Bringing Down Brother Eye with Batman and Batwoman [Review 76111]

In which I am astounded to find a LEGO Batman set to related to a relatively recent storyline from the comics.  In putting the set together, I reach new highs, new lows and breathe a sigh of relief as I get my hands on a colour I hadn’t seen for a while…

Batman, Batwoman and OMAC. (Oh My!)

IMG_2768The 76111 Brother Eye Takedown set is part of the DC Superheroes line, and was released in the second half of 2018.  I was intrigued by the existence of this set: while an ongoing part of the DC (comics) Universe continuity, Brother Eye and OMAC are not necessarily widely recognised by the non comics reading public. In it’s current guise, Brother Eye comes across as a DC satellite equivalent of Marvel’s Ultron: an artificial intelligence with the ability to take down Earth’s Greatest Heroes.  I was even more intrigued by it’s presence here as I was reading the ‘Lonely Place of Living’ as well as the ‘Batmen: Eternal’ storylines in Detective Comics when I saw the set announced.  Brother Eye, the OMACs and Batwoman play an important part of these storylines. Beyond this I shall not elaborate, as I don’t want to hit you with too many spoilers, and I don’t want to give away the fact that I have misplaced a couple of issues, making a complete rereading of the storyline impossible for me at present.

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LEGOLAND Japan Mystery Box

In which I throw caution to the wind and make a completely unknown purchase at LEGOLAND Japan.  What I found was ultimately intriguing…

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It was 1:30 in the afternoon, and I was running out of time.

I was standing in the shop at LEGOLAND Japan, at the tail end of my whirlwind visit to Japan.  After several days in Osaka, and another few at Japan BrickFest, I had made my way to LEGOLand Japan.  I had to catch a train at 2pm, in order to make my back to Kansai Airport for an early evening flight.  I picked up a cap, a multicoloured elephant bag charm  and a LEGO City Airport enamel badge – all exclusive to LEGOLAND Japan.  Most of the actual building sets I could find elsewhere. And then I saw it.

IMG_2673A transparent plastic box, with LEGOLAND Japan’s logo on the side.  In this box was a cardboard dragon, emblazoned with Knight’s Kingdom, Dragon’s Apprentice.  This is one of the roller coasters at LEGOLAND parks, which I had not had a chance to ride on due to time constraints.  I picked it up and was intrigued.  It rattled as if it contained several poly bags.  Any indication as to what was inside was written in Japanese on the bottom.  I could not read the shelf label, and the battery in my phone was failing – so I was reluctant to use an online translation service. I picked it up, took it to the register and purchased it.  After getting it home, it sat on a bench for a few months.

Today, I picked it up and looked at the base.  There was a label I could not read, due to my near absent knowledge of Japanese script. That is not entirely true: there was a date that read 2018-07-18.  What could that be? This was after I returned home.  Perhaps it is a use by or ‘Best before’ date.  I was intrigued.  I agonised over the possibilities that might be spoiled by opening the ‘Thing mint in box,’ versus my curiosity, and spoiling the mystery by running the label through a translation program first.IMG_2661

I opened it.

IMG_2672I popped open the seal on the plastic box, and the dragon car shaped box glided out, like the way a roller coaster car glides towards the pickup chain. After a cursory inspection, I opened the mouth.  Inside was a white confectionary, in its own transparent packet, about 2.5 cm in diameter, printed with the Knights Kingdom logo on the side. I prodded it: it was soft.  Not mint in box, so much as marshmallow.

Now the conundrum: until now, everything was still intact apart from the seal on the outer box.  But the ‘best before’ date had passed: should I return it, or throw caution to the wind and test it out?

IMG_2668I tore open the packet, and bit into it.  The coating was slightly powdery. As I bit into the marshmallow, it became apparent that there was a chocolate filled centre, adding a interesting texture and flavour to the experience.

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Mystery solved. Delicious.  Was it worth the 1200 yen? For the joy it brought me in speculating over its contents, as well as the inner taste sensation, I would say yes.

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Have you ever made a mystery purchase, and been completely surprised by what you got in the package? Why not comment below.  As for the Marshmallows? Perhaps I’ll have another.  Until next time,

Play Well!

Time to get moving: first steps into the Powered Up system [Review: Passenger Train 60197]

img_2285In 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…

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Harry Potter and the Order of the Figures

 

Harry Potter Minifigures are out in the wild. Once again, new legs are released in the Harry Potter theme.  Here are some scattered thoughts and pictures. 

When I first heard about the Harry Potter Collectable Minifigures, I was not feeling too excited. We had already been delivered the second series of The LEGO Batman Movie collectable minifigures, as well as the brilliant series 18 – celebrating the 40th anniversary of the arrival of the LEGO Minigfigure. I really loved that set, but my taste for it was somewhat soured by the presence of the chase figure: the Policeman.  While I loved the idea of this reimagining of the 1978 classic ( I mean, there were no stickers!), the presence of only one figure in a box pushed up the price on the secondary market. The fact that the ‘chase’ figure could be found in the same place in every box meant they were rapidly identifiable by enthusiastic collectors, and people looking to flip them on the secondary market.

