Whatever happened to the 2 x 4 Brick? Minecraft: The Ice Spikes 21131

The humble 2×4 brick.

If any element over the years has been used to represent the concept of the LEGO® system of play, this is it.IMG_5070

One of the original elements in the LEGO brick parts palette, it is the first piece that springs to mind when many of us think of LEGO® Bricks.  The favourite element of many large scale builders, if you have enough of them, you can build almost anything!  It is one of those pieces that brings memories flooding back to those of us raised on basic sets back in the early to mid 1970’s.  Before the advent of the minifigure, this brick was the cornerstone of LEGO construction, being a significant component of the Basic/ Universal Construction Sets that were commonly played with in this era. IMG_5066While allowing an incredibly versatile method of construction, there is no doubt that that they contributed significantly to the chunky aesthetic that is associated with LEGO® design and construction in my childhood. When your parents say “In my day, it was just bricks,” this is what they are talking about.  Continue reading

Series 17 Minifigures: Fireside Review

Pictures of the latest series (Number 17) of Collectable Minifigures have been circulating the interwebs like crazy in the run up to their official release this week.  My figures arrived on 2nd of May, and I have to admit, I think this is one of the most appealing series yet  There is something for pretty well everyone…

As autumn has taken control of the weather here (in the USA, you may call it fall although I appreciate it is currently spring in the northern hemisphere), temperatures have dropped and evenings may be spent sitting in front of the fireplace with a nice cup of tea/ glass of whine/ beverage of choice.  While I was sitting down in front of the fireplace, this evening, I opened today’s mail. The camera was in easy reach, and I could not justify moving far from my seat to photograph these figures.

IMG_4873.jpgIf you have seen them already, you know who we have. I’m not up to generating a bag feeling guide tonight, and I know there are a few already out there.

 If you have not yet seen reviews of this series, here is a quick summary: 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!

The Many Faces of LEGO Batman.

I only picked up 4 sets from the first wave of LEGO Batman Movie sets. Three of them contained Batman.  This was part of my plan. They all look much the same: the printing on each body is the same.

What I had not planned on was successfully selecting sets that each had a different Batman Head…. so I present the Many Faces of The LEGO Batman Movie BATMAN. Continue reading

Get a Grip: Enter the Goblins…Can They Hold Their Own?

After a year exploring the relationships between the Elves and Dragons, 2017 sees the arrival of Emily Jones’s cousin Sophie.  Sophie is captured by the Goblins, and for further details, I suspect we will need to watch the Netflix LEGO® Elves Series. I have found the design of the minidolls has grown on me, over the years, and I don’t mind having them around the house.img_9913

The first half year sets feature seven different goblins.  I picked up a copy of 41184 Aira’s Airship and the Amulet Chase.  This set features Dukelin: A fierce looking, one eyed, spring yellowish green character, with navy blue hair and a similar coloured onesie.  The rest of the set is brimming with possibilities, so while I wait for them to come to fruition, I thought I would bring a short examination of the Goblin figure.

Continue reading

Last Year’s Creator Sets Grow Up

We interrupt the run up to Brick Factor (Melbourne) and The LEGO Batman Movie to present an irrelevant, personal observation…

Two of my favourite, small Creator Sets from 2016, the Ocean Explorer (31045, 213 pieces, $AUD 24.99) and Super Soarer (31042, 100 pieces, $AUD 15.99) have grown up.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say they were revamped, bulked up and given a new lease of life as Technic Sets.

Read on for further details after the jump…
Continue reading

The LEGO Batman Movie Sets: Seeking Moderation in the Interests of Balancing the Household Budget.

Or how I decided to curb my spending, in the face of conflicting desires.

I love LEGO® Sets.

LBM-Wallpaper1440x2560-.jpgI love what I have seen in trailers for the LEGO® Batman™ Movie.
I love the look of the LEGO® Batman™ Movie Sets.

The first wave of sets have recently arrived on the shelves here, and I have found myself trying to work out how to balance my LEGO® Batman™ Movie needs (favorite characters and vehicles) against my other LEGO® desires (Elves with goblins; some classic sets and possibly even the Boost robotics system) and my basic human requirements: food,  coffee, deodorant, etc…

I have added up the retail prices of all the currently available LEGO® Batman™ Movie Sets (70900-70911) – excluding polybags, as they are rarely available here – and added in the not yet formally announced(70912-70917) with speculated Australian pricing.  This came to a total of approximately Continue reading