Voltron 21311: An Idea Whose Time Has Now Come [Review]

From days of long ago, from uncharted regions of the Universe comes a Legend: The Legend of Voltron, Defender of the Universe! A mighty robot, loved by Good, feared by Evil. As Voltron’s legend grew, peace settled across the galaxy…. 

During this review, we will build the lions, form Voltron, consider the lessons learned and finally , compare it with a prebuilt Voltron toy… 

IMG_2751I was excited to be offered the opportunity to review LEGO Ideas 21311 – Voltron .  As I previously confessed, Voltron was not a major part of my upbringing. However, I have been catching up in recent days with the 1980’s cartoon series ( which in turn was based on the Japanese Anime ‘Beast King GoLion’). Others may prefer to take in the current Dream Works Series, Voltron: Legendary Defender, for a more contemporary tale, with a reduced serving of cheese.

After a quick revision of a parallel childhood, I felt qualified to look at the box.

It is a good sized box: similar in size to that which contained the Saturn V Ideas set, released just over twelve months ago. This box, however, contains 2321 elements, waiting to give a hefty dose of nostalgia to any child of the 80’s. In fact, you don’t have to wait to open the box for that feeling: the box art cries out 1984, with the background artwork shading from red to purple to the blue of a startled, with an underlying grid drawn in for good measure. Voltron, the giant, compound super robot almost fills the cover.  In fact, it is printed slightly smaller than actual size. The back of the box shows how Voltron is made up of the individual Lion elements, as well as highlight the sword and shield. The process of the LEGO Ideas program is also outlined.IMG_2757.jpg

On opening this set, I had a pleasant surprise. Many sets that I have opened this year seemed to have had their ‘contents settle during transport,’ with many boxes being barely half full of LEGO Bricks. This box appeared to be almost 80% full.  Excitedly, I emptied the box over the floor revealing the bags inside: all 16 of them!  These came with six manuals: One detailing the construction of each lion, and the final one showing how to build the shield and sword,  transform the five robot lions into Voltron, and provides some background information on the television series as well as some notes from the design team and the fan designer. The manuals came in a sealed plastic bag with a sticker sheet.  This sheet however, only had five stickers, for numbering the lions (as occurred occasionally in Voltron: Defender of the Universe, but not the original Japanese series). For the purposes of the review, I did not apply them. You could argue in favour of using printed elements here, but I suspect many will prefer the look without stickers.

IMG_2758
Nicely packed: the 6 manuals for Voltron, as well as the relatively minimalist sticker sheet.

In the cartoon, each of the lions is piloted by a human, and it is a little disappointing not seeing the pilots represented here. However given a variable crew roster, and uniforms not matching up to the colours of the lions, not to mention the relative scale of the lions to a human, a minifigure representation might not be entirely appropriate.  Indeed, there is not even space inside the heads of the lions to contain a microfigure. I’m sure someone out there will develop a creative solution.

Construction:

Continue reading

Mech-Ception: What I learned about Mech Construction from 72004: Tech Wizard Showdown.

After feeling disappointed at my own ability to build a good looking mech for a LEGO Rebrick contest, I set out to examine 72004: Tech Wizard Showdown in search of ways in which I could improve my design. Along the way we discover the mech suit in a mech suit: Mech-ception!IMG_2744

IMG_2682In the closing hours of the LEGO Rebrick NEXO Knights Mech Building Challenge, I thought I would give it a go.  After all, how hard could it be? I’d recently returned from Japan BrickFest, where I had the chance to study Mechs and Giant Robots aplenty. I’d even attended a mech building workshop where some key concepts were presented and discussed. It seemed that everyone could do it. In retrospect,  this was an over simplification of the facts on my part.

IMG_2680
In retrospect, there are so many issues with this Mech.  In fact, I filled a paragraph with them.

I built a mech as a MOC. The final result was a bit meh. The Black and green colour scheme seems to work, BUT, I can identify a number of faults: the legs are disproportionately long, and it is quite wobbly; the shoulders look a bit weird.  The feet look like they belong belong on an AT-AT, there are way too many studs on display.  It looks like something thrown together by someone short of parts, trying to get a mech built in six hours.  Which coincidently it was.  However, it got me thinking about what would help to make it look like a reasonable Mech Model.

So I thought I would have a look at the final Mech in the NEXO Knights line: 72004 Tech Wizard Showdown. I wish I had looked at it a few weeks ago. As I built it, I learned a few important lessons in mech construction. Continue reading

Losing Our Sense of Proportion… 6590 Vacation Camper vs 60182 Pickup and Caravan [Reviews, comparison and speculation]/Covert Celebrations IV

Dreaming of a summer caravanning holiday, our comparison of LEGO TOWN and LEGO City continues. Has there been an ongoing covert celebration, with Town sets from twenty, thirty and forty years ago being reimagined in 2018?   Comparing 1988’s Car and Caravan with 2018’s Pickup and Caravan, we also ask “Why, after 30 years, does a family vehicle towing a caravan still seat only one minifigure?” We also discover where LEGO Children come from…and wonder where other characters have gone…

IMG_2675

This year, we have considered parallels between LEGO City 2018 and LEGO Town 1988, along with other sets from 20 and 40 years ago.

