Brickvention 2023: Public Expo Tickets Now On Sale. Win a Family Pass!

Brickvention 2023 is only 2 weeks away. Australia’s Premier LEGO Fan Event has been at the mercy of public health orders over the last couple of years, with an online event and another at an alternative venue: This year they are back at the heritage listed Royal Exhibition Buildings on the norther fringe of the Melbourne CBD.

Tickets are now on sale for the Public Expo of 21-22 January 2023. The opening session on Saturday Morning has sold out, with the other Saturday and Sunday Morning sessions filling up fast.

Sunday Morning opens with a Special Needs session – The session environment includes low volume and less frequent announcements and fewer people. The session is also longer, with 40 minutes before the next session is admitted.

Tickets are now available here.

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Making Great Waves in 2023

It’s New Year’s Day where I am currently sitting*. The sun is shining. It is around 30º C (86ºF to those in other parts of the world). Last year was a hectic year: we had been locked down for large parts of 2020 and 2021, and it felt like half of society was trying to make up the missed time socialising and getting work done, while the other half was trying to keep out of harm’s way. [*I might have taken an extra day to edit this]

Ultimately, it is time to kick my feet up and relax. As good fortune would have it, The lovely people at the LEGO Group have sent me a copy of the latest LEGO Art Set: Hokusai The Great Wave. Based on Hokusai’s woodcut ‘The Great Wave off Kanagawa,’ the set promised me “the chance to immerse [myself] into the relaxing project of recreating the iconic Great Wave, captured in a LEGO Art set. This set offers so many ways that fans can unwind and find their flow. Not just immersing themselves into the building process, but also getting into the artwork and how that is composed.”

So, did it deliver? Running from Christmas to New Year’s Eve is often a mental challenge: so many last-minute things to do. If there was one thing I needed, it was a chance to relax.

And More importantly, will I feel happy to nail it to the wall afterwards?

Let’s take a look at the set:

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60850 Blacktron Cruiser [Hands-On Review]

Blacktron to the Future?

It was 1987, and for the first time ever, a collection of LEGO characters that could be defined as ‘the bad guys‘ was released. They were’nt part of Town, they weren’t in any Castle; but they were in Space. And their name was Blacktron. Gone was the Classic Space logo from their torsos: this was a functional black printed torso, with white lines providing the detail, while the helmet was no longer the traditional shape, but rather a motor cycle helmet. Now with a visor. But for extra menace, the visors were an opaque black. The opportunity for incognito was remarkable.

This band of intergalactic secret-stealing rapscallions were the pinnacle of villainy for a couple of years, only to be succeeded by their more fluorescent sequel: Blacktron II (Electric Boogaloo??).

But Now they Are Back! And I think, for the better! Set 6894 Known in the USA as the BLACKTRON INVADER, it was also referred to as the BLACKTRON CRUISER in the UK/Europe – although the European catalogue in 1988 confused the labels for 6894 and 6941 (Blacktron Battrax or Blacktron Prowler).

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New LEGO ART: The Great Wave Revealed

In the years since the LEGO ART range was first released we have seen simple mosaics, wrapped in a simple frame, with multiple options, as well as the more creatively shaped Rolling Stones logo. The LEGO Ideas set 21333 Starry Night demonstrated the scope for adding another figurative dimension to an artwork.

Today, the LEGO Group has officially revealed 31208 The Great Wave. Based on Hokusai’s wood cut, the Great Wave, this mosaic extends out beyond the world of studs and DOTs, adding wedge plate, tiles and leaves to add to the foam of of the rough sea behind it.

The three boats under the wave are represented by tan wedge plates, with printed tiles representing the sailors. The white matching, with tan frame brings us a more minimalist appearance than we have seen with the wrist >ahem< wave of Art sets.

