31058 Mighty Dinosaurs: Enough Teasers. Here’s My Review

I have referred to the new Creator 3-in-1 Set 31058 Mighty Dinosaurs several times in the last month.  I like it. A Lot.  It has taught me about unfamiliar elements, as well as demonstrates the use of some of the new SNOT elements that have appeared over the last year or so.

img_9671The box art features a yellow border, introduced this year after a few years absence.  The feel is delightfully retro, and extends across the Creator 2017 range.  The from demonstrates the 3 main models: a tyrannosaurus rex, a pteranodon and a triceratops.  The back of the box shows alternate views of these, as well as a picture of a brachiosaurus – with instructions available on line.  The box is secured with security tape, so with a quick flick of my penknife we were in.

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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…
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Nostalgia, Family Holidays and Christmas Presents: VW Beetle (10252)

It’s a New Year! Welcome to 2017.

What I did on my Holidays

I have spent my Christmas Break in the company of my extended family by the beach.   It’s been a bit of fun.  We had a Boxing Day Sail, but no Boxing Day Sales were attended.  I’m sure I missed out on a bargain or two, but it has been enjoyable recharging the batteries of the soul at the end of a busy year.

Our first few days after Christmas were warm and sunny: around 35ºC( 95º F).  This was great for getting out and about, and enjoying the weather.  Early morning sunrise walks with awesome light – just the place to take some minifigures for a photo shoot.  You may have seen some on the Rambling Brick Instagram Feed.


While the first few days after Christmas were great for outside activities, the third was a little different. The day started grey.  There was no sunrise, and a light drizzle.  No good light.  Photo opportunities were seriously curtailed.  The rain got a little heavier and I made an executive decision:  I would build all the LEGO sets that I received for Christmas.

This is not as hard as it seems.  I received only one LEGO® set for Christmas: the Creator Expert Volkswagen Beetle (10252).

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10255: 10 years of Modular Building

In 2007, a new breed of LEGO set was released: the modular building.  The first offering, the Cafe Corner (10182) was revolutionary: the subject matter of Lego City, perhaps set in an older, simpler time, but with a scale that was appealing to AFOLS.  The design standard – specifying the placement of the technic bricks to bind adjacent models together, as well as defining the size of the footpath and alleyway at the back of the building – has inspired the theme as well as countless MOCs and LEGO cityscapes around the world.

That Very First Modular- the Cafe Corner had very little in the way of internal detail, but set a standard this has changed as the series has developed with detailed interiors for shops, homes and other miscellaneous  businesses one of the highlights of the series. In those early days, the LEGO Factory site referenced design ideas for interior design .

For me, seeing these sets at a public show is what dragged me out of my Dark Ages. I remember constructing the Green Grocer, a year or two later, and discovering new (to me) parts usage as well as special secrets that only the set’s builders would know about such as….(but that would be telling!)

As a now annual New Year’s treat, there has been a steady roll of buildings to add to the collection: Market street (10190), Green Grocer (10185), the Fire Brigade (10197), the Grand Emporium (10211), the Pet Shop (10218), the Town Hall (10224), Palace Cinema (10232), the Parisian restaurant (10243), the  Detective’s Office (10264) and the Brick Bank (10251).  The majority of these sets have been designed by Jamie Berard, who has taken on the task of assembling an homage to the entire range in this year’s 10th Anniversary Spectacular: Assembly Square (10255).

LEGO Designer Jamie Berard, pictured with all of the Modular buildings, including the newly announced 10255: Assembly Square.
Set up as three floors of shops/professional consulting suites, the businesses include: a bakery, florist and café; music store, photo studio and dental surgery and an upper level dance studio and an apartment featuring a rooftop terrace. Even at first glance, you can see some design cues taken from the older modular sets:

There are eight adult Minifigures and a baby included in this set. Like all Minifigures in the modular line, these feature the classic ‘smiley’ face. All of the mini figures have great characterisation, and there are lots of new elements to be found.  One of my favourite figures would have to be the musician, with his receding ‘Peter Venckman’ hair line.

There are also some terrific new elements to be seen in the designer video including :a

1x1-with-2-studs-on-adjacent-sides
Another exciting variation on the 1×1 brick: 2 studs on adjacent sides.
Minifigure scale printed Cafe Corner box; 1×1 quarter circle tiles (black, tan and waffle);  2×2 and 4×4 quarter circle radii tiles in light bley; a mirror (4 x 6); 2 x 2 corner tiles, with the corner cut off in white, dark blue, light and dark bley; a 4×8 , diagonal door frame in black; and an exciting element with huge potential in MOCS, and in generating confusion when placing brick link orders: a 1×1 brick with 2 studs on adjacent sides.

