.  They fit in your city, but are possibly off theme for this year’s main City sets.  And they are sure to return every so often.

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Some of the classic LEGO gets celebrating their 20th, 30th and 40th anniversaries this year? Coincidence? I think not… [Catalog scans from brickset.com]

As I looked through this year’s catalog, I spied some familiar subjects, from catalogs in my youth, ‘classic’ sets on display at shows and a mysterious feeling of delay vu. This year, I believe we are seeing a number of vehicle sets revisited on their 40th, 30th and 20th anniversaries.  I accept these concepts all come and go in LEGO Sets on a regular basis, but with all of the aforementioned anniversaries I am suspicious that some  sets from the past have been revisited and given a contemporary spin on the occasion of their 40th, 30th and 20th anniversaries.

Here at the Rambling Brick, we would far rather believe in a conspiracy than a coincidence, and so I would like to believe that these might be a covert celebration of sets celebrating their decennial anniversaries this year. Over the next few months I am looking to explore some of these past sets which, while not necessarily classics, provide some insight into how things have changed over the last forty years. Continue reading

Getting started with Mining in the City [Mining Team – 60184]

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In which we consider recurring subjects in LEGO Town and City, consider the nature of the LEGO City Starter Sets and realise why they are no longer named as such, investigate a new cohort of mini figures, make a mountain explode and realise that Glow in the Dark Spiders are never going to surprise you by jumping our of the cupboard. Now read on…

It is a year of celebrations and anniversaries: 60 years of the brick, 40 years of the minifigure, 20 years of Mindstorm. Going back a little, we have just celebrated 10 years of modular buildings/ UCS Millennium Falcon and the Taj Mahal, with a tribute, reboot, or reissue for each.

But there are many sets in this year’s city range that call back to sets from the past, 20 and 30 years ago, and we shall look at some of those in greater detail over the next few months.

Today, I was looking at the Mining Team Set 60184, and saw a vehicle that took me back to the early days of LEGO Town:

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The front loader, 607 from 1979 was part of the second wave of LEGO Town sets to be released. A simple vehicle, for a simple time, and bears a remarkable resemblance to the dump truck seen into days set for review. Continue reading

Getting back on Track: Continuous Linked tracks in 2017 LEGO Sets.

Over the last few weeks, life has been getting a bit busy, and interfering with my ability to get to the keyboard! Not an excuse. Just an explanation. And not a very clear one either! Anyway: Perhaps it is time to get back on track…

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Continuous, self propelled tracks were first conceived in the 1770’s, but it was probably not until the early 20th century that they became a method of choice for moving heavy vehicles such as tanks, bulldozers and Antarctic exploration vehicles across soft, uneven ground. The term ‘Caterpillar tracks’ was trademarked in 1911 by Benjamin Holt.  Such tracks have featured in LEGO sets or either as continuous rubber bands, since 1969 and as interlocking linkages since 1974 (Element 273). Continue reading

Minifigure Gender distribution: 2017 update

A little over a year ago, I wrote up an analysis of gender distribution in LEGO® Minigures in the post friends era.  In the years since LEGO Friends had been released, there had been some positive trends towards an equal balance, after starting from a pretty low base line (around 11% in 2012) up to 30% in the Volcano Sub-theme of LEGO City in 2016.

As well as supporting the regular themes, 2017 has been a big year for LEGO tying in with cinematic releases, with both inhouse and external IP.  By the end of the year, we will have seen a new Star Wars movie, Wonder Woman and Justice League movies, The LEGO Batman Movie and LEGO Ninjago Movie released.

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The LEGO Ideas set: 21312 Women of NASA.  Real Life STEM role models in LEGO Form.  This set is due to be released this week from LEGO retail stores.

This post was provoked, in part after reading a comment about the relatively low female representation in the Collectable Minifigure sets recently released. I thought it would be interesting to revisit the question of gender distribution in some popular LEGO themes, and see if there were any significant shifts in trends over the last 12 months, when I last reviewed the numbers. The impending release of the Ideas set ‘Women of NASA’ is also of interest, as it certainly demonstrates a desire to see inspirational female role models immortalised in LEGO form.

I would like to look specifically at LEGO City, overall, as well as broken down into its major sub themes; The LEGO Batman Movie; The LEGO Ninjago Movie, and also LEGO Friends. I would also like to look at LEGO Star Wars sets released since the Force Awakens… Continue reading

Bring your Friends to the City for Pizza, and Vice Versa

Last time, we spoke about some of this year’s Pizza related sets. One of the things I found lacking in the Heartlake City Pizzeria was a Pizza maker, similar to the one to be found in 60150: Pizza Van. It left me wondering: can I just swap my figures over?