We have asked the question “Is this a covert celebration of the 40th anniversary of the minifigure, and LEGO town?” An official answer has not been forthcoming. But this won’t stop me from ongoing speculation, with no grounding in reality.

Today I would like to look at another set with a parallel set from thirty years ago: Pickup and Caravan 60182  – from the 2018 LEGO City Great Vehicles sub theme; and Vacation Camper 9590 from LEGO Town in 1988.  So what do these sets have in common? Two adults, a caravan and a vehicle to tow it behind. The vehicle in question has only one seat, in both instances. The differences are far greater…

Let’s take a closer look at both sets: Continue reading

Japan BrickFest 2018 – Event Report

IMG_1569
I have recently returned from Japan BrickFest 2018. The fourth Kobe Fan Weekend took place on Rokko Island, in the port city of Kobe, near Osaka and Kyoto (Just as Geelong is near Melbourne, but with more frequent trains).  Organised by Edwin Knight, and members of the Kansai LEGO Users Group (KLUG), this event is a LEGO® hub event for Asia.  Exhibitor’s attended from all over the world – predominantly countries around Asia, but the USA and Australia were also represented.

I arrived on Friday afternoon and set up in one of the two gymnasiums used for the display, accompanied by the majority of builders visiting from overseas. We shared the space with the Great Ball Contraption,  a brick built monorail and a train layout.  LEGOLAND Japan had a display, and there was also an area to get your hands on some bricks and just build! The other gymnasium had many exhibitors from around Japan, and a theatre had larger scale models from members of the Kansai LEGO Users Group.

IMG_1498-2.jpg
My MOC: NEXO Classic Space

I had taken my NEXO Classic Spaceships. [imagine the 1978-79 Classic Space Sets built with NEXO Knights elements and colours] This was the third time I had displayed them this year, but the first time they had travelled more than 1000 km from home. ….I set about the task of discovering how my models had survived at the hands of international baggage handlers, as well as myself bouncing between multiple railway stations.

I set up my terrain and installed the lighting.  Everyone I met was extremely friendly, offering words of encouragement as my various models were unwrapped in more pieces than I remembered them being in when I wrapped them up.

In the name of ergonomics, I would get up and walk around for a few minutes between rebuilds. In real life I would steal the chance to look around some of the other exhibits in the hall:  Mechs were gathering next to me, tanks behind me and next to me, beside me, were some amazing bricks that opened and unfolded, and played air guitar. In between were an amazing array of characters.

Character builds dominated the exhibition halls: some were BrickHeadz, many were not. Unfortunately, I had no idea who many of them were.  Some were from manga and anime, others from history and video games. Some I suspect were from real life.  There was a remarkable level of attention to detail for relatively small models, and I think there are a number of factors which contribute to this. Continue reading

Going to Great Heights to Build: Cute Pug 30542

In which I find a local source of LEGO poly bag sets, select one and construct it mid flight, before returning my tray table to the upright position.

I’m on a journey. I am currently travelling to Japan to attend Kobe BrickFest.

I left home early this morning and have a couple of connecting flights, with the main leg between Brisbane and Tokyo taking around eight hours. And around that there are a couple of connecting flights.

One of the neat things about travelling to Japan compared to Europe is that the time difference is only one hour in the past. However, as such I should probably aim to keep my body clock on track. So inbetween the LEGO Ninjago Movie and other inflight entertainment, I thought I’d put together a little LEGO set. Continue reading

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.

IMG_0053 Continue reading

Nexo Knights Villains: saving the best ‘til last [Twinfector 72002 Review]

IMG_0370

This is the third and final year of NEXO Knights. While the line has been a bit hit and miss over the last few years, especially AFOLS looking for a clear cut castle or space range, I for one will miss is once they are gone. I have gathered a good number of the Knight’s sets over the last few years- while the actual builds have been interesting, I have ultimately dismantled them all and used the parts to rebuild Classic Space sets. Add air tanks and they look like fantastic space men and women, ready to explore the galaxy.
IMG_9741IMG_9865-2

But, just as the Classic space sets were without any form of antagonist, until the arrival of Blackthorn, I have found none of the  antagonist characters fitting into my vision of a NEXO- Classic Space Utopia. The bad guys just haven’t captured my imagination: demonic lava beasts and rock monsters are great in the fantasy landscape afforded by the castle line, but as villains in a science fiction/space theme, they are haven’t appealed to me. As such, I was excited when it became obvious that the villains in this final season were far more sci-fi inspired than any of the others seen to date.

While the new series is yet to air, the ‘Tech Infection’ theme, has the villains looking suitably more futuristic than fantastical. We see a collection of white skinned villains, with varying levels of cybernetic components, and lime green printed circuit motif’s on their faces to imply a level of ‘infection’.  Their Black green and silver uniforms, with a red eye makes them an instant army, with sufficient variation to make them interesting. But more on that later.

Continue reading