71411: The Mighty Bowser [Rambling Review]

Almost as consistent as the appearance of a certain Italian Plumber across a series of Nintendo Video Games over the past 30 years has been that of Bowser: ruler of the Koopalings, a fierce, fire breathing, Princess stealing warrior tortoise. We have seen him appear in 2 previous forms over the years: One in several of the LEGO Super Mario Expansion packs (Bowsers Castle, and Princess Peach’s Castle), and a microscale version in last year’s ‘?’ Block.

This is the Super Mario tie-in set to be specifically aimed at adult builders, and it promises an intriguing large scale build, imposing to display, but also incorporating some play features, posability as well as some impressive puppet like movements.

As I write this review, I am almost as far from the model as I can possibly be, on a little holiday before attending the Skaerbaek Fan Weekend. Fortunately, I got the model built and photographed before I left.

So, how does the model stack up with the stated aims? We shall start off with a general look at the finished model, before diving into an in-depth, spoiler-filled look at the build. I’d love to know if you appreciate this style of review, so drop me a line in the comments below, or reach out on social media. I still have some more Mario sets to review, and these will be coming up after we return from holiday.

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Farewell Creator Expert. Welcome LEGO® Icons.

A couple of years ago, something weird began to happen with the branding of sets previously known as Creator Expert: bright boxes were gone, black was in, the complex arrangement of Erling Bricks and Creator Expert label was gone, and we saw the arrival of the Fairground Collection. The branding of these sets has been somewhat complicated – how do we refer to these sets? LEGO For Adults? Adults Welcome? The theme formerly known as LEGO Creator Expert. In the meantime, they have all had their names prefixed with LEGO®-rest of the set name. At the same time, in the LEGO online store, Creator Expert has remained as a heading, but to make things more complicated, not all sets under that heading are, strictly speaking, Creator Expert Style sets, with some small sets also on this page: They are certainly Creator type sets, but not 3in1, and not Expert. The (small red)Vespa and High-Speed Train spring to mind.

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Roll Out: It’s LEGO® Optimus Prime Time!

Think about leading toy companies in the world, and several names came to mind: Of course there is the LEGO Group, then Mattel, Hasbro and after this, we are moving away from established licenced brands, and moving on to less significant players in the game.

When rumors of Optimus Prime surfaced back in January 2022, people were quick to shut it down, with a combination of ‘I really want this!’ and ‘But it’s a Hasbro Brand…they will never collaborate with the LEGO Group.’ 

Transformers sprang to prominence back in the 1980’s as a Saturday Morning Cartoon determined to sell toys: and what toys – everyday vehicles would transform into giant robots – as the Autobots took on the Decepticons in new adventures every week. And it is the first generation version of Optimus Prime – Leader of the Autobots – that is being announced today, for release in June 2022 – Set 10302 has 1508 elements, and will be priced at $AUD 259.99 or 169,99 USD/EUR. It will be a LEGO Branded exclusive initially, with a wider distribution later in the year – probably in time for Fathers’ Day in Australia!

Read on for more images, and the official press release.

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LEGO® Star Wars: Death Star Trash Compactor Diorama [Hands On Review]

When Star Wars was released back in 1977, I did not get to see it straight away. “Wait for your birthday,” I was told in July 1977. My birthday is in March.

And so I read the paperback (ghostwritten by Alan Dean Foster), I bought a couple of action figures (Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. My brother got Princess Leia and R2-D2. Eventually, we worked together to buy the Landspeeder, with its authentic floating motion), and started to collect the Scanlen Trading Cards (On license in Australia from Topp’s).

In the absence of a colour picture book, streaming services, Blu-Rays, DVDs or a VHS copy of the film, the next best way to visually experience the movie was to collect these screen shots. As far as I can tell there were at least 4 series releated to the film subsequently known as a New Hope. I only ever found the first in our local shops. Back in the day, I am pretty sure that I collected all of these blue bordered cards, as well as the series of 144 Battlestar Galactica cards, and subsequently the Return of the Jedi Cards. As a kid, It made no sense to try and purchase an entire box. Why would I do that? I only wanted one piece of bubble gum. Unfortunately, I do not know what happened to my series of Star Wars or BSG cards. I still have those from ROTJ, and secretly hope that there will be a diorama related to that in the future, so I can wax nostalgic about them…

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New Botanical Collection: Orchid and Succulents revealed in time for Mothers’ Day!