Crossing the Streams

At a public display earlier in the year, I had a chance to talk to lots of people.  One of the ongoing topics seemed to be along the nature of LEGO® City: A lovely little place to get robbed, burnt down, go power boating, volcano exploring or monster trucking, but not so great if you just wanted to go to the mall, bakery, supermarket, hospital, recreation centre or school.  By the end of the year, Heartlake City will have had all  of these things and more.

Now, many people were a little disheartened by the Friends’ mini-dolls when they were first released: issues with body shape, unrealistic proportions, legs unable to move independently and wrists unable to rotate.  However they have now spread across a wide variety of themes… not just ‘City’, they can also be found in Elves, DC Super Hero Girls, and Disney (princess?) sets. Mini-dolls can now be found spread across a broad range of thematic material.

So, do I need to work any magic to make this set (or any other Friend’s set) work at Minifigure scale? Can I just give the mini-dolls to the children next door, and put my Minifigure in? I took my figures and situations from the 41311 Heartlake Pizzeria, and the 60150 Pizza Van to find out.

New Dimensions

Now Minifigures and mini-dolls are proportioned a little differently to each other. But what are the real differences, and how does this work out in real life?

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Minidolls tend to be taller than Minifigures.
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Mini-doll legs are approximately ‘two plates’ taller than those of a Minifigure. Also, there is no room between the back of a mini-doll’s foot and the stud behind it, compared with a Minifigure, who can stand directly in from of a plate of brick.
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Despite being shorter overall, Minifigures have a proportionally taller torso than the mini-dolls.

 

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The wrists of a mini-doll are fixed: not all handlebars are for them!

 

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Don’t forget: Minifigures and mini-dolls have interchangeable hair and headgear, even if you cannot exchange their heads.
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Mini-doll necks are the size of a 3.18mm bar.  The heads are asymmetrical from front to back, and so they are extremely unlikely to have double sided printing.

So, lets look at these two sets, and think about the alterations that may need to be made to cross them both over.

Fitting your Minifigures in Heartlake City:

In areas where the figures are standing, there is little need to make adjustments to the original model to swap  mini-dolls for Minifigures.

Most of the pizzeria works quite well with Minifigures.  The kitchen benches are around the height you would normally use with Minifigures. Even the pizza oven is at the necessary height as is the dessert bar and the cash register.  IMG_0054In fact there are only one or two things that need to be adjusted to make it feel like a city scale set:

The seating: Often seating for Minifigures  has studs to fix the figure’s legs to.  Perhaps use plates rather than tiles on the stools, or use chairs, as are used in many LEGO City sets. However the tiles provided are satisfactory, even if your Minifigures slide on them a bit.

Most of the problems I encountered were in the various vehicles, where the legs are of significantly different length. In the delivery van accompanying the pizzeria, I replaced element 6093479 (Foot, Plate) with a steering wheel, and replaced the 1×2 tile with 2 green flower elements- providing studs (because they were spare) for the Minifigure’s legs to bind to.

Fitting Minidolls into City Sets:

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© The LEGO Group 2016

There is already a precedent for the mini-dolls working in a food cart: last year’s Amusement Park Hot Dog Van 41129. As you can see in this image from shop.lego.com, Stephanie’s hips are a plate or two higher than the counter. (i.e. counter top is 4 plates above the floor). It would seem to be the same height in the food truck, with the transparent screen rising above this height, but in the name of food safety, I think this is acceptable.

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Help the minidoll to fit into the food van AND have a means to steer it

So… the food service aspect of the truck is no problem here.   As you can see, Emma fits in here quite easily, to feed the masses at the back of the van. The main challenge seems to be to securely fit the mini-doll into the driver’s seat. By tiling the seat, and placing the ‘foot, plate’, the mini-doll can fit securely into the seat.  We then move the steering wheel forward in the cabin. This is not too tricky, but does require a little modification, and a couple of extra pieces.

The next challenge is the motor scooter: the handlebars included in this set are incompatible with mini-dolls.  Hands can only clip on if they run from side to side.  Mini-dolls’ hands run at approximately 90º to this.  Motor scooters in other LEGO® Friends sets use element 98397  for the handlebars, which are designed to fit the minidoll grips.  It is compatible with minifigures, but is not the ‘go to’ motorbike handlebar in LEGO® City.  It appears to be readily available in LEGO Friends and DC Super Hero Girls sets, as well as a few other themes- especially LEGO Ninjago.