Recolours include a 1×1 tile in nougat; a silver 2×2 radar dish; a curved window arch with spokes in black; and a new window for the dentist’s office: “Prevent yellowing.”  Sound advice for those of you without ageing, sun damaged LEGO Bricks.

10255_back_05
As you can see, this babysitter is a serious LEGO Fan: she has got a boxed copy of 10182: Cafe Corner to put together. It must be super micro scale!
It is shaping up to be a huge set, measuring 35cm (13″, approximately 40 bricks) tall, 38cm (14″, 48 studs) wide and 25 cm (9″, 32 studs) deep.  The additional 16 studs of width is reflected in its piece count, and the price tag. There are 4002 pieces: that’s 1200 more pieces than the largest previous modular (The Town hall xat 2766 pieces). Priced at $US279.99/ UK£169.99 this is a significantly greater investment than previous modulars (for example: Brick bank (10251) is priced at $US169/UK£119), but you also get so much more.   It will be available at shop.lego.com on January 1 2017, and is recommended for ages 16 and up.  Unfortunately, there will not be an opportunity for LEGO VIP members to order early.

 

Read on to see the details from the Official LEGO Press Release, see some more images and read about some of the easter eggs that designer Jamie Berard has tucked away in this set for us to enjoy: Continue reading

What I learned from the Super Soarer (31042)

Regular readers of this blog will know why I bought this set.  Suffice to say I bought it for a Reason. It shall ultimately be used for that Reason. But I will not discuss the Reason here.

This set is part of the 2016 Creator range, released in December 2015/ January 2016/February 2016, depending on where in the world you are standing.  One of the two ‘second lowest price point’ sets in the Creator 2016 range, this set advertises three builds in one.  Now we should know this means ‘three sets of builds with instructions, but what you do with it outside of that is your own business so really the opporutnities are endless.’  On this occasion, the builds are all aeroplanes.

The set comes in a small box, and is modestly priced ($AU15.99, $US9.99).  The box features all three models on the front of the box, with the hero ‘swing wing’ leading the way, and the others in smaller callouts on the right hand side of the box.  The set is rich in Flame Yellowish Orange, White and Bright Blue, which is reflected in the colouring of the box.  There are a number of interesting elements in light blueish grey, as well as some small transparent pieces, in a variety of colors.  The set allegedly has one hundred pieces: 10c/piece in the US, but a less than flattering $AU0.15 over here.  There are a number of interesting (please note – my idea of ‘interesting’may differ from yours) pieces in this set including FYO/BLO brackets and tail fins, which are exclusive at this time to this set.  The other particularly uncommon piece is the blue 2x2x2/3 bow.  Also present are 2 1×2 modified plate with 2 shafts: only released last year, but now appearing in 22 sets.  There are many different wedge plates present in this set, which allows the variable wing configurations seen in the designated builds.

caption

One

One is a single wing, dual engine model.  I liked the use of the brackets and 1×2 cheese slopes to form the engines. The piece count was low, using around half the pieces in the set. As a plane it was fun to swoosh, but not as much fun as the other two builds.

Two

The second build features a canard (fore-wing) with forward sweeping rear wings.  It may draw inspiration from planes such as the Sukhoi Su-47.

Sukhoi Su-47 Berkut (S-37) in 2001
The Experimental Su-47

With wings that would tilt downwards, along with rotating the tail fins outwards. It looks like a plane with only one speed in mind: jolly quick! This model used up around three quarters of the pieces in the set. The use of clips and bars for the tail plane attachment was interesting, and could be quite useful in the future to adapt for other purposes.

Three

The hero model featured on the box is a swing wing jet, with dual tail fins, somewhat reminiscent of a Grumman Tomcat F-14 or Mig-29. However, as LEGO does not make realistic models of actual military vehicles, this set must merely just draw inspiration from them.