The 1,810-piece LEGO Art Hokusai: The Great Wave set is available from January 1st from LEGO.com and LEGO retailers priced at  €99.99 / $99.99 / £89.99/ 169.99 AUD/ 139.99 CAD (Release in APAC will be February 1, while release in India will be in March)

Billund, December 28, 2022: Easily one of the most recognizable and influential Japanese artworks of all time continues to make creative waves around the world: Hokusai – The Great Wave. The LEGO Group is paying tribute to this global masterpiece and its almost two-century long history by re-imagining the iconic masterpiece in LEGO Art form, giving lovers of art and Japanese culture the opportunity to immerse themselves into a relaxing build, perfect for displaying at home.

Since Katsushika Hokusai created the original woodblock print of The Great Wave in the early 1830’s, the image has decorated the walls of museums, inspired music, and been recreated as street art and merchandise around the world. The image portrays Mount FUJI, Japan’s iconic mountain, behind a large wave covering a group of small boats.

The artwork has now been re-imagined by LEGO designers in this new 1,810-piece LEGO Art set, featuring layers and elements of different shapes to portray the lines and depth of Hokusai’s original artwork.

We’re thrilled that fans of art and Japanese culture will get the chance to immerse themselves into the relaxing project of recreating the iconic Great Wave, captured in a LEGO Art set,” said Annemette Baaskjær Nielsen, Designer at the LEGO Group.

“This set offers so many ways that fans can unwind and find their flow. Not just immersing themselves into the building process, but also getting into the artwork and how that is composed. Sparking an interest in Hokusai’s instantly recognizable original and its rich history of almost 200 years.”

According to new research, from the LEGO Group’s global ‘Play Well 2022 Report’, most adults (93%) regularly feel stressed and are looking for new ways to unwind and relax (80%). Most of them (92%) want to unwind and find their flow through activities that are related to their hobbies and interests.

Art and LEGO fans can find their flow as they build and listen to the accompanying soundtrack while looking through the premium booklet of instructions that features details about the original artwork. Using LEGO Art Hokusai: The Great wave as a great escape.

The 1,810-piece LEGO Art Hokusai: The Great Wave set is available from January 1st from LEGO.com and LEGO retailers priced at  €99.99 / $99.99 / £89.99/ 169.99 AUD/ 139.99 CAD, except for APAC where it is available from 1st of February, and India from 1st of April.

What do you think of this new ART set? A refreshing approach? Or more of the same? Why not leave your comments below, and follow the Rambling Brick to make sure you see our review in coming weeks. Until then,

Play Well!

Blacktron Is Back

Well, back for a limited time, and not as a general retail release…

The LEGO Group has released official images of an upcoming gift with purchase: 40580 Blacktron Cruiser. I might have just wept a little. The new set is expected to come as a gift with purchase in the new year.

This set follows in the footsteps of the 40567 Forest Hideout, seen earlier in the 2022, rereleasing a popular set from days long past, using contemporary building techniques.

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40575 Year of the Rabbit [Hands-On Review]

One thing that I have seen evolve over the almost seven years that I have been writing the RamblingBrick is the evolution of the Chinese Zodiac gift with purchase sets. These annual animal builds are now on their ninth iteration, and I have been fortunate to be sent a copy of the 40575 Year Of The Rabbit for review by the LEGO Group. The Lunar New Year begins on January 22nd. Let’s take a closer look…

As with previous sets in this series, the box has a flip-top lid, handy for storing the model, along with the instruction manual for a rainy day. Or at least next year’s review season. The box demonstrates that this envelope is for the traditional gifts of money given to children at this time of year in Asian cultures. there is also a ‘To / From’ box on the front of the box, demonstrating that it is intended to be given as a gift.

The front of the envelope shows a picture of the completed model, embossed with 2023 in gold lettering. The background colouring fades from yellow to red – traditional colours used in decoration at this time of year. On the reverse, the red-yellow colouring continues, with some blossoms lightly printed on the background. There is also a red 2×2 brick printed just below the envelope slot, giving the feeling that it is sealing the envelope. The principal feature on this side of the envelope, however, is a gold-embossed image of the model itself.