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Don’t be afraid:

If the colour scheme does not cause you concern, you can safely integrate the architecture from Heartlake City directly into your regular, Minifigure populated town layout, with minimal alterations. Every one will fit, and you will add a higher level of functionality to your town.

Likewise, it’s not too hard to move City sets into Heartlake City.  The colors may be a little more subdued, but it will allow our LEGO® Friends to get some proper danger and excitement into their life. And you can exchange hair pieces/hats.  But your city may descend into anarchy if you have no police force to maintain civil calm. (At least there are the DC Super Hero Girls?)

Myself, I am quite happy to merely ensure the figures can safely sit in the driver’s seat without excessive peril.  But, if you are bothered by the lack of interesting businesses in your LEGO city, but feel that investing in the complete back catalog of Modular Buildings is a little extreme, why don’t you take a look at the Friends sets.  Remove the mini-dolls, and replace them with random minifigures… you may be pleasantly surprised by the results.

Have you tried moving Friend’s Buildings into your regular city?  Have you taken them the other way, with a layout occupied by minidolls? Or are you happy to have them all live together in one big town? Why not leave a comment below.

Play Well!

2017: Year of the Pizza

Pizza.

IMG_0138It’s changed a lot over the last 70 years since it was first introduced to Melbourne. In Australia  it was a  generated by post war migration from
Italy, however pizza has evolved in different ways in different markets. Not necessarily to the taste of everyone. Perhaps the only thing an Australian pizza has in common with an American pizza or indeed and Italian pizza is the presence of a bread like pastry, baked with stuff on it. Some of this stuff is probably cheese. And possibly tomato. But not always.

When I was at school, pizza delivery did not exist. If you needed a pizza, you would find it at your local Italian bistro on a Friday or Saturday evening with your family. It was a food to share, and it brought us all closer together. Continue reading

Coming in 2017: The Future…

Over the last couple of weeks, official photos of many of 2017’s sets have come to light: Creator,  Lego® Technic (celebrating 40 Years), Elves, DC Superhero Girls, City, Disney, Marvel Super Heroes, Nexo Knights, Architecture, Star Wars, and LEGO Batman movie.  I have lost count of the number of reveals that have occurred.

If you don’t like spoilers, look away now.

There has been a steady reduction in the number of unknown unknowns, with an increase in the known knowns, and clarification as to the nature of the known unknowns.

Some of the my highlights in the reveals seen to date:

LEGO® City has 40% female minifigures in the sets revealed so far. [Great for girls and their families who are not fans of minidolls]

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The LEGO® Creator Expert 10255 Modular Assembly Square has so many great new pieces.

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LEGO® Friends is no longer restricted to the bright pastel palette, and some more traditional colours are coming into play in 41311 Heartlake Pizzeria.  There are 3 male minidolls, and 6 puppies to add to the collection in the sets revealed so far for 2017.friends

LEGO® DC Super Hero Girls will add a some additional heroism, and villianism(?) to our minidoll collections.

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This year’s Creator Ocean Explorer 31045 has grown up into next year’s Technic Ocean Explorer 42064

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The Creator Mighty Dinosaurs 31058 looks like a terrific landscape parts pack:

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Elves continues with Goblins, and Emily’s little sister Sophie. More great fantasy landscapes and transportation

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LEGO® Ninjago sets seem to be a little darker this year… mainly in palette

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The LEGO® BATMAN Movie will bankrupt many of us with great looking sets and TWENTY, yes I said 20 Collectable Minifigures to collect…

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These are the things that have made ME look up and take notice. Many new sets have been previewed on other LEGO® News Websites lately. What has grabbed your attention?

And what other treats may there be to celebrate to 10th anniversary of ‘the really cool sets catering for AFOLs’ such as the first modular building sets, 10181 Eiffel Tower, 10182 Hobby Trains and of course 10179 Ultimate Collectors Millennium Falcon. I’m sure there is much left for us to see.

What are you looking forward to?

 

Play well

 

 

Play on: LEGO City My City 2

As I browsed through my mobile platform’s App Store recently I came across a LEGO game that was new to me, the somewhat awkwardly titled LEGO City My City 2.  Having missed both the placement of a colon and LEGO City My City 1, I had no idea of what to expect.

Perhaps more correctly LEGO City: My City 2, this is an app bundling various LEGO City  games for your favorite mobile platform.   Unless your favorite platform is Microsoft Mobile… If you prefer to play on desktop, you can find them here.  Th play experience is superior on the mobile platform, as the games are already loaded and ready to go!

