Dabbling With Dots I: Extra Dots: Series 1 [41098]

What’s in the bag?

About a month ago, we heard about the forthcoming arrival of LEGO® Dots. This is a range of jewellery and decor items pitched squarely at the 6-10 year old market, where some children might be reluctant to create a model of their own , because of doubts in their own creativity. The DOTs sets have far more free form instructions, to help you decide how you might choose to to place small square, circular and quarter circle 1×1 tiles – in a wide variety of colours.

LEGO Dots is due to be released on March 1st 2020, but some have made their way into the wild a couple of days in advance of this. I picked up a few of the first wave of sets, and will present them over the course of the next few days.

First I thought I would start with 41908 Extra DOTS – Series 1. Recommended retail price for these is $AUD5.99, but I found them at K-Mart (an Australian retailer) for $AUD5 per pack. So I bought a couple, to look at the consistency between them. The pack purports to contain 109 parts, including 10 ‘surprise charms’. These surprise elements are white round tiles, with emoji like expressions printed on them. On the packet there appear to be 16 different printings in this bag – and the printed elements here are different to those seen in the other sets currently available. Read on to see what I found inside…

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See in the Year of the Rat at the Temple Fair [Review 80105]

I recently looked at the 80104 Lion Dance, one of the sets released to celebrate the beginning of the Lunar New Year of the Rat. I said it was one of the most beautiful sets I had seen in recent years. Today, I get rid of the qualifier, as I look at the 80105 Chinese New Year Temple Fair – this is quite simply the most beautiful set I have ever put together. It is a set characterised by multiple small vignettes, a larger temple build, a novel tree design, and over a dozen mini figures. There are lots of printed elements, and precisely NO stickers.

The set has no elements specific to the Year of the Rat and, as such, could come each year, unchanged.

It is a set on the larger size of things, with a part count of around 1663. On opening the box, it looked as if I had some work ahead of me…

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Back to the Beginning- Backlog Building II: Microfighters 75228

Back when I first saw Star Wars, after the spaceships, one of the things that captured my imagination was the exotic location of Tatooine – a desolate planet, where people survived in an environment where they should not. We had strange indigenous races: the Jawas and Sand People, and exotic reptiles, such as Dewback Lizards. Somewhat restricted in their first cinematic outing, due to desert sand interfering with the animatronic mechanisms, they came back with a vengeance in the Special Edition, as the imperial presence on Tatooine increased with the addition of multiple CGI ships, troops and dewbacks. This is of course somewhat ironic, as they were employed by Sandtroopers as mounts in an environment where their conveyences were unable to work well, due to interference from the sand.

Of course the Sandtroopers are searching for the missing Death Star plans, carried by R2-D2, who accompanied by C-3PO, escaped from the Tantive IV during the opening battle in an escape pod. There have been a number of versions of the Escape pod released over the years, and dewbacks have previously only appeared in sets centred around Mos Eisley.

In 75228: Escape Pod vs. Dewback Microfighters, we have the first brick built version of the dewback, as well as a small version of the Escape Pod. this set has now retired from LEGO.com, but is still available from many retailers around Australia. Your local individual results might vary.

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Star Wars Backlog Building I: 75423 Slave One: 20th Anniversary Edition

I have been feeling a hankering for Mandalorians, following the series finale of ‘The Mandalorian’ on Disney+ last week. Unfortunately, I have been unable to secure either of the sets associated with the series at this time. So I had a look through my shelves and found the next best thing: a set with Boba Fett: the 75423 20th Anniversary Slave I. The LEGO® AFOL Engagement Team sent this set to me last year, along with other sets in the 20th Anniversary range (20th anniversary of LEGO® Star Wars that is). However, by the time I got those sets built, I was a little exhausted by LEGO® Star Wars – and so I put the set on the shelf for a while, awaiting inspiration. And today inspiration had finally arrived, so I opened up bag 1 and started to build . All opinions are my own.

Slave I is one of the spaceships from Star Wars most frequently represented in LEGO® form. Despite having less than 2 minutes of screen time between 1980 and 2000, Boba Fett’s spaceship has appeared in at least 10 sets – 1 UCS, 5’minifigure’ scale and 4 microscale, 2 magazine cover gifts, a keychain and two Advent Calendars. Certainly it has a distinctive shape, and is readily amenable to representation in LEGO bricks, at any scale. That said, none of these representations is perfect.

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A Little Something Xtra For The Garden. [Xtra Botanical Accessories 40310, 40376]

I was recently sent some examples of the new Xtra sets for 2020. These can be great little parts packs to enhance the quality of a small vignette, but perhaps can be expensive compared with other ways to increase your supply of the elements enclosed. I compared the new 40376 Botanical Accessories with 40310, from 2018.