With all sets produced by the Extended Line, there are no new elements or recolours. A couple of parts did catch my eye, however, as I had not seen too many of them before including the 2×2 plate in warm gold. The only printed element, the 2×2 round tile 6060734 has been featured in multiple sets in this series. As you can see, this set has an emphasis on black and white elements – consistent with the colouring of the rabbit. the green, red and gold elements are incorporated into the base of the set.

The build starts off with the rabbit’s haunches, with the feet using a rounded plate and tile to have a smooth shape. A number of SNOT Bricks (studs not on top – here they are on the side) allow for some curved slopes to capture the shape of the rabbit, while some 1×1 ‘cheese’ slopes are added to give the appearance of ruffled fur. A really clever combination of regular slopes, curved slopes and SNOTwork gives the hind legs a really nice shape. The top of the torso is essentially smoothed off with tiles, with a 2×2 turntable allowing the limited possibility for this model. a2x2 Droid head (similar to R5-D4), with a round stud on top make up the tail.

Moving forward: we see a different technique to build up SNOT of the back of the head: Alternating regular 1×1 bricks with 2x2x2/3 plates with 2 studs on the side. This results in the correct placement of studs so that a plate can be placed along the back. More conventional 1x2x2 2/3 bricks with 4 studs on the side make up the side of the head and a mixture of techniques are used to place studs on the front of the face. I really love the combination of tiles used to achieve the shape of the rabbit’s nose and midface.

The ears incorporate curved slopes, along with inverse cirved slopes and tiles to achieve a nice smooth shape, while they then click into clips on the top of the head.

The 8 stud wide circular base is healed together with a few plates, while red and gold elements and some foliage are added to give the Spring Festival Vibe. I am impressed at how , every year, the designers are able to bring something different, that still seems to be part of the same range with these bases.

The final build very much looks the part of a Chinese Zodiac model, but compared to earlier models in the line, it appears that some aesthetic changes have taken place. With 202 pieces, it has the highest part count of any Chinese Zodiac animal to date, but this allows greater versatility with regard to the shaping of the model.

I really like the look of this model – here it is, along with previous models in the series. The combination of smooth, rounded curves along with the more angular slopes gives this rabbit its cartoonish, organic look. There are a few exposed studs here, not as many with some sets, but certainly more than with the year of the dog.

I suspect that was ‘peak studless,’ and the presence of a few studs on the model reminds us that this is indeed a LEGO model! If you love Brick-built animals, you will love this. If you are collecting the Chinese Zodiac animals, it’s a no-brainer.

This set will be offered as a Gift with Purchase in the period leading up to Chinese New Year – January 15-25th 2023 – in associate with purchases of $85USD/€85/£80. Australian ‘buy-in price’ is yet to be revealed. It is good to see these sets having a much wider distribution than they did in years gone past, when both the country and retailer availability were relatively restricted.

In a time of year where there are many new sets being released, I suspect it will be fairly easy to reach the threshold with new year purchases. But remember that it is coming, so you don’t spend all your money at the front end of the month. Traditionally, January has been a pretty good time of the year for Gifts with purchase, and given the range of new sets being introduced, I think it will be pretty easy to reach the threshold to receive this set.

Just as in 2022, we saw the release of the 31129 Majestic Tiger Creator 3in1 set in January. In 2023, we will see the release of the 31133 White Rabbit, to say nothing of the new Spring Festival sets [Affiliate links].

I wonder if we may well see a Creator Dragon to follow in January 2024 (you heard it here first).

Are you collecting these Chinese Zodiac Animal sets? What do you think about this one? Leave youy comments below, and until next time…

Play Well!

This set was provided by the LEGO group for Review Purposes. All opinions are my own.

And it all packs away nicely … ready for next year when I am going to need a bigger box!

Monkie Kid on a Budget: 80040 Monkie Kid’s Combi Mech/ 80041 Mei’s Dragon Flyer [Hands On review]

One of the criticisms offered to the early waves of Monkie Kid sets is the relatively high prices, compared with other playsets, for what is essentially an in-house IP. The sets themselves have not been bad value, more tending towards the higher end of the spectrum, with the initial wave featuring no sets for less than $50AUD. As such, I was quite excited to see that there were a couple of playsets in the upcoming 2023 wave with sets retailing for the much more palatable 32.99AUD. That’s right: Not one, but two!