Construction missions and Games are based around this year’s LEGO City Subthemes: Police, Prison Island, Fire, Airport and Volcano Explorers.  First you select a mission to complete – a number of bricks are required to be collected to complete these missions – building a new fire training facility, rebuilding an airport and so forth.  There are then a variety of mini games to play in order to gain studs.  Studs are gained by passing over them in the game field, completing the mission in the allocated time, and also a time  bonus.  Studs are converted to bricks at the end of a game.   The current exchange rate seems to be 10 studs to the brick.
img_2371 Continue reading

10255: 10 years of Modular Building

In 2007, a new breed of LEGO set was released: the modular building.  The first offering, the Cafe Corner (10182) was revolutionary: the subject matter of Lego City, perhaps set in an older, simpler time, but with a scale that was appealing to AFOLS.  The design standard – specifying the placement of the technic bricks to bind adjacent models together, as well as defining the size of the footpath and alleyway at the back of the building – has inspired the theme as well as countless MOCs and LEGO cityscapes around the world.

That Very First Modular- the Cafe Corner had very little in the way of internal detail, but set a standard this has changed as the series has developed with detailed interiors for shops, homes and other miscellaneous  businesses one of the highlights of the series. In those early days, the LEGO Factory site referenced design ideas for interior design .

For me, seeing these sets at a public show is what dragged me out of my Dark Ages. I remember constructing the Green Grocer, a year or two later, and discovering new (to me) parts usage as well as special secrets that only the set’s builders would know about such as….(but that would be telling!)

As a now annual New Year’s treat, there has been a steady roll of buildings to add to the collection: Market street (10190), Green Grocer (10185), the Fire Brigade (10197), the Grand Emporium (10211), the Pet Shop (10218), the Town Hall (10224), Palace Cinema (10232), the Parisian restaurant (10243), the  Detective’s Office (10264) and the Brick Bank (10251).  The majority of these sets have been designed by Jamie Berard, who has taken on the task of assembling an homage to the entire range in this year’s 10th Anniversary Spectacular: Assembly Square (10255).

LEGO Designer Jamie Berard, pictured with all of the Modular buildings, including the newly announced 10255: Assembly Square.
Set up as three floors of shops/professional consulting suites, the businesses include: a bakery, florist and café; music store, photo studio and dental surgery and an upper level dance studio and an apartment featuring a rooftop terrace. Even at first glance, you can see some design cues taken from the older modular sets:

There are eight adult Minifigures and a baby included in this set. Like all Minifigures in the modular line, these feature the classic ‘smiley’ face. All of the mini figures have great characterisation, and there are lots of new elements to be found.  One of my favourite figures would have to be the musician, with his receding ‘Peter Venckman’ hair line.

There are also some terrific new elements to be seen in the designer video including :a

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Another exciting variation on the 1×1 brick: 2 studs on adjacent sides.
Minifigure scale printed Cafe Corner box; 1×1 quarter circle tiles (black, tan and waffle);  2×2 and 4×4 quarter circle radii tiles in light bley; a mirror (4 x 6); 2 x 2 corner tiles, with the corner cut off in white, dark blue, light and dark bley; a 4×8 , diagonal door frame in black; and an exciting element with huge potential in MOCS, and in generating confusion when placing brick link orders: a 1×1 brick with 2 studs on adjacent sides.

Recolours include a 1×1 tile in nougat; a silver 2×2 radar dish; a curved window arch with spokes in black; and a new window for the dentist’s office: “Prevent yellowing.”  Sound advice for those of you without ageing, sun damaged LEGO Bricks.

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As you can see, this babysitter is a serious LEGO Fan: she has got a boxed copy of 10182: Cafe Corner to put together. It must be super micro scale!
It is shaping up to be a huge set, measuring 35cm (13″, approximately 40 bricks) tall, 38cm (14″, 48 studs) wide and 25 cm (9″, 32 studs) deep.  The additional 16 studs of width is reflected in its piece count, and the price tag. There are 4002 pieces: that’s 1200 more pieces than the largest previous modular (The Town hall xat 2766 pieces). Priced at $US279.99/ UK£169.99 this is a significantly greater investment than previous modulars (for example: Brick bank (10251) is priced at $US169/UK£119), but you also get so much more.   It will be available at shop.lego.com on January 1 2017, and is recommended for ages 16 and up.  Unfortunately, there will not be an opportunity for LEGO VIP members to order early.

 

Read on to see the details from the Official LEGO Press Release, see some more images and read about some of the easter eggs that designer Jamie Berard has tucked away in this set for us to enjoy: Continue reading