Now the inclusion of chase figures in collectable minifigures is not new – There was Mister Gold, back in series 10: but that was SO rare that most people considered it a special surprise, rather than an integral part of the set.  Having a rare figure in every box makes it feel like a necessary part of the set. Especially when the package insert lists it as an integral part of the set. So I let the Policeman pass.  I purchased an ‘incomplete set’, and occasionally had a look at the well rummaged boxes that I came across on random. Around two months after its release, a friend gave me a call as asked if I was still interested? He had come across a couple of extra policemen in his travels, and we organised a simple trade.

IMG_9980And now we have the 71022 Harry Potter Collectable Minifigures Series.  With twenty two figures, it is the largest collection of minifigures to date. Early rumours suggested that there would be twenty four characters, and this is indeed the case, as we discover that two figures in fact have dual identities.  We have sixteen figures related to the Harry Potter Series, some represented for the first time; and six from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them.

IMG_9986There are also a number of special features introduced in this series:

Forty years of minifigures continues: Changes a foot.

As we have already considered this year,  we are now celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the arrival of LEGO Minifigures. In this series, we see the continuing development of minifigures with the arrival of a brand new minifigure element: the mid-height legs. One plate shorter than the standard minifigure legs, these are perfect for ‘not quite adult teens’, they are seen with seven of the twenty two figures present.  Initially I was concerned that these elements were isolated to a licensed, collectable minifigure series. However, this is not the first time that Harry Potter has been used to introduce new minifigure leg elements…The mini leg (design ID 41879), frequently used for children, Ewoks, Yoda and dwarves, was first introduced in 2002, as part of Gringotts Bank 4714, and Dobby’s release 4731, in tan, black and brown. These legs also featured in Star Wars, and train sets in the first year. Now, they are everywhere.

It is a shame that four of the seven figures that use the mid length legs have the markings associated with the gowns and uniform of Gryffindor students, and have limited reuse potential.  Fortunately, three figures have plain leg markings: Cho Chan and Neville Longbottom both have black legs, while Luna Lovegood has blue legs.

Here are the legs of all sizes in action:

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The other change that we have seen this year in in the use of the a new 2x2x1 2/3  curved slope (Miniskirt No.6 39139) : In this series of minifigures, we have three different colours and prints of the new part. It has also recently arrived in the Star Wars theme, worn by the Pretorian guards in 75216  Snoke’s Throne Room (Another August 2018 release). This element now means that figures wearing gowns or dresses are the same height as regular minifigures. Of interest, it is slightly tapered across the studs, and is slightly narrower than the bottom of the minifigure torso.  This has been the case with legs for years, but a point of difference with skirt wearing minifigures”

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Otherwise, what does the series have to offer?

22 minifigures, 24 characters, 27 faces,7 sets of the new ‘teen legs’, wands in 6 colours, 5 items of food, 2 suitcases ,5 animal familiars and a mandragora plant, dark green broom and a Golden Snitch!

So Much Pottery Goodness! Let’s cut to the chase and look at the Figures. Continue reading

Rage of Atlantis: Buy for the Minifig, Stay for the Movie.

In which I pick up a LEGO® DC Superheroes DVD for the purpose of just getting the attached minifigure.  Then I got caught up trying to workout how I could reproduce the Justice League figures as they are depicted in the film.  Do I escape from that rabbit hole before it is too late? Read on!

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It’s the start of August, and there has been a wide range of new LEGO® Sets just released: Depending on where in the world you are, there are new City, Friends, DC Superheroes, Unikitty and of course the long anticipated return of Harry Potter to choose from. But today, I am going to look at something completely different…

This week, the latest in direct to video LEGO® DC Superheroes Movies was released:  Aquaman: Rage of Atlantis. I have not been a dedicated viewer of Direct to Video LEGO Movies, and the target demographic – kids pestering their parents for Super Hero LEGO Sets – is now absent from my house. I confess I bought this one primarily for the exclusive Jessica Cruz Green Lantern Minifigure, which is included with the DVD. But I thought I would sit down and see how the movie played out.

I shall not dwell too much on the plot: in reality spoilers are not a major issue.  This is the kind of movie that will be watched by the target audience time and again. Running at just over seventy minutes, the animation is bright, action shifts from location to location at an reasonable pace, but not so fast as to make my head spin.  The music fits the mood of the action brilliantly – giving appropriate moments of dread, excitement and happiness. A musical highlight for me was the musical nod to the theme from ‘The A Team.’ However, there are no surprising plot twists, and corny jokes and cliches abound. I admit I might have had more than the occasional chuckle as I watched it.  That said, I have nothing against the use of cliche: to paraphrase the late Terry Pratchett, ‘Cliches are the hammer and nails in the toolbox of communication.’ The film delivers a positive message about the power of Teamwork, and Believing in Yourself.

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They look common enough, but only two of these actually exist as a single minifigure…

The Justice League in this film are represented by Aquaman, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, and the self doubting Green Lantern Jessica Cruz. Along the way, Batfamily members Barbara Gordon/ Batgirl. and Damian/Robin join in the action. Continue reading

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.

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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:

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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.

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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