The older set has retired in some markets from shop.lego.com (including Australia), but you might still find it in your LEGO Branded Stores. The new pack was released on 1st January 2020.

When we look at the bags side by side, you get a pretty good idea of what you are getting yourself into, with all elements illustrated on the front.

The original version had a large and a small tree, a shrub, some examples of the ‘new flowers and leaves’ as well as a white picket fence, and some spurs of 3 leaves. In addition to these parts, we also receive 2 frogs in yellow.

In the new version, we have two small conifer trees, as well as a small brick built tree in blossom. Again there are two fence elements (in reddish brown) and some of the relatively new ‘curly grass.’ We also have some of the new flowers in light royal blue and the new daisy design. We have two ‘bamboo elements’ used for the base of the flowers, although the 2018 leaf is included, in both bright green and orange. We also have 2 small 2×3 foliage elements in white.These can be substituted for the bright yellowish Green ones on the tree, for a more wintery feel. I like the addition of the buildable tree to this set – it feels as though there is a little more to it than the set from 2018.

Here are elements included in each set, initially as they are in the bag, and then after putting together the flower stems and the like.

Its all very well having these parts around the place, but what can we do with them. I think each pack works quite well as a way to create a lilt garden/pice of parkland:

Perhaps I would have been better off aiming for a wintery tree instead of using the white elements here… but I thought they both work quite well as a way to provide some scenery for a simple minidoll.

I think I prefer the versatility of the new set over the old: the 3-leaf plants feel quite different to the current generation of LEGO flowers. Personally, I am not a fan of the bamboo leaves under the flowers, but there are plenty of other elements to use with the flower stem.

At $USD3.99/€3.99/£2.99/AUD6.99 each, I would not recommend these as a way to buy these parts in bulk, with the possible exception of the trees. The floral elements, as well as the new leaves in green I have found in pick a brick walls at our local certified stores.

I was sent a copy of the 40376 Botanical Accessories by the LEGO group for review purposes, and had a copy of the earlier set floating around, looking for an opportunity to escape from its polybag. With the exceptions of a couple of polybags, that may not find their way into routine retail channels, the Xtra sets (and classic Blue/Green boxes) are some of the only sets available this year with a RRP less than £5/$USD5. I give both of these backs 3/5 Arbitrary praise units. As a way to quickly enhance a small scene, they are great BUT they are not necessarily the best way to bulk up your supplies of the smaller elements.

What do you think of these two sets? Do you prefer the old or the new? Leave your comments below and until next time,

Play Well.

While you are here,

You have probably heard about the current Bushfire emergency, currently engulfing the eastern states of Australia. Over 11 million hectares has been affected by the fires.

My friend Jay, over at Jay’s Brick Blog, is running a fundraiser, with proceeds going to the Red Cross, to help with relief efforts. You can read about it here: https://jaysbrickblog.com/2020/01/03/raising-funds-for-the-australian-bushfire-crisis/

Quick…to the Batmobile (Review 76119)

80 Years ago this year, Batman made his first appearance in Detective Comics #27. Thirty years and three weeks ago, Tim Burton’s Batman (with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson) premiered in Australia, a couple of months after it appeared in the USA. I couldn’t get to the film for a couple of weeks…so I guess this week is probably the 20th anniversary of me seeing that film, which rewrote what we came to expect of superhero movies at the time.

And finally, for reasons I don’t quite understand, Warner Brothers/DC have declared September 21st to be Batman Day, 2019.

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Series 19 Collectable Minifigures In Review

The latest series of collectable minifigures was released on September 1st, and I was fortunate to be sent a box by the LEGO Group’s AFOL Engagement team for review.

This is the third set of Collectable minifigures released this year, after the LEGO Movie 2, as the Second series of Disney minifigures. I am now starting to wonder if the pattern was established in 2017 is now to be considered the norm: several licensed sets, and one set…now numbered for the year.

The New Normal: 3 series per year, only one unlicenced?

We had 3-4 sets in 2016: Series 15, Disney 1, Series 16 and the German Football team. The following year we had LEGO Batman Movie, Series 17 and LEGO Ninjago movie. In 2018 we saw LEGO Batman Movie, Series 2; Series 18 and the Wizarding World/Harry Potter series. So I am going to go out on a limb and suggest that next year we will have Series 20, and two other series. Perhaps one will be related to the Olympics; perhaps an all stars theme (Bill and Mary – 6000 Ideas Book)/classic castle/pirates and or perhaps a second series related to Harry Potter or TLM2. What do you think?

What’s in the box?

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