 

F-14B VF-103 in flight during Gulf War 1991
Grumman Tomcat F14-B

 

MiG-29 38
Mig 29
This model is put together in a modular fashion: mid section, nose/cabin, wings, tail section. The wings cryptically attached to the discs of 2×2 turntables and have a single clip on the trailing middle  corner of the wing.  This is attached to a 2×1 plate with 2 bars. In turn, this attaches to the tail assembly, with a satisfying click, (or clic as described in the instruction book). Pulling the tail section out swings both of the wings out, and pushing the tail in sweeps the wings back. A great play feature, with moving parts and NO TECHNIC ELEMENTS!

play feature.pngThis build shows that clips and bars are designed to have a relatively kinetic relationship: the connections stand up to repeated stress and movement and for me, was almost worth the price of admission on its own. There are some small panels that act to limit drift of the plates as they slide back and forth.
hero.png

What did I think?

So… How does it shape up? This set has a couple of exclusive pieces, as discussed earlier. One, the tail fin, is the closest alternative to the regular orange featured in the first Lego cuusoo set( precursor to Lego Ideas) – the Shinkai 6500 submarine. So it could be a reasonable alternative for anyone not needing to spend $1000+ on the aftermarket for the original model, or around $au100+ on the tail fin alone, albeit in a slightly lighter colour.

I  appreciated the way that the hero model was built in modules, that were then secured onto the main fuselage.  This is quite a nifty approach to vehicular builds, which I think I will adopt in the future.  The model is extremely swooshable, and has a great play feature, with the swing wings linked to the tail plane, not to mention the particularly neat price point.

I was a little disappointed by the monoplane model, but I feel that’s just petty when it wasn’t in my top five reasons for buying this set. I’ll give it four out of five arbitrary praise units.

Are you more knowledgable on airplane designs than I ? Chances are you are. Which planes do you think served as inspiration for the builds here?

As for the Reason: that shall be revealed soon enough.

Play well

Dragonheads Revisited: 31032 – Red Creatures

Have I been dragon my feet?

I appear to have been discussing LEGO Dragons on this blog a little more than I do in real life.  I have no good explanation for this.  Of interest, dragons appear in LEGO sets a little more often than they appear in real life.  Coincidence? I think not.  Dragons are creatures inspired over the years by human imagination, and LEGO bricks are intended to inspire the human imagination.  Earlier this year, I looked at the Fire Dragon’s Lava cave: Part of the Elves Dragon’s Series this set contained some great scenery, but the brick built head was not entirely to my taste at the time.   Kai’s Elemental Dragon (70602) was an impressive dragon, and the head featured interesting use of arches.  However, the final effect was fairly large compared with the Elves Dragon’s heads.

IMG_5105Red Creatures (31032) was released at the start of 2015 (this means anytime between early December 2014 and February 2015, depending on where in the world you happen to be standing.) At the time of its release, it was overshadowed somewhat by the release of 31031 – the Rainforest Animals.  This colourful Creator Set featured a brick built parrot, with a controversial play feature. I didn’t see red creatures around the department stores in Australia, but it may have been on limited release around some of the independent toy sellers.  There always appear to be a couple of small Creator sets on shop.lego.com that don’t get general release on this side of the globe.  The current Park Animals (31044) and Future Flyers (31034)would both appear to be in this category [NOTE: this is a tip for anyone seeing them in an airport, or overseas, wondering what sets to buy for their LEGO fans back home in Australia.]

But I Digress…

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Going off the Grid

OK…so it has been a couple of weeks since my last post here: In part, I have been distracted reviewing the new LEGO Stationery line for New Elementary.  You should go over there and have a read of it sometime.  I’ll still be here when you come back.

This post was inspired while considering ‘What sets the MOCs that make me stop and say “Wow “apart from the others?’ – especially as a landscape inspired model.  There is no doubt that, for me, some of the most eye-catching constructions out there occur when the strict 90 degree world of LEGO is able to be overcome.  This ‘going off grid’ can be achieved at multiple levels: using a turntable base and octagonal plate to turn the action 45 degrees; using hinges such as might otherwise be used to open a playset building.  The problem with some of these techniques is that they do not easily clutch to the underlying plate.

So let’s look at a technique that I saw used by James Pegrum in Bricks Magazine earlier this year Issue 10, and also issue 6.IMG_0115

This will involve some geometry (sorry).  Let us consider a 2 x 4 lego plate, on a base plate. Next, place a single stud under opposite corners. Considering the intervals, this forms the hypotenuse of a triangle, with opposite and adjacent sides measuring 1
step and 3 steps respectively. The distance between these connection points is the same as the distance between the other two corners of the 2×4 plate, and so you can rotate that plate until those corners meet the studs. Continue reading