The new botanical Collection debuted in January 2021, and exceeded expectations for introducing a new range of LEGO sets, designed for display around the home. Bringing us 3 sets – The Floral Bouquet, Bonsai Tree and Bird of Paradise Flower – all suffering from ‘hard to getness’ in their first few months – the LEGO Group has now revealed two more sets for release on May 1, available to preorder from 15 April…just in time for Mothers’ Day in some countries (Australia included).

The new sets include an Orchid, designed by Mike Psiaki, and a selection of different Succulents, brought to us by Anderson Ward Grubb, lead designer on the Floral Bouquet.

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Greebling is Good. 75329 LEGO Star Wars Death Star Trench Run Diorama: Hands-On Review

This year seems to be the Official Year of the Diorama, with 3 LEGO® Star Wars dioramas announced last week, as well as one in Jurassic Park. Last week we took a look at the new LEGO Star Wars Diorama Dabobah Jedi Training Ground. With a clearly defined border, an exclusive R2-D2 minifigure, along with Luke and Yoda, this set gave us a glorious rendition of an organic swamp landscape, with different earth tones, greens, a swamp of varying depths and plant life. Today, I would like to go the the other extreme in design for these Star Wars models: occupying the same footprint as Dagoboh, the 75329 LEGO Star Wars Death Star Trench Run diorama features 3 visible colours in the scenery, a more induction, inorganic design than Dagobah as well as no minifigures, 2 TIE Fighter’s; Darth Vader’s Advanced TIE and an X-wing fighter – All in microscale.

So, how does it fare? Is it a reasonable build, with interesting details? Or is it a big slab of grey, missing all of the things that made the Dagobah set such a highlight in the release calendar for the year? Read on, and perhaps you might decide that this is the set you have long been waiting for. Or not…

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Horizon: Forbidden West ‘Tallneck’ Set Announced. Explanation For Non-Gamers Follows…

The latest set announcement from the LEGO Group caught me a little by surprise. What on earth is Horizon Forbidden West, and what does a Tall Neck do? It turns out, I might have been living under some sort of a rock, as the game player in the house looked over my shoulder and muttered something along the lines of “Ok… now you have my attention.”

I managed to work out for myself that Horizon Forbidden West is the sequel to Horizon Zero Dawn, released in 2017, initially on PlayStation, then in 2020 on PC. The scenery and cinematics associated with the game are truly awe-inspiring. But I’m a bit out of the loop with the story, so I invited my son, Harry, to explain why this matters…

(Spoiler warning: if you are likely to play Horizon zero dawn, a game released in 2017, best go and take a look at another site. But if like me, this is unlikely, you have been warned.)

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10297: Modular Boutique Hotel Announced

It’s that time of the year. this is the year that we have seen modular building released, and this year they are taking us back to the beginning with a new take on a hotel, full of references to previous modular buildings. the set has 3066 pieces and is due for release on January 1, 2022.

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10293: Santa’s Visit Unveiled: Designer Walkthrough.

For me, a highlight of every holiday season is the arrival of the LEGO® Winter Village set. Over the years, we have seen a delightful village and its shops, a market, train and gone off site to the North Pole, to visit Santa’s Work Shop, and the Elves Club House. And a gingerbread house.

This year’s set, Santa’s Visit, has been officially announced and returns to the village, where we have a new home being visited by Santa. The set has 1445 pices and will cost €89.99 / $USD99.99 / £79.99 /$AUD159.99 / $CAD139.99. It will be released through LEGO retail channels on October 1st 2021.

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10284: LEGO FC Barcelona Camp Nou: Another Entry In The Top Ten Largest LEGO® Sets.

Football Stadia represent the tribal Colosseums of the modern world. In their simplest form, they represent places where your tribal heroes don colours and fight it out with the opposition, in front of their supporters. Of course, we live in a far from simple world, and before long, the trappings of big business and high finance enter the fray.

In 2020, we have seen the Old Trafford football stadium as well as the Roman Colosseum released in LEGO form. These structures are similar in form and purpose, although the nature of the contests within may vary. Perhaps it is only appropriate that this year, as the LEGO Group release a 5500 piece version of Camp Nou, the home base for FC Barcelona, it has been designed by Rok Zgalin Kobe, who has been responsible for the majority of sets released with the architecture badge in the last few years, as well as the Colosseum.

Certainly this model features a part count in between that of 10272 Old Trafford and the 10276 Colosseum, and more blocks of colour than were offered in the Colosseum set!

The new LEGO FC Barcelona Camp Nou set is fantastically detailed. Features include the stands, pitch, team tunnel, media boxes and even the team’s coach. The score board also references the club’s momentous 5-0 win over rivals Real Madrid in 2010 and two of the stands proudly feature the “Mes que un Club” motto that is known by fans around the world.

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