80040 Monkie Kid’s Combi Mech and 80041 Mei’s Dragon Jet. Both sets are great standalone sets, but they also have the capacity to join together to form a larger vehicle: in part serving to introduce the target market to the idea of mixing and merging LEGO sets together.

Both Mei and Monkie Kid have fairly distinctive colour blocking in all of their sets: MK’s are red, gold, teal, and yellow, while Mei’s vehicles are almost all white, lime green, teal, bright green and lime green (which a touch of vibrant Yellow.) The near exclusive use of these colours, with the exception with grey and black elements for joints and hinges leaves me thinking back to the space themes of the 80’s and 90s, where themes were defined by a specific palette, although in this case, we have parallel streams representing different characters.

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Stone the Crows: Australia has a LEGO® Postcard [40651 Review]

During 2022, we saw a number of small ‘iconic’ sets appear in the shops, representing great cities of the world: New York, Beijing, Paris and London. The latest in this series will be released on January 1st 2023: 40651 – Australia. That’s right: It’s not just Sydney, it’s Australia, Capturing the wide open spaces that encompass the nonurban centre of our country!

When I first saw it, I wondered where the Landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour bridge were. These buildings provide a quick cultural shorthand for Australia. However, a trip to the LEGO Australia offices (where both of these can be seen from the lunch room) revealed that to include these landmarks would have involved licensing arrangements, something outside of the budget for the postcard line – Leave that for premium marques within the LEGO group such as Creator Expert/Icons and Architecture. Likewise, sites of cultural significance to First Nations people, such as Uluru could not be included.

And so the postcard embraces Australia’s landscape, with a nod to the farming heritage, as well as a few things that are iconically Australian: the Gum tree, the cockatoo, the ‘roo crossing sign and the outback dunny.

As such, I can understand why the Australia postcard looks like this. So read on while we take a look at the set, kindly sent over for a prerelease review by the LEGO Group.

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10312 Modular Jazz Club Revealed. [Designer Interview]

It is December, and with the new year only a couple of weeks away, it is time to officially reveal the LEGO Icons (the theme formerly known as Creator Expert) Modular Building for 2023. I was fortunate to get a sneak peek at the new set. Along with my Extra Pieces Podcast Collaborator, Jay From Jay’s Brick Blog, we had the chance to sit down and be guided through the new set by LEGO Icons Design Manager, Andy Grubb.

The set will be released on January 1 and has 2899 pieces, along with 8 minifigures. It will be available from LEGO Branded Stores, and LEGO.com, priced at $/€229.99/£ 199.99/ 349.99 AUD/ 299.99 CAD.

Featuring a decorative interior and exterior, the set can be built in five pieces and includes a Jazz Club, a Pizzeria, a Managerial office, a Tailor’s workshop, a Dressing Room and a Rooftop Green House on the lower roof.

In addition, the set comes with eight minifigures including a Jazz Singer, Bassist, Drummer, Pizza Chef, Pizza Delivery Driver, Club Manager, Tailor, and a Magician.

Want to learn more? Read on

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80045 Monkie King Ultra Mech [Rambling Review]

For a theme steeped in classical Chinese mythology, Monkie Kid continues to bring us some of the LEGO Group’s best homegrown Science Fiction type content: mechs, flyers and drivers, along with more organic elements, including animals and landscapes. The latest wave is no exception. Now entering its fourth year/season we see a refresh of the original 80012 Monkie King Warrior Mech. Manifested through sheer willpower by MK, it makes sense that as he develops his powers, the mech will become upgraded. I initially started thinking about this set as MK Ultra… and then I was reminded about the use of this designation for the CIA’s experiments into mind control in the ’60s and ’70s.

I was excited when the opportunity to take a pre-release look at this set came along, and I appreciate the LEGO Group sending it over for an early review.

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