The Rambling Brick’s Advent-ure Day #5

Today we continue our our exploration of LEGO® Christmas Celebrations, as a tribute to the 20th anniversary of LEGO Advent Calendars, and will follow it up with a quick visit to today’s entry for the LEGO Friends calendar.

Today’s entry comes from extremely recent history: today in fact! I visited the shop attached to the local LEGOLAND Discovery Centre (Chadstone Shopping Centre in Melbourne), and found this great little collection of minifigures hanging on the shelf, with an asking price of $19.99AUD.

We have Santa, Mrs Claus and a red hatted elf. I could not help but think that they remind me of the figures from the Creator Expert Winter Village set “Santa’s Workshop”10245 from 2014.  There are, however, some subtle differences.  Are they enough to justify the purchase? 

As you can see, the packet is quite generic.  What you see above is what you get: there is no back printing.  Which is a shame, as the City Santa from the 2017 and 2018 Advent Calendars has a dual printed torso, with a candy cane tucked in under the belt.

Here are the original inhabitants of Santa’s Workshop.

Let’s compare our new figures: with those from Santa’s Workshop.

Let’s start with Mrs Claus.  The older version has a red dress, while the newer version has a dark green dress.  The details on the skirt elements are the same, although the colouring is slightly different on the new torso.  Our new Mrs Claus has grey hair, rather than white, with a bun.  She is also carrying a pie element, introduced with one of the collectable minifigure clowns, rather than the red sack element.

On the left is the old Santa, on the right the new one. Superfically, they look pretty similar.  The torso’s are identical to the one from the 2016 City Advent calendar. Remove the hat and beard however, and we see that the heads are subtly different.  Our new version features greying eye brows and reading glasses.  How else can he check his list of who has been naughty or nice? This appears to be a new combination, with this head only otherwise appearing in the Fun at the Beach people pack 60153, the 2017 City Advent Calendar, and attached to some European books.

On the right we have our new elf: he wears the same tunic as the Collectable minifigure Holiday Elf, from Series 11, but has red legs and a red hat.  I believe this is the first time this ear/hat element has been seen in red.

They all feel, in part like they have come to perform holiday relief work, to allow Santa, Mrs Claus and the Elves a chance to have a well earned break.  I hope they wait until after Christmas to take it!

These are a great selection of holiday themed minifigures, and the new elements are an unexpected bonus. What do you think? Perhaps you will be able to pick them up at your local LEGO Brand retail store, or a LEGOLAND park/discovery centre somewhere around the world.  If you do, I’d love to see how you use them…

Catching up with our Friends:

Let’s open up door number 5 after the break, and see where it takes us…

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10264 Corner Garage Modular Revealed

The Modular buildings have been a highlight of the release calendar for many AFOLs.  After years feeling as though they were set in a golden age, with an architectural style from the 1920, and happy smiley faces everywhere. In 2017, we celebrated a decade of what would now be called the Creator Advanced Modular buildings with the release of assembly square, with nods to the entire previous series in that set.  And then everything changed.

The 2018 modular building, Downtown Diner had a sleek new look: taking its architectural cues from the 1950s (60th anniversary LEGO Brick Patent celebration any one?), and replacing the traditional minifigure smiley face with more contemporary designs. And the return of Teal. Lots of Teal! Since then, there has been some speculation about the future directions of the modular line: Would the architectural style return to the older style we had become used to? Will it be a street corner or straight street? Would the smiley’s return? and even “Will there even be another modular building?”

Today, the LEGO Group has revealed the 2019 release: the corner garage.  Continuing on in the 1950s style we see the action spread out over three levels: A corner garage on the ground floor, a veterinarian’s office on the next level, and then an apartment on the upper level.

The set comes with a great range of minifigures, and while many of the torsos have been seen before, some are certainly new. Looking at our cast of characters, I believe the vet and the Motor Scooter rider have new torsos.  The face with sunglasses appears similar to one seen before, although there appears to be a deliberate skin blemish on this one ( technically making it new.). I see Jo the mechanic has a cap with some of her hair showing underneath.

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Creator Expert Vestas Wind Turbine Re-released and Sustainability Update [Announcement/Preview]

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In which we get a glimpse of another set re-released after 10 years and have a quick review of some of the recent steps the LEGO Group are taking towards a sustainable future.4999-1

Ten years ago, LEGO® set 4999 was released. A limited release set produced for Vestas®, a company which produces a significant number of wind turbines around the world,  this set was never made available to the general public.  Measuring over two feet high, it does have significant gravitas as a display piece.

