The LEGO® Town, and later LEGO City themes have been charged with presenting kids with the things they see in real life, in an easy-to-build format, to trigger role-play moments. It is now apparent to me that I don’t get out enough, and that my kids have now grown up, as I had not realised that a Gaming Truck is a real thing. They attend major events, run tournaments at expos and, on a smaller scale, even make appearances at kids’ birthdays, when in the past we might have had a fairy, magician or gymnastics coach. How things have changed!
Part of the early 2023 LEGO City wave includes the first example of such a truck in LEGO Form. The set comes with 4 minifigures, 344 pieces and has a retail price of $AUD69.99/£39.99 / $USD39.99 / 44.99€. So, how does the experience shape up? The LEGO Group sent a copy of the set over for me to review – let’s take a look: as always, all opinions are my own. Read on for more details.
Continuing our coverage of the 2022 LEGO City Lineup, today, I wanted to take a look at the 60389 Custom Car Garage. This is a great variation on the ‘Multiple Cars and Garage’ sets seen in LEGO Town and City lines over the years.
The first Garage and Tow-truck in the Minifigure era was 6363 Auto Repair Shop in1980: however, there were no cars requiring repair. In 1985, the scene took off, when a small garage and three go-kart-like vehicles (along with a tow/transport truck) came packaged on 32x32stud baseplate. The office off to the side of the garage allowed kids to get right into role-playing the shadier side of the auto crash repair business than might be considered normal. The cars seeking repair were go-karts, and could be customised in a variety of permutations very readily.
The 6561 Hot Rod Club of 1994 brought us a collection of car enthusiasts, as well as some fancy-looking wheels, including a rather spiffing chromed-up vehicle. I would consider this set to be the prototype for the set we are looking at today. While the bodies of the cars were 4 studs wide, the rear wheels extended their width to around 7-8 studs.
A custom garage for 6stud wide cars didn’t eventuate until the LEGO Factory 10200 Custom Car Garage in 2008. This set gave us three cars, with exchangeable engines, to say plenty of inspiration for your own vehicles.
Up to this time, these car workshops have been somewhat sheltered, with a roof to prevent all but the smallest of hands from getting in to arrange the garage exactly as you might like, and so we see a different format with 60389 Custom Car garage: with a workshop focussing on performance vehicles, this set is a little more open plan: imagine the walls and roof yourself, but the set provides the furnishing along with 4 minifigures and 2 cars, with a selection of interchangeable front and back ends, as well as a variety of engines that can be substituted in and out. All this in 509 pieces.
The set is priced at $79.99AUD, €49.99 £44.99 USD59.99 CAD79.99. So, what does it offer? Is it a poor man’s Fast and the Furious? Or does it offer something more?
It’s been a couple of years since we have seen a food van in LEGO city: we had -Pizza in 2017; Ice cream in 2020 and now, in 2023 we are getting a Slushy Van. (There was also the highly disguised ice-cream van in 2022, but it was really a criminal front)
The set is aimed at builders aged 5 and up, has 193 and is priced at 32.99AUD/19.99USD/£17.99 and 24.99CAD. How does it shape up? (Special thanks to the LEGO Group for sending this set over for review. All opinions are my own.)
It’s now 2023, and new LEGO City releases are starting to appear on the shelves. One of the smallest sets that has me most excited is 60394 Otter Habitat. At only $16 AUD RRP, it brings us a great new animal mould – the Otter. Following up from last year’s squirrels, kittens and a host of other farm animals this set comes with a Minifigure, ATV, frog, fish and a small landscaped area. To say nothing of two otters!
I found these in our local LCS on January 2, and was seriously tempted to purchase 20 of them in order to obtain the 40580 Blacktron Cruiser as a Gift With Purchase. I will neither confirm nor deny whether I bought more than two. Let us take a look.
As I write this, we are awaiting the second launch window for Artemis I, after the mission was delayed earlier this week, as the result of cooling problems. This mission will see an integrated test of the Space Launch System rocket as well as the Orion space craft – which will house the crew when they are taken to land on the moon in 2024.
In Greek Mythology, Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo, as such it seems fitting that this is the name chosen for NASA’s missions to return to the moon, 50 years after the last man stepped foot on the surface.
This year, the LEGO City range has featured a number of sets with a ‘Space’ theme, based on the components being investigated for the Artemis mission. We have previously looked at the Lunar research Base, as well as the Lunar Rover. The Rocket launch centre represents the largest set in the theme, with 1010 pieces, and with a RRP of $AUD249.99. This is a big set, and contains everything you need to set up a rocket launch base. Designed in cooperation with NASA, the rocket bears more than a passing resemblance to the Artemis Space Launch System… But I am getting ahead of myself.