Today, at the New York Climate Week,  the LEGO Group has announced the re-release of this set, as 10268 Vestas Wind Turbine. This time, the set will be available to the general public, from Black Friday (November 23). With 826 elements, the count is a little higher than the 803 listed for the older set in the database maintained by Brickset. In Australia, it will cost $AUD329. A full international price list is listed at the bottom of this post.

The Vestas Wind Turbine also includes a Power Functions Battery box, M motor, with a long extension cable, to get the turbine spinning, as well as lights.

Consisting of the wind turbine sitting on a small hill, with a house, service van and three minifigures, this set maintains many of the characteristics of the original.  Most of the elements in that set were readily available, except for one.  A green ‘Large ugly rock piece.’ While these could easily be substituted for one in grey, the green one has gone back into production for this set. The trees in this set are some of the first ‘Plants from Plants’ available for purchase in LEGO sets.  Earlier in the year, a promotional set was available, as a gift with purchase, in some markets.

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Winter Village Fire Station 10263 [Announcement]

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LEGO have just released the details of the 2018 Creator Expert Winter Village Set.  Steering clear of another reissue of a previous set, this year we see the release of the 10263 Winter Village Fire Station. With 1166 elements, this set will be released globally on October 1st 2018, with VIP availability at LEGO Brand Retail and shop.LEGO.com from September 13th. It will cost $149.99AUD, $100USD, £84.99 GBP and €89.99 in Germany.

As with previous Winter Village sets, this one appears to be set somewhere peaceful, in the mid 20th century, possibly in the middle of a Rankin-Bass animated Christmas Special. We have seen a number of common elements of these sets over the last 9 years:

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Giving the Roller Coaster a Boost

Not satisfied with merely motorising my Roller Coaster 10261, I incorporate the Boost Robotics System, and then add some additional functionality. It’s all fun and games until the batteries stop running at full power…

IMG_0255There is no doubt that the new Roller Coaster 10261 is a magnificent model, worthy of a set piece in any LEGO Layout.  But driving it manually is a little tedious,to say nothing of the roughness of the ride. How can we make it so that we may have the coaster running, and share a drink with friends at the same time, while they marvel at this wonderful set?

Simple motoring using an ‘M’ motor.

Adding a Power Functions medium motor is simple: so simple in fact that you can work out how to do it in the pre release video: plug a motor over the drive shaft, and let it go.

And it goes on… and on… and on until you turn it off.  There is no break in the activity, the constant rumble of the motor.  Don’t get me wrong, this is pretty awesome, and with two trains of coaster carriages running, it can be pretty hypnotic. There is no reason that this should be any harder with the equivalent Powered Up/ PF2.0 motor, when we see it released in the future.

But I wonder if more can be done.

A Little Boost
In fact, adding simple automation to the set using the Boost Move hub, sensor and servo motor is pretty simple, and is described on the final page of the instructions. This is what it looks and sounds like.

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So You Want to Build a Roller Coaster? Roller Coaster 10261 (Review)

In which I assemble the new 10261 LEGO Roller Coaster, build a couple of white pillars, troubleshoot a skipping chain and consider what I’ve learned. It’s a big set. I wrote a lot.  Why don’t you prepare yourself a drink, sit back and work out whether this is a set that you would like to put together.

IMG_0307-2The appeal of a roller coaster is hard to deny: action, excitement, lights noise, adrenaline, nausea, terror and relief, in various orders. When we first saw the new LEGO® Roller Coaster Track appearing in the Joker Mansion last year, it wasn’t long before people began to speculate about how long it might be before we saw one appear in the Creator Expert Theme Park series.  About eight months it turns out. I’m glad we got that cleared up. When the Roller Coaster (10261) was announced early in May, many people, myself included, were impressed by the build: a moving model almost always has more appeal than a static display. But it raised a number of questions: How easy would it be to power? How stable would it be? How easy might it be to draw inspiration for other Roller Coaster themed MOCs? And just how challenging would it be to build all those white pillars?

Some of of these questions were easily answered. Others might take a little more thought.  [Do you just want to skip forward to my a video of the run? Click here, or scroll through to the end]

I was invited to review the Roller Coaster by the AFOL Engagement team at The LEGO Group, and I hope I might be able to answer a few of the questions posed. Read on and see where this review takes us.

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