A little while ago, I took a look at one of the new LEGO City Missions sets, while sharing some insights from the development team. While I looked at the Mission to Mars set, it was unashamedly from the point of view of an AFOL who was also a Classic Space Tragic. However, I was not the target audience for the product and here at Rambling Brick Enterprises, we don’t have any of the 6+ target demographic on hand in the house, and are unlikely to for some years. Unless you consider 20 years old to be somewhat 6+. So I sought out Simon, himself a space tragic, as he also has a member of the Target Demographic around the house. What follows is their story…
Meet Simon and The Target Demographic
The Rambling Brick was kind enough to drop off a copy of the LEGO® City Water Police Detective Mission set for us to review as a family. The logic being we have a household member who is in the target demographic of these sets: a seven year old boy. The Rambling Brick wanted to know what we, and specifically the Target Demographic, made of the set and the app enabled story telling.
Back in the early days of LEGO® minifigures, the majority of sets that we had to play had a modest part count, and could be pulled apart and rebuilt in less than an hour: there was plenty of source material for alternative builds, either from the suggestions on the back of the box, or using an ideas book, such as #6000 – which documented the adventures of Mary and Bill, initially in a Town-based adventure, but takes a detour through the worlds of Classic Space and Castle…
Sets were built, played with and rebuilt. Hardly anything was kept together for a significant amount of time.
Flash forward 40 years, and the way some kids play seems to have changed: sets become display pieces in some households, gathering dust until the owner enters their dark ages, before moving on to sell them on the secondary market.
In part, I can understand this: sets have become a bit more sophisticated over the years: more pieces, more complicated building techniques, and we have already invested a couple of hours in building the core model. I encountered some examples of this recently as I worked on the new Creator 3in1 sets – Viking Ship and Midgard Serpent, as well as the DownTown Noodle Shop: pulling these sets apart and building the alternative models took up to 2 hours, depending on the models.
Today, The LEGO Group have announced a new type of LEGO City Set: LEGO City Missions. Following the basic themes of Water Police; Mission to Mars and Wildlife Rescue, the online building instructions, in the form of an online storybook, provides challenges for the builder – encouraging problem solving, and expanding the play available. This takes me back to the days when the Fabuland set Instructions used to be primarily a story book, to take the child on their journey.
For AFOLs, we might also regard these sets as providing awesome parts packs for related themes, including Space. To say nothing of a selection of new animal moulds – including a city scale hare, are well as a baby crocodile (seeing this element move from Marvel minifigures, through to the City range.) Perhaps we should say nothing about the vibrant coral frog.
Read on for more pictures, as well as the press release:
The new LEGO City Space sets are drawing heavily on the LEGO Group’s Classic Space Heritage, as well as design mockups for the Artemis Program – the NASA’s planned return to the moon in 2024. As I discussed in my review of 60350 Lunar Research Base, the theme is drawing design cues from Space sets of the 80’s, along with a reimagined Classic Space Logo.
Today, I’m taking a look at the 60348 Lunar Rover – AUD49.99 – which I picked up at a local toy retailer. It is now available through LEGO.com and other retailers. The model is inspired in part by the Habitable Mobility Platform (HMP) proposed for NASA’s Artemis program and it also draws on the traditions of Classic Space rovers from the 1980s. It is the least expensive of the City Space sets currently available.
The HMP is a pressurised rover, with the ability to travel some distance from the proposed Lunar Base Camp, without forcing the crew to spend all their time in bulky EVA suits. Essentially an RV for the astronauts. As such, it should be possible to drive the vehicle in shirt sleeve comfort.
It has been a little over 40 years since I fell in love with the idea of LEGOLAND® Space. Those initial sets put forward a future where people were collaborating in exploration, mining, and seeking out new worlds. All while improbably controlling vehicles with a steering wheel, and only installing cabins on to craft cabable of inter-planetary travel. All while drinking coffee in a base with the main control room open to the vacuum of space or whatever hostile atmosphere the team were facing this week.
After Exploring Classic Town, I have been planning a series on ‘Whatever Happened to Classic Space?’ to arrive over the next few months. A lot of the answer depends on how you define Classic Space. While some might limit the definition to sets that include the logo with the shuttle orbiting a planentoid – others might use the definition of sets released before the arrival of Futuron and Blacktron in 1987; Others might feel that to use colours other than Blue, light grey and transparent yellow might be pushing a friendship.
You must be logged in to post a comment.